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No kids yet, but trying to think ahead, and wondering how/if it's really feasible for two parents to work full time and have a baby?! Stories/advice appreciated...

(24 Posts)
eslteacher Sun 19-Jun-11 15:56:27

Hello,

I'm 28 and in the past few months have gone from not giving any serious thought to having babies/having kids AT ALL to suddenly obsessing about whether I want them, when I should have them, how would my life change if/when I had them etc etc...

At the moment DP and I live in his house (ie he bought it before he met me and pays the mortgage, I just pay my share of bills/upkeep) but we've recently been talking about buying a place together. This got my thoughts projecting way into the future and I ended up thinking "what if we get a mortgage based on both our salaries but then we have a baby in a couple of years?"

...and this set off a spiral of thoughts along the lines of "well I could keep working full time, but given that DP and I have ZERO family within a 100 mile radius, how on earth would be manage the school holidays, even if we did sort out childcare for term time?"

And then, "well I could just leave my full time contract and work on a fixed-availability basis (ie I have a job that I could choose to just do in term-times) but then this would drastically, DRASTICALLY reduce the money I had coming in..." I'd suddenly be financially dependent on DP and this idea really makes me feel weird. And even if I just took this option for a few years until the kid started school, what would we then do in the school holidays? And what effect would all of this have on my pension? I feel like my head is spinning! I don't have any close friends with children that I can ask these questions to, I just have no idea what to think...

Seriously, what is the "normal" thing that most people do? Do they take maternity leave and then go back to work full time? Do their children stay in full-time childcare from like 8.30 - 6pm every day, in and out of the school holidays? Or do most people make alternative arrangements? It seems bizarre to me to have a baby and then have someone else look after it for most of the time except evenings and weekends but...I guess that's what is normal, given the maternity leave / childcare system?

I live in France, where maternity leave is 16 weeks and pre-school age childcare (ie from 6 months until 4 years) is much more accessible, being means-tested, than in the UK (in so far as I understand) but otherwise I think a lot of the issues would be the same in both countries.

I'd just be really interested to hear people's stories and opinions on this...I guess I must be missing something, but I'm suddenly wondering how ANY couple manages to have both a baby and 2 full time jobs?!

blabalalalablabla Sun 19-Jun-11 16:06:12

If you both work ft then yes your baby will be in ft day care unless you have family nearby who are happy to help out.

It is hard work both working ft and you also have to think about who would be the one to take a day off work if the baby is ill or perhaps if you've been up in the night trying to settle a baby (you have to remember that not many babies are sleeping all the way through the night at 16 weeks and some may still be waking for a feed etc.

I went back ft when the dc's were 6 months and then dh took time off work (he was career changing so it made sense). I then started working pt hours as dh does v long hours and it was just too much to balance the two.

For me working pt means that I can drop the dc's off at school in the morning and maybe go and see the odd assembly etc and be there for sports day. It also means that I can be on top of all the day to day stuff - whats for dinner, sorting out the dc's social lives, listening to them read in the evenings, doing the garden, filling in the endless school forms etc

Re: summer holidays - we normally take alternate annual leave to cover the holiday time - your annual leave is no longer for holidays grin

Or you could get a nanny.

Piccadilly Sun 19-Jun-11 19:57:15

To be honest, I think it all feels different when the baby is actually a real person in your arms. I planned to go back after the maternity leave ended (baby 3.5 months) - albeit working 50% with dh also at home for the other 50%. This all sounded lovely. But, it was REALLY REALLY hard going back to work when dc was so small. If you can at all manage it, plan to take off at least a year when the baby is born and then work part-time after that. Even doing it like that, I think most mums feel like their insides are being torn out (see all the threads on here). But, I was completely traumatised by going into work with such a small baby at home. I think you feel so different when all the hormones are coursing round your body. I know though that there are some people who don´t have a problem with going back. But I hadn´t expected to have any trouble and it really hit me very hard.

activate Sun 19-Jun-11 20:00:11

some things you can't plan for

some things you just close your eyes and go for it and everything has a way of working out in the end

there is a long way from having a baby to having to worry about school holiday childcare - almost an entire lifetime away

OpusProSerenus Sun 19-Jun-11 20:04:02

You just can't plan these things as you don't know how you will feel at the time.

When DS was born all our plans went out of the window as DH and I, unexpectedly, both really wanted him to have one of us look after him (we had planned previously for me to return to work and us to find suitable childcare). We were able to move to another area where property was cheaper so I could work part-time but we would never have even thought of that in advance

OpusProSerenus Sun 19-Jun-11 20:05:11

BTW please don't take any of that as being disapproval of anyone who manages to work and raise children, it isn't. Our way was just right for us and our DCs

Ohmydays Sun 19-Jun-11 20:06:29

I think you should consider getting a mortgage that doesn't require both of you to work full-time so that you have the option - and it will take sooo much pressure off.

ChristinedePizan Sun 19-Jun-11 20:06:57

I really wouldn't worry about school holidays yet and as I said on a thread I started the other day, childcare in France is a lot cheaper than it is in the UK so it won't be nearly such a shock to the system. You cut your cloth basically. You go out less and so you manage to still pay the mortgage. Unless you really stretch yourselves financially (and I am of the belief that if you can, your mortgage should never be more than 1/3 of your income) then it's manageable.

WhipMeIndiana Sun 19-Jun-11 20:07:29

I gave my career a sad kiss goodbye
took 2 steps down the ladder to work a 15 hour week, weekends, so we need no childcare, as dh has them when Im working. We know it's just till theyre both at school then I can work a few weekdays.
We have family close to help babysit in the rare event we want to go out together!
We live as carefully as possible, on 1 ft wage from dh, and one part time from me.
Absolutely love it, though, had 12mths off with my 1st baby, then 9mths with my second. wouldnt change a thing.

girliefriend Sun 19-Jun-11 20:10:40

I personally think to leave a 16wk old baby in childcare full time is not ideal but thats my opinion. I went back to work p/t when my dd was 7 months and still felt enoumously guilty!

I don't think anything can prepare you for how you will feel once baby arrives, there isn't any way of telling you how you will feel but it is like nothing you have ever felt before!!!

It will make you re evaluate everything, if you do end up going back to work full time I would recommend looking around for a good childminder as less stressful for a baby to cope with than a busy nursery imo.

CMOTdibbler Sun 19-Jun-11 20:11:23

Well, dh and I both work ft with no family help, and ds (now 5) seems pretty happy with his lot. He goes to holiday club in school holidays and loves spending the time with his friends.

We still spend more time with him than anyone, and prioritise time as a family

fifitot Sun 19-Jun-11 20:12:24

We both work 4 days each which is bad enough. If I had my way I wouldn't work at all but we have 2 and can't afford not to work. I took 7 months off with both of mine and they began nursery at 7 m for 4 full days pw - 8am til 4.30 pam. it's too much but at the moment can't do much else, have no family living nearby and can't afford to work less hours. The kids seem fine, both love nursery and are thriving but I do wish I had taken more mat leave and could work maybe 3 days now.

nooka Sun 19-Jun-11 20:20:19

Most people I know who have children also work full time, except when their children are very small. They have all sorts of arrangements to make their lives run (more or less) smoothly.

Personally our childcare has included a nanny-with-their-own-child, nanny, nursery, childminder and periods of SAHM/SAHD. They all had their pluses and minuses. We are now on the verge of no longer needing childcare at all.

I think that you are wise to consider your future economic needs when getting a new house/mortgage but I wouldn't be just as concerned about paying the mortgage if one of you lost your job - generally I'd pick a smaller house and less financial stress over stretching your budget for space you probably don't even really need, or that you'd have to sacrifice anyway if your circumstances changed.

ChunkyPickle Sun 19-Jun-11 20:21:47

We have no family (within a few thousand miles), and what we did was my partner continued to work full time, and I worked from home on our business startup (luckily I have a career which allows me to do this) when the baby napped, and then in the evenings when I could hand him over to DH to look after. In practice this meant I really only got 3/4 days in at first.

Now he's almost a year, the business is starting to take off, so we're looking at getting an aupair/nanny to look after him (although I'm wobbly on that) so I can be more predictable with my hours.

The way we did it was really tough though (both of us always either looking after the baby or working. No down time at all), and you need a job which would let you do it.

nooka Sun 19-Jun-11 20:22:16

Oh, and I mainly felt relieved when went back to work after I had my two (and after a brief SAHM stint more recently). We are all different. I really don't think that there is a "normal" as it's a very personal choice.

lechatnoir Sun 19-Jun-11 21:28:39

I agree that if you are thinking about moving & are likely to start a family soon after, I'd try & avoid getting a mortgage that would force you to both work FT.

That said if you need/choose to both work FT then to make it work you'll need to be very happy with your childcare choice, agree in advance how sickness/holidays etc will work out between the two of you and as another poster said, make family time a absolute priority during your free time.

Good luck and definitely don't try & overthink or over plan having a family - a LOT can change between now & baby arriving & after. Since getting married I've gone done: maternity leave 1, both back to work PT then FT, maternity leave 2, back to work PT then FT then back down to PT with DH as SAHD!! Oh, and I'd say both you & DH working part time is ideal scenario grin

xiaojwww Mon 20-Jun-11 02:52:51

Message deleted

WidowWadman Thu 23-Jun-11 20:12:02

Closest family is 100 miles away and we've been both working full time until I went on maternity leave with No2, and he lost his job. Will be both working full time again (provided he finds a job) when I return towork. Nursery is scarily expensive, but it can work out.

trixymalixy Thu 23-Jun-11 20:24:38

We both work full time, although I am desperate to go part time, and we have two kids. I got made redundant before going on mat leave with no 2 so had no choice but to go back full time. It was absolutely exhausting and hard going at first, particularly as DD didn't sleep through yet and DS then started waking up too. It's nearly a year that I've been working full time now and it's starting to feel normal and manageable. My mum looks after the kids three days a week which is a big help, and they go to nursery the other two days. My mum is retired so can also help out when they are sick.

Finances wise we took out a mortgage that was manageable on either of our salaries and that we could take a payment break from when I was on mat leave. That also allowed me to go part time after DS was born. I'm hoping to make a flexible working request soon to hopefully go part time again.

HTH

mousesma Thu 23-Jun-11 20:36:03

Agree with nooka there is no "normal" and what works for one family will not work for another.

For myself before I became pregnant I had planned to return to work fulltime and thought I would be bored being a SAHM. However once the baby was a reality I couldn't imagine returning to work full time and I am reluctant to return to work at all. Fortunately(ish) I was made redundant at the end of my maternity leave and the money I have received as allowed me to not have to rush back to work but this money will not last forever. In addition to this DH and I planned ahead and did not over stretch ourselves on the mortgage and i saved half my salary for 2 years so that we would have money to fall back on during maternity leave, so this also provides a "cushion".

DD is nearly 1 and I hope I won't have to return to work for another year at last. Indeally I would like to stay at home until she starts school but this isn't financially viable. When I do return to work I will work PT hours and am also using this time to retrain so that I can enter a sector where more PT work is avaiable.

Ephiny Thu 23-Jun-11 20:41:58

A nanny is sometimes the best option if you both work full time, especially if you work long or unpredictable hours. And if you have a relatively short maternity leave, it can be nicer for a baby to be looked after in your own home rather than put in nursery. I think the advantages of nursery come a bit later when the child is old enough to start interacting/socialising with other kids.

You will work something out though, people generally do smile

gourd Fri 24-Jun-11 13:52:05

We have a 9 month old and I don't want to leave her 10 hours a day to go to work for 8 hours plus an hours commute each way, but yes, it is possible - it's what we are having to do. We both work full time and have no family less than 2 hours drive away so LO will be at childminder's 10 hours a day, 5 days a week from 04 July. :- ( As far as I know, this is what most people have to do, so of course it's possible - even if it breaks your heart to have to leave them to basically be brought up by someone else! It's either that or, train as a CM before you have your baby... I wish I had - although I don't know how sustainable it is long term or what the market for CM care is like where we live. We don't plan to have more than one child but if we had two I don't know how we'd manage as it wouldn't be worth my working - it would cost nearly all my salary for childcare for two kids, till they are school age anyway, and if you don't work for 5 years I don't know how you'd get another job. or how you'd manage on such a reduced pension etc, so you do have to think about numbers. Don't let that get in the way of whether or not you want a family though. Most people have to work as well and still manage fine!

onlylivinggirl Tue 28-Jun-11 12:04:21

I am not sure there is a normal. I would echo what everyone says and say that you won't know how you feel until the baby is there. I planned to go back f/t and have my partner look after DS pretty much full time and thought this would be great and give me the flexibility to work long hrs etc. However I feel very different and although I am back full time it is very different than I thought... however someone I work with thought she would be a SAHM (had agreed with her DH etc)- but was bored at home so is back full time and loving it.
i would just play it by ear - get a mortgage that gives you a break option

BsshBossh Tue 28-Jun-11 20:47:42

Every case is different but in my experience it's been perfectly possible. DH and I both work FT. DD has been FT with a CM since she was 10 months. We were very lucky with her as she slept through the night from 12 weeks and settled in with CM immediately so we weren't really much sleep deprived or stressed.

DH works long hours so could never pick her up and put her to bed but he does drop off and I do pick up and bedtime. She's 3 and is asleep by 7.30pm so I have evenings free to work or relax. But I work in a high pressure industry and because I was leaving at 5pm every day to pick up DD my promotional prospects suffered - I did get promoted but more slowly as my industry likes to see people working late at the office and don't really value working from home.

I now work from home (slight career change) as I am looking ahead to when DD starts school next September and I can reduce my hours to school hours. So far working from home is working terrifically. Interestingly and sadly two mothers in my office have left because it was too stressful for them working there (remember, high-pressured industry). They both have more than one child.

Housework always gets done on weekends - but DH does his equal share so it takes hardly any time and we're all free to enjoy the weekend.

Truly, OP (if you're still here) it can work (it has for me) but it may not work for you or it may work for me now but it may not work for me in the future. I can tell you one thing though, I cannot imagine my life without DD - I had her late in life (at 37) and I am so happy I had her! Go for it!

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