How to define work/home priorities?

Elizabeth - posted on 06/06/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My husband and I are both grad students in science, nearly done with our PhD degrees (This is the same as a full time research job, just way less pay). We have a wonderful 2 yr old daughter who spends ~9 1/2 hours at daycare so that we can both get our degrees. My DH’s boss is always pushing him to work more, and I'm always pushing back against that. Recently, my DH came home and said his boss had given him another "productivity talk" and said he wasn't working enough. My DH is already more productive than half the people he works with, but b/c his boss thinks he has potential for so much more, it's just not good enough. Ever. So my DH recently told me he's going to get up earlier to get into work earlier to make his boss happy. He didn't figure another 30-60 min at daycare would really be that big of a deal to our DD (DH does daycare dropoff every day).



At that point, I kind of flipped. Not only does my DD not see her father once or twice a week due to working hours already, but he wants her to spend more time in daycare. My response was to say that I would just take her myself in the morning, and this actually made him mad. Then, this morning, he left (as he now plans to do everyday) before she was even awake. He won't be home tonight until just as she's going to bed, if he even makes that.



I know he has to please his boss, and that he'll have a new boss after we graduate, but I can't stand this!! I already pick up everything (doctor's office visits, sick days, etc.) b/c his boss gets pissed whenever he has a family commitment (i.e. actually using given sick/vacation time). I can't sacrifice much more than I already do, or I will never graduate, but at this point, I'm honestly thinking maybe I shouldn't bother to finish. Other people already spend more time w/ our DD every day than we ever do, and he just wants to make that worse. I can't stomach the thought of her spending even more time away from us, but I am so tired of being the only one who feels this way.



Do I have some antiquated idea of family life that just doesn't exist in a two parent working family?? Is what I want just impossible, and I should just deal w/ my DD being at daycare 10 1/2 hours a day? (I'd love to hear opinions from all working parents, but especially any other grad students/scientists)

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Kumud - posted on 06/08/2011

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I can very well understand your situation as we both are working as well and our 4 year old daughter goes to a day care for about 10 hrs a day since her school vacations are going on. Even during her school working days, she is away from us for about the same time. See its more of a sacrifice for the child rather than ours. At the same time, it is true that children adjust better and faster than adults. Also, if the day care is good and they are taking good care of her, you are atleast relieved that she is in good hands. Fortunately, the day care my daughter goes to is like a mini-school. She has made quite a few friends and she enjoys going there. Of course, since she spends less time with us, we do make up for it. Most of the times, after the day care I have a surprise for her, maybe a little candy or a small toy. Else, I take her to a cafe or a restaurant of her choice for a treat. These little gestures make them feel ecstatic. The only thing we have to make sure is that she should not feel that my parents just leave me for the whole day and they don't have time for me at all. So, whatever time you get with her, make the most out of it. Although my daughter likes going to the day care, we make it an excitement for her that Sunday is a holiday and we will have the whole day to ourselves and we plan in advnace as to what we will do. I feel that you should complete your course and also whatever time you get with your daughter, make the most out of it. Talk to her about things she does in the day care, things that she loves doing, about her friends. Kids love to talk. Most important, this has to be done by both of you. You have to talk to your husband about it and even if he can take out about an hour every alternate day, will be great. At the end of the day, your daughter will feel more close to both of you.

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It is never easy when both parents work. I don't think you have an antiquated idea of family but I do think you need to talk to you husband about it and see how he views the situation. You mentioned you were both close to graduation, how close? If it is only for a short period of time and he will move on to another company/boss situation then it may be worth sticking it out and that maybe the way that he is looking at it too. Only your husband can answer that and maybe once you know what/how he is thinking about the situation it will make you feel better about it too… my initial thought when I read your post, and this is going to sound horrible so please forgive me since I don’t know your husband, but maybe he needs to grow a pair and stand up to his boss. If he isn’t able to stand up to this one and finds himself in another situation where he has a boss who is similar then the situation may never change
As far as you thinking you shouldn’t finish your degree… if you are so close to graduation you need to finish. Please make sure you aren’t making that big of a decision out of anger and frustration. It will only lead to resentment and create problems for you down the road.
My husband and I struggled through some of this and still do. It is never easy but we have established a give and take system that took almost two years to develop and it is still developing (our daughter is almost two and we are expecting our second soon). I am a statistician and in my career, there are times during the year where big projects need completed and that requires working longer hours and he covers for me during that time and I do the same for him. Thankfully his project times typically coincide with my slow times and vice versa so our daughter is only in daycare for about 9 hours at the most a day. We also both benefit from great vacation/benefit packages so we have plenty of time to take off for vacations or just down time to be at home together and our employers are family friendly. We both made that a priority. As far as my degrees, I was working on a second bachelors and gearing up to start my PhD when we found out I was pregnant with baby number 1 and I decided, independent of my husband, to postpone my PhD until I was done having babies. I finished working on my second bachelors through the second pregnancy and probably won’t return to school until both babies are in grade school. It was getting too difficult to be super mom between work, family, school, etc. BUT I was only scheduled to start if I was as close as you are I would have probably chosen to stick it out and finish.
I really hope this helps. I know it can be so frustrating trying to find a balance between work and home especially when your partner doesn’t appear to be on the same page. The only thing that saved my husband and me was talking it out until we both understood where we both stood, even if we didn’t always agree.

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