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Managing work hours

Martyn April 2, 2021 21:56


Could someone advise me of how they manage their work hours as a single adoptive parent? Is it possible to do this with fulltime hours?

I'd like to adopt a child aged 5 or above. I can get flexi time with work, but I'm not sure if the standard 37 hour week is too much. Should I seek to reduce hours to part time?

Any assistance will be appreciated.


BB2011 April 3, 2021 08:50

I think this is very much a case of it depends on the child. It’s definitely good to look into your options and then make a few different plans. My son moved in 5 years ago. He settled into school very quickly and I have never been called into school, so I could return to work very quickly, but for 3 years wrap around care just didn’t work for him at all, and even now we only use after school club once a week max so that I can attend meetings.

I have friends at all points on the spectrum though, from unable to return to work at all, to back full time straight away, and using breakfast and after school clubs.

Serrakunda27 April 3, 2021 09:53

I think it depends on a number of factors, you, the child, the job and your finances.

My son was nearly 8 when he came home, 9 years ago today. He had a number of already identified and diagnosed conditions including ASD and was attending special school. Whilst I know many children much more severely impacted than him, he has certainly presented me with many challenges.

I initialy went back three days a week, so 0.6 fte. There were times in the last 9 years I could have increased my hours, others when I could barely manage the hours I did and only managed to stay in work was because I was part time.

My long term plan was to increase hours to 30 after GCSEs, in the event I went up to 4 days at the start of year 11, so Sept 2019, and it has been a struggle.

I should add I have been very lucky financially. We received an adoption allowance and he qualified for DLA which meant I qualified for tax credits so it was financially possible. I also have a very understanding employer and for the most part supportive line managers. I was signed off sick once for a month, which co incided with my least supportive line manager.

My son is now 16, has done very well and is reasonably independent. He still needs a lot of support and emotional propping up, I’m 56 and planning my retirement, I may go back full time for the last couple of years to boost my pension if I have to, but I will do compressed hours as its very useful to have a free day when the children arent around.

Don’t assume adopting an older child makes it easier. The school day is really quite short, you still have 13 weeks school holidays to cover. In the first few years the only way I managed the holidays was because I was already home 2 days a week.

You may have many more school meetings/ reviews to manage. I found having two clear days I could usually manage to fit most of my appointments in then without impacting on the days I was in work.

The short answer is yes, its possible to do full time but you probably won’t know until your child is home.

The last thing I would say is that I feel many adopters neglect themselves. Having time without the children around gives space for some downtime for you. Its not been without financial implications but for me the right balance has been part time. Also helps that I’m not in the least career focused, for me work is a means to an end, not my priority in life

Edited 03/04/2021
Martyn April 3, 2021 11:56

Thank you so much for your response 😊


Lettice April 5, 2021 08:11

I adopted school aged children too. As it happened, I was able to remain full-time. But you can't predict this in advance, and unfortunately full-time single adopters can be disadvantaged at the matching stage in favour of couples who can offer the alternative of a stay-home parent. The best approach is to have a good knowledge of all your possible alternatives and emphasise that you are flexible and will put the child's needs first. So you'll need a variety of options. Full-time may be feasible if you can work flexibly around the school schedule and is advantageous in giving more annual leave to play with. But offer your assessing and matching social workers equally detailed scenarios for part-time, so that they know you are committed to doing whatever it takes. Offer flexible plans for adoption leave too. Depending on your employer's adoption leave policy and your own savings it is good to have the option of extending adoption leave.

I had all this flexibility planned in, and it helped with matching, and for my peace of mind that I had some leeway. But as things turned out I was able to return to work very quickly. I traded my adoption leave for an extended period of shorter working days, so that I didn't need before and after school care, until the children were ready for it. After that, we were very lucky in having excellent clubs and resources to choose from, and we had a happy balance although very hectic. There was a tricky period in early teens where they were too old for after-school club but too young to be home alone. Did you know that you are entitled to request short periods of unpaid leave? I found this useful at secondary school stage, for example to cover the GCSE period.

There's a very good single adopters and prospective single adopters group on facebook, where you can find people who have found strategies for all sorts of other eventualities. Sometimes children keep you awake at night, or have difficulties with school or childcare, or frequent medical emergencies. So you need to be flexible and able to adjust the work-home balance. But we all cope somehow......

Martyn April 5, 2021 14:53

Hi Lettice. Thank you so much your detailed reply. I appreciate your feedback. I'll be sure to factor in flexibility with employer etc.



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