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Do I give up my stressful career in favour of a calmer family life?

(31 Posts)
cupcake78 Fri 27-Sep-13 06:31:36

Can't say too much incase I out myself.

I am a professional, self employed mum of 2 beautiful children.

My job is emotionally and mentally hard to the point it has affected my own mental health. Its isolating, holds great responsibility and at times extremely scary. It is also highly rewarding! All my friends and family don't know how I have done what I do and openly admit there is no way they could do it even for a day.

I'm enjoying being on maternity leave so much that its made me realise how stressful my job is and how much it affects me. I went back yesterday just for a day and came home crying, highly anxious and thinking I can't be this person anymore. I don't want to come home each day and take hours to come down from work and stay awake all night stressing. All of this detracts from my children and family life.

I'm lucky, dh is the main earner. He's amazingly supportive. I need to work for me and I want to earn but the thought of a tea shop or office job or supermarket with colleagues and chat. Limited stress where I can just walk out and go home leaving it all to someone else is lovely!

I'm scared I will regret it. I'm frightened of being a disappointment to my family and I will never earn as much as I could if I keep doing what I do now.

What's your thoughts and experiences on this? I need some outside perspective.

Dilidali Fri 27-Sep-13 06:58:27

As I see it, you have two choices:
1. You give up work on the provision you either retrain once the kids are older, or have a plan of some sorts. Someone with the type of job you describe, firing from all cylinders, needs the stimulation, or you wouldn't have done it. You need something to fall on if you decide being a SAHM doesn't work for you.

2. Think long and hard how you can improve the work you already do to fit in with family life, your mental health. You might want to get together with someone in your field of work and have a long chat. You might want to take a holiday, put things into perspective, formulate a plan and go for it.

I was in your position and I realised that if I throw in the towel, I can't think of any options. I like working, I enjoy my job, not many people can do it. Through gritted teeth and lots of sacrifices I soldiered on until I could do my job backwards and standing on my head. I got to the point where I had a strategy, a clear plan, I found a niche that still allows me to use the skills I have, but fits with family life, doesn't stress me as much and went for it.
From time to time I dive back into the old role, I miss it, it is fun now, knowing it is only temporary, I chose to do it and I have the safety of my new role to get back to.

Good luck.

QueenBoudicea Fri 27-Sep-13 07:02:36

Could you downsize your business for a few years and then build it back up again when the children are older?

Arisbottle Fri 27-Sep-13 07:04:35

Can you do something else?

I was stressed in my former career, hardly ever saw my children and if was putting a strain on my marriage . I went into teaching which made life much easier .

Arisbottle Fri 27-Sep-13 07:09:24

Although I would be wary of making a rash decision based on a bad experience on a day as emotionally charged as your first day back after maternity leave

cupcake78 Fri 27-Sep-13 09:31:53

Your right about needing the stimulation but I'm not sure that as I am getting older I'm growing out of this. Almost growing up and settling down. I hit burn out 2 years ago, its very common in my field of work and I can't let this happen again.

I can't switch off the better I get at it, its not that kind of job. If I switched off then I'd be no good at it. I wish it was the case believe me.

I'm worried if I give it up now I can't go back later. This may or may not be the case Im unsure.

The ideal would be employed as part of a team working from an established site with some of my role being less stressful outsourced training etc. These jobs don't come up as the people in them sit tight because they have earned their position and know the alternative is very tough!

BarberryRicePud Fri 27-Sep-13 09:35:16

Could you go back to your job in 5-10 years? If not, would you regret never working in that field again?

Personally, having grown up with a mother with mental health issues, I'd do everything i could to protect my MH for the sake of my whole family. If you know your job affects you this much (not just based on 1 day though) I'd say it's time for a new career path, even if you didn't have kids.

Could you retrain in something to give you options as the kids get older? Childminder/teaching/etc. There's nothing wrong with a supermarket job to lend a focus to your day just now, but if you're aiming for a career long term to challenge you then do consider the gaps you may be leaving in your cv. The job market's a bit scary at the mo.

Good luck. I hope you find something challenging that you can enjoy, rather than enjoy sometimes and be terrified odds/anxious about at others. Not a healthy way to live imo.

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Fri 27-Sep-13 09:39:47

I was sort of in your position.

I was in law. After DD2 I didn't go back. There were other reasons, but a major part of it was the hours and the background niggles of stress all the time, plus the sudden and dramatic peaks in workload.

I am a couple of years into being a SAHM. I loved it at first, but to be honest it's now starting to send me a bit round the twist. I'm starting to think about what I want to do with the rest of my professional life.

I wouldn't want to go back, but I do know that a job in a tea shop wouldn't cut it. Missing the mental stimulation creeps up on you over time until you feel your brain has turned to mush. No one at the toddler groups, etc wants to talk to you about anything but the lightest of topics. I try to get conversations going about events in the news or whatever, and it just falls flat after a couple of minutes. It is easy to feel when you have a small baby that you wouldn't miss it, but the reality hits much, much later.

I don't think you should base your decisions on finances (if you don't have to) or what your family will think. But equally don't base it on how it feels having a baby. They are small for such a short period and you will have a lot of life left when they are grown up and have left home.

thesaurusgirl Fri 27-Sep-13 09:48:04

I'm wondering what it is you do. I'm guessing you're an MP or hospital doctor/surgeon.

If you aren't in either of those areas, your role probably isn't as emotionally and mentally loaded as you have allowed it to become.

Many of us in senior roles have very "responsible" jobs with teams of people to manage, but in reality our only responsibility is making money for people who have plenty already.

So if you can afford it, I'd say you should take more responsibility for your own happiness and that of your family, and stay at home for a while. The choices you make now do not need to be forever, but if you had five years to live I doubt giving up work would be one of your regrets.

Twiddlebum Fri 27-Sep-13 09:50:35

I have recently started ML from a very stressful full-on job which involved nightshifts and weekend work. We own a beautiful house, have had brilliant holidays, designer bags and shoes, eaten in stupidly expensive restaurants and I have a very large sparkler on my finger... (You get the idea!) but for the last year we stopped all that, I still have nice clothes but they come from eBay or charity shops, we shop in lidl/aldi and hardly go out. We did this in preparation for my new life as a semi SAHM. Our outgoings have been slashed but I wouldn't change it for the world!!! I now have time to bake a cake or tidy the house!! Simple things I know but when you work so much the simple pleasures in life disappear. I feel lucky that we have 'been there done that' with regards to holidays, cars, shoes bags etc so don't miss it or will ever yearn for it. We now live like Tom and Barbra from the good life!! My DH still has a full on job but at least he can come home to 1) a wife (we rarely saw each other before) 2) a clean home 3) a healthy home cooked meal. We are truly loving our new simpler life smile

Gerbilectomy Fri 27-Sep-13 09:52:56

Beware of assuming that these 'nice little office jobs' aren't stressful.

Some of them are killers. I've had a few sad

DoudousDoor Fri 27-Sep-13 11:42:32

I can relate. I'm in a very stressful, high-powered job that is just not possible to do at a slower pace.

It's been tough coming back after DC1 but now I'm pregnant with DC2 and it's even worse (morning sickness really not helping!).

Personally I know that a) I could never become a SAHM (finances/personal choice) b) I can't go on like this after DC2 c) I still need a work challenge, I would not be satisfied in a little supermarket job etc.

My plan is to change jobs either duing mat leave or asap afterwards. The trouble is finding the job! But I'm determined to do it, because I'm afraid otherwise I'll have a breakdown.

I'm looking at the long term. Ideally I want something that will keep my skills ticking over/gradually increase skills but at a slower pace, but then when DCs are older and have flown the nest I can pick the pace back up again (if I want/need to).

Am intrigued as to what you do!

autumnalface Fri 27-Sep-13 13:23:18

Without knowing what you do OP it's difficult to advise but I would echo some of the other posters: other jobs which may seem less stressful may not necessarily be so. I remember reading studies about workplace stress, and the thing that comes up time and again is people get more stressed not just if they have high demanding jobs but crucially if they have little control over their work. So your highflying business person who works an 80 hour week may actually be less stressed if they are making all the decisions compared to one of their employees who works fewer hours but is being told what to do and has no autonomy. So it might be worth thinking what autonomy you have in your present job, and whether you can downsize that. Or whether you need to think about something else.
But it's really tricky and no easy answers! I say this as someone who changed jobs first for one that was part time and a stopgap before I found something that was much more in my control, flexible hours and which I like - I was v lucky. My career has taken a big step back (it's very hard sometimes to see former colleagues leaping ahead and thinking about plodding along in the shallows) but in the main I'm happy I did it.

MissStrawberry Fri 27-Sep-13 13:31:10

I have been a SAHM for 13 years and now I am scared to try and get a job.

Viviennemary Fri 27-Sep-13 13:38:38

It depends on a number of factors of course. But have you looked into options. Cutting your hours, employing an assistant. If you had a couple of years off can you pick up where you left off. No point in giving up if a few years down the line you bitterly regret it. I worked for years in a job I mostly loathed. But at the time we needed the money. Do I regret it. No because it gave us a better life.

cupcake78 Fri 27-Sep-13 13:43:31

I can't say what I do for many reasons. Believe me it would be easier if I could as I it would become very clear.

I could change jobs as I have plenty of relevant experience its a) trying to find a job at this time b) regretting it later on.

I have worked in call centres, pubs, supermarkets, managed offices, had supervisory and budget experience etc. I'm not going into this with my eyes closed.

PeppermintPasty Fri 27-Sep-13 13:44:51

It sounds like a no-brainer to me from just your OP. Lying awake all night stressing on a regular (every night?) basis would be enough for me.

I worked in a highly stressful area of law for some years, but I was much younger then, and I didn't even realise how badly affected I was until I got out of it.

Thing is, I didn't have a family then. I do now. I just couldn't deal with stress on that scale any more.

You won't get this time again. I would live in the now, for now, iyswim.

If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't go back, I would plan something else.

Tigresswoods Fri 27-Sep-13 13:45:25

I've done it. I wasn't at any dizzying heights in the corporate world but I did have a stressful sales role with a lot of travel & responsibility. I was made redundant when DS was 2.5 & following a few months "in the wilderness" I'm now employed on a similar field but in an office, in our town with office hours. I'm paid a bit less but I walk out at 5pm with no blackberry ringing at all hours & next week I can take DS to his Dr's appointment for the flu nasal spray in my lunch hour.

I am so happy as I can find a balance that works for me & our family.

I have a bit less money but we can still live.

Bearleigh Fri 27-Sep-13 13:46:33

I am the main breadwinner; my husband is a SAHD. I suspect that if we both worked I would find my job stressful, but as he is very supportive, and I don't need to do much at home unless I want to, I can really enjoy my job. This is more than can be said for my husband. he never enjoyed his jobs much anyway, but he finding being a SAHD very difficult, and it's also difficult to get back into the workforce.

Therefore from my experiences, I recommend - making sure, if you do continue that you have lots of support from whoever, but definitely your husband, and making sure you share the things that you have to do exactly 50:50, so you don't bear the brunt like many/most working women do. Men can cop with buying birthday cards, and the laundry if they have to - but also delegate whatever, and as much as, you can - ironing service, au pair, get the lot.

If you really can't continue to work FT, don't stop working entirely if you basically enjoy your job - keep your hand in so you can go back if you want.

Good luck - I reckon you're an actress FWIW!

cupcake78 Fri 27-Sep-13 13:49:56

Tigress that's what I miss! I work mainly on my own and I miss having colleagues I see (annoy mewink) on a daily basis. Being able to turn my phone off etc

cupcake78 Fri 27-Sep-13 13:52:09

My dh is amazing. He's extremely proud of me and the work I do but he said last night that the most important thing for him is that I'm happy and the children have routine, stability and a mum who's emotionally and mentally there for them.

nobeer Fri 27-Sep-13 13:54:31

You say you're self employed, could you afford to take someone on to work with you and share the workload and hours? No idea if that's possible in your mysterious line of work.

jellybeans Fri 27-Sep-13 13:55:49

I would quit for sure. I did after DD1 as felt was missing out on her childhood and too stressed. Have been a SAHM to my 5 for the past 14 years. Absolutely love it and the non stress of kids being ill, school events etc etc and just general chilling with them after school in no rush. I do a bit of studying and voluntary to keep from boredom and isolation. I also have lots of stay home friends which helps (met many at school and toddler groups). It's never boring. Recommend it highly although it isn't for all.

deXavia Fri 27-Sep-13 13:56:28

I did the high flying job, then SAHM for 2.5 years, and through a strange set of circumstances now back to very similar job, same company... still the pressure, but the differences is I've changed and my kids have changed. Although they are still young (5 and 7) they are older and can understand.

I make it very clear to people what my parameters are - no calls between 6 and 8 - and because I've worked my arse off to get here its fine. In fact often people are grateful someone says it first and it gives them permission to do the same. But also as I say the kids got older, DS7 knows I'm not there any more for playdates but weekends are theirs. He is a champion at negotiation - "I'll do my homework, while you finish your emails but then we play lego!" DD5 is getting there - for DS there was a big jump between 5 and 6 in terms of acceptance.

I guess the point I'm making is look long term - what do you want to do when the kids are a little bit older, a lot older.... what's the path that gets you to that point -- delegation, selling up and starting again later (presumable you are very good at what you do and could establish a successful company as you are self employed), take your skills to a big corporation with family friendly policy, or stop -- simply just stop (but for god sake keep networking and in touch with the people that count)

cupcake78 Fri 27-Sep-13 13:56:50

No its me and only me and not the sort of thing that I can share. I'd love to share the load!

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