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working condensed hours / working shorter 'office' days and catching up at home?

(11 Posts)
workatemylife Sat 08-Sep-12 23:21:27

Grrrr. I took so long composing a post that I got timed out! Still, an incentive to brevity. Here goes the second attempt....

After going back to work from maternity leave with LO(!), I worked 5 days condensed into 4.5, and did some work in the evening to catch up the 'missed' hours in the office. Fastforward to now, with LO(1) at school and LO(2) about to go to nursery as I return to work, and I'm discussing flexible working again with my line manager and HR, both of whom are supportive. It would let me do some of the school runs, and spend some time with the two children in the late afternoon. Hours in the office each day are not identical, but I would have the equivalent of a day's work to do spread over evenings / weekends. I can imagine working two long evenings at home, or perhaps spreading the hours more thinly over more nights. I assume I would need to be ruthless about other stuff - no washing up, no ironing, and no nose-wiping on my worknights, and make it clear to the family that mummy works xx nights and therefore daddy is in charge. It sounds great at one level, but perhaps exhausting at another. Even if I 'only' do a six hour day in the office, trying to do four hours of childcare after that, and then settle back for another four hours of work, makes for a long day.

Do you have any experience of this kind of working pattern? Any advice? Has condensed hours given you a better 'balance' of work and family time, or simply left you too tired to do either well? I would love to spend the time with the children, but they may not feel the same if mummy is a moody mare the whole time!!

t1meout Mon 10-Sep-12 10:19:32

I work from home, but the nature of my job is that I have frequent deadlines and have to work in the weekends to catch up and sometimes the evenings. I am okay with the former but find evening working really really exhausting so avoid wherever possible,

It is really great to be able to collect my kids from school and to have them at home if they are poorly, and I would hate to put them into after-school club every day, but it is undeniably knackering. If I were you, I would plan to work one full day at the weekend (assuming you have a partner to have the kids) rather than do evenings. Or ideally to go down to a four-day week.

DameEnidsOrange Mon 10-Sep-12 10:25:03

I can see it working (with some stress) during term time, but not sure how you would juggle it during the school holidays without some form of childcare.

I do sometimes wfh, but my job is not overly taxing and my DCs are old enough to fend for themselves for a couple of hours, which makes it more do-able.

BackforGood Mon 10-Sep-12 10:45:59

I am able to work from home when not on visits / at meetings, and I often arrange my day like this. It's fabulous. However my children are older (I've been doing this since they were Yr8, Yr5 and Yr2). So, once I've picked up (the younger ones) and had a chat, then they entertain themselves, and indeed, can get the evening meal ready, so I tend to only break for 3/4 hour at end of school, and can be back sat work by 3.45ish. I does mean I can do things like watch them play in afterschool matches sometimes, again, which is great but won't apply to you for a while yet.
Of course - it is possible to get work done in the evenings, many people do it throughout their lives, teachers for example. You just have to be able to turn your back on housework type things and not get distracted.

workatemylife Wed 12-Sep-12 12:24:19

Thank you very much for the advice. If things don't work out this time around, it is encouraging to know that it might be easier when the children are older. School holidays are not too much of a worry; LO(2) will still be in nursery,and I'm resigned to using a mix of annual leave, grandparents, and holiday clubs, while working the same hours / routine. But I might end up doing some weekend hours I think. I was all for working in the evenings, but having thought about it the last two nights, I'm not sure I'm fit for work at that time of day after all! I guess I only find out by trying. Useful to hear your experiences; def food for thought.

anna26anna Mon 17-Sep-12 05:49:22

Hi Workatemylife,
Hope you'll still see this a week later, but thought I would reply since my current working arrangement is just like you described. I work 8-ish to 2pm, and then pick up a couple of hours during the afternoon or evening. I actually work abroad, and was offering this overseas job at the end of my 3rd maternity leave. Part-time wasn't an option, but I was able to come up with this flexible arrangement with my manager (it really is down to a cooperative first line manager, isn't it? If you get a bad one, you're snookered...) My manager has actually changed twice in the two years I've been here, the original guy was a father of three children and totally okay with the new arrangement. The next (temporary replacement manager) was an early 40's unmarried female (total workaholic) and was also surprisingly okay with the arrangement although I regularly worked until midnight after the children went to bed. The newest guy now is another stereotype you wouldn't necessarily guarantee much support from - Italian middle-aged male, but he's also being very decent so far.

What I do is, I block off my diary from 2-6pm, but then I accept meetings (usually conf calls) as and when I can manage them, maybe one most afternoons, which is easy to work around homework and dinner preps and spending time with the children. Occasionally I won't work at all in the afternoon but if there's something pressing to be done, I work a few hours in the evening to finish it. Very tiring working in the evening, and I got really sick this summer because my body is so worn out. Every half hour of the day is accounted for, and every Mum understands that's because you effectively have two fulltime jobs. It makes you super-efficient... but I don't want to do it forever. The other thing that's critical is that you MUST have help - I shop and cook, but I do hardly any laundry or cleaning, we have a lady who does this for us. My time with the children is time with the children, and DH and I even have a few evenings to ourselves without chores.

My long-term plan is to cut back properly to 20 hours, and work 9-1pm, only school hours, ideally in a freelance, independent capacity, but we can't afford the financial risk at the moment. Good luck with the flexible working arrangement - it is a good solution, even though it feels like walking a tightrope most of the time!

workatemylife Tue 25-Sep-12 22:41:39

Anna! What a great post. Thank you for taking time to reply and for hammering home the consequences of my actions! At the moment I think I have a supportive enough line manager to make things work. We agree that there are parts of the job that have to be done during 'normal' hours and / or in the building and I will be there to do them. But there are also other things that can be done at other times - emails, drafting documents, etc. I think we're going to give it a shot for a trial period. I don't want to annoy my mananger or colleagues, and neither do I want to be such a grouchy mummy that my kids wish I wasn't at home with them! I can see how it can all get too much as well, and you have my sympathy with the illness. I can usually plough on through the general state of exhaustion that parenting and work brings, but once in a while it does all catch up with us. It depends whether your tightrope walking is terrifying or exhilarating.....!

Flosshilde Tue 25-Sep-12 22:56:13

I do this. I work 4 days a week in the office and the remainder of the 37 hours I am contracted to is done at home. I tend to manage around 33 hours at work, leaving only 4 to catch up. I am also on flexi, so I can drop my hours one week if I do more the next. I also have fortnightly evening meetings which really bump my hours up.

It is exhausting though. I leave the house at 7.15 and get home at 5.30. I then spend time with my son till he goes to bed at 7.30 to 8ish. Then I work till 10 or 10.30. I don't have to do this every night, two or three at most. I have also had to eat into my flexi time lately as I am incapable of doing it while in early pregnancy - though my boss knows this and understands.

You need a understanding boss and a DH who pulls his weight. I never cook and rarely wash up. DH does it. We have a cleaner. I do all the laundry at the weekend. DH does 90% of the ironing.

I wouldn't want to try and do anymore than 37 hours and be tied to having to do that every week, week in, week out. That would finish me off. So would having to work every night. But the balance I have is OK for me.

narmada Thu 27-Sep-12 11:42:22

This is in no way helpful but I am tired just reading about you all, working days and evenings and weekends.

I can only cope if work stays in work time, and for me that means regularish office hours. I salute you all smile

suburbandweller Fri 28-Sep-12 11:19:32

I have this type of arrangement for 3 of the 5 days I work. I'm a lawyer in the city and long hours are expected but I was keen to make sure after returning from ML that I see my DS a bit. I leave work "early" (at 5pm) three days per week so I can collect him from nursery and put him to bed, then carry on working from home for as long as necessary once he's asleep. It's hard work and tiring, but worth it to make sure that I at least see DS in the evenings on those days. You do have to be very organised to do this sort of thing though - plus for me a cleaner and someone to do the ironing are essential (DH also works very long hours).

forevergreek Fri 28-Sep-12 14:34:29

Another option if you are an early bird is to make up the hours in he morning. I know someone who was so used to getting up at 6am for 7am start in the office 3 days a week that she got up at 6am the other two days and worked 6am-8am before she woke the children. It meant that she had hardly any catch up needed in the evening ( think she worked during school hours at home also so roughly 9-3, so easily managed 8 hour days without evenings. Maybe this coul work for you?

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