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How do I get back into employment after 6 years as a (very unwilling) SAHM?

(80 Posts)
whatamigoingtodonow Sun 24-Mar-13 11:15:22

I would like to go back to work but here are the following difficulties:

Lack of affordable childcare - our outgoings are more than our incomings, so taking a financial hit in the assumption that I am investing in my career just isn't an option.

I am very deskilled by my experience as a SAHM - I have not been able to find sustainable work in the town I moved to, which has a high unemployment rate.

I studied OU for a bit, (Computing BSc) but as DP is out to work 6am - 8:30 or 9pm Mon-Fri sad I haven't been able to get the reading done, despite having ability and getting good marks (85 - 95%) on assignments, and had to postpone my course, which has upset me greatly. I have studied 2 x 30 point courses, at levels 1 and 2, but only finished the level 1 course as I was becoming more and more behind with study. I already have a degree, creative arts, and have about 6 years experience of entry level career. I didn't progress far due to health reasons (stress related) and lack of opportunities in a competitive job market.

I can't even do voluntary work due to the expense of childcare, logistics of 3 DSs (5, 4, 10 mo) and even voluntary positions do not acknowledge applications confused

Personally, I have absolutely no confidence left - I have been chipped away by bullying PIL, "friends" who come round to laugh at the appalling mess of our home angry and I now actually feel sick when I read job applications. I moved to this town 6 years ago shortly before DS1's arrival, and I haven't made many friends and really have struggled to settle here, as a mid-40s mum who just does not fit in anywhere.

Deep down I know I would not cope with any job, even shelf stacking, and sadly I have a fair amount of unpleasant life experiences which bear this out. Recently I applied for a job in a supermarket, starting at 5:30am - although I got an interview I didn't get the job and was very very upset about this, mostly because I know I would end up bursting into tears at work due to nerves (I have a very long history of this sadly)

My interview skills, presentation skills are good however - I don't send in job applications with typos, or botch job applications. I have had my CV looked at by the uni careers service, who have given it the thumbs up smile however I just have no recent work experience, and little odds and sods of computing courses aren't really stacking up to anything concrete, although I am aiming for a specific degree.

My CV doesn't have huge references to children on it either, just that I have had a career break to be a full time parent, and in that time I have studied and developed property.

I feel that life really is over, I am just sooooo stuck. I didn't choose to be a stuck-at-home-mum, it was all down to circumstances beyond my control, and I have hated it from the off. I have been miserable for years, although when studying I have been far far happier.

I haven't done nothing for 6 years btw, I have developed and sold 2 properties in that time and this, along with my studies, is on my CV. I am bored, frustrated and lonely and just not coping with the demands of my children (eldest is HF ASD and can be very challenging) and the loneliness of my situation, I moved away from family and friends, and feel very isolated.

I feel so trapped by my situation, especially the lack of spare time. Paid childcare to allow me to study just isn't an option sadly, low paid work isn't an option either although I am very willing to do it.

If I wait for DS 2 to start school, and only have DS3 (in 15 hours a week by then) I will be pushing 50 when I complete my studies. I just feel everything is against me.

Any suggestions?

whatamigoingtodonow Sun 24-Mar-13 11:51:10

My date of birth, date of graduation from 1st degree are not on my CV, in order to escape any age discrimination btw

whatamigoingtodonow Sun 24-Mar-13 12:03:51

Also, I would be very willing to do unpaid work experience, although not in bloody Poundland it's just the expense of childare....

Samnella Sun 24-Mar-13 15:46:21

Hi. I don't know how much help I will be but didn't want to leave and run. I was a SAHM for 4 years and couldn't go back to my previous role and thought I would never work again in a decently paid job. I was wrong. Life changes. Children grow and you are freed up a little. I now have a new career in a totally different area and am currently weighing up the merits of a full time job offer. I am not gloating, just setting you straight. You will get through this.

Personally, I think the job situation is the tip of the iceberg. You talk about stress, lack of confidence and being nervous. This is what you need to work on for now. The job will follow in time once you get this sorted.

So you have one DS in school and another going in Sep if he is 4 now? The little one will be 3 in about 2 years time so will you then get 15 hours nursery care as well? As that point you may think you can afford the extra cost of childcare to increase this to something more sustainable for working? I don't know as that would be for you to decide.

Get yourself an action plan in progress to deal with your anxiety. Granted, by what you have said you are a bit stuck right now in terms of childcare but the light is at the end of the tunnel as within 2-3 years they will all be in school and or eligible for nursery care.

Personally I would forget the degree. Its adding a lot of stress to an already overfull plate. You have 3 DCs FGS!!However, you like studying so how about looking up a course in your local HE in web design? Just an idea. Just a course for a few hours a week where you can meet some people but isn't pressurised. Then build it slowly. Offer to do some free web design for a local business or charity. (I say web design as an idea as you seem to have a creative side as well as an interest in computers).

This town you live in. Why there? Why is your DH working so much? Is he commuting - can you move somewhere that suits you better?

Next thing is to get some friends on board (not ones that laugh at your house hmm). Do you go to baby groups? Is there an NCT group or whatever nearby that you can join?

And tell your PIL to jog on.

Xenia Sun 24-Mar-13 16:01:06

I agree. Sort out the nerves and stress and get into tip top psychological health so you can be an asset not a liability to an employer. Then forget the second degree unless it would really help with a new career. Think about what you could earn from home. Could you start a business selling things for example from a website?

We both worked full time when our children were the age of yours and even though childcare was about half of the net salary of each of us to start with it paid off long term but in your case you need to find something for now you can do from the computer at home.

lljkk Sun 24-Mar-13 16:32:38

I love the phrase Stuck-At-Home-Mum, why haven't I heard that before?

Agree another degree would be risky, I'm 8 yrs out of formal employment & trying hard to avoid speculative retraining. (I'm mid 40s too).

I agree with Xenia in one (and only one) respect: the main thing holding you back is self-confidence.

I wondered about something voluntary that usually fits with small children, like being a member of a preschool committee or something just on weekends, walking dogs for the Cinnamon Trust, etc.

Most from-home work is appallingly poorly paid, but it would be worthwhile if it built up your confidence or let you put something more on your cv. I've helped DH create our own blog-style website; now a digital content editor job has come up and Presto: I have an instant portfolio. Would be fantastically better if I had a Creative Arts background like yours, though.

Experience in property development sounds perfect for things like estate agent jobs, housing association or builder's admin jobs, project management too (I see loads of jobs wanting that). Presumably you filled in lots of paperwork in developing the properties?

Maybe google for Skills based cv format and see what you could bullet point as your skills with specific examples.

If you could make a plan for where to be in 2-3 yrs time and steps you could take (one step at a time) to get there, always while juggling the kids, that might help you feel more productive about being a StAHM for now.

I dare say that even if you only made pennies back at end of the week after childcare, it might do you good to get a small admin job just to have a break & prove to yourself that you aren't hopelessly incompetent (most people aren't truly useless, why should you be so special? smile ). I have considered a lot of jobs that would only pay £1/hour after childcare, but I need the change, too.

whatamigoingtodonow Sun 24-Mar-13 22:26:55

Samnella DS2 has just turned 4 - we're in Scotland (school age thing starts on 1st March) so he will start P1 in Sept 2014. I have another 18 months to go gahhh confused PiL have been removed from my life, I could no longer tolerate them sniping and picking on me. So, that is as sorted as it will ever be. Sadly I can't do even a 1 afternoon per week course as I have no childcare, or family etc to help (see above for PiL grin). DP isn't home till 8:45pm (I pick him up at station with kids asleep in car) and we have our evening meal at 9:15 or 9:30pm or so, so I can't go out in the evenings, and have no social life really.

I'd love to do work at home, even for less than the minimum wage, but I just can't find the time for it - this is the reason I had to stop my studies. The constant interruptions, and the additional demands of my ASD DS1, which involves home visits from educational visitor, meetings with his school who will not comply with advice to implement strategies etc, is just overwhelming.

Xenia I do remember your posts on the thread about making 1K a month, they were exhilarating and scary! I just cannot think what I could do as a business though, I just do not have any skills which are of a professional standard. I can't do web design or freelance graphics as I am just not able to cut it sad and of course have the perennial problem of kids everywhere.

The house is utterly filthy, I have found dead vermin, cat shit on carpets (and we have no pets...) it is awful. I am just totally overwhelmed by the mess that children create, and it is not getting any better. I have had a couple of attempts at hiring cleaners, but could not put up with their behaviour towards me, criticising me etc.

Yes, we need to move, but we can't sell our house until it is clean and tidy at the very minimum. I had an estate agent round to look at it, and he gave me a total bollocking about the state of the place, and about the kids crying etc (DS2 had an ear infection that day sad).

Making friends is hard - I have now given up on baby groups as I just stick out like a sore thumb, and constantly forcing myself to do this when I am just so unsuited to it was, for a while, making me feel suicidal. Giving up isn't a good solution, but it is the only one I feel is available. I do go to soft play etc, so I can have coffee, let the kids run about, and not just sit there cringeing confused

Blogging etc on the face of it sounds great, but again I have no time, and sadly I am just so empty and bereft of any creativity that I cannot for the life of me think of what I'd write...

I just desperately need to escape and get some time without children dangling off me and fighting.

whatamigoingtodonow Sun 24-Mar-13 22:30:03

My CV is quite good - it's just that the lack of recent employment is not good. I do have it in a skills based format, and have explained my career break away with study and property developing. Doesn't cover 6 years out of the workplace tho...

whatamigoingtodonow Sun 24-Mar-13 22:42:02

Sorry to sound so negative btw - it's just that I keep trying to do stuff and the obstacles are just so high sad

DP moved job after redundancy, so now is away 15 hours a day, for the same pay, but with huge commuting costs. And lots of unpaid overtime too angry

idlevice Sun 24-Mar-13 22:59:27

What I get from this is that your short-terms wants are some break from the children & your house to be nicer. Can you put getting back to work onto a longer-term plan & concentrate on these two things first?

You obviously are at home a lot of the time & it is common sense to want a decent environment around you, decent to you which it's clear it's not the way you have cited examples. It doesn't mean it has to look like a show home which often appears to be the acceptable standard for everyone else. I would suggest adopting a few of the basic Flylady concepts to get yourself feeling more in control with your home. This can make a big difference to ones morale. Start with reading her spiel & see if you can gradually get some bits of it working for you. Also check MN housekeeping section.

Can your DP not get home himself in the evening at all? Turning the kids out asleep in the car sounds really hard! I guess this can't happen otherwise or you would not be having to do it this way but really if there is any alternative it could help if you were able to be done with the kids by a certain time then just have time for you & DP, ideally just for you if you could eat with the kids during the week. Does your DP help out at the weekends? Try to get one weekend day morning or afternoon to yourself or at least with you being in the background & DP being the main carer.

Going to soft play is good to get some sort of a break. Is there a gym with a creche you could use? Any children's centres around with sessions that provide childcare? (even if you are not particularly interested in what they do it would mean a break of scene/change of scene). Do you have Home Start in Scotland - it might be worth looking up if in your area.

You sound as if you are having to be incredibly self-resourceful & have been for a while, & that it's getting to exhausting, esp with no end in sight or very far-off. But OTOH you are raising 3DCs & have faced challenges with them & in other aspects of being a SAHP & are still going with some degree of sanity intact! Enough to get on MN at least...or does that mean the opposite wink

Xenia Mon 25-Mar-13 07:51:50

5, 4 and 10 months. We had baby , 1 and 3 year old. It is not too different and it is very very hard as one of the 3 always needs something. There is not a second free. We'd both close the door at 8am to go to work and feel a huge relief that we could sit on a train or sit at work and have breaks and rest and then come back to the fray at 6.30am. It may even be worth your working full time even if it just paid the cost of childcare so you felt more normal and had a fairer time - why should husband swan off for 10- 12 hours a day leaving you to do dull dross domestic stuff when you don't. Even if you got a job all day Sat and Sunday and he had the children on his own all those days and did cleaning whilst he had them it might be a nicer and fairer life.

whatamigoingtodonow Mon 25-Mar-13 13:13:18

It's a tricky situation for DP as well though. He hates being away from the kids for such a long time, even an 8 hour day for him means missing them for 8 hours - he would love to be a SAHD! We have really no work life balance at all, he works 25/8 and I am full time mum.

Sadly no, he isn't swanning off. Also he has been quite ill in the past few months (in hospital, off for several weeks) and hasn't made much of a recovery, which isn't helped by cold early morning train journeys and o/time at work.

We are both struggling, it isn't the stereotype of Professional Man who sails around having nice lunches whilst Poor Wife at Home struggles, he has his nose to the grindstone at work, doesn't really get lunch breaks (sometimes, not always) just brief sandwich scoffing time really.

Sorry to be such a negative whiner, and I do not mean to put the kibosh on all the well meaning suggestions, it is just that we really are wedged solid between work and kids, and have no time even for ourselves or our relationship.

Tonight's treat is a recorded documentary about Boris Johnson, so we can throw rotten tomatoes at the telly and feel better about ourselves grin

Samnella Mon 25-Mar-13 21:26:47

grin I am with you about Boris.

I also hated baby groups. Just not me and I do not miss all that stuff.

So what to do? You need to look forward. 18 months is not that long. Honest.

I would start with the house. 1 room at a time of cleaning out and selling all unwanted stuff. Then sorting storage and cleaning. Aim to do half an hour a day in 10 minute slots. Set a clock to time the slots. Sounds like the overall aim should be to move. You don't like the town and your DH must be exhausted with all that commuting. Seems like the only thing standing in the way is sorting the house. You have done up two houses so sounds like this is an achievable project for you.

You say you are empty and bereft of creativity but your posts read very well - you have a good turn of word.

You need to take baby steps to sort yourself out first. Come on OP. Get thee to the supermarket; Stock up on bin bags and Mr Muscle and get scrubbing. That house will be sorted in no time smile

milktraylady Mon 25-Mar-13 21:46:41

OP sorry you are in such a state, you sound really miserable.

Don't know if this would help, but try looking up

Her approach might help you get on top of things- 15 mins at a time & not getting overwhelmed.

Good luck thanks <hugs>

PoppyWearer Mon 25-Mar-13 21:58:30

OP, you sound like I feel sometimes (also a SAHM with young DCs).

I wonder if you are slightly depressed? I've been to my GP as I was feeling awful earlier this year and a simple change, taking me off my old contraceptive pill, has lifted the black cloud off me completely. I know that getting to the doctor with small DCs isn't easy, but I agree with the poster who said getting you sorted is the first step. Maybe you need anti-depressants?

I would also like to return to work, but I need to sort me out first, then the house (working on that). I was utterly defeated by the house before I saw my GP but am very much "up and at them" now, just a few short weeks on.

Good luck x

milktraylady Mon 25-Mar-13 22:14:19

Slightly depressed?
I'd say definitely. It's really hard to "see out" when you feel like that.
(Unfortunately speaking from experience)

Yes to a trip to your gp- antidepressants might be a good idea

Can you supplement with omega oil tablets? Proved to be v effective at helping brains to work better.

Honestly read the flylady stuff, she could help you a lot.

mum23girlys Mon 25-Mar-13 22:35:20

I'm also in Scotland and if you speak ti your hv they can request extra nursery time for your 4 year old and many areas have a nursery available from 6 weeks old. I'm not sure of the criteria to secure a place but I know in our old town my friend received a place for her ds as she just wasn't coping. Her dh was working away from home and the dcs fought constantly. Her hv caught her on a bad day and helped her lots. Not sure if that's the same as sure start but ours was called stepping stones for families

whatamigoingtodonow Tue 26-Mar-13 14:42:27

Thanks for all your replies.

I took a leap of courage and got a cleaner in. She was lovely, but did say she hadn't ever seen a house in such a mess. I didn't let her upstairs to the cat shit carpets...! Before she came I had to clean the bathroom (for the first time in about 18 months blush) as there was a leak and the plumber was on his way.... I could not have allowed him into the house, it is that bad.

Cleaner is going to come again though, but not until after Easter due to her own kids etc. She managed to do one room. I insisted on hoovering behind / under the sofa as I found yet more mouse droppings confused which is another job to contend with.

We need to move house really, to be closer to DPs work. Once we move (and that is another thread....) he will be home at normal hours, we can share housework and I can get a break to have a social life and resume my studies. Of course, we can't move until the house is spotless and all the clutter and crap decanted. That is a big hiccup.

I do very much see study as a way back into the workplace, as my own skills have just evaporated or become very outdated.

But fuck, all this SAHM malarkey is a bag of shit. Maybe it's OK if you have family nearby, and have planned a proper career break, i.e. you know you can return to work safely. I had never planned to do this. I didn't ever think this would happen to me confused and I have no grooming or training for this - and certainly have not aspired to this lifestyle. Too many losses are involved - loss of self esteem, money, social life, confidence. You name it, it's gone and it is pretty painful.

whatamigoingtodonow Tue 26-Mar-13 14:49:39

It took 3 hours to tidy the sitting room this morning btw. Not quite finished but a good start. And the cleaning hasn't started yet blush confused

I have numerous bottles of cleaning stuff. And will perhaps acquire a bottle of wine on completion of the job....

AgentProvocateur Tue 26-Mar-13 14:52:22

OP, where in Scotland are you? In Glasgow, the YWCA does courses for women, and there's a crèche. There are probably things like that in other areas. Also, some voluntary roles will pay childcare expenses - you can sort by that on (maybe not quite called that, but something similar).
You sound like your confidence is at rock bottom, but you're obviously intelligent and resourceful. Well done on getting a cleaner - first steps. Do you get any support from homestart? If I were you, I'd speak to my GP or HV and see what they can suggest.
If you're in the Glasgow area, I could probably start you off with people to talk to. Good luck.

Samnella Tue 26-Mar-13 23:20:18

Well done OP and keep posting smile

Xenia Wed 27-Mar-13 10:05:58

I certainly agree that for many of us women full time work is much much easier and a nicer life even if you do not make any or no profit on it.

Things will get better at the very least because the children will be in school all day in due course.

Moving is planned and to be near your husband's work. Can that not be really rushed through much quicker. What is stopping you moving in a week or two? Do you own the house where you are now? Could you rent it out and move to a rented one near his work for a while until you can sell the old one and buy another?
Can you get rid of the cats? That would take about 10 minutes if you gave them away and hugely improve your lives and the house.

BlueStringPudding Wed 27-Mar-13 10:19:42

There is a general shortage of skills in the marketplace for people with Computing skills, and the demand is increasing, so I think this would be a good area to continue with when you can - even if you don't take it to completing a degree.

With some technical knowledge combined with a creative side, you really could look at learning about or teaching yourself how to build good websites. You could practice by doing some for free - one for a local community group or village, and then once you've developed a few you could use as references, then you can start to offer your services for small businesses.

Also look at Facebook - lots of small businesses would benefit from having effectively managed facebook pages - these are not difficult to set up and run, but you could offer a simple cheap service to do this for local pubs, garages, hairdressers etc, whose owners may not use Facebook nor want to - but who could email you with updates of special offers etc, which you would then update on their page. It may not pay enough initially to cover childcare, but you could probably do that here and there without it taking up too much time.

Also, suggest your DH has the children for 3-4 hours at some point over the weekend - and use that time to start skilling up, and then doing things - small steps...

milktraylady Wed 27-Mar-13 11:27:07

Well done OP!
Excellent progress!
And it doesn't matter what "state" the place is. They only way now is tidier & cleaner.
You can't clean clutter, so going through stuff, binning & tidying, you will feel so much better, and then getting a hot soapy cloth to give stuff a wipe is easy.
You can do this!

What about the kitchen sink?
Take everything out. Clean it!
Clean taps draining board etc.

Then walk away smile

Next day tackle the kitchen worktop clutter. Baby steps is the way to success. Your house didn't get like this in 1 day so it won't get better in 1 day. That is wildly unrealistic.

But taking it room by room you will see great achievement. The kids will learn where stuff gets tidied to.

And you have a great end goal- to be ready to sell & move.

We are with you thanks
(Alternatively if I am being a bossy cow, tell me! I just want to help you)

whatamigoingtodonow Fri 29-Mar-13 08:47:45

Thanks again for all the replies - have been too busy to go on MN to reply blush

We need to move, but in order to sell I have to declutter the house (and I am very very challenged in this area sad) then get the house on the market, which takes several weeks to get home report done (in Scotland here), surveys etc. Before we do that I have some work to do on the house, as it will come up on the home report - many mortgage companies will kick off about any repairs that require to be done, so I have to do this as it affects the sellability of the house more than you'd realise.

The problem with skilling up is just getting any time away from children, and the constant interruption. It never ends, the screaming, whining, fighting and just constant irritation that goes along with it. When I do get a minute to study, I am just blown away by it all. I need solid stretches of time to breathe and think and it is just not available.

DP off this weekend, so I will yet again attack the house. It does feel a bit less overwhelming due to the cleaner having tidied the sitting room. It took her 3 hours to do this, and this doesn't include any actual cleaning. And there is still a couple of hours work left to do in that room. It is that bad sad

And at the end of the day I just cannot reconcile myself with losing my career, which was hard won and is just over now.

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