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To find working with 2 young DCs so difficult?

(38 Posts)
Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 08:43:43

I am looking for work at the moment, I have been out of work for 2 months as I left a role due to the commute (too long to fit around childcare hours). DH works full time and is paid daily so taking time off is not ideal. He earns good money so it is just possible for me not to work and we can 'manage' but it's far from ideal financially and won't work long term. I feel a lot of pressure from him and society and friends to work. I also want to work for my mental health and enjoyment / career progression. I quite enjoy my job and am at quite a senior level where I can earn reasonable money.

I have two DCs aged 5 and 2.5yrs. One in school, one in nursery. Since September (school term) we have had 10 bouts of illness between them. Some of these fell in school holidays/weekends so I was either off work anyway or at least DC1 didn't miss school. With each of these illnesses there has been at least 1-2 days of not being able to attend childcare. Some things e.g. Chickenpox obviously required me or someone to care for them for over a week and no school/childcare attendance. They eat really well (good diet) and DC1 at least has good hygiene at school as I have drilled it in to her...nevertheless lots of illness.

Next week I have managed to get 3 interviews, I have worked really hard to get these interviews and feel pleased to have done so BUT now have DC1 off school again with a tummy bug and I would imagine DC2 may catch it (and possibly me!). DH will, if he has to take a day off, but he isn't keen to and I can't ask family because they will not look after poorly children who are contagious due to health concerns. This is totally fair enough and I wouldn't expect them to but what does everyone else do?

I am starting to wonder if it is actually possible to hold down a full (or even part time or freelance) job without constant stress of kids being ill / needing emergency childcare? I am genuinely interested in how people manage this? Perhaps we are just unlucky with DC1 in that she does seem to catch everything....but I have found it much harder since the arrival of DC2 as we just seem to have double the amount of illness as they catch from one another!

Has anyone found any sort of solution to this or got any words of advice. I feel a bit of a fraud going to interviews knowing that I will always need to take time off to care for poorly children.

Kronutpearl Thu 02-Feb-17 08:45:51

Well firstly I work somewhere where there is no stigma or lack of understanding if your child is ill.

Secondly I also make sure I am set up to work from home. So if ds is ill I can still get work done.

tornandhurt Thu 02-Feb-17 08:50:48

I really feel you. Unfortunately, I think its just really shitty timing.

I had exactly the same issue a few years ago. I have 3 dcs and recall starting a new job - that was great in terms of career progression. I was there 2 days when eldest dc came down with chicken pox, followed by second DD a week later.....all in all I was 3 weeks off having only been there a couple of days.

Luckily my employer was very understanding of the situation and I had the flexibility that I could pick up work from home and access the office in the evening/weekends to show willing when DH was home.

Depending on the type of job you're going for, might this be an option? The alternative is to perhaps find something round your partners hours until the children are a little older maybe?

It is hard though so I know where you're coming from

Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 08:51:03

Yes I've always been able to work from home but very tricky for jobs where there are lots of meetings / events (like mine) but perhaps need to focus on having less of this!

Do private nannies still work if children are off school / ill? I know they're a pricey option but wondering if it might be better for us!

Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 08:54:15

Yes I have thought about other work to fit around my partner but realistically we would hardly see each other and I feel it's such a waste of 12 years experience. The sort of work I do is not something I could pick up again in a few years really, it's a really fast paced industry and I feel being 'out of the game' would reflect badly. I guess loads of parents feel this way and consider career changes etc I am just feeling frustrated as on paper we could be earning good money and both have good careers but I feel like it's a constant battle to get there. Perhaps I need to be more relaxed about it and realise it's not forever. I've been at home a lot lately as not working and i think I've also got cabin fever!

Goldenhandshake Thu 02-Feb-17 08:55:35

I work full time and have 2 DC, however I made it clear from the get go that I had kids and required a degree of flexibiltiy, I am lucky in that the 'presenteeism' culture has been stamped down on, and my direct line manager is fabulously flexible as he also has 2 kids of a similar age and appreciates there are illnesses, school assemblies etc. Basically as long as the work gets done, I attend the meetings I need to and am contactable, there is no issue. I usually work from home during any illnesses, but appreciate this isn't possible for everyone.

Do you need to work full time, or would something with reduced hours be doable?

NapQueen Thu 02-Feb-17 08:55:52

A private Nanny will care for the dcs when they are ill, yes, however if it's with something like chicken pox and the Nanny hasn't had it (or is pg) then obviously they won't do it.

Tbh if your dh is insisting you get a job then he needs to help facilitate that, and supporting you through interviews (stepping in to mind poorly dc) is part of that.

What is your threshold like for child illness? Fair enough chicken pox/vomiting etc but if they have a bad cough or the sniffles then it's a dose of calpol if needed and off to school for mine.

questioningitall Thu 02-Feb-17 08:57:14

Yes a nanny will look after ill children but you've got to take into account what you will do if the nanny's ill.

Crumbs1 Thu 02-Feb-17 08:57:53

I always used a nanny/mothers help until the first three were a little older then had a housekeeper. It is tough but the number of bugs does seem to settle down - so maybe some truth in notion of locality pools of germs.
I became fascist about hand washing to reduce risks but in truth it's a phase we go through. Suspect my youngest ones had innate/early resistance as they hardly ever caught anything.

questioningitall Thu 02-Feb-17 08:58:56

Sorry posted too soon. Yes I work full time. Two DCs 7 and 5. I've always had the option to work from home and as a boss who employs two mums I am very flexible when they have childcare situations. We are out there! Look for work where the boss is a parent. They will be far more understanding.

Bobochic Thu 02-Feb-17 09:02:20

If you have no family to help out in emergencies, a nanny can buy a lot of peace of mind.

waterrat Thu 02-Feb-17 09:03:36

It is hard...no denying it.

Ny employer (and I work in a fairly cut throat industry generally) is understanding when my kids are ill. Never ideal but normal human beings understand that kids get sick. I use a childminder snd she doesn't mind the kids having colds...Obviously I then accept other parents send their kids with these little bugs too but thst is fine with me.

Fundamentally it sounds like your partner is not prepared to take any slack here - he should also take some of the kids sick days.

I would honestly say do go bavk to work if you have a long term aim to do work you enjoy as it won't get easier.. you qill always feel the pull of children's needs against work.

However think hard if you are doing this for your own goals and don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

And seriously both parents have to make sacrifices with their career or it isn't fair

Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 09:04:18

Good tips thank you! My most recent (non permanent) work was freelance, super flexible and my boss was a parent and it did work well so yes I need to replicate that.

You're right about DH, he's not insisting I work but is keen for me to do so both for my career and also for money! But you're right, he never suggests he will take time off for caring I have to ask him. Having said that he doesn't get paid if he's not there so I can understand why he's not jumping to do it.

Illness threshold interesting one, usually only home for sickness or for chicken pox / contagious disease! Last week I have DC2 home though with a nasty cold because nursery called to say temperature was too high / she was unsettled. DC1 currently off with fever and not eating. Will definitely be in school tomorrow if no actual vomiting!!

waterrat Thu 02-Feb-17 09:04:49

I also recommend hunting for employers who are good about a bit of flexible working from home etc when kids are sick.

I have worked for some brilliant people who understand thst parents are often very driven to get shit done !

schokolade Thu 02-Feb-17 09:06:25

Oh yes, the dreaded illnesses. We're in the same position, except that DH does his share.

I really think your DH needs to step up here as well. I understand that he's not keen to take a day off, but, well, you're not exactly ecstatic about it yourself are you?! It pisses me off that men get away with this sort of thing. Imagine a mother saying "I don't really fancy taking a day off to look after my sick child.". The response would be "tough".

Other than that, we have found you need and understanding employer and some flexibility in working location/hours (although this doesn't help much when your DC is 2.5, tbh).

It's tough, isn't it? I worry about this a lot too.

waterrat Thu 02-Feb-17 09:07:36

I have been thinking thst as kids get a bit older an au pair is a good solution..

Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 09:08:31

We do have family to help out but they're an hour away and quite old now so I feel more than once in a blue moon is asking a lot. Also my parents won't care for them when have a sickness bug just because they both have issues themselves. I totally get this. My MIL is good but still works herself so feel it's a lot to ask but maybe I should do!

I do feel like I just need to prioritise my career now a bit, DH has had a good run (5yrs) full time work with very little sacrifice in terms of time off (I've been part time / v flexible in last job but commute just got too far as we've moved) so maybe it's my turn for a bit now and we just suffer him not earning for the odd day. I know if I suggest this he will be outraged but long term it has to happen otherwise I feel my chance will be missed!

Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 09:08:58

Do au pairs still work with child is poorly though?!

questioningitall Thu 02-Feb-17 09:18:43

Yes au pairs will work when child is poorly. It's if they (the au pair) is ill it gets more tricky.

I would also remind your DH that most employers will insist that time off to take care of ill children is unpaid. So he should be prepared to evenly split the childcare.

It's only really now that my children are a bit older that I can genuinely work from home when they are ill. You get than 4 was a struggle as they need much more attention.

questioningitall Thu 02-Feb-17 09:19:24

* younger than 4.

Bloody phone.

minipie Thu 02-Feb-17 09:21:38

Yes you ask your DH to share the burden.

And a nanny is a good option if you can afford it. Ours will certainly look after ill DC and has had one sick day in 3.5 years (she is an absolute trooper). Nanny is much less likely to get sick than DC.

Au pairs, I wouldn't ask an au pair to look after a small child who was ill but an older ill child (who was mainly going to be on sofa in front of tv) would be ok.

schokolade Thu 02-Feb-17 09:39:01

Please do prioritize (or at least equalize!) your career for a while. Your DH is resisting because he's had it very easy until now on the "downsides of parenting" front. I see this all the time at my workplace - lots of men saying that kids aren't that hard work. The rare ones who disagree are the ones who are actually sharing the load!

Assuming your DH is a reasonable sort underneath I'm sure he'll see things are unfair. Ask him why, if it's so hard for him to contemplate a day off, you're expected to do them all? What is special about his job that wouldn't be a problem for you?

Once you get sorted with your DH things will be MUCH easier for you. Good luck!

Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 10:17:03

Thank you, I feel much better about it all already! I sent him a quick email this morning and he has arranged home working for when needed and agrees that I do more than my 'fair share' so is happy to start sharing the load more. He is a reasonable sort underneath, think he's just got used to the way things are, mostly since my second mat leave because I dropped to part time and could work from home when needed. Also as he earns more we have prioritised that but I think that's been to the detriment of my career so we need to equalise things a bit more now!

early30smum Thu 02-Feb-17 10:18:51

It is really, really hard. I work part time and have 2 kids (7 and 4) and what I will say is, as they get older, touch wood, they seem to get ill less. I cannot work from home, my job means I have to be physically at work. My DH and I have had massive fights when the kids were younger and one was ill about who would be the one to take time off. It wasn't fun. I've worked full time, part time and been a SAHM. There is no 'right' way but I personally think it's good to work if you enjoy it and it makes financial sense. Kids won't get ill this often forever and if you enjoy your job I'd say stick at it.

Wootle123 Thu 02-Feb-17 10:22:22

That's what I think, I could stop working and we would survive (with no holidays!) but I think it's not a great long term plan. I am also relatively young so have maybe 30 years left where I could work (touch wood), what will I do all the time once they've grown up if I don't work! Don't think I would enjoy it then. Thanks for the tips! I do feel more positive that it will improve / I should stick with it.

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