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To want to be there for my DS?

(10 Posts)
SprocketAndTubbs Thu 24-Sep-09 08:02:29


Apologies in advance if this ends up being a bit long winded.

I have worked full time from leaving school (I'm 34 now). I even cut my maternity leave short and went back when DS was just 5 months old hmm. I am a single mum and like to think that I have been independant and supported myself and DS with mainly my wage. Any hope of working less hours has never been an option - or so I believed - so I had put it to the back of my mind and got on with things.

Anyhoo, over the last couple of months, I have been quite horribly bullied at work (believe it or not, I work in HR). A lot of this seems to have been resolved now for the time being, but when the bullying was at its peak, I had a week off work to try to get myself together - and I saw the light!! For the first time ever I collected my son from school (he is 6 and has always been to an After School facility). I don't know who was more excited to be at the school gates every day - him or me!! It has made me realise what I have been missing out on for the last 6 years and admit to myself that, for me, I have got my priorities completely wrong.

I am now back at work still with the frosty atmosphere and have considered asking for flexible working, so that I can collect my DS from school every day. The problem is that as a lone mum, I am absolutely broke. Not in any debt, luckily but I also don't have a penny to my name. I have been up all night with the calculator and worked out that if I do reduce my hours, every pound that I earn will be going to pay bills (I get a good amount of tax credits which we live off but these would be stopped if I stopped paying any child care). We would have to live off chid benefit and my ExP's maintenance money, which has only recently been awarded to my DS through the CSA.

So, I would really, really appreciate any advice - AIBU if I throw away good money in the middle of a credit crunch and to take a huge risk that my ExP will keep up the maintenance payments so that we can eat for the month, so that I can be a (IMO) better mum?

I just feel that I am being completely wreckless, but I am so desperate to be with my DS a bit more and am disappointed with myself that it's taken me so long to realise what we have both missed out on so much time and fun together.

I am off to work now but will try to respond to anybody kind enough to post here as soon as possible.

Thank you for reading.

thehouseofmirth Thu 24-Sep-09 09:41:02

No, I don't think YABU. Before having DS1 I was the main earner and when I was pregnant it was always my intention to go back to work as I didn't think I had an option. I let my heart rule my head and gave up work and luckily I have a very supportive DH who like me cares more about our son's happiness than material stuff. Things are awfully tight for us and it does sometimes cause anxiety (and guilt) but in my heart I know i've made the right decision for us.

Also, what about a complete career change finding another job with increased flexibility? No easy, but possible.

sparechange Thu 24-Sep-09 10:22:00

Flexible doesn't have to mean fewer hours...
You are within your rights to ask if you can work from home, or change your hours so you start earlier/take a shorter lunch to leave earlier
Or what about working later 1 or 2 nights a week in order to leave earlier on the other days?

MavisG Thu 24-Sep-09 10:28:26

Is there routine stuff you could do from home in the evenings in order to leave early? Email, paperwork etc? Or can you go consultant and work for yourself?

I'd be reluctant to rely on maintenance for basic necessities if you don't trust your ex. But of course yanbu. Good luck.

mazzystartled Thu 24-Sep-09 10:45:22

First off, don't give yourself a hard time.

Can you negotiate a truly flexible agreement?
Work a full day 3 days per week and pick your son up the other 2.

potplant Thu 24-Sep-09 10:49:23

Can you start looking for another job elsewhere, you shouldn't have to put up with a crappy atmosphere at work - life's too short.

thehouseofmirth Thu 24-Sep-09 11:17:34

Could you sue for constructive dismissal?!

Boys2mam Thu 24-Sep-09 12:04:33

Tax credits may go up if u decrease your hours? although the childcare element would be lost I thought that anything more than a 30 hour week was unnecessary as the TC tops the wage up? That should be easy enough to check out by speaking to a lone parent advisor at the jobcentre or the tax credits helpline.

Either way, money isn't everything and looking back on your sons childhood its better to regret what you did do (less money) than what you didn't (lost time).

oopsadaisyangel Thu 24-Sep-09 12:09:52

I was lucky enough to condense my working works. I work 8.30 till 5pm and only have 30 mins lunch and I have a friday off. This means I only lose 1 days wage a month and I get to be with my son on a Friday.

Not ideal but there are solutions out there. Depending on what you earn you could still be entitled to tax credits even when you cut out the child care. Phone them and explain what your thinking of doing and see what you'd be entitled to.

Good luck and I hope it works out for you grin

SprocketAndTubbs Thu 24-Sep-09 18:45:20

Hi, just back from work and wanted to say a huge thank you to you all for such fab advice and experiences.

Not sure that I can rely on my ExP's maintenance at all. To be honest ExP is a whole new thread! - his latest comment to me was that he is just DS's sperm donor and nothing else but I am hopeful that now the CSA have him on their radar, they will be able to take action if he doesn't stick to the arrangement. I do feel it is very cheeky for me to be spending his money on our food and our clothes when the money should be for my DS.

I contacted the Tax Credits Helpline and they told me to do a calculation on line, which I did but will feel much better when I have in writing from them how much I can claim. Also, I am worried that I may end up owing them money, which would be a nightmare, but visiting the Lone Parent Advisor at the Job Centre is a great idea - I had forgotten all about them (thanks Boys2mam! ).

Another great idea is to only leave early a couple of days a week - thanks mazzystartled

I would love to leave my job and find a better one, however I live in a rural area and jobs are very hard to come by - also I earn a very good wage where I am just now and would be hard pressed to find another job that pays so well, so I am clinging onto it for dear life!. Without the higher salary I am on (still well under £20K, but high for me!), I wouldn't be able to leave early at all.

I guess, like the vast majority of parents out there, I'll have to weigh up the benefits of spending time with DS over being able to treat him now and then - I enjoy the odd luxuries we buy but I will have to get used to beans on toast pretty quickly if I pull this one off, as we will have about £30 a week to live on and no savings, etc.

I did think about constructive dismissal but it would be very hard to prove in my circumstances and also I would ideally need to have another job lined up first and they really are like hens teeth here at the moment - the only thing that gets me through the day is the thought of my DS (and Jimmy Nesbitt occasionally!! blush

TheHouseofMirth, Sparechange, MavisG, Mazzystartled, Potplant, Boys2mam, Oopsadaisyangel (and everybody else that I haven't mentioned) Thank you again, for all your help.

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