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Choosing what to give up when we can't have it all

(10 Posts)
Solnichna Thu 05-Nov-15 11:11:56

How do you decide which aspect of your family life to give up when you can't have it all? I would really appreciate insights, suggestions or points of view from others on here as I'm driving myself crazy going around in circles in my head.

My family and I left Spain for the UK about a year ago. We had a great life in Spain, with good job for DH, PT cash in hand work for me, lots of friends, past-times, low stress, etc. DD was born there and we really enjoyed our family life. And then we moved back...

Background info: DH born in UK to foreign parents, so has never really felt 'British'. I'm not British, but we did live here together before moving to Spain.

The main reason we moved back was so I would be able to build my career and work at something challenging, the career I started out in before leaving. I worked PT in Spain, but it was mostly cash in hand, and I didn't love it. This made me frustrated because I loved the work I did before we left and it had a future. Other reasons we left were to be closer to family (as DS has since also been born) and we also expected to be better off, as money was tight there with no prospects in DH's work, so income effectively 'capped' for the rest of our life there.

Well, we are just not settling in happily here and don't know how long to keep trying for. DH never wanted to come back and did it for me. He has a good job here, but works so hard he has had to give up his hobbies. I feel terrible about this, we were trying to get a more balanced life. Unexpectedly, we are also worse off than we were in Spain, spending more than is coming in each month. This obviously can't continue.

And we don't know what to do. I am applying for PT jobs as planned, but there are very few around. I feel very strongly about not putting my DS baby especially in much childcare at this young age. I know this complicates things. I don't want to put my children in full-time care, I want to be with them. But I also want to do the career I am good at and we need the money.

We feel like packing it in. We both have a very strong sense that Spain is home, we've been back to visit and were very sad to leave again. DH's life has been reduced to working and putting DD to bed, then working again the evenings from home. Neither of us love living here, but I was worried about a future where I had to continue being the trailing spouse. Our friends are in Spain, it has been really hard to connect with people here, not for want of trying either. On the upside DD is thriving here and spends lots of time with family now. DH could probably get his old job back, we would overall be much happier with that picture, but what would you do? Should I give up hopes of a career and just accept that wanting to look after my children means I will be a trailing spouse? Should I just be grateful that I had good PT cash in hand work available to contribute? Should I find another area of life to be challenged in?

We are open to moving to other European countries too. I feel like the best way out of here would be to get the PT job I want, do it for a year or more, then use it to find a related job in another country. DH agrees this is sensible, but that would take years, the DCs would be settled in school and we don't like it here!

What would you do? Please be as critical as you like. Sorry for the essay.

alteredimages Thu 05-Nov-15 11:19:43

No useful advice OP, but a lot of sympathy.

We moved back to DH's home country about 18 months ago and both hate it for different reasons. We are now seriously considering moving but are not sure how it would work financially.

I am not sure whether I am just a miserable bugger but wherever I live I always miss aspects of the other places I have lived. Are you sure that you dislike living in the UK or could it be that you are still settling in? Sometimes it is hard to know.

TheClacksAreDown Thu 05-Nov-15 11:29:00

Just to comment on one specific points, it sounds like you've been out of the UK a while, didn't work in the same career whilst in Spain and now want a part time career job in the Uk. Sadly it is difficult to find "career" jobs that are PT and if you've not been working in the field recently, you're likely to be a less strong candidate in any event so honestly I'm not that surprised to hear you've been struggling. If there are recruiters to speak to, I'd try and have some honest conversations with them as to how likely it is to find such a job versus a FT job. If they say "FT easy, PT v hard", that is a different fact patern to them saying "very hard to get FT or PT with your CV in this location" and you can be clearer about what your career opportunities are likely to be where you are currently living.

Solnichna Thu 05-Nov-15 15:50:47

Thanks for your replies.

alteredimages - You're right that we could certainly settle in if we continued as we are. Well DH would rather not be here and always said so, but he is also someone who tries hard and would rather not just leave without trying. We came here for a reason after all. Definitely the area we are in is part of the problem, as we miss living in a city etc, but moving somewhere nicer seems out of the question as money is such an issue for us here where it is not expensive to live.

TheClacksAreDown - That's a good point and I've become very aware of it as time goes on. There are part-time jobs in my my field and I've been applying below my level too, as I think a foot in the door would lead to greater things later. If I had to choose FT job or SAHM, I'd choose the kids and I'm starting to wonder if simplifying it like that means I should just accept that I'lll always be the secondary earner and therefore should just do the work that's available and so we might as well go back to what we had and were otherwise very happy with. (Which is exactly what the other expat families we knew there were doing.)

mbabanemummy Thu 05-Nov-15 20:48:34

Watching with interest. We have come back for practical reasons but emotionally my heart isn't in it. How to weigh this up is really tough.

In your situation, if it is being with your children that is most important then I would want to be wherever that is easiest.

Solnichna Fri 06-Nov-15 15:28:57

mbabanemummy - I have considered it that way too. It was hard in Spain though as being a SAHM at least where we lived was unheard of. So we were quite lonely during the day and I felt a lot of (imagined?) pressure to be at work.

iPaid Fri 06-Nov-15 22:54:40

What field do you want to work in?

Ilikedmyoldusernamebetter Fri 06-Nov-15 23:08:51

It sounds like almost a no brainier to go back to Spain - you don't have the job you dreamed of back in the UK and you are worse off and all of you are less happy (except perhaps your DD).

I don't think many people manage to kick (re)start a career with part time jobs - part time only maintains careers if you stay in the same job you were in pre-kids but go down to part time...

I do understand thinking you'd be able to get a better job/ back into your career if you returned to the UK and blaming career limitations on abroad (I was/ am in that position,, living abroad and thinking that if only I were in the UK I could easily get an office job, but realistically I don't know if its true now I've been out of the graduate level work force as a sahm and part time worker for 10 years. Once I got my head around that I found a "proper" part time job where we currently live, to top up my self employed limited hours.).

While you want to be part time/ prioritise being with the kids, what is the advantage of being in the UK, if you're worse off, away from friends and not finding new ones, can't find the job you hoped for and your DH is working all hours, not seeing the kids and unhappy? I vote Spain, you've returned too early - try the UK again in 5 years maybe?

Solnichna Sun 08-Nov-15 15:53:04

Ilikedmyoldusernamebetter - The way you put it, it does sound like we are in the wrong place. It is so hard to know. I think this is a great country, full of culture and history. In many ways life is so easy here and the place is so familiar. But it doesn't feel like home.

FinallyHere Mon 09-Nov-15 09:16:00

Tricky question, I feel for you.

We lived 'abroad' for ages , both growing up and as adults, and one thing I think helped, was to make 'home' wherever you go to, rather than where you come from. It helps to avoid building up some perfect place in your mind. Everyday living will never measure up to that ideal and it probably doesn't exist as a geographic location. As a child, Living abroad, I had hear 'of course, if we were were at home...' so often, that i was a bit surprised to get to England and find that yes, there were great bits but there were also less great bits, neither here nor there was perfect, just as well, really, otherwise noone would want to live and work 'there'

What is really important to you? Is it being there for your children? Hope you find what works for you.

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