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I want it all!!!!!! (long rant warning)

45 replies

webmum · 02/04/2003 17:36

I want a job with flexible hours, good pay and low stress level.
I want a job that's interesting and challenging and part-time.
I want the best of nursery/nanny type of childcare but not the downsides!
I want to work part-time without feeling like a spare wheel, or a 'filler'.

Do I want too much??
Please tell me I do, so I'll shut up and hold my peace. (and live happily ever after-not)Help me come to terms with the fact that I can't have a child and a fulfilling career at the same time, and even when she'sm grown up. I will have missed on too much to be ever able to catch up.

Apologies: don't really know what to expect from you mumsnetter (a solution to all my problems??), but after finally finding a partptime job (which is in fact a demotion in terms of pay and responsibilities from what I did pre-baby), now 5 weeks into the job, everything is crumbling down: the communtingis horrendous,dd's been sick twice already, the job's is boring and with little future prospects, I don't even get to socialise as I'm running late all the time and scoffing down a sandwich in the 30 minute break....I just feel so disappointed.....sorry

OP posts:

Scatterbrain · 02/04/2003 19:07

Totally relate to this webmum, am kind of in the same situation myself !!

Was quite a senior civil servant before dd, and had recently got an MBA too, so when "friends" offered me a great (allegedly) part-time, well-paid job in their new company I jumped at the chance and immediately resigned from the civil service. The job didn't turn out quite as well as expected - they basically wanted a secretary/PA - but also wanted to say they had an MBA Business Manager - and to cut a long story short I resigned and set up free-lance on my own. Have been really poor and bored ever since and am now desperately trying to find a decent part-time local job ! Actually thought I'd got one yesterday in the local NHS hospital - a managers position on part-time hours - great interview - thought it was in the bag - but they've just told me they've withdrawn the job as none of the candidates was "perfect" for the job.

Am feeling now like I will never regain my professional status, and really really regret leaving the civil service !!

Sorry - no help - but lots of sympathy and cyber tea and cakes ! I want the same as you !!


grommit · 02/04/2003 19:25

Webmum - no you don't want too much - sounds ideal to me! problem is it is hard to attain. I tried to do a 4 day week and my boss more or less told me it would not be a good career move (I manage a team of people). Not sure what to suggest as many of us are in the same boat...will be interested to follow this thread!


Batters · 02/04/2003 19:34

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Marina · 03/04/2003 08:50

Webmum, without knowing what you did before, and therefore unsure what you mean by a "good salary" , I would second Batters' view that HE is a good place to be for parents. My dh and I both work in very different HE environments and while my workplace is a lot more flexible and work-life balance oriented, his is not bad either. In both colleges, flexi-time and job-share are long established and favourably viewed by management keen to retain skilled, mature staff - and not just offered to parents either, which I think is important in keeping all the workforce motivated.
Check your local paper for jobs at nearby HE colleges and universities and even if they are not explicitly advertised as part-time/job-share, you may find they are so keen to recruit someone local with relevant commercial experience that they are willing to be flexible. If you have no experience in the sector, don't let that put you off either - they also need IT specialists, marketers, facilities managers, PAs, accountants etc. In IT especially the pay scales can be commensurate with the commercial sector (although not the "corporate"!) because of the shortage of good candidates.
You don't often get commercial perks like BUPA and so on but the pension schemes are usually good and the attitude to vacation working is especially helpful if you have school-age children.
And I have completely forgotten to mention the best perk of all - working with young people to provide them with the education they need to fulfil their ambitions. Even when they are at their grungiest and least appreciative students are very entertaining and worthwhile "clients".


winnie1 · 03/04/2003 09:01

Webmum, I completely relate to your post. I am so bored!!!!
Marina & Batters you give me hope


Batters · 03/04/2003 09:14

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Janeway · 03/04/2003 09:18

webmum - I can empathise too - my first few months back at work after ds were horendous, with him catching every illness going at nursery and so having to take time off whilst knackered and trying to "re-establish my position in the firm" (bosses words) - but it does settle down a bit (I've been back 8 months now).

As with Batters, I live for the days with ds, and put ideas of a great career improving the environment in which we all live on the back burner whilst I try to figure out if my profession will ever allow that - do they need Architects in HE?...


Meanmum · 03/04/2003 09:20

No useful advice to offer at all. I work in the corporate sector for a company whose product is its people and our treatment of them is abominal.

We have a fantastic maternity policy and return from maternity allowance but flexible working, job sharing etc is almost non existent.

I want to know why companies insist on talking the talk but never walking the walk. Disillusionment isn't the half of it.

I'm currently having the same dilemma as a lot of you but in terms of - do I want to keep working full time, do I want to maintain the role at the level I've got or drop back to something more administrative, can I afford to work part time, what do the new flexible working laws mean to me, how do I ensure the stigma of working part time is not attached to me and does not affect my career.

I'm yet to see a company that truly values its staff that work part time. How do we break the mindset that is out there?

We obviously all need to join forces and create a company together!!!!

Mind you I've got a great idea for a business, no financial backing, to scared to take the leap and no idea if it will really work. In other words I have the germ of an idea, haven't done anything about it, don't know when I'll find to do anything about it and think all in all I'm to much a safe player to risk everything.

Any of you watch that show called Going Places. The one where people give up their lives and head off to hard work and a different life. I've never seen any of them say they regret it. They all say it is hard work but they wouldn't dare go back to the life they had here in the UK. That's my inspiration.


webmum · 03/04/2003 09:59

Thank you all for your support (I knew I'd find it here in mumsnet).

I've only been 5 weeks in my new job, but considering I only do 2 days a week, and have already taken 2 off (because of dd being sick), I ahven't been around that much.
I'm just wondering whether it makes any sense to stay in a job that doesn't give me the intellectual stimula I was looking for and still struggle between childcare and commuting....and get next to nothing in return!! (my salary just about covers the nursery fees, on top of that I pay travel card and parking)

So I was thinking maybe I should get a decent job fulltime and then negotiate a reduction in hours. This way I'm more likely to get a job similar to what I did before (private banking), but then I think usually these jobs don't allow you to leave at 5 to be in time for the nursery, so I'd have to rethink my childcare arrangements, and dd's really happy (and so am I) at nursery. Also I'd end up not seeing much of her.....It's just so difficult and no one can tell what to do.

HE: from what I've seen locally the salaries are even worse of what I'm getting now (I'm a civil servant by the way), but it has the advantage of zero commuting....It's just so difficult!!!

Other times I think maybe I should do a course, but that's a lot of studying and I can't afford to pay full nursery fees to allow me to attend classes and study at home without earning anything.

I feel like I'm in a dead end......

Since I just don't know what to do I'll stay where I am now, I know that civil service can be great, but I just don't see how will I get the chance of a promotion if they never see me around!!!!

Keep looking keep looking!!

OP posts:

Gizmo · 03/04/2003 10:27

Hi Webmum,

FWIW, its got to be better to strive towards an ideal life than to give up and sit down in the road because 'we want too much'. There are lots and lots of ways of making this work, the problem is that experimenting with them all takes time and can be depressing while you're doing it.

For example working full time can work, IME, if you can find full time work close to your childcare (I know that's a big 'if' ) which really lets you do 9-5 (again, in your specialism that's another 'if' ) you can actually spend nearly as much time with your baby as if you were working half days and commuting.

I've seen lots of other discussions here on working options - working from home (with and without kids), working in co-operatives, taking kids to work, working full time and part time. There's got to be one that works for you.

Good luck with finding the right balance - I'm sure you can do it eventually. And let us know what it is when you do it!


sed · 03/04/2003 11:25

Webmum and others - since having children, I've tried the whole range from full time high-pressured jobs to very part time freelance stuff. I'm now in HE working about 70% of full time, but I can leave when I am supposed to, take all my holiday (7 weeks) and the pay isn't that bad.

IMHO, yes it is too much to expect to have it all. The reality is that when you have children and want to maintain a family life there are compromises to be made - either in your home life, your work life or your income levels - or more usually a mixture of all of them. I know it's not ideal in lots of ways, and maybe it was easier in some ways for earlier generations who didn't have the choices and expectations that we do. But that's the way it is.

The only thing I'd add is that all any of us can do is make the best decisions that we can, at the time we are making them, and with the information available to us at the time. And then not beat ourselves up too much.

Take care and don't be too hard on yourself.


debster · 04/04/2003 09:23


You say that your salary just about covers your childcare and on top of that you have to pay travel and parking costs. As you aren't really getting what you want out of the job are you just working to pay your child care fees? Would you consider not working for a while until you could find a job that stimulated more? The reason I ask is that my partner and I were faced with the same dilemma. My partner was working in a job that he wasn't that fussed about. When we had our second child he stopped work to become a stay at home Dad as his salary would only have covered the cost of sending both our children to nursery full time. He decided that he would rather spend the time with the children for a year or so and try and find something more fulfilling later. Are you working because you don't feel you could stay at home? That's certainly how I would feel. I couldn't stay at home and look after my children full time. That's why I was happy to go back to work after maternity leave. BTW my job is for a regeneration initiative which is, in effect, working for the council which has very flexible working arrangements and not unreasonable levels of pay once you get to a certain grade.


webmum · 07/04/2003 11:51


the reason why I got back to work was because I just can't stay at home all day anymore. I've done it for 2 years, I'm very happy and feel privileged to have had teh chance to stay with dd when she needed me most, but now I need something else. The problem is the job I've found (and I've only done 5 weeks now) is not as good as it seemed at the interview, besides, it looks liek they don't really know what to do with someone who's only there 2 days a week and so I get to do the job of an office junior, with a degree, and 4 years experience behind me, sometimes I know I just can't expect too much, but at the same time I find it very difficult to adapt to it.
Moneywise, dd was already attending nursery a couple of mornings every week even when I did not work, so we are a little bit better off now (just that little bit).

Gizmo, thank you for the encouragement, but they reallya re big IFs!!

I've decided to give it some more time, see how things go, and keep looking around..

OP posts:

edgarcat · 07/04/2003 12:10

Message withdrawn


DonnaLouise · 08/04/2003 19:21

why is it the women who end up staying off work with sick children? I find this demeaning and I'm not even working (hence suffering from depression currently...)

Fact is that you either have the money and are expected to work your guts out for it, or take the flexible, public sector option for an easier life but with less financial incentive.

As women, we're stuffed. Sorry. Had a bad day today.

I'm fed up of looking for another office job and have made up my mind to change my career to become a midwife. However... the money I'd get retraining would just about cover full time childcare costs. That in itself is a sticking point as I feel teary just thinking about leaving my angel ds for so much of the week - shift work or not!

You're certainly not alone webmum.


tallulah · 08/04/2003 20:44

Donna, it's the women who take the time off because the men don't want to! My DH changed from a job he loved to one he now can't stand, some 13 years ago, so that he could cut down his hours (he was working 76+) & spend time with the children., & I could work part-time & get away from them.

We've always worked in shifts around them, & the one who gets them is the one who finds they are around. He works nights, so if he's had a run of nights & he needs the sleep I get the sick child, otherwise he gets them. I've only been full time for the last 4 years & luckily mine are rarely ill, but I have had to take the odd day.

I do find it amazing in this day & age how many women wouldn't dream of asking their DH to take time off to look after a child, or change their hours to fit in with the childcare. Unfortunately it does cause problems when you work with mainly women & they are disappearing on a regular basis to pick up children. It does put more of a burden on the full-timers.

I know the rest of you have the opposite view but we had a woman start in our office last year who works 15 hours across 3 days, term time only, & TBH she's dead wood. It doesn't help that she doesn't pull her weight while she's there, but when she swans in & out it is really galling (& she then sits there & says she doesn't need the money.. grr). We're 50/50 full time/part time & all the part timers do 9.30 to 2.30 to fit in with their kids. It's a real pain because we get really busy from 2.30 onwards on a reduced staff. (They count everyone as 1 person, whatever hours they do). Any extra falls on the full timers & we've got kids too. I do wonder why their DH can't take a turn. (probably that's why they've all got more money than us).


emwi · 08/04/2003 21:30,9897,931002,00.html News report on new rights for fathers and mothers to ask for flexible working hours.

webmum, having landed in a job I loathed once, I know I'd have been better off walking straight out again rather than sticking it for 6 months. If it doesn't feel right don't do it, hold out for what you do want. Would you be bored at home if you were working towards getting your dream job - networking, sending off applications, putting together a business plan for your own business, whatever.


nusch · 08/04/2003 21:33


Truly, it IS possible to have (nearly) all. I have a lot of luck along the way but have managed to end up with

  • the most wonderful childminder in the world - dd dances along the road to see her, it's like sending her to a lovely aunt or something (ok an aunt you pay £3 an hour but hey)
  • a really interesting, fairly well paid, not too stressful mostly, three day a week job
  • a job share with a very like minded mother who is happy to work two days - so we both get to do a "proper" job
  • a boss who doesn't really care when I'm there as long as the work is done (and marks me up, not down, for managing to do the job well part time)

    Some help from a partner does seem to be a pre-requisite - dh takes dd to the child minder's so I can get in really early and he picks her up one day a week (if constantly reminded!) so I can work late. I think I would be fairly unpopular with my staff if I NEVER worked late as it can be part of our job. Also we agreed (through dh's gritted teeth) that if dd was ill we would see whose schedule was most flexible and if we both had commitments, take it in turns. Fortunately, it hasn't had to be tested as she is almost never ill and my childminder is more relaxed than a nursery might be about looking after her if she is just a little bit unwell (eg tummy upset).

    So, honestly, it IS possible - just! Downside - I don't get to socialise as much as did (though still some) and I miss all the management meetings and most of the training which happen on the "quiet" days when I don't work. And jobshare isn't for everyone. And I wouldn't feel able to go for promotion (which, as it happens, isn't an option for anyone right now) until dd is older. And unlike a nursery, I hav to take holidays when childminder does. But all in all - I feel pretty lucky.

florenceuk · 09/04/2003 15:47

Tallulah not sure whether you are private or public sector, but if you are private then I think the problem lies with your employer, not the part-timers. Can understand the resentment but remember part-timers are also paying for their added flexibility in terms of lower pay/promotion prospects/bonuses etc etc. And if this woman really is "dead wood" presumably she will disappear at some stage!! Don't forget, you also have the option of going part-time but presume that for your own reasons (pay or otherwise) you don't want to. Even in the public sector where employers might be more willing to accomodate flexible working, there is a trade-off to be made in going part-time - I know that quite a few job options are closed to me because I choose to work part-time, and I recognise that. If I wanted a promotion I would need to work more hours. Hate to think that all full-time working mothers are seething with resentment at part-timers when IMO the resentment should be aimed at employers - otherwise it is a case of divide and conquer!

Just wanted to add that before Xmas I wasn't really sure why I was back at work (public sector) - but lately (six months into the job) realised that it has been going well - I've had lots of interesting work and my manager is very good about the part-time thing. Biggest problem was that I always always missed the important meetings (either on my days off or very late at night) and had to get my information secondhand - and sometimes missed out because I wasn't around. Also initially I think it is hard for any team to absorb a part-time resource if they are not used to it/you and aren't aware of your capabilities. Also in my experience, 3 days works better than 2 days a week unless what you are doing is wholly autonomous. Plus I am in a policy position, not operational, so this might be another reason why it is working for me. Wish DH could be around more - at the moment he spends half the week in Dublin. DH took his first day off when DS was sick the other day but was very reluctant - kept going on about how many £££ a day he was missing out on. If I had not had an urgent deadline I would have done it because the financial costs are much greater for him - however in the weekend, we found ourselves arguing about who had the right to spend Sunday working to catch up! A problem with work-life balance definitely...


bells2 · 09/04/2003 16:07

I agree with your post FlorenceUK. It drives me mad the number of people who say grumpily and accusingly to me "wish I could work 4 days a week". Well there's nothing stopping them except for a 20% cut in salary, complete loss of promotion prospects, halved bonuses and endless resentment from their colleagues.


suedonim · 09/04/2003 16:37

Scatterbrain, I was interested in your comment about regretting leaving the civil service. My DS was in the civil service in Edinburgh, but resigned to live abroad. However, he has the option of returning to the CS at any stage in the future, albeit only at the level at which he departed. Do you have that choice or is this condition peculiar to Scotland?


Bozza · 09/04/2003 16:48

Drives me mad too Bells. I generally suggest that they put a request in to HR.


bossykate · 09/04/2003 16:57

i agree florence, bells and bozza.


tallulah · 09/04/2003 20:21

florence, public sector, so the part-timers have exactly the same promotion prospects etc. They just don't get the s**t the rest of us get!

When my kids were tiny I worked part-time in a Call Centre that employed part-timers so that they could cover from 7 am to midnight. Everyone did their 3/4/5 hours when the business needed it & it worked fine. I came into this job once I was in a position to work full time & yes we need the money. I wish we didn't. Even with both of us working full time there is nothing left at the end of the month. We don't do anything extravagant but have to run 2 cars.

Anyway, most of the part-timers had their hours agreed when "business need" didn't come into it. Now the public sector is going down the "customer service" route & demanding that staff be available longer & longer, while only expecting the full timers to be "flexible". "Flexible" expects my kid to wait for me for an hour, so that someone else can nip off 3 hours earlier to get hers! The pay structure works in such a way that a lot of these part-timers take home more than I do for being there a lot longer. (so no, I don't agree they are disadvantaged for being part time). As far as "business need" is concerned they would be more use doing 2 or 3 full days than 4 or 5 part-days.


florenceuk · 09/04/2003 21:30

Tallulah, I can see your point - you feel that you are not getting as much reward for the hours that you work compared with your part-time workmates. But I still think the problem is with the employer (Govt) not the part-timers. Clearly they have a problem with resourcing and staff allocation, and if some of the part-timers are making more than you, then that's clearly bad management practice. If management aren't responsive to the need for more resources to cover the hours, then you could vote with your feet - if you could find somewhere else where your work would be more appreciated. Of course, as employees we don't always have that option but that's life. I'm just saying (as a part-timer) that we are not out to somehow rip off fulltimers - I'd say most part-timers haven't had the luck of your workmates and are actually paying for the "privilege" in other ways. In fact, in some workplaces (including mine), you as a mum with kids would have the "privilege" of going off home early while others got to work longer hours - therefore subject to just as much potential disdain as you seem to have for part-timers. My point is, focus on the source of the problem (management) not your workmates.

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