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Am I in fact a two headed alien? - sorry long!

(23 Posts)
talilac Thu 10-Jul-08 20:37:21

Part rant, part request for advice!

I am self employed, doing a job I love and have had for 12yrs now. I used to have a couple of staff, an office etc but slimmed it right down when I had DD1 to me in an office in my house.

My rationale was that I wanted to be able to keep my company going, albeit on a reduced scale while the babies were little so that I could build it back up again when they were bigger.

To this end I have had a nanny since DD1 was tiny, she started a couple of days a week and went full time just before DD2 was born. She is remarkably understanding of me working from home, and I feel like I have a relatively decent balance between work and the babies.

It is however remarkably lonely. I don't have colleagues, and although I try to get out for meetings once every couple of weeks that really isn't much. Plus because I work I don't do much of the mum socialising that other people seem to do. Our nanny takes the DDs to music groups etc while I work.

So lately I've been going once a week to a mother and baby group with one or the other of the DDs. Everyone there seems really lovely.

However, and this is the point of the post, when I explain that this is one of the DC, the other one is with the nanny, that I work full time but from home which is how I can come out in the afternoon etc they do tend to look at me like I'm from a different planet.

Why is this do you suppose? I mean this is a mixture of people, SAHMs, Mums who work part time, Mums on maternity who are due to go back full time, etc.

Am I an alien for wanting to keep my company going but still wanting to do some Mum stuff? Should I just fib and not even mention the job and the nanny? Except that a couple of the Mums know the DDs and their nanny from music etc, so are curious.

All I really want is a bit of Mum company, where am I going wrong?

frogs Thu 10-Jul-08 20:48:27

You may possibly need a thicker skin.

But I think mum and toddler groups do tend to attract mothers who take their parenting quite seriously -- I suspect most working mothers don't use their spare day to go to stay and play sessions. I used to take dd1 to a group at the local library once a week, principally so that she would be occupied while I could read the paper. blush Which of course got me completely ostracised by all the uber-mums, but I didn't really care.

Once your dc start school you'll come across a much wider range of working patterns, so your kind of juggling wouldn't be so much out of the ordinary.

Agree with you re. working from home being isolating, btw, I'm in the same boat but juggling three dc of very different ages (all school age though). It is bloody hard work, and things never quite seem to add up, but it is the best compromise I could come up with. I'm not too bothered what other people think tbh.

cmotdibbler Thu 10-Jul-08 20:53:08

I'm not self employed, but do work ft based at home (previously was office based for the same company). I do find it very lonely at times, especially as we moved across the country, so have no friends here either.

People find it very hard to understand I think, lots assume that if you work from home you don't use childcare, or are able to skive off whenever you want.

So, no practical advice, just sympathy

BecauseImWorthIt Thu 10-Jul-08 20:54:57

I know the feeling. Just having a nanny and working full time was often enough to mark me out as 'different'.

You just have to stick with it and get to know them. Then they'll realise you're quite normal. (I assume you are?! grin)

talilac Thu 10-Jul-08 20:57:47

Thanks Frogs, you are right I think I'm just letting the isolation get to me so am over thinking. Plus I probably talk too much when I get there out of shock at seeing actual real people, maybe its that making them look at me oddly!

I think the pattern of the self employed persons day is pretty odd to most people anyway. I will happily go and do a personal activity in the day when I have childcare and work all evening and half the night to make up the time..

moodlumthehoodlum Thu 10-Jul-08 20:59:07

TBH, I never found friends at mother and baby groups - i loathed them. I was marked out as an alien because I'd had a big career before having children, and then had children and moved out of London, and to have had any sort of career was a big no no. I hated them. So, no advice, but a big vote of no confidence in m&b groups, sorry..

Trebuchet Thu 10-Jul-08 20:59:14

I am self employed and I know how hard it is. I have some lovely friends from mum and toddler group but even they admit to being cliquy. My advice would be, pick one group and go to it regularly. Its the only way to really get to know people. Often if you come and go folk can't be bothered to get to know you.

I find it tough when I have to take jobs at the drop of a hat, the nature of my job. It often means dropping out of play dates or coffee at someones house and I think I seem unreliable and flighty.

I started a book group recently, (asked random women I barely knew) because it meant that once a month I knew I was going to see the same 5 women and we'd actually have time for a conversation, which is frequently baby-centred, but is not constantly disturbed like you are at playgroup. It's turned out quite well even though 3 of them hadn't read the book last time!!!!hmm

talilac Thu 10-Jul-08 21:02:06

And thanks for the sympathy everyone.

Am I normal? At least as normal as anyone else on MN! grin

I will persist in going, if only because they do seem like nice people, and maybe I won't seem so weird when they get used to me..

GrimmaTheNome Thu 10-Jul-08 21:04:49

I used to work FT from home (for a company) with a nanny. I can't remember it really coming up much at toddler group whether I worked or not... I had some good NCT mummy friends who didn't work and didn't care whether I did or not (quite liked it when it
was my turn to host lunch and our lovely nanny could mind the kids so we could natter properly).

If you get some off reactions... my guess is some may be a little jealous. As someone else recommended, thicken skin a little. IMO this is about as close as we can get to 'having it all' so enjoy... I'm sure the other mums will soon like you for yourself and not care if you've got a different setup to them. As you're finding from these posts, you're not that unique grin

Once DD hit schoolage nanny was no longer appropriate so at that point I negotiated half-time. That really does work well for us.
Very few of the mothers of schoolage kids I know work FT unless they've got local active grandparents or an au pair.

talilac Thu 10-Jul-08 21:08:20

Actually, I think part of it might be the whole "well if you have a nanny what are you doing here" thing.

Which is a reasonable point.

Except that, you know how some people crave an adult conversation after a day with kids?

Well after a week of adult work conversation, sometimes I just really want to go and talk about babies, and schools and I don't know, nappies.

talilac Thu 10-Jul-08 21:10:19

Yes Grimma, that is the great thing about MN, you can always find someone going through something similar!

iheartdusty Thu 10-Jul-08 21:15:25

I think some people also assume that only really rich people or aristocrats or celebrities have nannies.

I feel self conscious about saying it at school so I mutter 'childminder'. The DS always say 'my nanny' and many of DD's friends seem to think that the 26 year old Slovakian who collects her is her grandmother.

iheartdusty Thu 10-Jul-08 21:16:15

DCs I mean

talilac Thu 10-Jul-08 21:29:55

They do don't they? Which is weird really because its actually pretty cost effective for more than one child.

In my case - very young DC, wanting them to be based at home so I see them during the day, needing the option of extra time occasionally - it was the only real option.

As it happens, paying the nanny right now takes up an uncomfortably large chunk of my earnings, but I try and keep myself focused on the benefits to come later when the DDs are older if I keep it all ticking over now..

talilac Thu 10-Jul-08 21:30:37

ps, I heart dusty, too.

iheartdusty Fri 11-Jul-08 23:27:15


WestMidsAccounts Mon 14-Jul-08 09:21:52

Wow, talilac, you sound so organised: you’ve got a career that you love, a job that you can scale up /down as circumstance dictate and good childcare. Sounds fab!
I know what you mean about isolation, though: it is often like that for small businesses. Is there some business club you could join? (Confederation of Small Businesses, Women in Business, a trade association etc) Are there any weekend or evening kiddy-activities which are likely to attract other working mums? Alternatively, can your nanny put you in touch with her mates' employers, who may be in the same boat as you?

snowleopard Mon 14-Jul-08 13:35:12

I work from home part-time, and I do find it amazing how many people have asked me if I use childcare, or if I work with DS there. He's 3 - and they've been asking that since he was a baby! It seems madness to me to think I could do my job with him there - we use a nursery. But some people have very little understanding of what working from home means.

Loads of people work part-time and have some work days and some SAHM days - totally normal. You will find mums you get on with. But FWIW I've been looked at like I'm from Mars by people at mum and toddler groups many times - it usually happens when I try to talk about something other than toddler-related topics. Not everyone is going to be your sort of person just because they've become a mum - it just takes time to find the people you click with.

MN helps with that too I find - I like the community of other mums, but not feeling restricted and like I'm mad if I want to talk about politics or science or whatever.

ahundredtimes Mon 14-Jul-08 13:57:13

I think what you might be craving is adult company. Totally understandable, and I have that too.

IME toddler groups are not good for getting an adult company fix. Everyone is half deranged with tiredness and everyone is sticking pasta on to a tractor and wondering about their life and not remembering the ends of their sentences. I could never remember the ends of my sentences in M&T groups, I think they put something in the tea.

If you want to be with your dcs and other mum's then you could try a NCT coffee group, or keep going to that one class and seduce someone you like - and suggest you meet at the park or something.

I think a book group or something will fill the hole better though.

They are probably suspicious because your life is not like theirs. There isn't much you can do about this - except find some other people, talk to people in shops, make an effort to see your friends, MN and wait until they start school.

hattyyellow Mon 14-Jul-08 16:55:53

I agree with the going to one group and sticking with it - pick one where you can see some glimmers of hope with some people you might click with. Are your DD's old enough for pre-school? I've found this a useful way to meet other mums, particulary getting involved with the committee and doing a few volunteer shifts a term along with other mums and dads. It feels like it'll make the transition to the school gates easier as well!

If they have a mum's night out, this can be really useful - I've found I have much more in common than I might have thought with some of the mums, particulary those who I've not had much time to talk to whilst chasing my toddlers around during the day.

I work 3-3.5 days a week from home and it is horribly isolating. I was doing 2 days when we first moved to our area so managed to do the rounds of toddler groups and build up friends whom I draw on for company now.

Because I'm not available for trips to the farm, playdates except if they fit in with when I'm not working etc it does take longer to build friendships as you're not regulary seeing people.

Even before I worked when my girls were tiny, I found it took time though to make friends at coffee groups, if its any consolation.

I'm reasonably confident about talking to new people but I think the distractions/tiredness that accompany most parents at toddler groups means it takes much longer to get to know people - you just have to stick with it!

talilac Tue 15-Jul-08 17:32:53

Can't stop, in the middle of many numbers but wanted to say thank you to everyone who has posted for making me feel normal again. You are all so lovely..

100x - NCT coffee group a great idea, going to give that a try.

BecauseImWorthIt Tue 15-Jul-08 17:41:01

I think sometimes women who work for themselves, running their own businesses and employing nannies are intimidating to women who are SAHM - even if it may not appear like that to you. The lack of confidence and self esteem amongst some of the mums I did eventually get to know was shocking.

mrsshackleton Mon 21-Jul-08 14:07:46

talilac - coming to this late, hope you see it ...
You posted on exactly the same thread when I put it up a few weeks ago and were so comforting but now it seems the loneliness has got to you too!
Sorry to know you're having a bad patch, as you may recall I am going through exactly the same as you - I think we have to accept you can't have the kind of mummy company you sometimes crave if you only do it part-time. I got in a right old tizz about it for a few weeks and arranged all sorts of play dates which were really in the hopes of me making more friends not dd1. Then I got upset when dd1 behaved like a three year old and refused to share/behaved abysmally, meaning mother of other toddler in question backed out of our house looking appalled and has never been seen again. grin Then had coffee with some other mums from antenatal and was struck by the horrible realisation that they're actually not my type of people at all, perfectly nice, but not anyone I'd have been friends with in my old life. You're far more likely to meet people you click with through work or through other friends than through the fact you're simply mums and I suspect a lot of sahms are bored out of their skulls hanging out together but have no other choice. The grass is always greener.
I think we're in a very tough situation, you do really begin to doubt yourself because if you're anything like me you probably had lots of frends pre dcs and are having to live a far more solitary life now. I think the best thing to do is to just try to see your old friends whenever possible (not easy when knackered I know). As your dcs get older you'll have so much more freedom to go out at night etc and the whole thing won't seem so forced. At least that's what I'm hoping. Seem to remember you live in n london, which is a shame, otherwise I'd say let's meet up and compare woes x

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