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To ask WOHM mums about your working hours?

(98 Posts)
GinnyLovesGin Thu 22-Feb-18 13:47:45

Yeah. Specifically mums.

I’m about to go back to work after my second stint of maternity leave. DD2 will be 9 months old and joining DD1 (aged 3) in a private nursery. I work 3 days per week in a really stressful job. I say three days but before I went on mat leave, I was working at the kitchen table every night after DD1 went to bed, attending seminars etc in the evenings etc. Basically I had a full time workload and three days in the office. I’m a solicitor in a huge firm. It is competitive as fuck.

I like my job but it is the kind of job where, to get anywhere with it, I need to study it, work late nights (client work as well as CPD/business development) and basically eat, sleep and breathe it. It isnt massively compatible with family life (if only someone had told me that five years ago). No flexible working etc.

I don’t feel great about having to work at all (I don’t think I’m SAHM material but in turn I feel bad about that), but we need both our salaries. We could exist on DHs salary but we wouldn’t have any disposable income and I want to be able to give the girls things like a nice house in a good area (where we are now, good schools etc) experiences, holidays etc. Equally, i don’t want to work and be considered mediocre or shit at my job (but my girls will always come first and I won’t make any apologies for that). So I feel like if I’m going to work then I need to try hard and do as well as I can. I want to succeed. And in turn I feel guilty about this.

My husbands work is a little more family friendly and he is usually home around six so if I need to do late nights etc then he’s there and he can (and does) do the nursery pick up, get dinner/bath/bed sorted as well as I can. We don’t have much other support so we are lucky in that respect.

I guess what I’m asking, very inarticulately, is how bad should I feel about this? I feel horrible crippling guilt. Like I know they have DH but I’m their mum and I should be there.

I’m just looking for thoughts and experiences I guess. I don’t know how to balance it.

AjasLipstick Thu 22-Feb-18 13:52:45

Your DC are really young yet OP. It gets unimaginably better when they hit 7 or so.

Then easier again. Toddlers are KNACKERING and whilst older children don't come stress-free, at least they actually go to sleep properly and communicate more effectively! grin

Stick with it....

AjasLipstick Thu 22-Feb-18 13:54:06

I didn't answer your question. I didn't go out to work until recently...I was freelance until my youngest hit 9.

I just couldn't cope with commuting and school and activities in addition to work. We've been POOR though so I am soon to begin 27 hours per week.

It's going to be ok I hope.

Speedy85 Thu 22-Feb-18 13:56:06

Random question OP but what city are you based in and are you willing to move? I am a solicitor too and might have a suggestion of an alternative employer....

Feel free to PM me.

museumum Thu 22-Feb-18 13:57:32

I feel zero “Mum” guilt if my dh is doing pick up /bath /bed. We take turns.

I do feel a bit bad if dh and I both have a work commitment the same day. We have occasionally both had to be out of town the same day while ds was in Nursery and a friend emergency contact. Luckily all was well.

I’d be a crap sahm. I work 4 days now and will do 5 with early finishes when the kids start school. I genuinely enjoy my days with the kids at present in a way I wouldn’t if it was all week long. Also my being at work too means dh gets to be an equal parent which he enjoys too.

QuilliamCakespeare Thu 22-Feb-18 13:57:58

DON'T feel guilty. We don't exist solely as vessels for our children. We are people in our own right and you deserve a job, an income, and some adult time where you are more than 'just' a mother. I say this as a Mum of two little ones who works four days per week. I miss them when they're not around, I worry about them when they're not in my direct line of sight, but I also know that the distance is very good for all of us.

It's hard balancing work and home life. I find there's still a tendency for the mental load to fall on me - washing, cleaning, ordering food shopping, cooking meals, wrapping birthday presents... this was all under my remit whilst on maternity leave and it's a habit that's hard to break now I'm back at work. We've hired a weekly cleaner which has made a significant difference.

sparklewater Thu 22-Feb-18 14:02:24

I work out of the home 4 days a week. I work evenings about 3 times a week, more during busy periods. I also travel three or four times a year and have a dozen or so overnighters.

But I do most school drop offs and about half pick ups. I am there for all plays, performances, etc. We spend weekends as a family, I never do evening work until they are in bed...

So I feel zero guilt, absolutely none. Kids are 8 and 3 and they don't even question that I work. The one day a week I have with the toddler is enough for me, I'd go mad if I had to do more!

The only time I regret the set up we have is during half terms etc. Everyone else seems to do fun stuff so I use up lots of holiday then.

puglife15 Thu 22-Feb-18 14:04:21

Tbh you've summarised the issue many women have. It's shit.

There are more family-friendly solicitors' firms out there that don't have such an imbalanced competitive culture, I'm guessing you're in a city so I'd start interviewing at more flexible places for a start if you want to get away from that.

There's no need to feel any guilt but you do need to make a difficult choice, are you going to try to do your job as before, or are you going to set limits so you can be more hands on ay home. No wrong or right answer but you can't really do both and guilt is pointless.

noneshallsleep2 Thu 22-Feb-18 14:09:19

I'm not sure if it's comforting to know that lots of people are in the same position!

I'm a solicitor too and went back full time after my first. On my first week back at work I got called into the office on the Saturday afternoon and had to work the weekend. It's tough. I now work a 9 day fortnight (ie alternate Fridays off).

But on the upside, you are working 3 days a week (admittedly it sounds like you have to juggle around that), but that is flexible working in its way - similarly if you're working at the kitchen table you're not stuck in the office and can still do goodnight kisses etc.

Do you have a support network at work of other mums in a similar position? It's somehow comforting to find other people with stories of trying to do conference calls at bathtime.

I don't think you should feel guilty about your choices at all. My kids are now 10 and 14, and I don't think my relationship with them has suffered as result of my choices (but this is the only life we've known!)

But only you will be able to decide if it's worth it.

GinnyLovesGin Thu 22-Feb-18 14:10:21

Yeah try getting a job in a small firm on three days a week. I’ve looked. Also, my salary for three days is pretty good. I’m not sure it would be as good in a small firm. Small firms have their disadvantages too. Less support.

I do intend on going up to four in a couple of years. Once DD2 is bigger. So that we can afford to move house. So maybe then.

NewBallsPlease00 Thu 22-Feb-18 14:12:04

Move to be an In House lawyer in retail, standard office hours...

Thurlow Thu 22-Feb-18 14:13:06

I work out of the home Tue-Thurs, commuting into London, so don't really see the kids bar 20 mins in the morning and at best an hour in the evening. We're fortunate that DP does shift work so they aren't often in childcare 10 hours those day.

Then I work from home on a Friday, which is lovely - I get to take DC to school and pick them up not long after 5 (though the lovely CM has already given them tea!) and have a nice evening.

I agree you often feel like you are doing a full-time job in part-time hours and I do do more work on the train and at lunchtime than I did when working f/t. However, this feels like the perfect mix for me as I do more then enough hours to still feel like part of the team and have time to work on big projects etc, but I'm not constantly worried about how much the kids are in childcare, whether I'm going to be late home and all that.

Believeitornot Thu 22-Feb-18 14:14:09

It’s harder being in a stressful job with the DCs at school - school events, parents evening, homework etc etc.

Without flexibility in your job, it’s awful. You miss out on loads. Also when your dc is having trouble etc and you need a word with the teacher etc.

Life is too short to work for “tomorrow”. See how you get on but set yourself a deadline as to when you’ll review as to whether it’s working for you or not.

NurseryFightClub Thu 22-Feb-18 14:14:38

Work five days a week as am contracting and they want full time, but I work at home 1-2 days a week so can at least do house work in lunch hours and leaves the weekend for fun

goodbyeeee Thu 22-Feb-18 14:23:22

I'm a lawyer and also work 3 days a week in a challenging role. DC are 6 and 2. I work in house in the public sector. Yes the money isn't amazing but it isnt bad either. My employer is brilliant with work life balance and I work one of my days from home. I went through a period not so long ago of just feeling like I'm treading water but decided that, for now, staying on a level where the balance is right for the family is fine. I'm doing small things to get some development under my belt but I can really push on when DC are older.

I know it's hard not to feel guilty but don't. It's about finding a balance. flowers

frutti Thu 22-Feb-18 14:25:18

I gave up my senior finance role to be a sahm mum. Honestly I was sooooo bored at home but now after a year I love it. I’m so relaxed and have met so many other sahm or pt mums to spend the day with rather than being bored at home. Last year I was pulling my hair out at everything.

I think you should try to downsize your role by moving jobs so that you have less work outside of work if that makes sense.

I wish I was still working but for me personally I just could not cope with the school run in the morning plus catching up with all the school letters/homework and my own job work as well (& I had an in house nanny 7am-7pm!) ) I used to feel awful and worked in the office 4 days a week plus one at home and was working ALL the time outside of that but never felt so guilty I wanted to stay at home.

For me though things fell apart when dd started school & I just could not cope with running for my train to London after dropping dd at school then trying hard to get back home to be able to carry on working then read my dd homework book and check she was on top of things at school. She also had to have extra help at home with reading and my nanny was useless so I just quit and my dd is now ahead. Something a lot of people don’t always think of is how much you want to be there to help your dc with homework/music lessons/sports clubs etc. Although some childminders are good at this I’m sure. I had moved jobs to help but it was same old story and I didn’t bother going PT as I knew I’d end up sill working long hours.

Perhaps if you are able to focus on your career maybe your h might be able to scale his down? I always felt less guilty if one of us was able to be at home at least a little bit. Have you thought about your childcare for school? That’s what really made life difficult for me anyway. Good luck

DontbouncelikeIdid Thu 22-Feb-18 14:28:32

Stop with the guilt! The DC need a parent about, but it does not have to be all down to you. Can your DH reduce his hours at all, maybe drop one of the days you work to even thing up a bit? DH and I have always both worked slightly reduced hours, and it gives us a nice balance.

DuxFeminaFacti Thu 22-Feb-18 14:28:39

I am a solicitor but now in a non-fee earning"risk" role at a large law firm.

I work 9-5pm, one day off a week, one day WFH.

I have one primary school aged child.

It is difficult to go "part time" in the law (even for a role like mine which is deemed to be a support role, and not client facing) so hats off to you for trying three days...

I can only suggest you try to manage expectations and not do too many late nights. Do also investigate non-fee earning options legal roles which may give you a bit more flexibility and minimise the client socialising aspects, etc.

Believeitornot Thu 22-Feb-18 14:30:47

@frutti
You sound like me, even down to the useless nanny! I’ve changed jobs but it’s not working so will resign in a few weeks to give me a chance to save money.

CoffeeCupCake Thu 22-Feb-18 14:40:19

What would happen if you stopped doing the work outside of your contracted hours? Are we talking low appraisal scores and no promotions, or losing your job? If your employers are genuinely giving you more work than you can do in your hours (assuming full competency on your part), then that’s not fair.

I know this is a very simplistic view, but I often wonder why people put up with it when they ‘have to’ take work home. Not talking about self-employed people etc who get more out if they put more in.

CoffeeCupCake Thu 22-Feb-18 14:49:00

Cross-posted with Dux who understands your industry better than me. That sounds like good advice!

LaurieMarlow Thu 22-Feb-18 15:04:33

I often wonder why people put up with it when they ‘have to’ take work home

I don't work in law, but in my industry (and I suspect this is pretty universal) it comes down to the fact that client deadlines have to be met. Otherwise unhappy clients, business compromised, revenue lost.

And it's rare to be in a position where the work can be comfortably covered within office hours.

OP 3 days a week, even if they are stressful days sounds pretty good to me. It is very hard finding a balance. Outsource as much housework as you can and talk to your partner about doing his fair share with the kids.

CoffeeCupCake Thu 22-Feb-18 15:41:04

I don't work in law, but in my industry (and I suspect this is pretty universal) it comes down to the fact that client deadlines have to be met. Otherwise unhappy clients, business compromised, revenue lost.

I get that, but if people stopped putting up with it and working for free then employers would have to pay for the additional resource needed to meet the deadlines.

grasspigeons Thu 22-Feb-18 15:46:35

If you worked 5 days would you be able to fit all the CPD/client stuff into a standard working week - it might be more family friendly to work 5 days but have every evening at home as sacred 'at home time'. Or is it just clients expect stuff over night, and all the training is based around evenings and early starts.

LaurieMarlow Thu 22-Feb-18 15:52:34

I get that, but if people stopped putting up with it and working for free then employers would have to pay for the additional resource needed to meet the deadlines.

There are enough people out there prepared to do it so you'd be easily replaced (rather than supplemented with extra resource) if you take a stand.

These jobs attract hungry people who don't mind the extra hours so long as its rewarded in pay/promotion/bonuses. Lots of people's pay will be linked to their billable hours or revenue they bring in, so the incentives are there.

There's often an expectation in these companies that you want to progress. Some (though not all) are deeply uncomfortable with employees who want to stay at the level they're at.

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