If both you and your partner work, you’ll already be familiar with the childcare juggle. Finding you’re struggling to make this work? Here are some pointers.
Both your working hours are fundamental to your routine. Whether you do night shifts, part-time, home working or early/late starts, you need to decide how.
Employers are obliged to consider flexible working for their employees. Present your case in the company’s interest; most realise they’ll gain your loyalty in return.
Crucially, someone needs to get the children ready and into school each morning, while another picks up, feeds and bathes them for bedtime. Children also need homework help. If neither of you is available, find a childminder or friend/relative to step in.
Holiday clubs are a great option for school holidays. Try to share childcare with friends or family too. Not only will this save expenditure – it’ll also give your kids downtime.
Getting work clothes and school uniforms ready the night (or morning!) before won’t work. You’ll be ironing past midnight. What you need midweek is maximum sleep!
So at weekends wash what everyone requires for the week ahead. Keep basics clean with a mid-week wash (or several!). Iron on the Sunday, so you’re set for the week.
Meetings and overtime
If either of you is required to attend meetings out of your normal hours or work overtime, plan around them.
Allocate which days you and your partner could work late, so you can tell clients/colleagues which days are feasible. If you can’t cover for each other’s extra hours, plan childcare arrangements in advance.
This’ll take the pressure off, while creating a committed impression professionally. It also won’t mess your family around because they’ll know where they stand.
Kids get a real buzz out of exploiting discrepancies in parenting. It’s not just disruptive, it’s maddening!
So agree rules between you and stick to them. Whether it’s no TV after 6pm or ice-creams only in the holidays, don’t contradict each other.
If one of you does something the other disagrees with, keep it quiet. Don’t let your children know you’re annoyed – they’ll only exploit this more!
Finally, there’s only one answer to: “Daddy doesn’t do it like that”: And that’s: “Well I’m not Daddy”. End of discussion!
Routine is essential to make home function around your work. Fail, and dinner becomes things-on-toast all week – and you’ll run out of milk by Wednesday.
Stock up on lunchbox items, so you’re just making sandwiches each morning. Make packed lunches for you and your partner to cut costs – they won’t take much more time.
Plan each week what you’ll cook and when, in advance. Check ingredients, and cheat with pre-chopped items and jars if you need to. It still beats microwave dinners!
Simulate a barbecue and ask your partner to do a weekly roast to give you some respite. Agree a regular washing up routine, rowing in older kids to share the load.
Online shopping is a godsend if you can’t get to the supermarket. Pick up individual things on your lunch-break or way home if you run out.
Exhausted by the week’s end? Get a takeaway once a week. If money’s tight, buy supermarket naan or chips, and make the rice or noodles yourself. This’ll halve your takeaway cost, while still providing the break you both deserve to cuddle up together!