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Can you have a career and a large family?
47

conniedescending · 25/03/2008 14:57

Hi,

I have 4, aged 5 and under and the plan has always been to go back to my career (well, start it again tbh) when the youngest is approaching school age - so 4 years or so. In the mean time I've been doing the odd bit of freelance work for my old employer...

Just wondering if anyone else managed to juggle large family with sucessful career or am I kidding myself?

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nametaken · 25/03/2008 16:14

Hmmmmm, with 4 dc's the chances are one of them is always gonna be ill/need dentist/doctor/asthma clinic/eye test/haircut/new shoes/ blah de blah, so my first thought would be which parent will be the one who does all the mundane unpaid chores. If it's gonna be your dh, then yes, you probably will manage a career.

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chelsygirl · 25/03/2008 16:19

you need Xenia for this one

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Diege · 25/03/2008 16:45

Will follow this thread with interest! I will be ttc no.4 next month, and have worked at a succesful career with all 3, and intend to continue with dc 4. The only reason I've been able to keep where I am career-wise though is that dh and I split everything 50/50 - in fact it's easier for him to work more flexibly in his work than mine. Hopefully things won't change too much with no.4, or am I overly optimistic?

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Ceolas · 25/03/2008 17:51

I think lisalisa is a lawyer?

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Wisteria · 25/03/2008 17:53

Xenia does and it is possible but quite tiring I would imagine - still if you have 4 under 5 you're obviously no weak woman so give it a go!!

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4teenmum · 25/03/2008 18:46

I have 4 children and have continued working. I hate to say this but I think it was easier when I had under 5s. At least then I had a childminder/nursery to keep an eye on them. Now they are all teenagers it gets very complicated with various activities etc and the whole house looks like a teenagers bedroom.

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bogwobbit · 25/03/2008 22:30

I have 4 children, varying ages from 4 to 20 and have always worked, sometime part-time but mostly full-time.
I think that success is relative. I would say that I have been relatively succesful in what I do but because I have had to devote a great deal of time and energy to my children I have not been as succesful as I would have been had I had no children or less children. Much of the time I feel that it is just 'ticking over' and not really going anywhere.
I am hoping that once the youngest starts school, I will be able to devote more time to furthering my career. I'm also hoping that I haven't left it too late
Despite being pretty lucky with my dh doing (almost ) his fair share, it still is bloody difficult as there is just so much to do and even when they get older they can still be incredibly demanding of your time and money. To give an example, I have spent the last two hours helping my eldest (on Easter hols from uni) apply for summer jobs.

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FairyMum · 25/03/2008 22:32

I have 3 and expecting number 4 in a few weeks. I work fulltime, but flexible and so does DH. We share 50/50. Of course you can do it!

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Psychomum5 · 25/03/2008 22:35

wellll.....IMO opinion, you can but it is really really hard work juggling them, and getting childcare for them during hols etc would proove very expensive.

plus, you also have to figure in the usual colds/virus's/childhood illnesses you get, which altho are normal, with more than 2 or 3 is does increase massively.

and then, when they do get ill, there is the 'domino effect'......ie....one gets it, then the next, then the next, then the next, and then back round to the beginning again as I swear the virus mutates and attacks the first with a whole new strain!

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Diege · 25/03/2008 23:04

I think like Fairymum says the key is having a partner that takes equal responsibility and time off etc when Los are poorly- plus having careers that allow some flexibility. For eg, On Mondays I can drop dds at school/nursery, and get in work at 10.30 ish - then dh can leave for work early and finish early so that I can stay later and get home 7ish - still following?
So yes, exhausting and lots to keep in your mind (and if one thing 'slips', the whole balance crumbles)...but def worth it for me, and wouldn't change a thing

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MarsLady · 25/03/2008 23:07

I'm managing but then I'm self employed and a doula. It does help that DS1 is now 15 and can babysit. Their father will also do the school runs if I have to be at a birth. He works locally.

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lisalisa · 25/03/2008 23:13

Message withdrawn

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ScienceTeacher · 26/03/2008 08:05

I have five children and work as a teacher. I think I can manage both reasonably well. I get 19 weeks holiday a year, so feel that I can live a double life of WOHM and SAHM.

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ScienceTeacher · 26/03/2008 08:05

I have five children and work as a teacher. I think I can manage both reasonably well. I get 19 weeks holiday a year, so feel that I can live a double life of WOHM and SAHM.

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Celia2 · 26/03/2008 08:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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PrincessPeaHead · 26/03/2008 08:53

I have 4 children and am a lawyer but am lucky that I have an incredibly flexible and part time job. The flexibility does mean that it is a little unpredictable however, and also I live in the depths of the country where everything is at least a 30mn drive, so I also have full time childcare - to enable me to drop what I'm doing and go into work if needed, and also to save the little one from sitting in the car for 2 hours a day while I ferry all the others around and about.
I worked full time until after number 3 and at that time - working full on a couple of hours commute away, travelling a lot, and pregnant - I really felt I wasn't managing to be a very good employee, wife or mother so I'm definitely a lot happier now. But I plan to flip into a more full time role in a couple of years when the youngest is at school (she is only just 2 now). Well that is the current plan... lets see how it works out!
So to answer your question - yes, of course it is possible, and I do think working is a bit of a sanity saver as well (so nice to do something controlled by YOU for a change!), but it does require organisation and support systems in terms of child care etc.

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Pollyanna · 26/03/2008 08:58

I have 4 and am due with no 5 anytime. I work 4 days a week as a lawyer (one day from home). It is difficult, and I am only going back (am on maternity leave atm) if dh can manage to get a bit of flexibility as I felt that the older children needed a parent there after school, which I couldn't do as I commute into London.

I prefer to work (although not with Xenia's enthusiasm), and enjoy my job. It does have stresses though.

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PrincessPeaHead · 26/03/2008 09:07

wow pollyanna, I remember you and I were preg with no 4 at about the same time! No 5!
You are braver than me . Many congratulations

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Pollyanna · 26/03/2008 09:11

careless rather than brave pph!

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CarGirl · 26/03/2008 09:12

If you can house an au pair and/or have wider family support then it is certainly do-able personally I'm not looking forward to returning to work (to be a whole £50 per week better off!) but then we don't earn enough to pay for a cleaner etc so we're just going to have less free time. We'll see how it goes I guess!

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conniedescending · 26/03/2008 09:18

Thanks....lots of lawyers here!

We cannot afford/ house an aupair and tbh don't think I'd want to.

DH's job is fairly flexible in that he manages his own diary so we can theoretically work around the children between us. Hoping we can do this without any outside childcare as well....

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NomDePlume · 26/03/2008 09:34

I have 3 children, all school aged (youngest is in Yr1, oldest is in Yr11). My DH has a high pressure job with erratic hours and frequent overnight stays. We have no family support (I have no IL's and my Mum lives 100 miles away).

I do not have a 'professional career' as such but I do work part time in a challenging and fairly stressful post.

I think it is easier to have a career and a large family if you qualified and began to climb the greasy pole pre-children.

Last year I planned to re-train and begin a new career. The training was 5 years in total. I began the retraining and found it incredibly difficult to juggle study and a busy family with little or no practical support. I used a childminder for the days I was at college but without family support it was enormously difficult. I took the decision that if the training was hard, then doing the actual job (which is often shift-based) was going to be impossible, so I decided to take a part time post utilising my existing skill-set.

I know that I sound a bit of a failure compared to the 4 kids+ lawyers, but I wanted to give you another perspective. I suspect the lawyers qualified pre-children. Not just the lawyers, but the majority of highly-qualified, sucessful career-women.

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CarGirl · 26/03/2008 10:44

NomDePlume that is the sort of decision I've made about not finishing my accountancy qualifications. To earn decent money I would have to devote so much to my last year exams and then various jobs to climb the ladder to earn the big salary - I keep thinking at what cost, when will I spend time with my dc? I thought when they were all at school it would be easier but I think about all the after school clubs, friends around to play, various appointments etc - oh yes the washing, cooking & cleaning and realise that my evening time is going to be rather taken up with the mundane stuff.........

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NomDePlume · 26/03/2008 10:49

CarGirl, I find it hard enough balancing part time office hours with my chaotic home life. To combine it with a full time, full-on career for me would be impossible.

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Pollyanna · 26/03/2008 10:50

well although I qualified pre-children, I was still fairly junior when I started (I had my first at 28), so never got to the partnership stage.

I have made what many solicitors would call a sacrifice, in that I have left private practice and the City (and a big salary), but I still get fairly well paid, and am in a sector that I much prefer now. I am still quite young and am taking a longer term view that I don't want to be at home when all the dcs are teenagers - it's also the case that in law you can't take time off and go back 5 years later.

Lawyers are lucky though, compared with most we do get well paid, so although childcare takes up a large chunk of my salary, it is still financially worthwhile to go to work.

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