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Can't get work in perspective, struggling domestically ... would it be a mistake to increase PT hours?

(8 Posts)
unhingedbywork Mon 14-Mar-16 14:46:45

I work 24 hours per week in a technical/scientific role for a large government organisation. DH 30 hours for the same organisation. 2 DS, 5 and 7, both at school. There are specific things about work that have made me very unhappy in the past and still cause resentment now, mostly linked to a specific manager A. I moved from elsewhere in the organisation and from the very start he seemed to dislike or disapprove of me for some reason, was unwilling to discuss work to any useful depth, performance reviews always seemed as short as he could get away with (generally neutral with the occasional negative comment, not mentioned at the time but written on the form afterwards), no discussion of progression or the future at all, never any discussion of change. A also never wanted to hear anything bad (and I'm not a whinger) and I grew to feel as if trying to change things would only make them worse. My work was fairly limited in scope, not that hard but difficult to shine at - the environment is quasi-academic and you are expected to build a reputation, and I just couldn't.

I eventually got fed up enough, about a year ago, to apply for another internal job working for B whom I've known for a long time. Screwed up the interview (lack of recent practice and lack of preparation) and didn't get it, but B came back later and offered me a 12-month secondment which I'm now half way through. I am now a lot happier with work but at the same time a lot more stressed as it is possible that the secondment could go permanent if I do it well enough, so it feels a bit like a 12-month job interview. At the same time working for B who is conscientious and encouraging has made me realise what a truly rubbish time I had with A. I am feeling very cross with myself for letting that go on so long and am feeling as if it's beginning to affect my mental health. I had two weepy episodes before Christmas, triggered by work stuff but allowed to get out of proportion. I would burst into tears every time I went to the toilet at work, cry silently on the bus on the way home and at home in front of the boys. This past weekend was worse, I got the Rage, once with the boys on Friday evening (managed to pull myself together again quite quickly, but did something physical which I regret) and then with DH on Sunday, ranting and raving and chucking things about. DH is a very gentle person and very much "in the moment" and will never plan for or anticipate anything - he puts in the hours domestically on the immediate stuff and is brilliant with the boys, but I always feel as if anything outside the daily routine will only happen in our house if I make it happen. I am untidy, DH is worse and our house is a tip and depressing to be in.

I now feel as if I've let this get so far out of control that I can't actually tell what the problem is. I've become obsessed with the idea of increasing my hours at work in the hope of making a good job of the secondment, and also reasoning that the emotional overheads of work are already huge and won't increase any more. The house also can't get any worse. I like the happy professional persona I have at work and there is a social aspect that I would like to take more advantage of - I let this go a bit with the exhaustion of having small DC, as well as depressing immediate work surroundings, but increasing my hours would mean more time for networking and finding out about other possibilities if I can't stay in B's group. Extra income is not really a factor as it would go to cover financing and running the second car we would need.

On the other hand I also fantasise regularly about letting go, resigning completely and keeping the house nice and growing vegetables ... we could survive on DH's salary, neither of us is that bothered about "lifestyle" stuff. DH has his own troubles though and it would be very difficult if I ever needed to find work again. There are no other employers in the area so I'd need to retrain. I'm 42 now. I also realise that it's unusual to be able to work so few hours at a professional job and maybe I ought to count my blessings and just try to let it get to me less - any tips ...??

DesertOrDessert Mon 14-Mar-16 16:01:25

I worked for A. B hauled me into his office one day and told me to apply for a job (working for him), which I thankfully got. I got 3 very good years out of it, before a restructure put A back in charge of me! I quit pretty soon afterwards after begging for either another role, or a reasonable management change and mediation fell on deaf ears, and DH got offered something half way round the world.

Personally, if B is not pushing you to increase hours, don't do it. If he is hinting at it, don't do it. Consider it if B is telling you a job offer depends on it.
Do your best for the rest of the secondment, and if you need to return to working for A, I'd consider raising it with HR then. But I probably should have raised my issues working for A well before I did. Interestingly 3 out of the 4 who were restructured to work for A (two of us having worked for him before) quit within 2 months of the restructure. I obviously wasn't the only one affected by his style, but the only one prepared to speak out.

Upping your hours, unless you are seriously over working, isn't, in my opinion, going to help anything, and will almost certainly make your life harder.

Sorry, bit of a wander there, but therapeutic. Hope some of it helps, or gives you some thinking points. I guess the summary is 1. Don't increase hours unless you really need to and 2. Don't go back to working for A. flowerschocolate

TomTomKitten Mon 14-Mar-16 16:03:01

Hmm... It sounds as if you are putting yourself under a lot of unnecessary pressure.

It's unfortunate that you worked for someone critical and unsupportive. That can have an effect on your mental health if you let it go on too long BUT you did something about it (pat on the back!). You changed jobs and are now working for someone much nicer and are much happier (yay!). You need to mentally let the situation with A go. It is done now. You have learnt that hanging onto something doesn't work and closing the door on it is for the best.

When I don't know what to do, I don't make any major decisions. I focus on myself and doing whatever it takes to make me feel better. Feel a bit blue in the morning? Go for a walk at lunchtime, buy yourself a nice coffee, meet a friend for lunch, go for a gentle swim, etc. Be kind to yourself. Life is tough working with two children. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. If you're messy then try and be a bit tidier. If DH is messy then try to encourage him to be a bit tidier. Don't sweat the small stuff and if you're meant to get a permanent job off the back off this contract then it will happen. If you don't then you can be a SAHM for a while. Just assume that someone up there knows what is best for you and go with the flow of life.

I was very much like you and had a bit of an epiphany a couple of years ago. Life is much much easier when you don't try and swim upstream all the time.

RaisingSteam Mon 14-Mar-16 16:25:13

Your situation sounds a bit similar to ours, except (he's a diamond) DH is tidy so the house doesn't deteriorate too much. I try to take the view that with all the effort of going to work it should be a job worth doing. I would put feelers out to see if you can avoid manager A in future. Does your organisation have a mentoring scheme? Or have a frank chat with B about future possibilities.

After some frustrating years I have managed to get an internal promotion and sidestep my own A, now I'm getting all sorts of comments about how demotivated our team is- people knew but thought I was happy putting up with it. See if you can make some inroads/connections without increasing hours to start with. Part time we'll paid roles are rare.

Good luck anyway

RaisingSteam Mon 14-Mar-16 16:28:03

Also have you got a cleaner? <stock MN response> grin

rookiemere Thu 17-Mar-16 21:57:01

Is it possible for you to get a business mentor within the organisation?

A lot of what you are describing really chimes with me - I work 24 hrs as well - and I found that having a mentor who wasn't directly involved in the scenarios really helped to talk through things and also help me develop a bit more resilience and confidence in my own abilities.

B obviously likes you as a person and respects your abilities as he found a role for you.
Do you have any catch ups with him? You should be having regular performance discussions - at that point you can ask him if there are any development pointers and also let him know that you'd be delighted to stay on if a more permanent position came up.

I wouldn't rush to increase your hours - it doesn't sound like that would be a good move for you right now.

Choughed Fri 18-Mar-16 06:12:45

I've felt like you. I'm very motivated in my career but every now and again I get overwhelming urges to jack it all in and paint for a living (I have zero artistic ability grin).

As someone said up thread it really helps to talk to someone, I had a career coach for a while (I could recommend her if you like).

I'd also recommend being really honest with yourself and writing down all the things you like and dislike about your job. It may be that a few changes could make all the difference.

Your relationship with your immediate boss is the single most important factor in your happiness at work so it's no wonder you feel unsettled.

I'm 42 as we btw.

StealthPolarBear Fri 18-Mar-16 06:17:19

Can you have a frank discussion with b to find out how likely it is that the secondment could be made permanent?
Can you and/or dh take a week off to really sort the house out (be strict) and then keep on top of it? I know how depressing it is to live in chaos and see no end.
why would you need a second car?

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