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Being a lone parent is torpedo-ing my career. Anyone else?

(34 Posts)
windygallows Sun 17-Jul-16 19:41:32

For the last 3 years I've been a lone parent (age 44) to 2DCs (age 3 and 8) and working full time. It's been hard work but I've always enjoyed working and still am very ambitious.

But the reality is my ambition is pointless because I don't feel I can go any further work-wise. Already I spend a lot of evenings and weekends catching up on work and couldn't cope with a greater workload or responsibility or time commitment or evenings away, despite the fact that I'd love a more senior role. And anyway....I have no time for networking, little opportunities for professional development - my one course in London was a nightmare to even coordinate as getting into London on time and back (I'm in the home counties) was almost impossible. A job in London would be impossible too.

Just recently I had to turn down a role because of the location - I literally couldn't work out drop offs/pickups in the morning/evening.... what a depressing reason to turn down an opportunity!

But that's the reality. And the fact is that I currently run such a carefully coordinated ship, the thought of leaving my role and messing with that balance is scary - so I feel stuck in my current role.

It's hard for me to accept that my career really is going to have to take such a backseat over the next 10 years and possibly forever. I don't want to sound ungrateful - I love my children and they are my priority but find it hard that I've having to shelve my career dreams.

Have others had a similar experience and how they dealt with it or learned to accept it?

throwingpebbles Sun 17-Jul-16 19:45:45

It's a balance isn't it, and I think at some point it's about making an acceptance that we have to compromise but the trade off is the wonderful children we have.

I have made my peace with the fact that I will never be able to go for a job outside our county, because my kids need to be near their dad too. Doesn't mean I don't occasionally look wistfully at the job adverts tho!

Dutchcourage Sun 17-Jul-16 19:52:11

Yes me! Lone parent to dd1 for ten years and has to take a back seat quite a few times because of CC. Watching other people go for things you know you are more suitable and better at is soul distroying. Then when dd was older I really went for it and climbed a little higher and was gradually getting where I needed/wanted to be. Then I met Dh and went and bloody started again with dd2.

I eventually gave it all up due to CC just being too expensive for full time and awkward hours.

Women give a lot of things up. There is always a catch to life.

My very good friend forged on with her career, big house fab wage and car and is know knocking 40, no bloke and no sight of any kids - which she is getting in a bit of a panic over.

I think unless you are super rich and can afford nannies ect.. Women always miss out on one or the other.

Drink wine

JackieAndHyde4eva Sun 17-Jul-16 19:57:36

Yep. I had children young and have been a lone parent for most of that time. Worked min wage jobs. I went back to college to get a degree and had to drop out in year 2 due to the distance/time commitment/unable to work as well. So i'm back to the min wage job that fits around school hours. It'll have to do until they dont need to be picked up from anywhere or looked after. I wont tell you how their father's career/life looks hmm

windygallows Sun 17-Jul-16 20:04:07

It's so frustrating isn't it? I know I was stating the inevitable and something many women (and I'm sure some men) experience, I just needed to get it out, if you see what I mean. Thank you for not flaming me and saying 'WHAT DID YOU EXPECT' which is the kind of delightful thing that my family members say to me!

It's nice to know there are others out there experiencing. I love my children- they are just wonderful, but after so much studying and winning scholarships and then working so hard throughout my 20s and 30s I'm finding it really hard to accept that i'll never achieve my full potential (... but some mediocre man will....!)

SlightlyperturbedOwl Sun 17-Jul-16 20:04:23

flowers I sympathise. Unfortunately it may well be the case, not just for lone parents but for anyone who has to juggle a career with childcare. I'm not a lone parent but because of DHs job I do have to do pick-ups at least 3 days per week. and cannot overlap working hours with his outside childcare provision times, so there are lots of career development opps I have not been able to take. On the positive side it definitely does get easier in some ways as they get bigger, so for me things are starting to improve again so hopefully it may prove to be more of an interlude than a full stop.

SlightlyperturbedOwl Sun 17-Jul-16 20:06:44

I should have said its not because DH prioritises his career over mine either, it's just the impossibility of either of us being in 2 places at once.

FaFoutis Sun 17-Jul-16 20:11:48

The mediocre men (with stay at home wives) have all overtaken me too, and I'm married. I can't compete with them due to the time and freedom they have. It is shit.

bluecashmere Sun 17-Jul-16 22:01:09

Agree. This has definitely been the case for me. Before motherhood I had a good career where I was respected and had opportunities. Since becoming a mother and becoming single I've had to relocate and make compromises. Don't get me wrong, I want to spend as much time as possible with dc but I earn far less than I did and cannot even contemplate the kind of role I should be in because those jobs don't offer the flexibility I need.

wilkos Sun 17-Jul-16 22:58:25

Oh yes, I left my abusive husband 4 years ago when my children were 2 and 4. He subsequently depleted our only marital asset (business) and went bankrupt (which to be fair he said to me the week I left but I never thought he would be that vindictive) so got a job, but now he's refusing to see them more than every other weekend and definitely can't pick them up from school or have them on holidays - he lives one mile away hmmso he is now climbing his way back to solvency as a DINKY aided by his new wife and I am stuck in a job that fits round school hours.... and the crappy pay that comes with it..

bibliomania Mon 18-Jul-16 15:50:33

It's hard. Nine years ago I was graduating top of my Masters class, and now I have to avoid my peers on Facebook because they've all forged ahead and have fantastic jobs, and I'm not in the same league. I feel lucky to have dd, and I do like my job, but it's so frustrating.

Maybe in another 10 years I can find my way back to where I left off. Obviously it won't be at the same level, but I'm okay with that. Just to be back in my professional field, even in a lowly position, would be something.

SoulSista85 Sun 24-Jul-16 13:23:22

I feel this so much, so often.
An earlier poster said that the trade off is the wonderful children we have been blessed with, which I agree with 100%.
Equally, a massive factor in this is fundamentally providing for said blessings. That ever difficult process of finding the balance where you can be both a successful parent, first and foremost, and successful in your career when you're literally split so many ways and whether you can make that meeting depends on a school run commitment.
Or training session is automatically benched because your child needs support with their homework, for example.
I struggle with that. I really do.

lokijet Sun 24-Jul-16 13:40:01

Im on a programme at work which aims to help get women ready for senior management roles and was asked ehat gender discrimination id faced. I told them while it existed it was nothing compared to the prejudice and challenges around working part time and single parent.

SoulSista85 Sun 24-Jul-16 14:05:09

lokijet - Could not agree more!

megletthesecond Tue 26-Jul-16 07:33:30

Yep. Me too. I can't get to work early, can't stay late. Must take a short lunch break because it's often my only chance to make personal calls, emails, nip to supermarket. And tbh I'm simply too exhausted to pick up extra work. I'm just winging it and trying to muddle through. My boss has suggested I try other tasks but I've said I'm not able to cope with any more.

windygallows Tue 26-Jul-16 17:15:16

It's great to see everyone's comments here and know that I'm not alone. The frustrating thing is the lack of free time - and that means not being able to stay late, to attend conferences, to do that extra reading to keep up on work in the sector. People who have the time to do these things are so much more likely to get promoted. And so we end up staying in that middle ground area of just constantly paddling to get by. It's very frustrating!

Flowerpower41 Wed 27-Jul-16 07:01:26

Single parents with parents on hand have had no problem I have found! Guess some have help on tap and others have to get by ....

FinallyGotAnIPhone Wed 27-Jul-16 07:07:58

Yes I empathise. I have been a LP for three years, senior job. Last year I got an au pair. £80 a week which made such a difference. I used to think I didn't want someone living in my house but then I realised that as much as I didn't want someone living with me, it would make my life so much easier.... And it really did - plus having someone living in the house isn't that bad after all. Have you considered that?

HidingFromDD Wed 27-Jul-16 07:10:34

Try not to look at it as giving up but postponing it. I just marked time for 10 years while the children were small. At 45 with young teenagers I divorced and kicked career into gear. 6 years later I've doubled my salary and am working at Senior level (and loving it). You really can't have it all at the same time, but you can prioritise different areas of your life at different times.

Dozer Wed 27-Jul-16 07:10:37

It sounds like, although your career has stalled, you're doing really well in the circumstances. Keep chipping away!

I've met a few women with much older DC who have revved up again at that point. Sometimes opportunities can emerge or be found unexpectedly.

Learning and development is challenging, but there are more and more free courses online (eg FutureLearn) and some breakfast networking/talk events too. Are you in any kind of womens network?

I've had counselling recently about work stress, partly due to working PT and feeling there's nowhere to go: she called it a "holding pattern" and suggested trying to see the positives of my decision to prioritise the Dc at this time. And practical ways to manage my emotions. It's helped.

bibliomania Wed 27-Jul-16 09:19:59

I'm cheered by the posts about revving things up again in a few years. I was reading some gloomy stuff about being derailed again by the menopause - common sense dictates that it can't be that way for everyone! I like to think that in a decade I'll be doing exciting career stuff, and also with fond memories of less high-flying days spent with dd.

Foslady Wed 27-Jul-16 23:51:43

13 years ago pre dd I was earning £24k. Highest I've earnt since is £16k.......

KickAssAngel Thu 28-Jul-16 00:29:56

I'm married and still have had the same experience. DH is as flexible as he can be, but he has a 'proper' job (I'm a teacher, so not exactly low-pay, low-responsibility) compared to mine.

He does take days off if Dd is sick, but the long-term effects of me not being able to do the extras (conferences, extra evening events etc) still mean that I'm kind of marking time. I fully intend to just go full steam ahead once DD is more independent, and I think it will be a bit of a shock to DH. I intend to NEVEr cook an evening meal again. We can buy in food or take care of himself - I have a career to fulfill.

ChanelNo314 Thu 28-Jul-16 00:43:23

I sympathise. :=/

My career is non existent! I have a job.

DancingDinosaur Thu 28-Jul-16 00:45:31

Yep I'm with you op. Totally get it.

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