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Author Topic: Work / family balance  (Read 3051 times)
Rocquelaire
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« Topic Start: March 31, 2011, 06:31:47 am »

Hi all,

I've been thinking lately about work / family balance. I'm considering a work thing in the next couple of years which would be great for my career but would involve me travelling for two hours at each end of the day. This would severly limit the amount of time that I have with my family but  it would only be for one year. It would mean that my SO would have to be responsible for almost everything to do with my daughter on week days and by then we may have another child. I have a couple of years to decide what to do but some of the choices I make now will affect that future position and I'm weighing up the pros and cons so it got me thinking.

How do you all manage the work / family balance? Does one always come before the other? Do you ever feel that you're giving too much time to one and sacraficing the other? Do you regret the choices you've made or do you feel that you've got the balance right?

Any perspective that anyone wants to share would be very interesting.

Thanks Smiley
Rocquelaire 
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« Reply #1: March 31, 2011, 08:22:30 am »

Hi all,

I've been thinking lately about work / family balance. I'm considering a work thing in the next couple of years which would be great for my career but would involve me travelling for two hours at each end of the day. This would severly limit the amount of time that I have with my family but  it would only be for one year. It would mean that my SO would have to be responsible for almost everything to do with my daughter on week days and by then we may have another child. I have a couple of years to decide what to do but some of the choices I make now will affect that future position and I'm weighing up the pros and cons so it got me thinking.

How do you all manage the work / family balance? Does one always come before the other? Do you ever feel that you're giving too much time to one and sacraficing the other? Do you regret the choices you've made or do you feel that you've got the balance right?

Any perspective that anyone wants to share would be very interesting.

Thanks Smiley
Rocquelaire 

My opinion, family comes first, but at the same time, we have to eat, and I have to be somewhat happy.  At times, extra money is needed badly enough to make some family sacrifices for a while, depending on the need. Sooooo.

It;s only for a year.  What do you get out of it?  Money?  Training?, etc.
HOw is the SO with it?  WIlling to pick up the slack?
Children are very resilient, particularly if they understand why.  THey may not like it at the time, but depending on why you are doing it, explain why, they can understand.  The only job dad could get was an over the road driver that is home only once every two weeks, they can still deal with it.  Mom is on a ship for 6 months, they can still deal.

For example, I knew a man who worked a second job so he could pay off (or at least some of it) the medical bills associated with the 2nd child's birth.  Another took a short term second job so they could go on vacation.  A third works 1 full and 2 part time because they are adamant that a woman's place is at home with the kids.   I know several single women with children who are working full time jobs and going to school full time.  THe kids adapt.
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Rocquelaire
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« Reply #2: March 31, 2011, 02:27:38 pm »

My opinion, family comes first, but at the same time, we have to eat, and I have to be somewhat happy. 

Family comes first for me too but we need money and I'm hoping that my chosen career will help us to have a reasonable standard of living and allow us to have a bigger family.

Quote
It;s only for a year.  What do you get out of it?  Money?  Training?, etc.
HOw is the SO with it?  WIlling to pick up the slack?

It's training. At the moment I work part time and I'm studying law part time. At the end of my degree I'd like to do my traineeship with the Procurator Fiscals service (like the District Attorney) and the first year of a two year traineeship is based in Edinburgh which is quite far from where I live. There are other places that I could train and then try and get a job with the PF later but I have a better chance of success if I train with them. My SO is very supportive - he wants me to be happy in my work and understands that it's only a year. I just think it will be harder on my daughter because she doesn't have the same concept of time - though she might by then - and we spend so much time together now. But then she'll be at school by then and might be used to more time apart. I guess it's never easy to find a balance.
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« Reply #3: March 31, 2011, 04:04:46 pm »

I just think it will be harder on my daughter because she doesn't have the same concept of time - though she might by then - and we spend so much time together now. But then she'll be at school by then and might be used to more time apart. I guess it's never easy to find a balance.

Honestly, I think the quality of the time you have when you're together is the thing that matters most.

My father used to travel pretty extensively doing lectures and performances (he'd be gone Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon usually two weekends a month during the school year) and because he was a theatre professor, he'd also have about two months each year of directing a play (and being at rehearsals from late afternoon through the evening most nights of the week.) And at one point, he had the amazing opportunity to spend 6 months in Japan as a visiting scholar, while my siblings were little, and everyone survived that.

But he was always really clear that when he was home, it was time with the family (well, me, by the point I can remember: my siblings are enough older than I am that they were in college by the time I can remember.) He'd go work on other stuff during naps and after I went to bed (and of course, once I was in school), but when I was home and around, he was really firm about spending his focus on me.

One thing that does spring to mind - though it does make it harder on your husband, and might be harder financially - is to consider creative solutions like staying in Edinburgh Monday-Thursday nights, and then driving home on Friday for the weekend, at least for some of the year.

It might actually turn out to be better for the relationships if you could stay in one place (and not lose time/energy/money to commuting, but focus on whatever stuff you had to get done for the next day, rather than have to dash home, do lots of stuff, and still not get much time with your daughter. With Skype and other technology options, you could still develop some really meaningful routines (a bedtime story, for example) for the nights you were gone. Point being that active engaged time is better than not-engaged, stressed, frantic time. And then when you were home, you'd have had time to get any other work out of the way, and could spend the whole weekend focused on being Mom, rather than trying to review materials, etc.

And, on the professional side, it might also give you time to make some really important connections - being able to go out with colleagues after work sometimes, for example - which you wouldn't be able to do if you had to do a long commute home. Even if you decide not to do it all the time, you might see if you could arrange one night a week or something. (And if housing costs seem prohibitive, a lot of smaller bed and breakfasts and independent hotels would love to sell a room cheap during off-peak times like weekdays, around here, and might give you a really good deal if you could commit to  a regular rental). Given what you'd save in travel, it might actually come out pretty close to even financially.
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« Reply #4: March 31, 2011, 07:25:34 pm »

and by then we may have another child.

Others have given good advice, but I just wanted to drop a purely practical note that has less to do with balance than with just plain safety:  I do not recommend a long commute during the time you're still constantly sleep-deprived from dealing with a newborn if you can possibly help it.  (Especially if you're breastfeeding and avoiding caffeine because of it.)  My commute is ~40 minutes each way; I almost dozed off behind the wheel a couple of times right after I went back from maternity leave.  Not safe.
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« Reply #5: April 02, 2011, 08:37:56 am »

Honestly, I think the quality of the time you have when you're together is the thing that matters most.

I think that's true. A lot of our time just now is quality time because I work really hard to make sure that I focus on my daughter and I mostly study etc when she's in bed or otherwise occupied. 

Quote
One thing that does spring to mind - though it does make it harder on your husband, and might be harder financially - is to consider creative solutions like staying in Edinburgh Monday-Thursday nights, and then driving home on Friday for the weekend, at least for some of the year.

That is something to consider. I'm not sure I could cope with being away from them for that much of the week but maybe one or two nights a week. I actually have a friend who is a lawyer working in Edinburgh and has just bought a house just outside the city so it might be that I could stay with her on occassion. It's a lot to ask of my SO though. We'll certainly be giving it a lot of thought and discussion over the coming months and you've given me a lot to consider. Thanks for your input - as always it was really helpful Cheesy
   
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« Reply #6: April 02, 2011, 08:43:01 am »

Others have given good advice, but I just wanted to drop a purely practical note that has less to do with balance than with just plain safety:  I do not recommend a long commute during the time you're still constantly sleep-deprived from dealing with a newborn if you can possibly help it.  (Especially if you're breastfeeding and avoiding caffeine because of it.)  My commute is ~40 minutes each way; I almost dozed off behind the wheel a couple of times right after I went back from maternity leave.  Not safe.

I actually don't drive so if I do commute it will be by train. I'd still rather not fall asleep on the journey so it is a sensible consideration! It must have been scary for you when you were in that position. My worst time was when my daughter was teething. I think I spent about 6 weeks in a daze because I was so sleep-deprived. I probably wasn't really safe to be alone because my thoughts were so foggy.

How do you manage the balance between work and family? Do you find it difficult?
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« Reply #7: April 02, 2011, 08:59:13 am »

How do you manage the balance between work and family? Do you find it difficult?

I'm fortunate to have a job where I can work my eight hours a day and then leave the work at work, so that helps.  I find it more difficult to balance all the stuff that needs done at home with spending "quality time" with my daughter, really.  Which is at least partly an internal problem; it isn't like there aren't other people in the household who can help with the stuff that needs done, and they do so.  I just always feel like there's so much.  Not being afraid to ask for help when help is potentially available is key, though.  (I have so much respect for people who are raising one or more children alone now, because we've got three adults in the house at this point, plus grandparents close by who are willing to babysit, and the 3.5-year-old STILL runs us all ragged some days.  I don't know how anyone does this alone.)
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« Reply #8: April 02, 2011, 10:18:40 am »

I'm fortunate to have a job where I can work my eight hours a day and then leave the work at work, so that helps.  I find it more difficult to balance all the stuff that needs done at home with spending "quality time" with my daughter, really.  Which is at least partly an internal problem; it isn't like there aren't other people in the household who can help with the stuff that needs done, and they do so.  I just always feel like there's so much.  Not being afraid to ask for help when help is potentially available is key, though.  (I have so much respect for people who are raising one or more children alone now, because we've got three adults in the house at this point, plus grandparents close by who are willing to babysit, and the 3.5-year-old STILL runs us all ragged some days.  I don't know how anyone does this alone.)

I was on my own with my daughter for over three years before my SO moved in and my family live 500 miles away. It was really tough. I was working three days a week, at Uni two evenings and alternate Saturdays (and trying to fit in all the independent study required) as well as raising my daughter and running the house. Mostly it came down to priorities. I decided I could live with clutter as long as the house was clean. I learned how to live on 5 hours sleep a night so I could study after my daughter was in bed (and try to fit in some sort of religious practice). As she got a bit older, about 3 I think, I started including her in the housework, making it a game. That let me get things done while we had some quality time. It felt like the ultimate luxury when my SO moved in and took on some of the responsibility. I still find it hard to ask him for help though. Like today I have hurt my back and am in a lot of pain and I was just trying to hang up the washing. He told me off for not asking him to do it and sent me to sit down lol. Asking for help is a hard thing to do for some people. Even with two of us, some days my daughter is still really hard work! I recently read a really useful book called Time Management for Manic Mums by Allison Mitchell. It has a really useful chapter on prioritising what needs done in the house. I would recommend it to any mum Smiley
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« Reply #9: June 29, 2011, 12:40:36 am »


How do you all manage the work / family balance? Does one always come before the other? Do you ever feel that you're giving too much time to one and sacraficing the other? Do you regret the choices you've made or do you feel that you've got the balance right?

Any perspective that anyone wants to share would be very interesting.

Thanks Smiley
Rocquelaire 

I have to manage a work/family/university balance.

The arrangement in our house is that we are a single income family. My wife stays home and takes care of our two daughters, which is a fulltime job in itself, and I support our family financially.

This arrangement works for us.

Before anyone gets the idea that I'm a dominering male who thinks a womans place is in the home, I want to point out that my wife was injured on the job and can't return to work. This is how we've chosen to deal with the situation we're faced with.

I am also working on a Business Management degree, which has enabled me to further my career. We view school time as an investment in the future financial situation of our family.

My family comes first in all things for me, and since my role in our family is as a provider (food, shelter, safety, stability, etc.) it is understood that I have to work a certain number of hours a week. I squeeze in school when the girls are in bed. The bulk of my free time is spent with my family, and so far I have heard few complaints.

I make a conscious effort to spend one-on-one time with each of my girls, and my wife, each day so that they don't feel that they never get to see me. I am active in their lives, and I know that they feel loved by me.
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« Reply #10: June 29, 2011, 05:58:24 am »

Before anyone gets the idea that I'm a dominering male who thinks a womans place is in the home, I want to point out that my wife was injured on the job and can't return to work. This is how we've chosen to deal with the situation we're faced with.

As an aside--I wouldn't have assumed you were.  Mom staying home while Dad works is an arrangement that many families do find effective, even without the injury consideration.  Just because it's the sort of stereotypical patriarchal model of family life doesn't make it an inherently bad thing.  Each family does what works for them.  This is what fits your needs as a family; that does not reflect negatively upon you personally.  Smiley
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« Reply #11: June 30, 2011, 12:21:21 am »

As an aside--I wouldn't have assumed you were.  Mom staying home while Dad works is an arrangement that many families do find effective, even without the injury consideration.  Just because it's the sort of stereotypical patriarchal model of family life doesn't make it an inherently bad thing.  Each family does what works for them.  This is what fits your needs as a family; that does not reflect negatively upon you personally.  Smiley

I agree. You'd be surprised how often it gets misinterpreted (especially by those with strong feminist leanings.) I'm a loving father and husband who looks after his family, but the automatic response I tend to get is that I must be a jerk.

Sorry for the little rant, I'm just sick of being pegged as the bad guy.
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