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Is it possible to be a lone parent and have a reasonably well-paid job (but not earn enough to afford a nanny)?

(10 Posts)
spicemonster Mon 25-Aug-08 21:26:51

I've just started a new job and am really struggling with the out of hours demands that are made on my time (overnight stays, early/late meetings far from home). My mum helps out a huge amount but it isn't really a long term solution.

Is anyone else in this situation? What do you do? I'm constantly trying to sort out logistics so that I can work around my childcare (my CM looks after him 8-6).

Am I being insane? Is it just not possible to do this kind of job when I am solely responsible for my child and should I just become a checkout person? Or have you found a way to make it work? Any tips? I think I've doubled the number of grey hairs in the last 3 weeks.

Vincenza Mon 25-Aug-08 22:52:55

Hi SM

How old is your LO? I have a boy of 5. I have worked full time as an accountant since he was 9 months. My family and my ex never help me out. I have struggled through various different means of childcare. I had a number of au pairs which can be really good if you get the right one. Have a look on gumtree/ aupair world. Also if you put an ad on gumtree there are a lot of people who are looking for a bit of extra cash at the moment who would be happy to pick your child up from nursery and take them back to yours. Re your overnight stays - if your mum can't help you with this I would tell that it is not possible but with enough notice you could probably halp out in the future. I really struggled when I went back to work as I was used to working really long hours at certain times of the month/ year. What I realised is that if you put your foot down and make it clear there is no one else to help you out your bosses will probably take this into account. PLus if you are good at your job they would probably rather take you for the hours you can do than employ an unknown entity. Also, can you get a laptop from work. A lot of jobs can work from home now. What do you do? Sorry if this doesn't make much sense. It is a bit of a stream of consciousness but I feel your pain!

V

Skramble Mon 25-Aug-08 23:06:11

What age is your DS.

I do a lot of odd hours, late nights and weekends away, but I am not full time, Kids are both at school.

My exMIL looks after them, and they stay over there. It is only perhaps once a week, saturdays and overnight stays once a month on average. If I was full time she would have to have them every night aftere school and take them to their activities, that would be the killer. There is no after school club here and she just couldn't manage.

I know someone who works night shifts but again not full time, she spreads her child care between her sister, brother and childs grandparents, so noone has her too often.

I think working full time plus the extra time is very difficult on your own.

A live in nanny is one option, but needs a bloody good wage and a big enough house.

Combining the childminder with a mature reliable babysitter may be an option but will still cost, perhaps a childcare student would be a able to do the those hours.

An aupair is a cheaper option but couldn't look after child full time, only usefull for much older children, so perhaps an option for the future.

I suppose its about weighing it all up and seeing if it is worth it, will you be able to reduce the hours in the future or earn more money?

Tryharder Mon 25-Aug-08 23:53:54

I am a single parent who works full time including overnight shifts. I am very, very lucky with childcare and employ a lady as a kind of au pair although I am reluctant to describe her as such as she's nearly 50. She lives with me and I pay her a small wage (what I can afford!) plus board and lodging in return for childcare as and when needed and help with housework/gardening/ironing. Because I do mostly nights, this lady has other jobs in the day. She's been with me about 3 years now. Last year, I paid for her to go through the procedure to become a registered childcarer so I can claim tax credits for what I pay her which certainly helps financially. If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldnt have been able to keep on working. I only have an average paying job and dont have a big house but we all manage somehow and it works out well and we get on fine. I think it helps that she's older than the average au pair.

I would also recommend such an arrangement but of course sharing your home with someone is a big step and finding the right person is a challenge. I\ve been lucky. Hope you sort out your childcare soon. xx

AvenaLife Tue 26-Aug-08 00:11:06

I understand how frustrating this is. I have a degree and a masters but I can't find a job to fit around ds. I did train as a nurse but became ill because I was so stressed and exhauted. ds would be collected by mt neighbour one day, then someone else so he found this really tough too. In the end my body just caved in. I'm at a loss as to where to go from here. I've applied for a couple of jobs in shops, it's really annoying because of how hard I worked to get my degree so I could build a better life for us. I spent most of my nursing course trying to arrange childcare that I would have to scrimp and save for. There's no room for a au pair. I hired a nanny for the easter holiday because there were no holiday clubs and it took me months to save up. My mum isn't very helpful. ds is highly gifted, she's not educated at all so there was always tension. She cares for my nephew now because he's easier to manage. I am supposto go back to complete the course in October but I'm dreading it because of the shifts. I'm looking into teaching because I need to be here for ds. I would like to study medicine when he's older though.

I think I'm destined for the checkout too.

AvenaLife Tue 26-Aug-08 00:11:08

I understand how frustrating this is. I have a degree and a masters but I can't find a job to fit around ds. I did train as a nurse but became ill because I was so stressed and exhauted. ds would be collected by mt neighbour one day, then someone else so he found this really tough too. In the end my body just caved in. I'm at a loss as to where to go from here. I've applied for a couple of jobs in shops, it's really annoying because of how hard I worked to get my degree so I could build a better life for us. I spent most of my nursing course trying to arrange childcare that I would have to scrimp and save for. There's no room for a au pair. I hired a nanny for the easter holiday because there were no holiday clubs and it took me months to save up. My mum isn't very helpful. ds is highly gifted, she's not educated at all so there was always tension. She cares for my nephew now because he's easier to manage. I am supposto go back to complete the course in October but I'm dreading it because of the shifts. I'm looking into teaching because I need to be here for ds. I would like to study medicine when he's older though.

I think I'm destined for the checkout too.

AvenaLife Tue 26-Aug-08 00:11:25

oops!

spicemonster Tue 26-Aug-08 20:52:15

Thanks for all your replies.
Some good ideas, ta and great to know I'm not alone. I spent bank holiday monday with my friends who are all couples who were sympathetic but sort of horrified at the same time

My DS is nearly 18 months so still really young. Which basically means I can't leave him with anyone he doesn't know well (it's taken him 3 weeks to smile when he sees his new CM) so I think casual au pairs are out really. Having said that, do you think I could get someone who would just do the 6-7pm shift a few days a week?

My mum has suggested that he goes to stay with her in a few weeks when I'm doing huge amounts of travelling which is great although on the days I'm home, I know I'm going to miss him terribly. That is really just selfish as I'll only be here to drop him off at the CMs.

I'm in London and live in a 2 bedroom flat and there is no chance of us moving somewhere where we could get some live-in help. Your situation sounds fabulous Tryharder. Eventually I hope to move out and freelance and then I suspect we'd be in a position to have someone who will fill the gaps.

Hmm - it's very tricky isn't it?

LittleDorrit Tue 26-Aug-08 21:26:48

Hi SM - just wanted to say that your dillema is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about - how childcare is a major hurdle for lone parents who want to work, both in terms of cost and flexibility. I am also in London and have what many would regard as a very well paying job. I have a nanny (live-out) BUT she only works 8 to 6.30 (which means any early or late meetings are out for me). I have no family close by, and can't afford to pay the nanny to do longer hours (and I would not have been able to afford the nanny in any case without help from the exh) It's such a trap, because without the ability to do longer hours, etc. I cannot really progress in my job. I am also in a two-bed flat (like most people in London !) so can't get anyone to live in.
I think it's great that your mum can help, and please don't feel guilty. If you can work, then both you and your DS will have a much better future.

Tunicate Tue 26-Aug-08 22:50:36

Hi spicemonster

I've been worrying about this too. I'm about to re-train in something that's easier to make work as it's been impossible to run my own business (lots of overnights, long hours, great job that I trained long and hard for). I'm hoping that it'll be OK, but I live in an area where housing's relatively cheap and can afford a big house and my plan is to find someone else with a child or two to share the house and the childcare. DS will be happier having some other kids to play with. Dunno if it will work though hmm

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