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AIBU?

Full time childcare?

25 replies

flourishing · 07/09/2022 14:21

I work full time. Last academic year I did not so I was able to collect my son from school 3 days a week. I think this was the best thing for him but it was challenging for me professionally, as I worked 2 longer and 2 shorter days and felt I was rushing around a lot on those shorter days. Felt really full on.

My son went back to school yesterday. He had a brilliant day. I picked him up as it was his first day back. He was happy to see his friends, said his teacher was really nice and seemed to have enjoyed himself. Bedtimes have become a bit of a battle lately and more often than not he wants to sleep in bed with me after trying to sleep in his own bed. He's six and I don't particularly want to co-sleep but I see so little of him when he's at school (and wraparound care) and I'm in work that I usually say yes, as he cries and seems highly anxious about the alternative of staying in his own bed. He seems to just to want to be with me.

Right now I feel like I am failing him by working full time now and by having worked full time, or nearly full time, for so much of his life. He is a sensitive child and I wonder if I'm expecting too much of him to be out of the house 8 to 5:30 every day. Would he be happier if I worked less? Would I? I don't know what's for the best.

I thought there must be other parents here with sensitive children and demanding careers who might be able to tell me either it gets better and stick with it or that reducing their working hours has made a huge difference on their child's well-being. I enjoy my job and do not want to give it up but I'm really not sure I've got the balance right and my children need to be my priority.

Is this just standard start of term wobbles or a sign he's anxious, knackered and spending too much time away from home, and I need to take a step back professionally to support him more? His younger sister is a toddler and currently seems oblivious to being in full time childcare but I'm conscious it must be exhausting for her too to be out of the home so much. No family support so can't rely on grandparents or anything like that - it's either us or paid childcare.

It gets harder as they get older, doesn't it? They know you're not at the school gates.

Thanks.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

14 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
29%
You are NOT being unreasonable
71%
WhenISnappedAndFarted · 07/09/2022 14:24

Could you afford to cut down on work?

MolliciousIntent · 07/09/2022 14:28

Where's his dad in all of this?

flourishing · 07/09/2022 14:29

WhenISnappedAndFarted · 07/09/2022 14:24

Could you afford to cut down on work?

Yes to a certain extent but the reason I increased my hours is because I have a new role which is "full on" and demanding so I thought best to be paid full time to do it than try to squeeze it into, say, 4 days. It's one of those roles that could well be tricky to do on a part time basis.

OP posts:
MotherOfCrocodiles · 07/09/2022 14:30

Following as I have similar worries

Got to state the obvious, are our DHs having these dilemmas? Not in my case- DH would like to work less for various reasons but kids not one of them :-/

flourishing · 07/09/2022 14:31

MolliciousIntent · 07/09/2022 14:28

Where's his dad in all of this?

Co-sleeping with the toddler so not helping with nights. He is also starting a new role in the next few months and while he is open to reducing his hours or shifting his work pattern he feels unable to commit to a specific pattern yet until he's got more information on the new role. We both earn the same amount and have equally demanding jobs. I honestly don't know how much longer that's sustainable and if we need to have one of us with the "lead" job.

OP posts:
flourishing · 07/09/2022 14:34

MotherOfCrocodiles · 07/09/2022 14:30

Following as I have similar worries

Got to state the obvious, are our DHs having these dilemmas? Not in my case- DH would like to work less for various reasons but kids not one of them :-/

Mine is much better at compartmentalising. So he's said to me we'll chat about a proper plan in October half term (when he knows more about his new role) and until then he's not overly troubled by what happens as he sees it as temporary and chalks down our son's "clinginess" (for want of a better word) to tiredness. Meanwhile here I am agonising that my son cries at bedtime - despite being happy go lucky all day! It's also fair to say he's a lot more emotional around me than his dad.

OP posts:
Crystaly · 07/09/2022 14:37

i also have a 6 year old. Struggled to put her into childcare until 3 years old then I returned to work full time. Also have similar thoughts. I feel so sorry for her. My oldest is 11 and trust me he doesn’t care if I work or don’t. So I’m pushing through and looking forward to when my 6 year old is a little older as I know she will cope better. My career is important to me, obviously not more than my child but it is very important that I’m independent.

I lie with my daughter as she goes to sleep. She often comes into my bed in the middle of the night. It’s fine. I know she will grow out of it.

Ilikecheeseontoast · 07/09/2022 14:37

I work part time although there are times where I am required to do more hours at work. I do notice that when I’m away from her more, my 5 year old daughter wakes frequently at night and wants to get in bed with us. She also pretends to be a baby and talks in a baby voice (very annoying). I try to give her 1-1 quality time when she’s behaving like this as I know it’s her way of telling me she needs me.

Gardenista · 07/09/2022 14:40

@flourishing - if you were to reduce your hours would 4 days spread out over 5 days help? So working school hours and being able to pick up at 3.30 . I did this for a while, I now work 5 days but term time only.
It is much easier to work full time while they are in nursery.

I have stepped back my hours and responsibilities since my daughter started at school, but I am older and had got to the level in my career I wanted before my daughter was born, and have only one child to provide for so less financial strain. I’m a lone parent. Could you and your husband both slightly reduce your hours (say 4.5 days each) and spend one afternoon each a week one to one with your son? It sounds like his little sister is quite happy as she is but all children are different personalities.

personally I wouldn’t sacrifice my career for this issue .

you and your husband can each take 13 weeks unpaid parental leave per child- this might help you spend more time with him in the school holidays

flourishing · 07/09/2022 14:44

Gardenista · 07/09/2022 14:40

@flourishing - if you were to reduce your hours would 4 days spread out over 5 days help? So working school hours and being able to pick up at 3.30 . I did this for a while, I now work 5 days but term time only.
It is much easier to work full time while they are in nursery.

I have stepped back my hours and responsibilities since my daughter started at school, but I am older and had got to the level in my career I wanted before my daughter was born, and have only one child to provide for so less financial strain. I’m a lone parent. Could you and your husband both slightly reduce your hours (say 4.5 days each) and spend one afternoon each a week one to one with your son? It sounds like his little sister is quite happy as she is but all children are different personalities.

personally I wouldn’t sacrifice my career for this issue .

you and your husband can each take 13 weeks unpaid parental leave per child- this might help you spend more time with him in the school holidays

Thanks for these ideas. I've got no plans to give up work. I like my job and want to continue with it. We are both exploring dropping to 4/4.5 days. I hadn't given much thought to spreading 5 days over 4 so that's something to add into the mix - thank you. I'm just not sure I will actually get out of the door at 3 though!

OP posts:
Hymnulop · 07/09/2022 14:48

Gardenista · 07/09/2022 14:40

@flourishing - if you were to reduce your hours would 4 days spread out over 5 days help? So working school hours and being able to pick up at 3.30 . I did this for a while, I now work 5 days but term time only.
It is much easier to work full time while they are in nursery.

I have stepped back my hours and responsibilities since my daughter started at school, but I am older and had got to the level in my career I wanted before my daughter was born, and have only one child to provide for so less financial strain. I’m a lone parent. Could you and your husband both slightly reduce your hours (say 4.5 days each) and spend one afternoon each a week one to one with your son? It sounds like his little sister is quite happy as she is but all children are different personalities.

personally I wouldn’t sacrifice my career for this issue .

you and your husband can each take 13 weeks unpaid parental leave per child- this might help you spend more time with him in the school holidays

13 weeks unpaid leave?! What is this all about? Confused.

sundayvibeswig22 · 07/09/2022 14:52

13 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child until the age of 12 (unless they're disabled)

flourishing · 07/09/2022 14:52

Hymnulop · 07/09/2022 14:48

13 weeks unpaid leave?! What is this all about? Confused.

www.gov.uk/parental-leave

OP posts:
dollyblack · 07/09/2022 14:55

This is going to be emotive as working mum threads always are.

Yes. I have two sensitive kids, and even though they are teenagers now I see a real advantage to being around for them when I can be. Luckily my work is flexible so I can do this, WFH some of the time, most things are not time critical within a day so as long as they are done by the deadline it doesn't matter when.

It has without doubt been a career sacrifice but it just feels important to me. whenever I feel like I'm letting my kids down it feels way worse than any impact on my career.

Wilkolampshade · 07/09/2022 14:56

Hi OP. Look, I'm no contemporary of yours, my own children are all grown up. But I just wanted to jump on and say hang in there, you actually sound like youre doing an amazing job. I had no career to speak of and totally did the SAHM bit for a good few years but really, really wish I hadn't so am pleased to see you have no intention of giving up. If you can hang on until Oct to talk things through with DH, maybe as you say BOTH dropping down to 4 days that seems to be a really sensible compromise. Don't take the weight of this all on your shoulders, especially with a potentially willing DH.

monkeynutter · 07/09/2022 15:20

@flourishing I have a somewhat sensitive child who started school this week. He's been in full time childcare since he was 1 (8-5.30). I chose to go back full time as I'd have to have taken a step back in my career.
He's always wanted to be close to me and we still struggle getting him to sleep in his own bed. I was exactly the same at his age and I know he'll grow out of it in his own time
In reality him being in childcare full time has made no difference to him, when he was at home with us during lockdown he was just as sensitive and still wanted to be near me all the time.
I remember going back to work and feeling immense guilt but someone I work with gave me the best advice. You will feel guilty no matter what you do, if you quit work you'll feel guilty for not being able to provide as much but if you stay working you'll feel guilty you're not home more.
My son loved being at nursery and so far is enjoying school. There are still times I feel guilty but I know we wouldn't be able to provide the life he has if I didn't work full time.
Unfortunately I can't reduce my days as I'm client facing but if you have that option I would definitely look into it.
Hang in there, it will get easier 😀

SanaT · 07/09/2022 15:21

Hi OP. I think this is one of those occasions where you need to trust your instincts. You are right that 8-5.30 is a long time for young children to be out the house. The evidence that they are anxious is that they anxious trying to "claw back" time at night and I think you know this. Having to co-sleep with a six year old and a two year old is obviously not ideal. Of course your toddler seems oblivious to the hours she id doing in nursery as she has nothing else to compare it to. But often, this type of anxiety resurfaces in the teen years, or later childhood when they are anxious doing sleepovers; or going in school trips or all sorts of issues. I'm sorry, I know that's probably not what you want to hear, but you did post to ask. I think you need to sort something at work and preferably your DH can too and just shift priorities really. When you look back in these years, you'll be glad you did. I wish you the best of luck.

Aintnosupermum · 07/09/2022 15:32

I have two children with ‘high functioning’ autism, what used to be called aspergers. I get the struggle. Two things stand out to me.

  1. Daddy needs to get on board and you as a family need a much more structured schedule for the family to follow. It’s boring and repetitive but it has worked so well at calming everything down at home. I purchased magnets on Amazon from Schkidules and got some magnetized white boards. I got some visual countdown timers (brand I got was Time Timer) that I use to keep everyone on task.
  2. What would happen if you left at 3pm to do pick up, did evening routine with the children (homework/reading, bath, dinner & bed) and got them down for 7, and worked 7:30-9:30pm from home?


There are lots of ways to approach this but I would be hesitant to cut your hours as it all too often kills your career.
flourishing · 07/09/2022 15:40

Aintnosupermum · 07/09/2022 15:32

I have two children with ‘high functioning’ autism, what used to be called aspergers. I get the struggle. Two things stand out to me.

  1. Daddy needs to get on board and you as a family need a much more structured schedule for the family to follow. It’s boring and repetitive but it has worked so well at calming everything down at home. I purchased magnets on Amazon from Schkidules and got some magnetized white boards. I got some visual countdown timers (brand I got was Time Timer) that I use to keep everyone on task.
  2. What would happen if you left at 3pm to do pick up, did evening routine with the children (homework/reading, bath, dinner & bed) and got them down for 7, and worked 7:30-9:30pm from home?


There are lots of ways to approach this but I would be hesitant to cut your hours as it all too often kills your career.

Option 2 isn't currently available as I can't get both children down for 7 at the moment. It's about 8:30pm by the time they're both down and the house is tidy. I usually go to sleep at 9:30pm as my toddler wakes in the night (I am breastfeeding her) and I don't generally sleep well next to my son.

I tried leaving at 3 twice a week last year and it was difficult. I found it hard to juggle hungry, tired children on top of work and ended up spending most of the time gained trying to cook for them so it wasn't the the quality time I had hoped to gain. I felt that it was the worst of both worlds unfortunately rather than the best, which is what I'd hoped.

I really appreciate all of the replies and thoughts which are giving me lots to consider.

OP posts:
Abracadabra12345 · 07/09/2022 15:52

I just wanted to say this:

You're amazing. 👏

Parenting is the hardest job in the world, a cliche but true. You are clearly a loving and sensitive parent who is doing her best so I’m glad posters are giving supportive, helpful advice which you are processing. Thanks for being brave enough to post in the first place!

QforCucumber · 07/09/2022 15:56

Mine are also 6 and 2.

Little is in FT nursery 8:15-5:30. Big has just started year 2 and I drop him off at school at 8:40, he goes to childminder until 5:15.

How does bedtime look? I sit with the big one now until he's asleep. Its usually bed for 8, asleep by half past (or DH) we have a chat about his day, talk about 2 good things and 2 not so good things each (so he can see what my day is like too, sometimes my good thing is just 'picking you up from the childminder' or 'having our nitghtime chats now' I've noticed it really makes a difference to his mood having that 1-1 time.

Aintnosupermum · 07/09/2022 16:00

Be kind to yourself. Breastfeeding is hard work and doing it until toddlerhood is tough. I do think you have a husband problem and he can do a lot more to help with the process.

By the way….Screw cooking dinner. I reheat or assemble dinner. When my children were that age my quick dinner was oatmeal made with milk, carrot sticks or slices and celery with peanut butter as the dip. Took 15mins max to get it on the table. I purchased the carrots and celery chopped. Costco rotisserie chicken is also a life saver. I also have breakfast as dinner once a week. Nothing wrong with egg on toast with baked beans.

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz · 07/09/2022 16:05

Would ds settle co sleeping with his dad for a bit? If you are already getting broken sleep bfing dd, then dh should take the night issues with ds.

QforCucumber · 07/09/2022 16:08

wholly agree with @Aintnosupermum

We have a list of 20 minute meals which mean evenings are mad rush but we are sitting down to eat by 6:15, done and cleared down by 7 then the kids have 30-45 mins of play/wind down time until we start bed. We take one each for bedtime and we both go to bed for 10, asleep by 10:30/11.

The 6 year old has taken a liking to showers so he now gets a shower while toddler is going to bed. which has made the whole bathtime rigmarole easier.

Sunday evenings I make sure there's 5 days worth of uniform and nursery clothes ready (one less thing to think about daily) While DH strips all beds.
He gets home 20 mins before the kids and I so lays the table, empties the dishwasher and runs the hoover over downstairs which really makes a difference too.

all these little things seem to have reduced the stress so we can focus the downtime on the kids rather than the clean up.

flourishing · 07/09/2022 16:29

Some much appreciated advice, thank you. I've got 4 sets of uniform at the moment but sounds very sensible to purchase another to cut down on one job for the week. I shall also have a go at compiling a list of quick cook things. My son has school dinners and my daughter has leftovers for lunch more often than not so they have often eaten one substantial meal before dinner.

Having had a think about some of this I think I'm just feeling totally overwhelmed right now. New job (same company but new team) last month and my husband has gradually stopped WFH (I am still) so I'm feeling the burden of trying to cram in everything domestic on my lunch break as well as make a good impression in my new job, worry about my kids' emotions and all of that. He does his fair share (he cooks and sorts the kitchen every night after dinner, baths the toddler, does one or other child's bedtime, etc - I really don't think there's any issues there, we work as a team). My son will be home in an hour and I'll see how he is then.

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