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How do you mange things with a working wife and kids?

Hi,

I've been losing my concentration and working less since birth of my kids (one is 3 and half now and other is slightly over 2). We decided that my wife will quit work so that she looks after home full-time and I have all time for work. This will surely hurt us in monetary terms but at least we'll have a more organized and peaceful life (in our opinion).

What is your experience, guys? A wife quitting work and staying home full-time is a more peaceful life?

Thanks.
qrious Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
One thing that I quite like is that my wife and I are in completely different areas of work - her area of law is currently extremely busy whereas the large company I work for has made thousands redundant. Not that I felt particularly worried about my own position - but it's still nice to have that feeling of having one career in the family who is "in phase" with the economy and another who can seem to do well whatever the economy.

Having said that, I think the factor that makes the two careers and kids thing manageable for us is that we all have relatively short walks to work and school. I used to have a commute of between two and three hours a day and I bitterly resented that time wasted sitting in a car. Now I have a very pleasant 20 minute walk and the time saved I get to spend with my family or working on my personal projects.
Arethuza Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
There's no one answer for this, so take the following with a pinch of salt. Basically, women can be happy in pretty much any environment where they have plenty of people to talk to. Will your wife have a support network of friends and relatives when she gives up work? If not, the prospect of becoming a full time mother might seem appealing, but the reality can, for some women at least, be soul destroying.

If you're going to become your wife's main source of adult company in the evenings, then your Isv will have the potential to become a battle zone of interpersonal conflict.
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
+1 Andrew




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
+100 Andrew

It can be ten times better or it can be a million times worse if she doesn't have other adult company.
Anonymoose Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
He, he, you've got to get kids out of the house unless you have room on separate floor so they can't interrupt you.

I'd say kindergarten is worth to me 3 times more than I am paying for it, at least :-)

And +1 to Andrew.
Blocky Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
qrious, the nature of the problem is not clear from your post. Are you a work from home contractor or small software company owner? Do you have a private office at home? Or do you work for a company that you travel to and work from an office there?
Scott Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
Personally I like having my wife working full-time (my kids are now 8 & 11 though).

It reduces stress if the company does not make as much profit as I want, and means that our lives are not totally revolving around the business & kids - which is a good thing.

Each to their own though; it can be a nightmare at times organising things; and being the director of my software company it means that I often draw the short straw when kids are sick as my wife (who is a senior teacher) can't abandon a class full of kids..
Grant Black Send private email
Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
 
When my kids were born (11 years ago), my wife stopped working. It has been GREAT for the kids, they have a full time mommy, and they have grown up very happy.

For her, in some senses it has been great, she likes to be with them and probably would have been a great stress for her to be working when they were toddlers or little kids. But now she wants to work again, she feels something is missing.

For me it has been wonderful, its a blessing to know your kids are with the person that loves them most.
Javier Send private email
Monday, September 14, 2009
 
 
Similar story with wife staying home full-time with the kids when they were born.  We had just moved to a new city and knew almost no one.  In the end, probably good for the kids back then, but bad for the wife and relationship.  Make sure she is the type that will really enjoy being a stay at home mom.  And don't even try to work at home when everyone else is there.

Good news is assuming you won't have any more kids, in about 10 years you'll get a lot of your life and wife back.
Kyle Lutes Send private email
Monday, September 14, 2009
 
 
+1000 to don't work at home during the day with kids and wife there.

In my experience, it is just not possible to be in the house, but ignore everything. I also think from my wifes perspective, I can understand how frustrating it is if I am at home, and she knows that I know she's having a rough time with the kids, but I just stay in my office working. (Even though we all know I need to)

So, I go to a large branch of the public library downtown that has wireless and quiet.

It also normalises the "work vs home" to some extent.

(Of course after the kids are asleep, I work in my home office).

Bottom line is if you work long hours, then no matter where you work its going to be hard on ALL the relationships in your life, and you have to realize that and try to manage it.
FJAS Send private email
Monday, September 14, 2009
 
 
@Scott
I'm a work-from-home consultant. I have my own room (a small one, 11 * 9) but it is situated in an area of house where I get all sorts of distractions.

Guys (with working spouses):
how do you (as a couple) manage, on a daily basis, buying groceries, preparing food, cleaning home, taking care of kids, their transportation to/from school, your transportation, etc. etc. etc.
qrious Send private email
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
 
 
You just manage. like the rest of life, it's not always optimal. All I can say is, anyone who thinks the CAPS LOCK key is an annoyance has never tried typing while rocking an infant to sleep.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
 
 
>>how do you (as a couple) manage, on a daily basis...<<

You both make up a big list of all the responsibilities it takes to run a family and household and then divide up the workload.  By task and/or by day of the week.  E.g. one person is always responsible for taking out the trash, making sure bills get paid, laundry gets done, etc.  And one person makes dinners on Mon, Tue, Wed the other on Thur, Fri, Sat, etc.  The list is always open for negotiation.

Also we have a parents meeting every sunday and discuss what will be happening that week, anything special, who will do what, etc.

Sounds kind of business-like, but it can be a big help to prevent resentment from building up.
Kyle Lutes Send private email
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
 
 
I would suggest that you'll still need to find times that you can dedicate to your work, such as early morning or late evenings after the family is in bed.  Having the wife at home won't feel that much easier until everyone gets used to the new routine, meaning the wife.  Even having them in the house, knowing you're in the next room can be tough.

In my situation, I have 4 young children, a wife at home, and a full time (demanding) job and really try to focus on my project during weekday evenings and sometimes weekends.  Its not as much time as I'd like, but they're only young once, and need to come first.

In terms of motivation, sometimes I find just getting out of the house and looking at other ideas or technologies can be motivating.  So take a trip to Chapters for an afternoon of light reading and coffee.

Another idea is to pull up an old version of your software and play with it for awhile.  Its not obvious, but it really reminds you how far you've come when you can see the obvious improvements you've made.  You're reminded why you've given so much.

Chris
ChrisMC Send private email
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
 
 
qrious, thanks for clarifying things. So you work from home as a consultant in a 11x9 office.

Your wife works full time presumably, so does she drop the kids off at school in the morning and you pick them up in the afternoon? Or do they walk home or come on a bus.

If that's the case, then it would seem that school hours are when you have to do your work. Do you also have to clean the house and fix meals and snacks?

It seems an awful lot to do, especially the way schools nowadays have quite a few time burdens on the families. With meetings, waiting in line for pickup, and other expectations like fundraising, keeping a few kids in school can be a 4 hr a day investment in driving and waiting plus 2 hours to help with homework. Is that the case here? If so you might consider the wife staying home and homeschooling, it will take the same time overall.

I sympathize with your situation with an office and kids at home and the wife working, that must be very difficult to get work done under these circumestances.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
 
 
Oh, I just reread that they are 2 & 3 yrs old, so school is not an issue.

Well, in 3 years, both of them will be in school from 8-2, and that should give you time to work. Though it depends on if bussing or such is available. If you have to drive them both ways, and the school is any distance, that can add hours quickly since schools nowadays do not allow easy drop offs and pick ups, you have to wait in a very slow long car line, and in some cases show ID to pick them up.

Between now and then though, sure I think it would help for your wife to quit work or change shifts. I don't see any way you can be getting anything at all done with a 2 & 3 yr old you have to take care of at the same time you are working! That is amazing. How do you get anything done?
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
 
 
For us it was a much more peaceful life when my wife stopped working. My wife was glad to be at home and I think that's the key to success.

Our house ran smoothly the kids were better looked after, and I was able to turn a number of things over to her as the manager of our home. Many years later I see only benefits for the entire family.
Keith DeLong Send private email
Monday, September 21, 2009
 
 

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