Advanced search want a break?

(57 Posts)
Jdee41 Mon 29-Jun-15 16:37:32

Hi all,

Working dad posting here. I work full-time and DW works PT; we have two pre-school DCs. We agreed when DC1 was born that DW would go part-time as I was the higher earner, but that I would sort out a flexible working pattern to have days home in the week (I discussed WFH but my manager wasn't happy with me doing this for childcare).

Anyway, we have been through a few different versions of this, and at the moment I am using a day's holiday every week to stay at home, and we make other arrangements for the other day DW is at work. This is a better set up than compressing hours, which I tried for three years and ended up with me very nearly being signed off with depression (I am currently six months into a course of ADs after that conversation with the doctor).

Basically, the problem is that because of this I haven't had more than a day away from work (not counting public hols) for years. The last time I had any proper time out of the office was compassionate leave after a bereavement. I've recently taken on much more responsibility, and feel like I could do with some breathing space. I'm just wondering what everyone thinks, and if anyone else is in a similar situation? Is this something that I just have to put up with for the moment?

victoryinthekitchen Mon 29-Jun-15 16:41:42

sorry I don't have a solution but it sounds like if you keep just 'putting up' with this you are going to end up burnt out. Everybody needs a break, hope someone on here comes up with a possible solution ..

confusedandemployed Mon 29-Jun-15 16:43:07

You can make a formal application for flexible working. There is information on the government website about how to do this. Read that carefully and in particular don't make the application until you've addressed how you think any change in your hours will affect your team, and how you propose to minimise / eliminate that effect. I would also recommend indicating that you are willing to do it as a trial at first, to see how things go.

Your boss may well not be happy about your request but there's not a damn thing he can do about it. You have a statutory right to make the request and the company has a legal responsibility to consider it (but, crucially, not to just accept it). They must then consider the request properly and, if they reject it, they must give you a 'valid business reason' as to why it has been rejected.

PM me if you want more info.

popalot Mon 29-Jun-15 16:44:38

Nursery? What do you do on the other day she works?

Sirzy Mon 29-Jun-15 16:46:18

Could you not use childcare for a few days a week?

rookiemere Mon 29-Jun-15 16:47:10

That sounds awful. I've heard in the US where people only get 2 weeks A/L per year they do a similar thing so take long weekends rather than having a proper break, so I guess it must be sustainable.

However it's not working for you and I'd hate it myself.

I don't blame your employers for not letting you work from home with preschoolers, as you look after them on a regular basis I'm sure you know that neither job would be done adequately!

So the way I see it you have a few options as a family:
1) you could put your DCs into childcare whilst your DW is at work so you continue to work f/t but also have enjoyable time off together as a family.

2) You officially go p/t, putting through a request.

3) You or your DW give up work

Of those options 1 doesn't seem so bad.

Jdee41 Mon 29-Jun-15 16:47:26


Thanks for that. I tried flexible working (basically involved a combination of compressing hours and holidays) and my manager was happy with that, but I ended up exhausted, I didn't see my DCs for days, I felt I missed out on too many meetings and office stuff as I wasn't around some days of the week. Basically it was just too much.

I appreciated my manager accommodating me in this, so didn't like to push on anything else.

Loraline Mon 29-Jun-15 16:48:06

Have to say though if you're effectively doing 4 days a week now (one day each week being a holiday day) you've a great case to make for flexible working and how you can make it work and how the business can manage. I think they'd find it hard to refuse flexible working if you're doing a 4 day week now. Of course, your salary would take a hit but you'd get all your holiday days back to take as holidays.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Mon 29-Jun-15 16:49:33

Can you afford child care of some sort? How about if your wife works?

I think working a four day week with no longer time off at all will lead to stress and meltdown.

But your boss is right. You can't combine wfh and childcare. You can only do one or the other.

NRomanoff Mon 29-Jun-15 16:50:48

I sympathise. My dbro is in a similar situation. For 2 years his holiday leave was taken up purely for childcare. Leaving th as a family no time to do things together or anytime together at all. No actual break from work for even 4 days

You really need to resolve this. Do a formal application for flexi working, which can be rejected with a good reason. So have a back up. Can you use a nursery? Can you or dw reduce your hours further? If you can't get flexi working can dw?

It needs to be sorted put as a family. What does dw think?

Jdee41 Mon 29-Jun-15 16:52:01


Thanks for your suggestions. Because of where we live childcare is very difficult to access, and our finances couldn't really bear it anyway. We need my F/T wage coming in, and I wouldn't like DW to have to give up her job either.

The other day DW is in work we ask a relative to help out, but they aren't in a position to offer any more help than they do already.

I'm not really sure if there's any real solution to this at the moment. Grin and bear it is probably the only option for now.

howabout Mon 29-Jun-15 16:52:54

Would your work consider you working PT? Surely they would consider this as you effectively work a 4 day week now and they have a compressed hours policy? This would then give you your holiday time back. Depending on when your DC start school this may not have much long term cost?

How long is it till your DC start school. Would it be worth persevering till then and rearranging DW PT hours around this and having the discussion about working from home again with your boss in this context.

TheTravellingLemon Mon 29-Jun-15 16:53:43

Can you try a 9 day fortnight? That would free up some holiday and not impact too heavily on your salary.

Jdee41 Mon 29-Jun-15 16:58:37


DC1 starts after the summer, so it may get easier then. At the moment there is no way I could WFH with both running around, but with just one it could be an option.

Our finances are so tight at the moment that reducing hours or anything like that would not be an option.

It does affect our home life as I get very tired (I believe that is also a symptom of the ADs) and some of the stuff around the house suffers. For example, a couple of our bedrooms are needing serious DIY attention - before DCs I would have taken a couple of weeks leave and blitzed them, but that isn't an option now, so stuff isn't getting done and I feel pretty crap about it.

FunkyPeacock Mon 29-Jun-15 17:03:57

If you are effectively working a 4 day week then they can obviously manage without you on the regular day off you take

I would request a reduction of your contracted hours - e.g to 0.8WTE. I can't see how your employer can refuse and yiu are entitled to apply for reduced hours when you have dependant DC

Yes, you will get paid less but surely that is worth your sanity? You can then take normal A/L of a week at time like most people do.

rookiemere Mon 29-Jun-15 17:05:38

To be honest, it's not fair on your employers to take home a f/t salary whilst caring for preschoolers, be there one or two of them. The two things are mutually exclusive, particularly if you have taken on more responsibility at work (btw are you getting a pay increase for the extra duties?)

Childcare doesn't have to be nursery, DS went to a lovely childminder before he started preschool. It may be possible to arrange one day a week with a CM and that's not going to be wildly expensive. If you are in teh UK most employers do childcare cost schemes so you don't pay the tax on them.

I think you need to review your finances again - your situation is not sustainable. If you're on low incomes and in the UK are you eligible for any tax credits?

Also adjust your expectations of yourself. Of course there is DIY needing done - you literally do not have time to do it, so just live with it.

Enjoyingmycoffee1981 Mon 29-Jun-15 17:11:36

My DH doesn't see our children basically Sunday night to Friday evening, but then he is relaxed, has holidays and gets great quality time with them over the weekends and on holidays (ten day stretch coming up shortly).

I think you need childcare,

MrsDeVere Mon 29-Jun-15 17:14:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jdee41 Mon 29-Jun-15 19:14:23

Things are just so tight right now that it's impossible to imagine we could cut back any more or absorb a big wage hit. We don't really go out very much or have expensive hobbies.

I took on more responsibility at work, but for slightly less pay, to avoid an even bigger pay cut. This was because of serious cutbacks and restructuring where I work.

I love my days home with the DCs, but weekends tend to be really flat out with housework and other things so there's not really an opportunity for much rest.

MrsDeVere Mon 29-Jun-15 20:02:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

missymayhemsmum Mon 29-Jun-15 20:07:44

Ok, you need to do something so you don't end up having to take time off with depression.
Your boss is not unreasonable to say you can't work from home while looking after kids. Is the littlest in nursery school yet? If so you are at least on the home stretch. Can you manage a holiday this summer? (either family or take several days with the kids at a time?) Ship them off to auntie/ grandma/ uncle for a couple of days in the summer?
Is the problem that you never get more than one day away from the office or you never get a day away from the office that isn't spent with the kids?

Can you arrange a reciprocal arrangement with another family and trade a day with 4 kids for a day with none? Are you able to switch off from work and properly 'be' with the kids or is half your mind at work?
But yes, it may be just how things are for now. As a working lone parent I almost never get a day when I am not either working or looking after dd. As in once a year, maybe. It will change when she leaves home. Maybe the best you can do is to at least grab an evening out once in a while, and plan the decorating etc for the after bedtime slot, or leave it for a year or three.

kickassangel Mon 29-Jun-15 20:36:15

If your wife worked ft or longer hours could you afford childcare?
What options have you considered for childcare? There are very few places where there really is none. Presumably there are schools where you live, and where there are schools there is childcare.

Over the summer, could you pay a responsible teen to look after the kids for a couple of afternoons?

But having young kids is tiring. I worked ft with a kid with SN, a husband who worked away for weeks at a time and absolutely no family back up. I also have a life long illness that makes chronically tired and with compromised immunity. It was hard work but I just had to get on with it. And now DD is 11 and life has been significantly easier for the last 6 years or so. I do remember spending my lunch breaks sleeping in the car, though.

It is hard, and there is lots of sympathy and support on here, but you have managed more or less for several years, and surely must be getting near the point of nursery places being available, which does make a huge difference. You don't say how much longer this stage of your life is likely to last, but it I'm guessing not too much longer.

Jdee41 Mon 29-Jun-15 21:23:03

I think it is just a case of 'get on with it', basically. Our oldest goes to school after the summer. I wanted them both to go to nursery because I thought they needed the socialising and structure , but DW didn't want that because transport would be awkward, so they didn't go.

I agree with those who say that I couldn't in good conscience work from home while looking after little ones, as I know I would get hardly anything done.

I suppose I'm a little aggrieved that DW gets to hang onto her holidays and use them as she pleases. I've tried to talk about this but it always ends in a row (my fault - I get really self righteous about it and she gets defensive). We generally have a great relationship but I've just learned to steer clear of this.

MrsDeVere Mon 29-Jun-15 21:30:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jdee41 Mon 29-Jun-15 21:38:24

Apologies if I'm not very clear. It's difficult to go into too much detail while still remaining anonymous. Suffice it to say we live in a very remote and rural place, with little in the way of amenities such as childcare. We only have one car, so if one of us is at work the other is without transport (the local authority doesn't provide transport for nursery education, but does for primary school).

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