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Full time parents - what's 'too much' work?

(20 Posts)
Writergirl Wed 17-Oct-12 18:12:25

My DP and I are kind of flat out working at the moment and I'm wondering how much time other working parents spend with their kids - and what's the cut off point?

I feel bad if I only see them mornings, evenings and weekends, but is that normal?

Does it depend how old your kids are?

Eg: I work 80%, and so spend one day a week on my own with them, plus obviously the weekends - with both or one of us present. (we run our own business). During the week, I take them to school and then see them from 6.30 until bedtime, or leave work early, be at home when they come in from school, but carry on wkg whilst the childminder is here.

Kids are 9, 4 and 2.

Sometimes too many days coming in late and my spare day eaten up, makes me wonder if I should put in more 'work refusals' - don't know how!

sherbetpips Wed 17-Oct-12 21:27:35

So not five days a week then? Many working families do 5 day weeks with mornings and evenings then of course weekends with kids. Not unusual, my ds copes fine with it.

QTPie Wed 17-Oct-12 21:48:39

It is incredibly personal really. Made incredibly more complicated by you working for your own business.

There are mums out there who work 100 hours a week and there are mums out there who don't work at all (even if they were very career oriented).

Talk to your DH and see if you can work out things to suit you better?

Would you like to spend more time with your kids? Can you and your business afford it? Would taking more time off effect your longer term career?

I am very lucky to be a SAHM. It is hard work, but I know that I will never have this opportunity again (DS is 2 years 8 months): soon he will be restricted by school, have his own social life and then (eventually) move out and have his own life. Although, occasionally, I could cheerfully strangle him.... I wouldn't want to miss this time with him ;)

Writergirl Wed 17-Oct-12 22:40:34

Interesting QTPie, about never getting the early years back. I do find there tends to be a lot of focus on these years, whereas I know from my DD who is 9, that kids also need a lot of help and support later, esp at school. And that's the kind of presence that a childminder or nanny can't give, as much...

To be honest you've set me thinking - I had a bit of a goosebump moment, so that'll set the cat among the pigeons.

Also, I don't have much choice - I actually have no idea how people with 3 kids could survive on 1 salary (I'm not in the UK, but its no different where I am). DP is of the 'they'll be fine' school of thought and massively work orientated, so would be mega pissed off to have to 'downsize' because I suddenly felt like staying at home.

My plan is to move away from the business a bit to do 3 x days a week - we're currently growing it, so that in a couple of years I can be truly 'manager' and pretty much stay at home.

Just feeling a bit bluesy with working so much at the moment. My work days pass in a blur, but I kind of remember each day I spend with my kids.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 17-Oct-12 22:49:04

I see my children from about 5pm-bedtime. And weekends. And the school holidays (I'm a teacher).

Tomorrow though, I won't see DD at all, as it is Open Evening and I won't be home until 9.30 ish.

DH sees them in the mornings, takes DD to school, and from 7 'til bedtime. And weekends. And his annual leave allocation (he is taking half term off for example).

I was a SAHM for 5 years, and loved it. but I love my job (well, not right now, but that's a whole other thread, and hopefully it will pass!!) and am happier in a job about which I feel a passion than I would be in a job I did for easy hours.

QTPie Wed 17-Oct-12 23:01:07

I completely agree - preteen/teenage years can be hugely overlooked by parents. Whenever a parent can spend more time (or make the time they spend less rushed) with their children it must be a good thing smile

They will be fine, but - IF you can spend more time with them (and less time being worn out and caring your tail) - they could be even better for even more time with you.

We are incredibly lucky being able to manage on one wage. So many families are not. Parents do what they have to, but - in the future - if you are able to get more family time it could be great.

potbelliedbaby Fri 19-Oct-12 03:32:07

Hello OP, just wondering whether it really matters how much time other people soend with their children. Do you want to spend more time with your kids? Do they want you home more?

FWIW, my mother (a lifelong SAHM, now with kids nearly in their 40s) has always said that actually children need their parents more as they get older, especially when they are in their teens and think they don't need you (and definitely don't want you!). But then for every one of her, there will be plenty telling you it's the early days that count the most... Really, we are all on a hiding to nothing if we follow any of there 'accepted wisdoms'.

Surely you need to do what is right for you and your children, and surely only you and your DH know what that is?

mrsmplus3 Sat 20-Oct-12 23:29:24

Hi, I worked 3 days per week for 4 yrs and I loved the balance, loved not being stressed. Was always tired and busy but not stressed.
Now I work 5 days a week and am pretty devastated to be honest. Im ft cause we need the money (teacher too).
My kids are 16, 7 and 4 (pre school). I am a bit stressed but I am coping. I'm trying to be positive and some days i am but truthfully deep down I find it really hard and it's a shock to my system.
Having said all that I don't think my kids are suffering. Mainly because I basically devote all my spare time to them. I make the most of the mornings (7am-8am) and after work (4pm-8pm) and all weekend and holidays. The older 2 don't notice I'm out at work cause they're out at school but my little one misses me and moreover I miss her. I had the first 3.5 yrs with her so I'm lucky and shell be in school in 10 months so the year is flying in.
Look, nowadays you've got to do what's right for you and your family. I'm doing it cause I have to. Hoping to go part time again in a few years once we all get through this recession. And it's true that they need you just as much but in a different way when they're older. I'm currently raising a teen and that's a ft job in itself.
Sorry for babbling, hope I've helped a bit.
To end on a positive note, me my husband and 3 kids are a close tight knit family and if you've got that then you can all get through anything together. Talking and chilling out together every night makes you close, even if you are out working all day. smile

Cathycat Sat 20-Oct-12 23:45:49

I would love to spend more time with my children - I work full time too. However ... the children also need a roof over their head, clothes and food. I work hard at my job and we would lose the house, the clothes and the food if I didn't work. so my take is, rather than me worrying about 'wouldn't it be nice if....', I have decided to accept it, enjoy it and value the time that I do have. A bit depressing but realistic!

Ozziegirly Sun 21-Oct-12 06:33:17

Personally, i think it's nice for children to have their parents around both in the early years, and as they get older. I think just knowing that a parent is always there to have a chat while they get the dinner ready, or is available to help with homework or is just there is a valuable thing for a child, whether 5 or 16. Not "quality time" doing anything important, just being around the place in a kind of relaxed way.

However, in reality, life isn't like that, mortgages have to be paid and people like working too. I think that children are actually pretty good at living whichever life they have, and if that means you aren't there all the time, but that's what they're used to, they will almost certainly be perfectly fine.

SoulTrain Sun 21-Oct-12 06:52:35

I'd just like to add that staying at home with your children all of the time doesn't guarantee that your child will be "fine." hmm

Whatever your situation, working full time, part time, SAHM, working from home all have their benefits and people are doing them for various reasons that are personal to them. I work part time (Wednesdays off) which works for us because I only do 2 x days at a time and then a day off. We are incredibly lucky as DS is looked after by three sets of grandparents all week so as lovely 1-1 on time with them which is then something we don't have to consider at the weekends. I am always worried that he's missing out on something, is he missing out on the interaction from nursery? Is he missing me or my husband in the day? Would he benefit from more time with his parents? However, all things considered I know he's a perfectly happy, well adjusted little boy who's doing fine. With one of us not working we wouldn't be able to survive financially. With both of us working we have a little money to save, buy treats, go on holiday, go out for day trips/evenings out which are all incredibly important to us.

I guess what I'm trying to say is try to look at what your real concern about the children is and if its something that can be addressed then have a look at it. Your children will absolutely be fine with your working hours. Some parents are working full time, horrible long hours and their children are still perfectly happy.

Also, a previous poster said they

SoulTrain Sun 21-Oct-12 06:59:26

Sent too early! As a previous poster said mentioned about not getting the early years back, I just thought I'd add that no you won't, but you also run the risk of finding it incredibly hard to get into any sort if work after taking a 16+ year break. Great if you don't need to worry about that but for me that would be a concern. I assume you are working the hours you are out of necessity rather than choice? To an outsider, it just sounds like you are beating yourself up for no reason.

Writergirl Tue 23-Oct-12 17:49:32

Gosh -thanks to everyone - I really appreciate the thoughtful replies.

It's true that if I stopped work we'd have to downsize considerably, and I also do have a huge amount of flexibility running our own business, as it gives me the freedom to sometimes work at home, and for example, I'm helping out at the school once a week, etc. after half term, and I'll just work around that.

My other two kids are already in school and they're having a whale of a time, it's the little one I feel sad about. I don't seem to have had time off with him to do 'activities' or music classes, toddler groups etc.

BUT, like mrsmplus3 I spend all my free time with them, and make an effort to do things - walks, crafts, cooking, etc. Maybe its time out I need with the little one that would adjust the balance. Plus cos he's the last one, maybe that's also why I feel I haven't had as much 1-2-1 tim as the other 2 have always been present.

Some days I feel as though I've really struck the right balance, and some days like Cathycat that I have to just 'suck it up' :-(

GimmeIrnBru Tue 23-Oct-12 18:57:26

It depends what your priorities are in life. If you want the really good life with two cars, large house, Sky TV, two holidays abroad, etc, then that's more of a choice rather than necessity. You're working for a luxury lifestyle.

I'm at home all the time now, gave up my career four years ago to SAH. No intentions of going back for a long time until DC are well into their school years. But to have this life, I've made sacrifices (we live comfortably, but we're not wealthy). Something has to give somewhere along the line. It just depends what's important to you. I can get back to my career later on in life, but I cannot get back the early years of childrearing.

wordfactory Tue 23-Oct-12 19:18:21

I think it is a difficult balance OP.

Personally, I've always worked around my DC, which has obviously impacted upon my work and career. And to some extent my work and career have impacted upon my DC.

Even though the later occasionally made me feel guilty I knew that I did not want to be a SAHM. I had tried that once and hated it. I need family and work simultaneously, which may be greedy but that's the truth.

I also like earming wonga, even though we probably don't need more, which may be greedy but that's the truth.

I also saw too many friends take a break to their career in the firm expectation of getting back to it...but that simply proved impossible after a gap in their CV. Not a tragedy as they are mostly wealthy, but not where they want or envisaged they would be at this stage.

GimmeIrnBru Tue 23-Oct-12 19:22:31

I think it also depends on what kind of career background you have, tbh. I would not envisage myself having any difficulties finding work again in years to come but as wordfactory puts it, it's not like that for everyone.

CailinDana Tue 23-Oct-12 19:33:08

I'm very much of the opinion that as long as a child comes from a loving home and has decent childcare whether a parent stays at home or not makes very little difference. It always surprises me that these sort of debates always centre around the children - is it good for them, do they suffer, etc etc. I think they just get on with it, they see whatever is thrown at them as normal and they don't question it. Unless there's some issue of neglect then there's nothing to worry about on that score.

In contrast, for the parents being there for their children while they grow up is a once in a lifetime never to be repeated thing that they definitely do think about and regret/don't regret. IMO it is the parents who lose out when they don't see their children as much as they would like, not the children. When I was thinking of having children I was determined to do whatever I could to ensure I could stay home with them because being a SAHP is an experience I want in my life, in the same way that some people want to travel the world or climb a mountain. And I'm willing to give up quite a lot for that experience because to me it is a unique experience that as my DC's mother, only I can have. So basically my decision to be a SAHM is pretty selfish. I think my DCs would be absolutely fine in childcare, but DH earns enough to support us and he's ok with us staying at home so he gets to do what he wants (which is work in a great job) and I get to do what I want (which is stay at home). Everybody wins smile

mrsmplus3 Tue 23-Oct-12 20:11:19

Loving the honesty from everyone! Here's another one from me then.

Ideally, I WANT to want to be a SAHM all the time but at the end of every maternity leave, I was dying to get back to work! Part time only mind you.
Now I'm fulltime, as I said, I'm gutted.
The perfect balance for me was definitely part time. So, once were in a better financial position, im hoping to go part time again. Roll on 2016! grin

Writergirl Wed 24-Oct-12 12:32:45

Thanks CailinDana, I also, deep down, think you're right, that kids do just fine, and its all about the parents.

I suppose the real issue, is exactly a clash of lifestyles - my DP is very luxury orientated, cannot live without TVs, nice cars, nice holidays etc, not in a 'wide boy' way - he just likes nice things and grew up in some comfort and it comes from a good place - he 'wants the best' for his kids.

I had a very different background, culturally and I now couldn't care less about all that kind of thing, but I find myself working to maintain our lifestyle and mortgage, and I obviously don't mind a bit of luxury, but I do mind working my nuts off for it.

DP can't see what I'm making a fuss about and the kids are all in really great places, and are very happy. I just have a longing to spend more time with the little one, and I'm not sure he'll understand that: he'll see the hassle and expense of replacing me at work, even just one day a week, but maybe I need to be more insistent.

For example, it would never cross his mind to take the wednesday off each week (we live in France and no school on weds) to spend with the kids. Ever. I already feel that that is a luxury that I have, but once again its the 3 kids, not the little one on his own, who I am missing.

DS will go to school next september and the chance will be gone. My feelings are coming at an inconvenient time: we're trying to grow the business, so its not a time when I should back down from it.

mrsmplus3 Wed 24-Oct-12 15:40:06

Often men don't get it. It's your maternal instinct to crave time with your baby. Your last post has made me think you should get that time now and just work hard again next September when in school.
Im craving my wee one but the difference is we can't afford for me to drop even 1 day just now so I'm having to suck it up and get on with it.
Truthfully, I have a little bit of resentment starting because ive been forced into working ft and you don't want to go down that route with your husband.

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