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Dilemma: return full time or give up work...

(10 Posts)
againagain Tue 09-Jun-09 22:19:30

Hello Ladies.
If anyone has a moment to consider my dilemma I'd appreciate it.
I have a senior job in TV production and I'm due back after a year's mat leave with my second child.

I've had a flexible working request turned down (not surprised... ) so now have to make a big decision - full time or resign.

I earn good money which I'd miss but lucky enough to have high-earning supportive hubby. My biggest fear is what happens in a few years when boys are at school and I'm in my early 40s... jobless?

I also have a real gut reaction against handing my boys over to a nanny (who'd have to be live in to cover my shifts- with all that brings).

Anyone given up work and got back in (similar position / status / wages) a few years later? Particularly in media?

Should I just take a leap and become a SAHM...? I just don't know if I can face not working at all.

btw - freelancing would pay 50% prorata of what i earn now and be more unpredictable hence impossible to cover childcare wise.

The answer is obviously part-time but that's not an option so opinions / advice please!!

thumbwitch Wed 10-Jun-09 00:04:16

Although I don't have experience of your particular dilemma, I just wanted to post that there is another alternative that you haven't considered - train for something different. In other words, giving up your current career in order to be a full-time mum is not the end of the road, you can change direction - use the time to find a different career path that you can pick up or continue with when your DC are both at school.

I did a complete career change about 10 years ago due to extreme stress (no partner or DC involved) and it was most liberating - not only that, it gave me great opportunities for working from home, doing hours to suit me in whatever situation - this meant that when my DS was born, I didn't have to make the sort of decision you are now faced with - I could be a SAHM but also work - at home.

So I guess I'm suggesting you resign!grin

vonsudenfed Wed 10-Jun-09 00:16:56

I think that if you are smart and ambitious enough to have done well in tv production, then there are bound to be plenty of other jobs that you can do very well and much more flexibly than tv - I certainly don't think that there would be no career for you five years down the line, it just might not be the same one.

FWIW I answer this as someone who decided to give up being quite well paid in tv because I simply couldn't square the hours and stress with childcare. But I also felt that a) the kind of work and programmes I wanted to do was getting thinner and thinner on the ground and b) all those young people in trendy surfwear were starting to irritate me. But your answers to those questions might be quite different.

What area do you work in? I'm intrigued, partly because freelance pays more in what I do (not that there are that many staff jobs these days) and also because I was wondering whether there is some other kind of job that you can shift sideways to. Most of the women I know with children in tv either have live in nannies or work in development, which is at least more controllable. I find development about as much fun as poking myself with a sharp stick, so have stopped doing that part time and am now wondering what other career to have. In fact I started a thread about it today, but no one answered...

I was told, many years ago, that only about 12% of women working in tv have children; I doubt that has changed that much and I can see why it is that way.

OrangeFish Wed 10-Jun-09 01:32:41

My advice would be to go back full time and stay there until you find a part time job you like, enjoy and are proud of, hopefully related to your area of expertise.

I worked in advertising/design to a very high level (including a lecturship and directing big teams at a national level). What I have found out after a few years away from work is:

- I have a great CV... with a huge gap in the middle. No matter how much I claim I took that time off to take care of my family, that gap reads in the recruiting world as "she has been unemployed for x number of years.

- Media is a fast moving environment, you look the other side and the things have changed. It is easy to loose track of the current trends and find yourself with little to show off as good "examples of previous work" considering how rapidly things may date. I don't know about TV production but in my area, having to compete for a job with graduates full of fresh ideas it's a struggle, not only because of the freshness of their portfolios but because companies are happy to train and "shape" new people to the company's ideals but are not so confident they can get such "adaptation" from an older new employee. After being away of the area for a few years I can't compete for the jobs other professionals of my same age are doing.

- Do you love your career? could you live without it? I particularly missed being a part of a team and the adult conversations I had during the day. I missed the recognition that an interesting career brings in, people recognising my work (ok... basically I hated people glazing over and "adapting" the conversation as soon as they learned I was a housewife. Nothing bad with being one, but when everyone is working but yourself well... it gets a bit patronising at times). I got so frustrated with being at home, and later, at not being able to go back to work at the same level, that my relationship with my then H started to suffer (I stopped working because one of his career moves landed me in a place where my area was underdeveloped, unfortunately by the time it developed I was seriously out of date... so I ended up doing some minor jobs that made me feel even worse about my lost professional past).

- Are you prepared to downsize your standard of living? Have you considered how much? We used not to worry about expenses, travelled frequently and did plenty of interesting things. Although we were never in a bad financial position things changed enough to affect the way we lived and reduce our freedom to do certain things.

Now, DISCLAIMER: what I'm going to say next is something to consider even when you are unlikely to find yourself in the same position. I didn't think it could happen but unfortunately it did, I wish I have had this information when I decided to leave my career behind:

If your marriage fails, and your DH becomes a bit nasty, you will get 20% of his salary after taxes as child maintenance provided you have your children with you 100% of the nights (reduce percentage accordingly if he keeps them some nights). You can get spousal maintenance but if he decides not to pay, you will need to get him to court, and there could be a time when you may need to forget about it just because you can't afford more solicitor's fees.

So my sob story is, that although I left my career to put the needs of my family first, I am now in the unfortunate situation where my soon to be exH is a CEO and I now qualify for income support. My son is also now experiencing the "crunch"

OrangeFish Wed 10-Jun-09 01:40:19

Sorry, didn't meant to sound so negative. Please see what I wrote as a worst case scenario blush

Rojak Wed 10-Jun-09 02:24:34

I tend to agree with OrangeFish - to hold on to that job and look for an opportunity to go part-time / downshift / change careers.

It will be tough initially but the other side of the coin, as OrangeFish has said is that BIG hole in the CV and finding recruiters / employers look past you towards younger candidates.

Am in exactly that position now as we live abroad and I have found it difficult to kick start my career here (being a foreigner in the middle of a credit crunch with an increasingly large gap in the CV).

I am doing some freelance / contract work but for a mere fraction of what I used to earn in the UK.

My frustration at not being able to go back to work at the level I left has also caused some problems with DH. Although increasingly, I am trying to see that it is better for the DCs to have me working more flexibly.

againagain Wed 10-Jun-09 21:32:11

Wow - thanks for taking the time to reply. Some very interesting points.

btw vonsudenfed I work in daily news where a staff job is certainly better paid than freelance.

I hadn't even thought about the impact of housewifedom on my marriage but I guess it can tip the balance. Thankfully no problems there at the moment!!

I think I have to at least give full time a go. I'm taking the plunge on the nanny front and I'll give it 6 months to see how it goes.

In the meantime I'm going to put some feelers out for other positions / roles that may be a bit more flexible.

I'll let you know how it goes!

vonsudenfed Wed 10-Jun-09 22:08:29

ah, right. I'm in - or currently out of - popular factual. Hence the yoof in surfwear. At least you don't have to deal with that.

Is there any mileage in the long term in moving into news documentaries - then you could do on/off freelancing for better money? Or even exec producing those?

Someone on my other thread has just suggested teaching on a BA/MA in broadcast media - would you think of doing that for journalism?

weaselbudge Thu 18-Jun-09 10:09:07

It's such a tricky situation isn't it. I am a city lawyer in the same position and have chosen to become a SAHM - I would otherwise require a 14 hour/live in nanny. The women in my office who make it work have husbands with 9-5 jobs or SAHDs. That is not an option for me as hubby is also lawyer with mad hours. I have searched for part time jobs with no success due to credit crunch. We discussed hubby sacrificing his career instead (why does it always have to be the women?) but we jointly decided that he was likely to be more successful than me (sad but true)and that i actually quite like housewifey duties like cooking and can't bear to be away from my baby. I just hope marriage is fine - otherwise i am going to have to rely on the court option! My sister has recently divorced - luckily she kept career otherwise would have had to either go to court or sell her house and be on income support too! You should however consider that working ridiculous hours, having a live-in nanny and juggling everything else is much more likely to affect your marriage negatively. I agree that you probably need to give full time a go and it will become clear what works for you.
What is key for me is that every day hubby is very supportive and tells me how much he appreciates what i'm doing.
I also had to factor in that i want another baby and that kids need parents around just as much when they're at school -I just couldn't see it working out long term even if i could cope in short term. Currently trying to get some locum work to keep CV current and will try to get something part time/different when kids at school. Would love to do volunteer work but can't afford to pay childminder if I'm not getting paid.

karenleigh Tue 14-Jul-09 12:10:08

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