This blog is contains helpful hints for two-career couples to use when raising kids and managing the chaos of a busy family life. So when I lost my job a few months ago, I felt like an imposter, writing about that work-life balance. I didn’t have the work part any more. At first, I really enjoyed being unemployed. I’d gotten a severance package, which gave me a few months of pay while not working, and we had some savings as well. Without the daily pressures of work, I was free to have coffees and lunches and read the whole morning paper in my pajamas. And then there were the holidays…Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s, all with lots of activities and fun. After January 1st, Steve looked at me and said “You know, you DO need to get a job.” And he was right. Not only was the financial picture looking less robust, but I was getting restless. Yes, there’s plenty to do around the house, and volunteer work always needs some attention. But I found the less I had to get done, the less that got done. And the discipline to start new projects like cleaning out the garage just wasn’t there.
So after a few months of searching, I have jumped back into employment. My new job is challenging and invigorating and very demanding. It requires a good bit of travel as well, so we are making adjustments to our family life. Steve has had to step up and make dinners and drive kids around, and I’m having to get as many things organized as I can before that Monday-morning flight takes me away for the week. And even with a well-grounded family life, we’ve had to re-group a couple of times. After the first few weeks, we had a family meeting to ask everyone, “How is this working for you?”, and “What can we do better?” My daughter was asked to communicate clearly to Steve when she was going to be late for dinner. My sons were asked to step up and help around the house more. I’m trying to get better at switching time zones between work and home. We’ve readjusted and continued along the journey as a family. That’s not to say we’re totally in the clear, but we’re working through things as best as we can.
As I reflect on the past few months, I think one of the things that has really helped us during this time is our ability to communicate effectively. The white board on the fridge and the calendar reminders help with our daily “functional” communication. The family dinners and one-on-one time help with the “emotional” communication. Keeping those lines open and using various methods (yes, I have Snap Chat now) to stay in touch is important. I’ve had to re-trench, re-tool, and re-examine many things in the past few months. Having a supportive family that communicates well even in times of stress has been key in managing through this transition. And those times of just being present without communicating are special, too.