The Working Family Conundrum

Rubix cube

Yesterday we finally confirmed our childcare arrangements for the little lady. I’ve been slightly on edge about it since December, wanting to know who is going to look after her when I go back to work later this year. Any parent will know what a big deal this is. Entrusting someone or somewhere else to essentially help raise your child. I say raise because the reality is, that with two full time working parents she will spend almost as much time with them as she does with us.

A fact that makes me feel sad. However, we are in the very fortunate position that we have amazing family close by that are willing and able to help out with childcare which makes me feel better, but not any less guilty about going back to work. Inevitably, since firming up our childcare arrangements my mind has started to race on trying to figure out all the practicalities.

Just exactly how are we going to do it. How are we going to juggle two busy, full on careers and still be there for breakfast, dinner, bath time and bedtime everyday. Neither my Husband or I work anywhere remotely close to home. Both our commutes are at least an hour door to door on a good day, my Husband at the mercy of the motorways and I the London transport system. So how do we do it. How will we make it work for our family?

I am absolutely perplexed. Should one of us do drop offs and the other do pick ups, or does one person do both then the other do bath time and dinner allowing the other to catch up on some work before bed time – because we both have those types of jobs. Should we start batch cooking meals on the weekend to save time?

What about taking holidays, should we take them together and always spend them as a family or should we split some of it up so that the little lady gets to spend the little bit more time with us, even if sometimes its just with one of us. What about when she is sick, when she has doctor or dentist appointments, how do we decide who takes time off then? It feels like sorting out our childcare arrangements was just the beginning of a whole conundrum of things to figure out, some of which we will probably have to figure out as we go along.

So I want to know from other parents; how do you manage to balance your careers with your families. How do you make it work. What are the shortcuts and time savers you use. What do you wish you thought about or knew before you went back to work. I want you to share your best tips and tricks to help me and other parents returning to work be as prepared as we can be!

photo credit: <a href=””>Toni Blay</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>



  1. Deborah the Closet Monster
    January 10, 2014 / 11:51 pm

    I wish I had any guidance! I have gotten into the rhythm of doing pickups and dropoffs, and being away from home 12 hours a day, but I’m now 28 weeks pregnant and wondering how I’m going to make it work from scratch all over again. I take comfort in knowing that, somehow, I made it work before, and day by day I will find my way again. Good luck!

    • January 11, 2014 / 12:06 am

      Wow, I think its amazing that you have been able to do all that on your own, not to mention that you are pregnant. Well done you, and congrats on being pregnant again!

      Everyone says that you figure it out and you make it work but I don’t have a clue where to start! How have you made it work for you? Has it been worth it?

      • Deborah the Closet Monster
        January 11, 2014 / 6:57 pm

        I honestly don’t have any idea how to answer those questions! What I know is that you find with something you think will work, and that in doing so, you find the pieces that don’t work so well and tweak them. I think the biggest thing I’d say is that I had faith I’d find the right balance with time, working through it as it came . . . since worrying in the abstract didn’t help me much!

        Have you watched the LotR movies? If so, I have a likeness from them that I’ll share here!

        • January 11, 2014 / 8:56 pm

          Hi Deborah, I haven’t come across LotR but ill be sure to take a look. A lot of what friends and family have said is that you find a way and you figure things out to make it all work. It helps to hear it from someone else though!

  2. Jenn
    January 11, 2014 / 11:14 am

    When I was working, my mom helped us out with child care. Also, when I was a single parent with my older children, I learned to rely on my family for support. Sometimes you want to do it all yourself, but you realize it’s wonderful having family members or even close friends help you out. If you are able to have family and a close friend or two help with some drop offs/pick ups or home care, I recommend taking them up on their help.
    You are right when you wrote your baby will spend some time with her care provider, whomever it will be. I think it helps when our children form a close bond with the care provider. It makes them happy and it eases our minds in knowing they’re happy and safe. Good luck to you! Everything will work out! 🙂

    • January 11, 2014 / 8:41 pm

      Hi Jenn, thanks for reading and commenting. Im one of those annoying people that try to do everything on their own, but im learning over time that its ok to let go and lean on friends and family. We’re so grateful that our family are in a position to help us like this, and we’re definitely happy that the little lady will be spending her time in their care rather than with someone outside the family. We still have a lot to figure out about how it will work day to day, but im sure we will figure it out along the way!

  3. January 11, 2014 / 11:46 am

    It is a tough one but you will find a way that works for you. I decided to reduce my hours and went back doing three full days instead of five. I was lucky that this precedent had already been set by other in my team before me, so I knew it could be done and my employer couldn’t really refuse my request. It does, I know, mean that realistically my career has taken a bit of a backseat but I’m ok with that.
    Our little one goes to nursery when I’m at work and, again, we are very lucky in that I work in the town we live in and nursery is a five minute walk from work (and came recommended by some of my colleagues). We pay for child care from 8 until 6, which means that I don’t have to run out of the door at bang on 5pm and can accommodate a later meeting that overruns without getting into a panic.
    On nursery days Little Miss eats before we collect her and just has a snack at home, which takes a bit of the pressure off cooking-wise. We’re not organised enough to batch cook for the whole week but we do often do something on a Sunday that will cover at least one other meal in the week, which is helpful – but without having to spend hours cooking at the weekend. Weekends do become much more valuable.
    Really little things like making sure your bag and her bag are both packed the night before helps save time in the morning and certainly makes me feel calmer! Using lunch hours to get errands done, rather than worrying about them at home, can free up family or rest time. Putting the washing machine on overnight. And if I’ve had a really hectic day at work then I try not to expect too much of myself in the evening – certain things will wait! In terms of the house, if you can afford it then you could pay for a cleaner – I know my boss, a director with two small children, does and says it’s a lifesaver.
    I’m sure it will all work out. Most parents I know muddle through between them, sharing time off when a child is sick, depending on who has the more crucial meetings that day and that sort of thing. Hopefully you can work together and share the load. Very best of luck.

    • January 11, 2014 / 9:08 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting! It sounds like your employer has been really supportive of your return to work and has helped you make it work for you and your family. I think it takes some of the weight off your shoulders when you know that your employer is family friendly. I don’t think Ill have too much of an issue on this front as I work for a large organisation, so as a company they are very family friendly. If I have any issues it will more than likely be with colleagues or clients that perhaps aren’t so understanding of family commitments. Having family members offer to look after the little lady has definitely taken the pressure off pick ups and drops off, although we don’t want to take advantage of them if we can help it!

      I like your ideas about snacks at home and packing bags the evening before. I think these could both be things that help us in our household too. Although we’d like to make sure we have dinner with our daughter everyday, there is a real possibility that we will just get back too late for this to be realistic. But we’ll wait and see how it goes. We may also consider a cleaner depending on how things are, as you say, the weekends will be very precious time so the last thing either of us will want to do is spend it cleaning!

      Thanks again for your tips. If I get enough tips collectively Ill be sure to share them in another blog on top tips from working parents. Ill make sure I link back if I do!

      • January 11, 2014 / 9:29 pm

        I’d definitely be interested to hear how others juggle things and pick up a few more tips.

        The other thing I thought of after first commenting was whether or not your employer would consider letting you work a day a week from home – if that’s practical given your job. Of course you’d still need child care, as even the most family friendly company wouldn’t expect the baby to be with you, but at least you would cut the commute and claw back a bit of time at the start and end of the day. And you can always run the washing machine/drier/dishwasher while you’re at the laptop!

        • January 11, 2014 / 9:32 pm

          Great! Im hoping that ill get a few more comments from other working parents that will allow me to make a bit of a blog list out of it.

          Im fortunate enough that my job is flexible enough that I will have the odd day here and there working from home. Its crossed my mind, but I never really thought about it in terms of the time ill save by not having to commute in. Fantastic!

  4. January 11, 2014 / 10:25 pm

    It’s not particularly directly answering your question but… Remember that children absolutely and completely and utterly thrive in the company of other children especially, and they learn so much from being with other adults to guide them. Ditch that working mum guilt 😉

    • January 13, 2014 / 9:37 pm

      Its very true. I know that its more than likely that I will be the one that will struggle with the change more than she will. At least I hope thats the case! Thanks for commenting.

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