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Going Back to Work Quandary - help needed!!

(12 Posts)
Creena Sat 22-Aug-09 15:23:36

Hi there, I'm in a bit of a muddle with regard to going back to work following maternity leave and would really appreciate some advice.

In a nutshell - due back at work following maternity leave in October. Have lots of leave to take first so first actual day back working wouldn't be until November. I have taken both paid and unpaid maternity leave. There is no option for a career break or sabbatical following maternity leave, although I may be able to request up to eight weeks unpaid parental leave (putting my actual first day back as happening in the New Year).

Problem is my job is quite full on, with a heavy workload, lots of stress and long hours and quite a bit of travel. Since going on maternity leave, we've moved house and I now live even further away from the main office and the regions I cover. This means more time spent travelling than before. This will make it pretty much impossible for me to stick within the childcare arrangements open to me (basically, nursery opening hours).

I've sounded out my boss informally in more detail. He has agreed that he thinks it would be impossible for me to carry on in my current role but within the time limitations caused by travel and childcare (to travel to work after dropping off at nursery and then leaving in time to collect babies before nursery closes leaves me with about 5 hours availability every day). So we talked about redeployment to other roles that could be broadly worked from home. He has looked into this for me and has now confirmed that other possible roles are at a much lower grade than my current role (so salary cut inevitable), would need to be taken up by October (so going back to work ealier than I want to) and would be office based (so no home working, difficult to meet hours required while also getting children to and from nursery on time and extra travel expense).

I personally think that home life and babies would suffer as a result. I hate my job and don't think it is worth sacrificing my family's happiness for. I also think it would be physically impossible to get to the office on time and leave at 5pm and be back in time to pick the babies up before nursery closes. DH not able to do drop off/collection because of his travel/job responsibilites. So I am thinking of resigning and, when finances require it, finding another job nearer to home. I'm undecided though because I'm not sure about where I stand legally (employer agreeing that can't do job now with childcare responsibilites and only offering other roles at lower grade and salary) and also DH being a tit and not discussing it properly with me (flippant comments along lines of "well I don't want to go back to my job on Monday either" as if my disinclination is the only factor here).

Sorry to go on - I'm all muddled and unsure of where I stand and need to talk it through with someone.


purepurple Sat 22-Aug-09 16:03:39

If you can afford it, then resign and take a couple of years off.
You sound like that's what you want to do.
You might find that your priorities change after a couple of years and you could go back to work then.

sunburntats Sat 22-Aug-09 16:06:47

Could you afford to quit financially? have you calculated this?

sunburntats Sat 22-Aug-09 16:09:25

Its jsut that it doesnt get any easier as they get older and then start school, you still have drop off and pick up times to deal with only they would afford you even LESS time for work.

It was the one most stessful aspect of becoming a paerent for me, childcare and juggling both.

Presumably you dont have family near by that could take on some of the childcare or a childminder isnt an option? They are i think more flexiable.

skidoodle Sat 22-Aug-09 16:20:00

If you hate your job and don't think it's worth sacrificing your family's happiness for (and you think going back would compromise that happiness) then resigning makes sense.

However, you really shouldn't do this until your husband is prepared to talk about it sensibly. You will be making yourself completely financially dependent on him.

How will you arrange finances if you don't earn a wage?
What will be done to make sure you aren't having to ask him for money?
Will he respect your contribution as a sahp? Or will he think you're on the doss at his expense?

Don't make yourself jobless and financially insecure just because he is refusing to do his share of drop offs/pick ups. It sounds as though they are just as awkward fir both jobs, so why should you assume the responsibility for doing it all?

I would be very wary of making myself dependent on someone who left all the childcare arrangements to me and then insinuated that any difficulties resulting were nothing to do with him and that I was a slacker for not being able to overcome them.

He's a parent too.

tribpot Sat 22-Aug-09 16:25:42

I assume your DH has also been in touch with his boss about how he might restructure his role to fit around nursery opening hours?? Let me guess: of course he bloody hasn't. So that's your opening line when he next utters "well I don't want to go back to my job on Monday either".

There are other MNers who are more expert on this but I don't think your employer has done anything wrong in offering you alternative work at a lower grade. You could get a nanny. Your DH could become a SAHD. They're not compelled to find you a job you can only do for 5 hours a day - unless you apply to go on to reduced hours.

I'm surprised the impact on your travel time didn't occur to you when you moved house, or was there some other reason that made it compelling?

So broadly I think your options are:

- apply for reduced hours and/or work out childcare that fits (nanny, childminder)
- take lowerpaid office job (which still carries all the problems of travel to work/nursery, incidentally could the babies not go to a nursery near your office?)
- you quit
- DH quits
- DH applies for reduced hours / office based job
- one or both of you gets a job more locally.

I don't know if I have morphed fully into Xenia but let me stress again, this is not your sole responsibility to sort out. I remember my dbro saying to me "dw is in Germany today and ds1 was ill so - guess what - I had to leave work to fetch him". Oh. My. God. I'm surprised he wasn't phoning the national media with this revelation. wink

ThingumyandBob Sat 22-Aug-09 17:30:47

I wonder if you are doing the job I used to do…it sounds so similar, so I was faced with a similar dilemma (all except the house move). Often I could be at meetings 100+ miles away, so no chance of getting baby from nursery…and heaven forbid the a traffic jam!

The way I see it is you have two choices, 1. find a plan to make your job work and submit it to your boss and ultimately to your other half letting him the part he needs to play. 2 Do the maths, see if you can quit or get a lower paid job (or even similarly paid job) locally and enjoy the work life balance.

If you want to keep your jobs could you chose a nursery that was very near to your place of work (there are draw backs to that, but a lot of women I know do that and it works for them), would you then be able to be in the office for your contractual hours?

Also….some points about your job….you say that you have ‘sounded your boss out informally’ and that ‘he has agreed that he thinks that he thinks it would be impossible’, however, in my experience, I think he would say that on an informal basis as he is paid to get the best (i.e most) out of his team and most bosses, especially male have totally bought into the whole ‘long hours is the only way to succeed idea’. This sounds sexist, but the most productive and organised people and ruthless time managers I have ever worked with have women! One of whom was the mentor I was assigned when I was given a fairly hefty promotion, she had 3 kids, so had to leave on the dot at 5pm every day. She achieved in her hour 7 day what a lot of her peers were spending 10 hours doing and she taught me to do the same, very empowering. So I don't always buy the hours thing every single time, if you see places where you can make cuts, or delegate, then see if it could work. That said in this economic environment I think you may need to make provision to do a certain amount of work from home. Also note that it impossible to do a career job working multiple locations without a huge amount of support from your partner.

On the flip side…..if you choose to quite, have you done the maths to see if you can live without the money…if you haven’t already, do a budget and show it to your other half (properly, go through it with him when there is time) and see what he (and you think). Also, if there is a massive deficit it may help him realise that he needs to help out with the child care.

I ended up jumping to take voluntary redundancy, which was a mixed blessing. It’s been blooming tough and financially it’s been/is dire. That said I’m just not sure how life would have been as I would have done a nursery drop at 8, pick up at 6, TV dinner in oven, baby in bed, back in office at 8, out at 10, bed at 10.30. So although things are a bit stressful right now, it’s possible that they are not s stressful as they could have been.

I have also used ACAS is the past, (you can google them) they are free and will tell you your rights from the point of view of the law rather that the point of view of your company.

Ah well....good luck and follow your heart!

Creena Sat 22-Aug-09 19:26:34

Thanks for all of the replies - some very sound and sensible advice. I'll try to respond to all of the queries raised but I was hoping not to have to go into masses of detail! So here goes......

Yep, I did realise the travel implications when moving house. The house move was necessary as DH's employer relocated to new premises miles away from where we used to live. As DH is the main breadwinner and earns double what I do (his salary pays the mortgage and a lot of the bills), it was something we agreed on. Without moving house, he would have had a minimum journey time of two hours each way. He basically wouldn't have seen the babies awake during the week. Neither of us wanted that. DH's employer is about to pay him a lump sum towards relocation expenses. We agreed to add that to our savings, which we've been used to keep us going financially while I've been on unpaid leave. The plan was that I'd quit my job at the end of my maternity leave, have a bit more time off and then when finances required it, find a job nearer to our new home.

The problem now (and this is a very old chestnut, believe me) is that DH and I can make all of these plans and I think I know where we're going but then when it comes to actually putting these plans into action, DH adapts the ostrich position. He's not very good a dealing with decisions, changes or any sort of upheaval really. He's not like this to be mean or selfish or uncaring - he just can't cope with Issues when it comes to the crunch and sticks his head in the sand.

The other element to this is that, as has been touched upon above, I would become financially dependant on him for a while longer. This isn't something that's ever happened before in our relationship as I've always been financially independant. We've been together for almost 20 years now so it's scary for me too. I don't think he would ever resent me or think that I'm on the doss - the remarks he makes are his way of saying "I'm worried about my ability to support you and I'm finding it all a bit scary so I'm going to be a tit for a while and stick my head in the sand". If anything, I'm more than a little uncomfortable with having to go to him cap in hand every month.

DH's job is pressurised and he has a position with loads of responsibility and will very often work very long hours (I won't bore you with the technicalities so please trust me when I say that it really is unavoidable) and so the responsibility for childcare arrangements does unavoidably fall at my feet. It's a private sector environment and so a bit ruthless with issues like work/life balance (for example, his boss was on the phone to him about work issues hours after I'd given birth) and they have no real policies around flexible working. I know that legally they are obliged to consider any request that DH makes around working flexibly but culturally, it's not the done thing there. Yes, this is wrong and thoroughly reprehensible but it's what DH has to deal with.

The other issue to consider is that DH could take voluntary redundancy in the next couple of months and could walk away with a year's salary. He is not all that happy with his job, has been there for ten years now and talks about leaving. He's already been head hunted a couple of times but has turned offers of toher jobs down because of his difficulties with dealing with change etc. I'm urging him to at least start looking for another job and to reconsider those who have approached him before and to take the redundancy. Initially, he was all for this and wanted to use half of his redundancy money for me to stay at home with the babies until they were at school. However, now that it's time for him to actually make the decision to do it and take action, he's like a rabbit in some very big headlights.

Ehhhh. I've gone on for ages now and in more detail than I wanted so I'll shut up now. I do want to say thank you for all of the replies - they are all helpful and I certainly feel more focused now on my options and preferences. I agree that it would seem as though I can't negotiate any further with my employer. My plan of action now feels like;

1. going back to our initial plan - quitting my job, using the relocation payment to keep us going for another 6-8 months and then finding a job nearer to home.

2. talking to DH again (even if he doesn't want to hear it) and reminding him of this initial plan and saying that I want to stick to it. If he wants to renege, then he's got to come out with some pretty solid reasons for this.

So thanks for the replies everyone - much appreciated.

Creena Sat 22-Aug-09 19:29:38

Quick post - sorry for all the typos and grammatical errors above! I really wish we had an edit function sometimes (or that I would learn to read through before hitting 'post message')!

skidoodle Sat 22-Aug-09 19:49:58

that sounds a good plan of action.

If he is the main breadwinner and works in a long-hours, inflexible environment, then I think realistically your career is going to take a hit unless you can afford a live-in nanny and would be happy with such an arrangement. As you don't like your job and would be keen to leave there is some sense in quitting now, having some time with your babies and then looking for work near home.

Have you done any preliminary looking so you know what kinds of opportunities there are near you? Taking a bit of time at home could also be usefully employed in targetting the positions you are most interested in.

The other option of course is that your dh takes redundancy and you keep working. A year's salary is a huge amount to get tax free, and if he is confident of getting another position, perhaps you could bridge his gap in employment by working until he's found another job. At that point you could resign and look for work locally at your leisure.

Good luck with your chat. You have lots of good options to consider, and that is a nice position to be in.

tribpot Sat 22-Aug-09 19:51:37

Creena, just wanted to respond to some of your points.

I know that corporate culture and that's why I don't work there any more. I'm not condemning your DH for staying in the system (I'm a WOHM with a 4 year old and a chronically ill dh who can't work) but there's a certain acknowledgement that needs to be made that in choosing that life[style] other choices have a limited scope as a result. Bottom line: it doesn't absolve him from decision making, but it seems like you know that.

On the other side of the equation, I can tell you that being the sole earner is a dreadful position of responsibility and does my head in daily. I genuinely do not know what we would do if I lost my job, and we are in a very strong position financially compared to many people. I suspect the 'conclusion' would be that I would have to go work in Sweden and leave my 4 year old ds and chronically ill dh in this country and I genuinely do not see how I could tolerate that situation even if they could survive it. So please god let that never happen. What I'm saying is, your DH does have a point in terms of what does it mean for one person to bring home all the bacon. I don't think he's exactly expressing it well!

Dealing with change - I think as women we do tend to be more adaptable. One of my team (male) this time last year was like, I cannot accept a promotion as we have changed desks in the meantime. An extreme example to be sure but there is something to be said for allowing for differences in perception. The greater perception shift - the one that says this is his problem too - is the one I would try to get over.

berniechase Wed 16-Sep-09 17:04:46

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