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VERY frustrated FT working mum - slap me or sympathise

(35 Posts)
matana Sat 20-Aug-11 10:31:12

I've just gone back to work full time - this was the first week - and my 9.5 month DS is going to a childminder for 38 hours per week. Work have been really good and are allowing me to work from home two days per week, meaning that my DS only actually does 2 full days at the childminder and i condense my hours on the days i work from home, collected DS at lunch, giving him lunch and then putting him down for his afternoon nap while i get on with some more work. It's bloody hectic and hard work and this week i've been asleep on the sofa by 9.30 most evenings, but i want it to work because i feel it gives me the best of both worlds. My DH has applied for flexible working (condensed hours) too, so he collects my DS at 2pm on Mondays. He's as supportive as he possibly can be, making sandwiches, preparing bottles of milk, preparing dinner etc so i get to spend time with my DS in the evenings.

My problem is that i feel completely unsupported by my family, all of whom live close by. When i was pregnant i asked my mum if she and dad could perhaps commit to looking after my DS in our home for one afternoon per week when i'm working from hime (in case he doesn't nap well, is unsettled, ill or whatever). She said she couldn't say they'd do it regularly because 'they often like to go out for lunch or out for the day etc'.

This week they all knew it was going to be hard for me and i had some lovely texts from them but no practical help at all. My sister (she has a 2 yo DD) said she'd probably come over on Wednesday to help me out and spend some time with her nephew. Wednesday came, no sign of my sister. I asked her last night if she could look after him next Thursday because the childminder is on holiday and my DH, who had booked time off work, was no longer able to take the time off because he's snowed under. "Oh, i'm so sorry - sod's law the only time you ask for my help and we're going away for a long weekend".

I just called my other sister to ask her if she could have him next Saturday because DH is going to photograph a wedding to get some more money in but has asked for my help because he's nervous it's his first one. "Oh, i'm really sorry - sod's law it's the only time you've asked for my help and i have a hair appointment". I don't expect people to stop living their lives and i know our DS is our responsibility. But in almost 10 months we have never asked for help. We love spending time with him and try to arrange our lives so we can do so as much as possible. I suppose i just expected a bit more from my own family who i have always bent over backwards for.

Am i wrong/ selfish to feel this way? It's been a hard week and i feel like the only support i can rely on is myself and my DH.

madeupme Sat 20-Aug-11 10:40:56

I know its hard but it will become routine. You are lucky work have been flexible (mine aren't! I am mostly out of the house from 7 till 7 5 days a week and I HATE IT!)

I am lucky my Mum is our childcare. But as she does it in the day we cant really ask for help if DH and I want to go out. We are having our 2nd night out together in 2 and a half years soon. The first was our wedding!

Working and parenting is never easy but you will cope. Maybe you could pay your cm for an extra hour or 2 for some breathing space?

mothersmilkandherchickenseggs Sat 20-Aug-11 12:43:41

i understand completely we are exactly the same get no help whatsoever although my sil and bil have had there children looked after full time by my ils whilst they worked from 6months or so and my side is just as bad i feel like im asking for a kidney if iask for a babysitter so i or dh can work or god forbid spend some time together minus 3dc's in tow. Im now going back to work full time and will have to put my 2 dc's in childcare (although one is fulltime school so will only be pick up and drop offs) it will be hard and we will have no one on hand to help. it makes me angry sometimes especially when sil and bil dont ever say thanks to my ils and are completely oblivious to all there help. they are also incapable of diciplining there dc's or keeping there house clean which just adds to the irritation anyway rant over. I think it will just be hard for you guys and u may just need to take the mind set that no one is going to help just dont bother asking that way you dont get let down thats what i do. I dont know if any of this will help but i do truely feel for you.

Ryma Sat 20-Aug-11 16:50:03

Imagine you have no family here, how would you manage on your own?

LadyLapsang Sat 20-Aug-11 18:17:32

OP, if you work you need to arrange reliable childcare. My DS is now at uni but in all the years of childcare, school, summer holidays my parents had him twice when he was ill & my PIL a few times in the holidays for a night or a few days. You have been back at work one week and seem to have asked three family members to provide childcare. I suggest you increase the hours you employ your childminder for and start to look around for a good back up babysitter.

Katisha Sat 20-Aug-11 19:41:08

I carried on working full time having had DCs and have generally worked two days at home.
My experience is that you can't be working at home AND looking after the child. You end up doing neither well.
I think you should bump up the childminder to three days to be honest. Give yourself a chance and a bit less juggling and clock watching. It's worth it.

I am lucky in that my mum has always helped out when necessary but I prefer to use her for emergencies rather than general childcare. I think previous posters are right in that you have to assume you have no other family help and book childcare accordingly.

whostolemyname Sat 20-Aug-11 21:40:10

Hmm well one sister was going away for the weekend so completely understandable she couldn't help. Re the wedding - surely you had more than one weeks notice that your husband was going to photograph a wedding?

Sorry, but i do think you are tired and a bit stressed and so expecting too much. Do you look after your sisters DD much?

MissBeehiving Sat 20-Aug-11 22:00:22

I understand your frustration and I think I felt similiar when I had DS1. Going back to work is hard and I initially felt that I wanted to leave DS1 in childcare as little as possible until I realised that he was extremely happy there grin

If family want to help that's great, but if they don't want to make a weekly commitment then you can't force them and can't really expect it. Up the hours at the CM, you won't feel so tired and stressed. It isn't going to be possible to work from home with a small child. It just doesn't work smile

nilequeen Sat 20-Aug-11 22:03:46

Def. put your son to the childminder an extra day. I went back to work with the intention of my mum looking after my DD, but she couldn't manage on all of the days I needed her, so I used a childminder. Two years on and we've built an amazing relationship with our childminder and my once helpful mother has turned into the babysitter from hell. I want to kill her! If she doesn't shape up she'll be getting the Alan Sugar treatment. Although you would like help from your family, very often it comes with strings attached and well meaning advice. Also, with a childminder you don't have to swallow your pride and beg for help, only to be refused.

In a nut shell - don't rely on reluctant relatives.

michglas Sat 20-Aug-11 22:04:38

Why should they commit to regular child-minding, they have done their child-rearing and should be able to enjoy their time now their children are all grown up. We don't have family near us and have had to arrange all our child-care. I chose to have my girls and even if we had family near us, i wouldn't expect child-care on tap from them.

hopskipandjump Sat 20-Aug-11 22:09:48

I work full time in a job which requires more than 9-5 in a senior position. My dh and I have no family near by. Yes it was challenging in the early weeks of going back to work and it can be exhausting (esp when I have to do conference calls at 8pm shock but I manage. It is all about prioritising and organisation in my experience (I should mention we have also just bought a house which requires refurb which I am managing - not sure how!)

cjbartlett Sat 20-Aug-11 22:10:35

I think you need to reconsider your childcare arrangements
And your dh needs to decide if he can do the wedding photography or not
If you're both full time do you really need the extra cash? Wouldn't you rather spend the Saturday as a family
Don't see why you expect your sisters to cancel weekends away and appointments tbh

hopskipandjump Sat 20-Aug-11 22:12:01

I should add - you should not expect anything from your family in respect of childcare - anything they offer you should accept with gratitude - but they have their own lives to lead.

drcrab Sat 20-Aug-11 22:16:22

Huge sympathies but you will need to get a back up childminder or nursery or something. We don't have any relations nearby. Il are 7 hour drive away and parents are 13 hour flight away. We have close friends and have only really used 1 couple for baby sitting occasionally (2-3x a year max) and a couple of friends when I went into labour 11 months ago who helped with DS when DD arrived.

Good luck.

AnnieLobeseder Sat 20-Aug-11 22:18:20

A slap from me I'm afraid. The only way to make it work is to have reliable childcare firmly in place, and that means paying for it.

It's your first week back, while you're all settling in it will be exhausting. But soon you'll find the little shortcuts and the routine that works for you. Keep your mind open and your options flexible.

Be grateful if your family can help out here and there, but don't rely on them - you'll be setting yourself up for stress and heartache.

OriginalPoster Sat 20-Aug-11 22:20:52

If your family live close by, at least someone is likely to support you in an extreme emergency. This should be of some comfort to you. All our relatives live more than 5 hours away, so if I need emergency help it has to be friends. For routine care I think it is unfair to expect grandparents to help unless they genuinely want to.

DadOfTwoJimA Sun 21-Aug-11 00:13:12

I think you've got to view any family support as a favour rather than an obligation. But it'd be nice to think they could prioritise you over going out for lunch on the odd occasion when your regular arrangement is unavailable. (My DW and I both work full-time and our childminder is currently in the middle of a 3 week holiday. Getting cover arranged was a real scramble.)
My sister lives close by, doesn't work, doesn't have kids and infuriates my DW with her ability to become unavailable for any occasional help-arrangement at the last minute (which is worse than just saying 'No' in the first place).
The key is to build up as many paid/friend/family/reciprocal options as possible, then hopefully someone will always be available when required.
Like you, my DW values her career highly. We do both find it extremely tiring, but feel we get value from, as you put it, 'the best of both worlds'.
Some of our 'work and childcare' experiences/learnings are outlined here...
Kids Career Marriage Life

ChippingIn Sun 21-Aug-11 00:26:20

A (gentle) slap from me too. It was your first week back - it's emotionally & physically exhausting.

However, you parents are entitled to say no, they don't want a regular arrangement. This is their time of life to enjoy as they wish. One sister is going away and the other has an appointment. It's a bit much to have the hump because they didn't change their plans - maybe if you'd given them more notice they might have been willing and able to help.

As for working from home - it all depends on the type of work, the nature of the child and your general set up. It is possible, but like many things in life - not always easy.

Could your parents have DS when you go to the wedding to help DH?

happygolucky0 Sun 21-Aug-11 00:57:11

The childminder is taking hoilday after just starting? You should of been made aware of this before the last minute ? It is helpful if the childminder has other childminding friends that can cover her hoildays. Just an idea for the future. I have a childminder and my Mum but agree it is usaully less bother using the childminder most of the time. It is better to have back up plans for childcare to safe the stress.

happygolucky0 Sun 21-Aug-11 00:58:48

Gosh I need to go to bed lol........ * usually less bother also to save the stress!

matana Sun 21-Aug-11 10:20:14

So..... more slaps than sympathy....

Ok, to answer some questions:

We were aware months ago about the childminder's holiday, which was why my DH booked the time off. The issue is that something has come up at his work which means he can no longer take Thursday and Friday like he wanted.

We've been aware of the wedding for two weeks only - the couple had been struggling to find anyone. My DH agreed to do it as a favour for the man my dad works with. The reason he wants to do it is because he's thinking if he can get good at wedding photography it might be an avenue for a business later on. This will be his first wedding and it's important to him - until now photography was just a hobby.

Yes, i look after my sister's DD very regularly. Whilst i've been on maternity leave i've looked after her sometimes with an evening's notice when my sister has forgotten she's had something planned the next day. We've also had her overnight so they could go out. She's also a FT SAHM.

I said at the start i don't expect people to put their lives on hold for us and my DS is our responsibility. I also said we've never asked for helped before. I know people can't help it if they have things planned. I suppose what might have been nice was for a little support during the first week or so while we find our feet. The fact that my sister had said she'd come over and then i didn't hear anything was, in my view, the thing that narked me most.

I agree with those who have said it'll get easier. Don't get me wrong, the first week wasn't horrendous. It was tiring, but it worked.... just. I just feel that we give a lot to other people with little in return and that is the crux of the matter. But perhaps maybe we have to stop taking so much on and saying 'no' once in a while if things are too short notice (like the wedding) and therefore giving others more notice.

Sending my DS to the CM only for 2 full days is not about saving money. It was because i want DS to have as much time in his home environment as possible. If i need to up the hours i will do, but it just makes me sad to be seeing so little of my DS. It has been weighing on my mind for months. Going back to work FT was not a choice for me, it was necessity. I do love my job, but would love to do it part time. Not an option though.

HeIsSpartacus Sun 21-Aug-11 10:49:21

op have you got any space for an au pair?

ChippingIn Sun 21-Aug-11 11:21:43

Matana - if your family see you as the one who copes & helps others (a do'er and cope'er) it probably didn't even cross their mind to see what you needed them to do to feel supported in this transition. They sent you lovely texts - it's probably what they thought you needed from them. I think you are being a bit cross with them for either not thinking or not being you - and it's a bit unfair. Maybe you need to start saying what you want and need from them so that they don't inadvertantly let you down. Even your sister who said she'd call around, she probably didn't realise you were counting on it to help, as much as it would just be nice to see her?

Who knows - I'm only guessing - but I feel you are getting upset and feeling let down when it's not really their fault for not knowing what you wanted... and they'd be upset to know you feel like this.

ChippingIn Sun 21-Aug-11 11:23:35

PS: It's crap going back to work if you don't want to - but at least you can do it from home smile Anychance you can afford a young, first time nanny or have the room for an Au Pair?

hairylights Sun 21-Aug-11 12:08:20

Sorry you ae finding things so difficult but your child is your responsibility. There us absolutely no reason why your parents should help out - they have done their child rearing. While it's lovely that some grandparents/ aunts do help a lot, it's certainly not something one should expect.

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