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struggling at work, because i am a muum, i think

(25 Posts)
HarveySpectre Wed 10-Jun-15 13:24:23

I'm so frustrated. Ive been in my job for a year. I finally feel like I'm working at my correct 'level'. Its great, I'm challenged and its satisfying

However, I am a SP to 2 kids and I am KNACKERED. I am flat out, with no reserve

If I get sick (like now) there is no give anyywhere and its very stressful trying to keep it altogether

I don't know how to make this better, without reinforcing stereotypes. I am supposed to be just as capable as the next 'man'. The reality is, I'm not!

Any experiences to share?? Please...!

almondcakes Wed 10-Jun-15 15:25:26

Hi Harvey

Two things I would do differently are a. ask for more help from friends/family and b. don't think you have to prove yourself at work.

You may be expecting a higher standard of yourself at work than they want from you, and more people may be prepared to help you.

Looking back, I think if I'd had the hide of a rhino and just asked people to help with the kids, some of them would have done so. But I didn't want to put anyone else out at home, and I did stuff I didn't need to at work to avoid being seen as less.

Thurlow Wed 10-Jun-15 15:40:05

I know exactly what you mean. I'm doing the same - getting by, doing the job well and all that, but I have no time or energy for all the extras that go with career progression. I haven't been on a committee or published since I fell pregnant over 4 years ago.

I don't know what the answer is. But yes to feeling like there is no give anywhere and being knackered.

Personally, I'm content with thing being sort of on hold for the next few years.

Thurlow Wed 10-Jun-15 15:40:47

Sorry, posted before I finished...

I'm content with things being sort of on hold for the next few years and when DC/s are older I'll have another big push. As long as I'm keeping going and my current firm like me, that's enough at the moment.

ChunkyPickle Wed 10-Jun-15 15:46:26

I do know what you mean - but you really are just as capable - you just have a lot more on your plate.

Up until recently I was also trying to juggle everything, but I finally bit the bullet and got a nanny 3 days a week, and it's revolutionised it all. All the deadlines, the responsibility, the knowledge that you have to be somewhere at 5:30 for pickup, that you have to do lunches, make sure there's clean uniform, clean the kitchen, pick up toys etc. All stuff that the childminder didn't reduce pressure with (in fact just added more) but that the nanny takes off my hands. I can be 10 minutes late, and it's not a big deal. She sorts out the dishwasher and wipes down the sides, she puts the uniform in the wash and feeds them dinner - the relief is unbelievable, I feel like a new woman.

It all comes at a price, and that is that I'm not really breaking even at the end of the month. But I will be, in the not too distant future, and until then, my mental health is worth it.

HarveySpectre Wed 10-Jun-15 18:20:17

I don't even feel confident I 'am doing the job well' not established enough. I know I'm capable, and I am sure the company know that. But I'm not experienced enough in this particular job/field to wing it to any extent, yet

The company are 'family friendly. I put that in inverted commas but they are actually much better than anywhere else ive worked

There is flexible to day and works Ng patterns etc. Also option to work from home

But as ever, the reality of being family friendly is different from having a bunch of policy around it. I feel crap everytime I leave early to collect kds or someone is sick etc

I asked to be considered for term time only working, as its a pattern they have published as an option. My boss said that he would have to question my willingness to be at work! I pulled him up quicvkly and he retracted what he said. He hadn't realised it was an option the company offer! But that's clearly, what he actually thinks. He just didn't mean it to come out of his mouth, eh!!!

I'm always given a bit of a hard time if I request a working from home day, to fit round Drs appointments etc

OR this is at least my perception. I think I'm hyper aware, as I don't want to appear torn in 2 (which I am)

Will think about the nanny option. Never have thought about it...

blueBooby Thu 11-Jun-15 08:46:56

My mum was in a similar position to you (though I did not realise it at the time) but she got an au pair who looked after us and did some cleaning and light cooking for us children.

You probably are hyper aware too. I think you'll have to get as much help as you can afford to get but also grow a thicker skin. (I've got the hide of a thin sheet of a4 so I'm not having a go!) I'm sure you are just as capable as the next man, but the next man is unlikely to be a single parent with main custody of his children.

ChunkyPickle Thu 11-Jun-15 09:37:56

Your boss did show his colours a bit - but don't let that fluster you, you are hyper-aware, which already puts you ahead of all the people who don't even notice that they're doing an average job (which is totally fine - no-one said you had to go above and beyond all the time!)

Your commitment to working is shown by the fact you are there, and trying to make your responsibilities work together without burning you out. I'm glad you pulled him up on that, it's something that we all need to do more of.

My nanny is actually DS1's best mate's mum - she looks after DS2 during the day, then goes and gets DS1 and her DS from school and looks after them until I get home. She was having trouble finding a job that fitted in with having her son, I had a job but was struggling, and I took the plunge and suggested it to her. Is there someone at one of your kids schools who might be in a similar position? It's worked out so well for us both - plus I'm helping out a single mum with a living wage (well over living wage - it was very important to me that I didn't haggle on that), and no childcare, where previously she was only finding minimum wage and had no-one to look after her DS.

Duckdeamon Thu 11-Jun-15 09:40:17

It's tough. Just keep turning up!

Athenaviolet Thu 11-Jun-15 09:43:43

It sounds like your workplace is very family unfriendly!

When you're sick it does feel impossible.

You won't be sick forever.

Your dcs won't be so dependent forever either.

In the long run you will all benefit from the struggle atm.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 11-Jun-15 09:48:15

I think it is really hard when you change jobs. I went from a team I'd been with for 8 years to a new team within a year of returning from ML and I really struggled with it. I felt my old team 'knew' me, knew I was a grafter, knew I'd put my hands up for extra in the past, had covered for people etc, and this new crowd didn't know me at all.

As it was my job to do pick ups (DH did drop-offs) I couldn't even go for impromptu drinks or just do that chatting at the end of the day when the big boss had gone home thing.

So I do really sympathise, it's hard to build currency.

Time made a big difference - just building up a reputation for being super-reliable. I did a lot of work at home at night - I'm not necessarily recommending that, but it worked for me.

I also became part of the team who looked at the staff opinion survey and worked to change things around the team's culture - they were very hot on presenteeism, and actually everyone hated that, not just the parents, so I was able to challenge some things. When I got my own team, I set up a rota so we were covered from 0730 to 1830, but not by the same people all the time, and that quickly spread, which also really helped.

But it's tough, I know.

HarveySpectre Thu 11-Jun-15 12:07:09

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am trying to build up a good reputation

This week so far though; ive been off ill 1 day, went home early the next on glexi as still feeling dreadful. Yesterday I had to work from him in the afternoon to facilitate emergency building repairs. Now TODAY dd has hurt her foot and I need to collect her from school. And that's the reality isn't it, of being a working SP. I feel like everyone thinks om flakey

You are right though, children get older...i put in the time to eventually be considered worthwhile

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 11-Jun-15 12:08:57

Is your XP pulling his weight at all?? I mean, I'd expect DH to cover today's pick up, I know that's easy for me to say as I'm not an LP, but can't he step up?

scallopsrgreat Thu 11-Jun-15 13:11:48

I've found the same Harvey and I'm not an SP so it must be much worse for you. I found it really difficult to do the pick-ups as that severely limited my day.

As someone else upthread said, your boss isn't being supportive or 'family friendly'.

It makes me so angry that men don't step up and take on this responsibility for their children and then turn round and blame women for not being able to juggle everything.

Presenteeism is awful. Just awful. Easy when you are single/no children. So much more difficult with caring responsibilities.

sashh Thu 11-Jun-15 14:41:06

When I first saw 'SP' I thought, "well what is the other parent doing?" but I've realised you mean single parent.

You are as capable as the next man, you just have double the responsibility because so few men have sole responsibility for a child.

If you are earning enough can you afford a nanny?

There is also a perception in the work place that women with children take more time off so people notice.

My mum, back in the early/mid 70s, around the time of the sex discrimination act came in got a part time job, she didn't need to financially but my brother and I were at junior school so not tiny and I think she was bored.

Anyway after a few weeks she had a conversation with her boss who said he didn't usually employ women with children for the office job because he needed someone reliable.

Anyway my mum bit her tongue and started taking not of other employees time keeping and sickness records (she had to do this as part of her job anyway I think) after 6 months she showed him how many days each of the staff had taken and the young men (it was a garage) had much worse records.

Try keeping a record of other people's time, you might be (probably will be) surprised, and it is something to show when you ask for time off.

Don't appologise, i doubt a man would if he HAD to take time for something important like a medical appointment.

OP I work in FE, all our students (I'm health and social care but usually the childcare departments are under the same umbrella) have to undertake work placements, have you thought of getting a childcare student, one on their second year of CACHE so they are almost qualified, to be 'on call'?

CACHE is the qualification you need to be a nanny or work in a nursery. I don't think doing a few pickups would be classes as 'work placement' but it might, and if it isn't then you would be looking at a 17, more probably an 18 year old who loves kids, wants to work with them and has a CRN/DBS.

I think there is a business idea in developing a sort of insurance nanny service for employers, they could offer it like a perk so if your child needs picking up from school the business could phone the nanny service and they would do the pick up. I know it wouldn't work all the time, sometimes it has to be mum or dad, but for things like the 24 hours after D and V when you have to keep them off school but they are actually fine and it's probably worth more to an employer that you can work, even if you are at home and the nanny just keeps the kids entertained.

scallopsrgreat Thu 11-Jun-15 15:10:26

Even though you are a single parent I think it is still valid to ask the question "what is the other parent doing". They are his children as well.

scallopsrgreat Thu 11-Jun-15 15:12:21

Meant to say I love your ideas sashh around alternative childcare.

0x530x610x750x630x79 Thu 11-Jun-15 15:18:38

i have used a child minder and had a nanny, nanny all the way, they may cost more but they actually reduce your workload, not add to it (mine comes in and takes the kids off me so i can get out the house).
Or if they are school aged an au-pair that just does before and after school.

0x530x610x750x630x79 Thu 11-Jun-15 15:21:04

CACHE is the qualification you need to be a nanny sorry to sidetrack, but you don't need any qualifications to work as a nanny.

HarveySpectre Thu 11-Jun-15 20:36:12

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll definitely look into it. My parents are fairly local. They would help me more, I'm sire, if i asked. I don't like to. Because I know they would feel obliged to say yrs, even I they didn't really want to. Also, because I am proud and stubborn. And i want to be able to do it myself! Which I know, is stupid!

XH does help out. He's better at the routine stuff. And ok in a REAL emergency. But, he wouldn't respond help me out, so I can catch up at work, or have a rest for example. Often its easier for him not to be involved

Oldladyfish Thu 11-Jun-15 21:21:57

Hi Harvey! Sounds like we're in much the same boat (though i have no family living nearby -- don't be proud! Do ask them for help!). Another thing you could do is get some mentoring from another professional woman to give you some perspective and not feel as though you're failing. I got onto a 'women in leadership' mentor scheme and mentioned i was a single parent. i was paired with another single mum who was a company director -- it was just great to speak to someone who knows exactly how it feels and who could say "you are great, you are capable, you're doing this, it's fine... etc etc".

Btw, you ARE great and you ARE capable and you ARE doing this (-:

sashh Fri 12-Jun-15 08:43:19


Yes you are right, it is what nursery's ask for and is the modern equivalent of NNEB.

scallopsrgreat Fancy pitching to Dragon's Den?

HarveySpectre Fri 12-Jun-15 09:21:52

Its been interesting reading about PRESENTEEISM...its not a term of heard of before

And also LEAVISM...i definitely di that; take off flexi time and holidays rather than have sick days on my record. And take work him to catch up etc

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Fri 12-Jun-15 11:00:40

You know what I'm going to say now, don't you? You need to ask for help. You get no medals for doing it alone! And right here, right now, building your creds at work is the most important thing - that's why you posted.

We can argue the feminist toss about why your boss is being a dick and not really understanding the 'spirit' of your work's family-friendly policies(and I'm happy to do that! grin). But that's not going to help you at this point. What will help is building some slack into your routine.

Let's accept that presenteeism is important in your office. Can XP or parents do a pick up or drop off once a week so you know you can stay late/come in early? And I still don't see that DD hurting her foot isn't a real emergency - could you not even have tried to call X for that one? I think you're assuming there's only you, but you need to change that mindset. <tough love>

HarveySpectre Fri 12-Jun-15 11:34:46

I have misrepresented the help o get. XH does 2 morning drop offs, so I can get into work at 7am.

My parents have my youngest from wed afternoon until friday including overnight. They help alot

But I'm still fire fighting

When youngest is in school in September. The help I will get from them, can be used to build me in some slack. But as it I, the help o get just enables me to put in what i have to.

The hurt leg is a good example. If my parents weren't caring for youngest, they would happily have had eldest. And i would happily have asked them

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