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2 parents working full time with long commute and toddler & baby

(37 Posts)
princessx Sat 07-Sep-13 23:29:11

I'm going back to work soon when my children will be age 1 and 2. I'm not allowed to go part time and have to work 37.5hrs per week. Dh is also full time. Dh is keen to move out of London for better quality of life, but that will add about 3hrs onto our day, with 1.5hr commute each way.

Commute still not great for me at the moment, I live in zone 2 and work in zone 1, and it will take me a good hour to get in to work.

I'm just wondering if there are examples of 2 parents working full time with a long commute. Dh thinks it will be fine, but he's basing that on himself, not understanding the weight of childcare I'm taking care of. With me away for 12 hrs a day 5 days a week the kids will become very needy.

I'm sure my health will suffer, and it will make sense for me to quit my job. But I'm trying to stay at the company to turn my job and career into something more workable.

Just wondered if anyone had any examples of both parents doing a long commute, or if we should stay put for the time being.

chanie44 Sun 08-Sep-13 08:23:05

An hours commute in London sounds like a dream. I live in zone 4 andy commute is 1.5 hours, but only 0.5 is on the overground (the rest is walking, which is fine).

A lot of people I work with commute and some of them have horrendous travel costs (£400 a month).

If you were to move, how would you arrange childcare?

If you can't reduce your hours could you work from home 1 day a week or work condensed hours (4 long days). If your partner did the same, you'd have 3 days hellish days and 2 easy ones (I work 4 long days and my partner works part time and sometimes long days).

theoriginalandbestrookie Sun 08-Sep-13 08:34:04

I'm not sure how moving to the country will improve your quality of life if you only get to see it at weekends. I would refuse to move your Dc are already going to be cared for ft when you are both at work it would be ridiculous to add more time on to that.

Generally when people move out from London only one spouse does the long commute . Does your DH support you working ?

Cindy34 Sun 08-Sep-13 08:41:09

How does moving out of London give better quality of life?
Where would you move to? Are there places on fast train routes? Is the cost of commuting worth it, not unusual not to get a seat Waterloo to Guildford for example, so you are paying a lot for a season ticket which does not get you a seat.

Are there things you can do at the weekend to make DH feel he has a better quality of life - whatever he means by that? For example by going on trips away.

RoadToTuapeka Sun 08-Sep-13 08:54:53

The dilemma you have is one reason DH and I ended up emigrating! Amongst lots of other reasons of course.

With DS1, return to work when he was one for me was ok; but only because DH and I both did s condensed week of 4 days each, could do s few hours or day here and there from home, and could take time in lieu as we sometimes had evening meetings; I had 50min travel to work, DH just over an hour; so the flexi work arrangement plus we could alternate nursery pick up/drop off, made things manageable.

No way could I have done all drop off/pick up and managed a 37.5 hour week without the flexi arrangement, and not living more than an hour from work. And DH pulling his weight meant I was not managing all the stress of getting a child ready for nursery every day nor the rush to and from trains, the stress was shared! Plus if DS was poorly we could share getting him.

We thought very hard about whether we could do it living outside of London and decided no, as where would nursery be - near home, so you'd have a nightmare getting back in time for pick up? Or in central london, and commute with a toddler? No thank you, people were extremely rude to people with buggies at commuter times and over an hour on a train early morning or home time is awful - tired, scratchy, hungry, home at horrid time for getting them to bed by a decent time.

I really feel for women who carry the weight of full time work, plus having all the childcare responsibility for pick up, taking days off if child ill etc. Men should do more! Sounds like you would end up very stressed and quality of life would not be better at all. Unless you can both take more flexible working (from home etc) and unless your partner takes on some of the burden too with childcare arrangements. I have no answers I am sorry but I hope things work out.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sun 08-Sep-13 09:25:46

Do not under any circumstances do anything that will lengthen your commute. It will be awful. Commuting is dreadful at the best of times but if you are both working full time with young children and there is no choice but to do it 9 - 5, it is a recipe for utter disharmony and sadness. There are quite simply no positives- no one will see each other and no one will get any time in the nice country house except at weekends as everyone will be out at nursery and work or on a train at the same time. Weekends will be hell as everyone will be too knackered to be happy.

On the other hand, with some flexible working thrown in for BOTH parents and short commutes, 2 full-time working parents can have a good quality of family life, ime. My partner and I are about to start a system where I work 3 longer days and 2 very short days and he does 2 very long days and 3 short ones. We are hoping to be able to manage primary school without needing wrap around care. Up to now we have been managing fine with our daughter in f/t nursery. It can be done but the things that make it bearable for us are: both parents pulling their weight with childcare, short commutes, flexible hours.

princessx Sun 08-Sep-13 09:35:18

Thanks for all your quick replies. You have made me see it is quite realistic. Dh is very forceful and he wants to live in the country. But he can't see or understand my concerns at all.

He's not a very supportive person, so he wants me to work full time but doesn't care that it's not possible.

For the first few months we will use annual leave to take it in turns to have one day off a week, so dc only in childcare 4 days. I will go in early before dc wake up, and come home in time to give them tea.

I don't think I could do 4 long days as work made a fuss about me not being present for 5 days.

It's not very nice where we live now, and really expensive too. As we are renting we could get a lovely house for the same price as a horrible flat in zone 2.

I would try to get a nanny I'm sure that wouldn't cost more than the £2700 nursery fees per month we'd be paying living here. I'd also look for somewhere walking distance to a fast train to London.

It's pretty depressing the jobs are all in London, as it does make things a lot harder work.

princessx Sun 08-Sep-13 09:36:03

Sorry, meant to say it doesn't seem realistic at the top of last post!

kilmuir Sun 08-Sep-13 09:38:16

get rid of husband. awful quality of life

ModeratelyObvious Sun 08-Sep-13 09:46:43

What childcare is DH proposing that would work for your family in the new circumstances?

What I would do is say that you will review in six months. You can then see how it is working with a short commute and what might need to change for a longer one. So then you can set terms that might work eg you will move only if he can negotiate one day a week at home and one short day, and the same for you. Or whatever,

Did you do a formal flexible working request at your work? Did DH do one at his?

princessx Sun 08-Sep-13 09:47:10

Well this will turn into a post for the relationships board but you are right he is making my life difficult. However while it will be hard back at work 2 of us working full time. I don't think I'd manage to be a single mum working full time with 2 young kids, even if money wasn't an issue.

But money is an issue, my salary is £2000 a month, my rent is £1300 (1 bed flat) childcare is £2700. Tax credits have a cap so most I'd get is £800 towards childcare.

But I don't want to be an unemployed single mum either.

I'm in a really hard position and trying to make it work so I don't give up my job.

mummytime Sun 08-Sep-13 09:47:57

Okay - you commute could be better from outside London (and some people get a seat on Guildford-London). However it doesn't sound as if you are highly paid, so could you get a new job outside of London? Do you want to live outside London? What do you want?

Boreoff Sun 08-Sep-13 09:52:40

Wouldn't it work better financially for you to be a stay at home mum as childcare is more then your salary? Only if that is what you wanted of course.

SoonToBeSix Sun 08-Sep-13 09:53:29

If you are paying that much in childcare and hardly seeing dc why on earth are you working in that job? There are more important things in life than a career.

princessx Sun 08-Sep-13 10:03:29

Thanks moderatelyobvious I did do a formal flexible working request where the outcome was my job is a 37.5 hrs a week job and that's that. Dh didn't do one, it didn't cross our minds to be honest. I suppose because I'm still on mat leave I didn't think about him having time off.

He earns a lot more than me so will probably argue it doesn't make financial sense, but I think we need to start having those conversations.

Once I've been back at work for 6 months I can apply again for flexible- working. So the 6 month time period makes sense for a few reasons.

I'm really glad I posted here, it's helped me clarify a lot of things. I think we need to really discuss how his work can be flexible if I'm to work full time and pursue my career.

He is stressed about getting into a good area for schools but we probably need to make our situation workable first.

VegasIsBest Sun 08-Sep-13 10:04:45

If you salary is £700 less than child care costs, a d presumably you have to pay for travel costs, lunches, work clothes etc it really doesn't make financial sense to work at the moment.
Can't you talk this through openly with your husband?

princessx Sun 08-Sep-13 10:05:55

Well I'm sticking to my job as relationship is v rocky with dh and I don't want to give it up to suit his needs then be totally dependent on him.

ItsaTIARA Sun 08-Sep-13 10:06:19

There are few more important things than being able to sustain yourself and your children if your relationship is looking a bit flaky and the government is clamping down harder on benefits with each passing day Soon.

However, it depends on the job - in some it's vitally important to stay in touch and hang onto the one you've got, whilst in others the career progression is more limited and it's quite realistic to take a couple of years off and then start again.

I wouldn't move OP - in fact I didn't, and can still walk into central London (at a pinch, but it would take an hour) if the tubes are on strike. I think your DH's plan will be fatal to your career unless you can find a new job nearer home. The killer for me was that I wouldn't want to be two hours away from the DC (including waiting for the next train) if there was a crisis at nursery.

You need to research childcare in detail, and do the sums for exactly how you'd do it and how much it would cost - including cover for sick days in order to discuss it with DH.

mummytime Sun 08-Sep-13 10:15:03

Okay I wouldn't buy anything with him at present.
What is your job? Why aren't you looking at a Child minder? I wouldn't be sure that a Nanny wouldn't be cheaper. (£2700 seems more than a nursery would be here.). Can either of you get child care vouchers? At least you would save the tax.
What kind of schools does he want (state or private). How old is your oldest? Just living in the country doesn't necessarily mean better schools.
BTW although he is paid more than you, he isn't "highly" paid for London if you get tax credits.

imme Sun 08-Sep-13 10:16:11

We live in zone 3 with plenty of parks and a decent commute. We thought long and hard whether to move out of London altogether but then realised that logistically it would just not be feasible with both of us working long hours. Just go through it practically! Have a look at train times, walking times, nursery pick up times, contingency plans... It's not going to work unless you have a nanny!
If you want to live in the country one of you has to stay at home or work very short hours/locally.

hettienne Sun 08-Sep-13 10:52:08

Sounds like a nightmare. I work 37.5 with an hour's commute so am out 8-6.30pm, DP works 9-5 from home, and that is bad enough - I feel like I barely see DS! Both of us working full time with a longer commute would be terrible for our quality of life.

OnChickWatch Sun 08-Sep-13 10:57:48

I have only ever done a long commute before dc.

The problem you may find is the overground. The line I was on frequently had problems and delays. At least when you are in London you can walk, bus, tube find an alternative route. When you need a 40 min train journey to get you into London/home there is no alternative, you sit and wait.

It can be snow, leaves, heat, people jumping, animals on the line, signal failure I promise you the list is endless. Plus you pay thousands of pounds a year for the privilege then can't get a seat.

It's not much fun.

ModeratelyObvious Sun 08-Sep-13 11:22:07

Princessx, I'm going to PM you.

LadyMetroland Sun 08-Sep-13 13:54:46

I live in the Home Counties and know a couple of mums who work full time with long commutes into London, husbands work full time too.

They both employ fulltime nannies as the stress of getting back for nursery pickups is removed - and children can form a strong bond with a single caregiver. I personally think fulltime nursery 8-6 five days a week is too much for little kids and would avoid doing that if at all possible.

Dadulthood Sun 08-Sep-13 14:24:54

My wife & I both work full-time and have children who are now 3 & 5. We have certainly found the last few years a strain - on our relationship in particular.
The problem we found is that, once you're home from work you devote all your attention to the kids, once they're down you have to make dinner, etc. and by the time you can both sit and spend some time together it's already 8:30-9pm... and you're both knackered... and there's still countless house chores left to do, so the sum of your week-day time together is tired debates about who should have taken the bins out (probably me); who should clear up the work shoes they've left scattered everywhere (probably my wife); etc, etc. Over time this completely eroded us as a couple (it's since taken lots of effort & energy to get our relationship back). Adding time to your commute would probably increase the liklihood of you hitting a similar pattern.

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