Two incomes, one child, no time

CASE STUDY
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CLARE GARNER

Neither Mark Wasilewski, 35, nor his wife, Ghislaine Daubeney, 32, consider themselves workaholics. They just love their jobs. Between them they work an average of 100 hours a week and earn a six figure salary. Lunch breaks don't figure but working dinners do. When a seven-month-old baby is added to the equation, the couple insists it all adds up - just.

"It's a fine balancing act at the end of the day. It's about being able to juggle all the balls and not let any of them fall on the ground," said Ms Daubeney, a research analyst who returned to work in August after taking maternity leave.

"Officially I didn't have to come back till the middle of October, but I came back early. I missed the mental challenge and the timing felt right," she said.

Ms Daubeney hands her daughter, Gabriella, over to the nanny when she leaves home in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, at 7.30am and whisks herself away from the West End in time to relieve her at 6.30pm. Between those hours, Ms Daubeney works as part of a team of seven for a world-leading US investment consultancy which advises on assets of more than US$500bn.

"One of the hardest problems is guilt. For example, in the past I used to leave the office between 6.30pm and 7.00pm. Now I feel incredibly guilty leaving at 5.30pm to get back for the nanny. There's no guilt placed upon me at work but I think it's an issue a lot of women feel."

Even though Ms Daubeney endeavours to check out at 5.30pm, her time sheet makes exhausting reading. When she is travelling - once a month to Frankfurt, Brussels, Paris or Edinburgh - she tots up 40 hours' work in just four days. In a normal five-day week she works up to 45 hours, not including the five hours she spends working on the train, to and from the office.

"It would be wrong to say I don't take work home. I always hope to pinch a quiet hour here and there to lock myself away to work quietly. You don't switch off. You'd like to but you probably don't. It's a job where you could work 24 hours a day seven days a week."

Mr Wasilewski joined his present company, a fund management company, in April 1994, to be responsible for a 21-strong UK Equity team. On average he works about 60 hours a week, generally between 8am and 8pm, but sometimes longer.

"When the dinners and client meetings in the evenings kick in I don't get home until 10.30pm or 11pm. I've just had three days in two successive weeks of that. It works out at 42 hours in three days," said Mr Wasilewski.

"If there is a special project on, the hours are just silly. I can work 14 hours a day, seven days a week for the best part of six weeks."

"When I came I knew it was going to be quite an intense period of work because the job was a rebuilding exercise. I do consider them long hours but I also consider them temporary."

Since Gabriella arrived, Mr Wasilewski has tried to get home earlier. He is hoping to establish a week of between 50 and 55 hours as the norm.

"Gabriella doesn't go to bed early so I get to see her in the evenings. Sometimes if I've had a hard day I'm exhausted but Gabriella is a joy of a baby, a form of relaxation and such a change from work."

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