what do I do if I can’t find child care, HR asked if I’m job-searching, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. What do I do if I can’t find child care?

I’m a public schoolteacher. The past year and a half have been exhausting.

Years ago, I gave up hope of ever being able to have another baby. So I was thrilled (but very surprised!) to get pregnant last fall. My pregnancy with my first child (now age six) was very high risk, so I didn’t tell anyone at my workplace for a long time. The pandemic was stressful enough and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle a public miscarriage if it came to that.

Well, it didn’t come to that! I lined up a long maternity leave for myself and in July I gave birth to a baby boy and he is heavenly. But I did have a lot of health problems again, including very scary preeclampsia. I tried to be gentle with myself. Now that my son is three months, I’m feeling better and starting calling around for childcare. 

I can’t find any! I’ve called a dozen places and have added myself to half a dozen wait lists but these aren’t short lists. First openings are March, June, even September of 2022! What do I do? I’m going to keep searching, and I’m not scheduled to go back until the end of January, but what if I can’t find anything?

My job’s not protected past FMLA’s 12 weeks right? Can I get fired if I can’t find instant childcare? Do I just request more unpaid leave and cross my fingers? How soon do I tell my employer, and what do I say?

I’m embarrassed I didn’t start searching sooner and am kicking myself for not getting on waiting lists earlier. But pandemic teaching was so stressful and I didn’t want to jinx anything before my son was born. I know that sounds silly now, but if you’ve struggled with pregnancy … it’s hard. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

You’re right that legally your job is only protected for 12 weeks under FMLA and, in theory, an employer could fire you if you don’t return to work after that. But that doesn’t mean that’s likely — many, many employers are willing to work with people in situations like yours, especially in the weird circumstances we’re all dealing with right now.

At some point you should talk to your boss, explain the situation and how hard you’ve been looking, and ask what your options are. If you weren’t a teacher, I’d suggest raising it about six weeks before you were due to return if you still hadn’t found child care by that point. But as a teacher, the right timing might be different since presumably they’ll need to line up substitute coverage.

If you have a union, talk with them too. They may have advice for you that’s specific to your workplace.

And if you haven’t already, take that March opening if you can — that would mean only extending your leave by about a month, and that might be pretty easy for your employer to accommodate.

2. Friend’s ex won’t stop harassing her at work

A friend of mine got a great new job about 6 months ago at a very big, cool, well known company. From what she’s said it seems like she loves the environment and is thriving workwise. However, this friend, Sally, ended up getting into a relationship with another person on her team, Harry.

The relationship was short but very intense. It ended badly for a number of reasons that aren’t mine to get into, and since the break-up he’s sent her pages and pages of texts trying to aggressively convince her that she’s ‘crazy.’ After she blocked him elsewhere he even took to reaching out over the work Slack to try and convince her to meet with him so he could share some insights about what he thinks her failings were in the relationship. This prompted her to unblock him as she didn’t feel it was appropriate to discuss this on work channels.

As her friends, we’ve tried giving advice like blocking him or even going to HR. The messages from Harry have often been aggressive and borderline abusive, and the sheer volume of messages probably constitutes legal harassment in some places.

We’ve been totally stumped on how to help her, because they’re in the same team and she doesn’t want to cause drama at work. She also hasn’t been there for a very long time, so may not have the social/political capital she needs to get people on her side.

Sally has set a clear boundary by saying she no longer wishes to talk about anything other than work. She’s proposed keeping things cordial at work a number of times, and he’s able to do that but continues to contact her about this outside of work. She’s scared he might retaliate and make her work life even more difficult. What advice would you give in this situation?

Your friend is being harassed by a coworker who has refused a clear request to stop. She should report it to HR.

This isn’t about whether she has enough capital as a new hire to get people on her side; her employer would have a legal (and ethical) obligation to stop the harassment even if it were her first day. It’s also not about her causing drama, because she’s not! She’s just trying to do her job. Harry is causing drama. Any reasonable person looking at this will see that.

Making things easier, it sounds like the harassment is in writing, and HR loves having things in writing.

It also doesn’t matter that some of this is happening outside of work. Because they’re coworkers, the company is legally obligated to put a stop to it regardless. They’re also legally required to ensure she doesn’t face retaliation from Harry or others for reporting it, and that’s assistance she can ask for explicitly.

Please encourage her to report it today.

3. Our “stay interviews” ask if employees are job-searching

My organization recently decided to start having “stay interviews” (like exit interviews but with people who aren’t leaving, for retention purposes). Our head of HR scheduled one with me and flat-out asked if I was looking for jobs elsewhere (she was pretty obviously reading from a list of prepared questions). She told me the interview was confidential, but given that she’s involved in promotions and raises, it seems like knowing someone is looking elsewhere would factor into that later.

I was caught a little flat-footed, since I consider myself to be prudently always looking, and told her that I wasn’t unaware of opportunities out there, since I’m on several professional network email lists.

What are your thoughts? In retrospect I wish I’d declined to answer the question entirely and maybe ended the conversation there. While I understand the idea behind stay interviews, this question felt inappropriate.

It’s a bad question! Most people who are looking won’t be comfortable sharing that — and rightly so — so your employer is unlikely to get accurate information and they’re going to freak out their staff in the process.

Your answer was good.

4. I want to ask for a different work schedule

I currently work on a 9/80 work schedule, meaning I work 80 hours in nine work days instead of 10. This is considered to be a benefit of my job, as I get every other Friday off of work.

I’ve been struggling with this schedule ever since I moved to it three months ago. With working one extra hour a day, I find myself anxious to complete everything else I have to do during my day outside of work, like walk the dog, make myself a healthy dinner, go to the gym, etc.. Sometimes I’m only able to work eight hours so I can fit the rest of my life in, but then I’m online at 10:30 pm trying to make up the extra hour, which then messes with my sleep schedule. I’m so anxious and frazzled during the work weeks that when I reach my off-Friday, all I do is lay on the couch and nap because I’m exhausted.

I want to ask to switch back to working regular eight-hour days, five days a week, but I’m afraid I’ll be viewed as lazy, unorganized, or ungrateful. How do I approach this situation and request a different work schedule without my manager being concerned or judging me?

It’s very unlikely that you’ll be viewed as lazy when you’re asking to work more days of the week. Organization shouldn’t really enter into it, and ungrateful just isn’t a concept that applies to wanting to work more traditional hours. If a schedule is leaving you frazzled and wrung out, it’s not a perk and there’s nothing to be grateful for.

Let your boss know that, having tried it for three months now, you’ve found this schedule doesn’t work for you and is making it hard for you to balance the rest of your life, and you’d like to move back to a traditional five-day schedule. Unless your company is completely closed on those Fridays or there’s some reason your team needs everyone working the exact same hours, the chances are very good that your boss will be fine with this.

5. LinkedIn profile when I don’t have much work experience to put on it

I am tired of working in retail and decided to explore other options for work, specifically in software engineering. A few places I’ve been looking at ask for a LinkedIn profile as an option. I’ve read your past posts about LinkedIn, particularly about how it’s not a critical must but a common professional trend and wondered how someone in my position might be able to use it.

I’m in my mid-twenties and have worked as a retail assistant for about nine years, but haven’t progressed to much more than that. Originally, I set off for university for an engineering degree but due to finances and a shocking lack of motivation, I flunked out badly and have no real experience in the industry. I have kept my mind occupied with coding puzzles and scientific journals, but I haven’t made anything concrete yet.

A part of me thinks I should just forgo making an account and that it may hinder rather than help if I don’t have anything of substance to post, but I would like to have all avenues covered, and if it can help, I’d like it to.

Is it worth making an account? Should I just focus on getting experience instead of one minor aspect of painting a professional picture? I realize this sounds trivial, but I’m very nervous about change and my self confidence is at an all time low.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it either way! Most employers don’t put a ton of weight on LinkedIn. If you have a profile, they might look at it. If you don’t, it won’t be a big deal. You could certainly make one and put your retail experience on it, but it shouldn’t affect things either way if you decide not to.

{ 503 comments… read them below }

  1. Arclight*

    Just wanted to point out for LW1, …it’s not your fault for “waiting” to look for child care – wouldn’t have likely helped. The most common issue is that state regulations require a certain teacher-to-student ratio, while it’s extremely difficult to find/keep staff at the moment.
    The center may even desperately want the business, …they just can’t operate at full capacity right now. (Just like a lot of other industries, …reach out to 90 candidates, get 8 to agree to an interview, get ghosted by at least 7 at various phases. Not a lot of folks wanting to sign up for a relatively difficult job.)
    …So anyway, don’t beat yourself up over that.
    And congratulations, btw. Hope you and the wee ones are doing well. And good luck!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Seriously – this is a hard time for finding child care. Reach out to your boss – maybe have that list of everywhere you’ve tried/put your name on the waiting list handy for that conversation. But reach out sooner rather than later – the school has a lot of work with finding or extending that sub for you.

      1. Greg*

        Not the school – the union! There may be other people who they’ve navigated this with, and even if they haven’t there is still a huge benefit of having an advocate that only has your best interests at heart.

        *Not that all unions have their member’s best interests at heart, but teachers unions tend to…and they’re generally very strong.

        1. PT*

          Most states in the US do not have teacher’s unions. If our OP is in a union state that’s great, but it’s wrong to assume that all teachers are unionized.

          1. pancakes*

            My understanding is that the opposite is true. There are 5 states where teachers’ unions are illegal, and those happen to be the same states where teachers’ wages are lowest: Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                I am a former teacher – left because the hours were ridiculous compared to the pay and always being so burnt out at the end of the day that I couldn’t deal with my own children (very not good). I was union – and it was a total joke, with no support for me when another teacher decided to outright lie about something I said that ended with my contract not being renewed (this was before my children were born, the burn out was at a different school later in my career).

                This is not to say all unions are bad – maybe her’s can help. It’s just a caution that know your own situation, not all experiences are the same.

              2. pancakes*

                The EPI dot org map I’m looking at puts ND teacher pay penalty at 16.4%. “Depending on the state, teachers make between 2.0% and 32.7% less than other comparable college-educated workers.”

              1. pancakes*

                I should’ve thrown a “generally” in there, but if you click on “Source” in your link, Virginia is 33rd out of 50 states ranked from highest to lowest. That’s not great. And in the EPI dot org report I referred to (from 2020, titled “Teacher pay penalty dips but persists in 2019”), Virginia is at the very top of the list for what they characterize as a “pay penalty” (what teachers earn vs. other college-educated professionals). In Virginia it’s -32.7%. I don’t doubt there are some teachers there that are happy with their pay, but these numbers don’t seem like anything to be proud of, and certainly don’t in themselves make a case against teachers’ unions.

                1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                  My point was more in the other direction, that the existence of teachers unions don’t themselves guarantee reasonable teacher pay and are toothless way too often. One of my teachers in FL in high school showed us their pay scale, and PhDs started at something like $45K (this was ~2007).

                  I have heard that VA is not doing well in terms of the pay penalty and always support increasing teacher pay, but I suspect that’s a much bigger problem in the cities than where I am, where teachers make nearly as much but cost of living is much lower, fwiw.

                2. pancakes*

                  I was not and am not claiming that being in a teachers’ union guarantees reasonable pay, and don’t believe I suggested I did by not spelling that out. That would be a very silly thing to claim considering how underpaid nearly all US workers are, and how long wage stagnation has been a trend for everyone but the top earners. Having relatively higher pay isn’t at all the same thing as being paid a livable wage.

            1. quill*

              The unions’ power is very dependent on how much legislators have gutted public service unions in the last twenty years. OP should talk to the local union for sure, but also persue other avenues.

            2. Leslie*

              I’m in Wisconsin and we don’t have bargaining rights, and in Missouri, we had an association with very little power, but couldn’t be in a union.

    2. Jojo*

      I also just want to second not blaming yourself for not looking earlier. These are crazy times. You were understandably emotionally cautious about “counting chickens” (and as someone who has dealt with a late pregnancy loss and then a successful pregnancy – I totally get. I had trouble even daring to hope/accept that we would have a child until a short period AFTER our child was born healthy). And then you were post-pardum in a pandemic.

      This is not a time for coulda-woulda-shoulda. This is a time for self care and forgiveness, and being proud about all the things you actually did accomplish, which are pretty huge.

      1. Artemesia*

        My kids are middle aged — both times I looked for child care starting when I was 3 mos pregnant and it pretty much required that. It was hard to find even with that lead time — so yeah, this should be a caution to other parents that child care is ALWAYS hard to find and as soon as you know roughly when you will need it you need to track down the waiting lists. We were on the pre-school waiting lists two years in advance (then they took kids at age 2)

        1. Perfectly Particular*

          LW1 – I don’t want to assume your situation, but don’t forget that your son’s other parent may also be entitled to FMLA for up to 12 weeks to care for a newborn. Maybe they could take a leave to cover that gap from end of January to March?

          1. SpaceySteph*

            YES! FMLA for bonding with a newborn is available for both parents. My husband has taken a few weeks off after my leave for both of our children, and it is the best. It’s much easier emotionally to leave your kid with their parent than at daycare so it helps me mentally transition, and its also easier logistically to have my return to the office and pumping and everything before adding the extra layer of complication from getting both parents and all the kids, and all their lunches and bottles and stuff out of the house together in the morning.

            This is also especially true if LW’s partner is a man because until men start taking their family leave it will continue to be considered a liability with hiring women of childbearing age that one day they’ll have a baby and leave you in the lurch (for a paltry 12 weeks, how dare!)

            1. Justme, The OG*

              I work in higher education and my coworker had a baby recently. Because both she and her spouse are employed at the same place, they had 12 weeks to split between them. I bring this up because I know of A LOT of married couples where both are teachers.

              1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

                YES, and most people don’t know that if spouses are employed by the same employer the 12 weeks has to be split between them! My husband and I would have been caught in this trap if it wasn’t for our state passing a paid family leave act that went into effect 6 months before my baby was born.

              2. Lenora Rose*

                That feels inappropriate — like, go to the union and/or escalate the question to the top levels of inappropriate; if both spouses would get 12 weeks’ leave if they worked in separate companies, or two different people with two different children would get 12 weeks each working for the same company, two different employees who are parents of the same child should each get a separate leave allowance, even for the same child.

                Of course, as this site so often reminds us, things that are unfair or inappropriate may still be within the rules, and if it’s insurance that makes the decision, they LOVE jerkish loopholes like this one.

                1. FridayFriyay*

                  FMLA is a federal law, and FMLA has this loophole, it’s not an employer policy. Obviously employers could choose to be more generous than the federal minimum but… you know.

              3. SpaceySteph*

                My husband and I also work at the same company so here’s my loophole to the loophole:
                The 12 weeks to share only applies to newborn bonding, not to illness/injury to a family member. The first 6 weeks of maternity leave is for the birth parent to recover from birth, it is not shared leave. Both parents can take this leave if married, the birth parent to recover from delivery and the non-birth parent to care for the recovering birth parent.
                Then the next 6 weeks of leave for the birth parent are care and bonding with newborn. If the non-birth parent goes back to work before the 6 week mark then they didn’t use any of the shared newborn bonding time yet.

                So in the OP’s case, if her partner is currently taking leave they should go back and save remaining FMLA to bridge the gap between OP’s leave and daycare starting.

                [Note there’s still a max of 12 weeks FMLA per year for ANY reason (and company may choose to count as calendar year or for 12 months starting at the first day of leave) so nobody can take 6 weeks recover + 12 weeks bonding, for example; or 12 weeks for newborn and then later 6 weeks for caring for an elderly parent. Although many companies do not hold you to the FMLA limit and would offer additional leave, not every company is so generous]

            2. OP1*

              How I wish this were a real possibility for us. My husband works in construction at a company with fewer than 25 employees. So he doesn’t get FMLA. There is a shortage of construction workers in our city and he’s high up in his company, and his absence would definitely ‘jeopardize the viability of the business,’ so there’s not even paid leave for emergency stuff under the CARES Act either despite the fact that his boss is really great.

              To make matters worse, my husband doesn’t have (and has NEVER HAD at any construction job in 20+ years) healthcare at his job. All of that comes through my job. So if I don’t go back to work, we don’t have any healthcare–an idea that scares the crap out of me during a pandemic. Yes, we “could” get COBRA. It is offered, but it’s is just over $2k a month for my family of 4. We could get coverage for the kids only through our state’s Medicaid program (my husband’s income is above $40,000/yr, so only the kids would qualify, not all 4 of us), but then we’d still need to buy catastrophic coverage, which is about $1k/month. I had to do this during my unpaid FMLA leave with baby 1, and had to go to the ER because I could not stop vomiting from a daycare bug my daughter gave me, and it cost me another $1k–the catastrophic coverage literally did not pay out one penny because the deductible was $4k. It was really stressful to have a spouse working in construction in the pre-ACA days, and I don’t want to go back to that during a pandemic if I can avoid that scenario in any way. So I have thought this aspect through pretty thoroughly, and the best option is still for me to go back to work. :(

              1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

                I was a single mom and worked in early childhood education so mass sympathies for trying to find a infant spot. Somethings I’d recommend: Look around the neighborhood (and thru social media) for retired nurses, or stay at home moms, college students with no classes on X day of the week who might be willing to provide care for your little one until one of those waiting lists call you back. You might even have to go with a couple of people to cover your work week. Try reaching out to other parents to see if they know anyone. I see people posting looking for babysitters or nannies on neighborhood groups and back in the day even flyers in local stores on bulletin boards. There was practically no place that accepted infants when my kid was born. I had a retired nurse who lived 2 houses down watch him 3 days a week, a relative who covered 2, and if I need care on the weekend (worked retail at the time) then it was which ever friend or teen was available. Once had to pull my son out of a home daycare and it was a 2 week gap until he could start in a center. I had just started a new job. There was 1 day I literally knocked on doors to see which moms in the neighborhood was home and another where I bribed the local roofers (it was rainy and cold that week so they were getting laid off until after the holidays) with my car so they could go to the unemployment office. And on my days off, I always took everyone else’s kids so they could make it work. This was the early 90’s in a poor/blue collar neighborhood. It was unorthodox and seems insane in today’s well regulated society but back then it was what ever it took to survive, put food on the table, and help each other out.

              2. Monday Monday*

                I hear you! I just wanted to offer encouragement because when my baby was born many years ago the daycare I wanted had a 1 year wait list!!!! I put my name on the list and went somewhere else in the meantime but I got called within a month. I am thinking you could be in that same boat. That so many people have put their name on so many lists that when they get called for a spot they don’t take their name off the other lists. I am hoping this is the case for you and you get a call soon!!!

              3. AVP*

                In that case you might need to get a temp nanny if you can’t beg a family member to do this for free. I’m sorry, that absolutely sucks, but it sounds like it might be cheaper for you to get paid and have your family health insurance taken care of and then turn around and pay most of that money back out to someone else than just not working.

                This sounds ridiculous but…that’s what people generally do in this situation – either beg/borrow/steal favors from relative and friends, or throw an unfathomable sum of money at the problem to make it go away.

                1. A*

                  Ya – I’m on month two out of three of being the primary child care provider for my best friend’s kiddo M-F during the days. She had a 3 month gap between having to go back to work and the open daycare spot she was able to grab – both her and her husband are essential workers that work in the field so they were in a bind.

                  Luckily I’m working from home and am in a salaried position without coverage issues so I multitask working & childcare during the day (which realistically is like 90% childcare, 10% working), and catchup on my work at night. Not ideal, but current times give new definition to ‘it takes a village’!

              4. ExpatReader*

                Hi OP1. I’m a few days late so don’t know if you’ll see this. However, when my oldest was born, I would’ve had to go back from FMLA for something like two weeks before the end of the year. It really didn’t make sense to try to find coverage for those two weeks before the summer break, so my district just let me take unpaid leave for those days – we retained health insurance coverage (she was on mine) as well.

                In other words, just talk to your principal so they can go to bat with you with district HR. Most districts are HURTING for teachers, they’re not going to fire you because of this. Also, network with the other teachers, they may have a nanny-share going that your principal can clue you in to. (Hell, maybe an unused classroom can be turned into an on-site nanny-share! That would be some creative problem-solving!) If you haven’t already, you might post in Nextdoor to see if another local family is using a nanny and would be willing to allow you to nanny-share until you can get into a daycare.

                Congrats on your little one!

        2. Cait*

          I also started looking for childcare while I was pregnant (about 6 months). One place I looked at encouraged us to get our names on the list right away and the other was like, “Why are you searching so early? Call us again after you give birth!”. I was kind of flabbergasted by that because I had only ever encountered daycares that had long waitlists. I probably should’ve seen the red flags but I signed my daughter up for the second place and now we’re desperately trying to get her out of there and into the first place. So she wound up on the waitlist anyway.

      2. Stitch*

        My cousin is a teacher and she actually had childcare but then the daycare lost a staff member and so they had to drop some kids to keep the ratios. Childcare is rough right now.

      3. Magda*

        I live in a major metro area where people get on wait lists shortly after they get pregnant, and in some cases even before – including putting down a deposit. I had never considered what happens for people who suffer stillbirths; Lord, I hope the childcare places let the get their money back. How terrible.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Yep, there was a 16-month waitlist for infant care back in 2014-2015. So you had to sign up and pay a deposit before you were even pregnant.

          Now the situation is so bad that my daughter’s elementary isn’t even letting new students join the waitlist for before and after care; they can’t retain and hire workers and are doing lottos to identify which existing students to *drop* from the programs.

          The U.S. childcare system is broken. If employers want parents to keep coming to work, they’re going to have to step in to help. Because so far the government hasn’t done nearly enough.

          1. OP1*

            Because of employee shortages, our local town/school district also resorted to a lottery for before and after school care this year. They send out an email that says “the lottery’s open, come drop off your paperwork and pray” (just kidding, they don’t say and pray). The lottery was actually a WAY higher priority for me when pregnant. My daughter was real and the baby still felt theoretical, so I made VERY sure I didn’t miss that email or that window. I filled out that paperwork and took it to the district office less than 4 hours after they sent out the alert. My daughter was the very last child’s name drawn in the lottery, so she has a slot for before and after school care for this year. If I hadn’t at least gotten that right, I don’t know what we would do. There is no way I’d even be thinking about the baby’s daycare yet if I was still trying to find care for before/after kindergarten.

            1. DiplomaJill*

              I’m having flashbacks to my first pregnancy — due to a congenital condition I didn’t know if my child would live after birth. I tried to look for a daycare but broke down on every daycare tour (stress + uncertainty + everyone else’s healthy babies). The only reason I found a daycare is because I found one that was in the process of being built AKA IT WAS EMPTY. I toured a baby less facility.

              And then I signed up, and the waiting list wasn’t too long, and everything fell together, and I had a child who is overall healthy, tho with many hospitalizations, etc.

              But the weight of finding a daycare during an uncertain pregnancy? Yeah. I don’t blame you one bit. Good luck, and don’t blame yourself.

      4. Some dude*

        Want to third this. Everyone I know is having child care issues for the reasons other people have mentioned. I also want to say that even in the beforetimes it was hard to find childcare, and a new parent should be forgiven for not knowing that they have to get on waiting lists for care basically from the moment of conception.

        1. A*

          I had no idea until reading this thread that people had to apply so early even before COVID! I knew there were challenges trying to get a spot in between terms – but had NO idea it could be 1+ year out!

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      Also, mention this to your colleagues and friends. Someone may know of something like a nanny-share that would cover you for that gap! It might be more expensive but temporary.

      1. Pickle*

        This this this! Nanny shares are super prevalent now. You split the cost with another family. Try searching on Facebook for a local nanny share group.

        1. Magda*

          Seconding this! And often the timing is a bit weird around here – someone may be *eager* to share for just a month while they wait for a new family to enter or whatever. You never know. I think nannies are considered too expensive for the average person to consider, but my friends have claimed it’s not that much more expensive in the end (plus all your money is going to the person doing work for you, which is nice).

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            My friends have had the same experience. For them the “break even” point between daycare vs nanny share was when 3-4 families split. My brother lucked into one where it ended up about $50 cheaper a week AND all the families were within a 3 block radius, which is a MFing godsend because it is super easy to rotate between houses.

            1. ABBBBK*

              We had luck with home daycares while our kids were infants, then moving them to a center at about 12 mths. We also combined center and home daycare with nanny share for a while while we were waiting for a full time opening. I’ve also had friends combine 2 centers until a full time spot opened up. I first got pregnant in a place where you had to put yourself on the waiting list when you first got pregnant (pre-pandemic even), so people got super creative.

            2. WorkingParent*

              For infant care our break even point was soloing a nanny. It was also easier to find a full time nanny than it was to find an infant day care with a less than 12 month waiting list.

              I was also floored that starting to look for daycare in my second trimester was basically too late. Wild, wild experience.

              We’d planned to do a nanny for the first year, and then move to a day care when the rates dropped out of the infant cost range. We ended up just keeping the nanny until preschool and being grateful we could. Probably won’t work for teaching, but I had set up with my work being able to bring my baby in (I already had a private office, and its a laid back team) I then met my baby, who was not going to put up with that, and was extra glad we found the nanny.

              1. VintageLydia*

                “I then met my baby….” It’s so hilarious all the plans we make when we realize oh no our kids are also human with their own opinions Been there, let me tell you…

      2. quill*

        Seconding the nanny thing – there’s also a number of educators who retired / left the profession “early” hunting for jobs as nannies right now.

    4. Mel*

      In my preschool class right now, I have 3 kids with pregnant parents. *One* of those kids got into the infant program because it filled up in a flash. With my oldest kid, I remember going to at least 10 places and they were full–and that was when I was 6 months pregnant. (Like….did people call when the test said positive?! How is this possible?!) Infant care also has a much lower ratio (my state is 1:4, and our school can only have 8 infants in the room on any given day bc of the size of the room)
      Early Childhood is a mess right now.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I don’t have kids, but worked with early childhood providers in my last job. I feel really terrible both for parents trying to find childcare and for providers. Early childhood care is one of the most under-paid and under-valued jobs in society, and the pandemic has made everything exponentially more complicated for early care facilities. And the incredibly low pay combined with high Covid risk means that a lot of employees are just choosing to do something else instead.
        Unfortunately, this sector was not in a great state with staffing even before Covid, so it’s unlikely that things are going to improve soon. OP #1, I wish you the best of luck finding childcare, and I hope some of the other suggestions in the comments will help you.

        1. $10.15!!!!!!!!!!!*

          I have no kids and just graduated college so I know basically no one with kids. I haven’t been able to find much in my field that pays over $15 an hour, so I thought to myself, hey I like kids, I could totally pass a background check and that might supplement my income while I intern elsewhere or something. Who knows maybe it’s a career if I like it enough. I can live off $30,000 for a few years. (which is what I assumed they made for some reason). So I look it up and the average pay for a daycare worker is $10.15. $10.15! For keeping small children alive and shaping young minds. And the more I think about it the more I realize that if the parents are paying the people watching their kids a quarter of $10.15, (4 infants for one adult) then the parents have to be making so much money a month, and now I wonder if I’ll ever be able to afford kids. Anyway, I’m going to have an existential crisis, but congratulations on the baby letter writer! I’m genuinely excited for you.

          1. Beth*

            The parents are likely paying significantly more than a quarter of $10.15, too. The caregiver’s wages are only one part of the cost of operating the business; there’s also renting the space, buying supplies and furniture, paying administrative staff, paying insurance costs, etc. Childcare is tough because you end up with parents struggling to afford it AND workers simultaneously being massively underpaid, even when everything is well-run.

            1. Magda*

              More than the fixed costs, let’s be real there’s also probably a CEO/investors/shareholders of the group scooping up most of the profit right?

              1. Beth Jacobs*

                Any private company has a margin, that’s in their definition, but even non-profit centres are expensive.

              2. Disintegration*

                Most childcare centers run as non-profits so there is no CEO/investors/shareholders… the margins are razor-thin.

                1. Magda*

                  This is so interesting; it’s one of those situations that have always confused me, because everyone I know is paying $20-40K a year for childcare – almost a middle-class wage, more than some of my friend are making themselves – and there are anywhere from 7 babies to 20 toddlers in a center (right?) yet the workers are making $10 an hour, no benefits and understaffing is rampant. Rent is one thing, and a good chunk has gotta be going to insurance (CEO/shareholder there) – maybe it’s the admin.

                2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

                  I was the treasurer of our daycare (co-op nursery school) for a couple of years and wow, yeah, razor-thin is no exaggeration. We kept tuition as low as we possibly could, but it’s crazy expensive to run a daycare. Salaries, obviously, and we also paid a lot for health insurance for employees, the building costs, continuing education (required by state), licensing and inspection costs, and tons of insurance for the building, liability, etc. Not to mention classroom supplies, playground equipment, teeny-tiny furniture and plumbing fixtures that must meet state licensing requirements…oh my goodness, so many expenses that are not visible to the casual observer.

                  Some for-profit centers do better thanks to economies of scale, but even those are not making bank, I promise! And understaffing is only rampant if they’re flouting state law, which for in-home centers is more of an issue but most centers are really super careful about sticking to staffing minimums since it’s such a huge legal issue.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  @Magda – a big part is you need at least two staff to cover the equivalent of one parent/carer. If I care for my daughters on a day my partner is working (or vice versa, as today!), we look after them from 8am-6pm when the other gets home from work. We don’t have breaks or lunch to cover! When I send my daughter to nursery, a group of 4 children needs substantially more than one full-time worker’s day, even if the legal ratio is 1:4. Nursery is open from 7.30-6pm because people have to commute as well as work 9-5pm, so at a minimum you’re looking at a 10.5 hour day. Plus, childcare workers are workers, not looking after their own kids, so they’re entitled to lunch and breaks.. They have to meet educational and enrichment standards– again, unlike parents– so they need time away from kids to plan activities (at a minimum) and evaluate/assess/improve them. Someone needs to prepare food. Someone needs to bill parents/carers (our nursery finally has a finance person who knows how to use Excel, which is a GODSEND, I must say.) Someone needs to communicate with parents/carers.

                  Even the staff costs add up pretty quickly, and that’s before you get on to rent, food, materials/environment, laundry, insurance and all your other business costs. And because adult:child ratio is so critical, there’s very little economy of scale– a nursery that looks after 100 children can’t really save money compared to one that looks after 16 children.

                  The basic problem is that raising children is *incredibly* resource intensive in a society that doesn’t want to tolerate high levels of infant mortality, and just not something that closed-two parent families can reliably sustain.

                4. Anon for now*

                  That really depends on where you live. In the town I live (which has 20k residents), we have one daycare center, and it’s non-profit. Where I used to live (a suburb of midsize lower cost of living city) there was a kindercare, Goddard school, etc., on every block. The difference was what parents in the community could afford. Where I live now, childcare typically tops out at $200 a week and is usually less than that. So the daycare center we have has to be subsidized. Where I used to live daycare rates at the centers charged between $400-$600 a week. Those centers were making a ton of cash, even with their overhead and paying their employees like crap.

          2. Stitch*

            Nannying directly does do better. In my area nannys are a minimum of $20/hr with $25/hr being more common. For nanny shares and multiple kids they can ask for more. My kid’s daycare is paying a minimum of $14 hr now though we’re pushing for an increase. It’s a tough job.

            1. A*

              100%. I had several friends working in childcare – and ten years into our careers only one still standing. She makes close to six figures nannying, but it is INTENSE. She works with affluent families (one at a time, but she’s now on a referral only basis so she just passes from one rich family to another) and she tutors the kids in multiple subjects, is teaching them a second language, shuttles them to various extracurriculars etc.

              Can be great if that’s what you’re into – but definitely a different ball game than child care in the form of more basic supervision etc.

            1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

              Which is why there’s such a shortage of people willing to take on early childhood education and care; they may love doing it, be excellent at it, BUT they can’t support themselves on what it pays.

          3. Adam*

            Yep, that’s the crux of it. Lots of people already can’t afford to pay a share of current wages (plus rent for the building, an admin to do the paperwork, payroll taxes, etc), let alone more. Here in London you can’t really find nursery care for under 2s for less than £1000/month.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Under £1000 a month would be amazing! Our local non-profit community nursery in our Northern city is £300 a week.

          4. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yup. It’s an under-valued job because it’s mostly done by women and involves taking care of young kids – which is actually one of the most important things you can do. And in the city where I was working, there were a lot of recent immigrants in the Spanish, Mandarin or Cantonese immersion programs, and they would sometimes be exploited because they didn’t know US employment laws or speak much English.

            For anyone wondering about the crappy pay of early education workers vs the cost of childcare – it’s a business with high overheads and (correctly, because you want kids to be safe) a fair amount of regulations. It really needs to be a government-subsidised industry if you want people doing this very important job to be decently paid.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Oh, and I should have made it clear – when I moved to the US as a native English speaker, I had no idea another US employment law either. So I cannot imagine how much more difficult it is for people who don’t speak much English to determine their rights.

              1. Casper Lives*

                It’s somewhat regulated by insurance. The insurance costs are astronomical and insurance requires a lot to be met before a company will insure a childcare facility.

          5. Engineering Mom*

            The part that flabbergasts me: our daycare center pays $10/hr for skilled, trained early childcare workers. The going rate for high-school aged babysitters in my area? $10/hr!

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Hopefully the daycare pay comes with some benefits, which would make the babysitter’s rate comparable to an independent contractor charging more per hour because they cover their own benefits. *Hopefully.*

              1. Magda*

                Yea, I agree childcare should be subsidized so workers can be paid properly, but you can’t compare the hourly rate of a one-off job with the hourly rate of a full or part time job. As someone who used to freelance, a great rate for a few hours of work doesn’t pay the bills (well, it pays one bill one time, but then there are more bills).

                1. too many too soon*

                  I’m down with paying for other people’s reproductive choices, but maybe those of us supporting the system by *not* having kids can get some subsidies as well.

              2. Mockingjay*

                They don’t have benefits. My daughter worked as a preschool teacher in a church school (really more of a mother’s morning out day care program than a true preschool – they took infants and toddlers). She made $13 an hour to start and eventually got to $15 after 3 years (it was a fairly wealthy downtown church), but it was only half days and no work in the summer. She made up the difference as an afternoon and summer break nanny for school-age children. While that paid well, the hours were erratic and she didn’t get paid for the weeks when the family vacationed (frequent occurrence) or the kids had off school. She looked at full-time day care jobs for stability, but those paid $10 – $11/hour.

                She finally got a job in an automotive call center and while Customer Service is not her profession of choice, the job is giving her more money, regular 40 hours, insurance, and a chance to build business skills (they’ll train her to move up or to other business areas). She’ll never go back to child care. She couldn’t afford to live on it.

                1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

                  Sometimes they do — my kids’ daycare paid for 90% of employees’ health insurance.

            2. Rayray*

              Yeah, childcare workers are grossly underpaid. That’s why no one wants to do it. They could work at a warehouse for double the pay.

              1. Plant Lady*

                I worked at and early learning center for 4 years, mainly in the two year old classroom. I loved it, but the pay was abysmal – I made minimum wage for 3 years before getting a $0.50 raise. $8/hour for the hardest job I’ve ever had. I did have good health insurance but it was $180/month. After insurance and taxes I made $1,000/month. That was ten years ago,

                I started nannying after leaving the center. I now make $25/hour for 2 year old twins.

              2. PT*

                This was awhile ago, but my friend in college was an early childhood ed major (bachelor’s). We lived in a state where it was impossible to get into the public school system without a master’s, so that meant she had to work daycares until she got her master’s degree.

                She was making something like $10 an hour at one place and then salaried to $25K at the other. This was *right* before the recession, but it was still shockingly low even for then.

            3. Paris Geller*

              I have a few friends who worked in early education. During the pandemic, they all got employment elsewhere.
              I’m not a parent but I see the frustration. I applaud the workers who have been underpaid and undervalued for so long saying enough is enough and going to somewhere that will pay them a living wage, but I see how difficult it is for my friends who are parents right now. It’s such a big issue with any field having to deal with children though — public schools, early childhood education/daycare centers, etc.

          6. TheSockMonkey*

            I live in a major metropolitan area. Five years ago I paid $1400 per month at a home daycare for one kid. Daycare centers started at least $1600 per month. Currently paying $600 per month for before and after school care at the elementary school and $1100 per month for HALF day toddler preschool. This is why the U.S. birth rate is falling. And why people have kids in their 30s rather than 20s.

            1. braindump*

              That is only part of why the birth rate is falling. Increased education for women is correlated with fewer births per woman, even in countries with much better maternal care/options than US.

              Agreed about later births, but I very rarely hear that women put off kids entirely because they can’t afford it. My anecdata tells me more women that want kids would rather drop out of the workforce than not have kids, but I don’t know. I’m actually curious how many women that desperately want kids have put them off entirely due to finances.

              1. Lore*

                Speaking only for myself and my immediate social circle, women who were on the fence, including myself, definitely factored cost into it. I was single throughout my thirties and thought long and hard about whether single parenthood was a thing to consider but with no family in the area (and even if they had been my parents were still working at that point), the finances of affording both childcare and a home big enough for myself and a child would have been unsustainable without a major career change or 20 hrs a week of freelance work on top of job.

                1. Joielle*

                  Yeah, that tracks for myself and my social circle too – mostly highly-educated career-focused people now in their mid-30s. The people who really wanted kids had them and cobbled together some combination of family care, part-time work schedules, and part-time childcare to make ends meet, but for all but the wealthiest, it’s still a struggle. Those of us who were on the fence (me included) have decided against, largely due to cost.

              2. Lenora Rose*

                I have kids, but at least three women in my circle said at one point that they did, and have decided not to, or been putting it off, and one who has been trying is… more ambivalent about her lack of success than she used to be. Finances have never been the only factor, but they were one of the factors in all three cases.

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  did *want kids*, not did have kids. That first sentence reads VERY oddly without the key words.

                  (visions of Stardew Valley’s thing where you can pay an evil shrine to turn your kids into birds and have them fly away)

              3. wittyrepartee*

                If I could expect more societal support, I’d be considering having kids now rather than (hopefully) in 2-3 years.

              4. TheSockMonkey*

                We definitely waited to have a second kid until we could afford it. Both my husband and I got different jobs in slightly different fields that pay better but that we like less. We also timed it to have only one year with both in daycare. Having one of us drop out of the workforce wouldn’t get the bills paid

            2. Black Horse Dancing*

              Birthrate falling is great news. We already have almost 8 billion people. That is more than enough.

          7. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

            When I stopped working in daycares infant care cost $175-$200 a week for full time care. That was nearly a decade a go so I can only imagine how much more expensive it’s probably gotten.

            1. Freya*

              The average cost of childcare in my city in Australia is about $125 per day. Some is subsidised by the government (up to 85% for low income earners sending their kid(s) to accredited childcare) but that also assumes you can find a place. And you have to pay for that place whether or not your child is well enough to be there.

              (5 days at $125/day -> AU$625/week which approximates US$450/week)

          8. DataSci*

            They’re paying waaaaay more than that. In many states infant care costs more than in-state college tuition.

      2. Ubergaladababa*

        Pretty much, yeah. We toured daycares and got on lists well before we started telling family and friends at 12 weeks, and still didn’t get off any of those lists by the time I went back to work when my daughter was 7 months old. And that was pre-pandemic!

        We ended up finding a home-based childcare (rather than a center, but still fully licensed and regulated) and it ended up being great, as well as cheaper. But it was a stressful couple months when we realized we weren’t going to get off the lists!

      3. PostalMixup*

        Yes. Line turned pink on Saturday, I was on seven wait lists by Wednesday, I took a ten week leave and had a spot at ONE center. Most of them didn’t end up with opening until two months after I needed it. And this was in Before Times. I have a coworker that had a spot this fall, but the center had to downsize due to lack of staff and she had to scramble (ended up at a lower quality center; they’re seriously considering shelling out for a nanny until they get in somewhere else off the wait list because of Serious Issues). Our center has had to close rooms to maintain staffing ratios. Fortunately, they haven’t had to kick out any current families in the process.

      4. Carlie*

        Even when I needed baby care over 20 years ago that was the case – I did call to get on the wait list the minute I knew I was pregnant, had some priority because I already had one child in the place, and still had to wait three months after they were born to get them in. (and it was at the only place I could afford because it was state-funded and had a sliding fee scale based on income). The complete collapse in childcare that we’re seeing now has been a long time in development.

      5. GovParent*

        I live in DC and I went on one waitlist when I tested positive and another when I was 12 weeks. I didn’t get off the first one until my kid was 6 months old. And this was BEFORE Covid. I’ve since had miscarriages and wouldn’t be able to face going on a list that early

      6. straws*

        Like….did people call when the test said positive?!

        ngl, I’ve already informed our daycare that we’re thinking about having another kid. I haven’t even told my mom that. We’re obviously not on a waitlist since I’m not pregnant and we haven’t even fully decided yet, but it felt important to me to put the idea in their heads…

    5. Who the eff is Hank?*

      Echoing this- you’re not alone OP #1! My son is 8 months old, born in February 2021. I started putting him on waitlists at childcare facilities when I was 6 months pregnant in November 2020. I believe the earliest potential spot I may get is going to be in April 2022, when he’s a year and two months old. For those who don’t want to do the math, that’s a 17 month wait for a spot.

      Until then I’m working weird flex hours (it’s currently almost midnight where I am and I’m up working) and he’s had to accompany me to Zoom meetings. It’s not great but it’s all I’ve got right now.

      1. Jojo*

        This may have been and probably was a total anomaly, but I mention in case it is helpful to someone. We also waited too long when I was pregnant, and ended up with a really long wait list. Oops. My wife somehow managed to charm the daycare, and get up the list. She worked in the building, and would just go by frequently and check on the status of the waitlist, and befriended the manager. I would love to tell you how she managed to do it, but she’s one of those people that everyone really loves, and it kind of sneaks up on everyone, because she is quiet and introverted and not pushy. But she’s just really likable and nice, and it wins people over. Anyway, the next thing I know, the daycare is telling her they’ll find a way to take care of us, and then we managed to get a slot when we needed it.

        Obviously, that doesn’t work every time, and there maybe places that’s impossible. And it can’t work for everyone, for obvious reasons.

        But I wonder if these waitlist, the daycare‘s may know that people get on multiple less, so maybe if you seem really engaged, and someone that they wouldn’t mind having to deal with every day, because you’re nice and polite and respectful and kind, maybe there’s a way remove yourself up the list. I know a lot of times women (me included) don’t think to ask for things and bargain for things like that, which is why I mention. It never hurts to try.

    6. Stitch*

      Even pre-COVID I was on waiting lists when I was 8 weeks pregnantand still didn’thave Carr until my son was 5 months old. At the daycare I send my kid to (I’m one of the parent liaisons) we’re down an infant room because they simply can’t find enough people to staff it, even adding on wage increases and signing bonuses. We have a dozen siblings (highest priority) currently on the infant waitlist, not counting other kids.

      This is in no way blaming LW, but even if it feels like jinxing things, if you’re someone who’s pregnant and reading this and you haven’t gotten on waitlists, call right now and get on them.

      1. Magda*

        In my large urban area people sign up before they get pregnant; it’s part of their planning to start trying! So weird that we’ve come to this.

      2. Janey-Jane*

        This is me. I signed up the new sibling 3 months pregnant and thought, surely there would be no issues, as a sibling with top priority, and 10-11 months of notice. Nope. No room, because of staff. Temporarily shutting down the infant room. I literally had two months to find something else…and obviously there was nothing else out there for an infant with two months notice.

    7. Forget My Name Again*

      The nursery where my children ended up at had a policy that you weren’t allowed to sign up to the waiting list when you were pregnant; you had to have a child. I think this was to try and discourage the huge waiting lists, but it didn’t have much effect.

      I would definitely be signed up to all three waiting lists in OP’s shoes now, and cross fingers and hope that a space opens up sooner than expected. Good luck!

    8. Sal*

      Adding my own infant-care sob story to the thread. I had a nightmarishly colicky baby, who stayed colicky for months. We were living in Manhattan at the time, but I worked in Brooklyn and my husband worked in New Jersey, so we had three areas to look. I didn’t start touring places til baby was 3-4 months old (because the colic really took it out of me, to be honest)—which was about 7-8 months before she needed a daycare spot. (I went back to work when she was 9 months old and my husband took care of her from 9-11 months while on summer vacation.) We got off of one waitlist. ONE. I don’t know what we would have done. I could not have taken more unpaid leave and still paid our rent. It was incredibly stressful (and the daycare she ended up in required me to add a separate bus and/or subway to my commute…).

      Two points to add: now that we’re older and more well-established, in a similar position, I would see whether we could absorb the increased costs of a nanny for the period without coverage, compared the the potential cost of either me or my husband losing their job and then having to find a new one. Our respective last few job hunts have been terrible, so that would probably weigh in favor of the nanny.

      And two, you’re a parent first. If the daycare your son gets off the waitlist first is the one that gave you the willies on the tour (babies looked sad, teachers looked mad, you didn’t get a good vibe), you really don’t have to send your kid there anyway. That would really be sacrificing your family to the capitalist machine in my opinion. I’ve been in bad daycare situations (child cries at drop-off every day for months; I ignore because finding new daycare is a hassle; daycare subsequently shut down unexpectedly upon arrest of owner/operator for alleged, probably-false, abuse, but still) and it’s really, really hard to forgive yourself afterwards as a parent. At the end of the day, your job is just your job but your kid is your kid.

      1. Stitch*

        That actually happened to me, the daycare I got off first had a report where a teacher put a kid in a closet as punishment and the kid’s fingers got smashed in the door. Nope.

      2. Yorick*

        I know this isn’t the point, but I just want to say: I worked at a daycare for 3 summers while in college and there were many kids who cried so hard at every drop off, but they were happy and playing with their friends about 2 minutes after their parent left. I remember only 1 or 2 who really seemed to miss their parents for an extended part of the morning.

        1. Sal*

          Yup! That’s what I used to tell myself! However, it was significantly worse at this place than at her previous place (at her old place, she would scream at drop-off consistently for about six weeks, then we could have some chiller ones (unless, god help us, we went on vacation–when we came back, six more weeks of screaming, just an absolute and total reset)–at this place, she never stopped screaming), and her teacher always looked deeply miserable. After the arrest, it became clear that (although I believe the charges–which were McMartin Preschool-type stuff–were probably false) the place had big issues with ratio etc. and so my vibe that her teacher was miserable was in fact correct. That teacher later became a nanny to twin former-classmates–I saw her on the street with them once and it was the first time I’d ever seen her smiling.

          I mean, to be clear, touring daycares with your sweet newborn (especially as a first-time parent), there’s going to be a lot that seems, like, bad (“HOW long until their diaper gets changed? What do you mean, you only change diapers after naptime?” or whatever). But you’re still allowed to get a bad feeling about a place and not choose it. (Even if it’s the March 2022 one and it’s your only option.)

        2. Dahlia*

          A lot of daycares will text you a picture of your kid during the day if you ask, also. Not all obviously – some have privacy concerns – but plenty will, and if you’re pretty sure it’s just drop off woes, a picture of your kid happily playing 10 minutes later might be reassuring.

      3. Anon for this*

        You can always look up a facility’s childcare license on the state website. It’ll list all reported violations for that facility.

        I used to work at The Nonprofit With The Disco Song and while I wasn’t working on the childcare side myself, checking their childcare license for violations was part of my due diligence before accepting a job. Violations in one area of the business tended to mean there were violations in the others. The one place I worked that had some Bad Stuff on their childcare license? You don’t even WANT to know what the rest of the business looked like. Ugh.

        1. OP1*

          There’s a disco song location very near to my house, and well, frankly, I didn’t even call them based on my tour 6 years ago while pregnant with my daughter. Left that poor of an impression.

    9. M2*

      #1 maybe your union has some sort of back up care? My spouses job has an option if this happens or if you need extra backup care and pre pandemic with the office subsidy it only cost someone $4 an hour (because the organization covered the rest) up to a certain number of hours a year. Now I think the organization covers the entire payment. And the backup care comes to your home! Again it’s not meant as full time care but if you are in a waiting list or say your daycare closes etc.

      I don’t want to be rude but you get what you pay for and the staff at most daycare facilities are paid nothing and many have no or little benefits. It is expensive because of the regulation and insurance that goes along with it.

      I do think it’s important the government subsidies this in some way, but they do if you are very poor not for working class people. The woman in my bathing class after I had my child at the hospital told me it was her third child and bc she was on Medicade (the state health plan paid by taxes and basically everything is free) she paid nothing for all 3 of her kids! While I had a $10k family deductible on my insurnace. She kept having kids because her benefits got bigger and she paid basically nothing to have them. Yet me a working person who scarped and saved to have my kid was out $10k to have mine. So yeah the systems are all messed up!

      LW1- can you check care.com? Look at your local next door app and see if there are any nanny shares or anything? Good luck!

      1. Temperance*

        Her food stamps might have gone up, and she might have gotten state medical insurance for the kids, but TANF (“welfare” payments) don’t increase per child any longer, and there are tons of restrictions on the program.

        I’m not on any kind of government aid, and my prenatal care is 100% free, covered by my insurance. I definitely didn’t get pregnant because I wouldn’t have to pay for appointments (I didn’t know until my first one, honestly), but it is a luxury.

      2. Sherman*

        Seconding care.com or sittercity.com! Our close friends have two kids, 2 and 3.5 and everyone has been WFH or daycare since March 2020. They found two really great nannies on those sites to work 8 am-4 pm for 2-3 days a week. (One of the grandma’s takes the other days.) I think they’re paying $20/hour. I realize they’re in a good financial position to do so while not everyone is, but perhaps it’s worth looking into those sites and seeing if you can find some good options? Good luck LW!

    10. Grogu's Mom*

      Yes, LW1 please stop kicking yourself for not doing this sooner. My daughter was also born in July 2021, we started looking for childcare immediately upon getting pregnant, over a year before we needed it, but we still came very close to not finding anything in time. Employers need to realize this is a totally different situation right now. When we started looking last October, the majority of centers were just plain closed and not responding to emails or calls. We couldn’t even find out what their tuition rates were, let alone get on any waitlists. Nobody was doing tours. The few centers that were open would put us on waitlists (for a hefty deposit) but they had no clue whether they would have any openings since everything was so unpredictable. It really wasn’t until mid-August that all the centers started to open back up again. For weeks, we only found open spots at places that were $1000/month over our budget and I was seriously thinking I’d have to tell my boss I couldn’t find any care (or take out a big loan to cover an expensive place). Our first choice center, where we’ve been on the waitlist since the beginning of 2021, decided that it was safer with Covid to keep all the current infants together rather then aging them up into the toddler room, so had zero fall slots. We are still hoping to get in there in January 2022. In the meantime, we did end up finding a place that was both affordable and available a couple of weeks ago, and she started there this week. We are not really happy with the quality and it’s a painfully long commute to get to it, but we are making it work at least for a few months. I’d suggest looking at places a bit farther out from you, but as a teacher your schedule might be so early that a longer commute wouldn’t work – unless you have a partner or relative who could do it? A nanny share, au pair, or full-time babysitter might be options, if you’re able to take a big hit to your budget. Also look into whether your employer might offer any back-up care benefit, which could potentially buy you at least a few days. (My employer just announced that we get 7 free days a year of back-up care as a new benefit; it’s a small thing that employers can look into to help with this nationwide childcare shortage!) Think short-term about what you could handle just on a temporary basis in terms of budget, commute, quality, etc. while waiting to get in somewhere. I hope for all of our sakes that more will open up soon!

    11. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My suggestion is to cast your search in other directions as well. Talk to other parents and anyone who may know of a childcare spot. One of my friends got childcare by chatting with another parent while waiting in line at the grocery store. The more people know that you are looking, the better the odds of finding something. Good luck with your little guy!

    12. Guacamole Bob*

      So I agree with the commenters who are saying that it’s not OP’s fault and that she shouldn’t beat herself up over not looking sooner…

      … but I’d also suggest that she prepare for a reaction of “everyone has this issue, and they all manage to figure it out, and I expect you to make it work” from an employer. It totally sucks, but lots of people end up in a series of short-term arrangements that aren’t really financially or logistically sustainable in that first year or two in order to have care – nannies, nanny shares, offset hours with a spouse, help from a family member who can come stay for a few weeks, in-home daycares in less convenient locations, etc. The pandemic has made it worse, but this has been an issue for a long time and employers have generally expected people to figure it out (which may or may not have anything to do with how many women don’t return as expected after their maternity leaves).

      I hope your employer is understanding and your union has your back. But I can easily imagine an employer reacting the same as if someone says they can’t come in for a week because their car broke down and there’s a backlog at the mechanic’s. What about taking the bus, a cab, getting a ride from a friend?

      1. Starbuck*

        Yep, a lot of places will just shrug and count on you being desperate enough to ‘just figure something out.’ But with all that I’m hearing in the news about teacher shortages, I hope OP’s school would find it in themselves to be flexible.

    13. oranges*

      I rushed here to say the same thing. Childcare waitlists in many places is WILD. I would have had no idea unless I experienced it myself. It’s just a baby, right? Why won’t someone let me pay them to watch it?!

      You did nothing wrong, I hope you find a great short and long term solution, and congrats on the baby!

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t have any kids and don’t think this is an esoteric concern. Why would someone want to take on the enormous responsibility and challenges of looking after children for the same (or less) pay than they’d get doing something else?

        1. oranges*

          I incorrectly assumed that the economics of pure supply and demand would balance out the childcare market. People have babies every second, many parents will need to pay others to watch it, why hasn’t capitalism created enough daycare centers to meet the needs of consumers?

          Of course the answer is an undervalue of caregiving because it is seen as a women’s role. Because when childcare is unavailable (like during a pandemic), nearly 1.8 million women drop out of the labor force and it’s not a huge priority to bring them back.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            I think it’s really just a place where the economic equilibrium is at a point where a lot of people are priced out and there’s not enough supply. That happens all the time – it’s just that in a market for luxury cars or big-screen TVs or whatever it’s fine if not everyone who wants one can afford to buy one. Since child care isn’t really optional the result is a market failure.

            In most states the regulated ratio of adults to infants is 1:2 to 1:4. Let’s go with 1:3. All of the other costs (insurance, benefits, administration, facilities, furnishings…) are significant – let’s say they’re equal to the salaries. That means that each family has to be paying costs equal to about 2/3rds of the full-time wages of a staff member in order for things to function. So anyone who doesn’t make at least 50% more than a child care worker (after taxes!) is going to be paying more for care than they’re bringing in by working. And if the job market is tight and salaries go up (as they should – child care is hard and important work!) the problem gets worse.

            The economics just don’t work. Which is why many, many countries have decided that subsidizing child care is the best way to ensure that it’s available and that workers get paid appropriately, because it’s in the best interests of the overall economy and other governmental goals.

          2. pancakes*

            I could give quite a few other reasons why the ideal of supply and demand doesn’t merit nearly that much faith, but we’d be getting very off topic! It’s not as if the ideal works perfectly with regard to industries that aren’t seen as women-centric.

    14. pancakes*

      Another common issue is that childcare workers are in the US are paid terribly low wages. I’ll link to a recent NYT article about this in a separate reply. A quote from it, in the meantime:

      “The median hourly pay is $12, and 98 percent of occupations pay more, according to data from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.”

    15. Cat Tree*

      I know you didn’t mean to imply this with your phrasing, but the issue is not the teacher to student ratio. Those ratios are correct and shouldn’t be changed just to make more slots available. Instead, childcare should be heavily subsidized and teacher salaries should be doubled or tripled to attract more teachers.

      1. Gothic Bee*

        Fully agree on subsidizing childcare. As someone who doesn’t want kids ever, I wish for every parent that the government would fix this because it should be something we subsidize specifically because it’s better for everyone. It’s something everyone should be concerned about because there are so many reasons why making it harder for people to have kids unless they have above a certain income is a bad idea.

        1. braindump*

          “unless they have above a certain income”

          I don’t even mind if billionaires used a subsidized childcare service. Libraries are “free” for all; public schools are “free” for all, needing the fire department is “free” for all etc. All publicly subsidized services should be free. Just tax the rich more! Let them pay for a private service (like they do already) if they’re not happy with the public version.

          1. Dahlia*

            Similarly there’s research showing that making lunch free for all kids, regardless of family income, makes it more accessible to poor kids, less stigmatizing, and helps create a sense of community.

    16. Cascadia*

      There’s a great podcast (also depressing, frustrating, infuriating) called “No one is coming to save us” about the childcare crisis in America. It’s only 4 episodes, and it does end on a somewhat hopeful note but yeesh. It does a great job of summing up how dire the situation is in the US, what the issues specifically are, and what are some possible solutions. Highly recommend for anyone remotely interested in this predicament!

    17. CG*

      We also waited longer than is recommended to look for childcare. It’s really overwhelming and I totally hear you on not wanting to jinx anything. We had good luck with last minute openings at at-home daycare, if you haven’t already tried that. We loved our experience and it was so much cheaper than a center in our area. Good luck!!

    18. Anon for now*

      Well said. And infant care is particularly challenging. Where I live it’s no unusual for people to have to drive up to an hour for childcare.

    19. TeacherTeacher*

      LW1, fellow educator here! If you do take that March opening, may I suggest care.com or something similar for child care? When I was waiting for a care spot to open for my daughter (specific placement because I was fostering and wanted my now-adopted daughter in care with her biological siblings), I found a young woman on care.com to fill the gap. She is the BEST, my daughter adored her then and adores her now as she still babysits for us…and when my daughter started daycare, the sitter was able to cover some days when my kiddo was recovering from ear infections so that I didn’t have to get a sub/make sub plans.

      ALSO, ask your colleagues! They might have a neighbor/friend/college age kid who could fill the gap as well. Good luck and congrats!

    20. A Non E. Mouse*

      If you aren’t adverse to a religious flavor to your childcare, many churches offer day care programs that follow state regulations and have qualified teachers. They just include some religious teachings.

      We are a non-religious family, but used a church-based pre-school for our children that was excellent. We just explained that some people (including the very fantastic teachers there!) believed in that stuff and we didn’t, isn’t the world a wonderfully diverse place.

      And weird little tip I’ve learned over the decades of parenting: a decent percentage of firefighters and police officers have stay-at-home partners that offer home based childcare services. USUALLY to other firefighter/police families, but if they have an opening some consider other professions. If you have some friends in those professions, or even neighbors who are in those professions, you might ask for references.

      Caveat: I’ve never run across a home-based daycare that isn’t cash only. So, there’s that.

      1. Stitch*

        My experience is most of those church based preschools usually don’t take kids until age 2 and rarely before age 1.

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          It definitely varies – some take newborns (or a sister church does).

          One of the worst parts of parenting is finding child care. It’s never something you can do at a leisurely pace, it’s always at the absolute WORST time for work that you have to find/switch care or there’s some sort of outbreak at the school that requires everyone stay home for 48 hours.

          I am very glad the Small Kid days are behind me, and I have so much sympathy for OP#1!

    21. Rana*

      I know OP wasn’t asking for help finding childcare but just in case it’s helpful to them or anyone else, I found that the best resource was your local mom’s facebook group (search “[Your Town] Moms” and I’d be shocked if something didn’t come up). You will find opinions on daycare centers but also recommendations for home daycares, which can be harder to find on a google search. Perhaps they are not for everyone, but I have my son in a home daycare and we love it. Sure, the provider doesn’t have a degree in early childhood education, but he’s not even two yet, he just needs someone to be kind to him and make sure he doesn’t eat too many rocks. Home daycares can be less regulated, I do recommend finding one that is licensed with the state (which means they have to follow regulations and are subject to inspections) and then ask for phone numbers of other parents to get a sense of what it’s like. Before you visit, you can google lists of questions to ask specifically for a home daycare (for example, I wouldn’t have thought to ask if other family members were in the home during daycare hours).

      I was terrified of not getting daycare and did start looking while I was pregnant, but I was asking about spots 9 months out (post-maternity leave) and some home daycares didn’t even keep waiting lists that went out that far. I think you’re much more likely to find someplace without a waiting list if you are open to home daycares.

      1. Rana*

        Also, that Facebook group is where you will find people wanting to do a nanny share as well. The one for my town has posts constantly from people looking for someone to share with.

      2. braindump*

        ” be kind to him and make sure he doesn’t eat too many rocks.”
        Growing up, this was called “mom’s neighbor with kids around the same age”.

      3. Dahlia*

        There’s a home daycare in my town that is absolutely wonderful – the lady who runs it has a really good schedule, and she takes(/took pre-Covid) the kids to so many of the free educational activities we have in town. I’m always so impressed by how well she handles the kids, and they love her.

    22. Momma Bear*

      Firstly, congrats!!

      Second, a lot of centers are short staffed or have had to cut the number of kids per class. It’s just hard. I agree to take the March slot and tell them that you’d like to be wait listed in case something else opens up sooner. I did start looking early, and my kid arrived early, leaving me with several weeks to cobble together when I returned to work. Another suggestion is to have your partner or another family member take some family leave at the end of your leave so that you can eek out the weeks until daycare is available. FMLA does not need to be taken in 12 week blocks.

    23. OP1*

      OP1 here. I wanted to post more replies throughout the day, but just didn’t work out with a baby. But he’s in bed now, and I have read through every single comment here, and I want to say a hearty Thank You to all who posted. I especially want to thank you all so. freaking. much. for the fact that only one person out of hundreds of comments suggested my mother do it. BLESS YOU. I love my mother very much and also, she cannot.


      Generally plan A is to get on the list for the March place and keep looking. The March place won’t let me on the list at all until I tour (grr so frustrating–my other kid already went there! I know what it is like!) AND pay a nonrefundable deposit, but I’ll shell it out.

      I understand the ratio issues, the pay issues, the US policy issues, and this isn’t my first rodeo at this, so I’m open to pretty much anything, and I will continue to consider every angle. I’d already considered a ton of these angles (my husband gets no FMLA :( and we need the insurance), but I got some new ideas here and I’m going to try them all–particularly calling my EAP, calling the 211/childcare referral again, looking more on Facebook (cringe, but fine, I’ll do it!), and being louder and more vocal at my church that I need ALL people to send me ALL ideas!

      Plan B will be to take the weekend to take a deep breath and let all of these ideas percolate and to rally the energy to move forward to contact my union (I do have a good union, hooray!), my district’s HR, and my long-term sub already in place. I want to look hard at the finances and see what is possible on that front. Thank you to everyone who gave the advice to just move forward in those conversations ASAP with no apologies. I think it is true that I didn’t do anything wrong simply because the first 4 places I had in mind that I called when I finally did have the energy to call had all closed their infant programs entirely for financial viability as a business model since when I first got pregnant. So even had I done everything right, I very well could be in this same position.

      Thank you most of all to all the other mothers who just reminded me that they’ve been in my shoes before, and that if my employer already approved an extra 8 weeks of unpaid leave they’ll likely approve more, and that preeclampsia is terrifying, and that just getting this far is a minor miracle. Looking earlier could have raised my blood pressure enough that it literally killed me (my highest reading in the week AFTER childbirth was 173/108), and well, I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t. If you’re out there reading this, I hope to send in an update in the Spring and please send me all the good vibes!

  2. Blarg*

    #2 — my situation was not exactly the same but resonated. I dated a guy who worked in my division in city a, when I lived in city b — they weren’t close so it was just a lot of texting and rare weekends together. I ended it cause I just wasn’t into him. A few months later, I got offered an amazing promotion in city a. And was now working in the same building. I didn’t tell him but he saw me and promptly started stalking me — I’d see him everywhere, car parked next to mine, he’d send me messages complimenting my outfit when I wasn’t even sure how he’d seen me. It was awful.

    I was so scared of telling anyone because I’d dated a coworker and was bringing drama into the office as the newly promoted person they just moved to a new city. But it got to where I had to.

    HR was amazing. My boss was great. My grandboss was meh but not terrible.

    And I never saw or heard from him again. Whatever HR said to him worked. He moved away a couple months later. I have one friend who keeps him as a contact on LinkedIn specifically so she can tell me if he’s relocating (we work in a field where cross country moves for new roles aren’t uncommon).

    I hope your friend tells HR. And I hope they are as great as mine was. The dealbreaker for them was all the messages during work hours. Made it easy.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The fact that some of Harry’s messages were sent over work Slack is one very obvious reason for HR to take this seriously. Not only is one of their employees harassing another employee, he’s used work resources to do it.

      LW, please encourage Sally to go to HR. IF she’s not ready to go today, then talk with her tonight to workshop her scripts so she feels prepared to do it tomorrow. I’m sure there will be some good script suggestions in the comments, so offer to read through them with her and adapt something that she feels comfortable saying. Tell her we’re all rooting for her!

      1. Betteauroan*

        I think Sally’s problems with Harry will be over soon. As soon as she goes to HR, they HAVE to put a stop to it. She has digital evidence that he is using company resources to bother her. She simply has to forward the written evidence to them and he will either be written up and reprimanded, possibly put on a PIP, depending on their policy, or they might go whole hog and just fire him outright. They have all they need to fire him. Sally might have to wait while they get their ducks in a row if they are sqeamish about firing people for fear of being sued, but most bosses would not want this ticking time bomb working there. I think he’s going to get fired; the question is how long it will take.

        1. Magda*

          Yeah honestly this situation makes me fear workplace violence (a lot of even big casualty incidents start with a man angry at a specific woman) and your HR will probably think the same thing; if it were me, I wouldn’t be thinking about the new hire bringing drama because I’d be too worried about this guy showing up to work with this anger.

    2. no fun name*

      My close friend went to HR to report a well-liked, senior co-worker who had groped her at an after-work event, even after she repeatedly told him to stop. At first, HR appeared sympathetic and said she would not have to work with that co-worker anymore. Then, when she went back to complain to HR about being forced to work with the co-worker again, HR called her unprofessional, blamed her sexual assault on her for drinking too much, and soon proceeded to manufacture a reason to fire her. Not everyone has a great experience when they go to HR.

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        Yup. At one company, my manager quit and I was moved under a guy who was based in another city. He came to our regional office to meet all of us and not only said a bunch of sexist stuff, he took all the men in the office out for steaks and to a strip club.

        I talked to HR about it and they said that as long as he didn’t try to expense the strip club, then it’s certainly his prerogative to go out to dinner with only the guys. And he “didn’t mean” the sexist comments; I had simply misinterpreted them.

        The Monday after he got back to his home city, he put me on a PIP. I was the top salesperson for our region with zero complaints from anyone about my behavior (literally just an Inbox full of kudos and Thank You’s).

        Again, I called HR and, again, I was told that if he chose to put me on a PIP, that’s 100% his prerogative.

        I asked around the company and it turns out that this manager had never once hired a woman, he had only ever inherited them when being put in charge of a different department. And that he put every single woman he inherited on PIPs and managed them out of the company.

        Back I went to HR, but this time it was to tell them that they and the manager got what they wanted, I was handing in my two weeks’ notice. I had a new job offer, for a lot more money, by the end of that week.

        Our region’s sales tanked after that and the office was closed down. Misogynistic Manager was promoted to Director.

        So, sure, Sally should go to HR but she should also be prepared to find another job.

      2. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

        Yes. Someone I know has such a similar situation I wondered if OP #2 is one of their friends. HR told them that they would “review the internal communications policies” with the offender and that there was nothing they could do about outside of work behavior. Just an appalling response. I hope things go much better for Sally!

      3. curiousLemur*

        So instead of protecting the company, HR opened it up to a possible major lawsuit. Horrible on both a human and a company level.

        1. no fun name*

          As someone who has had experience with incompetent and inhumane HR departments (past experience in employment law), I was shocked at how incompetent and inhumane the response was.

          That said, without commenting specifically about what happened to my friend, I don’t think people understand how difficult pursuing a lawsuit against an employer can be, emotionally and otherwise. Especially if HR has already signaled that they are going to trash your reputation.

    3. Some dude*

      Seconding all of this. I also want to say how scary this situation is and how totally off the rails Harry is. Sally should be taking this very serious because what he is doing is super troubling.

    4. The Finder of All Things*

      OP#2. I work in the domestic violence field and just happened to get an email today about workplace response to DV. Check it out and give it to HR (www.workplacesrespond.org). Unfortunately, many businesses don’t have real policies in place and only react when there is an issue.

  3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    OP4, that schedule just isn’t for everybody. There is nothing to be ashamed about in asking to go back. A few years ago spouse was offered the chance to go to 4-10’s (which meant you only worked four days a week, but ten hour days). He tried it for about three and a half months and then asked to go back to his 5-8’s, as ten hour days were just too long for him. Nobody had a problem with him switching back.

    (Nowadays without a commute he loves his 4-5-9 which sounds like a similar schedule to the one OP mentions. He wouldn’t work that schedule if he was commuting though, adding on the drive time makes it too long of a day for him.)

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Yep. There is nothing lazy or disorganized about saying, “I gave it a few weeks to settle, but the longer work days weren’t right for my life / circadian rhythms / household / whatever.” Everyone doesn’t need every tradeoff or flexibility. There is nothing wrong with you if you find you don’t need three monitors, four days of telework, or to bring your ferret to the office with you.

      1. Betteauroan*

        I think OP will be fine getting permission to go back to her old schedule. Those kinds of hours are tough and some people can’t function optimally like that.

      2. Magda*

        I never wanted to work four tens. In my prior job we had good vacation policy and I’d rather just use leave to take a Friday off when I feel like it. I pointed this out to several people who were feverishly working late to get their hours and they didn’t “get it” but it was especially funny because … we had use-it-or-lose-it leave, and most people lost some every year.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’m fortunate that both spouse and I work places with separate banks for sick versus vacation, and fairly decent rollover policies (I can roll up to 1500 hours of sick and 250 hours of vacation, they are required by policy to pay out vacation when I leave. Spouse can roll 1500 hours of sick and 300 hours of vacation with the same pay out when they leave for vacation time.). The flexibility in schedules is something to remember – it benefits some people and not others. I think at times it be a sign of a company that is more willing to value their employees, we’re letting you pick what works best for your family.

    2. MK*

      I think with the current trend about unconventional schedules, it’s useful to keep in mind that many people would prefer/do better with the traditional set-up. New isn’t automatically better.

    3. Well...*

      I think some of the shame might be showing up because so many people work 9hrs/day 5 days a week. I would weirdly feel more guilty not being able to talk a long work day than I would for “earning” a day off, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who would feel guilty about wanting the day off.

      LW shouldn’t have to feel ashamed, but it’s relatable.

      1. Magda*

        Also in the years I worked 4/10s, I’d say at least half the time something came up that required me to work part of that Friday anyway. A meeting that just couldn’t be rescheduled, the timesheets required us to log into the VPN remotely and once you’re there you get sucked into email, etc. So I worked longer hours for basically no reason.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          My brother and his wife both work on a military base with a 4/10 schedule. He does end up working a lot of those Fridays from home, but gets overtime anytime he logs in on a Friday. That extra bonus money has been nice for them to put into savings, but I still don’t understand how he does it. That’s A LOT of work! Luckily, her position is not one that would typically require any extra hours. At least one of them has that Friday to chill out…

        2. Melissa*

          Was gonna say this in my other post. I know people who had to come in and work their Friday’s because they are in charge of projects or had no one to cover and when the customer needs something they get it. Sure, the company MAY allow them to choose another day to take off but it doesn’t help when they HAVE to be in work.

          Luckily I don’t have to deal with that. I rather be in the office every day and take off when I need to on my terms.

    4. Daisy*

      That letter makes me so angry (not with OP). If you want to give people every other Friday off, give them every other Friday, rather than this rigmarole of ‘making up’ the hours. Why do businesses insist on acting like 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day is some sort of natural law, rather than something randomly chosen within the last 100 years? The idea that the ninth hour of her day, made up late in the evening, is somehow vital to the company is absolutely ridiculous.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Just a reminder that that isn’t much of an option for the surprising number of us who are paid on an hourly basis.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Exactly. Most of my team is hourly and if they didn’t work that extra hour later in the day (or whenever), they wouldn’t be paid for it.

        2. Bubbly*

          And those of us in healthcare or other fields where coverage is necessary and actually does affect the bottom line. If I dropped 8 hours from my schedule each week I would lose a LOT of income. My clients are sometimes already furious I don’t work late nights and Sundays.

          1. Daisy*

            Right, that’s completely irrelevant to this situation, but I knew someone would barrel in with that. Obviously she’s not providing ‘coverage’ if these extra hours could be worked whenever. Counting office-based, knowledge-work jobs in hours is nonsensical.

            1. Magda*

              Right, I would assume an office that required coverage wouldn’t implement this schedule (or at least not this way; I guess you could stagger the days off between employees, but not the part where OP logs in late at night).

              1. Lenora Rose*

                Years ago I did a stint with a temp agency that was ONLY those spare Fridays for the one person who needed coverage every day in the office (Front reception combined with A/P assistance), just so she could also have the break. (Though not everyone ad the same day off; there were Mondays and Fridays, and different people taking alternate weeks, so it was never an empty office. And the A/P Accountant was there when I was).

                So coverage can be done. Though when I saw the bills they were paying for my hours there I did wonder at the extra cost for it.

      2. I should really pick name*

        There’s nothing wrong with offering flexibility. Some people would prefer this schedule. It doesn’t work for the OP, but I’m sure there are people who appreciate it.
        Also, just because the OP sometimes makes up the hour late in the evening doesn’t mean that others do it that way.

        1. Metadata minion*

          Yeah, my workplace gives the option of going to a 10/4 schedule (10 hours/day, 4 days/week) during the summer (we’re a university) and a lot of people take advantage of it since getting a long weekend is worth working longer hours the rest of the week. I tried it once and it was definitely not for me, but as long as it’s a choice rather than a suddenly-imposed requirement, this seems like a nice way to give people some different options.

          1. Magda*

            Combining both letters, the reason a lot of folks liked it in my office was that it saved them on childcare. That’s why the 4/10 schedule (“summer hours”) only started when school let out. For that reason, I can’t fault the company for offering it and it makes sense that some people prefer it.

        2. Melissa*

          Offering flexibility to people who want it and can do it is great. I have a problem with the job mandates it as official hours. We started on 9/80 then pushed to 4/10s. I was lucky that with my type of job, shift work, there was no way our team could do it, unless the company wanted to hire 3-4 more people to cover the shifts on the A/B schedule. I hate my job as it is so the idea of having to stay there 2 more hours a day was irksome to me. I work 7:30 to 4pm so I would need to either add 2 hours before or after my day or an hour before and after. so 7:30 would be 5:30 or 4pm becomes 6pm. It takes a half hour (probably more with 6pm rush hour traffic) to get home so I am not making dinner until 6:30 and by 7pm the day is pretty much over. I’d have to go to bed early to even thing of getting up at 4AM to get ready to leave my house at 5am. No way. I don’t even need the Friday’s off; i’d spend the day sleeping just to recover. If I wanted the Friday off, I would take it with my vacation.

          Again, for those who want it, good for them. But my home from work time is way too important to give up. But if someone feels it is NOT beneficial to their life, they should be allowed to opt out of it without question. Completely in agreement with the OP

      3. LQ*

        Yeah! Work doesn’t matter at all! Why do we bother having it! We should just get money and support and food and shelter from nothing, it’s not like those things require people to do them!

        Does your job not matter if it doesn’t get done at all? Like if your work fundamentally doesn’t do anything then I get this attitude, but you know that some people’s work does matter, right. Like the people who have to process your payroll, you don’t want them to go, eh, I don’t care if Daisy doesn’t get paid this week or next so I’m just going to not bother.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I think Daisy is talking about the fact that many jobs (especially salaried jobs) don’t actually require exactly 40 hours of work to get done per week. Many jobs only really involve, say, 30 hours worth of work in a week, but require the employees to be present for 40 just because that’s the convention.

          1. Student*

            In my field, they pay us for 40 hours a week and give us a workload that’s really aimed at 60 hours per week. They expect some things to fall through the cracks. But, you’re constantly failing to get everything asked of you done and judged on how much you’re failing vs how much the rest of your co-workers are failing.

            If you could point me at the field where there’s really only 30 hours of work per week but they expect butts in seats for an additional 10 hours, I’d be grateful.

            1. Lab Boss*

              While remaining comfortably vague for anon purposes, I manage a product testing lab. Our workload varies through the year based on 1) what new products come through development and 2) when we have to renew our approvals with outside agencies. When we’re in a crunch period everyone is working a non-stop 40/week and usually a few working as much as 50. In slower times it could easily take less than 30 if people were really efficient.

              The skills required for the job mean we can’t grow and shrink our team based on workload, and we can’t afford to be shorter staffed for crunches. Everyone is salaried (no overtime for crunch), but the company’s “40 hours, butts in seats” mindset means that when things are slow we just end up killing a lot of time.

              1. Ashley*

                This drives me nuts. If you want me to put in the time while we are busy, let me flex the schedule when slow. I think the biggest thing companies can do is move away from the butts in seats mentality as much as possible, and granted this mainly means salaried office staff but those are the folks that end up working crazy hours at crunch time without additional compensation.

                1. Lab Boss*

                  I definitely promise that I never ever ever just let them take a short day going into the weekend because they have everything done and I know they will happily put their shoulders to the wheel the next time a crunch happens :D

            2. Aquawoman*

              Your field would be a 30 hour a week field if they employed twice as many people. There’s no rule of physics that employers can’t employ more people, it’s only greed.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*


                When I see stories about how some organizations routinely expect 50-60 hour work weeks because that’s the only way to get all the work done, I always want to call shenanigans. It may be true that long hours are the only way to get the work completed under their current staffing model, but there’s no law against hiring more people. Companies could adequately staff their offices if they really wanted to.

          2. The OTHER other*

            Many MORE jobs involve a minimum of 40 hours of work to do each week, and often more.

            Jobs where people only work 30 hours a week and spend the other 10 (a QUARTER of their time!) on chitchat are ripe for downsizing.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              The counterpoint is that if your job requires more than 40 hours to do per week, you are overburdened in your work and your employer is reaping the benefits of your unpaid/undercompensated labor. They could hire another person, lighten both of your loads, and have a little slack if some disaster (hit by a bus, COVID infection, etc.) occurs.

            2. Daisy-dog*

              It’s not consistent. Sometimes it just happens. You have a busy period and a boring period. Yes, you will spend every second of downtime during the boring period being petrified of being let go.

              The benefit of having jobs with some boring periods is that emergency situations come up and they don’t have to drop much to pick up the extra work.

              1. Lab Boss*

                I manage a group with major busy and boring periods. If my people “spend every second of downtime during the boring period being petrified of being let go” I am absolutely failing as a manager. They deserve to be confident that we hired competently and aren’t going to just start hiring and firing every time the work level rises or falls in a totally normal manner. I make sure that they know we don’t work that way, and help find other productive things to help get through the worst slow periods.

                1. Lab Boss*

                  Thanks, I do my best. I also make sure they know that “Don’t panic when we’re slow” is the flip side of “Don’t get all bent out of shape when we’re slammed.” It seems to be paying off- so far I’ve had good reviews and one of the company’s lowest turnover rates.

          3. Gothic Bee*

            And really, even in coverage based jobs, 40 hours is still an arbitrary number. The only reason it’s even 40 and not some higher number is because people fought for 40 hours. Ideally, I feel like the workweek should be lower (at least 32 hours or even less!) and pay adjusted so that you’re not making less (you should be paid a living salary even if the work week is shorter) and additional staff hired as necessary. Obviously that’s way easier said than done, but it’s rare that there’s an argument that things are better when one person does 40 or more hours worth of work per week as opposed to spreading that work out over multiple staff. Employers have been getting away with paying the bare minimum for staffing levels and salaries (including hourly pay) for way too long IMO.

        2. Daisy*

          So, you think those extra 4 hours a week, in every job, are absolutely crucial? If you work 36 hours, you’ve done a terrible job, but if you work 40 – well, amazing! Those four hours really saw it off! That makes it sound like you’re pissing about for the first 36. Plenty of countries have people in the same jobs work 35 hours, and they don’t fall apart. What nonsense.

          Your last line is particularly idiotic, because payroll is clearly a job that’s done or not done. But if it takes 30 hours to get everyone paid instead of 40, well, better be sat there an extra ten hours to make it look like you’re doing your job. Capitalism is so sensible!

          1. Magda*

            Also in my office, some people accomplish in 30 hours far more than others accomplish in 45. Within those fields I’d like to see us to switch over to outcome-focused systems rather than sheer butts-in-seats, but it seems to be rare.

          2. Greg*

            Used to be managed by a, “You can’t leave the building before 4:45” type. So the last few hours of every day would just be spent doing…nothing because literally everything was done by 1 or 2. Where some of my peers were working until 5, 5:30 at times. It was a struggle.

          3. Gothic Bee*

            Agreed! Not to mention, employers can hire more people! If payroll were to take 60 hours worth of work, you shouldn’t only have one person in that job, same goes if it only takes 44 hours. Expecting someone to subsidize your business with their time so that you only have to pay 1 salary is wrong. I just don’t understand the defensiveness some people have around the idea of shortening the work week.

        3. RabbitRabbit*

          One could expand the number of employees to create actual, appropriate coverage and still allow for a 32-hour workweek, like the companies in the various other countries that have implemented this plan have done.

          1. Aquawoman*

            Yes, this. I don’t know why people are acting like the number of employees is somehow inevitable, rather than just a function of capitalist culture.

      4. anonymous73*

        It’s not about giving people every other Friday off, it’s about adjusting the normal 8 hour day to have the option of a long weekend. Yes there are plenty of places that value butts in seats than getting work done, but I’ve also worked for several managers who were okay with me leaving early when I needed to without making take the official time off. If you’re salaried, there are times when you might work longer hours to get something done. And other times when you get to leave early. OP chose to work one night at 10:30 because of her schedule. We don’t know that it would have counted against her if she hadn’t.

        1. Drago Cucina*

          Encouraging people to have a healthy work-life balance is sometimes difficult.
          At previous job we had a rotating Saturday among the full time staff, supplemented with high school and college employees. Traditionally people took the Friday off that week. I offered the chance to take any other day off instead and people acted like I was shorting them hours. I had to map out that if they took Monday off they could have a three day weekend every month.

          I had one person who took her mother to her doctor’s appointments. She opted for Wednesday so she could plan to make all appointments that day and not deal with the Friday closed offices. Another person took Mondays so he could take little weekend jaunts. He didn’t like to take long vacations, but adding a Friday off gave him a nice four days without sucking up PTO.

      5. SongbirdT*

        While I get the general point you were trying to make, I think it’s important to point out that a 40-hr work week isn’t just an arbitrary marker. People fought and died for it.

        Before the US labor movement, the corporate barrons expected workers to work unbearably long hours, often in conditions that were incredibly dangerous. Labor had to rise up and demand balance – 8 hours work, 8 hours play, 8 hours rest – and was faced with violent opposition. Unions won the battle for a 40-hr work week through solidarity and persistence against the odds stacked against them.

        So while, yes, it does seem unnecessarily picky to hold folks to the 40-hr standard were used to, I’m grateful that’s ALL they can hold us to
        o. It used to be so much worse. Thank a union.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Oh my yes. My older relatives remember a time when working a half Saturday was the norm. The idea of two full days off in a row was unthinkable.

        2. Daisy*

          Right, and when people were fighting for that, the bosses were shouting, ‘No! The world will fall apart if you don’t work 12 hour days and Saturdays!’ And they stopped, and it didn’t.

          ‘Things were worse in the nineteenth century, so be grateful’ is the worst, bootlickingist argument I can imagine in pretty much every context. It’s usually the argument of racists and misogynists telling minorities and women to pipe down, you’re allowed to be people now, what more do you want? And it’s the argument of big business trying to stop workers advancing their rights now.

          1. Daisy*

            And I’m not saying office workers working 35 hours instead of 40 is the biggest issue facing workers today, far from it – but it’s a point on the same continuum. The idea of buying a portion of people’s time is relatively new, and it should be examined and questioned more. The idea that people can not possibly work less, ever, even though a hundred years ago advances in technology made it seem like a certitude, needs to be examined more. But it’s not in the interests of the people at the top that workers have any more free time, even OP 4’s extra hour to walk her dog.

          2. SongbirdT*

            Holy wow you took that and ran with it, didn’t you?

            You don’t know me, internet stranger, so how dare you be so insulting.

            I pointed it out because I come from a proud labor family, the daughter of a union president mother who is advocating for all workers everywhere, today, while you’re whining over 40 hours instead of 35 in the comments of an advice column.

            There are always improvements to be made, absolutely, but we also have to acknowledge the sacrifices people made to get to this point. Their sacrifices are what I’m grateful for, I think that was pretty clear in what I wrote.

        3. Betteauroan*

          It is true that our forefathers a mere few generations ago fought for fair work hours. Thank God for them! Back in the 1800s children were forced to work unbearably long hours in dangerous conditions and bad weather. They weren’t fed or clothed properly. There were no child labor laws.

      6. Colette*

        Employers could pay their employees for fewer hours of work. But if some of their employees work 9 days out of 10 and others work 10 out of 10, it’s not unreasonable to have them work the same number of hours for the same pay.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          For exempt employees, they should be given consistent goals and expectations. If an employee is able to meet these goals and expectations by working 9, 8-hour days (72 hours rather than 80) that should be acceptable.

          1. Colette*

            A lot of times, that’s extremely difficult to do – different employees might handle the same number of projects or have the same number of employees, but they won’t be identical. And many jobs are not exempt.

            1. Daisy-dog*

              Consistent, not identical. It can be determined by prior performance and experience. It’s not a science either and won’t be perfect. It also won’t work for every industry or role. Management may need to work slightly more to be available to their employees. Non-exempt may want to work more to get more money.

              Even in exempt roles there may not always be a lot of extra work to give to the high performer if there is a slow period. If they do reach a point where they can have an extra day off even if they didn’t work for 80 hours, that can go a long way in burnout prevention. Again, not everywhere.

              1. Colette*

                OK, so Sarah and Mary have the same number of projects, and they are roughly equivalent. Mary works hard, and takes a day off every two weeks. Sarah works hard, but continues working on those days, even though she’s not doing much.

                Who is going to look better on their performance evaluation? What kind of pressure (direct or implied) is there going to be on Mary to work those days?

                1. Daisy-dog*

                  This is not my point. It is clear that my intent is not being communicated well enough in this medium, so I will not continue.

                2. Sea Anemone*

                  Who is going to look better on their performance evaluation?
                  The person who did a better job on their projects is going to look better on the performance evaluation.

                  What kind of pressure (direct or implied) is there going to be on Mary to work those days?

                3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Sea Anenome, you say there will be no pressure on Mary to work more hours, I can assure you that the opposite is true. I read a report that showed that if they had to keep only one of two workers, the vast majority of bosses would choose the one that stayed late rather than the one that left at 5pm on the dot, even when shown that the one who left promptly was actually more productive than the one who stayed late.

                  This was then borne out at my workplace. I was the mother of young kids, my colleague was childless and fresh out of uni. I had to leave at 4pm to pick my kids up from school, she readily stayed late to get jobs finished. She was given pay rises, not me. This was legal because I was part-time.

                  When the boss ran the stats and discovered that I was actually producing more work, managing double the number of projects, translating almost double the number of words, proofreading double the number of words, than my colleague, I didn’t suddenly become the Golden Girl instead of my colleague. She was hauled in to the boss’s office to be shouted at but he would still also berate me for not staying late like her, and I never got any pay rises or even bonuses for being more productive.
                  (Big mistake. I decided to only do the minimum requirement from that point on, and spent the rest of the day doing whatever volunteer work I could do online.)

    5. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I agree. My company offer 9/80s as an option and while most people take advantage of it, no one bats an eye when someone is on the straight 8s schedule or switches to that schedule from 9/80s. Reasonable people know that everyone is juggling responsibilities outside of work (regardless of family situation), which is why there are multiple options and a way to change between them when necessary. I worked 8s up until we went virtual last spring, switched to 9/80s, and am back to 8s now that we’re back to the office. Just be matter of fact when you request the change from your manager: “I’ve been doing the 9/80 schedule since I started, but would like to move to the straight 8 schedule. How do I go about making that change?”

      1. Cassie*

        My sis works in the downtown area of a major city and just about all of her coworkers work either 9/80 or 4/40 so it’s one less day they need to commute (because traffic is horrible here). She chose to do 5/40, and people always ask her “don’t you want a day off?”. If she’s remote-working, an extra hour or two a day is no big deal, but the later you leave the office, the worse the traffic gets so a 5/40 schedule works best for her.

        It is nice that the management make that a standard option, though, because I know some places that are very much against any kind of alternate work schedule. No pleading, begging, asking required – just circle your work hours choice and that’s it! :)

    6. CheeryO*

      Yeah, I was on 9/75 and switched back to a straight 37.5 hours/week for similar reasons as the OP. No one cared. If anything, it works better to have people on the straight schedule since you’re more available (at least in my field, no one else is working from 5:00-6:00 to answer my emails, but I missed a lot on my biweekly day off).

    7. Free Meerkats*

      Agreed. There are 4 people in my group and we work 4 different schedules with only one of us on what is considered ‘normal’ hours here (5 day weeks, 0730-1600).

  4. iliketoknit*

    LW#4, I had the exact same problem with the 9/80 schedule. My problems with work-life balance are trying to *consistently* exercise, cook good meals, clean the house, and have time to relax; one extra day off every two weeks, while lovely in theory, didn’t help at all with getting everything else done regularly (I can maybe cook and clean intensely once every two weeks but I can’t just save up my exercising and relaxation time for every other Friday). Anyway, the reason I mention it is to point out that there are going to be plenty of other people like you and me out there for whom that schedule doesn’t work, and so a manager won’t judge you for it at all. They just want to know what your schedule will be, they’re not going to judge you for which one you prefer.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I posted above about my spouse who works that schedule from home – where the commute is to the home office on the other side of the kitchen. They’ve said though that if they had to commute to an office the schedule would never work. In his view he’s just taken the time he normally would have spent on his commute and turned it into work time in order to carve out more family time.
      But not everyone can do this. Some people’s internal clocks call “quitting time” right at eight hours. There is nothing wrong with that.

      1. allathian*

        I can do longer days for short periods in a rush, but after a few weeks I need to be able to take it a bit easier again to prevent burnout.

        1. Lizzie*

          Same here. My company actually had this schedule many moons ago, work 9 days, have one off every 2 weeks. I wasn’t able to take advantage of it then though. But, since a small group abused it, they did away with it altogether. And I was always a bit resentful i never got the chance to try it out.
          But at this point in my life, I’m not sure I’d want to! For reasons stated by others. Sure, I could probably do it in the short term, but all the time? nope.

          Thankfully I have a ton of PTO and a flexible workplace, so when I feel the need to get stuff done or fall behind, esp. now that Im not traveling, I just take a half a day or day off, and catch up.

      2. londonedit*

        In my industry ‘summer hours’ are quite common, where you make up a half-day’s work over Monday-Thursday and then finish at lunchtime on a Friday. I did it once in the Before Times, but it was just horrible having to leave the house earlier and/or get home later. This year and last year, though? Not a problem – it’s much easier to add on a bit of time to the start/end of the day when you don’t have to factor in a commute.

      3. ecnaseener*

        Seriously, 9 hour days sound awful to me. I run out of steam after 6-7 hours as it is. You’re not alone, LW, just because this is framed as a “perk!”

        1. Filosofickle*

          Me too! I can’t even functionally work 8s without a lot of busy work. As a longtime freelancer (for brain-intensive work), I’m more productive if I work 6 short days versus 5 standard much less 4 long days. I just can’t do think that hard all day. If I keep my days light, I have less of a need to “recover” on the days off. Most people crave whole days / long weekends off but that’s not how my brain works. It’s like people who graze/snack all day — I need lots of little breaks all the time not more big chunks.

      4. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I’m currently working a 12-8pm schedule which suits my body rhythm even though I’m an early riser. It wouldn’t work for many people but I’m fortunate. My commute is short and I miss the rush hours and almost everything is open before and after my workday.

      5. The OTHER other*

        There’s nothing wrong with that but I’m surprised 1 additional hour per day is causing so much difficulty, or would for so many commenters. I routinely worked 50 and 60 hour weeks, sometimes while salaried/exempt from overtime (ok mostly while getting OT when over 45 hrs). The pro is getting every other Friday off. That’s a big plus, IMO, and I would definitely have taken advantage of that. My commute was long at those jobs, doing 1/10th fewer commutes would be a bonus.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          And that’s great for you. But not everyone’s brain and body works the way your brain and body work, so it’s fine for them to choose to work 10 shorter days instead of 9 longer days. The point of letting people flex their schedule is to give them a schedule that works with the other areas of their life. For some people that’s a 9/80 or 4 10s or an evening schedule or something else entirely. But for other people that’s a standard 9-5. This shouldn’t be a situation where any judgment exists. People are different, so the idea that there’s an objective Best Work Schedule (or an objective best anything, really) is a fallacy that I wish we could give up on as a society.

    2. Allonge*

      Exactly. And especially as this is a ‘benefit’ of the job, I think the standard would be still the classic 8 hours over five days, so it is unlikely that LW is the only one who will work like that.

    3. code red*

      It didn’t work for me. I requested to switch back to 5/8s years ago. I felt like I never had time with my kids in the evenings and like an awful mother. By the time I picked my kids up it was already almost bed time for the youngest (he liked to go to bed around 6:30 then). So by the time I got dinner made and everyone fed, it was way past bedtime and I always felt completely overwhelmed. When I brought up switching schediles, luckily they decided they liked the idea of having me there on the off Fridays because there’d be customer support for troubleshooting issues while everyone else was out. I sometimes miss having an extra day off but the stress it caused wasn’t worth it.

    4. LQ*

      I think a very simple “I’d prefer to return to 8hrs per day” would be all you’d need to say unless there was something wildly different it’s not something that it going to even raise an eyebrow.

    5. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      I hated the 9/80 schedule. I couldn’t exercise or cook. There is also the requirement to work 9 hours a day, no matter what your workload is, because you have to ‘earn’ the off Friday. In a normal salaried (or even hourly) environment, if you don’t have a lot of work, you leave early. If you work efficiently, you leave early. Needing to ‘fill up’ 9 hours each and every day did not work wonders for me.

  5. ThisOne*

    #1-Check neighborhood groups on social media looking for someone to join a nanny share, or start one! It’s usually two or three families (depending on age and number of kids) looking to share a nanny either at the same time or opposite days. People are pretty explicit in their covid protocol expectations as well. One family hosts the kids at their home or it rotates.
    Cons are that you’re all reliant on one employee always being available. However, the nanny is usually more flexible about things than a center. So this may be a decent temporary solution or you might end up loving it long term.

    1. ThisOne*

      Also, lots of parents haven’t been looking for childcare very proactively lately, everything is so up in the air these days. People are already overextended or plans fall through. So don’t worry about that part of it!

    2. Red Swedish Fish*

      Add in to ask other teachers at your school too. Let people know your looking, tell your gossipy neighbor, the loud woman at church if you go, and the busy body at school word of mouth helps.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Exactly, I mentioned that a friend found childcare just by chatting with another parent in a long grocery line. They both had industrial-size boxes goldfish crackers in their carts.

  6. Cranky lady*

    LW1 – Check with your union as Alison suggested and look at the current open positions for your school district to see how short staffed they are. Every school/teacher I know is struggling with staff shortages and most principals would rather work with you and have you come back late than have to hire someone from scratch. Schools near me are just looking for warm bodies as some classes started with no teachers. Of course none of this means that you’ll go back to teaching the same grade/subject as before but at least you’ll be back to work.

    1. SwiftSunrise*

      You also wanna give your principal a heads-up ASAP so they can work on finding a long-term sub if possible. I know I’m not the only substitute teacher who is on hiatus for the foreseeable future (lax masking requirements at local schools, teenagers being teenagers, and it just not being worth the risk, no matter how much I enjoy it), so there’s also a shortage of even warm bodies for that, as well as for regular school staff.

      1. Cranky lady*

        Yes. A family member with severe asthma is a retired teacher who would sub 2-3 days a week before the pandemic. That is absolutely out of the question now and I think you’ll find that is the case for many retired teachers.

    2. MapleHill*

      +1 on this. My sister is a teacher and they are so short-staffed this year. I bet your principal would be willing to work with you if she knows you plan to come back!

      Also, I don’t know if it’s very common, but I know there are some districts that have childcare for students or even bus driver’s children; maybe see if that’s something you could opt into PT. Someone on the thread had a good idea to look into your partner (if you have one) taking FMLA once you return to work; definitely check into that.

      And ditto to everyone who says give yourself a break on starting “late” to find childcare. Every place is different. My sister decided to put her 1 year old in daycare PT; she started looking in July and got a spot before school started in late August, so it just depends on your area. How could you have known? Nothing is normal right now. And I feel like almost everyone knows someone or of someone who has struggled with pregnancy and loss in some way and would be very empathetic and understanding about your reasoning anyway.

      1. OP1*

        The good news is that I already have a long term sub who is signed up for the entire first semester and is otherwise unemployed. When she gives up the gig, she’ll have to find another long term sub position and/or go to daily subbing (which SUUUUUUCKS right now with covid risks), so I can’t imagine she would immediately balk if I need to extend my leave. The main issue is me being able to finance an extended leave and/or get health insurance for an extension if my work grants it. But hopefully the position being covered won’t be a huge issue or super negatively impact the students.

  7. nnn*

    A bit of messaging for #1: When you talk to your employer, there’s no reason to mention that perhaps you could theoretically have started looking for childcare earlier. The relevant parts of the story are that you are on every waitlist you can find and the first available opening is in March. There’s simply no need to introduce anything into the narrative that suggests you might have been less than perfectly diligent .

    1. Batty Twerp*

      Yes, give yourself a break.
      In the multiverse of possibility, you could’ve been more diligient than anyone else in your post-partum group and *still* not got an opening before March, because, as others have pointed out, childcare is crazy right now. Depending upon where you live (can only compare it to similar districts in the UK and anecdotal “evidence”), you may still have had trouble getting a space in January even doing everything right and without a global pandemic happening because some areas are just that high in demand. So, give yourself a break.
      Now, to be contrary, give your boss a call now. This one you can’t put off. The sooner they know, the sooner they can start working with you to find a solution.

      1. TheProblemWithEyes*

        in the UK here, and i can concur – I started looking for nurseries when my first baby was 3m old, and couldn’t get a place at my first choice til she was almost 2! Second time around, I told the nursery I was having another baby before I told my husband!

        1. sunglass*

          I’m in the UK and currently pregnant – I’m definitely looking for nursery places in the next few weeks, well before baby is born (and it somehow *still* might not be enough!)

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          By comparison, multiple nurseries in the area I’m in were happy to take a baby with only one month’s notice (but trying to actually get in touch with any of them during the pandemic, when you couldn’t visit, was a nightmare). Someone else in my NCT group a few miles away found a lot of nurseries could offer three or four days a week, but were completely full on Wednesdays with no expectation of that easing for several years!

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        Child care has always been crazy in my area. I got on every waiting list I could starting when I was about 3 months pregnant. By the time I needed to go back to work, we only made it to the top of one…it was my least favorite (inconvenient location, unfriendly staff, messy looking facility) and cost more than I was actually earning. We used savings and stuck it out until we got to the top of the list for our preferred facility. That was when he was 11 months old! I was admonished by several nurseries that wait lists are typically about 18 months and I shouldn’t have waited so long! Since my son was a surprise, I had no way of knowing that far ahead. This was 17 years ago. It’s shameful that we as a society still aren’t doing better for families with working parents.

        1. AthenaC*

          18 month wait list? How is that supposed to work? Are you just supposed to put your non-existent child on a wait list about 6 months before you start even trying to get pregnant?

          1. pancakes*

            It’s not quite the same thing, but I worked in my private high school’s admissions office to earn part of my scholarship, and we’d occasionally get letters of interest from people who’d just had infants. I think that’s much too much, but if I was planning to have a kid I would certainly be thinking about who would care for it well before it arrived.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I was once in a conversation where someone was talking about going to an open day at a private school and how APPALLINGLY their child had behaved during the headmaster’s speech and how EMBARRASSED they’d been and how they’d eventually had to take him OUTSIDE. (Exaggerated embarrassment, the facts were true but they were joking about how terrible it was rather than cross.)

              As part of general conversation-making, I said, Oh, and how old’s your son? and they said, eighteen months, and I had to work very hard not to make my WTF???? face.

          2. Ann O'Nemity*

            Yes, we had to join a rolling waitlist before we were pregnant. They said, “if you sign up now, the earliest your child can start is 18 months away.” So we signed up, paid a deposit, and then let them know when we were actually pregnant and had a better idea of when we would start.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          When my daughter was almost 2 we had to find a daycare. We were fortunate, the best one had an opening but you had to be 24 months and fully toilet trained. She was 23 months but they made an exception for her because someone had just dropped out and the spot was available. This was 41 years ago, it was difficult even back then to get a good space.

    2. Good luck!*

      When my daughter was born, I literally put her on the central daycare waitlist the same day I did her birth registration, the first week of her life. When I went back to work at 15 months my sister had to be my fill-in childcare for three months until her daycare spot – that I had registered for EIGHTEEN MONTHS EARLIER – became available. My cousin lives in a bigger city than I do, put herself on the daycare wait list at 28 weeks pregnant, finally got called for a daycare spot for her kid when he was three years old. (She ended up doing a nanny share when she went back at 10 months.) There’s only so much you can control.

      Nanny shares are a great suggestion, reaching out to other parents to see what their solutions have been is good too, asking friends/family for short term help if you can is also great. If you have a partner, do they have family leave available that they could use, or the possibility of doing split shifts with you? Not ideal in the long term but if we’re talking a few months I can tell you from experience it’s doable.

    3. FridayFriyay*

      100% co-sign this. We tried for 5 years and had 4 miscarriages before I got and stayed pregnant with my son. Daycare waitlists in our area are horrific and I felt like I had to call and put myself on the waitlist every time I was pregnant. Calling and pulling our name off over and over again were some of the most depressing and humiliating experiences of my life. Still, when I got pregnant with my son I was SURE I would lose the pregnancy… and I called and put us on the list anyways. At 7 weeks. In early March 2020. I cried when I told them the date we “expected to need care.” Well I had the baby, but by the time I did the pandemic had broken the entire world and our daycare of choice couldn’t weather the economic hit they took. They closed and we had to start the process all over again with a 3 month old.

      OP, even if you had done everything right you can’t plan for every scenario and NONE OF US planned for what happened this past 1.5 years. Don’t fall on the sword blaming yourself.

      1. OP1*

        FridayFriyay, I gasped when I read your comment. I am astonished by your bravery. I clearly did not have the heart to do what you did. Bless you.

    4. Boof*

      Yes; in hindsight there is ALWAYS something that might have prevented a problem and it’s just not relevant because you can’t change the past, plus it’s a reasonable “mistake”. If you’ve never sought young childcare before you wouldn’t know about the crazy year+ waiting lists for the all the places you’d actually feel good about leaving your baby at.

  8. S*

    LW #1- This is something I struggled with for both of my kids pre-pandemic. Get on the wait list and keep in touch with the director or the administrator at the center. Lots of people sign up for slots that they don’t end up using. With both my girls a spot opened up right at the last minute before I had to go back. Good luck and congratulations!!

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      Pre-pandemic, a good trick was to call the daycares whose lists you were on. If they did have a spot, it was way easier for them to just say yes to someone who called them, vs calling people, leaving voicemails, being asked for a day to think about it, etc.

      1. Ama*

        My mom has worked for a preschool that has some daycare services for about 30 years now — if someone drops out really close to (or right after) the school year starts often everyone on their waiting list has already enrolled somewhere else, so someone calling them right around that time who can definitely take an open spot always has a good chance of getting it.

  9. Audenc*

    OP3 — Has your company had a lot of turnover this year? A lot of employers are panicking because of the attrition and are at the point where they’re trying to identify active flight risks to avoid being blindsided, in addition to whatever half-baked “retention” strategies they have.

    My company is in this position and the head of my department just did something similar with me. Threw our first 1:1 meeting in almost a year on my cal this week, dangled a promotion in front of me (6 months out, of course), and asked me if I was still feeling “engaged” and “excited” about our team and the company. I’m not sure what they’re expecting us to say, but I think you made a good move.

    1. mcfizzle*

      It does seem like a double-edged sword. While your company’s intention is good and it sounds like they’re approaching this as a way to retain, the possible negative ramifications to individuals should be mitigated somehow. Why wouldn’t these companies do anonymous (well, as anonymous as possible!) surveys instead? Or at the *very* least, give employees a heads-up so they could take their time crafting a response.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      My previous company is likely doing something similar. There’s a lot of people leaving for better opportunities lately, so they’re having to hire more than usual and managers are also asking people to make suggestions about improving retention.

      I had what I guess could be classified as a stay interview in July. It was the first and only “career discussion” I had with the person in charge of promotions (not my manager, for Reasons) in almost nine years. I had just discussed with my manager that I had received an outside offer that I was likely to take. My manager (with my permission) ran it up the chain to see whether the company would counter offer with a long-overdue promotion, which was my minimum requirement for staying. So in the “career discussion” meeting, the person in charge of promotions made it clear that any promotion would still be a few years out and not guaranteed. The message I got was “we don’t care about retaining you personally” and I took the outside offer with my manager’s blessing.

      I’m not sure what the point of stay interviews are if the choice for retaining good people is already clear – promote them when they’re qualified or lose them and hope you can make up for it with the hiring spree. Fortunately my new job is thrilled with my specific experience and credentials. I expect most of the people leaving are getting a warmer reception elsewhere.

  10. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    OP 3 – Unless your employer has clearly set up an environment where it feels safe to share that info without retaliation, it’s just not realistic for people to be honest about job hunting. My current workplace is the only one I can think of that I might be honest if they asked because I’ve seen a number of people give long notice periods for various reasons (wanting to switch fields to one adjacent to ours, returns to grad school, etc) and the company has really worked with people to create a smooth/positive transition for everyone. We also hold what they call “commitment talks” twice a year basically before our two busiest seasons and they ask people to commit to staying through the busy season. I think on a base level, they do understand that even with all that in place, there are still going to be people who don’t feel comfortable giving longer notice periods, but I think it’s nice, especially for smaller teams to help ensure there’s not absolute pandemonium during the busiest times of year.

    1. Artemesia*

      there is no environment where it is ‘safe’ to share that you are looking. (of course, sometimes — but too rarely that the default is always ‘oh I haven’t thought about it.’)

      1. ecnaseener*

        Nothing is ever 100% safe, but we have to operate based on what we know of our managers and companies. It’s not completely safe to ask for a sick day, or ask your manager for help, or disagree with them – but people do those things every day because they have enough evidence to be *reasonably* sure they’re safe from fallout or retaliation.

        1. Artemesia*

          This is difference. The assumption should be ‘I can take a sick day’ — the assumption should be ‘I should not mention I am looking for a job.’ Odds are always good that this will mark you for layoffs even if the boss is decent (better to lay off someone who is planning to leave than someone who isn’t) and odds are also good it can backfire in various ways.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Yes, I picked lower-risk examples to try to illustrate the absurdity of never doing anything at work unless you’re 100% sure it’s safe.

            1. pancakes*

              Lower-risk, sure, but nonetheless not quite comparable. This isn’t solely a safety issue, either. In most scenarios there is simply no good reason for someone’s employer to know they’re looking for other work unless and until they find something and need to give notice. There is a real benefit to taking a sick day when you’re sick. There’s no real benefit to being that unguarded about communicating with your employer.

              1. ecnaseener*

                Mike has a great example below of a potential benefit! And there are potential benefits of networking help, being able to use your manager as a reference, etc. I am NOT saying that’s a risk to take lightly, but there’s a reason some people decide to take it.

                1. pancakes*

                  I’m not sure exactly what the benefit is, since it doesn’t seem that Mike’s boss helped him secure the new job, which was already in the works.

                  Acknowledging that there’s no room to move up in a particular job is a pretty specific scenario, and will be clear to any observant employee and their boss whether they acknowledge it openly or not. I’m not saying there’s no benefit to acknowledging that someone would have to move on to move up, but it’s not going to be applicable to everyone considering leaving a job.

                  Wanting to use a manager as a reference doesn’t require a great deal of advance notice, so I’m not sure why it would make sense to put the possibility of it out there before the potential new job is asking for references.

      2. Mike*

        > there is no environment where it is ‘safe’ to share that you are looking

        A few months back I mentioned to my boss that I was feeling the need to start looking elsewhere in order to advance. We talked about the positions that were open elsewhere (and how bad their pay was). A few days after we were editing the job description for my new position which I started this month. It was something already in the works but my talking to my boss definitely accelerated the process. So, it can be safe but you have to know the organization and the people.

        In the distant past I’ve been asked if I’m looking and I responded with something like: I’m not actively searching right now but I always keep myself open to opportunities.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I wouldn’t call what you did so much as “safe” as that you took a risk that paid off. It was only safe in that you correctly judged the chance of a negative response to be low enough that the potential upside justified the risk.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I am mystified by the entire concept of a “stay” meeting. I understand the idea behind it: It is like an exit meeting, but for people who aren’t exiting, so the employer can benefit from the stuff people tell them on the way out the door without actually losing those people. But the questions we hear about exit interviews is whether to tell the truth or to stick to banalities, with many people advising to stick to banalities since the truth can come back to bite you. If people in the process of leaving are cautious about being too honest, what do they expect from people who aren’t leaving? I envision a gruesome discussion in which absolutely nothing of substance is said.

      1. anonymous73*

        IME they don’t do anything with exit interview information even if you are honest about why you left. They have an agenda and unless someone does something egregious that can’t be ignored, changes most likely won’t happen.

        1. PT*

          My former boss got put on a PIP and transferred to a different job- with a new boss and grandboss- after my exit interview. I’d left my List of things he’d done to me that were rotten with HR. Turned out, his boss and grandboss were covering for his bad behavior. His new boss had to manage his PIP and..was not so inclined to cover for him. He did not make it off the PIP and was fired.

          None of this served me well, however, I put up with a year of being bullied and having my pay tampered with, then took a temp job, a gap, and another temp job, just to get away from him.

      2. Betteauroan*

        I think a company that does this is living in a fantasy world. I would never, no matter what they say to make me trust them, divulge to my employer that I was anything other than a completely devoted member of their company. Period. Companies are fickle and profit-driven. They don’t care about individuals. Now that the job market is finally in favor of the worker, it will be interesting to see what companies are going to do to make themselves attractive to a dedicated workforce.

      3. ECDC*

        We just went through stay interviews at my organization and it was indeed a very uncomfortable discussion. I don’t think the intent or process was well communicated or rolled out, and I’m not sure what, if any, impact it will have on retention, partly because it was difficult to voice honest feedback in the conversation and partly because they are treating responses from each employee individually, not analyzing themes across the organization at large. In our case, I don’t think the questions were substantive enough to uncover anything of value so it ended up being a frustrating discussion all around. One of the questions posed was when was the last time you thought about leaving and what prompted that, and I definitely stumbled over that because I’m not sure what would be the “right” way to answer that.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          What does “thought about leaving” even mean? I occasionally browse job postings within my area, but this is a combination of keeping abreast of what is going on out there, and prurient interest. I also occasionally browse Zillow listings in my area, but this doesn’t mean I am thinking of selling my house.

      4. Omnivalent*

        The point is to make a record that the employee did not have any complaints. That way if there are workplace complaints or lawsuits filed later, the employer can show that the employee never said anything about those issues during the “stay” meeting.

        1. The OTHER other*

          Oh eew, this is terrible but I imagine this is exactly what they are for, at awful companies at least.

          1. pancakes*

            It is terrible, but it’s also speculation. The idea that employees invited to a meeting of this type are in some sort of “speak now or forever hold your peace” position with regard to otherwise legitimate complaints isn’t quite how legitimate complaints work.

      5. Sea Anemone*

        If you are person they want to retain, it gives them an opportunity to retain you.

        If you are a person they don’t care about one way or another, it gives them an opportunity to accelerate your leaving by managing you out.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I agree it’s a “know your company’s environment” type of thing.

      When I was early in my career, I would never have been honest in a stay interview. I was just starting out and was in my 20s, so I was just too afraid to speak my mind about most things. And in hindsight, management wasn’t the best so it could easily have been held against me and probably would have been since I was an unknown quantity. In my 30s, I was still at that company and had close relationships with executive management (very small company) and spoke my mind quite often, probably more than I should have, and it seemed to be appreciated for the most part. But if someone was looking to leave, they made no attempt to find out why and fix it; it was “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” At my current company and now being in my mid-40s, I speak my mind any chance I get, though I do attempt to be more diplomatic about it that I was in my 30s. I find senior management is good about listening to people and they generally work to retain people proactively, so someone saying they’re looking for another job is going to prompt them to find out why and then work hard to fix it. Obviously some things just can’t be fixed, but they do try. And if someone gives notice, they’re not pushed out the door.

  11. LilyP*

    Triple yikes to this part of #2:
    “After she blocked him elsewhere he even took to reaching out over the work Slack…This prompted her to unblock him as she didn’t feel it was appropriate to discuss this on work channels.”
    I hate that he was able to use her fear of work consequences to regain access to her outside work. If he messages her on company channels that’s *him* being inappropriate and it shouldn’t be her problem at all. Tell him clearly to stop on the work Slack, stop replying, and block, block, block everywhere else. What a creep.

    1. Language Lover*

      I saw that too. She should reblock him on all of her personal accounts and force him back onto the company’s platforms. She’s right that it’s inappropriate but it’s HIS bad behavior not hers.

      And go to HR.

      1. Sam54*

        Blocking is actually not good as you don’t keep getting the messages (good) but then you don’t have the evidence of the continuing behaviour (bad). This guy sounds unhinged enough that you’re gonna need that evidence sooner than later.

        Definitely go to HR, it sounds like you have more than enough proof of harassment. But also consider taking this further because this behaviour is not ok.

        1. Boof*

          It sounds like she already has enough evidence and blocking is a clear “stop” that if they go around it, the new evidence is even more compelling. Block away.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      As they say, she needs to return this awkwardness to sender. She is not wrong. At all. He is. Completely.

      She needs to go to HR, like, yesterday, and get backup to end this mess.

    3. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Yes! Reblock him! Reply back to his Slack once with a “Unless it’s about work do not contact me type message.” And then forward all evidence of the harassment to HR. With copies for yourself just encase it escalates to Restraining Order territory. And please read Gavin DeBackers Gift of Fear. It has some really good advice. One that stands out to me is never go back to allowing contact once you cut them off. If you answer their 75th text then you’ve accidently taught them that bugging you 75 times in a row works.

    4. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Two things:

      1. She should file a police report, every. single. time. he contacts her. I get so irrationally angry when I hear about women who don’t want to rock the boat. I do NOT want to victim-blame — I understand that, historically, when a victim tries to stand up for herself, it just leads to more harm — but the more people report harassment, the more we can rid of the idea that women/people should just put up with it.

      2. This is yet another example of Creepy Dude creeps, but it’s the woman he creeps on that has to take all the action, while he just creeps on. I HATE this. It’s a good reason for the above: REPORT his creep ass. Yes, I know there is such fear of “but then everyone will think I’m a bitch!!!!!”



      1. pancakes*

        If only it was that simple. Please look into the number of harassment (and worse) reports that police actually take action on. I’m not saying that’s a good reason not to report; just pointing out that more reporting in itself isn’t likely to fix things.

        1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

          Then I wasn’t clear. I’m not thinking that if people started reporting more, then sexual harassment will be cured tomorrow. People have been reporting for decades, which has already led to some small but significant changes. My thinking is that, given those changes, plus both legal and personal support that can be accessed via the Internet and social media, I think more people can start reporting in greater numbers with actual effect.

        2. curiousLemur*

          If she’s the first person to report him, then at least that gets a report into the system so that the 2nd or 3rd or so on to report him may get more traction.

  12. Stantheman*

    Create a LinkedIn. And have managers and coworkers write recommendations on your skills. To get things started.

    1. Tam*

      Do NOT do this. Nobody takes skills endorsements seriously on LinkedIn these days, if they ever did, and it’s a waste of time and capital.

      It is worth making a LinkedIn if you have relevant things to showcase, like a GitHub. But with the greatest respect, recommendations from your managers and coworkers in retail aren’t really going to help you get a job in a totally different field.

      1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        Skills endorsements and recommendations are different. I don’t think recommendations are a waste of time. You are correct that GitHub will be more important for software development, tho.

        1. Colette*

          I have skill endorsements from former colleagues for skills I don’t have. They mean nothing.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            I have skill endorsements from contacts I knew in college who I haven’t seen in years and who are in completely different fields (so I doubt they know what the software even is that they’re endorsing). Definitely mean nothing.

          2. pancakes*

            Very much agree that they mean nothing. I had some from someone I know from grade school and that I’ve never worked with! I think I finally managed to clear them away. I’m sure my old friend meant well, but this is not useful.

      2. TechWorker*

        Yea tbh I think it can be worth being on LinkedIn but definitely more worth spending time on some projects to put on GitHub. V common for tech CVs to include a link.

      3. bamcheeks*

        I don’t think many human people look at the skill endorsements, but the algorithm likes them. (LinkedIn changes their algorithm super regularly, so this might not be as true as it used to be, but it was definitely a thing 3-5 years ago!) So if you want to pop up in other people’s searches they’re helpful.

        Having said that, they’re going to be less helpful if you’re changing fields– your retail managers and colleagues are only going to be able to endorse things like “customer focus” “teamwork” “communication”, and whilst those are both relevant and important skills in tech, they aren’t the primary ones that employers search for.

      4. SoloKid*

        Agreed with skill endorsements, but disagree that recommendations aren’t useful. My best hire had many recommendations saying how her projects were impactful and that she had good rapport with others. It wasn’t the sole factor to hiring of course but they have never been a negative.

        1. Colette*

          They’re not a negative, but you’re only going to get the positive information, because they’re public and the person being recommended will read them.

        2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

          Thanks for your viewpoint.

          Another reason I think recommendations are good for career changers is that it helps with imposter syndrome. They see how people view your work positively and it can boost confidence. It may be more for the job seeker than the recruiter but still can have value.

    2. Eve D*

      Total waste of time. Those recommendations are a joke, no one (sensible) takes them seriously and they are meaningless.

      Start an account if you want to have the presence, but don’t waste your time on those recommendations – the only people who care about them are people you really do not want to work for!

    3. singlemaltgirl*

      i was surprised by alison’s answer on this one b/c as an employer, i’m always keeping my eye on people checking out our company’s page. so i definitely do look at profiles and often go to linked in when someone applies that’s of interest for a position we have. i also network and keep an eye out for other orgs that i work with in partnership/collaboration. so reading profiles when i’m recruiting or i know others are, having a linked in account helps me know about you. it’s marketing 101. but i’m not in the tech sector and don’t know if it works differently there.

      agreed, skills endorsements are a waste of time. i do check out recommendations sometimes. but more, i’m looking at their ‘resume’ including volunteer experiences as well as work and education.

      1. David*

        Software engineer here: in the tech sector, using LinkedIn might help make a person more “discoverable”, but it probably doesn’t help with much more than making initial contact with a company or recruiter. Certainly once you reach the technical interview stage of the process, your LinkedIn profile – if you even have one – is irrelevant. I don’t use LinkedIn at all and I’ve never felt like I was at a disadvantage because of it, so I can attest that having a LinkedIn page is at least not a requirement in this industry.

      2. I should really pick name*

        Unless their LinkedIn profile has information that isn’t in their resume or cover letter, I don’t see how it adds anything to the application.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Well, one thing is that you’ve go so much more space on a LinkedIn profile. Resume and cover letters just have to be so short and highlights, and on LinkedIn you can add detail and reflection under each heading that would take a resume well over the page limit.

          1. Environmental Compliance*


            I’ve also attached examples of trainings I’ve created to my LinkedIn profile.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        A software engineer friend told me LinkedIn was a total pain because people kept sending him contact requests and random tech job offers even though he hasn’t updated it since like 2012 when he graduated.

    4. shannanigans*

      At least add and describe your work history. I’m looking to fill a position now (marketing hire in tech). I’ve had such a low number of strong applicants tbat I’m head hunting on LinkedIn – prospecting for my own candidates and reaching out to them proactively. But if they don’t list their job history and skills, they won’t come up in my search. And if they don’t describe what they did in those positions, I’m not messaging them.

      So while I agree with Allison that LinkedIn profiles aren’t necessary for jobs you’re applying to, if you don’t have one you’re missing out on jobs finding you.

      1. LilyP*

        Also add your resume as a PDF! It makes it easy to look at everything in one place, and your resume might describe what you did/accomplished at different positions that your plain work history doesn’t.

        I think it’s worth making one now even if it doesn’t help you out a ton in the short-term, just to start building connections with. Kind of like getting a credit card as a teenager to start building your credit score. It might be four or five jobs down the road where it actually comes in handy for reminding you of a contact, but you’ll never get there if you don’t start.

    5. Nanani*

      If you don’t want to be on linked in, you don’t have to be on linked in. You really really don’t.
      And getting people to write recommendations that no one takes seriously anyway is burnign capital on fluff that will make you look bad both to the people you ask (if they’re aware that it’s useless but you seem not to know) and to the people who look at your page.

      Say no to social media pressure!

  13. my 8th name*

    LW4. Maybe frame it as “After a few months on this schedule I have surprisingly found that I value having an additional hour each day more than a day off every two weeks. Would you mind if I switched back?”

    But serious question – and I hope it doesn’t come off as flippant – does starting your day one hour earlier not solve your problems? Rather than tacking the additional hour at the end? Or maybe splitting the difference so it’s starts 30 minutes earlier and end 30 minutes later than a traditional work day?

    1. Tam*

      I don’t think it’s the timing that’s the issue, it’s the balance. Shifting the clock isn’t going to fix that.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep. Everyone works better on different schedules. I used to sometimes do a 10-hour day with Fridays off. My day didn’t start until around noon, & I loved it. But it definitely was not for everyone.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I very much have the same feeling as LW4. I definitely feel that extra hour of work and I did split the difference with 30 minute extra before and after of what used to be my schedule.

      I start at 7! I basically need to wake up around 6ish and that doesn’t include any workout before work or anything extra some people do before work. And I end at 4:30 which is fine, but I used to end at 4 and that extra half an hour felt like more “extra” time to do things after work than 30 minutes. Or now I end at 4:30 and am just that much more tired than when I worked from 7:30 to 4.

      I really like the Fridays off so I kept to the schedule, but that Friday off means I do do less on weeknights and are more tired. I haven’t gotten used to 9 hour days even after over a year. That feeling hasn’t gone away. I’m very aware it is trade off.

      I actually admire that the LW is willing to go back to what worked best for her. That “off Friday” is so tempting.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        It’s only tempting if you can use it to do useful or exciting stuff. If you have loads of dental appointments, if you’re pregnant but don’t want anyone to realise you have loads of doctor appointments all of a sudden, or if you have a specific thing you do that day like take a class or deal with a side hustle, yes you can load all that onto Friday.
        But OP is saying she’s just exhausted on that Friday and wouldn’t have been had she had plenty of time in the week to do everything she feels she needs to do. I too remember having Fridays off at one point and barely ever getting very much done on that day (except shopping and preparing if we had guests over at the weekend).

    3. Steph*

      To be able to start early they would have to get up earlier which would make them have to go to bed earlier to get the same amount of sleep so they still lose that hour during their night time either way unless they want to sleep less.

    4. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      My workplace has the 9/80 option which is by far the predominant mode, even though it is optional. I started 4 years ago as 5-40 due to childcare reasons, and felt strong peer pressure to move to 9/80 after a few months. I also hate the “extra” hour but love the Friday off… although there is plenty of peer pressure to “just keep up with email” on those Friday RDOs. Anyway, my point is it is VERY NORMAL for employees to try both schedules and move around, I doubt your boss would give a rat’s patootie about needing a reason. (I wouldn’t, if you were my employee.) At my workplace, you just have to time your move to coincide with starting a new RDO cycle and new payroll cycle, so basically there’s one or two times a month you can switch. Just email your boss, “I’d like to move to a 5-40 schedule again; any concerns or shall I go ahead and talk to Finance about an effective date?”
      Enjoy those “shorter” days! The 9-80 is especially brutal when the clocks fall back…

    5. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

      I don’t know LW4’s workplace but IMHO they don’t need to “frame” it as anything… I like Alison’s wording of simply “I tried this for a few months and it doesn’t work for balancing the rest of my life. How and when can I switch back to 5×8?”

  14. Redd*

    LW1: I’m normally not like this, but repeated losses have made me *so* superstitious when it comes to pregnancy. Your worries about a “jinx” are 100 percent understandable. Don’t beat yourself up! I mostly mention this because the more you tell yourself that you behaved appropriately and have done plenty, the more you’ll communicate that nonverbally when you talk to your employer.

    1. OP1*

      Redd, thank you sincerely for this reminder. I need to hear this multiple times. I, like many teachers, have trouble remembering that I am not required to sacrifice everything for the job.

  15. Observer*

    #2 – As others have said, encourage her to re-block him on all personal channels. If he continues to harass her on company slack, then that is HIS responsibility not hers. Obviously it’s her problem that he’s being a jerk, but it is HIS problem that he’s violating appropriate workplace norms. And HE is the one “bringing drama” into the workplace.

    Obviously the best outcome would be that he leaves her alone. But, if he doesn’t it is the best thing if he does it during work time on the company provided Slack. Because all too often HR will dither about stuff that happens off site, after work hours, on private equipment. And the person mis-behaving tends to try to argue about that too. (Look at all of the letters on this site if you don’t believe me – it’s a CONSTANT theme.) But, once it’s all there during work hours using the company’s slack system, that forces the issue. And she has all the evidence with no chance of “he said, she said” going on.

    1. Tam*

      I don’t think this is particularly good advice.

      He has already harassed her, she doesn’t need to wait, and she already has evidence.

      1. Language Lover*

        I don’t think she has to wait because she does have evidence. But I do think moving it all back to company-provided platforms is a good move. It sounds like the only reason she reopened personal lines of communication is because she felt responsible for his harassing behavior at work.

        And she’s not.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Agreed to not waiting but blocking him on everything else so if he’s going to harass her he has to do it with company time and equipment

        2. Observer*

          It sounds like the only reason she reopened personal lines of communication is because she felt responsible for his harassing behavior at work.

          And she’s not.


      2. Observer*

        Of course she doesn’t have to wait. I didn’t mean that she should block him INSTEAD of going to HR, but IN ADDITION.

    2. Beth*

      She should reblock him on all non-work channels AND immediately report him to HR. There’s nothing for HR to dither about. He’s used both work and non-work channels to harass her despite her asking him to stop contacting her about anything other than work; the issue is already as forced as it can get, and the evidence already exists. It’s true that issues like harassment don’t always get taken as seriously as they should. But casting doubt on whether solid evidence is ‘enough’ isn’t a solution; it’s part of the problem. She already has this in writing, across multiple platforms, including on company servers! What clearer evidence could she possibly get by waiting?

      1. Observer*

        There’s nothing for HR to dither about.

        That is true. But we know that HR departments dither about this stuff all the time.

        t’s true that issues like harassment don’t always get taken as seriously as they should. But casting doubt on whether solid evidence is ‘enough’ isn’t a solution; it’s part of the problem.

        I’m not casting doubt on whether her evidence is “enough”. I’m merely pointing out that *IF* you have an HR department that is not up to speed (and it’s all too common), this would be a benefit.

        What clearer evidence could she possibly get by waiting?

        None. I’m not suggesting that she wait. Her friends have been urging her to go to HR, and I agree with them. She should do that TODAY. And ALSO block the guy. Primarily to get him out of her face. And that would be a good enough reason on it’s own. But it ALSO has the side effect of making (almostimpossible for even a stupid HR department to pretend that they can ignore it.

        1. LilyP*

          It’s likely that even with a decent HR department the issue will not be resolved the same day she reports it. She can report today with the substantial evidence she has AND still be making strategic decisions that make it obvious that he’s making this a work problem, which will be the most damning kind of evidence against him in HR’s eyes.

  16. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    OP5: Yes, join LinkedIn for the networking – connect with people, join groups, ask for feedback on your projects, etc. You can find supportive communities on LinkedIn – You could also find these through meetup groups and discord channels. But the benefit of LinkedIn goes beyond your profile. Especially when making a career change, it can help to follow industry leaders and connect with other career changers.

    1. English Rose*

      Yes, that’s what I came here to say. LinkedIn is not only about whether hiring managers review your profile (although I always do). It’s about contributing and sharing and developing networks.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Especially since in software engineering/development roles it’s pretty common for people to move around a lot. LinkedIn is a really easy way to see that your co-worker from 3 jobs ago is now working at/just moved on from the company you’re about to interview with, and lets you get back in touch with them for a back channel view of the company. (Plus it’s a pretty good way to find contact information for prior managers when you’re moving on to your next job.)

        Also, LinkedIn will automatically generate a publicly viewable page when you sign up, but the default URL is nothing meaningful to a human. But they will let you change it to something more human readable, so it’s useful to get that set up early, if nothing else.

    2. Turd Furd*

      I was going to say this! I remember reading somewhere that there are more recruiters on LinkedIn than people looking for jobs. You can follow companies you’re interested in working for to see their job postings as soon as they’re posted. Sometimes when you apply for a job on there you can see who is hiring for the role and connect with/message them to indicate your interest, but that may just be for premium memberships. I’ve noticed in my job search, the more I interact with content and people on LinkedIn, the more I show up in recruiter searches when they’re looking to fill positions at their company. It’s probably some social media algorithm thing. There are recruiters who specialize in helping entry level folks get their foot in the door.. recruiters who focus on POC, or women.. software dev roles, the list goes on. I think LinkedIn could be beneficial to you. Also, can you connect with friends/family/past colleagues and post on LinkedIn, saying you’re looking for such and such jobs? Perhaps someone in your network will know of a good position for you! I say know you are valuable and worthy, and start networking! No one has it all figured out, we’re all just 5’s tryna be 10’s. Good luck!

  17. Born to Rune*

    #5 – unrelated to LinkedIn, but I know my fair share of perfectly intelligent, hardworking people who have flunked out of university, and it certainly messes with your self esteem. I just wanted to say to try not to be too hard on yourself over it, if you are at all. It’s great for some, but it can be just another difficult system in a difficult world, or the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just generally unpleasant for others. We tend to treat it as a be all and end all kind of thing when you’re of that age and it can very much feel like that, but that’s not necessarily the case. So not to sound patronising, but if you’re beating yourself up about it at all please be kind to yourself.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      **Raises hand**

      This would be me – subtype “wrong thing at the wrong time”. Dropped out of an engineering degree, worked for a while, eventually ended up working on a helpdesk. Realized if I wanted to move into a sysadmin role, I needed to have some sort of degree. Went back to the local community college at 29, intending to get an associate’s degree. Fell in love with one of the programming languages I had to take, and ended up transferring to the main (4-year) college to finish a bachelor’s degree. Finally got my degree at age 34.

      1. Windchime*

        Ha, this would be me. I thought I wanted to work in networking, so I went to the local community college. They required an introductory programming class for that certificate, but I realized immediately that I wanted to change from networking to programming. So I did that and got a job offer before I was able to finish the certificate (I had one elective left). And I’ve been a developer ever since!

    2. SongbirdT*


      I failed college in my first semester – I just wasn’t ready. But today I have a chonky salary at a tech company. It might have taken me a little longer to get here, but I made it. And to boot, I’m actually able to be open and proud about what I’ve accomplished without a formal degree.

      So hang in there, LW! LinkedIn if you want, skip it if you don’t. Pretty soon, all that will matter is your experience and track record.

      1. sunny-dee*

        But this is the part Alison missed: the guy has ZERO experience. I simply can’t imagine his getting hired even for an entry level position. Frankly, he wouldn’t even qualify as an intern at my company.

        He needs to work on getting some kind documented experience NOW. Get a certification (these can be as short as 3 months) in a coding language, platform, or hardware. Start contributing to an open source project. Do literally anything to either develop skills or demonstrate skills.

        That is 1000 times more important than whether you have a LinkedIn profile.

        1. Thursdaysgeek*

          And the college may come later, but I’ve worked a LOT of places where they won’t even look at your resume if you don’t have a degree. It used to be that a degree was optional, and that is becoming less and less an option.

          1. Windchime*

            A lot more places are wanting a degree, but I’ve worked in IT for over 20 years and nobody has batted an eye at my lack of a degree (in anything). I feel like there are still places that will overlook the lack of a degree but they usually want experience in lieu. (My last job [ I’m now retired ] was at a University and I was shocked that they didn’t require me to have a degree!)

            1. sunny-dee*

              Yeah, my brother is a software developer, and he never went to college – but he has a load of certifications in both software and hardware. I’ve worked on engineering teams that were a mix of people with advanced degrees from Ivy League colleges and people who never went to college at all, and everything in between.

              But this guy needs to start getting experience yesterday, if this is the path he really wants to take. Honestly, I don’t think he really has an idea or a plan – it’s like the STEM equivalent of wanting to be a writer. I mean, yeah, you may want to be the next Hemingway, but have you written even a single word? He doesn’t seem that interested in coding – he seems to want out of retail, and this is a romantic alternative.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yes. I had to start working full time to support myself my senior year of high school, and after my second semester of community college/working full time trying to get my gen ed credits I realized not only was I incredibly burnt out but I had no idea what I was working towards and had no long term plan. I dropped out, moved to the city where I had more options, got a job I liked, and figured things out from there – eventually going back to finish my undergrad at 25. Now I’m 29 and finishing up my MBA, which is a very different road than the psych degree I thought I wanted 10 years ago. Sometimes you need to learn more about yourself before you make that kind of commitment – both of money and of time and energy.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I flunked out of three different colleges before I figured out what I actually wanted to be doing. (Then I finished my bachelor degree MCL and got two masters degrees at the same time in my 30s.)

    5. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I flunked out of my first go at college (also due to a shocking lack of motivation). Now I’m a lawyer with a Ph.D. So if you find yourself motivated to go back to school at some point, don’t let that first attempt stop you. In my case, there was nothing that got me quite so invested in higher education as seeing what the full-time working world was like!

    6. Therese*

      Not to be harsh OP#5, but I just don’t get how somebody who does not seem to have software engineering qualifications or work experience can get a job in this sector? It’s not the 90’s when anybody who could boot up a computer could get a job in IT. Every highschool kid these days seems to know a bit of coding. I think you are going to have to deal with the “shocking lack of motivation” when studying for the degree one way or another? Are you sure, really sure this is your path?

  18. Lauren*

    RE: LW1’s timeline- I think her FMLA is ending in October (baby came in July) so March is pretty far out.

    1. sunglass*

      The LW says she’s not scheduled to start back at school until the end of January, so if she took a March opening then hopefully her school would only need to cover February.

    2. Me*

      Her employer granted her leave well beyond the FMLA requirements.

      What her concern is is her job is not protected by FMLA because it only guarantees 12 weeks. She was just asking for confirmation of that.

      And sadly there are bad employers out there who would use the lack of FMLA coverage as an excuse, but hers isn’t likely to be one of them. One because they granted leave well beyond the requirement. That’s a pretty good sign of an employer that cares about their employee. As long as she talks to her employer to figure out a game plan, she should be fine.

      1. Just another librarian*

        As a teacher – our FMLA protections never started until the first contracted day of work for the year. So having a baby in July would mean you weren’t even on the FMLA clock until (for my district) September.

    3. PT*

      It’s possible that the school she works for did not give her FMLA from the day the baby was born, but from the first day she was expected to report to school for the year.

      Because of the way Labor Day and Rosh Hashana fell this year, a lot of school districts in the Northeast started late, Sept 9 or Sept 13 for their first day of school.

      1. OP1*

        You are all correct–my employer didn’t start the FMLA clock until September. But it HAS been started, and you can’t unring the bell. The FMLA time will be up at the end of November and then I successfully negotiated 8 more weeks past that, but I don’t know how generous they are going to be feeling past THAT, since they already went out on a limb for me to grant me the 20 wks unpaid instead of the standard 12.

        1. pancakes*

          You will be going out on limb for them by teaching during a pandemic, though. A quite scary limb that requires even more dedication from teachers than usual!

  19. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    OP3 – what are they expecting to gain? Anyone wanting to leave is just going to shake their head and say “I’m not looking for anything else, honest Guv.”. And what happens if someone says they are not looking and hands in their notice a week later?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      It strikes me as akin to the clingy boyfriend/girlfriend/etc who constantly asks for reassurance that you’re not going to dump them.

    2. Colette*

      Yeah, I could see how the meetings would be useful if they were focused on getting insights from everyone about what could be changed, and if the company were truly interested in solving the problems and if they employee believed that they could speak their minds without repercussions and if that were true. But that question tells me that’s not what they’re trying to do.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah if they’re trying to get to a bottom line of “20% of our essential workforce is looking to leave and 30% of those people cite x reasons” then yeah I can see them having a plan for the question, but it assumes a lot of the “ifs” you mention and I’m equally skeptical they’re actually going to get any useful data.

  20. Zoe*

    LW #4 – several of my colleagues went back to a 5 day/week schedule after trying a 9/80. I lost my 9/80 during the pandemic and I was extremely happy to get it back last month.

    1. AY*

      I would love to try a schedule like this, but it doesn’t really jell with being a trial lawyer. What do you do about Mondays off? Obviously, you get the 8-hour holiday on Monday off, but are you obliged to make up the extra hour on another day? And what if the Friday off ends up being July 4 or another holiday? Do you get another Friday off? So interested in the mechanics of this because it is my dream schedule.

      1. Metadata minion*

        In my workplace, you go back to a normal 8/5 schedule on a week with a holiday if you’re on a 10/4 schedule; it just makes the paperwork easier.

        1. Lab Boss*

          That’s how we did it. That accounts for both the problem of “what do you do with a Monday off that only comes with 8 paid hours” as well as “what do you do with a Friday that’s supposed to be a holiday but is suddenly part of one department’s weekend?”

      2. GW*

        I have this schedule and can shed some light on the specifics. For national holidays, you get 8 hours holiday pay and then you use one hour of your vacation time to cover the extra hour. And if your Friday off ends up being a holiday, you get the nearest weekday off as well. It makes for some nice 4-day weekends.

        This schedule is pretty common in local government. I’m actually having trouble deciding whether to leave my government job solely based on not having this perk in other fields!

          1. Drago Cucina*

            Yes. It’s one of the great perks for me of being a W2 contractor. Going from salaried-exempt where I was putting in 50-60 hours per week, to the 9/80 has been great. Telework has tweaked it more. If I take an hour or two off earlier in the week it’s not a problem to log-on for a couple hours on a Friday morning, take care of some tasks, then I’m off to do what I want. I wouldn’t do that with a commute to work.

            1. Sea Anemone*

              Hm, looks like I introduced some confusion with the term contractor. Companies like Lockheed Martin, which bid on defense contracts, are known as “defense contractors.” Salaried, exempt, direct hires at defense contractors typically work 9/80 schedules. Many of them work more than 9 hrs/day, and many of them might do work on an off-Friday. However, the base schedule is a 9/80.

      3. Colette*

        I work a 9/75 schedule, and on statuatory holidays, I get 7.5 hours of holiday time, and have to make up the other 50 minutes (either through vacation or by working extra other days). I usually add 5 minutes a day for 10 days.

        1. Colette*

          Also, for sick days or vacation days, I have to spend more than a day’s leave to make up for the extra 50 minutes. Around Christmas, I go back on my regular 7.5 hour day schedule for a couple of weeks because 3 statuatory holidays within 8 days is too much to make up.

      4. Sea Anemone*

        What do you do about Mondays off? Obviously, you get the 8-hour holiday on Monday off, but are you obliged to make up the extra hour on another day?

        Yes. You either work an extra hour in the same week or you take an hour of PTO. Yes, it sucks. If you force me to work this stupid 9-80 schedule, at least give me the whole day off.

        And what if the Friday off ends up being July 4 or another holiday? Do you get another Friday off?

        At my last employer, we would take 8 holiday hours on the Thursday before (and either work an extra hour or use an hour of PTO, as above) so we got a 4 day weekend.

      5. Fust*

        It’s too bad all these people are working for companies with idiots running payroll. In a functioning, modern workplace, you would simply be given the 9 hours holiday, no time to make up. 8 hours for a 9/80 is bananas. It would be like giving someone who works 8/80 an 8 hour day off and make up two hours. This is utter nonsense and I’m so surprised people are putting up with it.

        1. Sea Anemone*

          It’s not payroll’s fault. It’s a high level business decision. I do resent it, but put the blame where it belongs.

          By the way, if by 8/80, you mean 4-10s (don’t ask me why the difference in terminology), then yes, people working those hours get 8 hours of holiday as well. Everybody gets the same number of holiday hours regardless of schedule, which I suppose is why they do it that way.

        2. Drago Cucina*

          It’s not always payroll, but sometimes federal contracts, and in some cases, federal regulations. The agency that I’m contracted to did a 180 approach on telework. They are now convinced that it’s the way to go. Either primarily telework or a blend. But, in order to make that work congress had to change the work regulations for our agency. Previously you had to be in office at least two days each week.

          Simply giving contractors a “free” hour paid for by the federal government isn’t going to happen. Even if the civil servants are given the hour, I have to work.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP2: a little bit of this is stepping outside of my work persona so apologies. Been through something similar a long time ago.

    Reassure your friend that this has nothing to do with ‘getting others on her side’ or ‘spending political capital’ or ‘doesn’t count since it’s outside work’. None of that matters. He’s not safe to work with, that’s all that matters.

    If the firm has an IT department they can easily pull the slack harassing stuff and ban him from there. She can take screenshots of the text messages and anything else he’s sent her to HR. If they (HR) refuse to do anything to stop him then they are promoting a hostile environment. And legally that’s bad.

    She’s done nothing wrong and may need a lot of reassurance that she didn’t cause this (‘but if I hadn’t dated a coworker and broken up with him this wouldn’t happen’ is something of a common thought. It’s wrong but common for, especially a woman, to blame herself in these situations. Even a little)

    Help her plan out what she’s going to say to HR – helps with confidence – and also, among all this reassuring that she’s not wrong and he’s definitely in need of being fired, I gently suggest at least a couple of friend meetings/coffee morning/days out (insert your preferences here) with her where this colossal bellend isn’t the topic of conversation and you chat about/do something she enjoys.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. She needs to print it all out and go to HR saying that she tried to ignore it hoping it would stop but he then moved it to Slack — and he is creating a hostile work environment and she needs it to stop. Make clear that she asked him to only contact her about work issues. That ‘hostile work environment’ thing needs to be said.

    2. Boof*

      Yes. LW2, reassure your friend this isn’t her fault; blocking and getting on with life is the best action and if Harry won’t move on, that’s Harry behaving badly, not Sally. HR/workplaces can be incredibly helpful here because they 1) have power over Harry and 2) are usually very motivated to put an end to Harry’s nonsense. While unfortunately there are no guarantees in life, I’ve heard many success stories where work will tell Harry in no uncertain terms they need to cut it out or risk losing their job, and Harry doesn’t sound so far gone that they’ll choose the obsession over their job.

      1. Observer*

        And he doesn’t stop and he gets fired, he no longer has access to her.

        So, either way, it’s a win for her.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Moreover, even if she did do something wrong in the initial breakup (“a number of reasons” can cover quite a lot), what he is doing is still not ok, it still has to stop, and the company still has an obligation to make it stop.

      1. Reba*

        Right, the relationship itself or its end hardly has to enter in to the conversation at all. The way Harry is plowing over reasonable boundaries in the aftermath is what the workplace has standing to deal with, and it sounds like there is unfortunately plenty to address.

        I would also note that stalking and harassing behavior can follow on even apparently tranquil relationships that end “well”. No matter what she did, the friend did not ask for this! And another thing that friends can do for a person dealing with harassment and stalking is to remind her of that and help her not to rationalize or downplay the harrasser’s behavior.

        The friend can speak to an EAP if available or a hotline like the National Domestic Violence hotline to speak with an advocate about best ways to proceed.

        1. Bernice Clifton*

          Totally! If Harry feels mistreated by Sally during their brief relationship, he can get a diary or go see a therapist or find another job. Someone who is not in a relationship with you anymore doesn’t have to be subjected to long missives about what they did wrong.

        2. Boof*

          Yeah no matter what happened no reasonable person would need to force a treatise on all the ways their ex was a bad partner on their ex. For most people if their ex is so terrible, they are… happy to be done with ex. So gross that Harry is apparently trying to get Sally to… what, agree she is “crazy” (what? Who is acting crazy here?)? Agree they were a bad partner? (yeah yeah we all know Harry wants this to lead into Sally agreeing to try again under Harry’s magnanimous dictation on what the relationship “should” be like)

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Yeah, that stood out to me too. Also, having known or heard about a few people who broke up with partners who immediately started behaving like that, it always gets into the “and you’re bad at sex in these detailed and enumerated ways” and I can’t imagine that HR would take kindly to that sort of thing showing up on the work slack channels…

  22. Roeslein*

    LW #5 – it depends on the job. I hire client-facing consultants and we know our clients definitely look up the team’s LinkedIn profiles to find out what they have done / studied before, so we have a look at candidates’ profiles as a matter of course. If you don’t have one as an experienced person (even in a different field – a job candidate we spoke had a lot of experience in costuming for theatre and that was really interesting to us, as we value creativity and visual communication skills) that could be a little strange in our field, but as a recent graduate it wouldn’t bother me.

    1. Roeslein*

      Also, in this country some people have very strong feelings about data protection and having an online presence – and as a client-facing company we do need to be able to share our team members’ picture and profile with clients. Our staff also need to be willing to position themselves as thought leaders and have some kind of online presence through conferences presentations, publications etc., so (based on past experience) I would want to check that this is not the reason someone doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile.

  23. Green great dragon*

    LW4, when you ask to move back to a traditional schedule, don’t justify it by talking about how you’re strugging and about all the problems you’re having. You don’t need to! The only thing that could make you look disorganised is if you tell them you can’t make it work because you’re not organised enough, which your letter almost implied, and I don’t think it’s true. All you need to say is that you’ve discovered you prefer having more time in the evenings.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. ‘It isn’t working for me’ is it. Don’t be self blaming. It is perfectly reasonable that different people would prosper with different schedules.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      “I prefer 5 eight hour days.” It is 100% a trade off for what you prefer. People imagine the Friday off is amazing and think that extra hour Monday through Thursday is nothing, but it isn’t nothing. For some people it is a big deal.

      I understand LW4 and admire her willingness to give up the Fridays off which looks so wonderful from the outside to do what’s right for herself.

    3. Massive Dynamic*

      Exactly – for what it’s worth, the 8/8/8 work/sleep/free structure is a myth. If you’re scheduled for 8 hours of work, you usually also have a lunch “break” in there, let’s say an hour, and also commute to/fro, let’s say an hour/day, and then there’s the getting ready in the morning. For me, getting myself ready to get out the door is also an hour (and add another hour on for getting kids ready!). So in this situation, my 8hr work day actually takes 12 hours of my life each day. And the “free” time that remains is primarily dedicated to other life things like dinner/dishes/working out (maybe)/kid homework/kid fun times/laundry/etc.

  24. Mannheim Steamroller*

    #3 —

    My response would be, “No, I’m not job-hunting right now. Should I start?”

    I sense that a “stay interview” with that question might lead to lots of exit interviews.

  25. Humble Schoolmarm*

    LW 1: Do you already have a long-term sub covering your classes until Jan? If so, and your school (school district) is fairly functional (not guaranteed, I know), it should be agreeable to everybody to keep your sub on for an extra few months, especially if it’s unpaid leave. Contact your union (if applicable) and try to talk to your principal (if they are reasonable) to see if they can extern the sub’s term as soon as possible.

    1. OP1*

      Humble, yes, I already have a long term sub. I think she would be amenable to extending. The real challenge is if my bank account and lack of health insurance is amenable to being broke for longer. Maybe! I’d certainly rather be broke another month than put my child into unsafe care.

  26. Hiring Mgr*

    Is LinkedIn one of those things like cover letters, where depending on industry etc they’re either crucial or non existent? I ask b/c in my world it would be unheard of not to have a LI profile.

    1. N. Moore*

      I’ve never heard of anywhere it would be crucial before. In my field, no one has really heard of LinkedIn and certainly no one uses it – it would be seen as super-weird! So it looks like you are right to a certain extent – in your field it’s crucial and in mine non-existent.

      I suspect in most fields it falls somewhere in between – more or less useful and expected depending on the industry.

    2. FD*

      I’ve never found it terribly helpful–just a Facebook dressed up to be professional–mostly a lot of BS marketing and a lot of people airing terrible opinions. From reading things here, I have the impression people use it a lot more in some fields to find people with specific skills. I suspect that it may be more useful in technical skills-based fields where a recruiter really needs someone in [area x] to code in [program y].

    3. ThatGirl*

      It’s funny ’cause when I got “outplacement services” in 2017 the company pushed LinkedIn big time. I can’t speak to every industry/job function, but in marketing, people seem to looove LinkedIn. It’s definitely not the only way to network or find job leads, but I get a lot of attention from recruiters there.

      The actual site/app is kind of garbage, though. Full of lots of inspo p*rn and stories that clearly never happened or BS marketing nonsense.

    4. Loredena Frisealach*

      Mixed. I was an early adopter, and it was mostly useful as a placeholder for my resume and to see where old colleagues had ended up. I’ve actually been recruited for my most recent 3 jobs through it (just switch your profile to looking and the recruiters show up!) so it’s really great for that, and still great for where colleagues landed. But they are also pushing posting in a facebook manner that I think is awful, and so I pay very little attention to my stream there. I’m in IT, and all 3 of my recent positions are software consulting for Microsoft O365 though, so may be very industry specific!

  27. doreen*

    LW #1 – check with your union or your employer. Although FMLA only guarantees 12 weeks unpaid leave it is not uncommon for public employees ( especially teachers) to more. For example, in my city, city employees ( including teachers) are entitled to three/four years of unpaid leave for each child and although I don’t personally know anyone who has done it, you can apparently stack the leaves if you have a second child before returning from the first leave.

    1. SpEd Teacher*

      I am a public school teacher and my contract allows for up to 1 year of “child rearing leave” where you come back to your exact job, and 2 years of leave where you come back to a job, but you might be in a different school or position depending on their needs. (But you don’t get paid or insurance in that time… so it is hard to use for many people.)

    2. Just another librarian*

      My public school district has unpaid Leave of Absence options for tenured teachers, although taking one means giving up your particular school/job and then being put into the pool of internal job seekers the following June. While most LOA for child/maternity reasons are granted from July 1-June 30 they can be ended early by mutual agreement of both parties. Certainly an option for LW1 to explore (the union, if she has one, would likely be a good resource for more info.)

      1. OP1*

        This is helpful. I have never asked! Maybe people take a 1 year leave of absence all the time! My work might be open to it. I honestly don’t know. I also just don’t know if we could swing it financially to do longer. I am going to be looking intensely at my bank account as I try to figure all of this out.

  28. DE*

    To the OP about the 9/80 work schedule: At the company I work for MOST of the people do 9/80 and they also just opened up 4/10 (4 days a week of 10 hour days and every Friday off). My work location didn’t have either option for a long time until just the last few months. On my team a few people took the option of the modified schedule, and some are actually now switching BACK to the regular 5 day work week because it hasn’t been working for them. They aren’t viewed any differently, and we understand that not all schedules work for everyone! I wouldn’t stress about it!

    1. Anon Supervisor*

      We have a lot of people that want to do the 9/80, but we can’t offer it because of state labor laws (OT is calculated weekly, so you can’t work more than 40 and carry it over to the next week).

  29. shmoshmelle*

    #1 –
    I got on a waitlist for my small city when I was 3 months pregnant and it was still a 15+ month wait, I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it. Have you looked into at-home daycares? I found a local group on Facebook where people can post to find, or daycares can post openings and found a really wonderful lady. Honestly it was a blessing in disguise – more attention, less kids so less germs, less cost, more flexibility. They also tend to have more immediate openings.

    1. OP1*

      shmoshmelle, I toured an in-home daycare today. Nothing is off the table! Unfortunately it has a wait list, too, and she is desperately seeking another employee and finding it hard to find the right person. All of her current employees have a child at the center, which tells me none of those lovely mothers could afford to work at all if they didn’t work there.

  30. sswj*

    LW#2, I hope you can give us an update at some point. It’d be nice to hear that Sally can go and do a job she likes without that ominous cloud following her around. I hope she will go to HR and get it stopped.

    1. Finland isn't real*

      I’m the letter writer! Hoping for a positive update soon too. I’ve chatted with Sally after reading Alison’s advice and advice from the comment section and encouraged her to reach out to HR.

      1. Observer*

        I hope she listens to you.

        Also, do encourage her to block him everywhere she can. Reiterate that if he continues to harass her over slack, that is NOT her responsibility. Either he is a functioning adult, and needs to behave like one and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for his own behavior, or he is not a functional adult, in which case him employer needs to dismiss him. In NEITHER case is this her responsibility.

      2. Nea*

        Oh, thank you! I hope she gets a quick resolution soon. The way he went immediately to gaslighting and harassment makes him a danger to every woman he works with.

  31. Wednesday*

    LW1: I work in HR for a public school district. We would be understanding of this if we were notified now so we could either make arrangements with your current long-term sub or have time to line up a new one. You should definitely talk to your union, and also check your contact/CBA and the board policies on leave. In my state, most policies allow for up to a leave for maternity/child-rearing leave, although it is unpaid after your FMLA disability period is over, and you’d have to use COBRA for your benefits after the full 12 weeks of FMLA are up.

    1. OP1*

      Wednesday, thanks for this insider insight. I know I would have to use COBRA for benefits; I’m already doing that. The whole thing is contingent on me coming back. So I have to call HR for sure and figure out what my options are.

  32. Lizy*

    OP 1 – don’t kick yourself. Childcare is hard!

    You may want to check out in-home or other options. Obviously it’s not for everyone, but I personally feel so much better with in-home people I know and trust than a typical daycare center. Right now, for example, I’m not even using a licensed day care – it’s literally just a friend who offered to watch my 1YO.

  33. Student*

    OP #4 – just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone. My job offers the same kind of scheduling as an option. Nearly all my co-workers use it, but I do not. I’ve occasionally gotten some pressure from co-workers to switch (but my boss doesn’t care). I can’t deal with that kind of schedule and won’t consider it. For myself, I’d rather get another hour of sleep each day than a sporadic day off.

    Part of the theory at our workplace is that nearly everyone is already putting in an extra hour each day. I admit I sometimes put in an extra hour in a day – but I don’t want it to be an obligation! I want to be able to end my day after 8 hours to do other things! I also see too many of my co-workers on the alternate work schedule still coming in on their “day off” to feel like this is a legitimate and consistent benefit for our job.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t think I’d like this schedule either. I guess it depends – 8:30-5:30 might be nice to avoid traffic but 9-6 would get to me after awhile. It depends on your lifestyle but consistent shorter days is often more sustainable than working longer days for the perk of a day off.

    2. Hex Code*

      My husband did it and liked it because his job had a significant commute. So coming in early and leaving late actually worked out to about the same as if he had commuted at the “normal” time. I think that’s one of the only ways it’s worthwhile.

  34. Junebug*

    “Reasons that aren’t mine too get into”

    It’s not a faux pas to say abuse. No way this guy wasn’t at least grooming her before they broke up.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t think this is helpful to speculate on. It’s common for behavior of this level not to fully reveal itself until after a breakup, and relationships often have a lot of moving parts. OP is asking for advice about the current situation and chose not to reveal details and we sgoul respect that

    2. Finland isn't real*

      I’m the OP, in my opinion he’s abusive and got to her when she was quite vulnerable unfortunately. It’s just not my relationship so I’ll never have all the information.

      Having said that, obviously I’ve told Sally what I think and encouraged her to have a chat with her therapist too. I had another chat with her today on the basis of Alison’s advice and comments in the thread. Thanks for all the kind and thoughtful responses :)

      1. Aphra*

        I’m surely not alone in hoping that there are people reading this who recognise that they are/have been a ‘Harry’ and that they pause and reflect and maybe, just maybe, alter their behaviour.

        I cannot abide bullying and Harry’s behaviour is a form of bullying. I will not stand for it and won’t tolerate it happening to others so I’d also like to say to Sally what I used to say to my team when they asked what to do if a client became abusive or threatening: Send them to me.

    3. Observer*

      It’s not a matter of “faux pas ” or not. It’s a matter of respecting someone else’s privacy and agency. Sally clearly doesn’t want to discuss it with all and sundry, and the best thing the OP can do for her is to respect that.

      And, it really doesn’t matter – the bottom line is that Harry’s behavior needs to STOP. Even if he was a perfect gentleman before the break up. (I’m not saying he was. I AM saying that it doesn’t matter IN THIS CONTEXT.)

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Yeah, there’s no behavior on Harry or Sally’s part which could possibly justify Harry’s actions. What he’s doing is wrong irregardless of extenuating context! There’s nothing that’s going to make this reasonable.

  35. Betteauroan*

    OP with the childcare issue—if you’re really in this much of a bind, maybe try care.com or one of those websites where you can find individuals to come to your home to babysit or find someone who babysits out of their home? My sister did this when she couldn’t find a day care.

  36. NotRealAnonForThis*

    LW #1 – reiterating that this could have easily happened pre-pandemic and it could have happened no matter WHEN you started looking.

    My oldest is in the lower end of double digit ages. I was six months pregnant with him when I put our name on every waitlist in the county. We started receiving phone calls telling us that places had an opening available the next month….when he was 14 months old. Being that I live in the US, and I worked for a fairly small but generous employer (hey, I actually GOT PAID leave….just not a lot of it! Most people get zero here!), the concept of 15 months of maternity leave was utterly laughable.

    We’d opted to do a nanny share with a friend of ours. It was significantly better in the long term for us, and not just monetarily.

  37. SubsidizeEarlyChildcare*

    Friends of mine went on the waiting list for the daycare center near them when she was pregnant.

    They did this VERY early -BEFORE telling their parents or anyone else.


    This is not your fault. Early childcare is incredibly broken in this country.

  38. SpEd Teacher*

    OP 1- Look for a nanny or babysitter. It probably won’t be too much more expensive than a day care for those early months when day care is the most expensive. And they work exactly on your schedule. And your baby is given 1:1 attention. And you don’t have to drive them anywhere before school. And a nanny will not charge you for days when you don’t have school (as long as that is established ahead of time). And there are fewer germs. And you control so much more of the care. It’s honestly not that much more money. And if it’s that or not making any money or getting insurance, it’s probably worth it. When I posted to care.com I got a ton of interest.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is what my daughter did for her baby’s first 9 months at which point she could get him into day care and she has a friend who did a nanny share with a nearby friend with a baby and that made it more affordable for them. This is of course only available for people who can afford it — it is expensive but then so is institutional infant/toddler day care. My daughter was paying college tuition levels of money for day care for her first and now again for the second — luckily only one at a time in full time day care.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Depending on the state, licensed home day care may also be a thing, and cheaper than a day care facility.

    3. Cimorene*

      Seconding the recommendation of looking into a nanny or nanny share. I realize you may not be able to afford it long term but if its just to cover a gap until you can do daycare that could be more feasible. But also understand it may not be something you can afford even short term. No matter what don’t beat yourself up, the child care situation in the entire country is broken and its a travesty that our government hasn’t done something to fix it.

      1. JustaTech*

        I have friends who’ve done a nanny share, first because it was what they could actually get, and then because it was the only option for most of 2020. They’ve had to re-do the nanny share once (the other family moved away) but were able to get some other friends to join.

  39. sb51*

    LW4: if you’re worried about looking ungrateful or lazy, maybe just a phrasing update? “I appreciate [company] offering flexibility, but having tried it, I feel like I’m more productive on a 5×8 schedule! I’d like to switch back.” Make it a win-win scenario — you have both your own and the company’s best interests in mind, and you don’t have to get into the personal reasons.

    1. Reba*

      This is a great way to phrase it positively!

      From the letter it sounds like the op has a sense of shame around their executive function/organizational stuff. This is a common feeling! Things I hear often are “I should just be able to…” “I’m failing at being an adult” etc etc.

      The workplace frames the alternative schedule as this amazing perk (rather overstating the case IMO) but try to let that go. It simply doesn’t work for you. That’s it! This is a value-neutral, factual statement.

  40. balanceofthemis*

    LW1: My mom is a teacher, so I asked her for advice. I know not every situation is the same, but she has insight. If you work for a public school, you have a union. Talk to your rep, find out what your options are. Go back and read your contract for yourself as well. Usually when the contract is negotiated, very specific rules are seplled out for firing a teacher. The only option may be an unpaid personal leave of absense, but it’s unlikely they can fire you.

    If you work for a private school and don’t have a union or contract, all you can do is talk to your principal. Odds are good they will want to retain you and find a way to work it out. If you’re out on maternity leave, they are already either paying a long term sub, or someone if covering your classes, an extra month probably won’t break them either way.

    Congrats on the baby and good luck!

  41. Elle*

    If LW1 is in the USA, they could look into something like AuPair International – they are young people who get a special visa to come and provide childcare for up to two years. You do pay, but the “suggested” stipend is quite reasonable. Other countries may have similar programs as well.

  42. Used to work in education got tired of being abused*

    OP#1: The best principal I ever worked for let me bring my child to work with me. I taught a high school elective and my toddler aged kiddo would come just about every day. This was a public high school in Texas. We also had a childcare class on campus that would take her for a period or two a day.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I briefly worked in a school district with an on-campus day care, and it was wonderful. Teen parents were able to come back to school and be near their babies, and faculty and staff had ready-made childcare.

    2. OP1*

      Pre-covid, maybe. Unvaccinated infant in a high school of 2000 students, many unvaccinated? No way in hell.

  43. Caroline Bowman*

    wrong country, but I feel like it’s absolutely best to notify your boss as soon as possible of your situation. The thing is, it’s a very, very common problem, so if you do as Alison suggests, and get that March spot (I presume you’re on the list), then you’re asking for an extra month unless they have any other ideas.

    I suspect you are a very dedicated teacher who has served admirably for years. You’re hardly a flighty, constantly-shifting-things person. These are unusual circumstances and if you are clear about when you can return, they can plan accordingly.

    1. OP1*

      Caroline, thanks for the vote of confidence. It is true, I have served for years and am not a flighty person! It’s useful to have that reminder.

  44. Mojo021*

    LW#1 – I work in HR for a school district, please review your contract as you be eligible to take an unpaid leave of absence after your FMLA runs out. If you still have sick time accrued they may continue to let you be paid but that would be a district decision. If your area is anything like it here, teachers are in high demand and I believe that the HR department and the union will be able to work with you. Good luck and congratulation!

    1. OP1*

      Mojoo21, I am already maxing out/paying out all of my sick leave for the setup I currently have. Thank you for the congratulations!

  45. Terrible as the Dawn*

    LW5: I don’t have any experience with LinkedIn myself, but I just want to add my voice of support for you. My first job out of college was retail, and was only meant to tide me over until I went off to grad school. Then my student loans came into repayment and the recession hit and suddenly grad school looked like a dumb idea and my “temporary gig” needed to be my full-time job. Thank goodness they offered benefits! Unfortunately, when the economy started to recover a few years later, I couldn’t get out of retail; “serious” employers saw that big box name at the top of my meager resume and wouldn’t even give me an interview. It took me nine years to get out and it was because of a personal connection I’d made that I even got my foot in the door.

    So, solidarity, my friend! Write an amazing cover letter focusing on the soft skills (de-escalation, careful listening with the intent to find the problem and solve it, etc) you’ve gained through your retail experience! I’ve been out for over five years now, and I can tell you that many “professional” people do not have those skills. I have to imagine that even in the world of software engineering, being able to listen to a client or project manager and effectively distill what they are asking for into a Thing You Can Build is a skill that will set you apart!

  46. A Library Person*

    Re #2 it is just *so* disheartening to me to see the repeated theme of people (usually, but certainly not always, women) blaming themselves for other people’s bad behavior and, indeed, being blamed for “causing drama”. I understand why it happens and have been guilty of a lot of the same thought patterns myself, but it’s important to reassure your friend that she is NOT the one behaving badly in this situation. All she is doing is existing, and Harry is the one who is responsible for bringing this into work.

    I wish we as a society were more concerned with people advocating for themselves than with blaming people for making others uncomfortable, which might be feeding into Sally’s desire to not “cause drama”.

    1. A Library Person*

      Oh and to be very clear on that last point, “making others uncomfortable” in this context means preying on their insecurity. Making others “uncomfortable” by being queer, or being a POC, or being Disabled is absolutely not what I am talking about here; that’s bigotry on the part of the person feeling “uncomfortable” and I do not condone it.

      1. A Library Person*

        Yeah okay I need some coffee. Hopefully it is clear what I meant because my clarification just made it worse. No one should feel bad for making a harasser feel “uncomfortable” by calling them out on their actions. That is all I meant.

  47. WendyRoo*

    LW4: I was in the same boat, except everyone in my department was on the 9/80 schedule and I was definitely getting side-eyes for working normal 9-5 hours. The compressed schedule was so embedded in the office culture (along with bean-counting hours and making sure butts were in seats) that I really felt uncomfortable pushing back or requesting a regular schedule. Granted, it’s a million times better now that we’re all WFH and nobody cares when I log on at 8:05am.

  48. Salad Daisy*

    #3 my response is the same one I would give to questions about those so-called anonymous surveys which ask the same question. Some version of “It’s all rainbows and unicorns here”

    Please don’t argue that anonymous surveys are really anonymous. The company I work for is a real gossip mill and the HR people are among the worst.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      And if you express concerns that only your department would know about, then anonymity is out the door.

  49. Lisa Babs*

    #5. Please create a LinkedIn profile. It can’t hurt and possibly can help. Since you can use LinkedIn to network. Which you might need to do since you are trying to break into a new field without experience. Write a wonderful bio for your self. That describes that you are wanting to get into the engineering field and that you currently are keeping your mind occupied with coding puzzles and scientific journals.

    There are also some wonderful articles on AskAManger about networking, changing fields, and getting jobs without much experience.

  50. I should really pick name*

    It’s interesting to see how other people view LinkedIn.

    I use it pretty much exclusively for staying in contact with people I’ve encountered through work. My job history’s on there, but not particularly detailed.

    Some commenters have mentioned that they sometimes use LinkedIn as a head-hunting tool, but no company that’s reached out to me on their own has ever interested me at all.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I have a LinkedIn account. I don’t think you could say I use it. It exists. I just deleted the annoying emails it generates. I’ve unsubscribed, but recruiters still reach out with jobs I am not interested in.

  51. Childcare Nightmare*

    LW#1 – I had my childcare situation for my two under-fives fall apart my third day of teaching at a new school, on the Friday before Labor Day. SPOILER: we had a new situation by Tuesday that was not ideal, but was a lot better than the old situation would have been. We put out the word to EVERYONE we knew. Everyone. Via every method we could think of, including all of my colleagues. Asked them to ask other people. Absolutely go to HR, your union and your EAP (if you have it) because sometimes there are benefits no one knows they have.

    For instance: because of AAM, I told my husband to look at his EAP, and we ended up with a few hundred $ in gift cards from signing up for certain company-wide perks!

    Also: THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. I also had pre-eclampsia – twice. Second kids are hard in a different way than first kids. You are in the weeds while running on fumes, my dear. I know this panic. Take the March opening, pay the non-refundable deposit, if only for peace of mind so you have one not-so-great option already taken care of. Then look around for the better option. I bet you find it from a place you right now don’t even know about. <3

    1. Sarra N. Dipity*

      LW #1 – I completely second the notion of going to your EAP if you have one. I had a nanny quit unexpectedly and just couldn’t find one. my EAP pointed me to a couple of resources and I ended up hiring a new nanny through one of them.

    2. OP1*

      Huh. I do have an EAP and I had not considered going to them to see if they have anything they might be able to offer me. Good to consider! Thank you for the compassion.

  52. Turanga Leela*

    OP #1: Alison is right about taking that March opening. Do you have anyone in your life who could come stay with you and watch the baby for a month? A mom, a sibling, a best friend who could take a month of leave? (Or who is a stay-at-home parent who might be able to temporarily take on a baby?) What about two weeks? You might be able to take unpaid leave, but you also might be able to piece together temporary childcare.

    And get yourself on all the waitlists for all the day cares around town. Make friends with the secretaries and administrators if you can; tell them how much you like the program. Sometimes things open up.

    Good luck. This is so hard.

    1. OP1*

      Leela, thanks for the good vibes. At the time I don’t have anyone I can call. My siblings and my husband’s siblings all work full time with young children of their own. Our parents aren’t physically able to care for an infant. :(

  53. Calpurrnia*

    #2 – I’ve been in this situation too, unfortunately. I started working at the same company as my partner, then we broke up, then he got really nasty and I blocked him basically everywhere I possibly could – so he started harassing me on the company Slack. This was in 2019, so it’s possible some things have changed since then (I really hope so), but here are some things I learned…
    1. Did you know that Slack literally DOESN’T HAVE A BLOCK FUNCTION? I complained about this on Twitter at the time, and someone in Slack PR replied that it’s intentionally impossible to block anyone on Slack because the developers believe that “it doesn’t make sense for work teams”. (Note: according to Slack’s help docs, you can now mute DMs, which at least prevents you from getting notifications of new messages, though it won’t stop you receiving them.)
    2. Unless your workplace admin has locked down the function with a company-wide policy (my now-husband has informed me this is a possibility, as he is his company’s Slack admin), did you know that individual users can manipulate the “message retention time” on a per-conversation basis, as well as edit and delete their message history? So my ex would send me threatening messages, give it long enough to make sure I saw them, and then delete the messages or edit them to something innocuous. It was absolutely insidious. I learned to screenshot everything the second I received it, because I had no guarantee it would still be there.
    3. My manager at that company was unwilling to do anything to help me, because “we all need to be team players here”, or more likely because my ex was a highly valued software developer and I was just an analyst. After a one-on-one meeting where I told my manager some of what I was struggling with and basically got told to suck it up, I started calling in sick and WFH as often as I could get away with to avoid being in the same building as him, which eventually got me put on a PIP for attendance issues, and I ended up getting fired. At the time I was very upset about it, but honestly, it was probably the best thing that could have happened – I felt too trapped and ashamed to go out and job hunt myself, and if I’d quit my ex would have ramped up the harassment over my notice period and made it hell… so them making the decision for me and having me leave suddenly without notice (coincidentally, while he was on vacation!) cut off his access to me completely – it basically set me free to move across the country and find a new job I love and never hear from him again. So, uh. That turned out really well, all things considered.

    I’m definitely not suggesting your friend stop going to work in order to get fired. Start by blocking him everywhere she can and muting him on Slack, screenshotting as much of the abuse as possible (and email it to her personal account or something, so it’s external to her work computer), and talking to HR. Also consider polishing her resume and sending out a few feeler applications as a backup plan – they’re not commitments! But also remember that if things do go badly, it’s… not the end of the world. He CAN’T keep her trapped or make her keep listening to abuse. Losing her job would probably suck, yes – but in a way, it can also be one flavor of freedom.

    1. Nanani*

      No block function = we never considered what life is like for anyone but the most socially advantaged at any time


      1. pancakes*

        This inspired me to have a look at Slack employee stats. According to their blog, “33.4% of people in technical roles are women, down from 34.6% (–1.2 pts.) last year.”

        1. Calpurrnia*

          Honestly I’m surprised it’s even as high as 1 in 3. I sorta wonder if they’re expanding the boundaries of what counts as “technical roles” in order to inflate their numbers. (Not in any way to denigrate those who work in technical-adjacent roles – my annoyance is solely directed at people and companies who manipulate statistics so they can pat themselves on the back about diversity and inclusion without actually doing the work to earn it.)

      2. Calpurrnia*

        Right??? Right?!?! Seriously! And once the issues with that they overlooked are pointed out to them, they just double down on their privilege with “nah, that doesn’t make sense within the limited framework of our privileged experience where everything is sunshine and rainbows, so it doesn’t make sense for anyone ever”.

  54. Middle School Teacher*

    OP 5 I get where you are coming from but why aren’t you focusing on getting experience? All the networking in the world won’t help if you don’t have anything concrete to present.

  55. Sea Anemone*

    LW3 —

    Asking if you are job hunting is not inappropriate. It is a bad question in the sense that many people will lie and say they are not. It is a good question in the sense that many people who the company would like to retain might answer honestly, and then the company will work on retaining them. I have seen things work out for people who admitted they were going to look elsewhere–these were people who the company *wanted* to keep around, so they made arrangements that made the employee want to stick around. It worked out well for everybody. I have also seen employees admit to job hunting and be completely written off, which worked out well for the employer, not so much for the employee. So it can go either way.

    You were caught off guard. It’s natural to feel some discomfort when you are caught off guard. Have an answer prepared so you are not caught off guard again.


    I work 9-80s. The difference between 8 hours and 9 hours is surprisingly intense! I do nothing during the week but go to work and go home, and it’s not great. The only reason I survive is the 3 day weekends. It’s less of a perk, and more a necessary offset to the long days (and yes, I feel like a whiner knowing there are people who regularly work 10-90s or longer!). So I feel you!

    Before you ask to go to 5-40s, though, look around at the culture. How many people work 5-40s? If there are others, especially if you have a mix of 5-40s, 4-10s, and 9-80 A and B shift (alternating which Friday is off), then go for it. If you will be the only one, I would not recommend it so soon. Give it a year and establish yourself, and even then, be cautious.

    Either way, assess how effective you will be working off-Fridays when other people will not be available. Maybe before you make the request, start doing a sort of trial run by trying to get through your Fridays doing work without reaching out to other people. By that I mean, don’t schedule any meetings; save your email questions for Monday; save your phone calls for Monday; if you send stuff out for review, save it for Monday; etc. If you find that you regularly hit stopping points where you can’t do anything else without another person’s input, you might not do that well working the off-Friday.

  56. Meep*

    LW#2 Hit close to home. It wasn’t a romantic relationship, but a working relationship did turn sour when someone I thought was mentoring me because abusive and I realized she had been only acting in her best interests the entire time.

    I agree to let HR know. Also, inform HR that moving forward, she will not be answering any of his calls whether they are work-related or not, and that she will only be communicating with him via email for the paper trial. I still work with my Harry, but I never pick up her phone calls anymore and always make sure to have our manager cc’d on any emails or the rare text that I send. There are literal pages of texts of her asking me a question and me responding via the group chat instead. I also save all her voicemails, no matter how mundane as she used to threaten me a lot via phone calls so there was no proof.

    Point it, keep a paper trail, and do not engage with him one-on-one. Always have a witness present. Even in emails.

  57. Spicy Tuna*

    I have a legit question about the 9/80 letter. I see a lot of questions on AAM about work schedules and hours worked. Are all of the questioners paid hourly? I have always (since 1996) had salaried jobs and none of them have been 40 hours. These jobs have been in a variety of industries and the companies have been public, private, large, small, etc. Every single one required way more than 40 hours. If there was a slow week, management would usually let people leave early on Friday, or give a bonus PTO day after a particularly grueling project, but in my experience, a 9-5, 40 hour week is strictly the domain of hourly workers. Thoughts from the readers?

    1. Sea Anemone*

      I am salaried exempt, but I work a billable hours model. I could work more than 40, but I also have always been in environments where it was ok if I did not.

    2. Rosie*

      I’m limited to 2 organizations I’ve worked for (several different positions at my current org, both salaried and hourly). At both orgs, my salaried jobs have been 9-5 except during big projects or problems. And their official guidance on using PTO for salaried workers is “if you work at least 4.1 hours in a day, you don’t have to use PTO at all. If you work any amount of time less than four hours (other than zero time), you only need to use 4 hours PTO for that day.” Basically, we use PTO in half-day increments, rounding down. So there’s the flexibility to be in the office less during the less-busy seasons to make up for the crunch time.

      Notably, my hourly jobs have had a ton of overtime and were a lot more stressful to me than my salaried jobs.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I think many people taking advantage of this schedule are salaried employees. It may be more an ideal than in fact. But I have heard people say that they generally stay a bit longer than 8 hours everyday so adding a full hour everyday is not an impact, but my organization is fairly good about needing overtime for staying really late.

      I see people saying that folks on this schedule end up working Fridays, but I don’t see that very often in my org. People tend to take their Fridays off. It is very common to just avoid scheduling Friday meetings because you can expect people are off work. However we are all virtual and in different timezones and work different duty hours so the 5-8s schedule is not the reason anyone “leaves early.” We also don’t schedule very early or late meetings because we don’t all start or end at the same time.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        And I should also say bosses giving permission to leave early is not a thing in my org except maybe an hour the day before a holiday. So even though we’re salaried (and non-exempt from OT), we don’t have a flexible schedule like you describe.

    4. Spicy Tuna*

      I suppose a lot of salaried work expectations depend on the industry. I think law and finance (which is my field) tend to have an expectation of longer hours than other industries.

    5. braindump*

      I’m salaried for over 15 years in biotech and never needed to work more than 40hrs on a regular basis. Some weeks were known in advance that there MAY be crunch time, in which case some night hours were put in if experiments failed. That may have been 3 or 4 nights over 15 years though.

    6. Paris Geller*

      I am a salaried municipal government employee and my normal work schedule is 39.5 hours per week.

    7. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I am a salaried local govt employee with a 9/80 schedule. None of my coworkers regularly work more than 40 hours per week (44 on the long weeks), but there’s a habit of “just checking email” on the Friday RDOs. Not work-work, just keeping up on stuff. Most of the workforce is unionized and would get time and a half for official OT.

  58. RagingADHD*

    LW5: What are you coding?

    Linkedin should not take you more than about an hour to set up in a useful way, and you shouldn’t waste time browsing it extensively.

    Make stuff. Talk to other people who are making stuff. There are middle schoolers out there making & selling commercial apps. You don’t need to hit it big and make something that goes viral, but you can start today actually engineering something.

    There are opportunities out there like donate:code, social coder, and others where you can work on projects as a volunteer. If you don’t have paid work experience, it would help to be able to show something in a portfolio, and you might get the chance to collaborate and make helpful contacts.

  59. Cj*

    I just read the article linked re: my department will fall apart if I take maternity leave from 2017. I hope she had a successful pregnancy, and would love an update on how the dept handled it. I’m sure they survived, as they always do.

  60. Princess Consuela*

    LW2: Your friend should approach HR ASAP with records/screenshots of any and all messages sent on personal platforms and work platforms. This is clearly harassment that she has documented in writing. I would be shocked if the ex wasn’t put on a final warning or even terminated.

  61. SocialLerker*

    For #1 and all families trying to find child care in the United States, some advice. Each state has a Child Care Resource and Referral system. Your state may have a different name for it but, if you search for the agency that helps with child care subsidies for low income families, you should find it. This agency can also help families find child care in their areas, regardless of income.

    Child care labels and regulations vary by state but, here are some recommendations:
    1. Infants and toddlers usually do best in small environments with high levels of caregivers. Licensed home child care providers/family child care providers typically provide a higher level of care than centers. They have a home environment, usually fewer than 8 children with 2 caregivers, and are pretty flexible to work with families. Your state may allow for licensed exempt family child cares but those typically have no oversite and quality may vary.
    2. Preschoolers can also attend home or family child care programs but often these providers prefer working with infants and toddlers.
    3. Child care programs that specialize in preschool should be licensed and you can also ask about their quality rating (each state has a quality rating program too).
    4. Head Start programs were developed to provide high quality preschool care for low income families. However, they also have spaces reserved for private pay, higher income families. These programs are usually of a higher quality than privately run child care centers as staff are required to have more advanced training, there is more oversite from both the state and federal levels, and they incorporate researched curriculums for learning and social-emotional development.

    As this mom has learned, get on the wait lists ASAP as programs are very limited due to closures from COVID. Many states are starting to look at ways to financially support the early education field but it will take time to build it up.

    1. OP1*

      SocialLerker, thanks for all of this in case I didn’t know it. (I did, alas.) I am working with 211 and my local referral system.

  62. EvilEmu*

    At my former job, we had similar retention interviews, although with our direct managers rather than HR (via an HR mandate). I said something along the lines of “I’m always open for new opportunities that further my career goals.” They then followed it up by asking if I would disclose if I were looking for a new job, to which I said “No.”
    That was fairly awkward. I was also a manager and was told I had to ask my team the same questions. I was not very happy about this. We had just had reviews, so I had just discussed career goals and job satisfaction with each of my team members and asked if I could summarize that, but was told no. I needed to specifically ask these questions.

    I flipped the order and first asked “If you were job searching, would you disclose it to the company?” Everyone said some version of no, and I didn’t put my direct reports in the position of lying to me.

    For anyone considering asking these sorts of questions, it did not go over well. People felt like all the feedback they’d already given about their job satisfaction was being ignored and the company was just looking for the bare minimum it could do to retain specific people. In fact, it contributed to several people, including myself, intensifying their job searches. I spoke to other people I knew were looking, and they also told me that they didn’t disclose, so HR didn’t get accurate answers anyway. It was lose/lose from my perspective.

    1. OP1*

      Anothermom, thank you for posting this for others who might not have heard of it! I just discovered it a month ago–I don’t think it existed when I was searching last–and I used it to locate the in-home daycare I toured today. They don’t exist on social media at all so I wouldn’t have found them otherwise except through word of mouth (and they still have a waitlist, and I’m on it!) but it has been helpful to me already and I will keep searching on it!

  63. Fust*

    Why aren’t we telling #2 to go to the police?
    OP2, your friend needs to also file a police report.

    1. Observer*

      Probably because she’s already worried about “drama” and not being taken seriously. And given how terribly most police departments treat this stuff, they will probably reinforce it.

      OP, you know or can find out what kind of record your local police department has on this type of stuff. But it’s very useful to realize that this kind of thing IS harassment, and that a properly functioning PD would see it that way, even if they couldn’t do much about it. Because it’s important to realize that this is ex-BF behaving badly NOT Sally “being dramatic” or “bringing drama” into the workplace. Anymore than it would be “bringing drama into the workplace if someone broke in and started grabbing people’s purses and brief cases.

    2. Finland isn't real*

      I’m OP2, police aren’t involved because where we are (not in the US), they won’t do anything about it unless they determine him to be making tangible threats unfortunately. I’ve known someone with a full-on stalker who didn’t get help until their home was broken into.

  64. Chickaletta*

    #5 – I deleted my LinkedIn account four years ago and haven’t looked back. The best job offer I got was after I deleted it. Don’t know if that’s related. But, I was a job hopper with 2-3 careers behind me, and LinkedIn was always a thorn in my side because there was no way to tailor it to the jobs I was applying for – anyone and everyone could see the CF of jobs I had acquired over two decades. On top of that, the skills/endorsements meant nothing, I was getting spammed by people trying to sell their services to me, and I wasn’t making meaningful connections.

    Nobody has ever asked for it or missed it. I now have a wonderful, professional job that I’ve been in for over 3 years and has lots of potential for moving up. No need for LinkedIn to make that happen.

  65. MidwestTeacher*

    Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this but schools on my area have to leave your job (or equivalent) available to you for one year of maternity leave. Not paid past sick days but there waiting for you. Definitely check into that!

  66. Sea Anemone*

    LW5 — what you need is a GitHub account and more visibility in open source projects to put on the GitHub.

  67. BetsyS*

    LW#5: Linkedin with a link to Github is a must for software engineering. As someone else noted , in today’s market it can be very hard to get an entry level job in software engineering – the market is very competitive right now. Especially in the US where many companies are using non-US companies for entry-level work . You will need to have something good to show – your instinct is correct that an empty LinkedIn will do more harm than good. . Look into the various sorts of bootcamps and hackathons, and then look for open source projects and such where you can make a difference. It will take work and training to get into the field at this point, possibly more schooling. .

    Another possible path is to get into a tech company by way of first-level customer support. These are hard jobs, and new hires often have to work less desirable shifts, but your retail experience will count here. You’ll get familiar with the products, and many tech companies do have internal resources to level up their employees.

    Beware of scams – there are some very questionable companies out there running ads for entry-level tech people. If you get a sales pitch for a job, it’s because YOU will end up paying. .

    Depending on your area and skill set – have you thought about freelance web consulting? There is often local work building or fixing websites for people (and a lot of terrible sites that need fixing). But again, you’ll have to level up on website platforms , and market yourself.

  68. Tina*

    For question #1 (childcare):

    Look into nanny-sharing on your local Facebook nanny/babysitting group or on care.com. Nanny-sharing is when two or three families share one nanny.

    I know many mom friends who used to be nannies on care.com, and who have used nanny-shares before. You will be more likely to find an available nanny than a daycare.

    Cost varies where you live. I live in a very high cost of living area. Nannies are about $20-25/hr here, so sharing would be $10/hr or so. Again, cost varies depending on where you live. Just giving you a ballpark figure.

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