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Following on from thread about custody - help me with ex's proposition

(5 Posts)
Palepowder Fri 10-Jun-16 12:28:26

Not sure if this should be in relationships or divorce/separation.
Going though divorce. (ex left for another woman). His proposal is to have the kids (there are 4, aged between 13 and 6) EOW and two weeks in the holidays (e.g. a week at christmas and a week in the summer). No more than this - believe I have tried to get him to see them more but he has now moved 100 miles away so week nights contact is impossible and he's adament he wants most of his annual leave entitlement to himself.

He is a high earner but his divorce and maintenance proposal is minimal (something I am pursuing via court) . I get that I will have to go back to work obviously, having not worked for at least 10 years to bring up the kids and follow him abroad whilst he built his career. My earnings potential is very much reduced as I was previously a professional in a environment that required long hours. Plus I cannot just go back to a job like this as I have not kept up my professional experience through being a SAHM.

I'm rambling but I guess my question is, how on earth do I work and cover all the school holidays/inset days/sickness etc etc that 4 kids entail (for the next 2/3 years they will be in three different schools). I don't have much family support and I am in a flat panic and can't think straight but trying to understand how people do it on their own. Any advice or personal experience appreciated (or just a kick up the arse to tell me it will all be fine)

Currently studying as a form of revision so I can go back into my former professional area albeit at a much more junior and less pressured level.

(I know the obvious is to get a job in a school or school office and I have tried - also I'm really not suited to TA work. I find my own kids utterly exhausting, but lovely, and would rather do something totally unrelated to children) Thanks

swingofthings Fri 10-Jun-16 13:10:40

I became a single mum of two working full-time in a demanding professional job with no help from family at all. I only had two and that was very tough but looking back, I'm so glad I did it. My kids are now 16 and 13 and they've grown to be independent, hard-working and ambitious and I do feel that seeing me doing it all has had a massive influence on them.

The way I did it is firstly by putting a lot of effort in my work and working relationship so that my bosses could see that I wasn't just working for the money but cared about the organisation's success and was an integrated part of the team. That meant that I gave more than I had to and in returned, I earnt their esteem and therefore their flexible attitude. They knew that if I asked to work from home one day because one was ill that I really was working from home and that I really would finish my project, even if it meant still working at it at midnight.

I also quickly built relationships with other professional mums at their school/nursery and approached them myself about sharing childcare. I hated being the one doing it, I don't find it naturally to ask help, or even suggest it, but once I did it once, and it was so well received, I was very relieved. We ended up in a group of three mums with children of the same age, and we arranged the whole summer months to fit around us. Sometimes we had 7 kids each to look after, but in a way, it was easier as they entertained each other. They were all well behaved kids who were friends with each other, so there were never any problem. As a result, I managed to avoid the worse of childcare costs, with only needing 4 or 5 days of holiday club. Organising it all was quite a task but well worth it.

Finally, I ran everything military like and empowered my kids to take on responsibility. They quickly learnt that they were responsible for sorting out their school bags, making sure that anything needing signing was handed over, took control of their homework and came to me for help if they needed it instead of me asking them.

And finally, I gave myself a break when sometimes it all go too much and felt exhausted. Yes at times I have shouted at my kids because they were pushing my buttons, and I did at times neglected having a perfectly clean house and well tendered garden. I also made the best of the times my kids were with their dad and didn't feel guilty that it was a relief that they were away for a few days.

The reality is that there are many professional single mums working full-time and we all share some characteristics, we are always knackered but have selfless, confident and well adjusted happy children so we can't be doing too badly and of course, it does get easier. Mine are now teenagers and no trouble at all. Good luck.

Dollius01 Fri 10-Jun-16 13:24:58

Wow, just want to say how uplifted I feel by your post swingofthings. You are an incredible lady and your kids are really lucky to have you. Hope that doesn't sound patronising - genuinely think you are an inspiration.

dillydotty Fri 10-Jun-16 13:37:41

It will get easier year by year as the children grow older.

Maybe speak to your solicitor about pushing for spousal support for the first few years so you can afford to work less hours while the children are tiny. Judges are more likely to order spousal maintenance if there is a good reason with a timescale for it to taper off.

Otherwise, I found sports centres often did good holiday cover at reasonable prices. Mine did all sorts of tennis/rugby/football coaching. The rest of the time I covered with a playscheme but the kids were less keen on this option.

I also built up 'credit ' with other mums at school. I found that stay at home mums were grateful for me hosting sleep overs at the weekends so that they could have nights out and paid back the favour covering inset days etc.

I only had two though so everything was a little easier.

Hang in there though as it does get easier in time.

Palepowder Fri 10-Jun-16 13:45:45

Thanks for the replies and useful ideas so far. And yes, I totally echo what Dollius01 said. swingofthings you've really inspired me.

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