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To ask if anyone has quit their good, highly paid stressful job for a smaller one?

(310 Posts)
joanneg36 Sun 07-Feb-16 08:46:15

I am seriously struggling with the 'having it all' at the moment and interested in others' experiences. Has anyone ever quit their 'brilliant' (on paper) job for work/life balance reasons and how did you manage/what did you do next?

I work four days a week in a senior-ish job. London and well paid but not law/city type money. Husband works too and earns similar. My 'four days', like many people, is in reality 7 days work squeezed into 4 and I am on email all hours. Kids are 5 and 1 and I just feel exhausted and as though I can't go on like this.

We could cope financially with me earning less, we'd have to cut back but it would be sacrifices of the meals out/foreign holidays type rather than not being able to pay bills etc. My bigger fear is about risk to my future earning potential and just general fear of unknown. I don't know how easy it would be to find a 'smaller' more part-time job in my industry but I feel I could at least try....

Interested in all thoughts - feel free to tell me to stop moaning and get on with it!

maybebabybee Sun 07-Feb-16 08:48:56

More a question of changing industries for me but I used to be an EA for a headhunters where I was paid well, good bonus etc but hours were mad and I hated it. Swapped to a PA role at a university where I am paid about 7k less and get no bonus but so.much happier as I work standard 9-5 hours and no more, do flexi time if I need to and have a lovely boss.

chillycurtains Sun 07-Feb-16 08:50:43

Go and look. I doubt you will regret it as your children are so young and you will miss you much as you are stressed and having to effectively work unpaid via email when you are with them.
When weighing up disposable income versus less stress and time with your DC then time is definitely more valuable.

Choughed Sun 07-Feb-16 08:50:46

I did, but it was pre kids. I wanted to have children and it would have been impossible in my old job.

I don't regret it but I do resent working for 50%of my previous salary.

If you are going to do it then get a job first. Don't assume lower paid, "easier" jobs will be easy for you to walk into just because you are a high earner now.

ilovesooty Sun 07-Feb-16 08:55:01

Also don't assume that because they're lower paid they're easier.

My job isn't easy and I'll never again earn anywhere close to what I did, but I love it.

Bowserlovesmojitos Sun 07-Feb-16 08:56:34

I did this - like Choughed it was pre children but quit a stressful yet lucrative job for a minimum wage job in an area I adore. Stress has reduced massively, I'm happier and things are so much calmer.
We've had to cut back and re-evaluate spending but for us happiness over money all the way.
I do appreciate hugely that I'm lucky to have been able to do this and dp supported both my decision (he was pushing me to quit anyway!) and now supports us financially.

deregistered Sun 07-Feb-16 08:56:45

I would definitely stick at it as you are just at the hardest stage now - unless you are REALLY on your knees and it begins to affect your health, in which case then of course reconsider.

When mine were small there was a year or two when it seemed unmanageable and exhausting.

Time goes by in a flash, this is a slog now but things will be easier soon.

My kids are teenagers and I have my career, am comfortably off so no money stress, we are all in tact and happy and I am fulfilled.

I have lost count of the women on her and in RL who regret letting go of their careers when their children were young and found it hard to get back where they left off. Or deferring to their husbands careers.

divingworldchampion Sun 07-Feb-16 08:57:41

I did, just over a year ago now. My old job was making me so miserable. I felt anxious all the time and sick when I was driving in. I actually think if I'd stayed my marriage would have ended as it was heading that way, I was so unpleasant and unhappy. Anyway, I have a new job in a playgroup (I was an accountant so a complete change), I feel like a different person and do not regret it one bit. Financially we have taken a hit of course, but for me it has been worth it for everyone's happiness. I also find I spend less not going to work every day (I walk to my current job and don't am home for lunch etc).

deregistered Sun 07-Feb-16 08:58:57

Personally I always tell younger women to hold on to their own personal earning power as honestly you never know what life will throw at you. I've seen the seemingly strongest marriages collapse.

JeanGenie23 Sun 07-Feb-16 08:59:28

Yes I've done it, I hated leaving my children for 50+hours a week!! It is worth looking around and seeing what else is available to you.

I'm sure you would have looked at doing this already, but just in case you haven't, is there anyway you can change your hours/days at work to make it easier on you?

CombineBananaFister Sun 07-Feb-16 08:59:41

I am earning a quarter of what I did pre-DC and it required some major adjustments which seemed utterly terrifying at the time but as time as gone have been fine.

I just got tired of trying to be all things to all people and doing everything not 100% - I realised I don't cope well with split priorities and I missed my DS. Some don't, like my friend, when she's in work she shuts out all other home things and at home shuts out all work things - it's a balance i failed at worrying about Ds at work and work with Ds - incredibly stressful.

If you're not giving up work completely, I don't think you'll ruin your career unless its somewhere you need to continously upskill. I still get job offers now from old colleagues

Make a list of whats important to you and see if its doable - I sleep better a night now am not a ratty, miserable stressed out mess and I enjoy seeing my Ds.

P1nkP0ppy Sun 07-Feb-16 09:00:24

I did OP, went from CEO small organisation working 7 days/weeks, 50-60 hors and £42k to 30 hours a week on less than half the salary.
Best thing I ever did; it was that or becoming seriously unwell (I was badly bullied and totally demoralised)
Now I'm considering giving up work and try living on very small private income 😀

AtSea1979 Sun 07-Feb-16 09:03:30

I did. I went from 13 hour days to school hours and term time. I earn a fraction of what I used to but my DC are happier as I spend more time with them and I have more energy\less grumpy etc

Theendispie Sun 07-Feb-16 09:03:37

When I was very young I changed jobs and gave up a third of my salary. This was before I was married to DH and had my DS. It did turn out to be a very good decision but I guess until your a few months or years down the line you won't be sure.

This job was a total change and not remotely like my previous one and it sort of saved my mind as I had come to hate my old job so much.

CombineBananaFister Sun 07-Feb-16 09:05:05

Oh, and as others have said if you are going to do it try and pick a job that you are going to enjoy, no point being just as stressed for less money. I work in training/recruitment and help people get jobs with learning difficulties, single parents looking to get back to work and prison release - very rewarding

NancyDroop Sun 07-Feb-16 09:09:00

OP, you work 4 days a week, but I note that it oozes out over your personal time. Could you go down to 3 and work out some effective barriers against work ooze rather than a big shift?

The grass might not be greener on the other side.

I went from the type of job you describe to more flexible self employment in the same field when I had DC, and I now appreciate how ok my old job actually was in comparison to what I do now!

ClaudiaApfelstrudel Sun 07-Feb-16 09:09:32

I personally would never sacrifice my health for money which seems to me what might be going on here

joanneg36 Sun 07-Feb-16 09:09:35

Thanks all - the range of different responses indicates why I find this decision so hard. In response to the person who asked about my current job, I would never quit without first asking if they could create a smaller/fewer hours role for me though I think it is unlikely and nor would I quit without another job - we can't afford for me to earn nothing.
To the poster who says I am at the hardest stage now - that's true in one sense, and it's why I keep thinking I must go on. But I'm not convinced it's true in every sense - my 5-year old in some ways needs me much more than the baby does. And the baby sleeps so it's not as though I have broken nights that are due to get better. It's more the 12 hours a day out of the house, constant work emails etc.
Will be offline for a bit now but will check in again later. Really interesting to hear others' experiences.

wickedwaterwitch Sun 07-Feb-16 09:12:50

I agree with a pp who said look at women who gave up work and were stuffed so I would be cautious in your position.

Is there anything else you can change? Doing 7 days work in 4 isn't sustainable so can you negotiate that down?

Or can you do one day from home, cutting out all commuting and giving you a longer day? What else is making it difficult? Does your husband pull his weight? Do you have enough help, ie cleaner, shopping online, childcare etc?

wickedwaterwitch Sun 07-Feb-16 09:14:27

And I think it's worth talking to your employer - if you're thinking of leaving you've got nothing to lose.

You are in a hard bit.

ChablisTyrant Sun 07-Feb-16 09:16:06

Try cutting your hours in your existing job. Why are you doing emails in the evenings and at weekends? You are just letting people know that you are available all hours. Work your standard hours and no more. Given you are thinking of leaving, what is the worst that can happen?

Towardsthesun Sun 07-Feb-16 09:22:25

I did. I spent months though researching and working out all the numbers so I knew I could survive. If you can find part-time work or reduce your hours that would be ideal as I have found it difficult to find a completely new job.

I would also say hang on in there as long as you can. I struggled for the last 3 years in my well-paid job. But now I look back and think thats three years salary and pension I managed to accumulate that I could have missed out on had I quit when I wanted to. It was hard but worth it.

Would you be planning to go back full-time when your dc are older? Take into account what a break would do to your career.

GreenRug Sun 07-Feb-16 09:27:19

I wrote and didn't post a thread about this exact same situation two days ago! I'm full time, pretty senior (board level but in a company where there are still several levels above that), and have 3 dc (all under 6, two not at school yet). Dh is more senior again and works hard and long hours (though always home for the witching hour in the evening, just starts work again after all kids asleep). I'm good at my job, I like that I've worked hard to get where I am, I like that my kids have a mum who's financially independent. I am wavering between sticking with it or trying to get a 'smaller' job. For me, what will probably swing it in favour of staying in my role is the potential loss of future earning power if I didn't. I can't contemplate being dependent on dh or worse, if we ever split, finding myself with not enough money to give my kids a reasonably comfortable life.

A pp is right (imo), these are the hardest years when it comes to trying to balance it all, as my youngest meets new milestones (seemingly every day!) I can see small glimpses of it improving.

On saying all of that though, if it's impacting your health in any long term way then I think that should take priority.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Sun 07-Feb-16 09:29:41

DH did, he went from doing a management level role with an investment bank, ridiculous hours etc to working for a smaller family firm earning less than half the salary but 9-5 hours, no management responsibilities, better work-life balance.

Much better for the family as a whole but one thing to consider is that it only took a couple of months for his new company to realise his skill-set and give him a whole new set of roles and responsibilities by stealth. He's had a bit of a pay-rise but nothing like what he would have got had he gone in at this level. He's still happy though as the work life balance is so much improved.

BarbarianMum Sun 07-Feb-16 09:30:25

Yes. Never regretted it. My kids (now 8 and 10) have never stopped needing to lot of my time and energy either. I gave up completely for several years (I know you aren't considering this) and am now back in a role similar to the one I left but on a very part time basis.

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