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Is it just me, or is this working from home with children completely unsustainable?

(557 Posts)
Lovemyphone Thu 07-May-20 11:39:10

I'm terrified that the schools will remain closed until September.

I'm wfh with two dc. Youngest is 4, as the weeks go by it's becoming more and more unbearable and I can't do it much longer. I'm on my own because dh is still out at work. My employer have been pretty good and taken a 'just do what you can when you can' approach. But the work is picking up again, at the same time the dc are climbing the walls now.

I can't even make a phone call or do an online meeting without constant "mummyyy", or one of them hurting themselves, or asking for snacks, or trashing the house.

Surely it's neglect to essentially leave your children unsupervised for 7-8 hours a day? Which is essentially what you're expected to do.

Is anyone else in this position and just cannot possibly see how this can go on?

OP’s posts: |
Redolent Thu 07-May-20 11:41:18

I think childcare providers are able to work at your home provided they don’t have symptoms?

I agree it’s unsustainable. Especially for younger children whose language development is so crucial, and who are probably spending most of the day on a screen or not being spoken to while their poor parent tries to work.

joanneg36 Thu 07-May-20 11:42:04

It is unsustainable. And if the government doesn't announce that families can share/help each other with childcare in the next few weeks, I suspect most will start doing this anyway...

SunshineOutdoors Thu 07-May-20 11:44:45

It is totally unsustainable. We have grandparents round the corner, under 70, one a qualified teacher, itching to see and spend time with our dc. I’m praying we get to visit them soon, they’d love to do childcare a couple of days a week and it would make such a difference to the dcs (and my) wellbeing.

SunshineOutdoors Thu 07-May-20 11:45:18

Dcs grandparents, not mine.

inwood Thu 07-May-20 11:46:22

Totally agree. Mine are 9 now so a lot easier but still need a considerable amount of input to get through the school work.

pitterpatterrain Thu 07-May-20 11:49:17

Yes it’s 100% unsustainable

Lots of “do your best” from work
But the feeling of constantly being behind and slipping further behind, and the comparison will be there with those with no DC who are ramping up work instead (bored?)

The “slow down and enjoy it / time with your kids” crowd on insta who have nothing to do

If we had a nanny yes they would be back but we relied on after school club, nursery and CM that are closed

Stuckforthefourthtime Thu 07-May-20 11:49:34

Totally unsustainable.

This pandemic is going to end up disproportionately affecting groups that are already disadvantaged - most critically the BAME groups who make up a significant percentage of key workers and are dying at far higher rates than white counterparts and those in residential care, but at a less lethal but long term damaging rate also the children whose parents can't afford to have one parent home full time to care and homeschool them properly, or who don't have a parent who feels equipped to do so, due to resources, education level or physical or mental health issues... and of course the women who somehow seem to be doing the vast bulk of childcare, homeschooling and housework that has emerged, no matter what the balance of family income.

ChanklyBore Thu 07-May-20 11:49:58

I’ve been WFH with kids for the last ten years, 3dc, I sympathise massively, it is harder at the moment because there is no break and the usual activities aren’t available, and there is a much steeper learning curve than I’ve had to go through in that parents are being thrown in at the deep end. And it does depend what you do, some jobs are easier for WAH than others, including if the hours are flexible, how much concentration you need, how much interruptions affect you, etc.

But you are at the deep end, it’s important to recognise that, and it can be sustainable, I know because I have sustained it. It gets easier, and you do adapt. There are upsides for me, I spend a lot of time with them,I don’t have to pay for childcare, they get to see me work, and a lot of downsides, I can never switch off work, I often work well into the night or very early mornings, and when I do visits, out of home stuff, I have often had to take them along. Sometimes it’s really hard. Right now will count as one of those times, but you can do it, and one day you might even feel like there are positives to be had.

endofthelinefinally Thu 07-May-20 11:50:37

I agree. I don't know what the answer is, but I think there has been a prevailing attitude from employers and society generally for decades now, that parenting/ child care is some sort of optional extra, not valuable or important. This has made it possible for many employers to expect ( usually women) parents to work full time from home during this pandemic without giving the slightest consideration to the needs of their children.
Add the expectation that parents ( usually women) will simultaneously home school their children and you have a situation that is just untenable.

Blondiecub0109 Thu 07-May-20 11:52:01

YY. I saw a PP describe it on here the other day as ‘benign neglect’. DS 15m is getting far too much screen time and/or left scooting around a made safe lounge whilst whoever’s deadline/call is slightly less urgent tries to keep an eye on him. He deserves better.

Unfortunately social bubbles or whatever to share childcare won’t help us - nearest relatives are 550 miles. For what we pay for nursery - expense enough - we can afford 18 hours of in home care.

We’re in Scotland and though it pains me to say I don’t think private nurseries or holiday club will be permitted before the start of the autumn term in August.

Stuckforthefourthtime Thu 07-May-20 11:58:37

*I’ve been WFH with kids for the last ten years, 3dc... It can be sustainable, I know because I have sustained it"

As you do point out, there's a vast difference between circumstances here.

It's like the home educators on other threads who talk about their big families and managing to work and home ed, but it turns out they do 20-30 hours a week answer emails or filling orders in their own time with two dcs over 10, a baby who likes to sleep, and a partner who is also flexible with work and can help, vs doing 40+ hours a week in a job requiring quick turnarounds, detailed document review and a lot of conference calls with busy twin 15 month olds who don't nap much, and a partner doing the same, or who is working outside of the home.

ChanklyBore Thu 07-May-20 12:13:16

Of course. I offer every sympathy because it is hard, I know and understand that it is, and that not every situation will lend itself to WAH with kids, but I am happy to offer support at the moment because if have done it for a long time throughout baby, toddler, preschool combinations, school, school holidays (I don’t home ed).

TriangleBingoBongo Thu 07-May-20 12:18:38

I’ve snapped today. I spent yesterday sobbing to myself. This morning I’ve not been able to hold back the tears. WFH with a 13 month old and husband at work. I’ve had enough now. I can’t do it.

DS has been waking at 430am. DH goes to work no later than 7. When he gets in around 5 I’m supposed to catch up on work, shower, make tea or watch DS so DH can (sometimes I get this done during the day, but given I’m supposed to work during nap times too, when am I supposed to get it done?) the cupboards still need replenishing, DS still needs care. It’s just impossible.

TriangleBingoBongo Thu 07-May-20 12:19:35


Only key workers homes and both parents have to be key workers to get access to childcare.

Stuckforthefourthtime Thu 07-May-20 12:44:14

@trianglebingobongo that is not correct. The guidance specifies that in-home childcare workers are still able to come, regardless of key worker status

Blondiecub0109 Thu 07-May-20 12:45:22

Nannies can work in anyone’s home

But we can’t afford one even on 2 professional salaries. Also, we want DS to go back to nursery when it’s open, as an only child, he needs to socialization

TriangleBingoBongo Thu 07-May-20 12:55:59

I’ve been looking for a casual nanny and have been told no unless we’re both key workers

endofthelinefinally Thu 07-May-20 12:58:46

It used to infuriate me, when I was looking after 3 dc and working p/t, dh would express admiration for his female colleague at work and how well she coped. ( subtext, I should not complain), but this woman had a live in nanny! I fitted everything in around school, and did all the domestic stuff too.
Parenting and child care should be respected and valued.

Spinakker Thu 07-May-20 13:09:49

It's completely unsustainable and the children are getting neglected. I'm a sahm and not even working from home but still my children are getting neglected I feel. I've got a 7, 5 year old and 1 year old boys. The 1 year old ends up on a screen while I try and help the 5 year old. The 7 year old does some online lessons but he can't work alone for long and has been spending long periods just lying around on the sofa or the garden doing absolutely nothing. I really think he's almost becoming depressed. If not then extremely bored and unstimulated and this is a kid who is top of the class and very creative. There's just nothing for them to do now. We go on bike rides and do stuff as a family but it's not enough their young mind needs stimulating and to learn and explore the world. My 1 year old should not be having to watch a screen for hours a day while I try and get housework done. I'm bloody sick of this and I'm not even WFH. I'm expecting some changes on Monday otherwise I may start breaking into play parks with them im not joking !

FoxtrotSkarloey Thu 07-May-20 13:13:02

I feel the same. I'm fortunate in as much as DH is also working from home and after about five weeks I think we've found the best routine we can, but we all feel like crap and DS is definitely becoming addicted to TV.
Reading about nannies... I have a friend who is a nanny but not currently working. Bloomin tempted to see if she's keen for a bit fo work if it's allowed!

Bathroom12345 Thu 07-May-20 13:13:11

I wfh for years and in normal circumstances it cannot be done with young children without childcare. However these are not normal circumstances...

I worked with some women who saw wfm as an opportunity to not have childcare costs even though they did need to be around as the role was strongly customer facing with endless audios. These people just declined call after call or said they had something else on and that we should carry on without them. You could see other's diaries so I knew they were available and if you called them out the old 'sorry, I have a dentist appointment and didnt put in the diary'

I really hope that Boris will release some of the restrictions. Sturgeon has just announced she is keeping the lockdown in place and I wonder if Boris will lose his nerve and do what she is doing although her R number is 1 for some reason even though they arent a massively populated country.

ludicrouslemons Thu 07-May-20 13:14:49

I'm furious about it. I think government just went 'oh well, women will do it' like with most things.

Carework is undervalued and taken for granted.

goldpendant Thu 07-May-20 13:21:33

I've reached the end of my tether now, kids (6 and 4) are on screens, largely amusing themselves. I snatch work hours where I can, DH is locked away in the study for much of the day. He helps, a lot, as and when he can but my public sector organisation are far more tolerant than his private sector company.

It's ridiculous, unsustainable and exhausting. Kids are going to suffer massively. The difference between families with two working parents and those with a SAHP will be huge.

burritofan Thu 07-May-20 13:24:37

It's impossible. We're only managing because we have sympathetic managers and we're splitting care/work time strictly 50/50, swapping back and forth, but there's zero breathing room, we're both knackered, and DD is getting more and more fretful because there's no chillout family time, just "hurl the baby at the incoming parent like a rugby ball and dash off to the computer" 3x a day. Work understand but also can't give us half days or compressed days, unfortunately.

ALTHOUGH I think ALL workplaces should have been given a government directive to basically assure people's jobs were kept, extend furlough for childcare reasons to people who don't otherwise meet the criteria (I started my job after the cut-off date), or just lay down the law and say they have to be flexible with staff without affecting their pay. It's utter bullshit that some people are lucking out with easygoing managers who understand the difficulties, and others are expected to just do a FT job and stick their kid in a playpen for 8 hours.

I dunno what the solution is, though. Burn 2020 to the fucking ground? Make all the useless DHs on this site pull their weight?

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