Another thread reminded me of this. Many families are raised where both parents work. If that is the case for you, how fulfilling is it for you? Society in general encourages marriage when it is a wise choice for few people, buying too much home, going shopping for things one can't afford to help the economy, etc. Having children is another of these, and the responsibilities and commitment to a kid seems much bigger than any of those other societal pressures put upon us. I want to get as clear a picture as possible of what it is like to have children before going into it.DH and I have long commutes, high achieving careers. We're out of the house a minimum of 12 hours a day. During the weekday, we'll do cooking, regular workouts, and chores, but that's it. It's hard for me to imagine that being a parent in that scenario can possibly be fulfilling or fun. Kids want play, kids want their mommy, kids need help with their homework, kids leave messes, kids need healthy homecooked meals, etc. In short, does the existence of a working family with children, in your experience, sound as zombie-like as it does on the surface? Is there anything you'd like to change about the situation?
This is likely to start a long SAHP vs working parent thread. Maybe you'd be better to find the kids and ask them. In a couple of situations, I've found my kids had an entirely(and much better) view of them.rad
This is likely to start a long SAHP vs working parent thread. Maybe you'd be better to find the kids and ask them. In a couple of situations, I've found my kids had an entirely(and much better) view of them.I have to say, my kids seem happy and healthy. They have lots of friends, success in learning, and both have a very headstrong personality.*I* am tired. I am very very tired a lot of the time. But such is life.My partner in life had no children of his own until I waltzed into his life, and he has become a working parent as well. He is also very tired most of the time.We get up, we make breakfast, we get the kids ready, we drop them off at daycare/school, we go to work. We work, we leave work, we pick up the kids, we come home and make dinner/do laundry/help with homework (IN KINDERGARTEN, can you believe it?!)/bath time/snuggle time/bed time, we spend a precious few minutes alone, then crash.Lather, rinse, repeat.The largest difference between Before Kids and After Kids is: I just THOUGHT I was busy before I had kids.I laugh now at how packed I thought my schedule was. It was just so hard to squeeze in laundry, or (the thought of even trying now) a spa day with a girlfriend. I was not busy. I am actually busy now, and let me tell you it's hard to be this busy when I haven't had a decent night's sleep for over 6 years.I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom at one point. Hell, I'd still like to be independently wealthy enough to do so. ;) But I ended up divorced through no choice of my own, and those years I *wasn't* out of the work force? My saving grace. I'm not sure I could ever take the leap of faith now, making another adult the sole provider for my kids. I could do so if I was wealthy, but at my pay rate I don't see that happening anytime soon. It's hard work, but I am happy. I can see now, more than ever, how the choice to NOT ever have children is a valid one for a lot of people - I see people, even some of my friends, that don't have kids and frankly, shouldn't. They don't have the temperament. And I don't mean that in a bad way - I could never NOT have children, because that is my temperament. I could also never have 45 kids or whatever that Duggar woman is up to now - that is not my temperament at all.I'm not a perfect mother. I get frustrated and tired and grumpy. I lose my temper over stupid stuff. I'm human. One of the most humbling things I've learned from having kids is the ability to apologize - Sorry kids, Mommy is very tired and can't play right now. I'm sorry.And that's okay, and THEY are okay, and I am okay. Both my parents worked (as did their parents) and I am okay. I'm college educated, I am in a steady, long-term relationship with a man that treats my children as his own, I have a profession I actually enjoy, we have a house and a dog and a turtle and a riding lawn mower and we are okay.The kids play with sidewalk chalk and ride their bikes and play Connect Four with us and we've recently introduced the oldest to Mario Brothers (the original!) and he's way better at computers than I was at his age (and it's my career!!!) and the youngest? Going on 30, my gawd that girl will go far.We get stuck a lot on the question of if people should be working, all the while ignoring THAT THEY ARE. The question of whether they should is moot, since it's lends nothing to the discussion - they are, and that is reality, so that's where we should be questioning and stretching and setting goals.So the question shouldn't be stay-home versus work, it should be: in whatever arrangement is best for your family, how do you make it work, and make it better?There isn't a dichotomy - we pretend there is, but there isn't. There is a continuum - from not working outside the home at all to working so much you never see your kids. Most people live somewhere in the middle, and it changes over time - when my son was very young, I worked *more* because of the job I had, but his father (my then husband) was home with him most of the day because of the job HE had. Over time, that shifted - I was home more (but still working) and he was gone more. At one point he was deployed and I was everything to everybody. At some points I've had two jobs, and some points I've had no jobs.It's not either/or. It just IS.impolite
One of the most humbling things I've learned from having kids is the ability to apologize - Sorry kids, Mommy is very tired and can't play right now. I'm sorry.Before anyone jumps all over this and says you wouldn't have to make such apologies if you were at home with them...i'll point out that i, a SAHM and sample size of one, say things like this occasionally.(Okay, okay - often. Sigh.)
Thanks for the excellent and honest picture of working life you've painted... it's impressive that so many people have made this work for them. It's still hard to imagine your life; sure, the kids can be happy, but it's hard to imagine how you find time to enjoy them, and yet you do somehow.(Secondary thought: Now I know where all my mother's "six hours of sleep is PLENTY!" comments came from ;)
Sorry kids, Mommy is very tired and can't play right now. I'm sorry.*********************************snort* You're quoting me!Kristi
Before anyone jumps all over this and says you wouldn't have to make such apologies if you were at home with them...i'll point out that i, a SAHM and sample size of one, say things like this occasionally.(Okay, okay - often. Sigh.)Make that a sample size of two. Kathleenfavorite line to the kids - I love you. Now leave.
I think you might also want to consider that your current situation may be different even than the typical two-working-parent family, due to your heavy workloads. Will one of you be able to trim your hours (or trim your commute) if you have kids? If not, will you be able to find daycare you are happy enough with to warrant your kids spending the majority of their waking hours there (60+ hours there, versus around 35 at home)? And will you have enough stamina to do the daily grind at work, then the daily grind at home, then possibly be up in the middle of the night with a baby or sick child...without it affecting your physical or emotional health? I know I couldn't, but that's just me. It think it's great that you are asking the tough questions now, before kids, and being honest with yourselves.
Different stories all around.When DS was born, DW stayed home with him and I worked. Before DS was born, we had pushed on us an opportunity to expand our house. (No details, not necessary, but please believe me that it would have been excruciating to say "no" and we walked into it in good faith - who can you trust if not family?)So we took the offer, which was, "you find the contractor and I'll pay for the whole thing." How could we say no? No reason to, no reason to think otherwise. So we did it. We found an architect, paid to have plans drawn up (our contribution to the process), found the contractor, were just about to tear the roof off and were told, "I can't afford the whole thing. I can only afford part of it." We'd gone too far and spent too much (thousands) to pull the plug, so we figured out that we could have the shell paid for, and I would do all the finishing work myself to save money.The whole thing still pisses me off to this day. The contractors finished their work, and the drywall was up and sanded one week before DS was born. We were faced with a new person in the house, a construction zone, a DW who we agreed would stay home (one less salary), and my job. So we went from a cash-positive position to a steadily decreasing balance.For two years I worked at my job, DW stayed home, and at nights and on weekends I would work on the house. The bathroom tiling took me 5 months. I tiled, installed fixtures, hundreds of feet of trim, handrails, a dozen doors, hardwood floors, closet systems, painting, everything on the inside. Everything. Didn't contract out for any of it, and around that time I changed my handle to "HomeMoaner". :)I missed out on a lot of time with my boy because I was working on a house that was supposed to be a gift, and I miss that time, and I'm mad about it. It didn't need to be like that, if proper planning had been done or if we had been spoken to honestly from the start, but it's done.I whipped up a spreadsheet, put in our money situation, drew a graph, and it pointed pretty definitively to a time when we wouldn't be able to afford to live in our house any more. So I worked like a banshee to finish the house before that point.I finished the house, we called our realtor, and we sold it. It's impossible to know how much we "made" from the sale, and if the addition added an value considering what we'd put into it, and and or or. We sold it, we moved, and DW went to school (new career) and work and I became the SAHD for a year, and I'm grateful for that time with him.But now I'm home and need to find work, or the same thing's going to happen again, we'll start bleeding money. But we're happy, we're healthy, and my son is now 4 and loves doing the wooden 50-state puzzle he got for Christmas. We did it 5 times today, and I loved every minute of it. But we will never have another kid, and I wouldn't have known that if I didn't have the one kid, and I worry a lot. Mostly about college costs and how our schedule will work when I'm working too. We can't afford for one of us to stay home with the boy until he's old enough to latchkey himself.Wow, that was long. Needed to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading if you got this far. But now you know why I am theHomeMoaner!
Working and parenting is certainly a challenge, but I feel that being a SAHM is likely no easier, just different, and it's best to know based on your temperament which route is better for you. In my case, I went back to work 32 hours a week (Mon-Thurs) after my 12 week FMLA time was up, and I really like this arrangement. It gives me a day of flexibility to take care of errands or to make up time when my daughter is sick, and gives me three straight days to spend time with her. It also gives me a chance to take a break, have adult conversation, and do things that challenge and interest me in other ways. When I come home I have a lot to do, but I have more perspective and patience. I also find that my husband and I split housework better now that I am at work. He could never quite understand why I could barely manage the baby let alone other stuff those first few months ("But you've been home all day!"). I should really add the caveat that we had my mom nad my MIL stay with is for six months each, so talk to me again after a few months of daycare :).In any case, could you arrange any work schedule modifications for a while? Every bit helps, and it gives you a chance to have continuity at work without losing your mind. Just another option to consider when you make your decisions.
Sorry kids, Mommy is very tired and can't play right now. I'm sorry.My line is "Honey-Bunny you know mommy is elderly and decrepit and needs her rest. Now run fetch the ice-pack from the freezer for mommy's ankle and the heating pad from the hall closet for mommy's back."It took me a few years after I acquired them to train them but the kids are a real asset now.
Will one of you be able to trim your hours (or trim your commute) if you have kids? If not, will you be able to find daycare you are happy enough with to warrant your kids spending the majority of their waking hours there (60+ hours there, versus around 35 at home)?That's a tough question to say. I can take the time off or go part-time, DH can't (or risks a foolishly generous pension plan). Affordability isn't really an issue, but he is the one who really wants kids and he is far better suited to being a stay-at-home. Plus it's hard to look at the missing cashflow and not resent it. And will you have enough stamina to do the daily grind at work, then the daily grind at home, then possibly be up in the middle of the night with a baby or sick child...without it affecting your physical or emotional health? I know I couldn't, but that's just me.Me either. Yet, many many people do it and I'm trying to get an idea if parenthood has been fulfilling for those people in some as of yet unseen way. So far, I'm getting the impression that it's yet another one of these things that there are fewer people suited for it than are not.
Both of my parents worked when I was growing up. I think my mom was happier for being able to get out of the house, and I think that was better for us because when she was home she was happy to be with us, wheras I think if she had been home all of the time we would have driven her up a wall. So for my parents, both working was the better solution. And as the kid, I always felt loved by both of my parents and that is what matters in the end. And both of my parents would tell you, and have told me, that having kids was one of the best things they ever did. So yes, working parents can feel fulfilled by the exprience.That being said, being out of the home for 12 hours a day is a lot when they are little. Most babies and toddlers sleep about 12 hours at night. I know my DD sleeps from 7 to almost 7 every day, so if I were out of the home for 12 hours I would literally miss all of the time she was awake every single weekday. I do think working parents can be good parents, but not if they miss their kids whole life, and that's what you would be doing. So I would consider amending your work schedule so that you have at least a few hours a day at home when the kiddo is awake.Plus it's hard to look at the missing cashflow and not resent it.Now this, I will tell you, is likely not the case. At the risk of sounding completely sappy, the love you feel for your child is unlike anything else you have ever experienced. It's unbelievable transformative and turns your priorities completely upside down. I know having kids is not for everyone, but I'm assuming you would not be on here trying to figure out the logistics if some part of you did not want kids. And I will tell you that hearing my daughter giggle has brought me more joy than every material possesion I've ever had combined. I would give any amount of money for one smile, one chance to smell her wonderful baby smell after a bath, one bedtime snuggle, or one chance to see the look on her face as she discovers something new, but thankfully all of that is free.DEG
That's a tough question to say. I can take the time off or go part-time, DH can't (or risks a foolishly generous pension plan). Affordability isn't really an issue, but he is the one who really wants kids and he is far better suited to being a stay-at-home. Plus it's hard to look at the missing cashflow and not resent it. Something that zuzu lightly touched on is how your attitudes may change after having a child. I was a network engineer before we had kids. I had absolutely no intention of staying home. I could not imagine being alone with a child all day, nor could I imagine giving up my career which I had worked so hard to build. I too, had a rather generous income, and I truly loved my job, and really could not imagine EVER wanting to be at home. I took six months off to have Muncho, then went back to work for six months. Between the fact that I only saw her for about an hour in the morning and an hour and a half in the evening (I had a long commute), and the fact that when something happened, I would have to take time from work to check on her, I realized I was not able to give my my job the attention I felt I should as an employee, nor could I give my baby the attention I felt she deserved. I felt like everyone was getting short changed, including me because I was being torn all over the place. My husband and I talked and I decided to turn in my 2 weeks notice. I came home, and haven't regretted it. After the girls started to grow, we put them into a Catholic pre-k, 2 half days a week. I started looking at the bills and started freaking out. I didn't know how we were going to handle paying for private school for both kids. I won't go into details, but I simply did not consider public school an option. I was talking about the bills one day, and one of the moms said, "We're planning on homeschooling." I said, "What's that?" I had never heard of it other than in many generations previous. I had no clue anyone was doing it presently. So, we decided to homeschool both girls.Anyway, this was an extremely long winded way of saying one thing you cannot take into account now is what your attitude will be after you have kids. You may want to stay working, or you may decide you really do not want to be working, or you may decide you only want to work part time. The old saying, "Everything changes when you have kids" is EXTREMELY true, but not in the ways you think when you do not have them. The things that change are not life around you. The thing that changes is your complete attitude towards what is important to you, and I do not know about other folks, but I really had no clue even though many people told me this repeatedly.Kathleen
impolite:I came across your post in "Best Of" and just wanted to wish you well -- and urge you to hang in there.I'm not a perfect mother. I get frustrated and tired and grumpy. I lose my temper over stupid stuff. I'm human. One of the most humbling things I've learned from having kids is the ability to apologize - Sorry kids, Mommy is very tired and can't play right now. I'm sorry.And that's okay, and THEY are okay, and I am okay. Both my parents worked (as did their parents) and I am okay. I'm college educated, I am in a steady, long-term relationship with a man that treats my children as his own, I have a profession I actually enjoy, we have a house and a dog and a turtle and a riding lawn mower and we are okay.I cite this because I think it's important to, in effect, shake your hand for realizing that "it is what it is", and you seem to be dealing with it. Life is a series of choices, after all. We all make choices and should then deal with them.For what it's worth, we raised several children (we were and still are married), and I smiled at some of what you had to say. It's NOT easy, is it? However, there are rewards, too, as you know. Among the rewards are the joys you experience whenever the kids achieve something and smile or shout about it, or when you get a pair of arms around your neck and a simple "thanks", and any of countless other times, big and little, that honestly do make it worthwhile.If you manage to do it right, somehow (and there are no firm "rules"), hopefully, you will one day experience the joy of again having an empty nest (as we have had for a number of years now), with the "kids" finally educated, on their own, married (if they choose that) with children of their own (again, if they choose to have them and can). Hopefully, too, you'll all still be reasonably close, so you can see your grand children on special occasions, at least. Maybe one day you will also experience the joy of having one or more of your "kids" quietly thank you for doing all that you did to help them grow up. And, hopefully, you will also be able to tell yourselves that, regardless of how "well off" they may be financially, they all grew up to be honest, caring, hardworking people, thanks largely to all your hard work.We weren't always right, either, and we didn't always do the smartest or best things, either, but we tried to. It has been obvious to us that, from things our grown children have said to us, it wasn't always what we said but what we did along the way. As one told us, "We noticed that you guys were always honest, you followed through on whatever you took on, whether it was a job or caring for us or some church or civic thing. You never just plain dropped the ball, like some people do, and we all admired that." (!)Finally, a little thing that I have never forgotten: When they were all grown up, at a family Christmas event, one turned to me with a small smile on his face, and quietly asked "Dad, do you know the best present you ever gave us kids?" Thinking he was going to mention a bike or something, I said "Nope. What was it?" He looked me in the eye and said "The best gift you ever gave us was letting us all know that you loved each other and us. THAT was the best gift of all." I had no reply, but I'll confess that I had to struggle to keep from puddling up at THAT one!Good luck, and, again, hang in there! Our society NEEDS good parents for young people.Vermonter
It's hard for me to imagine that being a parent in that scenario can possibly be fulfilling or fun. Kids want play, kids want their mommy, kids need help with their homework, kids leave messes, kids need healthy homecooked meals, etc. In short, does the existence of a working family with children, in your experience, sound as zombie-like as it does on the surface? Is there anything you'd like to change about the situation? Almost every single day for me, no matter how frustrated, annoyed, irritated or ready to scream I am (and this could be because of work or family or finances or anything), there is this moment, where one of my kids comes up to me and says or does something and I realize: "Oh, yeah, right. This is why." As for the rest: Kids want play: Yup. And it often reminds me that I do too. I learned this weekend that my four year old can whip my butt in Wii Bowling. Kids want their mommy: Yup. And that snuggle time, or book time, or whatever, is usually the most contented part of my day. Kids need help with their homework: Yup. And it never ceases to amaze me what the big one is learning now. It also sometimes drives me crazy. But net-net, it's working out. Kids leave messes: I do too. And maybe I've been lucky, but not so much as you might think. OR, I have very low standards of mess? Kids need healthy homecooked meals: They do? They need healthy. It doesn't have to be homecooked, and it doesn't have to be cooked at all, sometimes. Last night, DS1 had PB&J on whole wheat bread with milk and sliced raw red pepper (his favorite), and DS2 had ham and cheese rolled up on a plate with milk, pretzels and strawberries. Is it hard? Absolutely. The other thing that does it for me, that I could not do without, is that my kids don't just want their mommy. My husband does at least half (and sometimes more) of the work, and always has, because we both work. He helps them get dressed. He usually makes DS1 breakfast before school (the little one eats at daycare). We split laundry, cleaning, and virtually everything else. We switch off who puts them to bed, etc. It's not a formal "It was my turn last time." But I have never felt that the bulk of the child care or decisions rested on me, and that if I didn't do it, no one would. Without that, I don't think my life would be nearly as happy as I am today. But that was very important to me, and something we discussed before kids. Also, I don't live to work - I work to live. It's important to me that I be making an income, and I carry the benefits for our household. But I'm not a high-powered career-driven person. I am very into stability and security, but work-life balance is critical to me, and it was before kids too. GSF
DestyNova:I'm just a lurker here, and a new parent ... but I do have some recent lessons learned.1) Planning ahead for kids, vis-a-vis work, balancing career, and all that, is a great idea. I suggest a large cash nest-egg as the best way to prepare.2) Things are almost guaranteed not to go according to plan. Yours or anyone else's (parents, friends, whomever).3) You have to be committed to living your life with your partner, and with your kid(s) no matter what happens. If you have that, it doesn't matter anyway, you'll just learn to cope with whatever curve balls come hurtling toward your head. Remember to duck.Once upon a time my wife and I both had high paying careers. Then she lost her job, we got pregnant, I lost *my* job, and we are now winging it day-by-day with our totally awesome new baby. My wife is *extremely* healthy ... marathon runner, health nut, etc. ... despite this, and a textbook pregnancy the whole way, her labor was extremely difficult and ended in a c-section. Our baby was in the NICU for 3 days (thankfully it was only three) and 10 weeks later everyone is happy and healthy. Well, to a point. My wife is fine, but still can't jog even around the block yet without pain (which is a huge deal for her, believe me). Number two of a million other anecdotes: A co-worker of mine has a wife who is pregnant with multiples. She has been diagnosed with cancer, and has a brain tumor among others in her body. The babies will be c-sectioned at around 33 weeks so the cancer doesn't spread to them, and she will also have a brain operation. The *best* case scenario is that both parents will be home alive one day, with several preemies, after a couple months in NICU, and gigantic medical bills. (I had ONE baby in NICU for 3 days, and the total hospital charge was north of $30,000. Our share after insurance was 1/10th of that... so do the math for two months and 3 babies?! And throw in a brain surgery and chemo... thank heavens for insurance!!). Number three: A family friend has been on bed-rest since her water broke around week 24 of pregnancy, and has been in the hospital a couple of straight months now ... but the baby is still doing OK... Number four: Another co-worker and his wife both commute an hour to work (and sometimes longer). Their son is 1 1/2 now and is in daycare every day M-F. They're all fine.YMMV~dswing
It's hard for me to imagine that being a parent in that scenario can possibly be fulfilling or fun. Kids want play, kids want their mommy, kids need help with their homework, kids leave messes, kids need healthy homecooked meals, etc. In short, does the existence of a working family with children, in your experience, sound as zombie-like as it does on the surface? Is there anything you'd like to change about the situation?Kids need more time when they are younger but it is the parent's role to make them independent so they leave the nest and live on their own someday. That means as a parent, you don't do everything for them. Kids makes messes. Once kids are out of diapers, they can clean up their own mess. You instruct them on how to use a rag or broom and then tell them to clean up their own mess when they make it.Kids need help with their homework. Well, my kids don't need much help. I won't help them if I don't see an honest attempt to solve the problem before asking me. When they were young, they wanted us to type their work into the computer. We sent to typing class and then expected them to type their papers. I see far too many parents wanted to help and doing too much of the work for their kids. How will the kids learn if you do their work?Kids want to play. Yes, they like to play but I'm not their playmate. I will engage in some activities but I'm not going to fill up their whole day with parent play time. They have to learn to play independently. I remember as a child at about age 8, I would leave the house after breakfast and may not come home until dinner. I didn't need to stay home and play with my parents.Running a household requires thought, organization and planning. You multitask. There is a fix dinner time and wash the clothes time. You stick a load of clothes in the washer, cook, put the clothes in the dryer, eat, clean the dishes and then take the clothes out of the dryer.
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