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Has anyone increased from 3 to 4 days a week and been happier?

(35 Posts)
momofpickle Mon 24-Oct-16 16:30:37

I have been thinking about increasing my hours from 3 days a week to 4 days for almost a year, since I went back to work. Originally my boss said I could come back 3 days a week on the proviso I eventually go to 4 days - but they haven't chased it. I'm lucky there's no explicit pressure from work on me. But I can't stop thinking about what to do!

My son is 22 months old and enjoys childcare (2 days with mum / MIL, 1 day childminder).

I would like the extra money, but I feel like I ought to stay with my son while he is young. But I don't always feel like we have the most interesting /educational days together because I have to do the housework when I'm not at work and sometimes I think he might get more from being at the childminder's with other children!

I work in an advertising agency which is fast paced with lots of different demands and deadlines and can be stressful / demoralising at times. I constantly feel like I need to work outside of hours to catch up and that maybe 4 days would give me the extra time I need. But then again - if I have more time in work, it will probably mean more work comes my way!

Should I just try to carry on making 3 days a week work and get better at leaving work at work?

Could things at work be easier / better if I go back to 4 days? Easier to remember what I'm doing from week to week, more a part of the team, more time at work to do things instead of catching up at home, easier to climb the ladder?

I would really appreciate any advice from anyone who may have been in any kind of similar situation!

Thanks smile

FV45 Mon 24-Oct-16 16:42:03

For me, the change from 3 to 4 days felt like going from being the part-time one, to more a full member of the team, which professionally was very good.

Why don't you first work on managing your 3 days better so that you're not taking work home with you and then see how you feel.

FreeButtonBee Mon 24-Oct-16 16:45:08

Agree that 4 days doesn't really feel part-time. In a good way from a work perspective. There is never that much of a gap until you are back in the office so less running about like a blue arsed fly when you are there. And your day off becomes much more precious and focussed.

momofpickle Mon 24-Oct-16 17:14:57

Thanks for the replies, guys. Really good to hear that it made things easier from a work perspective. I think it's virtually impossible to completely leave work at work - I'll always need to check emails - but I think I would be much stronger about not doing work outside of work hours if I was only away from the office one working day per week. I'm already delegating as much as I can but I find it difficult to find the time to delegate in 3 days sometimes, as silly as that might sound!

How did the change from 3 to 4 working days affect life at home, in terms of getting all housework and life admin done? Did you find a new manageable routine quite quickly? (Or do you have cleaners - as so many at my work seem to? smile )

Dozer Mon 24-Oct-16 17:19:59

I suggest you get a cleaner whatever you decide about your hours! And share the domestic work with your partner - very hard to do this while caring for a toddler of that age.

I found 4 days (and now 5) at work much easier than 3 workwise, but that was mainly because there was/is no cover for the work I do when I'm not there. Only missing one working day is easier. But I still can't compete with colleagues who work long hours, and I refuse to work more than a reasonable (ie pro rata) amount of unpaid overtime.

momofpickle Mon 24-Oct-16 17:37:07

So you didn't have any regrets about not spending as much time with your little one then?

@Dozer, thanks. We do share pretty much all the housework 50/50, but I do more laundry and food shopping / meal planning since I'm at home. And naturally being at home makes mess so I end up washing up and vacuuming a bit more too!

LouieLou2013 Mon 24-Oct-16 17:40:42

So so much easier work wise. I did wait until I got my 12 hours free (all year) hours though as I was faced with a massive nursery bill.

I'm going to do 5 days, school hours next year.

atticusclaw2 Mon 24-Oct-16 17:42:11

4 days a week was a nightmare for me. It's too close to full time and I ended up doing the hours of a full time job but being paid for 4 days.

NipSlipper Mon 24-Oct-16 17:44:23

I went up from 3 days to 5 (slightly shorter) days in March. I was sitting myself that it was all going to be a nightmare, but its been surprisingly fine. I get a much better pay cheque at the end of the month and I am progressing professionally in a way I wouldn't have been on a 3 day week.

Its just a matter of having really good childcare in place - that YOU are happy with. For 4 days...would you be looking at an extra day in nursery? Or with MIL?

anotherbloodycyclist Mon 24-Oct-16 17:48:38

Much easier work wise, I've done 3, 4 and 5, and I think 4 is a decent balance. Do you want another baby? If you do then I'd think carefully about increasing to 4, as the time I really appreciated working a 3 day week was when I had two pre-schoolers. My job has stayed the same whatever hours I've chosen to do it in, and 3 days was the hardest trying to shove everything into such a reduced week.

momofpickle Mon 24-Oct-16 17:59:40

@atticusclaw that's my slight concern, but i think if it doesn't work I'd have to either see if they will let me go back to 3 days or leave as it just won't be compatible with the family life I want. Did you leave your job then?

@nipslipper (lol) it would be with the childminder who is great and he seems to love the time there, so I think that's ok.

@anotherbloodycyclist we would like to have another baby in the next year-ish so I'm thinking the extra money would be handy. I would be hoping to come back to work 3 days a week after that baby too to give the kids equal treatment! But if the experience at 4 days a week didn't work out I guess I would look to go freelance or find another job... Eesh it's all a big unknown!

atticusclaw2 Mon 24-Oct-16 18:00:36

I ended up doing five shifted days. I started at 7.30 and finished in time to collect from school.

momofpickle Mon 24-Oct-16 18:05:12

Cool, glad that you found a good mix, atticus.

HeadDreamer Mon 24-Oct-16 18:06:46

Outsourced the housework if you can ;) if your extra day means more money than cleaners once a week, then you are gaining anyway!

JeepersMcoy Mon 24-Oct-16 18:07:00

I've done 3 days, 4 days, full time and now am back to 4 days. For me 4 days is the best of both worlds. I get a shorter week and an extra day off, but enough time in the office that I don't feel like I am missing out. I think it is easy to slip into trying to do a full time job on less hours and pay if you are not careful, so you do need to keep an eye on your work load and be firm with you management if stuff starts piling up. This is no different to dealing with any other instance of having too much work load though.

KarmaNoMore Mon 24-Oct-16 18:10:13

I did it in the past, it was much easier doing 4 days than 3. When I was doing 3 I used to spend most of the first day of the week trying to find out what had happened during in my abscence and running to finish everything, as if I was going away, on my last day of the week. It was much more relaxing to do 4 days than 3.

momofpickle Mon 24-Oct-16 18:49:20

Thanks everyone - and did you feel that you still had enough one on one time with your little one(s)?

Does it make you more focused, or are you just running around trying to catch up with house stuff?

Does a cleaner really make that much difference when laundry and food shopping / other errands take up time anyway?

momofpickle Mon 24-Oct-16 18:50:47

BTW @karmanomore, I know exactly what you mean!

anotherbloodycyclist Mon 24-Oct-16 19:35:51

I did 3 days for 6 years until the littlest started school, then went to 4. But I worked the 4th day from home, started early so I could finish early and do the school run. I've had a brilliant employer who has supported me however I've wanted to work my hours, and has given me loads of flexibility. In retrospect I'm glad that I didn't work more than 3 days when they were little, we took the hit financially but it was great spending all that time with them.

Dozer Mon 24-Oct-16 20:29:19

Oh yes yes to good childcare. Great that you have a good CM.

Can I challenge your view that if 4 days doesn't go well and your employer wouldn't reduce back to 3 you'd leave? That would be a risky choice economically.

With respect to whether you have "enough" time with your DC, different people and families manage differently. I really enjoyed my time with DC1 around that age, but weighed this against financial issues, work stress of missing deadlines/being "mummy tracked" etc. DC2 was a challenging toddler and being at home and trying to manage two small DC was more stressful than working! I worked more with DC2, but our childcare (CM and preschool) was excellent, which made all the difference.

most men work FT and don't worry about this at all!

kavvLar Mon 24-Oct-16 21:23:53

What days do you work? I found it made a huge difference working Tuesday Wednesday and Friday. Other colleagues do three days in a row and say it's quite intense, it's like WORK WORK WORK and then HOME HOME HOME HOME. I feel I'm never out of the office for too long and it's a good consistent presence across the week. Shouldn't make a difference but it does to me!

SleepyRoo Mon 24-Oct-16 21:37:44

I think it depends on your childcare. If it's good, you'll be fine. If it's patchy, you'll feel terrible about whole situation.

BikeRunSki Mon 24-Oct-16 21:39:37

I went form f/t to 3 days after DS was born, and worked various 3 day patterns without and without a jobshare until the start of September. after 7 years of 3 day weeks, I went up to 4 days when my youngest started school. I was increasingly feeling that I couldn't do my job properly in 3 days, and was also often working at home in the evenings, and snatching 10 mins to make a phone call when I was at home with DD.

I love working 4 day weeks!!!! I am able to do my job properly and have also have my non-working time uninterrupted. I no longer panic about "when am I going to do that...". Everything is easier. I highly recommend it. My "extra" day is Friday - which is always fairly quiet. And by not working Mondays, I do really well out of the way my employer works out bank hols for part-timers.

Xmasbaby11 Mon 24-Oct-16 21:48:30

I went from 4 days to 3 and it's brilliant! Dc are 2 and 4 and it feels like I have much more time with them. Dd1 has started school but it's amazing to be able do the school run twice a week.

Professionally I don't think there's any difference between 3 and 4 days. It does limit me in some ways and I will go back to full time when the dc are a bit older. I'm grateful to have the time with them now when they are so little.

HeadDreamer Mon 24-Oct-16 22:05:33

Cleaner makes a huge difference I found. It takes me probably 3-4 hours a week to clean if I do it myself? But I hate doing it and I like a dirty house.

Food shopping doesn't take long as I do it online. I have a 4 week meal plan already and simply swap a meal or two if I want to. I also order twice a week so I don't have to go get milk mid week. We go through 4 bottles of 4 pint milk a week! Fridge isn't big enough to hold a week shopping anyway.

Laundry doesn't take long though does it? A load a day and they go into the tumble. I don't iron.

There aren't many other errands are there? I don't understand when people say they have lots. I think the main chore is groceries and cleaning.

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