Parents Can Balance Work and Family

A few weeks ago I saw Moneyball.  Although the primary focus of the movie is on baseball and statistical analysis, a secondary plot focuses on Billy Beane’s (the general manager of the Oakland A’s) relationship with his daughter.  Even though she lives with her mother in Southern California, Billy tries to be as active in her life as he can.  Toward the end of the movie, he gets an amazing job offer in Boston, which he ultimately turns down.  We’re led to believe that the primary reason for this was that he wouldn’t be able to see his daughter as frequently, and he wasn’t willing to risk losing their close relationship.

All parents struggle to make decisions regarding the balance of work and family life.  The bills have to get paid, but at the same time the benefits of having regular parental supervision after school can’t be denied.  Not only would you have an opportunity to spend some quality time with your kid, but you could also help with homework and other activities.  Kids are also way less likely to do what they’re not supposed to (e.g. use drugs and have sex) when a parent is home.

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy (or in many instances even an option) for a parent to stay home. The anxiety that comes with going from two incomes to one can be overwhelming.  Nonetheless, it’s worth at least considering.

An obvious starting point is to look at your expenses.  What items in your budget are “needs” and what are “wants”?  Are there things you can do without, or at least limit?  Just a few examples of things parents are doing to cut costs are: eliminating the house cleaner and/or gardener, clipping coupons, cutting their entertainment and eating out budgets, getting rid of memberships they don’t use (e.g. gyms, Netflix, etc.), and canceling the cable.  Others have cut costs dramatically by getting rid of one of their cars.

Next, look at ways to increase your income.  Could the parent working outside the home pick-up extra projects and more hours at work?  Or could he/she take-on a second, part-time job?

If you and your spouse crunch the numbers and conclude that it isn’t realistic for your family to survive on one income, consider being creative within the confines of your current jobs.  Could you work opposite shifts?  Or could you telecommute some of the time?  Could you work 4-10 hour days or reduce the amount of hours you work?  Even if you don’t think your boss will say “yes” give it a try.  It’s my experience that many companies pride themselves on being “family friendly” (particularly if it saves them some money).

The changes I’m suggesting come with different challenges, and it’s pretty easy to decide that having a parent stay at home all or most of the time isn’t realistic.  However, with some creativity and willingness to be flexible, changes can be made that leave your children supervised more frequently and improve your entire family’s quality of life.




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