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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.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Tue 24-Sep-13 22:38:42

OP I think you are to be commended for going back to work to maintain your financial independence and build your career.

I don't think it's just length of commute that you need to be thinking about here though. This is more or less the checklist that DH and I went through at the time (but my DH is not an unsupportive fuckwad as yours is being right now) (and many of these points already raised above):

- flexibility of hours - possibility of flexitime after 6 months;
- mobility of experience and transferability to another employer or cross-industry?
- current and future pay and remuneration; career path with this employer?
- financial cost of commute
- current childcare arrangements
- proximity to good schools (do not underestimate this! It's only 2 years until you are signing up your 2 year old for primary school)
- future childcare options given cost, school, before and after school clubs
- (big one for me, not entirely shared with DH) strength of desire to get back to work and get out of the flipping house

Good luck!

shimmymummy Tue 24-Sep-13 22:22:11

I work 1.5hrs away from home and so does my DH (in the opposite direction) - both commutes involve walk - train - cycle/walk. We chose to live where we do because of it is in the middle of both our work places. Our DD is 3 and No.2 is on the way - I still haven't figured out how school + nursery will work out, investigating the option of a Nanny :-S

If you choose to live outside of London, you will find a lot of nurseries are based within a stones throw of mainline stations (literally less than 5 mins walk). Certainly the case for Oxford / Reading / Bracknell / Didcot. This has made life easier for us. I work full time as does my DH - and not jobs whereby you do 9-5, but are expected to do extra. But I work at home 2 days a week, DH 1 day a week and it makes our quality of life so much better - DD gets shorter days at nursery - we just fit in the extra hours on one or two burning the midnight oil sessions a week. To get my flexible working agreement I presented a plan showing the type of work I would do at home (writing, planning) - actually not being in endless meetings has been a blessing and I have become a much more efficient and effective worker. I am always available on the phone / email / skype. And 2 years on my work are really reaping the benefits and I just got promoted. It is possible. If your work have rejected your flexible working, and you think you could do your work efficiently at home or job share, then that would be verging on constructive dismissal I feel.

tethersend Tue 24-Sep-13 18:18:42

Whilst keeping her job may not make financial sense in the short term, it could well do in the long term, so the OP needs to compare not just her present, but her future earnings when deciding whether or not to leave work.

Personally, I'd be very wary of giving up work.

Nevercan Tue 24-Sep-13 18:05:27

What do you do for a living OP? Can you do this part time somewhere else?

Mandy21 Mon 23-Sep-13 21:57:40

I just wanted to echo what a previous poster has said. I work 3 days per week, H works full time, but I have a long commute (1.5-2hrs each way) and the only way we have found it work is to shift our work patterns - I leave at stupid o'clock to be in the office for 7.30, leaving H to do the drop offs, and leave at 4pm to be able to collect by 5.30pm. H obviously stays late, usually getting home for about 8pm (he's only 20 mins away). I think you need to look at your circumstances as a couple, and your finances as a couple. I'd look into a nanny which would probably be cheaper and more flexible than £2700 per month. Also, you need to think about long term. I agree that your husband is being sensible in thinking about schools etc, but you also need to think about the school day. To be honest, the nursery years are easier than school days (8.50am to 3pm here) and how you manage that if you're commuting. Good luck, sounds as though you have some tough decisions to make!

littlecrystal Mon 23-Sep-13 10:50:41

OP I can relate to your post in terms of two kids, full time work, similar salary, not very helpful DH and willingness to move out of London.

DH and I work full-time and we have two DC, 5yo and 3 yo. Childcare logistics gets more difficult as they reach school – the eldest is goes to childminder+school+afterschool club and holiday club during holidays, the little one, thanks god, only goes to a nursery. We are in London zone 4 and we pay £800 for one lot of nursery. £2700 is a lot! We do not have any family members around so it is just us, and mainly me, because DH works longer hours. Our commute is 35 mins door to door as we are lucky to be on a fast train line, so normally there is no rush in the morning/evening though I can never stay overtime. Everything is working so well at the moment.. But there is a bad side to it – I have never wanted to live in London. The area is grim and gritty and though is it is a lifesaver to live here (short commute, affordable childcare etc.), I have always wanted to move out to a picturesque small town outside London.

After a long search, I have finally found that ideal place. It is 20 miles away from London, excellent area, good secondary schools, 25 mins commute by train. Seems excellent, right? I am dreading of the thought being far from London, away from my social networks, the need of rearranging all logistics, delayed trains, knowing no one, having no emergency contacts. DH and I both do not have flexibility in work so we both have to be in the office every single day. I even thought of compromising – instead of buying a house further from the station, just buy a flat very close to the station of the ideal town and so have minimal commute. I am dying to move – for myself and for the better children’s future - but so afraid that we will set ourselves into a trap hole.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

dontyouknow Wed 11-Sep-13 13:28:05

We moved out of London when I was pregnant. My commute is 45 mins. DH's commute is one and a half hours to central London.

Even with my shorter commute I had to ask to leave 20 mins earlier each day (time made up by going in early) to catch a train home. We were very lucky in that we both were allowed to work at home one day so only needed 3 days of nursery. My experience of both parents with long commutes into London and children at nursery is that they often rearrange hours so one starts early but leaves early so can pick up the children, the other takes the children to nursery in the morning.

My husband would get back from work after 7, so could not have done a pick up from nursery. At a push I can get a (very slow) bus home. DH does not have that option and it is not that uncommon for there to be big problems at Victoria delaying all trains. You need to make some friends fast in a new area who you could call if you are both stuck in London!

If you both have a long commute then it should not just be your problem - you need to share drop offs and pickups otherwise I can't see how it would work if you are both full time.

happyyonisleepyyoni Mon 09-Sep-13 18:56:18

OP your net salary of £2000 PCM falls far short of your childcare costs £2700 PCM before considering travel and other costs.

Why on earth does your partner want you to return to work when you would be so much worse off.

I think you need a completely new plan.

happyyonisleepyyoni Mon 09-Sep-13 18:53:43

OP if you are

Cindy34 Sun 08-Sep-13 16:55:51

You can get a lot of advice about nannies on the Childminders/Nannies board.
Very roughly I would say a nanny working 12 hours per day, 5 days a week is likely to cost around £35,000 once you take in all the costs involved. From 2017 that will increase as employer contribution to pension would need to be added, think that will be 3% of nannies gross salary. There is a discussion on the Childminders/Nannies board about the pension situation, for anyone already employing a nanny the start date may be as early as Jan 2015.

MinesAPintOfTea Sun 08-Sep-13 16:12:14

By my reckoning you'd both be out of the house for 11 hours a day during the week, assuming commute goes smoothly. It often won't then you'll be out of the house for 12 hours.

I doubt either of you would see your young DC during the week for more than a bedtime story. That's not an improvement in quality of life in my book. Of course you could do it if you had to, but getting a house instead of a flat wouldn't be worth that sacrifice for me.

The husband is a different problem. Can you look at weekends away more often? Just don't go to the same place often enough to get an emotional attactment to it.

Metalgoddess Sun 08-Sep-13 16:04:55

Sounds awful and not a very good quality of life, hope you sort something soon

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.

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.

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

Princessx, I'm going to PM you.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 10:03:29

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.

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.

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.

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