What it feels like when both spouses work part-time
“Daddy, will you be here in the morning?”
“YES!!!!” a little boy screams—grinning widely—as he runs up the stairs for bedtime.
Conversations like this are happening a lot in our household lately since DH (dear husband) quit his partnership. And each time I hear something like this, I smile, and my steps are a bit lighter.
DH is now working between zero to three shifts a week, depending on what’s going on in our family schedule. He’s become part-time in two hospitals and we’re still figuring out this whole scheduling thing. Now when our calendar is messed up, it’s my fault because I’m the scheduler in the family.
And yes, I’ve already screwed up—I had to cancel a weekend camping trip after I realized DH was working late on a Friday night (because hey, who wants to do all that work for just one Saturday night of camping?).
Let me tell you though—scheduling blunders aside—this new life stage is incredible! Having DH not be exhausted has made an enormous improvement in our quality of life. It is unbelievable the change we’ve noticed in him.
For example, we went to Legoland for a overnight at the hotel with the boys (yes, we actually have time to travel now!! Though a good question to ask myself is this one.). Compared to when we made the same trip to Legoland a few years ago, the time was a night and day difference for DH and I! It was the first time DH and I enjoyed Legoland (typically we just endure it—first world problems!).
“Dad’s gonna join us instead of sleep?”
This was the constant, surprised question when we went on a cruise the other week. It was the same ship/trip we did a year ago at the end of school, but this time we got off the ship! Like, with kids even! And we did stuff! And DH was more present—actually physically present—instead of back in the cabin, sleeping off circadian rhythm flips. This time I didn’t haul the kids around the ship alone.
In this new life stage, DH and I have days off with the family and together (like we’re sometimes alone—as in, just the two of us!). We no longer feel as if we have to cram a whole weekend into half a day when all four of us are together. Not feeling that constant time pressure/rushing around sensation is amazing.
I feel a little like we’re floating through life now, but honestly, we’re in recovery mode.
This mental space to not always be stretched to the max is pervading our whole lives. Now one parent isn’t shouldering either the majority of childcare or work outside the home. DH is no longer working full time while helping with the family when he’s home. And though I’m still trying to retain a toe-hold on a career while balancing the consuming needs of young boys—one of whom is not a traditional visual/auditory learner—I now have a tremendous amount of help.
This ability of two parents to be fully present and helpful allows relief when the other one is fatigued. Now we can easily supplement the others’ weaknesses. By the end of the day, I’m exhausted because I get up too dang early. So DH takes over putting the kids to bed. I’m the morning crew, which means I get to snuggle with them when they wake up groggy and wander downstairs at the crack of dawn.
We wouldn’t trade getting a 3/4 pay raise back for this irreplaceable time with our boys.
There’s only so much longer they will come to cuddle with me every morning. And there’s not much time left where DH can wrestle with them without getting hurt picking them up.
Overall, we have this prevailing feeling of relief—like, Thank God we survived that period in our lives!
We’re still figuring this new life out. We often say to each other, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” So we’ve decided to give ourselves a year “off” to decompress and adjust before we make any major life change decisions.
And as you can see, we’re traveling a lot to make up for lost time. Our older son is winding down Space day camp today and DH is packing up the camper to come home from the Space Coast. Don’t worry—we’ll settle down more next year.
I hope you’ll follow our journey along and sign up to receive our weekly blog—maybe I can provide advice and inspiration so you can take hold of your finances to lead your desired life?