A Different Perspective on Two Working Parents

posted by Andrea | 03/28/2017
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As I’ve mentioned so many times before, I feel like my current job is the most perfect job I could have at this point in my life.

That said, it does require quite a bit of time and effort to run a business, run a household, and run a family at the same time — not to mention all the sacrifices Dave makes to coordinate his schedule to allow time for me to do what I need to do each day.

If I’m honest, I’ve often felt a little guilty about the time I spend working (even though I’m working from home). There are probably better ways I could utilize my time… and in the process, free up more time for Dave to do other things as well.

However, I recently realized that although it can be tricky to find the right “balance” and enough time for everything when both Dave and I work, with a little bit of a different perspective on things, I can see the HUGELY positive effect my job (and my income) have on our family.

Let me explain…

Unlike other teachers whose spouses stay home during the day, Dave has never worked a summer job since we’ve had children — which means he gets to spend all summer with our kids (and with me). If we didn’t have my income, one of us would most likely get some sort of summer job, since Christian school teachers often earn less than many other “year-round” jobs.

Also, Dave has been able to give up several extra-income opportunities in the interest of spending more time at home — coaching 3 different sports, leading student council, proctoring ACT exams on the weekends, and more. Of course, he did enjoy those activities, but I know for a fact he enjoys having a simpler schedule and more time at home these days. There will be plenty of time for coaching and student council in future years.

Dave has less stress as he doesn’t need to worry about being the sole “breadwinner” for our family, and I can run my business without worrying about the fact that I’m self-employed and don’t get benefits (because we get benefits through Dave’s job).

I can enjoy being home with my kids during the day and also having time to pursue something I enjoy and am passionate about when Dave is home in the afternoon and after the kids are in bed for the night. And honestly, the fact that I just have SOMETHING outside of mothering to devote my energy to does wonders for my mental state as a stay-at-home-mom!

Our children are able to see Dave and I work together, make sacrifices for each other and for our family, and do our best to balance our home, our jobs, and our family each day.

We have more time (and disposable income) to work on home and yard projects — something we BOTH enjoy doing together, and something our entire family benefits from year-round.

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So when did my perspective change?

Several months ago, an acquaintance questioned me about what sports Dave would be coaching in the upcoming school year… and when I told him Dave quit coaching after our 3rd child was born, I initially felt a wave of guilt wash over me when I saw the shocked expression on that person’s face.

He made a joke about how I must have Dave “wrapped around my finger” to get him to quit coaching… and then went on his way.

I kept thinking about that comment and wondering if Dave was giving up too much… but then my thought process shifted and I realized we are BOTH giving up a lot in the interest of having more time at home with our kids.

In fact, after mentioning this conversation to Dave, we both agreed that if it wasn’t for my job and my income, he would hardly see our children at all — and I would probably feel completely trapped at home with all 3 kids and no adult interaction.

Obviously, my job is a blessing for ME because I love what I do, but it really helped to look at the situation with a new perspective and realize that my job and my income is a huge blessing for our entire family.

Dave can be home more, our kids spend more time with their dad, mom is more fulfilled and has a renewed sense of purpose, and everyone is happier (most of the time!)

So often, I feel like families with 2 working parents get put into this group of money-hungry people who only want to buy bigger houses, go on fancier vacations, and buy their kids the biggest and newest gadgets all the time — and I suppose this could be true in SOME situations.

However, I know so many 2-income families who don’t use the extra income for bigger or better toys and vacations — but rather, for more time with their kids.

I know… we almost always think the opposite, but I have a feeling that’s the way the media wants us to think. 

We don’t live in a world where one parent goes to work and the other stays home all day — and although I have absolutely nothing against moms or dads who stay home with their kids, I do think women especially are so much happier and healthier when they can pursue some of their own passions instead of resigning to social pressures to stay home.

I hear SO much negative talk about how destructive it is for families when both parents work — and although I’m sure there are situations when this might be true, I also know that in our family, the fact that Dave and I both contribute to our family’s income means that we BOTH have more quality time to spend with our family.

My job and my income affords Dave an enormous amount of time at home with me and with our children — of course, it’s helpful that I actually love my job, but even if I didn’t, I could look at it from the perspective of all the time it allows Dave to be home with our family instead of working a summer job, coaching after school, or picking up odd jobs on the weekend.

I realize not every 2-income family has the same experience as we do — but I wanted to share this in hopes that it will encourage those of you who might be struggling with the decision to work at a job you love.

I would never encourage anyone to work over staying home with their kids if they really wanted to stay home with their kids. However, with all the part-time jobs that offer flexible hours and work-from-home options, there are so many great opportunities for families to make a little extra income AND enjoy lots more quality time together!

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33 comments

  1. Holly

    05/11/2017

    I always wanted to be a stay at home mum until my kids were at school. Then when introverted me had extroverted child who didn’t need much sleep, I realised going back to work was better for everyone. We have the financial freedom for holidays, and paying our mortgage off sooner, our daughter thrived in the interactive daycare environment, and I loved being back in my chosen field.
    Now I’ve found a nearly full time job in my field, a job I utterly love, with some flexibility, some work from home, an a boss who is happy for me to jig things around my family, so I can do some school trips and after school activities. For our family in general, and for my mental health, it’s so much better with me working as well.

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  2. Karla

    04/02/2017

    Yes! In my family growing up, my dad was a teacher and my mom stayed at home for almost 20 years. As a result, my dad always worked construction evenings and weekends. I remember feeling like I never saw him. It was always just mom and the kids. He was often gone when I woke up and home late at night. When my husband and I were starting our family, we considered for a time, having me stay home. However, we decided that it would put a lot of pressure on him to work all the time. (He is a realtor.) Then I would be with the kids all the time and he would hardly ever see them. So I went back to work. (I am a teacher.) He works a moderate amount and is able to spend lots of time with the family. We also have more money for trips, sending out kids to camp, putting them in hockey/ baseball etc. and much more. It works for us!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I love that you found what works for your family right now — this is great, and I’m sure your kids appreciate the extra time with BOTH of their parents!

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  3. Kate

    03/29/2017

    Thanks for this post. You make a lot of great points. I work part time outside the home, and personally, I like going to work a couple days a week and leaving work at work. Then I don’t have to think about it at home. But everyone’s situation is different and I think it also depends what line of work you are in. In my circle of friends, most moms stay home so I do feel judged sometimes (the “being lumped into a money-hungry group” was an especially great point) but we are doing what is best for our family. My husband and I are in complete agreement so that’s what matters! I like that you write posts about people doing what works for them, and not worrying about what others think.

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  4. Angela

    03/29/2017

    Great perspective. I also have a home-based business (and now so does my husband) and I agree with all your points. I’ve found that since it doesn’t really appear to outsiders that I work, there can be some jealousy. Not everyone knows (or remembers) that I do, indeed, have a job – some just think we must be magically doing better financially than other families with stay-at-home parents.

    I hope more women can be empowered to earn some kind of income from home that would enable them to take some of the burden off of their husbands while still being home with their kids! There are so many benefits, which you wonderfully outlined!

    One other benefit that I see is that my kids are learning first-hand that careers come in many shapes and sizes. You don’t have to have a “typical” job like many of us grew up seeing…it’s possible to use your creative gifts and talents to create a career that is successful AND enjoyable. Your kids are learning that being a writer is a completely attainable goal, and my kids are learning that not all artists are starving! : )

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, in many ways, we have “the best of both worlds” but in some ways, we have the “worst”.
    We have neighbors who have literally come over and asked if we are both unemployed because Dave his home all summer long. I usually want to say “excuse me, why is it any of your business?” but I just laugh it off and say something like, “no, we’re not unemployed, we just choose not to work” 🙂

    It’s so great having everyone home all summer, but it can be tricky to make the time to get all my work done while taking care of our house, my family, etc. I’m not complaining though!

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    Angela Reply:

    Oh, that’s funny about the neighbor! We’re getting a taste of that too now that my husband is also self-employed. We had a tax appointment recently and stopped at the pet shop to buy dog food on our way home, and the owner looked at us a little funny and said “you both have the day off?” We laughed and said we work from home. I suppose it does look funny when both parents are out together in the middle of the day!

    Our summer will be tricky this year. My own business (graphic design) naturally slows down in the summer, which I love. But now that my husband and I are working together on our new business (building furniture and home decor), we will be busy this summer with making and selling items at festivals. It’s fun work, but it’ll be harder to make time for the things the kids love to do in the summer, like spending the day at the pool. I’m learning to be much more intentional with my time though, which is a good thing!

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  5. Cassandra

    03/29/2017

    Thank you for writing so many posts that help people feel good about doing what works for their families!

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  6. Meghan

    03/28/2017

    Great post! I agree with so many things you mentioned. I’m a teacher. Even though we could have afforded for me to stay home with the kids, I find my work so rewarding and get to spend a lot of quality time with my children. We have met several financial goals over the years, and my husband has flippantly talked about me quitting. While we still have a toddler at home while the older kids are in school, I would definitely need to look into serving/volunteering somewhere during the day. I know I’m healthier and happier working even though I’d have less on my plate if I didn’t work.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know A LOT of people in your situation — they work because they actually LOVE their job (and I think that’s great!)

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  7. Lynn Coleman

    03/28/2017

    Excellent points Andrea! I love how you both sacrifice to be with the kiddos, and I especially love how your income allows Dave to stay home all summer without working! That’s so wonderful! And I am very grateful that you’ve decided to keep working, cause that means I get to keep reading your blog!

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  8. Alicia

    03/28/2017

    Andrea, thank you for bringing up these points! It made me look at my options in a completely different way. This is why when I do quit my day job after this baby is born, I will be devoting my time to my small blog and VA opportunities! After all, I have 6 months to try to make this work-from-home thing work, and I’m pretty determined! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — determined you are 🙂

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  9. Kelly

    03/28/2017

    Andrea, I love your perspective on this topic. Our situation is reversed, I work full time and earn the majority of our income and carry all the benefits. Because of this, my husband only needs to work part time as an adjunct professor. This works for us because he does not need benefits, yet he is still home to get our kids off the bus everyday. We often have to do a handoff when I arrive home and he is off to teach a night class, but our goal has always been that we raise our 3 kids and not pay a stranger to do so!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I guess that was sort of our goal too — we didn’t want others to raise our kids. I honestly never pictured our situation would be me working from home, but I definitely don’t hate it!

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    Katie Reply:

    So many of the comments here have been so positive and supportive of people choosing what’s right for them and their family, and this article provides yet another angle from which to view it. However, my stomach knots up when I hear people who choose not to work outside of the home comment that they “don’t want to pay someone else to raise their kids” – it is passing so much judgement on people who do pay childcare providers.

    Our daycare providers don’t raise my children, my husband and I do. We impart on them our morals and values, our rules and our expectations. We will be the ones held responsible for their actions, not their daycare providers. Our childcare providers do nurture my children, teach them, feed them, console them, comfort them, and discipline them. In a lot of ways, that’s no different than what a kindergarten teacher does during the day – do you think that your child’s kindergarten teacher is raising them?

    I believe it wasn’t your intention to pass judgement on people who do utilize daycare and you were relaying your viewpoint on why you have made the choices you have made, but every time I read or hear that expression it seems like someone is congratulating themselves for being a better parent than me.

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    Katie Reply:

    Yes, thank you! I work part time outside the home and we use a day care a couple days a week. I always cringe when I hear that too.

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    Kristen Reply:

    I agree 100%! That’s a really hurtful phrase to hear … like, what am I doing every morning, night, and weekend if not raising my son?? Not to mention I certainly don’t consider his daycare providers strangers – he loves them!

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  10. Tina

    03/28/2017

    Everyone is different. That is the beauty.

    I stay home with my two little ones and play/teach them. My husband is the sole breadwinner. He does not make much. In order to reduce the strain on him, instead of me going to work, we just cut back. Our lives don’t look remotely similar to anyone’s I know but it works for us.

    For me(&this is just me)- it would be stressful and too expensive for us to send our kids to daycare/preschool. I like watching them personally and my husband likes that too(he was abused as a young child and would have anxiety if they were in the care of someone else).

    As our kids get older and go to elementary school, I will get a part-time job while they are in class. Well that’s the plan.

    Everyone’s​ family is different. You got to do what works for you. Don’t feel guilty whether you stay home, work from home, work out of the home etc. All that matters is what’s best for your family

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is great Tina!
    And honestly, if I didn’t work from home, I would probably have a similar story. We would just cut way back and make it work until our kids were in school and I could find some sort of part-time job opportunity.

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  11. Abbie

    03/28/2017

    There are long-term plusses to both parents being employed that did not occur to me until I got older and saw the effects of low income even on adult children. I am retired now, and I have my own retirement nest egg. This gives my husband and I the means to take care of ourselves into old-age. Our children will not have to give up jobs to care for us. I have seen this happen time and time again: especially to daughters.

    Often, Mom is the last parent living. If she doesn’t have enough money to pay for care, then the daughter gives up her job to take of her mother. This means the daughter now isn’t earning income and HER daughter may be forced into the same difficult position.

    In the scenario where Mom has financial resources, her daughter can keep working. I have watched my friends as they were able to still work because Mom could afford to bring in some daytime help. Of course these friends still cared for their mother by fixing supper and taking it to her, cleaning Mom’s home on the week-ends, etc. ; they did not renege on their responsibilities to their parent.

    By working, you set up a pattern where Nora or her brothers (and the sibling yet to be born) will not have to give up earning an income and financial security to care of you or Dave.

    I realize this doesn’t happen in all families, but I have seen it happen often enough that I now see that the benefits of a second income can reach way beyond the time your children are young and dependent on you.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is a good point Abbie — one I didn’t even think about. However, my mom and grandma are actually in a slightly similar situation. My mom hasn’t quite her job yet, but my grandma definitely has a VERY limited income now that my grandpa passed away a few years ago and my mom is doing a lot to help her cut costs, save money, etc.
    I have a feeling my mom will retire in a few more years on her own account — and then she’ll be available to help my grandma more without sacrificing her own financial well-being.

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    Karla Reply:

    One of the best things you can do for your children is to make sure you are set up to support yourself in retirement. I wouldn’t want my children to have the responsibility of supporting me when I age.

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  12. Chris

    03/28/2017

    I worked at home but it was very stressful. I wasn’t self employed and I got paid by how much work I did, so I was always rushing. I did enjoy the type of work however. We paid our house off in just a few years with my income and I was able to quit. I really enjoyed it. My son was a teenager and I got to travel to his sports games. In later years, I was able to be present for family in a severe (several year long) crisis and was able to help do things for an elderly relative. Now I am back at work for a little while. It was great to be there for my family. There are so many perspectives. I’m glad you are able to stay home with your little ones.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I think that’s awesome — you stuck with the job until you paid off your house and then quit. I always said I would do that with blogging to (but it turns out I actually like blogging!)
    I KNOW your son appreciated that you were able to get to all his sporting events too (even if he didn’t say it at the time)

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  13. Kristin

    03/28/2017

    I could not agree with you more.

    I have been a stay at home Mom for the past 11 years, and I had a photography business on the side for a couple of years. But after my youngest was born 3 years ago I decided to not go back. And boy did I sink into a funk. With only the kids and household getting my attention I became frustrated and suffered with “poor me” syndrome and felt completely worthless.

    Since starting my blog, and having now a new direction and purpose, where I control the outcome – I have never felt better.

    I used to think it was in the best interest for everyone for me to be a stay at home mom, but I know now that everyone is much happier when I also feel fulfilled. We aren’t at a point where I am contributing to our household income yet, but I can see ahead to the future and excited in the direction I am going.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay for new adventures working from home! it’s definitely been rewarding for me!

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  14. Joanna

    03/28/2017

    Love it! You just shifted my thoughts and allowed me to be content as I work as well as my husband. And we do make a lot of sacrifices for our family’s well being, which includes spending a lot of time with our kids. Thank You!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like you are doing the best thing you can do for your family right now — of course, that “best” thing might change in a few years, but for now, it’s the best 🙂

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  15. Ruth

    03/28/2017

    I cannot believe the nerve of that guy who said that to you!
    Your area must be different from mine. I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia and around here, a mom not working is considered unusual. And then choosing to homeschool which meant that I had to remain at home is even crazier. Most men I know can’t handle the burden of being the sole breadwinner, and I don’t blame them. It is an enormous pressure. I literally don’t know how my husband did it, and looking back, I wish I had created work at home options.

    And everything you said is correct, if one person is the sole breadwinner, that person spends most of their time AWAY form the family. The stress and worry of losing your job if you don’t seem committed is real. I know this one homeschool family with several kids and the dad’s job is always near to be cut. He’s so afraid of losing his job he rarely sees his kids.

    And honestly, as I get ready to launch my youngests and I look back at how I did life, if I could do it over again, the only thing I would change would have been to pursue more work at options like yours.

    So many people in the Christian (homeschool) community talk about giving your all to your kids to the point of idolizing. But guess what? They grow up, and need you less and less and that is the way it should be.

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    Andrea Reply:

    You know what Ruth… I totally agree with your last statement about wanting to give our kids so much of ourselves, our time, our attention that we almost idolize them. I do not think you can LOVE your kids too much, but I do think you have some great points here. Thanks for sharing!

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    Mrs. A Reply:

    Yesterday at the Bible study I attend, a woman shared how she was obsessed with her children, everything for her children. Then she realized, my children aren’t mine they are on loan to me. She said she felt such a weight lifted off her. In sharing that, I remember being that way, everything for my children that I lost myself. I recently took up a bookkeeping job and work from home. WOW, I feel renewed and also feel that I am contributing to the household. So rewarding.

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES! I can totally see how this would be an easy trap to fall into — especially with all the websites, health articles, doctors, and random strangers making parents feel bad if they don’t devote 100% of their time and energy to their kids. Good for your friend for realizing this and taking a step back! And good for you for taking that part-time job. I hope you continue to love it.

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