To work full time or not...
April 20, 2012 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I currently work 20 hrs./week at a local nonprofit in field "XYZ." My husband works full time (8-6, usually), and we have a 2-year-old son who goes to my parents' house while I'm at work (3 days a week). However, yesterday I was contacted about a full-time job that's very appealing, and I don't know whether to pursue it.

I've been job-hunting for a while, on and off. Yesterday I got an email out of the blue from a well-known, national nonprofit (also in XYZ field) that I had applied to last December for a job that's now filled. The person who contacted me was actually hired for the position I applied for (I was probably underqualified for it), and her boss had passed on my resume.

This person is now hiring for a "senior manager"-level position that I assume reports to her (and for which I mostly meet the requirements), and she asked me if I'd be interested. It's a remote position, so I would work from home. I don't know anything about salary, but it's obviously going to be a big jump from my part-time pay. After saying I WAS interested, and sending her some writing samples she asked for (which she said were "great"), we set up a time on Monday to talk and, in her words, to "see where to go from there." The job has been posted on the org's website for a couple of weeks, but I hadn't applied for it.

So... This job is full-time, and that's where I hesitate. I like the setup I have now, where I'm only "away" from my son for about 20 hours a week, but for one thing, I'm thinking that we could really use a full-time salary on my end. Also, I can ask the hiring manager if the schedule is basically 9-5, M-F, or somewhat flexible. (She telecommutes too.) Is it OK to ask whether their "full time" is 35 or 40 hours?

These are some reasons I think maybe I SHOULD pursue this full-time opportunity:

-My husband and I bought our house a few years ago when we were both working full time and budgeted accordingly.
-I recently spent ALL of my emergency savings, which I will have trouble building up again on my salary. (My husband has a savings account, and we have a joint savings account.)
-In my personal checking account, I'm often down to almost nothing when pay day arrives.
-There are some important house projects we'd like to do, like fixing the roof and fencing part of the yard for our 2-year-old to play outside, that we may not be able to afford for a long time if I don't get a full-time job.
-We'll be better able to save for college for our son.
-We'll have fewer money worries in general. (Already, we don't have cable, we shop at thrift stores for my son's clothes (and I often do for mine as well), we barely spend any money on going out to eat, etc.)
-I'm in my early 30s, and I'm REALLY not saving enough for retirement (I only put, um, $15 biweekly into a 403b), and this would help a lot.
-The option to work at home is a bonus, of course.
-This job has great benefits.
-This is kind of a dream job for me, and it's an opportunity to do a lot of good. It's a step up, too -- and a very impressive title. (I know, titles aren't everything.)
-Good part-time jobs are very hard to find locally, and I'm pretty sure I want to leave my current one.

But these are the questions in my head:
-Do I WANT to work full time??? How do I even know what it will be like to be a full-time "working mom" rather than part-time? I haven't worked FT since before my son was born.
-What do we do about adding more child care? Maybe a nanny/babysitter/mother's helper could come over while I'm working at home? Maybe my son could start attending a nearby Montessori school or a preschool? (In my son's two years, he's only been cared for by my parents.)
-What do we do during the summers, when we're both working FT? Lots of summer camps? What about now, when my son is 2 and too young for camp?

I guess my main fear is, "How will I ever get any NON-work stuff done?" But then again, I don't get much done during the days I take care of my son all day. Actually, I guess my main fear really is, "I will hardly ever see my son, and other people will be raising him!" I need some input please... If the phone interview (?) goes well on Monday, I don't know whether to keep going with this opportunity.
posted by trillian to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Before you make any decisions, check into how much that Montessori school or preschool would cost (and whether they even have opening). It's possible that arranging for paid childcare would eat any difference in going to full-time work.
posted by Andrhia at 2:28 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

If it makes you feel better, your son is 100% at an age where he will benefit enormously from 2 days a week in a Montessori (if you can get him in!) He will learn to socialise, share and cooperate with other short people and the activities he will get to do are very, very hard to consistently provide at home at that kind of enrichment level. Socially and developmentally it will likely be a benefit to him, even though at 2 the transition can be rough at pickups and drop offs. (And at 3, and at 4, and sometimes still at 5!)

Your preschool should run a year-round program. You will need cover for holidays and training days. You should be able to form a coop for those days with a few parents in your child's class.

I honestly think you have a perfect setup to do this. Working from home full time is awesome because hey, an hour for lunch, let's throw in some laundry! And order groceries! And some diapers! And we'll be here tomorrow when they are delivered!
posted by DarlingBri at 2:37 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Andrhia has the key point here, but remember that at age 2, your son could theoretically still only attend preschool part time, 2 days a week, then go to your parents for the same 3 days a week he already has. He is eventually going to transition to school anyway. Personally, I work full time (as does Mr Joh), and both our sons age 2 and 4 are full time at a fantastic loving daycare/preschool. That's my bias upfront. I think that at age 2, your son might actually enjoy going to a preschool and spending large amounts of time playing with other kids and doing some learning through play.
posted by Joh at 2:40 PM on April 20, 2012

And I guess, based on what you've written here, if it were me, I would totally snap up this opportunity.
posted by Joh at 2:41 PM on April 20, 2012

Keep pursuing it at least until they make you an offer. You can ask about part-time options, working from home, etc., after that. You have time to think about all these questions, but don't shut the door too early.

As a full-time working mom who is concerned about both financial stability and a long-term satisfying career, and is happy with the time I spend with my kids, I think this sounds fantastic. (And in terms of money and career, I think you have to think long-term -- your kid(s) won't be in day care forever, so even if the extra daycare costs does eat any salary increase, over time you'll definitely come out ahead.) And any decision you make is reversible. If you try out the new job and it's not working for you, you can try something else.
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:41 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

To be quite blunt here, I don't think you can afford not to take the job. If you can only afford $15 biweekly into your retirement, you essentially aren't preparing for retirement. It sounds like you are already financially underwater. For whatever academic debates we can have about the problems with parents not being around their kids as the kids grow up, the cost of having a financial meltdown is even worse.
posted by saeculorum at 2:43 PM on April 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

I think you are within bounds to ask how many hours specifically they want. After all, they contacted you about the position. Maybe you can even ask if you could be three-quarters time for the first year because your son is young, and transition to full-time after that.

Your list of reasons why you think you should take this job are quite compelling. With your foot in the door already, I wouldn't pass this up.

See if there are co-op preschools in your area. If your hours are flexible then it may not be that hard to participate in a co-op. I think it should not be too hard to find a part-time babysitter or mother's helper. You will have to juggle more for sure, but with all the benefits you list I think it will be worth it.

Children benefit from being outside the house with other adults, around other kids. They also benefit from parents who are fulfilled in their careers and who are not financially stressed! Your child is not 2 years old forever - it might be bumpy for a while but sounds like for your purposes once he's in part-time preschool you'll be fine and that is not very far off.
posted by flex at 2:47 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I telecommute to a full-time job while my 2 year old goes to daycare. Personally, I think this is what is best for me and for my family. I don't think there's any point in trying to convince you what is best for you and your family. One thing that a friend said to me once that I think is a very good point is that staying at home is not necessarily the obvious best choice for the child. It is likely very good for a child to see his/her mother having a fulfilling career, and since this sounds like your dream job, keep that in mind.

Did you enjoy working full-time before your child was born? If you didn't, and you feel that staying at home has been more enjoyable for you, do you think that was due to the job at that time or due to how much you enjoy staying at home with your child?

Look, here's the thing. It's ok to really enjoy staying home with your child. It's ok to not really enjoy it. Everyone is different! Even if you work full time, you will still have lots of time with your child, I promise. Especially if you can find a childcare situation close to your home, so you aren't spending time driving to/from that.

I don't know how difficult it is to find daycare/preschools with openings where you are, so I'm going to leave those questions mostly alone, especially since I have seen some great answers on that front already. One thing I would say is that for me and my daughter, a nanny in our home would not work. There is no way I would get as much work done if she were home. For us, a daycare that she loves half a mile away is working out fabulously.
posted by freezer cake at 2:52 PM on April 20, 2012

You should definitely pursue the opportunity. You can keep turning over the pros and cons till you need to accept or decline, and even if you accept, you can change your mind.

I am so troubled by the description of yours vs. your husband's finances. You have spent the past two years as the primary caregiver for a child who is both of yours. You should not be struggling with an empty bank account while your husband accrues savings and retirement. You are working for the family; you are not on vacation. Make sure you're getting what's due to you.
posted by purpleclover at 4:36 PM on April 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

Call around to the local preschools and find out what the deal is. Where I live there are only a handful of programs that will take a 2 year old. Most preschools don't operate in the summer either. See if there are existing nannyshares in your neighborhood.

In my eyes, this is worth a gamble for you, IF the salary and potential career advancement is better than the cost of childcare.


So I went from being a grad student with a ton of flexibility to being an 8am-6pm-er when my son was 2 and change.

And I could not find the time in my day to do all of the stuff that is associated with being a mommy. (Caveat: my spouse worked 1.5 hours away so couldn't do much and I was an academic still writing at night and on weekends.)
Grocery shopping during the week with a 2 year old - tolerable. Grocery shopping on weekends? A lot less fun. I spent tons of time during the work day researching preschools or whatever. I had to take time off of work to take kiddo to doctor's appointments and stuff.

And the whole - I never see my kid thing? Yup - totally felt it and HATED it.

So I found more flexible part time work when my kid was about 3. It sucks financially, as you know. But there was no way that *I* could make parenting a young child and fulltime work personally (again, under the circumstances that I have a spouse that commutes so can't do the doctor's appointments or whatever; and I'm an academic that writes evenings/weekends; and my kid is fairly high needs).
posted by k8t at 5:03 PM on April 20, 2012

PS, unrelated, BUT - do not save for your kid's college until your retirement fund and emergency fund are in better shape. Kiddo can always take out loans for college. You can't take out loans for retirement.
posted by k8t at 5:04 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sorry to be all over this thread.

IF the job is truly 40 hours flexible - like you could work every night for 2-4 hours after kiddo is in bed and have your parents watch him X days a week and get a sitter in a pinch in you have a meeting or something, you totally could make this work.
posted by k8t at 5:06 PM on April 20, 2012

I don't know how your child is, but I combine working from home with childcare very well, and work full time (working from home one day per week). My daughter just turned one.

Reading your question, your main concern seems to be getting your non-work stuff done - you share it with your partner and regularly run loads of laundry at 11pm, like every other working mum.
posted by goo at 5:11 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

At age 2, both your son and your parents would benefit from him going to daycare some of the time, to give him insurance if anything happens to them, as well as the educational value of time with other children and trained professionals (if your daycare has many of those...).

Your husband's contribution to running the household must be an important part of the deal on your working full-time. If he won't give it, suggest that you don't take the job, and redraw the split of your finances. If he won't do that either, you do need the job as insurance for you and the child as you don't have a real partnership going.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:50 AM on April 21, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments! I really appreciate it, and this is very helpful...
posted by trillian at 12:06 PM on April 21, 2012

This is kind of a dream job for me, and it's an opportunity to do a lot of good. It's a step up, too -- and a very impressive title. (I know, titles aren't everything.)

this this this - this is important

Check out the potential childcare options, just so you know. Talk to your parents. Talk to your husband. It's info you need, whichever direction you go.

My kids spend their days with wonderful caregivers, and it's enriched their world in ways I hadn't anticipated. My daughter loves her classes, teachers, and day care friends. My son is still best friends with 2 boys he met when he was 2 (the 3 amigos are in 1st grade now). Our own family is 500+ miles away, so for us the staff and other families at day care have become an important support system, and I think it's helped us be better parents. Because of that, I'm touchy about the "other people raising my kids" view of child care. To me, choosing and managing good child care is just another facet of parenting.

Now, managing the grocery shopping and doing laundry... that I'm still working on. :)
posted by hms71 at 9:48 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So, things are looking good... I had a great phone interview today, and the interviewer now wants me to interview with her boss! The job sounds great, and I'm so excited about it. I also scheduled a classroom observation with a Montessori school a few minutes from my house (and my parents' house) -- they have a morning session five times a week for children my son's age, and they have a summer morning program for toddlers as well. They still have open spots for summer and fall, so we'll see what happens... All the comments I read here really helped me make a decision, and there are too many good ones to mark best answer!
posted by trillian at 6:45 PM on April 23, 2012

Response by poster: Well, it took two months, but I got the job!! I start in two weeks. My son is going to Montessori in the mornings and my parents' four afternoons a week. We'll figure out that one afternoon... The advice here helped!
posted by trillian at 10:48 AM on June 21, 2012

Woot! Congratulations trillian.
posted by goo at 1:00 AM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks! And we did figure out the final afternoon -- a babysitter (family friend) comes over while I work from home. Luckily my bump in salary more than covers the childcare -- and I have the option to get a dependent care FSA, yay! (Still, it's an adjustment to this whole new schedule and new arrangements...)
posted by trillian at 4:54 PM on July 17, 2012

That is really great, it sounds like this has worked out damn near perfectly for your family. Mazel tov!
posted by DarlingBri at 5:46 PM on July 17, 2012

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