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What do people think about having 2 full on careers in the family? Begining to doubt that I can, or even want to, do the job I'm training for.

(18 Posts)
OmniDroid Thu 16-Jul-09 15:41:04

That's it really. I don't know if I'm being a quitter, or just realistic.

I'm a public sector trainee, aiming at a senior management position. DH already works at the level I'm training for, but in a different field (still public sector though).

I can see what DH's job entails, and can't work out how we can both work at that level - meetings, travel, and the constent need to focus on work, be up to date, on the ball about the big picture as well as your projects.

We'd be looking at a nice joint income if we both did our jobs - somewhere around 140K between us, but more likely I'd be p/t, so a pro rata drop. We have no family support.

I've achieved so much even to be in training for my job, but I want to be there for my children (we have a DS and a DD, both pre-school at the moment).

Have you done it? How do you do it? Do you get to see your kids or hand them over for nannies etc? Is is hell, or is it worth it?

notevenamousie Thu 16-Jul-09 15:44:44

I've had to compromise, but then I'm a single parent. I can't work all those hours, and study, and put in the extra unpaid hours, and be alert and decisive, and actually be there whilst my dd grows up.

But I think it doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can go part time. Even in the public sector they create family friendly positions for the 'right' people. And new opportunities open up when you least expect them.

How are things at the moment - do you see enough of your dh, and your dc? Do you feel torn? Only you can answer what the 'right' balance of it all is.

Pinkjenny Thu 16-Jul-09 15:46:36

Dh and I also do the same job, and started off at the same level, progressed at the same rate, and then once I had dd, my priorities completely shifted and he has 'overtaken' me now.

I work 4 days a week, and am lucky enough to have a 9-5 role, which rrquires no extra hours. I was extremely fortunate to maintain my salary level (pro rata) pre-maternity leave, but dh now earns about 20% more than me.

I just do not have the brain space (or desire) to pursue any ambitions, whilst also bringing up dd, and am also pg with dc2. Dd goes to nursery two days a week, and she is with my mum two days a week.

I very much admire women who continue to climb the career ladder with young children, but I honestly don't know how they do it. Dh rarely gets home before 8pm, and he and dd miss each other during the week. We both have to make sacrifices, and somehow our 'roles' evolved naturally.

If it feels right, one day I may wish to start progressing again.

holdingittogether Thu 16-Jul-09 15:49:13

It wouldn't work for me and my family but i'm sure people have done it and it was right for them.

wonderingwondering Thu 16-Jul-09 15:52:10

I'm similar to Pink Jenny and I decided that I didn't want to be under that much pressure. So I slowed down my career, work p/t at the moment, and I take responsibility for the domestic things while DH works long hours. We have a pretty good quality of life, and I've never regretted taking a step back from my job.

In the public sector, you can more easily keep things ticking over on a p/t basis while your children are small, then pick up again once they are older. It is actually only 5-7 years that you have pre-school children, which is not much out of an average working life.

OmniDroid Thu 16-Jul-09 15:59:49

Thank you for your thoughts. I'm on maternity leave at the moment (DD is only 18 weeks, DS is 3). I know I can be good at what I do - I've been given the 'do call us when you qualify' hint at appraisal meetings - but I feel my ambition has been on hold since DS's birth. But then I haven't had more than a dozen unbroken nights since DS's birth either.

I just don't know. I'm tempted to go back to what I know (research), and just stop pushing. And very worried about never seeing the kids. But then I never thought I'd be in line to earn as much as my job pays, and the money is one hell of an incentive.

I'm also embarrasingly aware that this is a 'problem' many would love to have. But it's still my problem.

mumof2222222222222222boys Thu 16-Jul-09 16:10:55

My DH is in the Navy - so a pretty full on career. He is likely to be away for up to 8 months at a time, or perhaps be posted to Scotland for maybe 2 years. We are in the south.

I returned to work when DS2 was 15 months. Had not worked for 3 years. I work full time as an in house lawyer. 8-5, with an hours commute. I can work from home and do so maybe once a week.

It works for us, but we do have an au pair. also, because we are lucky enough to earn a good amount the childcare costs are manageable - both DSs are in full time nursery.

I see the boys at both ends of the day and all weekend.

pellmell Thu 16-Jul-09 16:25:06

"Brain space" is hugely under-ratedsmile
It is a term I use frequently when being hassled to sign up to things that I feel would be pushing me too far......"sorry! I have run out of brain space"

Pinkjenny Thu 16-Jul-09 16:30:26

I just think (for me) if I had a high pressured job, coupled with worrying about dd etc, my brain would explode. grin

A lot of it depends on personality though. I am a bit of stress-head. wink

kaz33 Thu 16-Jul-09 16:43:26

For full on careers read "well paid full on careers" as it is totally do-able if it you can afford to buy good help - childcare and a cleaner etc.. Some people don't have a choice as they have to work and this applies whether there are two or you or in fact one.

I suspect when the kids are 10+ it seems to be even easier as they need less obvious support though haven't got to that stage yet.

Personally I was in that position when we first had the kids but gave it up when kids 3 and 1. I didn't enjoy it enough to do it full time when I wanted to do something I enjoyed (parenting) full time. It wasn't so much the head space as the desire!

I don't regret it at all, now kids are at school working part time. Part time is in some ways harder than my old career as I have to survive on a parental network of friends, clubs, family to deal with unexpected illness and school sports days etc..

Now if I was still a commercial property solicitor I no doubt would have been made redundant as have most of my old friends from work. What amazed me how many of them with their £100k salaries don't seem to have built up any savings , but that is another story.

GrapefruitMoon Thu 16-Jul-09 16:54:20

I think it all depends on whether you both commute longish distances or at least one of you works locally, how much you earn as this will influence the childcare you can afford, whether you have any emergency back-up in the form of family or friends, how flexible your employers are if you need time off for family reasons.

And when they get to school age, what the before and after school childcare provision is like in your area, whether you and your children will mind if you miss school events, whether they will want to do after school activities, etc, etc etc....

And at the end of the day it does depend on how you feel about bringing up children - whether you are happy to hand them over to someone else for most of the day or not. And how you feel about your work - far easier to put up with all the stress involved if it's something you feel passionate about...

MrsWobble Thu 16-Jul-09 16:59:49

Quick comment re children over 10. they need less obvious support in terms of childcare - they still need a lot of emotional support which can't really be outsourced the way that eg nappy changing can be.

My experience is that it can work if you want it to - but if you would rather be at home looking after your children than in the office, you will find it difficult. All the practical problems can be solved if you want to solve them, the emotional issues are much harder to resolve.

ScummyMummy Thu 16-Jul-09 17:20:15

I think it can work well if everyone- principally both the adults in a family (if it's a 2 parent family) and both their employers- is prepared/able to be flexible and it's what everyone wants. Neither my partner or I are high fliers but we do combine both working full time in quite demanding jobs with being at home with our children pretty successfully, I'd say. We have also both done various top-up studies on top of work when required to try and develop our careers.

We both do flexible hours, which helps a lot as one of us is always with our boys before and after school. We also share the housework. If either of us or either of our employers were not up for this kind of flexibility it wouldn't work though. Anecdotally, I do hear lots of stories from friends about male partners letting the side down on this front, either because they feel their career demands priority for some reason or because it is harder for men to ask for and/or be granted flexible working. Other "couple" friends have simply not wanted/needed to both work and therefore one concentrates on much more on childcare, hearth and home whilst the other works fulltime. I do think this can make it hard for the non-worker (usually but not always female) to get back into work at a level commensurate with their interests and skills later on but on the other hand they do get the fun of spending lots of time with their babies and there are no childcare worries, so it's swings and roundabouts really.

In my family's case, I think it is worth it, definitely. I enjoy both my job and my family very much indeed. My partner is a truly equal parent in a way that some of the other fathers I know are not. However, I think it is very dependent on what you want at different ages and stages as well as the choices you have financially. My twins are 10 now and we are very settled in our routine. But we are about to throw a major spanner in the works by having another baby and I am not sure how I will feel when the time comes for me to go back to work after maternity leave. Good childcare will be crucial, clearly. I will have to bite the bullet and find a positive spin on it no matter what though as we absolutely need both salaries!

mumtolawyer Thu 16-Jul-09 22:22:56

We have two high-powered transactional careers. It works because we can afford help (a cleaner/ironer and an evening only nanny) and we are organised to the minute all week (mainly by me wink ). Our DD is at school near where I work so she travels in with us and we make each parents evening/school play etc. We have done this since she was a tiny baby. I can't imagine not working - I really love my job. It doesn't seem to have hurt our DD either - she's happy and confident, age 7. If it's what you want, go for it!

nouveaupauvre Sat 18-Jul-09 21:11:44

we do it (two very full on careers, one preschool ds) and it's doable, but im currently plotting how not to do it. i dont think ds suffers - we have a great nanny - but i think i do, and if im honest i think our marriage does. the priority is keeping ds happy, then keeping our bosses happy, then sleep, and our relationship is at the bottom of the pile. nothing really urgent gets missed but i feel constantly as if im not doing all the little things that make a house a home and make a family something more than three individuals sharing space. we both have great salaries but tbh most of the money swallowed up by mortgage and childcare - i dont have the spare time to enjoy spending it.
but i wuld say make the most of the fact that you are both public sector (we're not) and therefore have flexibility and a defined career path for parttime (hopefully). if i could go pt time and step back up again when ds is older that's what i'd like to do - so if your career allows that, do it. you may sacrifice money now but not too much in the longterm.

OnceWasSquiffy Sat 18-Jul-09 23:53:48

We do it and I wouldn't have it any other way. You do have to juggle your life a bit and you need reliable nannies/au pairs.

But I would say without a shadow of a doubt that if you don't really really love your career, then all the money in the world probably won't make it worthwhile.

pombear Sun 19-Jul-09 00:23:06

Didn't want to do it, so no choice. But after having to do it, I would say it's possible, hard, guilt-inducing, but feasible. Aim to enjoy what you do if you feel you have to do it.

And ignore all other comments, once you've made your decision.

When others complain about their 'workload', whatever it is, smile, empathise and move on.

Stay away from all discussions of sahm, wohm, part-time, full-time, nannies, childminders, nursery, on-the-street - do what you do, be happy with your decision and get on with it.

And remember that your children will love you for who you are, and what you bring to them. And lots of adults have a varied upbrining, and though many may flame me now, you can't always tell what their upbringing was by their personality.

A lot of it is about the parenting they had, regardless of how much/little their said parents worked!

1dilemma Sun 19-Jul-09 00:42:38

we do it, it's awful and I'll let you know if it's worth it grin

we're public sector so not well paid (our childcare has at times cost more than I earn) I don't really know why we do it I suspect it's a work ethic thing

we've never had a cleaner, used nurseries had after-school pick-up for one dc for about 10 weeks once since I got moved nearly an hour away from home would have had it for longer but struggle to find someone we can afford on what we earn

it's hard to keep up at work and hard to give the dcs the attention they want/need. We manage because we end up going into work at nights weekends when we aren't supposed to to keep up.

we do have more dcs than most on here though

dh moved to work in same part of London which makes it doable, we will get a nanny (I think) and we also need to move house which will help

however we could both be out of work come Sept/Oct so we'll see.

mumof2222boys situation sounds hard though, when one of us goes away the other usually has to take annual leave

it's a hard decision maybe you can use your mat. leave to work out what will make it doable for you

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