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Any FT working mums out there to advise me?? Offer of FT role (great career opportunity) but small baby - can it work???

(53 Posts)
mrsconflicted Wed 19-Aug-09 10:07:05

Feeling v v v mixed up. Am lawyer and want to leave private practice for a variety of reasons. V unhappy in job before left for mat leave - was treated shockingly during mat leave and sidelined as soon as pregnany became 'public'.

Basically an opportunity has arisen within a company involved in the sector in which I work - in house commercial/legal adviser. The role would be heavily supported by external lawyers - I'm told that I will not be required to draft/turn documents around but will be required to input into the legal and commercial decisions and liaise closely with the external lawyers. It is the job I have coveted for the last couple of years.

The role will play to my strengths and in many ways it is very exciting. I have been through the recruitment process and have been told I will be offered the position - senior HR od back on Monday to sign off the package etc.

My gorgeous DD is 8 mo and I would look to start the new role in November. She will be 10.5mo at that point. Can this possibly work? I have a very supportive husband who works for the public sector and will be able to do the pick up each evening. I will do the drop off each day - however the role will require some travel within the UK so sometimes DH will need to do both the drop off and pick up.

How do other people cope and am I setting myself up to fail? The job will require some out of hours working and I am intending to insist before signing up that I am given the tools needed to work form home so that as required con calls etc can be scheduled after DD gone to bed when very busy and required.

Sorry for epic - just thought I needed to get the facts down for people to be able to give a balanced opinion.

mrsconflicted Wed 19-Aug-09 10:18:47

bump <sorry>

AxisofEvil Wed 19-Aug-09 10:18:53

Firstly congratulations on getting the job - the market is tough so you've done well.

I'm an in house lawyer but have no children. A number of my colleagues do though and it can be workable. Depends a little on the organisation you'd be joining and the precise nature of the work. So for instance something very transactional driven such as M&A would be less easy than a commercial contracts role. Still, I know a number of women who do the very transactional work with small children. You need to ensure you have excellent childcare arrangements - if your husband is fixed hours that is good - with two big careers people really do struggle without a nanny. You also need to accept that you probably can't guarantee you'll be home every night to see DD - whilst you'll generally be able to work it so that you stop for a bit and reconvene you shouldn't rely on this working every time. But again depends on the organisation and the work.

justaphase Wed 19-Aug-09 10:26:11

Well, it can be doen but it is not easy.

I work in investment banking (sorry wink) so no experiense with the legal sector but I suppose it is not that far off in terms of it being a pretty intensive environment. DH also works full time. DS is 3.9 and DD is 12 months. I returned to work both times after 6 months.

I leave the house at 6.30am so DH does the mornings. I get back at 6pm which gives me 2 hours every day playing with the kids plus weekends. The nanny comes in at 8am until 6pm.

My work has generally been supportive in that they do not make an issue out of me leaving at 5.30 on the dot every day or having to take the odd day off here and there to take kids for jabs, DS's Easter concert or whatever. I have not been passed over for promotions or anything and do not feel I am being treated any different to anyone else. Having said that, I am happy to not be offered any promotions at this stage (just a payrise will do, thanks) because I can not imagine taking on any extra responsibility.

My job involves a fair bit of international travel - 4-5 days per month on average. My mum has been coming to stay with DH for a few days while DD was a baby but it should get easier now.

So basically - it is not perfect, but we manage.

I think the important issues that make it work are:
1) you are happy to leave your baby with someone else for most of the day
2) you have to be very comfortable with your childcare provider
3) supportive family
4) colleagues not being uptight about the whole thing

But most imoportantly - is it what you want to do?

mrsconflicted Wed 19-Aug-09 10:26:58

The role is public sector facing so although transactional in a sense - the transactions take 1 - 2 years to come to fruition. There are peaks and troughs in the work but nothing like M&A stuff. DH can arrange his hours to leave at 4pm which is great. I appreciate that I won't be home every night but I do want to set up a working pratcice from the outset that as a general rule (when work not ramping up to a particular end) I will have that break each day. I'm hoping that this will not be looked upon too negatively!

CMOTdibbler Wed 19-Aug-09 10:35:45

Yes, of course it can work. I work FT (as does DH), and travel in UK and internationally. DH travels in the UK. We have neither a nanny or family help, just nursery and the occasional babysitter from nursery (who can bring DS home with them).

We run a tight diary to make sure there is always someone here in the morning and overnight (we really try to avoid using the babysitter, but DH usually has to use her once when I am on long US trips), and we've only had a crisis once - which was my fault.

Having good working from home tools makes all the difference. If you get them to sign up for BT Meetme and Livemeeting, then you can run presentations and conference calls from home really easily. Great if you have multiple time zones to deal with, and I do do a bit of 'oh, thats no problem for me at all, would you like 10pm my time' to emphasise the worth of my home work.

mrsconflicted Wed 19-Aug-09 10:38:19

Thanks for the reponses.

Justaphase thank you for setting out the important issues - certainly food for thought! I'm not exactly 'happy' about leaving my daughter all day every day, it will probably break my heart but I am pleased that I have been able to spend a lot of one on one time with her until now. Although she is a total delight, I cannot see myself becoming a SAHM either. I have thought about PT work but there really isn't anything out there in this niche.

To add some context, we live in a small flat and in the process of buying a house. We will need more that DH's salary for this so I need to go out to work. I also think that I wil get a lot from this job and it is certainly a good career move. I am frightened that if I take a much lesser role now (even if I could find one) I will have limited my career and earning potential for good.

I am more ambitious and driven than DH. I will probably end up being the main breadwinner in time ( I already earn more when not on mat leave). We have spoken about DH taking PT hours if this role takes off but he isn't keen and I respect that.

mrsconflicted Wed 19-Aug-09 10:40:40

Thanks CMOT - great to hear people out there who do make it work!

stealthsquiggle Wed 19-Aug-09 10:42:53

You'll be absolutely fine - largely because your DH has a fixed place of work/ fixed hours. DH may need to take the odd morning/day off to enable you to establish yourself and make sure people understand that working from home is still working and after that you are set - it sounds as though you will be fairly in control of your own diary. Go for it!!

(we manage (just about) 2 jobs with unpredictable hours/ places of work - but mine gives way to DH's more than I would like because I earn so much less)

KSal Wed 19-Aug-09 10:49:30

Hi, i'm not in the same field as you but work full time with and 11 month old.

She is in full time nursery and seems to really enjoy it. That part is important - you need to be confident in the childcare you choose and you need to be confident she is happy or you won't be able to work. on 'normal' days my DH does the drop off and i do the pick up, basically starting my day early and finishing it early. Also my company allow me to work from home occasionally to make things a bit easier. On days that are not 'normal' we work around it somehow and it all balances out to allow us to do our jobs.

I think it is doable, but possibly not for everyone. What makes it work for us is having jobs that allow us to be a little flexible about how we 'do our hours'. Also we have a grandparent round the corner who is on hand to pick up if we are both stuck on a delayed train in the evening (grr).

We've been doing this for 5 months now

Sweetpeasmum Wed 19-Aug-09 12:09:09

Take the job MrsConflicted! It sounds like a perfect opportunity for you.

I am in the Army and my DH has a full time, client focussed career and we have faced the same dilemas since I went back to work. We find that the best way to manage is to constantly cross check diaries, write everything down and remind each other of any arrangements that are outside the routine. Our DS is in nursery and we have found that managable. When I'm not travelling my employers are very flexible during times of (DS) illness or general unexpected crises, far more understanding than I thought they would be.

A home working option will certainly help as the work has to be done after all. Most civilian organisations seem to be quite progressive in this area and my DH is able to do this regularly.

As CMOT and the other posters have said - it is very possible, you just have to be organised. I think that was the biggest hurdle for me!

playftseforme Wed 19-Aug-09 12:22:00

Well done, it sounds like a great opportunity. You'll definitely be able to make it work, with some juggling.

What kind of childcare are you looking at?
A nanny wasn't really an option for us, so we have had an excellent childminder, who was able to do a slightly longer than average day, and also the odd overnight, if neither DH or myself were around (unfortunately we both travel in our work so there can be conflicts).
Once you get your feet in the door you will be able to explore what flexibility there is in terms of hours. I have an earlier start and therefore slightly earlier finish, so I can do pickup (DH does drop off), and because I am set up to work from home I do any overflow in the evenings/odd weekends.

It was hard going back to my role, but after about 2 weeks I LOVED being back (something to do with adult conversation, unaccompanied trips to the bathroom and hot coffee). In fact I actually enjoy working more now than I did before I had dd (not sure how that sounds blush - dd is adorable, but I just like my own space too). I am sure that you will settle into your new role very quickly, and when it gives you the financial freedom to look at moving house, you will not look back.

mrsconflicted Wed 19-Aug-09 13:11:46

Thanks for this everyone - it has made me feel a lot better about it. I guess until I start the role I need to get my house in order (literally) and work on the whole being incredibly organised thing and getting DH to commit to getting organised too.

I'm feeling new determination to get positive and got for it. Instead of seeing everything as problematic look for the best solutions and give it my best shot.

lucysmum Wed 19-Aug-09 13:28:39

I used to work FT as an acct, went back when dd was 4m old ! Eventually gave up work when pregant with no 3 but don't regret those years. In some ways it may be easier going into a new job where you can do it your way from day one rather than going back to an old job where they expect you to be the same person. Go for it - it will be hard but you can do it. Get good childcare - I woudl recommend nanny. You can always leave if it doesn't work but may regret it if you don't go for it.

dollyparting Wed 19-Aug-09 17:31:02

Agree with all the positive things that people have said. It's not always easy, but then being a SAHM is not necessarily easy, and some people find that part-time is the worst of both worlds.

Leaving your lo can be a wrench, but it is also a delight to be free of the total responsibility for a while - I used to drive to work singing blush

Agree with KSal about it being easier if you have someone nearby who can be there in an emergency - occasionally things will not go according to plan, so the more back up arrangements you can find, the smoother things will be. It is sods law that when things do go wrong they all go wrong together, and I have found myself at an airport, with a canceled flight, when dp was out of the country, the nanny was sick and my parents couldn't be contacted.

Go for it! and enjoy your last 2 months at home with your lovely dd.

MarshaBrady Wed 19-Aug-09 17:36:35

Mrsconflicted I think it does sound the right way for you to go and congrats.

You mention pick up in the evening, have you dismissed the idea of a nanny (or nanny share)? As would probably make it much much easier on you and your dh.

drosophila Wed 19-Aug-09 17:46:11

I worked full time for five years with one child and I found it difficult. I work in the public sector which is probably a fairer place to work but it all depends on your direct boss. I have usually been lucky.

I found it exhausting and it was largely due to the juggling not the work itself which at times was a breeze. In recent times I went part time with no 2 and ended up in a very challenging job (yes they do exist in the public sector) I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it and thrived in it but it was even more stressful cos when one of the kids was ill I really stressed about taking time off. I didn't want to miss meetings but couldn't abide leaving dcs when they were sick. DP took time when he could but he too felt a pressure to be at work. It was eased by my working part time and I could make the time up. I would think the trick to successfully working with kids is to have a good understanding boss. I am now at home with no 3 on maternity leave and may go back full time if DP can't find a job (redundancy). Think I am rambling.....

dontrunwithscissors Wed 19-Aug-09 18:16:12

I would agree with recommendations for a nanny, if you can afford it. I work full time (in academia), and the morning fight to get out of the door/evening struggle to deal with a hungry, tired toddler is exhausting. I'm expecting #2 in January, and really hope we can afford a nanny.

dnmama Thu 20-Aug-09 11:47:45

Take the job! I sounds great, and it CAN work.
I work ft, have two kids (2 and 4)and went back after 7 months ml each time. The bottom line is, there are weeks when I am exhausted but most of the time, it is great to have the balance between a life "inside" and "outside" the home. Working from home sometimes has really, really helped me a lot. In terms of childcare, I have found a nanny to be the best option.
One word of caution. When looking for a nanny, make sure that she is a professional and that this is her one and only job. We've had people studying, or working at the weekends, and have therefore had 4 nannies already which is such an unsatisfactory situation (although the kids don't seem to mind!)
I hope this helps...go for it!!

MrsBadger Thu 20-Aug-09 12:10:21

yes yes do it

scissors and dnamam have a point, but the only reason I might suggest nursery over a nanny is that if the nanny is ill you are stuffed, whereas nursery will always arrange cover if one of the carers is away.

justaphase Thu 20-Aug-09 12:31:50

then again ... if your child is ill a nursery will not take him whereas a nanny will look after him anyway

and in my experiense child is more likely to be ill than nanny

but both options have advantages and disadvantages, oobviously

I think the biggest disadvantage of a nanny (other than cost) is that you are completely entrusting your most precious thing in the world to one person ... who you have only just met.

So as I said before - trust is absolutely crusial.

drosophila Thu 20-Aug-09 15:17:44

Remember employing a nanny means you are an employer and all that it entails. What would you do if the nanny needed maternity leave?

gallery Fri 21-Aug-09 15:31:10

I work full time- I know this is unpopular with some on Mumsnet but my choice. I have 2 young children and went back (at my choice) when they were between 4 and 5 months old. I travel a reasonable amount, about one night away a month. I am at quite a senior level in my company (a small company but the next level up is the MD so no more promotions for me!). I have a supportive husband who also works full time in a busy job. We use full time childcare, I usually drop off, he picks up. One morning a week I go in early so that I can leave an hour early in September as I want to pick my son up from school (he just starts this Sep). I manage by being highly organised- we have no local family though good friend network for emergencies. Mainly because of the level I am at, I can organise my own diary, work hours etc so it is no big deal if I am 30mins late one day, I just make it up another time. I also work occasional weekends and late about once a week. My kids are used to it I have always done it this way and they accept me being away. I leave meals ready and clothes ironed and sorted if I go away so everything easy to find. I have accepted not to be a perfectionist. If the childminder does it different, or my husband sends them out in odd matching clothes- does it matter? My main concern is that they are happy and healthy. I also look to see I am happy and healthy and if I am away on my husbands badminton night through me being on business, I book a babysitter so he doesn;t suffer. I love my family, love my job and love being able to use my brain and skills at work.
Sick kids is a real issue, my husband and I have to assess our diaries (honest) and decide who's work is a priority that day. We can't just take it in turns as one of us may have an important meeting. Despite my love of work, when my kids are sick, they come first and I will miss something important to make sure they are ok. It can be hard as my youngest took a lot of time with illness this year and I had just started a new job with a new company. My colleagues respect me and accept I am a working mom. I am one of two females on the exec team. The other lady has no kids.
Finally, I went for this new job when I had just started back after maternity leave with my seoond baby. I started a brannd new stressful, high level exec job with more travelling with my baby only months old. It was a challange which I discussed with my husband and he supported. I couldn't do any of this without the solid parternship and love from him. That is the rock that keeps me functioning.So I think you should go for it- rememmber you need to have a life too.

slowreadingprogress Fri 21-Aug-09 16:39:53

I'd be careful of some things;

giving yourself the pressure of being the main breadwinner as well as mum (for which read the one who thinks about all areas of life eg plans for birthdays, christmas, holidays, work on the house, cleaning, etc etc) even if your DH takes 'his' share, if you are the engine and the driver of the home as well as working FT and trying to be a good mum then you are setting yourself up for major, major stress IMVHO.

If your DH is proactive and doesn't need organising in any way then that may be a different matter.

Also try to take the long view - are you sure there will be no regrets at missing the baby and toddler years (in terms of day time day to day involvement) because they don't come back and they DO go fast. I'm not saying you should, or shouldn't - but it has to be considered imo.

Also robust back up plans are needed for when dd is ill and you have to work.

Basically the main thing is I think that your DH and you need to approach life absolutely split down the middle - it can't be "well you'll have to take time off because my job isn't flexible", it has to be "I took the day off last time today it's your turn" otherwise, again, the stress is unbearable ime.

dollyparting Fri 21-Aug-09 22:15:41

Nice post Gallery, good for you smile

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