Thursday, May 21, 2009

Personal Crossroads

Our family has had some major transitions in the past year. This post aims to both document our family changes as well get my thoughts out as to what needs to happen next!

Last July Sam went to work after spending two years home with Seren. That was a bit of a challenge as we all had to just let go. She was in care from 11:30 until 5:30 Monday through Thursday. Friday, Sam had the day off.

This plan went from July through September. We were able to crawl out of some debt! Sam felt good. He was working! Seren had some friends in care! We all felt good.

Then I went on bedrest. Seren continued in care but every week was different as we had to pull some major juggling acts with one member of the household stuck in bed. My mom and dad would do pick up. Or drop off. Or our child care provider would sometimes drop her off. It was insane. Every week we had to re-invent the routine. My mom, or my dad or Sam would bathe her and put her to bed while I sat there on the couch just thinking how helpful I would be if I could just get out of bed.

So that was interesting.

And then dear Wyeth entered the scene. I didn't work from December 3rd through March 4th. So that was different too. I then was on full time Mommy duty. Seren was in care 12 hours a week- two afternoons. It was busy and fun. Yet I was so sleep deprived, it feels like those three months were a giant blur. Was it really three months?

And now I am back. I worked 60% from March until May and now am up to 80%. And Sam is both working a 40 hour job and teaching two classes. He picked up the second class in April. And it is kicking his butt. He works from 11:30-9pm and then is on line teaching from 10pm until 2 am or 3 am.

It is insane.

He is exhausted. And I solo parent in the evenings. My mom and Dad still help so that is a huge help. The kids are both in care a total of 24 hours but now they are there Mondays 11:30-5:30 and all day Wednesday, all day Thursday. I have off Tuesdays. Sam has off Fridays.

I feel like we all just rush around. We have tried to make his flexible job work for us. And it has so far. And we are paying down the debt and we are lucky to have income! But I think we need to make some tough choices very soon.

For the fall, we have both kids signed up for full time care at an awesome school. We are both excited for our kiddos. But unless Sam gets a new job (one that pays more and is more 9-5), we won't be able to justify the cost. And really, if we are (nearly) PAYING to work, that is crazy, right? All of this run around to earn just a little bit? That seems nutty!

I think a lot about how to live simply. How to just drive less. Buy less. Re-use more. Focus on the big stuff. Let the small stuff go. Let STUFF go. Live with intention.

But we need to READ.
Then we need a PLAN.
Then we need to find real COMMUNITY who have the same values/ideals because it is way too easy for me to complicate our lives and desire "things".

Our consumerism culture is embedded in American lifestyle.

So we have to make some decisions soon that make sense to us. And do so with intention. Sam and I have a way of letting life 'happen' to us- not living life. We are scared to make decisions so they get made "for" us -deadlines pass, etc. We don't like that but decisions- esp ones that involve money and our kids- are hard to make. A lot is at risk.

So we'll think. And muddle. And think some more.

And then we'll just have to do our best and dive in.

Any thoughts on this? Any ideas of how to work less, stress less, enjoy more and live simply? Any books to recommend?


Beth said...

I wish our paths were clearly defined, but alas, they aren't. And there is no perfect path--at least not for us. Every direction we could take has its advantages and its drawbacks. I'm a "stick-to-the-devil-you-know" kind of person. But that's not to say that things won't change in the future. I'm worried about the elementary school years, where there are activities after school. But that's me, not you! What I do know for right now, though, is that even though it might not make financial sense in the short term for me to continue working and pay daycare costs, it makes sense in the long term. If I give up my job, I won't get it back. And I get paid very well for what I do--more than I would in the private sector. So for the sake of our long-term financial future, and for the sake of having the career that I want where I want it, it makes sense for me to keep working. Sorry for the long-winded reply!

LauraC said...

This is a very hard one. Jon and I have talked a lot about this topic. When we got laid off together in 2002, we both read this book "Your Money or Your Life" and it was truly life changing. It made us think about how each dollar we spend relates to a number of hours we need to work. And it comes down to money =time = life.

I would highly recommend this book. And there has been an entire community built surrounding this book. For us, we always think about each purchase, each dollar spent and whether or not this money aligns with our values.

Anyway, I think the life you want to live helps determine the money issue. Jon and I talked about this when looking for our current jobs. We needed one of us to take a development job that required no travel if we were going to have kids. So I took a demotion and a pay cut to work in a long-term position that required no travel.

Then that left Jon open to get a consulting job to pay the bills, downside of travel. And our compromise is that when we are working, we are 100% about work. But outside of work, it is about the family while the kids are young and still need us so much.

Sometimes it is hard bc I could be making so much more money, but at what cost?

Sorry for the long reply. This is a deep, complicated topic! But it is worth considering if you feel like things are always so hard to manage.

Julie said...

Okay I will chime in on this one too. There is no easy solution and I think it depends on your career paths and how many options you have. Also, as Laura said--is the extra money worth the cost? I often wish that I could have continued in my career, but financially it would not have added as much to our family after the cost of daycare, but at the same time it would have increased my stress level and made me much less available to my kids b/c of the hours. Luckily we can live very comfortably on my husband's salary. The caveat--he works very long hours, some weekends, some nights and lots of stress.

I totally realize that not everyone can pay their bills on one salary. Your and Sam's schedule sounds pretty relentless and leaves not much time to decompress. Any chance that you can both work 9-5: I know, easier said than done in a horrendous economy. This way, when you are both off, you are off together.

I wish you luck as you try to work this out so you can enjoy each other to the fullest!