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clash of styles, working with laid back childless men.

(23 Posts)
toomanydaves Thu 06-Sep-07 11:04:41

Hello. I am currently working with some people - laidback chidless men - who are really fun and brilliant but seem to have no clue about the realities of having kids, and who enjoy working 24/7. At the moment I only have childcare on certain days after school and when we are arranging meetings I am always very clear about when I have and do not have childcare and give loads of warning about my availability. I do this so that we have as much flexibility as possible. However, their style seems to be to let me know about meetings with less than 24 hours in advance, and often having completely forgotten or disregarded my childcare arrangements. I am not "below" them in status, we are equal partners, and I have tried to be really clear about not being that flexible, but they seem to not hear or understand, with the result that working with them is v stressful and often expensive as I have to get emergency childcare in. How should I deal?

Judy1234 Thu 06-Sep-07 11:36:27

It's the same with everyone. The childless really never can understand what it means to be a parent. It's one reason I try to avoid men without children too. It's like you live in a different universe. No one is wrong or right. It's just they won't understand it. You'll just have to do as you do and be really clear. Tell them you need 24 hours notice or ensure your partner's career goes into second place and he does it all of course.

grumpyfrumpy Thu 06-Sep-07 17:25:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toomanydaves Thu 06-Sep-07 19:38:00

I do have to be there, and it's arty bolleux, which runs on much slacker regs than other industries I think. And dp has mad job and is rarely around. I think it's more that I resent being seen as a naggy
maternal type when my job is supposed to be an release from all that. However it is difficult to be creative when you are worried about childcare.

grumpyfrumpy Thu 06-Sep-07 20:02:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dissle Thu 06-Sep-07 20:08:00

Sympathies, i kind of know how you feel.
although not amongst men i am amongst women who's kids are grown up or who have no kids.
they have meetings and shedule work in advance of a week or two this throws me into panic.
they organise things that mean that my working day will run over and i HAVE to leave on time to pick up my child.
this not only makes me feel incompetent and gives the impression that i am not commited but also makes me feel like shit.

i feel dragged in 10 different ways as i love love LOVE my job but i love my boy more.
dont know what the answer is im afraid, im just plowing on.

OrmIrian Thu 06-Sep-07 20:12:10

toomanydaves - you have to explain it again and again very loudly and slowly. And beleive me it the 'male' bit that makes them that way, not the childless. I work with heaps of fathers who happen to all have wives/gfs at home....and they are still unbeleivably dense when it comes to this.

bran Thu 06-Sep-07 20:16:53

How do you book meetings? Perhaps you could suggest that everyone marks their availability on a centralised system (or even a wall-chart). The childless men would still need to mark off their holidays and external meetings and you could block of the days that you can't work late.

I think they probably find it difficult to remember other people's schedules. I don't work on Wednesdays, and haven't done so for about 6 years now but no-one that I work with outside of my immediate team can remember that and there are always people looking for me on a Wednesday.

Mercy Thu 06-Sep-07 20:20:33

If anything men without children can be some of the most uptight people I've come across, often worrying about reasonably trivial things (compared to most parents that is).

Why not suggest an early breakfast meeting instead grin

Anna8888 Thu 06-Sep-07 20:28:16

Agree with OrmIrian, it's not childlessness, it's maleness that put work as first priority in life.

Personally I think you have to play by the rules of the game in your workplace and if the rules don't suit you, you change workplace.

Rhubarb Thu 06-Sep-07 20:33:21

This isn't just a male thing though. There are plenty of people like this, both male and female, childness or not.

There are some men who are very flexible and understanding about childcare even if they don't have kids themselves. In fact ime the worst bosses to have are women who have kids, because they expect you to do the same as them. So if their children are in childcare from 8am - 6pm 5 days a week, they'll think nothing of asking you to do the same.

When I was pregnant with dd I worked up until a week before giving birth, I had a difficult first pregnancy, but my boss would think nothing of asking me to stay over, or catch 2 buses to cover for someone else. She used to regale me with stories about how she had worked until she dropped the baby, and then it was straight back to work again. Fine for her on her wonderful salary, but she didn't understand that my priorities were different.

Ambitious women are a pain in the arse. Give me male colleagues anyday!

Othersideofthechannel Thu 06-Sep-07 20:33:37

I must be incredibly lucky as I work with two men. There are only three of us. They always understand about my childcare committments eg don't let me take calls for the last 10 mins before I am due to leave just in case it is a long one. Sometimes they leave work early because they have children to care for.

madamez Thu 06-Sep-07 20:34:16

CHildless men (and indeed some fathers) are quick enough to bleat about the work-life balance when someone schedules a meeting that will clash with their hot date/sports match/hangover. I think the idea of taking over the meeting-organising is a good one especially if you suggest brightly to them that they are allowed to mark their unavailabilty a certain number of evenings a week...

MarshaBrady Thu 06-Sep-07 20:47:11

Haven't worked in an office for about 6 years, but have vague recollection of a central diary system where you have to invite people for a meeting etc.
Then if you have to leave at a certain time you just write it in, everyone can see it and they can't claim that they just forgot you needed to leave .
Not most exciting solution perhaps, but it really does sort out haphazard meeting type things. Plus was in creative industry too, where people can be a little flaky with sticking to meetings.

WideWebWitch Fri 07-Sep-07 08:04:16

Do you have Outlook or something? IF so go and book all the times you have to leave on time as out of the office - can yu all use Outlook so you have to check availability before booking a meeting?

Plus make dh pull his weight plus consider au pair?

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 07-Sep-07 08:12:42

Oh goodness I remember those days! It was one of the (many) reasons that led to me going freelance so that I could manage my own life without always feeling either guilty or vaguely worried that things were going on without me.

IME it's more to do with the childlessness than the male thing - women can be just as bad (actually worse sometimes, but let's not go there just yet ..)

If you can, taking charge of meetings sounds like a very good idea - but I suspect this could be unrealistic, especially if you work in a big company/agency. However, having a computerised diary system (which we didn't when I was still at the company) can make life easier. IME it was the people coming by my desk at about 5.25 asking "have you got a couple of minutes?" which were the hardest to deal with.

The only other solution - and it's not going to be a popular one - is to increase your level of childcare so that you are available to attend every/any meeting, just like your other colleagues.

Whether it's reasonable or not, I was always aware that if I couldn't go to a meeting because of my children, it was never as a good a reason as having other commitments, and marked me down as unreliable/less committed.

A horrible situation - you have my sympathy.

OrmIrian Fri 07-Sep-07 08:18:23

"and marked me down as unreliable/less committed. "

Oh yes! I just had to tell someone that I have to leave at 3 (to pick DS up) when the meeting isn't scheduled to finish until 3.30. Not a problem apparently but I'm always left feeling like I'm letting everyone down. I now work part-time - which doesn't help either. So my prospects of promotion is virtually nil. And I'm bloody good at my job.

toomanydaves Fri 07-Sep-07 09:29:23

Thanks all, there are some good tips here - and a realisation that I'm not alone.
Anna hmm I love the idea that you can just "change" your job. I worked really really hard to get where I am today, and I love my job.It's a vocational thing, and I can't just "change" it.
I am freelance actually. I love the idea of there being a system! Hilarious, if you actually saw how and where we are working, and the levels of flakiness there are. I think it's more a communication thing - I actually thought that if I explained I only had childcare on x, y, and z days and that if they wanted me to come in on other days a)I would be out of pocket and b) I woudl need notice - that they would listen and understand. Having said that I don't think they have ever worked with a) a woman and B) a woman with kids before.
So I feel I am pioneering their understanding. But it's hard and tiring and boring.

PrincessGoodLife Fri 07-Sep-07 09:43:51

agree with OrmIrian - sit them down and talk it through, show them on paper the added costs to you of arranging emergency childcare, show them the implications, etc not in a naggy way but in a way which you know they will 'get'. Remind them of how they were looked after by their mummies so that they get how important your kids' POV is in all this too! You know their personalities form working with them so you'll know best which tack to take - formal or informal.

Do not agree at all with having to change your workplace if you love it so much. No way.

Also disagree that this is an ALL male or ALL childless people issue. We clearly all know people of both sexes, with or without children, who don't understand childcare responsibilities. Surely this is just an individual personality thing.

Good luck. I'm sure it'll work out fine, esp as it sounds like you have a good working relationship with them already.

superalienstitch Fri 07-Sep-07 10:01:34

get a full time nanny, or au pair etc so you can be more flexible. or make a stand by refusing to be at the meetings unless giv3en adequate notice. of charge them for the extra childcare. or give up working.
only options i can think of as stressing yourself out is not a good thing for you.

Judy1234 Fri 07-Sep-07 18:28:19

Women with good nannies or husbands who get home first or don't work, can be unhelpful to women who have to get to nurseries and childminders so perhaps it's not even the childless who are the worst at this but I do think if you've never had a child you just can't really understand the commitment and it's not their fault. You see people change so much when they have children. I remember trying to explain to my siblings what having their first child would be like in terms of life impact and I don't think they could really take it in until they had that first baby.

fee2 Sat 08-Sep-07 09:51:02

hi i returned to work after maternity to discover my friendly colleagues( male ) had become sulky and resentful towards mothers. i am always having to listen to comments about how i inconvenience them because of my child friendly hours, recieving a call from nursery that my son was ill met with rolling eyes and big hugh sighes, i am currently in a dispute as new manager is trying to force me to work shifts that i have no childcare and this is being dealt with along the same lines as football practice and nights out. (please see thread under flexible working if youn would like to advise me) but in your situation i would get them to sit down with you and draw up a policy for organising meetings, explaining that this is benefitial for all of you so that eveyone can meet their own out of work commitments with no one feeling comprimised, or ask your Hr department to do this for you, i also think the ediary is a good idea good luck!

Squiffy Tue 11-Sep-07 08:06:01

There must be at least one of them who is sports mad and has rugby training on a Wednesday evening or something similar? Find out what key appointments there are that they don't like to miss and then arrange three meetings on the trot that clash until he/they get totally wound up by them all. Then sit down and explain that you all need to pull together.

You should set up an outlook email where the days and times that don't suit everyone are permanently blacked out, every week.

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