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How do working mums do it?

(349 Posts)
magicat Fri 26-May-17 11:41:01

I've been at home with our 4 DC for 12 years. Now that they're all in school a couple of people have asked me, "What do you do all day?" and "Are you returning to work now then?"

I'm not against the idea of returning to work, (even though DH tells me not to bother), but I doubt I'd get a job that fits within school hours. DH doesn't get in until 7.30 / 8pm and often travels as well. When I try and think through the logistics of it all, I wonder how it would actually work because -

- We have no family support around
- Somebody would need to collect the younger DC at 3.15
- Who would get the kids to school?
- I would need to take days off for sickness (with 4 DC they can tend to get things one after the next)
- What about school holidays?
- They would need to drop after school clubs probably as it might be too much for a childminder to facilitate
- When would I do food shopping and dinner would be a rush
- I'm not sure I could keep on top of the house, even with a cleaner
- When would I fit all the other "stuff" in because I find I'm running round most days as it is
- Would the childminder be able to facilitate / check homework because with 4 DC this is a lot? Not to mention music practice and this kind of thing.

If anyone else is in my position i.e. no family support, a fair few DC and a DH with very minimal input into the day-to-day running of things, could I please ask how you made returning to work "work" and are you permanently exhausted and overwhelmed?

Nan0second Fri 26-May-17 11:44:52

As a working mum of only one, the key is good, robust childcare and the ability to outsource cleaning (depending on how much you work).
2 days a week is very different to full time as is term time versus whole year contracts.

Holidaytime17 Fri 26-May-17 11:44:59

I have 3. Up until now I have been doing 9 -5 and dh does 4 -12. We just work around each other. The 2 eldest do a couple of hours in school club. Order food in online.

From September we are both planning to work in day and by January time I am looking to get an after school nanny if poss.

I don' t take time off for sick unless it is really serious as opposed to bit of cough/cold.

LuchiMangsho Fri 26-May-17 11:47:57

We have a nanny for school drop offs/pick ups etc. I went back to work when DC1 was 7 months old. Yes I take days off for sickness. Or the nanny looks after them. She also sorts our extra curricular stuff although I handle the music stuff.
Food shopping is done online and the weekends.
I meal plan meticulously for the week and batch cook. From coming home I have dinner on the table in 15 mins.
When DC are in bed I prep for the next day. DH is hands on but works long hours. He irons uniforms etc which are laid out for the week. I do any admin and housework needed.
We have a cleaner.
We set aside an hour on saturday and Sunday for any housework.
Nanny handles school holidays plus we take time off.
I am tired but not overwhelmingly so. I am fairly organised as is DH so it's been okay. There are bad weeks here and there when the DC are ill and up at night etc but overall entirely manageable.
Your children are presumably much older so should be able to help with housework as well.

LuchiMangsho Fri 26-May-17 11:48:44

We also have zero family support. All 4 grandparents live between 3000-5000 miles away. My sibling lives 5 hours away.

Stopandlook Fri 26-May-17 11:50:32

I was lucky to be able to go 3 days a week on a fulfilling job - harder to find something in my area part time from scratch.

I use before and after school club 3 days a week.

House stays tidy on my work days she no problem there.

I do supermarket shopping online.

Activities they mostly do at weekends.

Holidays I overlap some annual leave with my DH, a couple of days at Granny's, occasionally holiday club.

Homework we manage ourselves.

They aren't sick enough for it to be a big problem and if it's just a cold related fever we power through with calpol.

But if you don't want or need to work, and are happy with your routine, just enjoy it and don't worry what others think.

splendide Fri 26-May-17 11:57:20

Same way working dads do oddly.

gandalf456 Fri 26-May-17 11:58:38

I work shifts around the school (late nights, mornings). It can work up to 30 hours per week but only 17 of these are contractual so I just do those during the holidays, which are the late ones.

I have 2 DC aged 8 and 13. Youngest has had a spate of colds which has been tough for both of us. Eldest has MH problems, which have improved a lot of late. In-laws are too old to help out now and I have to help my mum with many things as she is starting to have various health problems. I have a sister and BIL locally but their kids go to different schools so no help really.

I do get very, very tired sometimes, the more hours I do as it is a physical job with irregular hours.

I see many, many threads on here with women feeling pressured to get back to work as soon as their DC start reception. The pressure sometimes comes from their DH but, more often than not, from other women, too.

There should be a big sign up, flashing in neon, saying you are not free when they start school because it really is very difficult to fit everything in - especially when your DH has got used to having someone at home doing all the invisible work and thinking it is easy.

PippaFawcett Fri 26-May-17 11:59:43

Me and DH both work FT, we moved last year to make my commute easier as it was always one hour each way but it could be 1.5 hours, and it is now a 20 minute drive. We don't have any family support either but we have used childminders, nurseries and preschool over the years but it is definitely easier now they are both at school.

DH and I take opposite holidays to cut down on childcare costs, he is off with them next week, I did a week at Easter.

I changed jobs from an inflexible but demanding one with lots of unplanned overtime (which I loved!) to one that I find a bit boring but I can work from home easily when they are ill. Our house is a constant mess which gets me down, DH and I row about cleaning every weekend (we can't afford a cleaner at the moment but hope to in the future) and I am fat partly because I don't make time for myself. Other than that, it is great!

Xmasbaby11 Fri 26-May-17 12:02:10

Wraparound care either with school or childminder.

I get home 5.30
Dinner 6
Homework after dinner
Bed at 8

They can't do activities on work days.

It's not bad as long as you're organised. I only work 3 days a week.

80sMum Fri 26-May-17 12:02:27

When our children were school age, I worked part-time in a term-time only job. I didn't switch back to full time work until DD left home for university.

My DH often worked abroad. At one point he was away for one week in every three, then when the DCs were in their mid teens he worked and lived abroad for 2 years, with me and the DCs visiting in the holidays. After that he worked away during the week and was only at home at weekends.

There's no way that I would have considered full time working during that time!

NotJanine Fri 26-May-17 12:02:41

Most of your questions just relate to childcare, so that's really all you need to sort out. Does the school have a before/after school club?

Also, have you looked at what sort of jobs are available locally that you would be interested in?

NoLoveofMine Fri 26-May-17 12:02:42

Same way working dads do oddly.

Exactly. No-one ever asks fathers "how do you manage it?" with regards to their work. They just assume it's the role of women to do everything at home. As the OP says:

a DH with very minimal input into the day-to-day running of things

Which seems completely acceptable, yet would rarely if ever be said about a mother who worked.

ThreeForAPound Fri 26-May-17 12:03:36

Good childcare. I only have two DC, but they always went to full time nursery as little ones, then breakfast club and after school club as needed.

A shared approach to DC's sickness, school events and other child-related stuff. Me and DH divvy up days off when the DCs are ill (and they have to be genuinely to miss school), and take turns to attend school plays, parents evenings etc.

If you can afford cleaner it makes things easier, but its not an essential.

DC take more responsibility for their own organisation - Mummy doesn't do everything for everyone wink.

Its do-able, but you have to want to do it/need to do it, and your DH has to be supportive.

stuckinthehouse Fri 26-May-17 12:05:08

Yes many working mums seem to manage but I wonder how many of them have 4 dc. I'm expecting our 3rd at the moment and increasingly aware of the impact on my time that a third will have.

Holidaytime17 Fri 26-May-17 12:06:07

I have 3 and we want another in a couple of years. I will not be quitting work and wouldn't even consider it.

magicat Fri 26-May-17 12:06:25

As things are now, I need to be mobilised by 2.45 to get to the school. After that I don't really stop until at least 10.30 and I'm shattered as it is. It's also non-stop between 5.30-8.30.
It would be hard to enlist "help" now after all these years but I accept that's probably my issue. DH is fine if I ask him to do something, but he has no idea about "invisible"work as gandalf calls it.

MiddleMaryJayne Fri 26-May-17 12:06:37

Same way that working dad's sort all that...!

What you've described is more like "how could I work FT and have the same commitments on my plate as before" (which you're right, wouldn't work).

The answer is a mix of: two working parents thus both taking a fair share of household stuff you've described (covering illness, shopping, whatever.. doesn't have to mean everything split in half but should reflect equal efforts), outsourcing to school clubs or childcare, reducing what you commit to, simplifying (e.g. batch cook).

What you're talking about in the OPis trying to do everything to the level of a SAHP as WELL as working whilst having zero support from the other parent.... Not a workable setup nor a particularly healthy dynamic to demonstrate to DCs, I'd suggest. You'd be better as a single parent than the set up you describe.

WifeofUthred Fri 26-May-17 12:06:47

We both work full time, to dc at primary school. They go to wraparound care at school from 7.45 and Dh picks them up at 5.30pm.

We do online shopping, the only after school clubs they do are incorporated into wraparound. We take turns taking time off for illness, we both get 5 days carer's leave and after that it is unpaid or annual leave. For holidays they go to a holiday club run by the same wraparound for some of the time and we take time off for the rest.

We have no local support and it is hard sometimes. Most of the time we are just keeping our head above the water.

NoLoveofMine Fri 26-May-17 12:07:07

My mum has my two brothers and I and has a great career. She does more than manage as she's a fantastic mum and role model.

How do working dads manage?

NoLoveofMine Fri 26-May-17 12:08:33

DH is fine if I ask him to do something, but he has no idea about "invisible"work as gandalf calls it.

Then even what he's doing is actually work you're having to do as he's only doing it once you've told him, so you're having to keep track of that as well as what you do. This seems relevant: english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

Holidaytime17 Fri 26-May-17 12:08:59

Do you mind me asking what you are doing in the home until 10.30pm?

Ginger782 Fri 26-May-17 12:09:45

It's not the bloody "same way working dads do" at all unless he is a single parent hmm
Don't turn OP's question into a feminist argument.

It's not the same because the scenario OP presented was that her DH works a lot and she balances the home/children side of their duties. If she started working full time hours then unless they took a third spouse to takeover what she WAS doing it wouldn't be "the same way dads do".

NoLoveofMine Fri 26-May-17 12:10:07

Why are men not expected to do their fair share of household work? By fair share I mean actual fair share, not just when asked or some housework here and there but not the details such as shopping lists, keeping track of when children need to be taken where etc.

MiddleMaryJayne Fri 26-May-17 12:10:08

DH is fine if I ask him to do something

Then that would need to change. You can't have coordinating and managing his household effort as well as your own. Because that's not a fair split. Also means that you're still "owning" stuff as opposed to him taking the initiative of being an equal parent with equal responsibility.

If I had to think about all the household chores and DH just had to follow my prompts it'd be exhausting!

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