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To be really really struggling with being back at work?

(107 Posts)
Whatthehelliswrongwithme Mon 13-Jul-15 20:25:10

I am feeling pretty desperate this evening. Before DD was born, I know that I was reasonably good at my job. I'm sure I wasn't the best lawyer ever to walk this earth, but I was perfectly competent and I knew my own job pretty well.

I've been back from maternity leave now for 9 months and I feel as though I must be losing my mind. I have gone down to 4 days a week, and I go in early and leave early to pick up DD, but invariably have ended up doing at least the 5th (and 6th) day's worth of work anyway - after DD goes to bed and at weekends. Notwithstanding the extra hours, I feel like I am missing things all over the place. It's not laziness; I appreciate that flexible working requires both parties to be flexible so I know that there will be some times when I will need to put in the extra hours. It's more that despite the extra hours, there just aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week, and I feel as though I am dropping balls because everything is rushed. I've mostly managed to catch them before anything really terrible happens, but even then, it's humiliating and unprofessional to have to re-send corrected documents after the original version has gone out and I don't know what the hell has happened to my brain. It frightens me.

I can't sleep and I feel sick all the time and I just don't know what to do. I used to think that my going out to work was going to allow DD to grow up with the view that she would have a career as a matter of course but now, for the first time, I feel as though my working is having a severely detrimental effect on my time with her. I am distracted and stressed all the time. We could survive on DH's salary but due to the nature of the legal job market, if I were to leave it is extremely unlikely that I would be able to re-enter at a later date. I also feel that I'm not particularly good at being a SAHP. Maybe that's the problem; I used to feel like a generally competent person and now I feel as though I am making an almighty mess of everything.

Has anyone else felt like this? I feel as though I am going mad.

FloristHump Mon 13-Jul-15 20:27:08

Sending solidarity- I could have written that post myself.

I don't even know what to suggest or have any advice, I'm so much in the same situation as you.

winewine And thanksthanks

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Mon 13-Jul-15 20:28:34

Are you trying to keep too many balls in the air at home also? Is it possible to buy in some help, to leave you to your own work?

Redtowel Mon 13-Jul-15 20:28:44


I went back on flexible hours when DD was 5 months old. It became clear in the first month that I still worked full time hours (and more! 80 hour weeks at times..) despite taking a 30%pay cut.

I pointed this out to my employer, argued, they couldn't give a toss.

I stuck it out for a year, then left and set up my own business. Now I can decide when and where I work.

Certain industries like law, PR, they are just not cut out for flexible working IMO. Sad but true.

You are not alone.

makeminea6x Mon 13-Jul-15 20:30:32

Working when you have young children is hard, especially when you have such a busy and responsible job. I think a lot of people feel like they are doing everything less well than they'd like.

It sounds a bit like maybe things have gone beyond that for you though? You sound like you are struggling quite a lot.

There may be practical things you can do to make things more manageable, but my concern is that you sound a bit like you could have some post natal anxiety or depression. I'd strongly recommend you have a chat with your GP about how you're feeling. It might help to talk to your DH too?

PaigeMahoney Mon 13-Jul-15 20:32:50

Solidarity from me too. I'm a lawyer, work four days a week, flexible hours with two kids and generally feel as though I've caught most of the mistakes at work but feel stressed about those I might not have caught. I'm really not sure what the answer is, I've been doing this for two years and I'm not sure how much longer I can work like this.

Nolim Mon 13-Jul-15 20:33:45

Dont try to be super mum and super lawyer, it is just not possible. Can your oh work pt to have more balance ? Can you get a cleaner if you dont have one already? Can you get an au pair?

MargoReadbetter Mon 13-Jul-15 20:34:47

It gets better, honestly. Everyone is juggling their own workloads and people are probably too busy to pay critical attention to yours. Don't make huge mistakes and don't make a big deal out of the small ones. Good idea re GP too.

Purplepoodle Mon 13-Jul-15 20:35:04

Could you cut down to three days? Also you need to learn to say no to the extra work, start compartmentalising. When your home your home.

Iv found being a working mum, iv had to become more organised, write everything down, take things at a slower pace at work and recheck

OwlinaTree Mon 13-Jul-15 20:37:37

I've struggled with the fact that now sometimes things just have to be done as best I can in the time, rather than finish every job to the high standards I used to achieve. There are not enough hours in the day. I'm hoping that it will get easier as time goes on. I also find it hard to switch off. Would it be easier to work 5 days a week and get more done at work?

Blazing88 Mon 13-Jul-15 20:39:16

If you could survive on your DH's salary, there's your answer..Surely?

Whatthehelliswrongwithme Mon 13-Jul-15 20:40:24

Margo, I completely agree - if I knew how not to make huge mistakes then I promise I would act on it. That's rather the problem: I am desperately trying not to make them and hoping with every fibre of my being that I succeed. I look back to life pre-motherhood and am astonished by how much more easily I noticed issues in documents etc. It feels as though my brain has lost the internal searchlight that previously picked these things up.

Whatthehelliswrongwithme Mon 13-Jul-15 20:44:23

And I'm embarrassed to say that I already have help, in the form of a cleaner. DH is actually very good and does his absolute best but for various (valid) reasons it would be very difficult for him to cut down his hours any further at the moment. I suspect in retrospect that this may have been how he felt last year while I was on maternity leave and DD barely slept and he was going into work and trying to appear professional while feeling like he had been dragged through a bush backwards.

Gobbolinothewitchscat Mon 13-Jul-15 20:45:01

I really admire you. I've not returned to work (was a senior associate in a large national practice). I was well regarded before having my first DC but I knew unless I went back full time and with a nanny and other rock solid emergency back up, it just wouldn't be feasible to carry on. I've seen how the much vaunted "flexible" working policy worked in practice.

What I think is sad is that I've seen a lot of really talented female lawyers with great client relationships fall by the wayside whilst other less talented lawyers who haven't had children or don't have the primary care of children move on up the ladder just because they're "there".

CookieDoughKid Mon 13-Jul-15 20:46:29

IMO. There are some careers that are just not family friendly. I know a number of women who work in law and have given it up completely. I think you need to get more hired help for your home and dc which would allow you head space to concentrate on work more. Or think about doing something different altogether?

AntiHop Mon 13-Jul-15 20:47:14

Could you do compressed hours ie 5 days over 4? At least then you'd be paid for the hours you're putting in rather than being part time for full time hours?

I know how you feel. I work full time and I have a 10 month old. I absolutely can't keep on top of my home life and personal life. My flat is really messy. I have massive lists of things to do that never get done. I never get enough sleep. It's tough.

Kardamyli Mon 13-Jul-15 20:47:26

OP I feel your pain. I went in house for a while when mine were young. Much better hours and much less of an expectation that you would have to work on your day off. Would that be a possibility at all? I'm assuming you're in a corporate law firm rather than high street? I did manage to move back to private practice after just over six years, so you shouldn't feel that you would have to be in house for ever.

Purple and Owlina, your suggestions are lovely, but sadly in the world of corporate law it is just not possible to say no to the extra work or not finish every job to the high standards you used to achieve. If I did that I suspect I'd be managed out the door.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Mon 13-Jul-15 20:50:11

First of all I think you need to address the amount of work if you possibly can. I'm a lawyer in the City and although I work considerably more than my theoretical target, it's not proportionately more than when I was FT. If you're trying to squeeze FT workload into PT hours you will go crackers.

If you can get the workload down to something a bit more doable I think you might then find that the ability to spot stuff comes back - it sounds to me like it's lost in a fog of stress and fatigue at the moment.

Kardamyli Mon 13-Jul-15 20:50:41

I should add that of course there's nothing wrong with working in house for all of your career! It just wasn't for me (or possibly with hindsight the organisation I worked for wasnt for me)

BingBong36 Mon 13-Jul-15 20:51:03

Can you not do something different that is still within law, but less pressurised?

OwlinaTree Mon 13-Jul-15 20:51:34

Well, patronising much kardamyli?

Golfhotelromeofoxtrot Mon 13-Jul-15 20:52:25

I found I worked better on five days a week. Three days and I floundered, five days and I could get on with it and give DD my all when I was at home with her.

RedDaisyRed Mon 13-Jul-15 20:53:14

Poor you, I do think the kliler is part time work and short hours! I always worked full time and in many ways it is a huge blessing. The child has the stability of knowing both parents work full time in the week and work knows you are there when needed and you don't end up the one at home of the couple who does more domestic stuff.,

So perhaps try going back full time?

Kardamyli Mon 13-Jul-15 20:53:21

Not so much patronising as honest! It doesn't matter how they dress it up, corporate law firms are not noted for being family friendly. And I'm not saying that's right, I just don't know how you would go about changing things.

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Mon 13-Jul-15 20:53:25

The only women I know who have still got their law career post kids, are either working as solicitors doing family law/conveyancing or similar, or they are still in corporate and have a full-time nanny and are quite detached from the day to day of their children's lives.

It is the most god-awful career for achieving any kind of worl life balance.

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