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to not let parenting guilt win AGAIN

(14 Posts)
DreamingOfADifferentMe Wed 02-Mar-16 18:39:03

Holy hell, need a hand with the parental guilt here please.

We run our own business and work from an office at home. I work four days, which is usually more than full-time hours given the stuff in the evenings, and DH works five. Business is booming, which is great but we're not quite ready to take on someone and move to premises though this is the next step in the hopefully not-too-distant future so the pressure is pretty high.

We have two little ones: DD1 is 5 and in her first year of school, while DD2 starts school in Sept. Currently, DD1 comes home every day straight after school and we juggle her between us two days a week and my DM comes over and sits with her two days a week (with the other DD too as she finishes pre-school earlier on those days). On my day off, I'm with DD2, so DD1 just comes home as usual.

As the business is getting busier, it's getting really tough to have her at home from 3, when really we should be still working until around 5. We tried an after-school club a handful of times and she didn't like it and said she'd prefer to come home, which I was fine with as the last thing I want to do is send her somewhere she's unhappy. Plus, my vision of working for ourselves was that we did it around the kids. However, the practicalities of a growing business means that it's no longer than simple. My stress levels are going through the roof when I'm trying to deal with her and her needs - food, drink, colouring-in book, a cuddle - and those of a client.

She's adamant that she doesn't want to do the after-school club for those two days, but we're struggling to cope. Am I being horrific in deciding that this is the best thing for us all, or do I put up and shut up and keep on juggling. At this rate I'll be in a bloody circus.

All thoughts welcome...

dontcryitsonlyajoke Wed 02-Mar-16 18:49:34

I work a bit like this for part of the year (freelance, normally done in school hours but have one annual contract where I work crazy hours for about 3 months). There are probably 3 days a week where I pick my kids up from school and they get too much iPad/tv time while I work and then I try to keep the others free by working evenings or a bit of the weekend. My youngest is 20mo and at CM until 6 on those 3 days as I couldn't work with him around but it works ok with the older 2.

I hate it, feeling like I should be with them instead of working, but they quite like it, like me being available but not on top of them, and much more flexible about screen time than I am the rest of the year grin. It's a job where they can interrupt if they really need me and I can usually drop stuff until later if they're clearly in need of mum time, so that makes me feel better.

A few ideas which I've used: hire a teenager to come and do one afternoon a week of fun stuff? Employ an au pair or nanny? Use after school activity clubs ( the hour long art or chess club rather than extended hours childcare clubs) to grab you an extra hour - this works particularly well for us. Arrange lots of play dates - on a work day your DD to goes to friends and then you have friends back on your off days.

If you see light at the end of the tunnel in terms of bringing somebody in that would free up your or your husbands time then I'd just carry on for now. If you think this is a longer term issue then maybe look at an after school CM or swapping a couple of your after school work sessions for a weekend morning so your DDs have at least one parent available more frequently.

dontcryitsonlyajoke Wed 02-Mar-16 18:50:30

I totally relate to the stress issues by the way. It's very tough working for yourself around your children - you feel like you, child and client are all getting a raw deal.

DreamingOfADifferentMe Wed 02-Mar-16 19:41:01

Oh Don'tcry (how apt your name is right now!), you're spot on with every point. It feels bloody tough and yes, it does feel like everyone is getting short-changed, me especially. And actually, just knowing that someone gets it feels pretty good.

Playdates are a good idea, though tricky to reciprocate as my day off is when she has swimming almost straight after school, but i'm sure I could work something. And yes, the idea of a nanny for a couple of hours a few times a week has crossed my mind, but I just feel so guilty, which I know is crazy. It feels like I'm failing when the plan was that I could have my cake and eat it - i.e., work and earn money and grow the business and still be there for the kids. I think I need to get over this!

Really appreciate your responses, thank you. Nice to know I'm not alone!

CalleighDoodle Wed 02-Mar-16 19:48:39

Could breakfast club then start work early and finish at 3 for 5 days a week work? I find my 5 year old is quite happy When she goes to breakfast club but after school things exhaust her.

nephrofox Wed 02-Mar-16 19:56:59

I don't know what business you're in, but if the issue is 2 days a week 3-5pm, then that's only 4 hours to make up elsewhere?

Can you block it out at paperwork time, which could then be completed when kids are in bed?

Could you work on the 5th day during school hours?

DreamingOfADifferentMe Wed 02-Mar-16 20:01:31

Calleigh, yep, I like your thinking, but before school we still have DD2, so wouldn't be able to work then anyway.

nephrofox, I see what you mean, but as we're already working most evenings, it's hard to gain back the four hours. And although there is paperwork that needs to be done, we're both client facing, so need to be responsive to emails and calls, which is tricky with a five year old demanding a toasted tea cake or for you to come and let her draw around your hand.
And on the fifth day, I'm with DD2 as she hasn't started school yet.

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 02-Mar-16 21:04:28

Just to pick up on your last comment....'before school we still have dd2'

Could you do semi shifts so one of you starts work at 8 and works till 4, the other starts post school run breaks for collection until 4 then works a couple of hours till story/ dc bedtime.

This is looking for something you can get to work for a year(ish) its a long stopgap not the rest if your lives whilst business is booming and growing.

It'd mean that mon- fri there's less family time but if everyone had clear roles the dc would still get lots of parent time and it may help with the guilt.

My dsis works from home and her DC are through the clingy post school age now, which passes remarkably quickly. She breaks to collect them from school and hear about their day then they go off and she gets another few hours in till family tea time (queen of batch cooking and the slow cooker meal). It can work, but it takes time to find a rhythum.

Grapejuicerocks Wed 02-Mar-16 21:09:19

She's old enough to be supplied with everything she needs and then to know she mustn't interrupt Mummy or she will have to go to afterschool club in future.
Then over to her.

DreamingOfADifferentMe Wed 02-Mar-16 21:17:11

MisFor, do you know, I'm not sure how we haven't thought of that before, but that's a real option to cram in a little more time. Twice a week one of us takes DD2 to nursery while the other takes DD1 to school as the timings clash slightly, but there's no reason we can't make that work better with one of us either dropping DD2 off a little earlier and then working straightaway or even one of us doing both drop offs with some military precision. Hmmmm. Will ponder that a little more. Thank you!

And yes, like your sis, I do love having the chance to catch up with them about their day as I get them a snack and hear the ups and the downs (apparently someone accidentally pooed on the toilet floor today) before I go back to it.

And yes Grape, it feels a little harsh but I think you're right, maybe that is the way to do it - to give her some responsibility for what she does and how she does it, and if one of us is finishing earlier, say 4/4.30ish, it's not so much to ask of her.

Great thinking everyone - it's feeling more manageable already. Mind you, that may also have something to do with the fact that I've just sent a huge piece of work off to a client and can relax a little though will still be sodding working until midnight at this rate.

dontcryitsonlyajoke Wed 02-Mar-16 22:28:51

Being really strict on timings really helps. I'm not sure what your business is but being responsive and available to clients doesn't mean always being available at the drop of a hat. I'm v clear upfront with the client that I do the very busy job for that I am available certain core hours each week and the rest of the work I do at a time that fits better with me/job requirements so core hours are 9-3 on 4 days. Client can always get me then, and I am available at other times but maybe not instantaneously.

Thinking about it, I nearly always take an hour off 3-4 to do pick up and have a drink/snack with my kids. Then I work 4-5.30, fetch the toddler and have 2 hours off to do tea and bed (though sometimes take quick calls if needed) then back at it in the evening.

Staggered days for you and DP could be a great idea - clients have a longer day to have at least one of you available, the kids have one of you for more hours, and the one not working can get some house stuff done while the other is busy so your down time together can be proper down time.

It's doable, but needs strict planning, and I think also needs time built in to release the pressure. So perhaps you work long and/or staggered hours Mon-Weds but then finish at 5 on the dot Thurs and Fri?

You know it's not forever, and your goal of being around for your family will happen as you get to the point where you can take on extra staff. Grit your teeth and do your best. It sounds like DD1 is actually pretty happy and you're the one worrying - this is the right way round and suggests you're managing it all pretty well! smile

dontcryitsonlyajoke Wed 02-Mar-16 22:33:21

Also I'm often hugely stressed, but it's quite temporary due to deadlines. I have no doubts that working like this, being there to pick my kids up from school every day and having some control over my hours is better for us all. I'm also not wasting / hours a day commuting. So I'm much happier overall than when I was out working in an office 8-6 and DS was in nursery those hours, and my DC are happy kids.

Mellowautumn Wed 02-Mar-16 22:34:47

Afternoon mothers help ? Local 6th former or child care trainee from local collage - try to finds someone who can do hoildays as well and baby sitting - I had a lovely girl who helped with home work and tea - she now babysits and does some of the evening activities ferrying around for me - kids love her and sure is flexible -I do pay over the odds

DreamingOfADifferentMe Wed 02-Mar-16 23:00:10

Thank you so much Don'tcry, that's all hugely helpful. I must admit, it's all too easy to get bogged down by the 'man, this is all so tough' mindset that it's easy to lose sight of the pluses, which is that there's always one of us around for the school runs, for assemblies, for when they're ill and so on, and yes, like yours, they are happy kids.

I'll definitely give your brilliant suggestions some thought as I really don't want her to be forced into doing anything she doesn't want to do.

Mellow, I also love this idea too, and it's one I'll definitely consider, especially in Sept when there'll be two of the little terrors after school. The idea of the holidays terrify me so to find someone local who could be there and lend a hand rather than us panicking trying to work out who does what and how.

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