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Do you struggle to juggle your career and family life? Tell us about your work-life balance woes and you could win £50 or tickets! NOW CLOSED

(133 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Mar-16 13:19:38

Workfest 2016 is almost upon us (14 May), and in light of this we'd like you to share your career conundrums.

This one-day event is packed to the rafters with advice for women in - or returning to - the workplace, with a range of workshops and one-on-one sessions hosted by self-made entrepreneurs and career experts. It could be just what you need to kick-start your career, as attested to by these Mumsnetters from last year:

"I felt truly inspired and motivated...I have 'the fire in my belly' to move forward and reach my goals."

"The day was much more than I had hoped. I was and still am in awe of the speakers and gained so much positive energy."

"One of the best value conferences I have been to in a long time."

So perhaps you're struggling to kick-start your career post-kids? Or maybe you have a stellar business idea, but are lacking the practical advise needed to make it a reality? You might be in a rut, and are looking for ways to climb in your current profession. Whatever your dilemma, we'd love to hear about it, and would love even more to see you at Workfest 2016!

Add your comments to this thread and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one winner will win their choice of a £50 store voucher or a pair of Workfest 2016 tickets grin.

thanks, MNHQ

thisismypassword Thu 24-Mar-16 14:39:09

I'm just trying to figure out whether to go back 2 or 3 days a week and I don't know what to do for the best. I need to work to keep the household afloat, but my kids will only be this age once.

CMOTDibbler Thu 24-Mar-16 14:43:08

DH and I can struggle to balance family and work life, but thats primarily as we both have to travel for work, and we don't have any help. We're lucky that we both work from home when not on the road, which helps a lot though.

YesterdayOnceMore Thu 24-Mar-16 15:03:37

I was a SAHM, but went back to work 3 days a week school-hours only. It is still really difficult trying to manage everything and I already feel guilty about the assemblies I've had to miss, sending my children to school when they are ill (with a temperature) to see if they manage it so I can go to work and passing them from pillar to post during the school holidays.

I do feel that my employer is very good and flexible, but I can't ask too much or I'd be taking the Micky. I think schools now need to realise that most parents work and stop doing so many things during the school day.

Pearlmum1 Thu 24-Mar-16 16:04:09

I work full time and last night I got home at 10 pm and had to make an easter bonnet out of anything I could find, oh the worry and stress! I am also sure I had more money working 3 days a week which makes me angry! I feel like I don't see much of my daughter at the times that matter which makes me sad but we do make the most of days off together more than before. I often feel very guilty, especially as my mum was a SAHM! But it is what it is! It's not too bad!

Snoopadoop Thu 24-Mar-16 16:15:56

We are very lucky in terms of flexibility in our work during term time but our struggle is the school holidays. We don't have enough leave to cover all the holidays. We have family help for 2 weeks of the summer holiday but the rest is up to us to share out. It means my DS has time with DH or me, but we have no time for the 3 of us to have a family holiday together. DS is too young and too shy to go to holiday club but I'm hoping he'll grow out of that. We can't get a childminder because we only would want them for 3-4 weeks of the summer and they don't seem to exist in our area.

thatstoast Thu 24-Mar-16 16:25:00

I work part time, in a flexible job which is great. Unfortunately, it's fixed term so I have no idea how I'm going to find something else that fits in with family life. So I'm at the point of thinking about moving DS into a different childcare setting which I'd rather not do as he's so happy currently.

asuwere Thu 24-Mar-16 16:53:14

Over the years we have worked various options, which have all worked at the time. I have worked full time with DH at home, we have both worked condensed hours on alternative days, I have worked part time and I have had a career break.
I have never had a problem with flexibility with my employer but DH has. Unfortunately we have found that employers are not as flexible with men and don't expect to have to allow alternatives to them. There was also a slight issue with the gap on DHs CV due to being a SAHD.
I do like the idea of workfest and not taking anything from it, but feel it is helping to continue the idea that it is the woman's responsibility to juggle everything.

sharond101 Thu 24-Mar-16 17:10:26

I work part time but feel like I never have enough hours in the day to juggle family and work. My HUsband is of poor health so everything in the home is my responsbility. Work sometimes tips me over the edge. I am a perfectionist and struggle to give my best to everything.

rewardformissingmojo Thu 24-Mar-16 17:18:15

2days a week, 12+ hour shifts and a very supportive husband.

Anaffaquine123 Thu 24-Mar-16 17:23:08

It is a struggle. My husband works very long hours. I'm supposedly in a child-friendly career of teaching. I always intended in working part-time whilst the kids are under 5. However, finding suitable child care was an issue. Massive shortage of nursery and childminder spaces locally.
If either of the girls get ill, it is a massive problem. I can't take holidays to cover so either my husband takes holidays or I am unpaid. I could have cried when the kids got chicken pox consecutive weeks.
It almost isn't worth it financially for me to work, even with my 15 hours free care for my eldest, I make £72 a month after paying childcare, I then have fuel to pay. It probably makes more sense financially and for my stress levels for me not to work until at least one of my children is at school. However, I could kiss career advancement goodbye if I was out of it that long.
Therefore, I will struggle on and try to mark/plan whilst rocking my teething toddler to sleep.
Luckily, my husband and I are very much a team and he does a lot. I feel this part of their childhood is just about our survival. I do try to enjoy it and not wish our lives away but it is extremely hard at times.

purplepandas Thu 24-Mar-16 17:33:11

Gone back FT this year with a 4 and 6 yr old. It is bloody hard as no time for me at all. I need headspace. I am very lucky to have parental help and also a DH who works shifts. A job that allows me to wfh sometimes too makes life easier. I know that I am lucky but I still struggle.

trilbydoll Thu 24-Mar-16 17:36:07

I'm trying to do 45 hours work in 24 which means although work is getting the best of me, it isn't enough. And I'm too knackered to be much use at home. A lot of the time I wish my boss had just said no to my p/t request.

No idea what we will do when dd1 starts school. I'm a big fan of nursery, open 51w a year grin

mumsnit Thu 24-Mar-16 18:19:52

I've deliberately chosen to work at a grade lower than I'm qualified for as I want to focus more on my kids while they are young. I can just about work my hours and usually have enough headspace and energy left to cope with the kids needs!

I know I'd feel stressed by any additional responsibility and would probably have to bring work home with me. I work in a very competitive environment (HE) and can't take the risk of not working to my maximum capability at all times. For this reason I will have to stay underemployed for at least the next few years. Sad but true!

Marymaymay Thu 24-Mar-16 18:43:39

I have just started a period of sick leave prior to maternity leave. I am a manager in an FE college. I know that I would be far higher up the ladder at work if I wasn't a mum.
There is a greater level of guilt associated with being a full time working mum than dad which has prevented me from bringing work home with me which in turn has not allowed me to show my full potential.
I feel frustrated that I can't 'have it all' but I have to (and want to) make my family a priority.

It is very clear from this though why there is such a gender pay gap in FE and all other sectors.

BananaPie Thu 24-Mar-16 19:40:56

I have two kids and work part time. The costs of childcare and my commute mean it costs me £90 every day to go to work.

My employer is super flexible, and I enjoy my job. But it does feel like my career is on hold while the kids are small - there would be more options for promotion if I increased my hours.

I view it as a choice that I've made. Right now, I'm prioritising family life over my career.

RaisingSteam Thu 24-Mar-16 19:46:13

I work 3.5 days. My biggest struggle is to be taken seriously against others at work who regularly stay late to 7pm ie clearly don't have to collect DC or cook dinner etc. I have to leave when I have to leave, I get my work done but "leaving on time" is used as a criticism here.

Theimpossiblegirl Thu 24-Mar-16 20:32:15

I'm a primary teacher and finding any kind of work-life balance pretty unachievable to be honest. I feel I am not being a good enough mum or a good enough teacher and I am constantly chasing my tail. If Workfest can give me a solution, I'd be there like a shot. Will Nicky Morgan be there?

CopperPan Thu 24-Mar-16 20:45:55

I am retraining for a new career as my previous one was completely incompatible with having a family - it required lots of overnight travel and short term contracts in different locations. In the end it was too disruptive for the dc and I had to stop and be a sahm for a while.

Gazelda Thu 24-Mar-16 20:59:12

I've found a career that I love, and am happy that I can do it part time. I started in the role (for a different employer) in a pressurised environment that needed many hours and loads of travel including overnight trips. I have fortunately been able to specialise in the same field but for a different employer so that I can manage my workload in regular hours and without the travel.

My main struggle is when DD is ill. My employer is flexible, but I can't realistically work from home while DD is on the poorly on the sofa. I have no family support to take care of her when she's ill, so DH and I share the load. Fortunately she's very rarely ill (and mostly at weekends!) but I do worry about how we'd manage if she had a long bout of illness.

NannaBess Thu 24-Mar-16 21:02:54

I currently have one child in high school and one in Y5 but home educated - he will be going to high school in 18 months. Due to the distance of school from home and no wrap around care, I will need to find a job that fits in school hours. Also, due to their additional needs due to adoption, I will need a job that allows me to work term time only. Not many of them unless in schools! So very little chance of me finding a job close to their high school. So depressing.

cheminotte Thu 24-Mar-16 21:08:06

My kids are both at school now and I work 32 hours per week over 5 days, or sometimes 4.
I negotiated flexibility so I can choose which days are shorter each week depending on what's on at school and what DP can do. Since having ds1 nearly 10 years ago I've worked full time, 22 hours over 4 days, full time again, 3 days and 4 days. I stayed at one employer far too long as I didn't want to lose my part time hours, an I'm sure loads of talented, capable women are stuck in dead-end jobs as very few quality / professional jobs are ever advertised.

guineapig1 Thu 24-Mar-16 21:23:42

Work full time, high pressure job. DH has a similar role though entirely different field. Both jobs can involve travel, overnight stays away and working from home of an evening. I would say that almost every holiday will involve monitoring e-mails and making phone calls. We have two DC under 4. I returned to work full time both times when the children were 16weeks old. That was partially a financial decision and partially a career decision. We are extremely fortunate to have rock solid family support from both sides which makes this possible. That support is both geographic (live within 10 mins drive of both sets of parents and both sets of siblings) in terms and emotional (both my DM and DMil worked full time in busy careers so understand entirely the practicalities of working fuIl time and raiding a family and the guilt that goes with that). I realise how lucky I am with this support. We are both now at a stage in our careers where if we have enough notice we can usually arrange for one of us to be free for things the kids have on, but we have family fall back which is invaluable so that the children don't miss out on things. Both DH and I were also very close to our respective grandparents growing up so that is normal in our family.

Work life balance is difficult. I find getting home at 7pm and having to start cooking and getting the kids to bed absolutely exhausting. I think DH and I work well as a team which helps. He is (quite properly) very hands on with the children and domestic stuff. We do try to find time to keep up a couple of hobbies. I go to a monthly book/theatre group. DH sings in a choir and we try to do things as a family each weekend (swimming/nt parks/wetlands centre etc) though sometimes things slip. We try to plan meals according to what's on so ideally on a Sunday evening would have Monday and Tuesday's dinners prepped and in the fridge and Wednesday and Thursday's dinners either in the freezer or plan to have something easy like stirfry or pasta. I try to batch cook too but this eats into the weekend. Often we resort to m&s ready stuff from the station or a takeaway particularly as we get towards the end of the week.

There is no easy answer! I am permanently knackered!

StickChildNumberTwo Thu 24-Mar-16 22:00:37

I've heard people say that rather than it getting easier to balance work and family as they get older they actually need you more. My first starts school this year, and I'm wondering how it's going to be once I'm back at work after maternity leave. I went part time a few years ago to try and redress the balance, but it's still always felt like I'm not managing to do any part of my life as well as I'd like to, and I'm not looking forward to going back into all that.

Fillybuster Thu 24-Mar-16 22:02:09

Funnily enough, there's so much in guineapig post ^^ that I can really relate to: full time high pressured job for both dps, life just about made manageable by family support...that feels very familiar. In addition to family support, we are very dependent on our aupair to cover school drop off and collection, which is sometimes a whole other area of worry - especially since I also feel very responsible for these lovely teenagers who come to live with us for a year.

With 3 dcs under 11, I'm daily grateful that my youngest is now 5 and no longer a baby. It isn't great, but it's much less of a tragedy when I don't manage to leave work before 7pm and (with over an hours commute) have to phone home on my way to the station to apologise. At least these days all 3 dcs can chat properly on the phone, and, more importantly, even dd2 is still (just about) awake for a kiss and a cuddle when I get home.

Still, the days where I leave before they wake and come home after they're asleep, especially when I have to leave early again the next day....well, they aren't great.

On the plus side, I've slowly learnt that the only way I will achieve balance is to make it happen. Working longer hours is sometimes a necessity, but it's not the only way to manage things. So I've started to work from home once a week, for example. I don't ever often manage to do the school run on those days, and sometimes I'm still working past 7 pm, but (and it's a big one) then I get to spend over an hour at bedtime with the dcs. And I don't have to deal with the tube in rush hour!

I'm also the batch cooking queen. Dh bought me some lovely new super size catering pans a few years back, and now I can knock out up to 20 portions of bolognaise, minestrone etc. And I have 3 freezers, so there's always space (& always something scary and forgotten lurking at the back....blush)

Dh is an equal partner in all of this. He's just as likely to be making bread at 1am as me (in the breadmaker - I'm not superwoman!) and he's hugely supportive of me in every way (as I am of him). As the dcs get older, we are also back to managing more time together - theatre, gigs, dinner - the stuff that gets shelved for a bit when the dcs are young - and that's been great for us.

The best moments are when the dcs talk proudly to their friends about both our careers (they're at a school where 90% of mothers don't work). The worst bit is when they talk about how I missed something at school, or how nice it is when their friends mothers are around.

The best advice I've been given is that guilt is ultimately a total waste of energy: no one is perfect, so there's no point in thinking your dcs would be happier/more popular/cleverer/whatever if you were a SAHM. They might equally hate spending that much time with me at home. So I try hard to focus on being the best I can be at the things I am (best boss, best mum, best wife, best friend, sister, daughter, employee, team-mate) and accept that I will make mistakes - the important thing is to try to learn from them, grow and develop to become a better person.

The main thing is to recognise that life is always a work in progress, for one has all the answers, however smug they seem and however much they think they might, so the best you can do is the best you are able for the people that you love.

Oh I sound like a total tree-hugging hippy now?! Ah well, that's how I see it grin

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