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Is working full time harming my kids?

204 replies

Jraven · 14/03/2001 12:47

Ok as if I don't feel guilty enough for working, there's a study out today published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which says that working full time while your kids are pre-school increases their chances of psychological stress, unemployment and doing less well at A level. What should we do - all pack it in? Where are these mythical part-time, flexi-hour jobs that we have be promised so long? Is the government's policy of getting mothers back to work all wrong?

OP posts:

Emmagee · 14/03/2001 13:00

see 'working mums .....and dads' thread


Hedgehog · 05/04/2001 07:20

What a load of old nonsense!!! living on the breadline as a single, no-prospects, unemployed mother would harm my children a lot more!!!! What is more, my children, all 4 of them, are growing up with the expectation of having to work hard for their achievements- just as I did.

Perhaps if the government were forward thinking enough to fund quality, affordable childcare rather than these ridiculous and destructive studies, then the whole country would be better off. After all, other countries in Europe manage to provide fantastic childcare facilities, why can't Britain!


Esme · 23/04/2001 13:07

I work for a government department but am currently having to take a career break because they won't give me part-time hours in my home town. I can no longer commute due to the hours not being compatible with nursery care so applied for a transfer. They would only transfer me if I could work full-time and travel away regularly. All this bollocks that the government keeps banging on about with regards to employers encouraging women back to work. It makes my blood boil as they do not practice what they preach.


Jbr · 23/04/2001 18:02

Hm, that doesn't seem compatible with what they preach does it?

If you join you can get the e-mail address of your local MP to write and complain to him/her.

However, the government are still concerned as to why it is nearly all women who give up jobs. The Equal Opportunities Board of whatever it is called (does anyone know the proper name?) say that 35% of women with children have no job, compared to just 10% of men. It is less than it used to be, because even when childcare was available, a lot of women still didn't work in the "old days" because of a woman's place being in the home and all that bollocks! My mother didn't work even when we were at school because there was nothing that fitted in the hours and there was nowhere for us to go after school and during the holidays. It doesn't explain why my Mother stopped working as opposed to my father. My father sometimes had 3 jobs at a time! But, having said all that, it is still not enough. I can't help thinking in some cases, (although not in yours Esme) sexism and not practicality dictates this trend for women with children being in the highest unemployment category (and that means women who don't work but don't/can't claim JSA because they aren't actually looking for work).


Jbr · 25/04/2001 20:03

I found this article today:

"MOTHERS wishing to return to the workforce are to be offered "Taster Days" to give them a flavour of traditionally male-dominated jobs.

Ministers are keen to address the problems of low pay and low productivity which are endemic among women returning to work when they have chosen to quit their jobs.

They want to encourage women to return to the workplace to ensure their skills are not lost to the labour market, but research has shown that returners tend to take jobs below their qualifications and capabilities.

Jobs in male-dominated industries are often higher-waged, and the Government also hopes the initiative will help the drive for equal pay.

Employment Minister Tessa Jowell said the revolution in women's working lives had not been matched by a revolution in working practices, and said that the pay gap between men and women was partly because of the low-quality employment many women went in to.

"We need to help women to break into jobs they may have not previously considered – such as information, communication and technology.

"Taster days for returners will enable women to experience first-hand how the world of work has changed while they have been away, and see the full range of opportunities that are now available.

"It will help to break the low pay cycle that impacts upon the pay gap. This experience, plus training and real practical help where and when they need it most, will help give them a real choice for the future."

Now ministers are in talks with the high technology and engineering sectors to draw up plans for the "taster days", which are likely to form part of a comprehensive second-term programme aimed at addressing the problems faced by some working women.

The scheme is based on a pilot scheme offering Taster Days for girls, a successful pilot which offers work experience in traditionally male industries, which is to be rolled out nationwide next year."

The thing is, why aren't they looking at why women are giving up work for in the first place (35% of women with children do not work, compared with 10% of men and some women without children still do not work) and the grief you get when you do work?! And how come when I lost my job (as opposed to not wanting a job) I got no help, until I had been on Job Seekers Allowance for 6 months?! And I had people trying to make me feel guilty for wanting to get off JSA!


Esme · 27/04/2001 18:13

Just checked the latest on the messages and got your interesting points and article JBR on the problems women face when trying to return to work after motherhood. I will definitely check out You.Gov.Com. Will let you know if I get any success. Thanks!


Esme · 27/04/2001 18:14

Just checked the latest on the messages and got your interesting points and article Jbr on the problems women face when trying to return to work after motherhood. I will definitely check out You.Gov.Com. Will let you know if I get any success. Thanks!


Jbr · 27/04/2001 21:01

Thanks Esme. There are loads of courses etc to get women back to work, but they don't seem to be addressing the real issue of why some women stop work in the first place! In your case, you don't have a whole heap of choice, and you work for the government!


Gpbn · 01/05/2001 22:09

Hi I'm just about to go full-time with a new company that doesn't seem particularly interested in the fact that I've got two small children,sometimes I worry that they won't be very understanding if I have a problem with the kids and I have to sort them out first but I have told them as my husband works from home that he'll have more responsiblity for them.This is totally different from the job that I used to have that fitted my hours around me but basically I left because I was made to feel that I couldn't expect any reasonable pay-rise or career move as I was 'only part-time (25hrs!)'.
For me, I need to try Full-time to feel that I can be treated like a worthwhile human being with an opinion.Lets see...


Thomfion · 17/11/2001 15:13

I've just returned to my full time job, 11 weeks now, after extended mat leave.
My 4 year old is at nursery full time, and my new daughter, goes to a childminder T/W/Th, and nursery M/F. (I wish she was in nursery full time also).
Financially things are pretty difficult, but I am getting by, I'm toying with the idea of part time, as I have to drop my daughter at the childminder at 7a.m. and pick her up at 5p.m. it's a long day.
Any help out there, ideas?


Valerianne · 17/11/2001 17:16

Have you thought of getting a nanny which could look after both your kids and maybe another child. (you hire her and get a friend to pay their share) All of this in your own home. She doesn't have to be a live-in nanny but she might be more flexible schedule wise. She might do some of your kids laundry.
Also this can't be more expensive than your current situation... depends where you live but I am fairly sure that it is worth investigating time wise.
I know that at my nursery, staff leaves for nannying job quite regularely.
Keep me informed of your decision - I am interested.


Jasper · 17/11/2001 23:52

Thomfion, how I sympathise. My kids are two and a half and one(yesterday!) My situation is slightly different in that my dh is the full time dad and at home all the time and had been since our first baby was born. This arrangement (purely financial) has its own problems that I won't go into just now.
Recently it has really been getting me down that I can't see as much of the kids as I would like and only last month made the decision to work part time. It took a lot of working out because I am in a business partnership with someone else who did not want to go part time ( and was understanding, but not delighted that I did) so we had to adjust the terms of th partnership. As of two weeks ago I now work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.Of course our income is three fifths of what it was ( actually a little more when tax is taken into account) but I am SO much happier and enjoy work much more on the days I do go in.
You would also have the advantage of paying less in childcare. If you can possibly afford it, I really recomment it. It has restored my sanity.


Pupuce · 18/11/2001 13:02

Jasper, DH is also a full time dad and therefore I work full time... I WISH I could be part time but haven't managed to figure out how I could do that with only 1 income. Any suggestion ?


Jbr · 18/11/2001 23:18

All dads are full time dads.


Jasper · 19/11/2001 00:29

Jbr I take it that was said with tongue in cheek ! Presumeably you are well aware that by "full time Dad" we mean stay at home dad, or whatever your prefered expression. I think when most people hear someone call themselves a full time dad (or mum) they realise it means they stay at home to look after the kid(s)as opposed to being in paid employment. In our case, stay at home dad is not an accurate description either as dh and the two children are never in!

Pupuce it was not an easy decision to make but has been surprisingly easy to carry through!Before we had kids my husband had a poorly paid job which he hated. I had a quite well paid job as a partner in a shared business which I liked. The decision for him to look after the children was not a difficult one. It was the only one we could have made in our current circumstances. What followed the birth of my son nearly three years ago is so cliched I am amazed I did not see it coming! Basically my view of work changed when I was leaving behind my baby every morning!When my daughter was born a year ago things got much worse. My husband is a wonderful dad. I just really resented the fact I was not in a position to spend more time with my children. I am sure some men feel this way in the more conventional arrangement where the woman stays home and the man goes out to work.
We don't have an extravagant lifestyle, drive fancy cars or go holidays abroad. It was not as if there were many areas where we could cut back on or outgoings. However the situation was getting worse and worse and our marriage was in danger of falling apart. I think a lot of couples have arguments and resentments over who does the most for the family. The so called role reversal seemed to exaggerate these resentments in our case. I do not know of you can relate to any of this or if you simply want to be at home more , with none of the resntment towards your husband!
Partly spurred by the events of September 11th we sat down and worked out whether we could afford to live on my part time salary and decided that we could; there will be no savings and not many treats but hopefully the children will have a saner mother and parents who stay together!
I am 38 and felt worn and weary and that life was passing me by. The two most womderful aspects of my life, my children, were growing up without me it sometimes seemed. I swear those babies sometimes grew in the time between me leaving for work and returning inthe evenings!

As I mentioned, I will get more than 3/5 of my previous salary when tax is taken into consideration. My husband was completely supportive of me going part time. On the two days I am at home he has signed up for a course which will gain him a qualification to enable him to get a decent job.He has had enough of being a full time dad! (That's what he calls himself so that's what I'll call him!)
Does your husband actively want to be the one who looks after the kids or like us is it just a matter of your job circumstances? I realise if we had done our sums and simply could NOT afford for me to reduce my work hours we would not be in this much happier position.
Look closely at your outgoings.Can you make savings? Is there any possibility of your husband working a few hours a week either on the days you are off or in the evenings? Is he behind you in your desire to reduce your working hours? If this has been preying on your mind for a while and is not just a passing notion I really hope there is a way for you to work it out.
Good luck and keep us posted.


Winnie · 19/11/2001 09:52

Jasper, good luck, I think many people would like to go part time, see more of there children and be able to work (for works sake) and bring in money. I admire your decision. I definately understand the 'worn and weary' comment. It is very interesting that you say that you made this decision partly fuelled by the events of Sept 11th. I think many people are taking a look at there lives.

Pupuce, I hope you are able to work things out too.


Viv · 19/11/2001 14:13

Yes, I know exactly how you feel, I have been working part time now for two years and feel great about it. Although hard to start with we are now getting to the situation finacially where we can have a few treats etc too. One thing that has really made a difference is that I now work for myself. I am an accountant and instead of being an employee I have set up my own company and Invoice my clients monthly. This means that I have much greater flexibility in that I am working three days a week at the moment but when my daughter starts school I will switch to 5 shorter days. When I took on my main client these were my terms and conditions. Ok so I don't get paid when I want time off etc. but then I can supplement my income by taking in bookeeping work to do at home on the odd evening post kids bedtime (Energy allowing!!).
I don't know if the type of work you do allows this but if you go part time, I would recommend building in as much flexibility ss possible.
Good luck in whatever you decide, part time really has worked for me, I am so much more relaxed.


30something · 19/11/2001 21:25

Just an idea to the p/t working problem - it seems to have worked for us. Two chlidren 7 & 2 full time job on shift work meant I spent all my time feeling I wasn't good enough - resulted in me cracking up and having 3 months off with acute stress, even now i'm only back on short days.

So with large mortgage, youngest in private nursery and hubby in a job that doesn't pay as well as mine our only financial option was to remortgage with a flexible mortgage, consolidate all our loans and extend the term to reduce the payments. The plan is then in two years time to use half of the money we save in nursery fees to pay extra into our mortgage to bring the term back down. Not ideal for everybody, and in the long term probably more expensive than paying off the loans and mortgage separately. However our children are only young once (I know it's a cliche) but I now feel sane again and for me, my children and my husband it is undoubtedly worth it.

The mortgage will be paid off one day whatever we do but my two only have one childhood and I am so much happier knowing that I am there for them more. I have also discovered after 20 years working full time that there really is more to life than work - it's like being on holiday a lot! Yes we are skint, old car, no holidays and this year he and I won't be having xmas presents but that wont be the situation forever and time is such a valuable commodity. If you can go p/t then do it, it really is worth the financial hardship. Good luck!!


Pupuce · 19/11/2001 22:25

Winnie, thanks - by the way are you a little better ?
Jasper - We have spent our evening looking at our budget. One thing DH is good at is finances. So yes I could work part time and DH not earn a penny but ideally he should find some way of making money. He is looking after the kids because of circumstances (he was unemployed and I have the corporate job)... but now he has trained to be a yoga teacher - but he has yet to teach his first class (etc....) so I can't expect any income for a while but I can reduce to 4/5 - yes holidays out of the window or to 3/5 but then I can't put the kids to nursery so it's a little tricky. I am sure we will get there. If you saw another thread I started last week... I may be made redundant which might be a blessing in disguise. I will definitely keep all my mumsnet supporters informed !


Jasper · 19/11/2001 23:33

Pupuce, things are looking hopeful!
Yes I did read the other thread subsequent to posting the last message.
One thing I did not relly make clear was how difficult it was for me to get the idea of part time work into my head. I had a sort of mental block about it even though I had really wanted to go out to work less for about three years! Even when I realised it was financially viable I thought it might bring so many logistical headaches at work as to be too much trouble! This has proved to be nonsense. The transition has been quite smooth.I look forward to hearing how things work out for you. How many kids do you have?


Pupuce · 20/11/2001 07:59

DS is almost 2 and DD is 3 months old so I am on maternity leave and able to think things through a bit !
Also it is likely that when I go back to my paied desk (but no job) in January... I'll have opportunities to explore within the company. So in a way this is exciting...


Sazzy · 20/11/2001 12:51

Viv - I am also an accountant and interested in trying to set up myself from home. I currently work 2 days a week but I am doing a job that is way below what I used to do before I had my son. I am about to go on mat leave as I am expecting my second child early next year but not planning to go back to paid employment since it just wouldn't be worth it financially and I feel it is the right decision for me to make right now. I also wonder in the future how it is possible to go back to full time employment once the children are of school age but school hours and school holidays limit the potential working hours available? (very reluctant to use after school clubs, etc.)
As a result, I feel that setting up myself from home and taking on clients, etc. for accountancy work would allow me the flexibility to work as much/little as I wanted to (and keep my brain slightly alive) as well as allowing some money to come into the household as well. Would you be able to give me a bit of advice, guidance, general help as to how you set up your accountancy business yourself, what services you offer, how you went about getting clients, etc. Have always thought about it as an option but don't know if I have enough 'oomph' to actually follow through with it. Would be very interested to hear from you.


Pamina · 20/11/2001 13:07

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Pamina · 20/11/2001 13:08

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Alison222 · 20/11/2001 13:59

Viv, I'm another accountant. Do you have a practicing certificate? Do you know if you can set up business without one as I don't
Pamina, Sassy where do you live? I'm in London and haven't worked since ds was born almost a year ago as the job wasn't one I could have done part time (or even regular hours) and I'm dying to do something to get my brain back into gear again but don't quite know where to start

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