Advice column: I hardly see my child because of the long hours I have to work

Dear Ash

I am increasingly working longer hours, mainly as a result of one of my colleagues leaving and not being replaced. I have a young child and I’m finding that I hardly see him, as I leave early in the morning when he is asleep and he is normally tucked up in bed by the time I get home. My career is important to me, but I am getting frustrated at the long hours. I recently spoke about my concerns to a colleague who has been at the company longer than I have, and he is of the opinion that I should just suck it up and that if I try to raise any concerns officially, then I will be seen as lazy and will be overlooked for promotion. I’m a hard worker, but I need to be a good parent too and I don’t understand how I can balance the two.

Ash replies:

The work-life balance is a dilemma that has perplexed many of us working parents, and you are definitely not alone. It is important for each individual to assess how best to balance their individual parenting obligations with their work obligations. For instance, some people may have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week, and this helps to at least ensure that they are physically present in the home and able to take a break to play briefly with their child or to share lunch and be there at bathtime after downing tools for the day. This option may not be open to everyone, and that is where you have to assess how best you can balance the competing demands on your time by devising effective solutions.

If you don’t think that working from home once a week would be an option, you could perhaps consider leaving work early at least once a week in order to pick up your child from the childcare provider? I suggest that you consider your options and then approach your manager to explain that you need to share more of the parenting responsibility. Most managers will also be parents and will normally understand and empathise with your dilemma. You need to make clear that you are committed to your career, but would be looking for some flexibility from time to time in order to ensure that you don’t miss out on the key milestones of your child’s life. The saying “Children grow up so fast” is in essence true, and it is therefore important that you take action now to ensure that you don’t miss out.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Registrar’s Department. For one-to-one advice, contact Katie Wood, manager in the Registrar’s Department on 0131 476 8105/8200, or 

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