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London Mums, how do you juggle childcare, your job and commuting?

(89 Posts)
imme Thu 09-Dec-10 21:17:22

DS is 6 months old and it looks like I am taking the full 12 months of maternity leave. We already have the nursery place for him sorted for when I am going back to work, so we should actually feel well organised and relaxed.
Instead, we are wondering how on earth we will be seeing and spending time with our little boy when I am going back to work!! My work hours are not really compatible with nursery hours and it will take me nearly 2 hours of commuting in total per day. DH's will take nearly 2.5 hours. I could probably squeeze an 80% role out of my employer but I am not sure how this will resolve the problem...
We have no family nearby so would have to rely on nursery, nanny or childminder..
It feels like somebody else will be bringing up our son!
London Mums, please tell me it can work! How do you do it, how much do you see your children and are you happy with it?

MollieO Thu 09-Dec-10 21:20:48

You use a CM who does longer hours than nursery. Ours did 7am to 7pm. Fine until ds started school and got homework. He now is at school 7.30am to 6.30pm which works well.

fluffles Thu 09-Dec-10 21:23:17

i've left london but my friends have a small child.
she does 3days a week at work, he works full-time and takes their son three days a week to a nursery by his work so they commute together, in the summer they have a snack and park on the way home - i met them once and it seems fun grin

TitianTinselTemptress Thu 09-Dec-10 21:23:41 have a search facility to find a CM near you - if you found one on your doorstep that would make life soooo much easier. I feel your pain as I find it tricky getting myself and DD out the door at 7.45! Good luck

PressureDrop Thu 09-Dec-10 21:27:45

It was tough when we did it. Tough, but do-able.

I won't lie - if you are both working long hours / have long commutes, it is difficult. I did it for while and I suffered with a lot of guilt. Even with great childcare and support, it can be hard to be away from your child for most of the day, every day. Is there no way you could each negotiate an early finish one evening, or working from home half a day or whatever?

If you both have no other option, you will get through it. Good childcare, good organisation and a positive attitude will get you through!

You need a good nursery with 'wraparound care' hours (and take it from me...most children do eventually settle in and enjoy nursery) OR a good, local childminder (very close to home or on your way back from the station etc - it has to be an easy journey to make as you will be tired at the end of the day) OR...a good nanny.

If you can afford it, a nanny is a God send. Less hassly for all concerned. They can have your baby all snuggled up in PJs by the time you get home, and you can spend that quality time having cuddles, doing stories and bedtime etc, without all the 'grind' of another journey. And your child has the stability of being in their own home, with their own things around them.

My number one advice to you would be: think about what is going to be acceptable/easiest for YOU and your DH. Children are generally very flexible little beings, and if they have good childcare and a routine, they thrive.

Shaxx Thu 09-Dec-10 21:29:24

I'm very fortunate that I work part time. I use a nursery but that hr between drop off at 8 (when nursery opens) and travel to get to my desk by 9, are very stressful. Especially if the trains aren't running properly.
The journey back is just as bad when I leave at 5 to pick up by 6.
If I was full time, I don't think I could deal with that every day and would definitely look for a child minder or nanny.

CatIsSleepy Thu 09-Dec-10 21:32:09

i work 4 days a week and have 2 children, one at school, one a toddler.
dh works at home 2 days a week, and on those days drops and collects dd1 from school and then takes her to the CM that looks after dd2 during the day.On those days I take dd2 to the CM's house for 7.45 then head to work (get there at 9 if everything goes OK). We collect them both at 6.
We then each have a day of dropping dd1 at school while the other one takes dd2 to the CM. Whoever dropped dd2 then collects the two of them at 6 (as whoever dropped dd1 at school got to work pretty late). Friday I'm at home so look after dd2 and sort dd1 out myself.

tbh it's bloody knackering but just about works. Am fairly happy with it as we have a very good CM, dd1 has been with her since she was a baby. Have to say it was a piece of piss when we only had one though! Do I see the kids enough? well probably not but I don't tend to think about it when I'm at work tbh. I do feel tired pretty much all the time though...

CatIsSleepy Thu 09-Dec-10 21:34:16

have to say i do find mornings stressful-the 3 mornings a week when I'm taking dd2 to the CM's and have to be out of the house by 7.30 are not fun, am always rushing and stressing about being late. Fridays and weekends are blissful though!

alfabetty Thu 09-Dec-10 21:38:36

If you go for 80%, it will give you a day off a week which you may find to be a godsend - time to get the house straight, shopping in, run errands with your baby in tow, then you have the weekends to relax as a family.

Don't underestimate how much you will value that day a week where you don't have to rush out, and can just potter with your baby. You'll also have time to see 'mum' friends which can be a real support as your child gets older, or you have more children.

CatIsSleepy Thu 09-Dec-10 21:41:05

i agree alfabetty-i love my non-working fridays for all those reasons

imme Thu 09-Dec-10 21:50:34

Thanks for all your replies. Sounds like it's not easy...sigh..
We might look into the childminder option more closely and possibly DH could do flexi time.

JetSetWilly Thu 09-Dec-10 21:55:40

With great effing difficulty

Marking my place back soon

onceamai Thu 09-Dec-10 22:00:10

Went back 3 days a week when ds was 6 months (15 years ago!). He went to nursery. Was a complete disaster - he was asthmatic and picked up every bug going. Gave up after about 9 months. Was anti the CM option but with hindsight it would have been much much better. They are more flexible and there are few children to catch stuff from.

notcitrus Thu 09-Dec-10 22:03:09

Can one of you do drop-off and the other pick-up?
I work 3 days when ds goes to nursery, and I chose nursery by starting with the three between me and the station and fell in love with one.
I drop him off and collect on 2 days, and MrNC collects on the other day, so I can work late and catch up.

I try to get to nursery round 8am (get to work by 9) and leave work at 5 (to get to nursery before 6). Mostly works...

However I often have breakfast at work now, as there is no way to explain to a toddler that they get breakfast at nursery but Mummy is eating now. Also reduces my clothes getting messed up. Remember: nappy before suit!

Two children sounds a lot harder...

LeakMyWiki Thu 09-Dec-10 22:05:01

I had to cut my hours to 10 - 4.30 or it was hellacious. I use afterschool club and a childminder. I rush back, get in car which I park near tube (which I hate, but I have to) drive to ASC, because it finishes sooner than the cm and they get VEH CROSS l if I am late, whereas cm is lovely and understanding and I can pay her extra. I then drive to cm, pick smallest up, and then drive home with both of them, and do the reverse in morning, so drive to cm, drop off, drive back to school drop off, drive to tube, go to work.

If something terrible happens on my commute I have to call for back up, which basically means asking a friend to get ds1 from after school club and I pick up from friends, and calling my cm to see if she can keep ds2 for longer - if not asking somebody to pick ds2 up for me.

And of course, I make sure that I do things to reciprocate - which mainly means babysitting!

Guacamohohohole Thu 09-Dec-10 22:06:59

I go back in March (after 1 year off). I will be returning 3 days a week. Me and DH both commute into London, DS on waiting list at DHs nursery because it's a short walk from train station whereas I have to take the tube to my work which takes a further 1 hour! We will all travel in together, but DH and DS will return without me.
I'm not sure how it's going to work, I'm trying not to think about it, I come out in a panic at the thought of DS being in nursery nowhere near me and we don't even have that elusive nursery place yet. If I'm being honest I'm dreading it... I'm going to miss my DS so much!

MrToad Thu 09-Dec-10 22:10:57

Agree that you need to share the drop off/ pick ups.

When DS was 12 months old, DP dropped him at nursery at 8am and started work at 9. He coukld then work as late as he needed. I did a flexible working request to jobshare (the company was downsizing so this meant they could avoid having to make someone redundant) and I worked 7.30-4.30 so I could pick DS up by 6pm.

It was not easy and I had a senior, busy job in a company that had a real long hours culture. Got fed up with struggling and got a less senior (but more interesting) 9-5 job 3 days a week.

LovelyJudy Thu 09-Dec-10 22:18:19

i've been working 2 days a week with a variety of childcare providers for the last 10 years. Currently use afterschool club. i've just applied for a senior job, 4 days a week which i'll spread over 5 so i can still pick up from school 3 days a week. will have to rely on dh and neighbour to do 4 school drop offs. i'm looking fwd to more responsibility, money, job satistfaction etc but really dreading giving up time do get housework done without kids around. and no shopping/ambling/library etc time. and no exercise. and no friend-coffee-time... but it has to be done. i'm lucky to have the choice i know.

FairyMum Thu 09-Dec-10 22:20:33

Can you apply for flexi-time? Both me and Dh work flexi and can work from home if needed. I get up at 4 and arrive at my desk between 5-6 am. That way I am able to leave at 5. Sounds like madness I know, but I love my job and also want some time with my children and its the only way.

Mypombearisveryold Thu 09-Dec-10 22:39:38

I have worked in London for the last 18mths. DS is 2.5yo he has two elder siblings.

We have managed by having family look after the children 3 days a week and on the two nursery days by doing the drop off together and or taking it in turns to leave early.

We are lucky? in that dh is so senior that he can do what he wants and I am so junior that I can too.

Not really ideal but if your son is happy with his childcare and it is convenient to either where you live or where you work, I would opt for where you live. More likely to have the same children at school and a shorter commute with your son.

And things change, don't think of it being forever.

Best wishes.

AlphaSchmalpha Thu 09-Dec-10 22:51:18

OP, to be honest, I don't think anyone can have it all. You can put lots of systems and logistics in place to make work, commute, childcare mesh together of course.

But, both parents can't have full time careers + commute AND see as much of their child as they might like. Something somewhere has to give. I make no judgement about what that thing is, for some people it means both parents work p/t or one parent works p/t or doesn't work. Or you just accept that for 5 days a week you see less of your child than you might like.

What gives is dependent on your finances, your stamina and how happy you and your children are with their carers.

imme Thu 09-Dec-10 23:01:40

Alpha, I totally agree with you.. something will have to give...
Sometimes I wonder why we are living in London with all the hellish commuting, limited choice of good schools, sky high house prices and rents..

Quiltingmoomin Thu 09-Dec-10 23:13:38

I live out (way out) of London and come in twice a week. I don't see my children on those two days. dH does drop off and pick up those days. In return I get to see them the other days and do all school pick ups and work from home. It's as close to ideal as I can get hut I've lost ground in my career big time. You can't have it all but you can get creative, share with yr OH and try to get to what works for you. Good luck.

AlphaSchmalpha Thu 09-Dec-10 23:14:41

I feel your pain imme. I found doing the nursery drop at 8am, legging it for train, spending 45-60mins commuting the 5miles to work, legging it out of the office at 5 (when everyone else stays until 5.30 and usually later) to get back for 6pm pick up was too much. Having only the weekend in which to do chores, shopping, have leisure time and spend time with ds wasn't workable for me in the end. Nursery cost a fortune, nanny (+ all that tax!) was unaffordable, life was one big stressy rush, and I didn't enjoy work really because it wasn't the same on a purely 9-5 basis.

pre-ds, I loved my job. I used to get into work at 8am and stay until I wanted, which was usually 6.30 or 7pm. And back in the day I wasn't being woken up during the night by a small child! and I could go for drinks or to an event or meet friends in the evening in town, instead of always rushing away and missing out on the social / networking aspect of work or the social perks of working in London.

sorry, this is a bit of a downer. Just that I had to totally re-evaluate my life and accept that by having a child I had irrevocably changed the way my working life operated too. bah.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Thu 09-Dec-10 23:15:31

is this a problem exclusive to "London mums" then ? hmm

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