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being an architect and being a mum - incompatible?

(17 Posts)
bmachine Tue 16-Jul-19 17:53:59

I could really do with some advice –this is a bit long so i have summarised at the end.

I really hate my job and have done for quite a while now.

As a bit of context:

-I am a fully qualified architect
-London based
-Have been working in practice for years and 3 years since fully qualified
-I trained for over 10 years and have three degrees to get to this position
-I have a two year old

I feel truly trapped and depressed.

Since my daughter was born what was always a hard job is breaking me

I work long hours (often leave at 9 or 10pm during deadlines- which happen every few weeks) and have over an hour long commute each way

pay is poor

I feel constantly like I’m failing …having to run out the door mid deadline to collect my daughter …sometimes this means sending out information which I haven’t had a chance to go through with a fine tooth comb and I’m sick to my stomach about something coming back to me further down the line in the project

I just really feel like architecture and having a family isn’t compatible


I am an architect and a mum, hate job at the moment and have for a while

Please could any one offer some advice?

Maybe you know someone in this industry who is a mum who has made it work for them?

Maybe you know someone who has retrained/done a career switch from architecture?

Maybe you have some advice for how to find time to apply and prepare for new jobs while working full time and parenting a toddler?

if you made it this far thank you so much, even if i got no responses its been good to get off my chest.

HebeMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Jul-19 12:08:49

Hi OP. This all sounds very stressful. Not being an architect, I don't have any advice but just bumping this for you.

Any architects out there who can help?

BIWI Wed 17-Jul-19 12:15:45

A couple of questions:

- where is your DH/DP in all of this? Why are you always the one running to collect your daughter and doing the parenting?

- do you not have formal childcare in place?

Can you set up on your own, perhaps? You have the experience as well as the qualifications.

We're having an extension and a new kitchen built right now, and the architect who helped design is is also project managing the whole build. She works for herself and lives locally so she fits my job around her life/hours. (Not exactly the same situation as she doesn't have young kids!)

Apologies if you're a different kind of architect, but working for yourself so you can set your own agenda and hours would seem to be an obvious next move - and should certainly help with some of the stress you're under.

bmachine Wed 17-Jul-19 23:34:14

thanks so much for your responses, i'm feeling a little better today.

to answer your questions my bf and i share very equally in terms of pick ups drop offs/child care so i cant put blame on him for my stress - major difference is that i work compressed full-time hours so i can haveone day off with the toddler which i must admit is contributing to my anxiety as it doesn't allow much wiggle room/head space.

pay is poor so fulltime feels necessary if we are to have any hope of upgrading to a house in london eventually.

she is in nursery and with grandparents for childcare

i currently work on big/interesting public projects and would find a jump to doing residential extensions etc a bit boring maybe? - but maybe that what i should be doing to ease the stress?

i have thought about working on my own but from friends who set up that if anything they spend even more time working and get paid even less -at least for a number of years.

some food for thought thank you.

BIWI Thu 18-Jul-19 19:50:37

What does your boyfriend do? Surely, if you aren't paying for childcare and you're both working full time you must be earning decent money!

You also say that you hate your job - in which case, why wouldn't a switch to something you can do if you work for yourself be more satisfying?

Something has to give here.

(But also, please make sure it isn't just you who is making any changes/compromises - your boyfriend also has to consider how he can make things work)

justasking111 Thu 18-Jul-19 19:58:44

DS came home and set up his own business from our home eight years later he has a very successful practice, three employed. He gets to go on site meet clients on small projects, passive housing, eco housing, a factory, restaurants, holiday accommodation, a real pick and mix of jobs. He avoids big projects, too boring and sucks years out of you. He did do that at the beginning of his career. Said you are just a small cog in a big wheel with no power of decision making. He charges £50 an hour and project manages when required.

My advice go self employed set your own schedule. Personally I would move out of London to a well heeled area with a mix of clients, domestic and business.

Shopgirl1 Fri 19-Jul-19 22:02:29

Are you short on resources in the firm?
I’m not an architect, but my husband is a senior project architect in a busy firm, leading a number of large projects. He never stays in the office that late, although he does log on from home occasionally when they are coming up to deadlines.

I work longer hours than him and he does a lot with our kids as I have less flexibility in my job.

Based on my knowledge of architects....12 years married to one and lots of time spent talking to others he is friends with, I don’t see the job as incompatible with being a parent at all.

Shopgirl1 Fri 19-Jul-19 22:04:36

Just mentioned it to my DH. He knows quite a few architects who now work as project managers.

bmachine Fri 19-Jul-19 22:54:54

Thank you all. You all make excellent points... I think the root of it all is poor resourcing which means I stay well past my contracted hours regularly.

Setting up in my own..that would be a big step for me and I'm not sure I'm brave enough yet but maybe it's something I need to seriously consider.

I just wish I knew more mum architects my age as I do think it's different for feel you really have to prove yourself in a male dominated environment.Im often the only female on the table in a meeting

Stayed till 9pm yesterday again and I think it's time to make a change...finding the time and energy to make that change just has to be scheduled in somewhere.

Thank you

Shopgirl1 Fri 19-Jul-19 23:31:25

I’d think carefully before going self employed. My DH set up in partnership with another architect and ran their business for about 7 years. Chasing fees was extremely frustrating and the type of work different. He is much happier now back working for a large firm.

looondonn Fri 19-Jul-19 23:38:11

You have my full sympathy !!!

Is part time an option??

Sounds like you are doing amazing already so go easy on yourself

London is a difficult city to work in and live there with small kids (too expensive)

justasking111 Sat 20-Jul-19 12:50:22

Chasing fees is frustrating your boss has the same problem that you may not know about. I have been known to camp out in an office where a client owed money in our business.

screamer1 Sat 20-Jul-19 12:56:32

My friend is an architect. She's actually a partner now, but has two small children. She used to work all hours that god sends, all nighters etc, but since she's had kids she's been really strict about leaving on time. She gets in early which helps. Could you do that instead of staying late.

The other thing she had considered is going to work for a contractor contact that she had on a consulting basis.

It's tough, I work with deadlines but I'm at home and so it's much more easy to work around children. But I get how hard it is.

I think you need to think long term, and whether you want to stick with architecture as a career or branch out. I know interior architects which also seems a bit more calm.

Sparky888 Sat 20-Jul-19 13:13:59

What would happen if you spoke to your boss and left at more normal times?
Can you log on after the toddler is in bed if you want to?
Compressed hours sounds like too much, I’d take a pay cut and reduce my saving personally.
It’s not really an architecture problem I don’t think, as it applies to many high pressure jobs.
Are there any forums or networks you can tap into? A mentor in another firm?

midgeland Sat 20-Jul-19 13:23:17

I work in local government and someone in my team is an ex-architect. We do a buildings-related job (sorry to be vague) and she's a really helpful person to have around as she knows all the RIBA stages etc back to front and can translate architect language into English for the rest of us grin. The pay is not amazing but the hours are fantastic: we literally aren't allowed to work unpaid overtime and as long as we get our set hours in somehow and make sure we're available for meetings it's very flexible.

stucknoue Sat 20-Jul-19 13:37:53

Many architects are self employed, move out of London perhaps for better work/life balance. Based on the fees we paid, it's well paid if you get sufficient clients, but you would need to do domestic, they are the bread and butter work

justasking111 Sat 20-Jul-19 13:56:06

Where my DS worked many moons ago one guy worked on a block of apartments for four years!!! Fast forward 15years he works for my DS and never knows what will happen when the phone rings, he is happier to be putting his education and experience to more varied use.

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