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Fellow dual career couples how do you cope

(8 Posts)
AnnoyedAtWork Sat 18-May-13 07:30:59

Reading the SAH thread I felt a bit sad that I can't do things like help with homework and have "me" time too.

I have a very good job that is interesting and challenging. So does DP. However I think the corporate world and society does not support work life balance in higher level jobs - there is the assumption that someone else is doing all the home stuff (wife, or maybe a nanny) but I don't want a nanny to pick up my kid from after school club (at 6.30 pm so not early - & I start work at 6/7am) so i do it cos i want to see my dc. however people who have family commitments are viewed as less than committed to their jobs.

So because we both work in 50+ hours a week jobs it's really really hard to have quality time with DC and although we are close to being able to afford a cleaner (on top of mortgage and private school) I still won't have time to help her with homework etc and yes I feel guilty for that. Our house is always a mad rush to eat and get to bed get ready for next day pack bags etc so it's very stressful. I only see dd for about 1-2 hrs in the evenings (& none of that relaxed quality time except for maybe the walk home from school) & the weekends.

So in a way I'm jealous of sah parents but at the same time I don't want to sacrifice my career. I really resent that there are not many jobs you can do part time or flexible that pay well. Although I don't see most of my pay as it goes on school fees (state school has too short hours and I would have had to get a nanny as expensive as the school) and house etc. I know that it gives me financial security a pension and hopefully the chance to increase my pay as I get more senior.

Id like to have a baby but we couldn't cope logistically without a housekeeper / nanny and I would just be more stressed about juggling work.

My DP says he'd be up for sah and perhaps retrain at the same time but I think he would quickly get resentful of me at work. Not cos he is a bastard - I would feel the same way if I was at home! It's easier to be equals (I'm not saying people can't be equals if one sah but if you both do the same thing then empathy and respect come easier cos you understand what the other has been through all day!). Definitely for us as a couple I think it's beneficial that we both work - a big part of both our egos is tied up in career ambition.

If you are a dual career couple (both full time) how do you cope and do you have more than 1 dc? How do you make time for yourself, your relationship and your dc around work?

boardingschoolbaby Sat 18-May-13 08:12:43

Hi Madame, this has been our chief reason for waiting so long to start a family so I totally understand where you are coming from. Our first is due on Monday, so I can't tell you for sure that what we have planned will work but on paper it looks like it will work for us.
Pretty much it has had to come down to relying on other people- we have a fabulous cleaner that we have had in place for nearly 2 years so we know exactly how to work with each other and what both parties expect- she does 3-4 hours per week at £11 per hour.
I am taking 6 months maternity leave because 6 months is the minimum age for him to start at the crèche which is attached to the private school so covers the longer hours that we need where he will go for 3 days per week.
Granny and grandad have very kindly offered to do 2 days per week so that they can spend time with their first grandchild (without me interfering) so the only tricky part was working out how we can get baby to them for those 2 days as my mum has intermittent labarynthitis (sp?) so couldn't always be relied on the be able to drive. My husband has been able to arrange with work that for 2 particular days he either doesn't have meeting before a particular time, or he works from home so that he can manage to drop off on a morning- pick up less of an issue as if it needs to be late then my mum can just pop baby to sleep and we will bring him home sleeping.

As for time together we have just had to be organised and precious about the very limited free time that we both do have and ensure that we make the most of it rather than just wasting it faffing about or mooching in front of the tv. I personally found that ensuring we used the dining room for meals rather than our laps on front of the tv made a big difference; we properly chatted even if just for half an hour rather than switching off and watching dross.
I hope you figure out a way to get what you want. Undoubtably there will be sacrifices, but I am so excited about this baby that I am sure it will be worth it.

mamadoc Sat 18-May-13 08:34:28

Well we both work fairly full on but we each have a little bit of flexibility so it just about works. We have a school age Dd and toddler DS.

I work 4 days a week. When I'm at work its full on. It would be hard for me to get away for eg a childcare emergency and I rarely even have a lunch break. I do finish on time to pick DS up from his CM but I will take work home if I have to and do it when kids are in bed. I really value my day off and I can move it to get to school events if I have notice. I am sufficiently senior to organise my own diary so that helps.

DH has his own business so he works full time but can be flexible so our deal is that he is first contact for sick kids etc and he picks Dd up after school on a Friday and takes her swimming so that she only has 3 days at after school club. He will also take work home if he needs to.

Neither of us have a long commute so that helps.

My house is not exactly perfectly clean or organised but its not squalid. I actually don't have a cleaner although I'm thinking of it now. I need someone to tidy more than clean! We do Internet shopping so that's one less task to fit into days off and I batch cook at weekends so there are easy meals available when I'm tired in the week. I try for us all to eat together early evening with the kids so I don't have to cook and clear up twice.

I always prioritise doing fun stuff as a family over housework on weekends and one up side of us both working is that money is less of a worry so we can have quite a lot of days out, meals out etc. I have more spare cash than spare money. We could live more cheaply if I did meal plans and budgeted properly but it doesn't matter so much that I don't (much to my mums horror).

Our families live far away so aren't able to help day to day but will come and stay to help with holiday childcare.

Could you or DH negotiate to finish work early one day a week each and work from home when they're in bed?

monstergoose Sat 18-May-13 08:37:22

I'm slightly different in that my current job is mainly nights and weekends whereas my oh does a day job. I'm currently on mat leave with dd1 and I'll be going back when she is 6.5m and she'll go into nursery for 2 half days and 1 full day to work around me having morning sleep time after my night shift. I'm not as worried about spending time with dd as I'll still see her in the day a fair bit but more worried about spending time together as a family as I'll be working a fair proportion of weekends. On one hand I'd love to be a sahm but on the other I really don't want to give up a career I've worked hard and trained a long time for. I'm lucky in that we don't have to fork out for full time nursery (although a little worried about the sleep deprivation only sleeping the morning after a night shift the getting up to look after dd!) I can't see us having another baby in the near future as I just cannot imagine looking after 2 and working FT even though lots of people do it! Part of me thinks that is selfish as my dd would benefit from a sibling but the thought of being pregnant and working and having what would then be a toddler scares the living daylight out of me!
I agree with the op wrt the respect between couples thing as already I find that I feel guilty that my day with dd has been easier than my OH's at work and I feel he is a little resentful of being at work and 'missing out' on things either her. If this was a permanent situation then i am imagine that this would cause issues between us. I think this is just the dynamic of our relationship though, what works for one couple won't work for another

AnnoyedAtWork Sat 18-May-13 09:48:33

Thanks for the replies the thing is about our jobs is that mine is fairly unpredictable - depends on financialmarkets - so even if I had "agreed" with them to leave early a particular day though they'd see that as non commitment it could have to be scrapped last minute. I often need to stay late without warning and we have to deal with that by dh taking work home or sometimes my sister helps.

Equally dh work is project based and depends a lot on other people and meetings so could not guarantee WFH or early finish on a regular basis.

We are also both fairly early into our careers so trying to impress the boss for promotion etc does not sit well with trying to push back on hours!! I can just hear the bio clock ticking though as although I am still young dd is already 8 and I don't want to be an old mum to second dc or third!

HappyAsASandboy Sat 18-May-13 10:10:04

We both work full time, with nearly two hour each way commutes. We have 2.5 year old twins.

We manage by never seeing each other, going to bed early, and juggling. We use a nursery on 3 days per week, which involves me going to work early and DH doing drop off/me leaving work at 4pm (so so hard) to do pick up/DH staying at work til late. My DM has them the other two days, but she comes to us to avoid any drop offs (she lives 50 mins away), so DH and I both work hours on those days. We swap cars in the station car park, as kids seats are in one car.

To be honest, we couldn't do it without my DM. She keeps on top of our washing (and decorating) mid week, and gives me two days where I don't have to dash out of work at 4pm.

The frustrating this is that the three days nursery plus rediculous commute costs swallow almost all of my salary. So we live like crazy things for very little paid reward. It is difficult sometimes to keep going in order to keep my stimulating career/future earning potential/pension, when actually I just want to be a SAHM.

I don't think there are any magical answers. But don't wait for number two until it is all planned out - it'll never happen. We can't afford or manage to have twins, but they came and we somehow middle through smile

NB I know the argument about both paying for Childcare, but the choice is pay Childcare and have my salary or don't pay it and don't have my salary. So I view it as a cost of me working.

blueberryupsidedown Sat 18-May-13 10:48:36

I am a childminder, and I work for families with various work arrangements. One of the families I work for sounds a bit like yours, but they have four kids, not as long commute, and they somehow manage to keep all their Sundays as family days. No birthday parties, sports, phone calls, emails on that day. They go out for breakfast all together and do something nice in the morning (museum or park or bike ride) and keep the afternoon to read and do homework with the kids. They watch a movie every Sunday night all cuddled up on the sofa. I think it's lovely. The mother is a partner in a large lawyer's firm and the father runs his own building company. Their children are lovely.

I have no other advice to give. I retrained as a childminder when I had DS2 as he has learning difficulties and a mild disability and I want to spend more time with him. I do enjoy the freedom to work at home and I enjoy being a childminder, but it a cut of 80% from my previous salary, and not generally valued as much and not very intellectually challenging, but a lot of fun!

AnnoyedAtWork Sat 18-May-13 12:07:41

Blueberry that Sunday idea sounds fab.

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