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Old 01-06-2012, 03:53 PM
 
Location: High Bridge, NJ
3,858 posts, read 8,052,117 times
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In September of 2011 my wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world (our first) and we couldn't be happier. It was a rocky road which began when my wife was 20 weeks along-a mass was found in our daughter's lung via ultrasound which turned out to be a CCAM (I'll spare the details-Google it if you like)-long story short it made for a stressful pregnancy, anxious delivery, and a lot of hospital doctor visits, culminating in my daughter having the lower right lobe of her lung removed at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia almost exactly a month ago. She is now the picture of health at 14lbs-9oz/24" with nothing more than a 5" long incision scar under her right armpit as a reminder. Needless to say my wife and I are mentally and emotionally exhausted as a result of what ended up being a nearly six month long ordeal. My wife has been on maternity leave and will go back to work in a few weeks. I am taking a combination of sick leave, unpaid time off, etc...to be with the baby immediately after she goes back.

The job I have now is very demanding and the folks I work with are extremely career oriented. The average age is about 30 (I am 30 myself) but only one of my coworkers is married (he has no children). The hours are long and can be unpredictable at times. It's a government job so benefits are very good, but the salary is low. I am hoping to leave, but am not sure where to go from here. Basically I'm just looking for more balance between work and family. I'd be interested to hear from other folks who actively sought out a job that would allow them more family time or flexibility to work from home, etc... How did you do it? What line of work are you in? Does your spouse have a similar arrangement? My wife is currently working as a teacher, but she will be laid off at the end of this year (budget cuts) with no chance of rehire, which complicates things of course, but she is actually looking forward to be able to be home with the baby and try to figure out what's next. That's going to be sustainable for very long, but it will give her a breather.

The other piece to this is something I've discovered about myself. My wife and I are both college educated and came out of school with dreams of becoming successful professionals, being a double income household, and somehow raising a family, though we never gave much thought to how. Now we find ourselves less focused on work, and more focused on family than either of us realized we would be. Lots of folks talk about how they want a "career" not a "job" and want to be fulfilled, etc...but both of us agree that there is little that is fulfilling in work outside the home compared to being parents and caring for our daughter. However, we don't live in fantasy land either-we know that we have to earn a living somehow. I guess I'm just saying that when I look at my overall goals in life, achievement in my work life means very little to me, except when its directly tied to earning more money for my family. I'll never be the type to be married to a job in other words. Just curious to hear from more folks out there with the same mindset and how they're making it work.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:58 PM
 
20,793 posts, read 52,363,417 times
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I am a strong believer of having one parent home with the children. I think it makes life easier for everyone involved and children need their parents around. With your wife at home, you are more able to work more hours if needed but there are a lot of companies out there that are hiring, pay well and offer good benefits. It's amazing how much having a baby can change your perspective.

I would suggest finding a low cost of living area (NJ is one of the most expensive places to live because of the high taxes) that is family oriented and has good job prospects. I don't know what you do for a career but if you are willing to move to such an area, life can be very nice both with having time to spend with your family and making enough money to support a comfortable lifestyle.

Congrats on the new baby!!
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:38 PM
 
2,779 posts, read 4,495,487 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
I am a strong believer of having one parent home with the children. I think it makes life easier for everyone involved and children need their parents around. With your wife at home, you are more able to work more hours if needed but there are a lot of companies out there that are hiring, pay well and offer good benefits. It's amazing how much having a baby can change your perspective.

I would suggest finding a low cost of living area (NJ is one of the most expensive places to live because of the high taxes) that is family oriented and has good job prospects. I don't know what you do for a career but if you are willing to move to such an area, life can be very nice both with having time to spend with your family and making enough money to support a comfortable lifestyle.

Congrats on the new baby!!
Ditto. We left NYC so I could stay at home with our kids. Your life and career will be easier when your wife isn't working and a different locale will also slow things down for you, NJ is so frantic.

Disclaimer: Love the NE and Loved NYC, and of course no insult to working moms, just what works for us.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:40 PM
 
Location: here
24,469 posts, read 28,730,432 times
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I'm experiencing deja vu.. I think we had a post very similar to this a few months back.

I don't think there is any one right answer. It is difficult no matter what. IMO both parents can't have important "high power" careers. Yes, people do it, but a nanny ends up raising your child while both parents work long hours.

We've tried both working, then I took a demotion and worked half time, then I quit completely with the expectation that I'd go back in a few years.

I've been watching friends and listening to them talk about their spouses and their schedules. Many moms I know have husbands who work long hours and travel a lot. Some are out of town M-F every week. Those moms mostly have no intention of ever going back to work. I told my husband I want him home in the evening even if it means less money.

Anyway, he's unhappy in his job, and I'm looking for a job. I see a couple ways things could go
1) I find a mid level job and he keeps his middle management job or finds something lower stress and less money.
2) he finds a higher paying more stressful job and I stay home or find something part time.

I don't have any intention of finding a high power, high paying position. I need less stress and more flexibility than that.

ETA it is really hard because kids are expensive. The older they get, the more I feel we spend on food, sports, activities, etc. It is really hard to give up money in favor of time when it take so much money to do the things you want to do!
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:54 PM
 
20,793 posts, read 52,363,417 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkb0305 View Post
I'm experiencing deja vu.. I think we had a post very similar to this a few months back.

I don't think there is any one right answer. It is difficult no matter what. IMO both parents can't have important "high power" careers. Yes, people do it, but a nanny ends up raising your child while both parents work long hours.

We've tried both working, then I took a demotion and worked half time, then I quit completely with the expectation that I'd go back in a few years.

I've been watching friends and listening to them talk about their spouses and their schedules. Many moms I know have husbands who work long hours and travel a lot. Some are out of town M-F every week. Those moms mostly have no intention of ever going back to work. I told my husband I want him home in the evening even if it means less money.

Anyway, he's unhappy in his job, and I'm looking for a job. I see a couple ways things could go
1) I find a mid level job and he keeps his middle management job or finds something lower stress and less money.
2) he finds a higher paying more stressful job and I stay home or find something part time.

I don't have any intention of finding a high power, high paying position. I need less stress and more flexibility than that.
I can tell you that as the kids get older, you need that flexibility more and more. I've tried going back to work full time since our kids got older (middle and high school) and I find that I need time off to take them to doctor's appointments or going to things at school, AFTER school. There is no one home after school to help with homework, get them where they need to go, etc. Our youngest is a junior in high school and the end is near. It will be a LOT easier to work full time when the kids are out of school. For now I have found the perfect job, work from home, part-time but the pay is good. I would like a few more hours but for now it works and can potentially work into full time down the road. I do a little bit of traveling around the area but that is pretty flexible too.

I think one thing is that Dh is used to me taking kids to the doctor or dealing with carpool schedules, etc. that he doesn't really know how or when to help so if I do need him to help, it's just more work planning it out so he can help...if that make any sense. I got home after being out of town for 3 days for work a couple months ago and no one bothered to feed the dog or give her water. They just don't think to do that stuff because I do. The dog was fine. She probably only went about 24 hours without food as I did feed her before I left and she had enough in her bowl for 2 days. The water thing really bothered me--we have a pond in our backyard and she will drink out of that so I am sure that is what she did.

Today our son had to check with a teacher after school about an assignment. It was something last minute that he needed to do and it was nice to be able to be there to pick him up. Now, he COULD have walked home, it isn't THAT far but his backpack weight about 50 lbs....ok, maybe 30.
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Old 01-06-2012, 05:02 PM
 
Location: here
24,469 posts, read 28,730,432 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
I can tell you that as the kids get older, you need that flexibility more and more. I've tried going back to work full time since our kids got older (middle and high school) and I find that I need time off to take them to doctor's appointments or going to things at school, AFTER school. There is no one home after school to help with homework, get them where they need to go, etc. Our youngest is a junior in high school and the end is near. It will be a LOT easier to work full time when the kids are out of school. For now I have found the perfect job, work from home, part-time but the pay is good. I would like a few more hours but for now it works and can potentially work into full time down the road. I do a little bit of traveling around the area but that is pretty flexible too.

I think one thing is that Dh is used to me taking kids to the doctor or dealing with carpool schedules, etc. that he doesn't really know how or when to help so if I do need him to help, it's just more work planning it out so he can help...if that make any sense. I got home after being out of town for 3 days for work a couple months ago and no one bothered to feed the dog or give her water. They just don't think to do that stuff because I do. The dog was fine. She probably only went about 24 hours without food as I did feed her before I left and she had enough in her bowl for 2 days. The water thing really bothered me--we have a pond in our backyard and she will drink out of that so I am sure that is what she did.

Today our son had to check with a teacher after school about an assignment. It was something last minute that he needed to do and it was nice to be able to be there to pick him up. Now, he COULD have walked home, it isn't THAT far but his backpack weight about 50 lbs....ok, maybe 30.
If we hadn't moved, I'd likely still be in my old job. I'd have some seniority and lots of time off accrual. Starting all over again is going to be tough. The last few years off with the kids have been priceless, but if someone plans to go back to work, I'd certainly think twice about quitting in the first place. Assuming I can even find a job, it is going to be a big adjustment for all of us.
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:49 AM
 
20,793 posts, read 52,363,417 times
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Originally Posted by rkb0305 View Post
If we hadn't moved, I'd likely still be in my old job. I'd have some seniority and lots of time off accrual. Starting all over again is going to be tough. The last few years off with the kids have been priceless, but if someone plans to go back to work, I'd certainly think twice about quitting in the first place. Assuming I can even find a job, it is going to be a big adjustment for all of us.
Many companies don't allow you to accrue much vacation time any more, maybe carry over a couple weeks, maybe. Even then, depending on where you work, taking said vacation time can be frowned upon. You can always find a job, it just might not be the job you WANT.

If you are a good employee, companies will often negotiate hours, vacation time, etc. I don't agree that one should not take time off to raise their kids in fear of not finding a job down the road. The benefits outweigh the negatives by being home with your kids. I have no desire to step back into a high powered career, ever. I will want a "job" when the kids are out of the house, not a career. I want something to fill some hours during the day. It would be ideal to find something with hours that are 10-4 3 or 4 days/week . Going "full-time" in my current job would be ok too because I can work on the run. Most of it is via email and with a smartphone, you can email from pretty much anywhere.
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:59 AM
 
Location: here
24,469 posts, read 28,730,432 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
Many companies don't allow you to accrue much vacation time any more, maybe carry over a couple weeks, maybe. Even then, depending on where you work, taking said vacation time can be frowned upon. You can always find a job, it just might not be the job you WANT.

If you are a good employee, companies will often negotiate hours, vacation time, etc. I don't agree that one should not take time off to raise their kids in fear of not finding a job down the road. The benefits outweigh the negatives by being home with your kids. I have no desire to step back into a high powered career, ever. I will want a "job" when the kids are out of the house, not a career. I want something to fill some hours during the day. It would be ideal to find something with hours that are 10-4 3 or 4 days/week . Going "full-time" in my current job would be ok too because I can work on the run. Most of it is via email and with a smartphone, you can email from pretty much anywhere.
All the more reason to have stayed at my previous job (I couldn't. we moved, but hypothetically). They changed the rules for accrual while I was there, but it was only for new hires.

Good luck with that. I wish there were more jobs like that available.
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,702,140 times
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Breathe.....

First, do the math. We humans tend to look at things as all or nothing when it is not necessary. If you calculate the hours you are home, you will, likely, find you are actually not working more than you are working. 28% of all days fall on the weekend. The average person has 10 or so holidays a year and a couple of weeks vacation. Instead of taking those days weeks at a time, try taking them one at a time (babies don't adjust well to changing schedules) or even as half days. 10 four day weeks, scattered through the year, will help you more with a sense of balance than two weeks off will. Also remember that even on work days you have some time at home.

Things not to do...do not put off until the weekend what you can do during the week. Also don't sleep in on weekends. One reason weekends seem so short is people short themselves on sleep durign the week and then make up for it on the weekend. Well, if you sleep two more hours on weekend days than you do week days, weekend days are, automatically 2 hours shorter. If you put a bunch of work off until the weekend, they're also busier. A better approach would be to get half an hour more sleep on week days and keep the same sleep schedule on the weekend (you'll feel better too). If you do just 30 minutes of chores a day on week days, that's 2.5 hours of chores you won't have to do on the weekend. If you're still getting up with the baby, alternate nights each of you gets up with the baby. That way, you can count on a good nights sleep, at least, every other night.

If you spend 50 hours a week working and 6 hours a week commuting, and get 8 hours sleep a night, every night, you spend half of your waking time at home in a normal work week. Focusing on what you have really helps with your sense of balance.
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:17 AM
 
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I stayed home with my son until he was 18 months old. We needed insurance and he needed more interaction with other adults/children. I went to work for an hourly job... fun but I missed my baby. After about seven months, I decided to work for my son's preschool. It took me a couple months to get the credentials needed and it was the best thing I ever did. I was able to 'be there' but not hover over him. The other teachers and myself created a nice little group. When he started school, I went to work for a friend's family owned business, where I am today. My son's father and I divorced so I had to support my son and myself alone. There were times it was tight but we got through. By working for a small, family owned business, there are benefits that aren't monetary. If I need off to go to this doctor's appt or that school play, it is not an issue. If my kid is sick, I can pull a cot into my office and keep him there if I can't be out of the office.

With the OP's wife as a teacher, she could easily find employment in an environment where she could take her daughter with her. I know... I know... it isn't prestigious and seems to be a step backward, but it can balance the needs in your family. For the OP himself, his options are as open as his experience/work skills. Just make sure you plan each phase of change. You don;t want to get caught without insurance or having to pay massive COBRA fees.
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