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I have a childcare/work situation. WWYD?

6 replies

tortoiseonthehalfshell · 13/09/2010 15:26

Forgive me, I'm going to post and then go to bed since it's almost midnight here. I promise I'll check when I wake up.

So I lost my job, and I'm looking for a new one, and there's a few good leads but everyone including professional recruitment agents agree i am going to have to go back to fulltime work. The background context is this: I have an almost-two-year-old. My husband is a fulltime PhD student in receipt of a generous tax-free scholarship. For him to work effectively, he says, he needs at least 4 free days a week.

So for 18 months our structure was that I worked a 4 day week (Tues-Fri) and he studied a 4 day week (Sun/Mon, Thurs/Fri). I had solo care Sun and Mon, he did it Tues and Wed, she was in daycare Thurs/Fri. Our weekend was thus Saturday.

What that meant was that we both gave up any free time and any hobbies, since once we ran errands and housework and a bit of communal socialising, that was Saturday gone. We were both getting stretched thin. Last month I dropped a day at work and we reclaimed our weekend, and that really made a huge difference to his mental state.

So, getting back to the issue at hand. If I find a new job, it has to be fulltime. That means either DD goes into childcare or DH does more childcare. Here are the options, and what would you do?

  1. DH goes part time, thus losing his entire scholarship. My pay increase from going fulltime in no way covers his scholarship; we lose 25% of our income. This is doable financially - means no savings and no luxuries, but can still buy new clothes and not worry about the gas bill - but it stings when neither of us will be getting a lifestyle benefit out of it. Also means that second child plan is compromised, since if he's going to delay finishing, I can't afford to take unpaid maternity leave.
  2. DH stays full time but goes back to studying weekends, and DD goes to childcare 3 days a week instead of 2. This is the best solution financially, but means we lose our recently-won weekends, quality time, and are just working to live.
  3. DH stays full time and keeps his weekends, and DD goes to childcare 4 days a week.
  4. I give up work entirely and we live on DH's scholarship. We can scrape by on this; secondhand clothes (but if I'm not working that's fine, he's a student I'm the only one with a dress code), very careful budgeting and no treats but we'd pay the bills. It's the equivalent of living on benefit plus maybe 10%. This would hugely compromise my career, because I would leave my job to no job not to a better job, and it's a small city, and hard to justify without "oh she couldn't deal with being a working mother".

    So, WWYD?
OP posts:
CMOTdibbler · 13/09/2010 15:31

I'd put your DD into childcare 4 days a week - you get family time, your career isn't compromised, and presumably your dh can pick her up at a reasonable time

Piccalilli2 · 13/09/2010 15:47

I'd put your dd into childcare 4 days a week too for the reasons cmotdibbler said.

Both my children were in childcare 4 days a week until dd1 started school last week and have been fine - they've flourished in fact. It wasn't my choice initially but I had no option as we moved cities and the only job I could get was 4 days a week, but over the age of 2 I think they really benefit from spending time with other kids.

tortoiseonthehalfshell · 14/09/2010 06:06


I have maybe absorbed a lot of working mother guilt. I keep thinking, if the option is there to make financial/personal free time sacrifices in order to minimise childcare, we should.

But yes, CMOT, one of the advantages of DH being a student is that he works shortish days, so she's only ever in from 8.30 to 4.30.

OP posts:
Tootlesmummy · 14/09/2010 06:09

I'd put her in 4 days. When is your DH Phd finished?

tortoiseonthehalfshell · 14/09/2010 06:13

A year or so? It's a bit up in the air. Official finish date is March 2011. I'm hoping to be on maternity leave before then.

OP posts:
Tee2072 · 14/09/2010 06:50

If your career is important to you, put her in childcare 4 days a week.

If its not important to you, don't.

Its really as simple as that.

My previous career meant nothing to me, so I changed careers, put my son in day care 2 half days a week and we live on less. But if my previous career mattered to me, I'd have put my son in daycare 5 days a week.

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