It’s a bunch of shift work

Today, Oz Spies has a great article for New York Magazine that speaks to the ever-increasing trend of tag-team parenting. With the cost of childcare skyrocketing, it really makes it quite impossible for myself and my peers to afford having children in daycare, so that both spouses can work during the week. It seems that tag team parenting is the direction more and more families are headed in.

I work a full-time 9 to 5 office job, that provides my family with our health benefits. My job is important to me, not only as my chosen career path, but to provide a stable life for my family. Therefore, everything must fit around my work schedule, as I can’t lose my job. If my boss wants me to work late, I’ve got to be there, or risk being expendable when budget cuts come around. This severely limits the job opportunities my husband can pursue. If you are putting your spouse’s career and your children before your own career, many employers do not see that as an asset to their company.

My good friend finds herself in the same position. Before the birth of her second child, she had great success as an RN. However, her husband handles state contracts to clear snow. Once the New England winter starts in earnest, her husband will be working 16+ hours a day, to make sure his small company is completing the work set for them by their contract. He makes the majority of his annual pay in this manner. The money she would make working would barely cover the daycare costs of her two small children, so she has been working 3 or 4 days a month, just enough to keep herself in practice and licensed as a nurse.

At times, it can seem not worth the effort, as our family has lost having even one day of the week when everyone is at home. My husband had to take one weekend off to take care of me, and we worried endlessly that his boss would call and fire him. Now that the fall is coming, I thought it would be nice if we could take the kids apple picking or for a hay ride, but then the obstacle appeared – when could we go? By October it will be dark when I come home from work. We could go in the morning on the weekend, but my husband has to be at work by 10 a.m. and doesn’t get off until 6 p.m. Who’s up for some 7 a.m. pumpkin shopping?

It can be frustrating, but we tell ourselves that it is only while the baby is small. Once he goes to school, there will be more opportunities. We make sure when we are all together that we make the most of it. In the meantime, it’s all a bunch of shift work.

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