A Work Dilemma

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  • A Work Dilemma
  • Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    <First world problem alert – apologies to any joblesstrackworld members/>

    My missus has just had a baby. I am currently working away in London – I’ve done my paternity leave and I’ve been phasing myself back in to work, mostly doing 3 day weeks, so I am away from home for 2 nights per week, staying with my brother. I’m a contractor, so any days I don’t work, I don’t get paid for.

    My contract is up at the end of the year. There is potential work available for me back home, but the rate isn’t as good.

    My London job is keen to keep me, and have discussed me doing compressed hours – so I could stick to 3 days, but do extra hours and be paid for 4. This would make the pay about equivalent to the job at home, but I’d get a 4 day weekend, every weekend.

    So, to the question:

    If the money is the same, what is better:
    a) Work 3 long days away from home and have a 4 day weekend with the wife (who is on maternity leave) and baby.
    b) Work a more gentle 5 day week and sleep at home every night (I could probably do flexi time, so I could work early-early and be home at 4).

    There are travel costs as well, but they are not significant.

    Dave

    Premier Icon Cougar
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    I’ve no experience of being a parent, but I’d hazard that your plans of sleeping at home every night with a newborn in the house are optimistic at best.

    What does your missus want you to do?

    Premier Icon kcal
    Subscriber

    which work do you enjoy better? is the cash important? what does your wife (congratulations BTW) think? really think?

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    I’ve no experience of being a parent, but I’d hazard that your plans of sleeping at home every night with a newborn in the house are optimistic at best.

    There is that, yes – I do get a blissful nights sleep at my brother’s house 🙂

    What does your missus want you to do?

    She is as conflicted as me. Wants me home, but also appreciates the value of a long weekend.

    which work do you enjoy better? is the cash important?

    I like the work I’m doing now, the new job would be an unknown. The cash is the same, so doesn’t come into it.

    Dave

    winston_dog
    Member

    I would say the 3 day week with the long weekend would be better for you.

    Although I am guessing the 5 day week would probably be better for your Mrs in the long run. Does she have her family close by? I know from personal experience this can make a big difference.

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    Does she have her family close by?

    No, our families are fairly distant, but lots of friends close, plus new NCT people who are in the same boat.

    CaptainSlow
    Member

    Quality over quantity could be one way to look at it.

    The sleep thing is temporary and not that much of an issue really.

    Only you know the answer. For me, I’d be at home especially if there’s no financial advantage and the home place is flexible.

    andy3809
    Member

    Looking after a new-born is pretty full on and I’m sure your wife would appreciate a few hours respite at 4pm everyday.

    Depends how hands on you plan/want to be really

    BlindMelon
    Member

    Alfabus, for you working away and decent sleep will be better. For your wife and child working nearer home and being around every evening will be better for them.

    I am in a similar situation where I work away for 3 days every other week and my Mrs found it difficult on the 3 days I was away, especially as her family were quite far away. Although she did go to various clubs and made friends they ‘still weren’t family.’

    We are expecting number two and have recently moved to within 5 mins of my wifes mother and sister so that she will have that family support when I am away. Unfortunately I don’t have the option of working from home all the time.

    The other point to consider is that your baby will change on an almost daily basis and personally it is nice to be around more to see the child develop.

    If I were in your shoes and seeing how difficult it can be for new Mums I would go with the stay at home option.

    hooli
    Member

    Option 2 in my opinion, there is nothing better than coming home to your family every night.

    Your wife will probably (hopefully) like to have you home too, they find it quite lonely being with a little one all day and miss the adult company.

    Chew
    Member

    I think the biggest thing to consider is how both you and your Mrs feel when you’re away from home. Sounds like its early days at the moment, but as time moves on i’m sure moves on you’ll miss each other more and more.

    When Alfa Jnr is a baby you wont be missing out on too much, but once they are a bit older and starting to walk/talk, you my not be wanting to miss out on all those moments while you’re in London

    Long term, school run, parents evening etc, being at home is going to give you a load of advantages.

    The other thing to consider is what happens when your Mrs maternity leave ends. what happens then?

    IA
    Member

    No kids, but my 2p….

    Home – what if your wife/kid needs help? Is ill or just needs something picking up on the way home?

    If you’re nearby you can leave early or just leave work if you have to. You have friends etc, but I think I’d hate to be unable to help if my wife or kid needed it.

    Premier Icon tommid
    Subscriber

    Allow me to add my two pence.

    As a Father who often works away. I would go wuith the working away on the proviso that on those four days you are home you give yourself to your wife and bambino. That way you have a very happy balance.

    Its also the known and you need that stability while you are in the early stages of family life.

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    All good points… TBH I was dead set on going home, but this compressed hours and long weekends malarky has really thrown a spanner in the works.

    I guess the upsides are mostly for me, and I do miss the little pooing/screaming machine a lot when I’m away!

    The situation is (obviously) more complicated than my straight question. I don’t have a job offer for the job at home, and even if I did, I can’t actually leave here until my contract is up (Christmas).

    I think the sensible thing to do is to pursue the job at home, and in the mean time, see how the compressed hours works in reality. Then I can make a more informed decision when/if I actually had a job offer.

    Cheers all,
    Dave

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    I’ve been in this boat, trying to squeeze Working long hours at a remote office around being home with my Wife and young kids, it sounds like you have some flexible options but I reckon three long days, mid-week plus the drive or train commuting that goes with that and you’ll actually be ragged come Friday morning, when your missus will be expecting you to take up some of the slack in the child care department… that 4 day weekend can easily be ruined by tiredness and stress and the dread of having to go away again on a tuesday, we had a very tough 10 months with this at one point.

    I like being home, my wife likes me being home and so do the kids, I’m basically a stabilizing influence on our home when I’m about.

    TBH despite having the MIL round the corner, Friends and NCT mates (Not actually all that much use as they are typically dealing with their own problems as much as you are), my missus does not cope well with me being away for more than one night really, and no matter how tough my working day(s) may have been, her stresses and difficulties with the kids took precedence, hence we had more arguments because I wasn’t about but was constantly knackered, and wound up wracked with guilt for not being about to help, but stuck in a role that demanded I be elsewhere, My work was intruding on our home life…

    The tougher times come when your kids start to develop, become mobile and articulate and you are missing it, not by choice, but end up being criticised for it none the less… this did happen…

    I’m back to working at a local office (took a switch of employer though) and work/life balance is far better, I’m able to clock up my contracted hours (plus a bit) by lunch time on a Friday most weeks and then be home and do the school pickup run on a friday afternoon and feel more like I’m actually getting to be a Dad rather than some distant revenue generator, sleeping in a hotel, funding a home I’m never about in.

    She’s back at work now (3 days a week) now our youngest is 20 months, and eldest is in school we’ve got local family support (pretty much free child care!) from MIL and holiday backup form My parents too, despite all of this, our little unit still works best with me working locally and home for tea/bath/bedtime, we’ve had a couple of medical emergencies where my absence would have been a real problem, some things you just need to be about for…

    That said I work with quite a few people (more often with older kids, empty nesters, or simply childless TBF) who relish being mobile and working all over the country / world and have home setups that seem to accommodate this happily…

    If its not a funny question, what’s your assessment of how independant, organized, self motivating your other half is? how well does she cope without you about?
    When you get back from working away do you just crack right on as a pair, or is there any sense of recrimination for your “time Off from the kids” does she appreciate that your long hours at work has probably taken their toll on you, or expect you bright eyed and bushy tailed looking after the kids straight away?…
    And how will it all work when/if she goes back to work?
    A lot comes down to how you function as a couple, and no two couples work the same IME…

    Being realistic about where your “work/life balance” sits, you need to understand how your family functions best, and pick the option that fits you best…

    compositepro
    Member

    I was in exactly the same boat when ours came along

    you have two ways of looking at it

    money is worth more than the time you will never get back watching your newborn grow

    money is not worth more than the time you never get back watching your newborn grow

    and when she/he gets to 2 or three and bcomes a little character of his/her own there is no amount of money that will buy what you will miss out on

    i took option B and went from being comfortable to skint ,but i wouldnt change it

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    Congratulations.

    Look at mrs alfabus. Is she run ragged? If yes, then b), she knows that even when she’s going nuts inside there will be a chance to hand over responsibility for junior at teatime. Being completely responsible for a tiny baby, alone, can be immensely draining. On the other hand some take to it like it’s exactly what they were born to do.

    Or:
    c) Send mrs alfabus back to work, become a househusband and stay around to play with junior and the yummy mummies from NCT.

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    @compositepro – there is no money choice to be made here though. I’m not going to quit work altogether, as that would mean we’d have to live in a bin. For the purposes of argument, the two options are revenue neutral.

    @cookeaa & midlifecrashes
    She is coping admirably, but I know she’d like me there every night. She has just sent me a picture of his first smile, which I have missed – that hurts.

    Like I said in my follow up message, nothing is going to change this side of Christmas, so I’ve got until then to decide (if, of course, I do actually get offered a job!).

    There is a distinct possibility of me accepting a renewal until March. That may be a necessary bit of pain that I have to go through to get the experience I need to get a more guaranteed job back home.

    Dave

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    I did a bit of both. 4 day week, not compressed hours so I’m home every night by about 6pm, have adventure fridays with my boy and all for about a 16% paycut. Was a bit of a squeeze to start with but I wouldn’t change it now.

    compositepro
    Member

    @compositepro – there is no money choice to be made here though. I’m not going to quit work altogether, as that would mean we’d have to live in a bin. For the purposes of argument, the two options are revenue neutral.

    OK take the money out of the equation some folks seem to put earning up on a pedestal and use providing monetarily as a reason for not having seen their kids grow up

    I considered which will get me the most time with my family (i fall into the wanted as much time as possible catagory and im not saying everyone wouldnt want that though i know some who cant wait to get the hell out of dodge monday morning ), but in the end it was a massive trade off there are no companies in yorkshire that need someone with my basic skills so i said to my oh if things get tight then sure ill have to get a proper job but then got sidetracked doing something else anyway so we just muddled through

    In all honesty im happier for seeing as much of her start in life as i have been able to

    jekkyl
    Member

    which option will allow you to ride your bike more?

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    That’s the other thing I suppose, kids do focus your mind more on having secure employment, like I said we went through 10 months of it with my old job (our eldest was ~14 months when I started up there and ~2 (with our youngest then on the way) when I was finally recalled to my then base office, I missed a lot of stuff during that time, I’d have merrily jumped ship, only We’d not be able to pay the mortgage. I was tired and stressed when I was back and TBH my other half didn’t help the situation, but then that’s the way she’s wired, I know this and I still love her, and that situation was ultimately down to a poor employer that didn’t really GAF about the well being of their staff.

    It sounds like your missus is a bit better at the whole thing, and is more able to cope on her own, that makes a big difference… I still probably spend as much time checking my missus is alright as I do my kids 🙂 I’m not painting a good picture of her really am I, she’s a great Mum, she just needs support (most women do whether they admit it or not)…

    Personally I dislike the idea of the whole “Men have a Career, Women raise the kids” thing but that attitude still pervades, and it’s conditioned into most of us when we’re pretty young…
    I’d love to work part time like she does now and have more time with the kids, I just can’t see work accepting me doing a a 22 Hour week.

    I could probably be in a higher position, earning more money, doing more interesting work, and eyeing up yet bigger roles for myself by now, but I’d not be as involved in my kids lives, and would probably be well on the way to a divorce, there are different measures of “Success” IMO…

    Good Luck OP, it actually sounds like you’ve got it more or less in hand…

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    jekkyl – Member
    which option will allow you to ride your bike more?

    21 posts before someone mentioned bikes! Standards are slipping!

    This is a very good point though – I haven’t been out for my regular Tuesday night ride in a very long time….

    Personally I dislike the idea of the whole “Men have a Career, Women raise the kids” thing but that attitude still pervades

    I’d love to quit work and let her earn, but the difference in our earnings makes it a bit of a no brainer for me to be the bread winner.

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