Author Topic: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?  (Read 8412 times)

Nick_Miller

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Okay this will probably come off as being a Whinypants post...I acknowledge that.

My wife is turning 40 soon, and I'm in my mid-40s. Since we were married (over 15 years), we've both continuously worked full-time. We have two kiddos, one in late elementary school and one in late middle school. School activities are REALLY picking up for both. For one's sports team alone, our kiddo practiced three nights a week, basically stranding a parent to be close to the school and not getting home until 8. Thankfully, we are getting a break from that soon. But we are still CONSTANTLY leaving work early to pick up kids from stuff, or else taking late afternoon 'lunches' to do that. I don't know how people with rigid job schedules do it.

Long story short, I know my wife is tired of the grind. Hell, I am too. One of us (usually me) gets up at 5:30 each morning to get the oldest up for school, so that sucks. And we'll be doing it for the next 8 years. Ugh.

Our parents are also draining us. Medical issues. Poor financial situations. Divorces. You name it, they have it going on. And they all live near us.

We both want to slow down, but we're nowhere near being able to do that. My projections are that, on our current pace, we should be worth about $500K by end of 2021. About $325K of that would be retirement stache, with the rest cash and home equity. Mortgage should be the only debt by that point.

At that point, we MIGHT be able to move to part-time employment, but man it seems like finding professional-level pay in part-time employment would be tough.

Right now, our jobs compliment each other very well. She gets GREAT benefits (health which covers the whole family) and a very generous profit-sharing with her 401k, and I make a good amount of cash and bonuses.

Has anyone been just burned out, but you know intellectually you have a long way to go? I would LOVE to give my wife a break, but she would still have to bring in SOME income, and she doesn't have any side hussles or anything. She likes working on her Cricut and she likes organizing stuff, but I'm not sure that she would be interesting in starting a home organizing business. I think she'd LOVE to have some flexibility in her schedule and some "me" time. I don't know how to give that to her right now.

Any words of wisdom?
« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 06:35:15 AM by Nick_Miller »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 08:05:50 AM »
Maybe working PT for a period would be a good solution for your wife. e.g. 1 day a week off or 1 day every other week off.
Have you looked into hiring an au-pair?
Could you give each other one night a week off, or a couple of hours in daytime? That means one of you has to do everything in the household and caring for the children for that period. But the other one could have some "me" time. Maybe do so on a weekend day?
Could one the divorcing parents help babysitting for some hours in the weekend? To compensate for the extra hassle they give you?
About the children on the sports team. Is there an option to organize transport home between parents of the other children on the team? Is it unsafe for the children to go home themselves with a friend when they reach a certain age?

Most of my colleagues with children have a system where one parents brings the children to school in the morning, starts late at work and goes home late. The other parent starts very early at work, leaves work early and picks up the children from school.
Others just leave early from work every day, but some work from home in the evening to compensate.

Noodle

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 08:20:13 AM »
You don't mention specific issues with the jobs, other than the sheer amount of time they require--is there any way to streamline home life to make things easier? That's the area that's really under your and your wife's control.

For instance--would it help to Marie Kondo the heck out of your house so it's easier to keep neat? What kind of chores do the kids do? If they stepped up more, and you added a monthly cleaning service for deep cleaning, would it help? What about simplifying cooking? Nobody will die if they live through a few months of pasta Monday, taco Tuesday, breakfast for dinner Wednesday, etc. Has your family thought through the balance of kid activities that's right for you? I wasn't allowed to do evening activities until I was in high school, for instance.

It's hard to discuss things in the heat of family life--it might be helpful to schedule some couple time (even shipping the kids to someone else's house for a sleepover) to free up some time for thinking and discussion.

Lews Therin

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 09:50:30 AM »
Are you willing to sit down with your wife and actually talk through the scenarios? Run through expenses, how long you have to work still, how you two are feeling...

Then think about scenarios that could help, cutting work down to 4/week per person, taking sabbaticals. Those would increase the time to FIRE (though being the same amount of actual work days) - Or reduce expenses to cover the shortfall.

As the kids get older, you'll be able to push some tasks on them (getting themselves up for school, making food, doing housework) so maybe it's worth taking the time for yourself now, and go a little harder in the future when they are able to help out?

-Sadly, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but have very little ability to make it get closer unless you start optimizing expenses. Groceries can be an excellent first stop.

terran

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 10:10:40 AM »
It sounds like a lot the issues you're having are balancing kids and work. Would one of you stopping paid work to do the stay at home spouse thing be an option? If you could afford that, and the stay at home spouse treats it like a job and takes on most/all of the child/household related tasks that could make continuing to work much more tolerable for the working spouse.

Malkynn

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 10:13:52 AM »
Been there, done that, and do not underestimate how valuable dropping to part time can be for your sanity and your marriage.

Crunch the numbers together, see if you can start building your best life now. At very least, the exercise will really help the two of you align on exactly what your vision for your life is and where your main priorities should be.

It can be crazy just how many presuppositions you are operating on that you didn't even realize.

Your current situation doesn't sound at all fun or at all sustainable, so consider totally blowing it up. Why not?

Linea_Norway

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 10:20:40 AM »
I think you and your wife should focus on making your life more tolerable and forget about maxing out savings for a while. Working PT will cost you svings, but will improve your life.

StarBright

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 10:34:25 AM »
I was thinking of posting something very similar recently so just know that you are not alone! We are also similar in our stage of life and how our jobs are complementary - his has the good benefits (health insurance, a good match for his retirement, cheap college for kids), mine has the good pay and flexibility. It makes it very hard for either one of us to quit.

This may sound like it is coming out of left field - but - could the time of year be contributing to your feelings?

A couple of years ago I realized that every February I start to think about quitting my job. You get through Christmas break (which, while magical with kids, is never an actual break) and then you jump right back into the school/winter slog and it is cold and it sucks. I actually wrote myself an email this year (via FutureMe) to remind myself that Feb sucks every year, and to take it easy on myself. For me this usually means letting myself order take out and pay for activities for the kids. I also reminded myself to not make any big decisions. Last year we bought a puppy in February. Stress makes you make bad decisions :) Luckily our puppy is amazing.

I remind myself to hold out for April and sunshine and I always feel better by then.

In the meantime, do you have family nearby that are helpful? If you do, take advantage! If not, I understand, we don't either. I would be the happiest woman on the planet if my husband picked a date on the calendar and told me to take a me day and had a whole plan for what he would do with our kids so I didn't have to worry about it. Can you give your wife one day this month?

Because I am so burned out, I often think I just want to quit my job - but if I'm quite honest with myself, I probably only need a day or two and I would feel a lot better.

If you figure something out - please post it! I'd love to know if you find something helpful.



« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 11:13:03 AM by StarBright »

Malkynn

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 10:42:23 AM »
I was thinking of posting something very similar recently so just know that you are not alone! We are also similar in our stage of life and how our jobs are complementary - his has the good benefits (health insurance, a good match for his retirement, cheap college for kids), mine has the good pay. It makes it very hard for either one of us to quit.

This may sound like it is coming out of left field - but - could the time of year be contributing to your feelings?

A couple of years ago I realized that every February I start to think about quitting my job. You get through Christmas break (which, while magical with kids, is never an actual break) and then you jump right back into the school/winter slog and it is cold and it sucks. I actually wrote myself an email this year (via FutureMe) to remind myself that Feb sucks every year, and to take it easy on myself. For me this usually means letting myself order take out and pay for activities for the kids. I also reminded myself to not make any big decisions. Last year we bought a puppy in February. Stress makes you make bad decisions :) Luckily our puppy is amazing.

I remind myself to hold out for April and sunshine and I always feel better by then.

In the meantime, do you have family nearby? If you do, take advantage! If not, I understand, we don't either. I would be the happiest woman on the planet if my husband picked a date on the calendar and told me to take a me day and had a whole plan for what he would do with our kids so I didn't have to worry about it. Can you give your wife one day this month?

Because I am so burned out, I often think I just want to quit my job - but if I'm quite honest with myself, I probably only need a day or two and I would feel a lot better.

If you figure something out - please post it! I'd love to know if you find something helpful.

Who not consistently book time off in February or March?

StarBright

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 10:46:22 AM »
I was thinking of posting something very similar recently so just know that you are not alone! We are also similar in our stage of life and how our jobs are complementary - his has the good benefits (health insurance, a good match for his retirement, cheap college for kids), mine has the good pay. It makes it very hard for either one of us to quit.

This may sound like it is coming out of left field - but - could the time of year be contributing to your feelings?

A couple of years ago I realized that every February I start to think about quitting my job. You get through Christmas break (which, while magical with kids, is never an actual break) and then you jump right back into the school/winter slog and it is cold and it sucks. I actually wrote myself an email this year (via FutureMe) to remind myself that Feb sucks every year, and to take it easy on myself. For me this usually means letting myself order take out and pay for activities for the kids. I also reminded myself to not make any big decisions. Last year we bought a puppy in February. Stress makes you make bad decisions :) Luckily our puppy is amazing.

I remind myself to hold out for April and sunshine and I always feel better by then.

In the meantime, do you have family nearby? If you do, take advantage! If not, I understand, we don't either. I would be the happiest woman on the planet if my husband picked a date on the calendar and told me to take a me day and had a whole plan for what he would do with our kids so I didn't have to worry about it. Can you give your wife one day this month?

Because I am so burned out, I often think I just want to quit my job - but if I'm quite honest with myself, I probably only need a day or two and I would feel a lot better.

If you figure something out - please post it! I'd love to know if you find something helpful.

Who not consistently book time off in February or March?

Great question! It is something I would love to do but my husband is a professor and I need to save my vacation days to cover kids sick/snow/school closing days. I also have a hard time getting vacation time approved.

Malkynn

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2019, 10:59:20 AM »
I was thinking of posting something very similar recently so just know that you are not alone! We are also similar in our stage of life and how our jobs are complementary - his has the good benefits (health insurance, a good match for his retirement, cheap college for kids), mine has the good pay. It makes it very hard for either one of us to quit.

This may sound like it is coming out of left field - but - could the time of year be contributing to your feelings?

A couple of years ago I realized that every February I start to think about quitting my job. You get through Christmas break (which, while magical with kids, is never an actual break) and then you jump right back into the school/winter slog and it is cold and it sucks. I actually wrote myself an email this year (via FutureMe) to remind myself that Feb sucks every year, and to take it easy on myself. For me this usually means letting myself order take out and pay for activities for the kids. I also reminded myself to not make any big decisions. Last year we bought a puppy in February. Stress makes you make bad decisions :) Luckily our puppy is amazing.

I remind myself to hold out for April and sunshine and I always feel better by then.

In the meantime, do you have family nearby? If you do, take advantage! If not, I understand, we don't either. I would be the happiest woman on the planet if my husband picked a date on the calendar and told me to take a me day and had a whole plan for what he would do with our kids so I didn't have to worry about it. Can you give your wife one day this month?

Because I am so burned out, I often think I just want to quit my job - but if I'm quite honest with myself, I probably only need a day or two and I would feel a lot better.

If you figure something out - please post it! I'd love to know if you find something helpful.

Who not consistently book time off in February or March?

Great question! It is something I would love to do but my husband is a professor and I need to save my vacation days to cover kids sick/snow/school closing days. I also have a hard time getting vacation time approved.

That also doesn't sound sustainable.
I would be actively looking for opportunities to engineer your life so that you can consistently get time off this time of year.

If you don't have enough vacation days, can you not take unpaid time off? Can you make it clear to your employer than time off this time of year is a priority for you and that you are willing to work with them to make it work?

If it's a consistent problem for you, then there must be a consistent and workable solution if it really would improve your overall well being every year not to go through this phase of fatigue.


mxt0133

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2019, 11:07:09 AM »
I feel your pain.  I have a very low tolerance for pain so the way I handled this similar situation was to first clearly identify what your priorities are, hopefully with the input of your spouse and go from there.  Too many kids activities, get creative on how to get them there, ask other parent to car pool where you take their kids Mondays and they take your kids Tuesdays.  Get everyone involved and ask you kids to also come up with solutions, one time my kid straight out said I don't love [blank activity] that much so that was cut out of our schedule.

As for the parents, I hate to sound cruel, but it's not your problem.  You can be there for moral support but if you can't take Tuesday afternoon off to get them to an appointment let them know, I sure they will figure it out.  Another solution is to move away form them as possible and visit once or twice a year, that was a semi-joke (it's what my wife and did).

But seriously slow down spend time with your kids and that doesn't mean driving them around like you're their personal Uber.  I grew up very differently from how I'm raising my kids, I had to take a bus for an hour if I wanted to go to martial arts class and stopped when winter came.  So I have no qualms about telling my kids no to activities or events that they want to do.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2019, 01:32:51 PM »
I guess, as someone above pointed out, you actually havenít mentioned issues with work and you acknowledge that your wife needs the work for the benefits for the family. So your options there are limited unless you want to change your situation up and get the job that has healthcare, but youíve been on your own journey for meaningful work.

The issue it seems are managing the kids, and Iím not sure what more you can do except ban the extra curriculars, but how can you reasonably do that?

Solution: facepunch. This is your life and will be for the next 10 years or so and then, when your wife is around 50, you both should probably be able to retire completely. Thatís not that bad or that long. It has you getting out of the game 17-20 years before most people. Wow! Thatís amazing! What an accomplishment. When you decided to have one kid, then another, you kinda made a pact that itís no longer about you guys, itís about the kids. Sometimes, you canít have it all at once. And you generally canít have it all without some sacrifice. If you want to cut that 10 year wait down, it might mean making changes to radically bring in more income, thatís really your only other option.

As for the parents, both of you should read the book, Co Dependent No More. Youíre not responsible for grown adults and any decision to take on their problems is your choice, not their burden to you. You can chose differently.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 04:08:51 PM by MrThatsDifferent »

CNM

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2019, 02:05:18 PM »
I can relate to this! It is hard to juggle 2 full time jobs and kids.  Unless you guys can make the numbers work to either retire, take a large pay cut via part-time employment, or something else, it looks like you're stuck with it. 

The suggestion of hiring a nanny/babysitter to do the shuttling to and fro is a good idea.  Or  find another parent with a kid on the team to split up that duty.  It is really unnecessary for parents to be present at practices.  At games- ok, maybe you want to be there for those - but not practices. 

I'd also look into other jobs.  You or your wife might be able to find employment with higher wages, more flexible schedules, or something else more workable.  It is also not unheard of for attorneys to take sabbaticals.  It's rare (it was more common back in the day) and it tended to happen at larger firms.  But maybe one or both of you can take a temporary leave of absence to recharge your batteries?

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2019, 05:58:31 PM »
I feel your pain.  A few years further on here - 2 kids in high school, 5 parents or step-parents between us with various health issues, a sibling with addiction, etc. The folks who say not to let the extended family affect you probably haven't been where you are. I think it's natural to want to assist parents during health crises, if you are able, and if you're talking to them every day it definitely adds to your stress. Our connection with family is very important. Having said all that - if they all live close by, are able-bodied, and need money, can you "hire" one or more of them to drive the kids once or twice a week? Caring's a two-way street.

Full disclosure - I've worked part-time since giving birth, and it's still stressful. I don't know how 2 full-time parents of multiple kids manage without some kind of paid help, or help from family (or without burning out, like you).  My vote would be to cut expenses, downsize the house, or re-organize in whatever way is feasible without dropping further into debt, in order to gain back a sense of space and time to breathe. Your kids will thank you because you will be so much nicer to be around.

mm1970

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2019, 06:35:23 PM »
I feel your pain too.  We are a bit older (late 40's early 50's).  Kids early elementary and middle school.

Here's how I cope.  When I'm really bummed out ...

I take the time off.  I take PTO.  I cut out early to do kid stuff.  I let stuff slide at home.  I run.  A LOT.  I make sure to get 8+ hours of sleep.  I make sure to eat healthfully, exercise regularly, crochet (it's meditative). Sometimes, there are 2-3 months where I'm phoning it in at work (not literally, just doing a mediocre amount).

So, outsourcing.  It doesn't help with the $ thing, but it does help with the stress thing.  What can you outsource?   We have outsourced cleaning and half the grocery shopping.  We have outsourced some cooking (Friday night is always frozen pizza.  Weds is always chicken fingers.)

Activities: my kids don't do much.  Big kid did 3 years of baseball and quit.  It's glorious!  Spouse asked if we should sign up 1st grader.  WTF NO!!  he's not interested, and neither am I if you expect me to take him to practice 3x a week.  So, my kid activities: Kid 1 still plays flute, once per week for 2 hours, and practices at home.  No sports.  He's got daily PE and goes for bike rides on weekends.  Kid 2 loves swimming. We take him to the pool 1-2x a week.

An alternative, if your kids really dig their activities, is to hire someone to do that for you.  Or, if you'd rather do that job, then outsource something else, like cooking.  To be honest, it got to the point for sports where only one of us would go to games, and for practices - we'd drop him off and go back in 2 hours.

I also cut my hours when the kids were very little, so that may be an option if your workplaces are open to it.  Even working from home here and there can be helpful.

Also: vacation time. For me, I need time off every 3 months.  At least a long weekend.  President's day weekend, spring break in March, are a given.  I usually feel refreshed after that.

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2019, 05:48:32 AM »
You have divorced parents. Surely one of them has beef enough with the other to want to be the "good" grandparent and take your kid to their activities. Casually mention that you need help and you were thinking of asking a grandparent and jeez that ex of theirs isn;t that involved in your kid's life. You could end up with all of them driving!!

I feel your pain. We are a 2 worker family now since Jan 1 after 11 years of having a SAHP at home. It's been rough. My job is demanding and unpredictable. I take call and I never know when I will be home or not. Oldest kid is kind of old enough (although not responsible enough) to be at home with the other 2 for an hour or two in the afternoons. But it's required a ton of adjusting on everyone's part and I've been trying to manage our now really crazy combined schedules, multiple dr appts, and keep it all from falling apart. I had it the other day when they cancelled school for weather and we had no childcare to help and pretty much told my DH he had to help organize or none of us were going to survive.
I'm not sure what the solution is other than take solace in the fact that most families are struggling like this? I feel embarrassed almost that I've not had to deal with this until now and had no idea how much of a hassle it was for others. We don't have a single family member within 1000 miles of us. My kid's medical conditions kind of tie us here so I don't see that improving any time soon either. Eventually they will grow up, my stashe will grow then I'll be old and worn out and retire and die.


Nick_Miller

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2019, 09:41:42 AM »
Thanks for the very gentle and empathetic responses! (I think I only got one face punch?)

Short-term, I think things will get better now that my oldest's sports season is winding down. We'll have a much easier next seven months before it ramps up again in the fall. That will help some.

And generally speaking, we run a peaceful and efficient household. Kids help with things like yard, dishes, garbage, cleaning up after dinner, sweeping/vacuuming, etc. They do a pretty good job, too. We have a cleaning service come in once per month for the heavy cleaning stuff.

It's mostly just the grind. Like I said, for the past 4-5 months, for one of us it's been: get up at 5:30 and not get home until around 8:00 at night. That sucks. By the time the kids are in bed, that gives us like 60 minutes or less to be together before bed. Weekends are obviously a lot better.

I don't think this is seasonal (other than the sports schedule stuff). Winter has been very mild and I've already noticed more daylight after work hours.

I think we are just both tired of commuting (about 20 minutes each way for each of us, so not horrible) and spending 9 hours a day in offices. It's that simple. People might say, "That's life," but that doesn't stop it from being a grind. Plus, I am trying to get my writing side hussle off the ground, which requires at least 10 hours per week (and really I need to put more than that into it).

I think when we hit $500K NW, we will have more options. My wife and I talked last night for a bit, and we're on the same page. I don't want to count on certain % of returns in a short period of time, but once we get our stache into the $300Ks, I feel like it will hopefully start doing more of the heavy lifting growthwise.

We are not super frugal, but we're not huge spenders either. We like to read and take walks and watch stuff on Netflix. I like to write. Our mortgage is reasonable ($900), and both of our cars will be paid off in May. We have no credit card debt. If we retired early, our biggest expenses would be mortgage and health care, which is the real issue. We are in our forever home, and we'll let the kids stay here during college.

I don't want to "Fast Forward" the next 7.5 years while both kiddos are in public school. We want to have a good, balanced life. If we could even just each work 30 hours per week (maybe three 8s, and one 6 where we leave at 3PM) that would be perfect. But I probably wouldn't earn any bonuses then, and my salary would go down. And my wife wouldn't be eligible for health insurance as a part-time worker, so that just seems like a non-starter.

Again, I appreciate all the empathy.

Lews Therin

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2019, 10:29:46 AM »
I'd like to gently point out that your reasonable mortgage is more money than the average american makes in 20 years. :D

Nick_Miller

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2019, 10:33:40 AM »
I'd like to gently point out that your reasonable mortgage is more money than the average american makes in 20 years. :D

No no no lol I was quoting our MONTHLY payment of $900. Our overall mortgage debt is about $120,000. We have about $80K in equity, it's worth about $200K

StarBright

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2019, 10:34:16 AM »
For what it is worth, you are also near the bottom of the Happiness U Curve:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/may/05/happiness-curve-life-gets-better-after-50-jonathan-rauch

So you are about to start an upswing :)

Lews Therin

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2019, 10:36:31 AM »
I'd like to gently point out that your reasonable mortgage is more money than the average american makes in 20 years. :D

No no no lol I was quoting our MONTHLY payment of $900. Our overall mortgage debt is about $120,000. We have about $80K in equity, it's worth about $200K

Thank god, I had so many questions about your FIRE at 500k+ and a mortgage for 900k.

Samsies on housing! (or close enough)

mm1970

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2019, 10:44:00 AM »
Quote
It's mostly just the grind. Like I said, for the past 4-5 months, for one of us it's been: get up at 5:30 and not get home until around 8:00 at night. That sucks. By the time the kids are in bed, that gives us like 60 minutes or less to be together before bed. Weekends are obviously a lot better.

Yeah, this is sucky. 
My company you are eligible for benefits if you are > 30 hours a week.  Might be worth it to check on that.

We've definitely had months on end where we are essentially roommates.  We get zero adult time together at night.  I go to sleep before the kids, and 2 hours before husband.  Then he travels, gets sick, works late etc.  It takes effort to pull ourselves out of that and go for a lunch date or a walk now and then, to reconnect.  Or just have a morning where I'm not up and out at 5 am to go to the gym.

But it's obv worth the effort.

CNM

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2019, 04:41:48 PM »
Given what you've said about your schedules, I really suggest that either or both of you look for other jobs.  Maybe you'll find something or maybe not, but it's worth a shot.  Working from 5:30am - 8pm day in and day out is HORRIBLE.  I'm an attorney too and, unless I'm in trial which comes around only a few times a year, I never work hours like that and I would definitely prefer a cut in salary to avoid those hours.

Dee18

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2019, 05:12:04 PM »
Consider giving the children more responsibility.  A seven or eighth grader can be responsible for 1-getting up on time, 2-making a lunch the night before if it is needed, and 3-cooking dinner one night a week. My daughter called me from her first week of college to tell me that in jr high and high school she just assumed all kids did laundry, since she did.  At college she was teaching others how to do it.
 When the driving to sports is 3x per week, consider hiring a responsible young adult to do it.  Several of my students (in graduate level professional school) have such jobs.  They drive the kids where they need to go and sit and study while the activity is happening.  Since they donít have to actively babysit, they are willing to do it for fairly modest pay.

11ducks

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2019, 03:25:28 AM »
I feel your pain. Its tough to be on the right path but so far away from the point where all your hard work comes to fruition! Plus it sucks to slog through the week for a few hours of peace on the weekend.

The only thing that I've found helps is making time for my passion - I get up at 430am a few times a week to indulge in the martial art I love. Its expensive and I spend a lot of time black and blue, but injecting a little bit of my passion into my weeks makes it more bearable. Without it, I'm still exhausted throughout the week anyway, so I figured, why not?

Poundwise

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2019, 05:26:53 AM »
Another +1 on carpooling or dropping activities.

I'm a SAHP (was WAHP, quit) but I hear you on kid activities and needy parents. One day about three years ago I realized I had spent 5 hours in the car just driving kids around. It was insane (and supremely anti-Mustachian).  I did some hard thinking and the next year, I had my oldest son drop a couple of activities, and I also haven't been scheduling the younger kids in much at all.

My son was not happy about losing music lessons, but on the other hand, he didn't practice that much, so I think it was a fair decision. We've been talking on and off about starting again, but he has packed his schedule so much with after school sports etc (which are free and walkable) that I don't know how music would fit. I was also very happy to see travel soccer go, though we carpooled so much that we only saw a couple games a season.

seemsright

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2019, 08:00:58 AM »
It is time to rethink your entire lifestyle. If time is what you are after then do what is needed to get that time.

You need to pull your bank accounts and figure out where you could cut cost wise. I am willing to bet the tax cost alone of one of you working will be pretty high. Then you have commute costs, clothing costs, the I am tired I am picking up coffee or dinner on the way home, the I do not have time so I pay someone to clean my house, I can buy the prechopped veggies from the store, I do not have time so I buy canned beans and quick rice....etc I can go on forever with this concept.

My point being when both parents are working the costs are crazy high. Just like I do not have to buy as many clothes because I am at home and I can do a load of wash as needed. My kid has 12 outfits total. She does not need more. She is 8 and likes to not be overwhelmed by choice. I do buy more toilet paper since I am home. So keep that in mind.

When there is a will there most likely a way. Even if that is big things like going down to one car, changes housing etc. You and your wife need to look at the entire picture not just the $ at the end of the month. I can tell you when hubby and I ran the numbers like above we were in the hole ($3600) a year. We decided I was going to stay at home with the kid who is now 8 and support our life and his career and it has been amazing...hard but amazing.

Malkynn

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2019, 08:12:33 AM »
It is time to rethink your entire lifestyle. If time is what you are after then do what is needed to get that time.

You need to pull your bank accounts and figure out where you could cut cost wise. I am willing to bet the tax cost alone of one of you working will be pretty high. Then you have commute costs, clothing costs, the I am tired I am picking up coffee or dinner on the way home, the I do not have time so I pay someone to clean my house, I can buy the prechopped veggies from the store, I do not have time so I buy canned beans and quick rice....etc I can go on forever with this concept.

My point being when both parents are working the costs are crazy high. Just like I do not have to buy as many clothes because I am at home and I can do a load of wash as needed. My kid has 12 outfits total. She does not need more. She is 8 and likes to not be overwhelmed by choice. I do buy more toilet paper since I am home. So keep that in mind.

When there is a will there most likely a way. Even if that is big things like going down to one car, changes housing etc. You and your wife need to look at the entire picture not just the $ at the end of the month. I can tell you when hubby and I ran the numbers like above we were in the hole ($3600) a year. We decided I was going to stay at home with the kid who is now 8 and support our life and his career and it has been amazing...hard but amazing.

Bingo.

I always like to remind people that money isn't actually anything in and of itself. Alone, it is utterly meaningless.

Money is actually a representation of time and energy and doesn't have a constant relationship with either. Each changes in terms of relative importance depending on how much you have available to you.

Some days, when you are absolutely exhausted, you would happily hand over more money that you are being paid in order to not be at work.

The relationship is fluid and only you can decide how to define it, and what trades are worth making.

A good Mustachian isn't someone who maximizes the money ratio, a good Mustachian learns how to make every single time/energy/money trade off a good deal.

You are burning out because you are making BAD TRADES. once you start having a better understanding of the trade off values of different time/energy, you will be much better equipped to make better trades.

For example, for most people, the bottom 30 hours of a work week are a pretty solid trade for their functional hourly rate of pay. Every 5 hour increment above that becomes more and more expensive in terms of trade off, so the relative value of that income drops precipitously. Therefore, a 50-60hr work week is typically a bad trade for most.

Likewise, almost everyone naturally understands the premium on the value of weekend hours, and won't agree to work then without a substantial pay off. It's the same concept.

Re-examine your valuations, adjust your exchanges accordingly.  Your valuation system is CLEARLY out of whack.

MayDay

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2019, 09:03:46 AM »
We are in a fairly similar place. The main difference is that I just went back to FT work 2 years ago. So I have before and after data :)

For us we spent about 4k with just my H working, and 6-7k now. The costs of convenience are high. I love my job and make enough that our higher spend is well worth it. But maybe it isn't for you.

That said, consider dropping activities. Your kids will be fine. Or put out an email to the team and say Jr. Can only play next year if someone can help with the driving. We had a kid almost quit boy scouts and a SAHM in the group volunteered to drive him home from every meeting, so his parents just have to drop him off and not stay.

Also, with the I'll parents, it's ok to have boundaries! Or figure out time savers- call them every day as you drive to or from work.  Force the issue of them moving if household maintenance is an issue. Etc.

Tuskalusa

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2019, 09:36:05 AM »
We were in a similar place about 3 years ago when our son was in 4th grade. The activities, school holidays, volunteer commitments, and general chaos of raising kids was killing us. For what itís worth, hereís what we did.

My husband found a new job that gave him a raise.

I saw my opportunity and quit my high-paying tech job.

I spent about 6 months at home. It was glorious. But eventually, I got slightly bored and found a part time job at a 90% pay cut. But it got me out of the house about 20 hours a week.

During this time of limited cash flow, I adopted the policy of ďIím not paying to fight about going to activities. I can argue with my family for free.Ē  We cut all activities that didnít bring us joy. (No more baseball. No more Kumon. No more after school programs and camps that we donít like.) Our boy now does band at school and flag football 2 days per week. Thatís it. Itís cheaper, and heís happier. Weíre all happier.

Over the course of the last two years, Iíve gotten comfortable with downtime. Itís ok for my kid to be bored. Itís ok for us to sit around on a weekend and watch Netflix for a bit.

Iíve also learned thatís its ok for me to just spend time focusing on my home, my family, and myself. Iíve cut a lot of the volunteering I used to do at school. I realized that I can do my share, but I donít have to do everyoneís share. I donít have to be perfect.

So I guess what Iím saying is take a look at your family life and make sure youíre doing things because you want to, and not because you need to. For me,it was very easy for me to get swept up in what my kid should be doing and what I should be doing. After 3 Years, we are happy that we cut back.



Beach_Stache

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2019, 05:22:24 AM »
I would enlist the grandparents to help out.  I used to feel guilty about asking parents to help w/our kids, now I try to do it regularly.  The more they are engaged, the closer they will feel to your kids and you, the more they will have a sense of life and feel like they are contributing.  One of our kids grandparents used to work the grind, retired and now doesn't do much.  It takes a bit to get her out of her rut, and she tries to make excuses not to help out, but we just keep asking, and eventually she gives in, then has fun while she's doing it.  So I would certainly try to get them to help w/easy to do things (i.e. sitting in a lawn chair and reading a book while your kids are at practice).  That takes no skill other than knowing how to tell time and how to drive.

I would try to cut down on some/any of the activities that are really not filling your child's cup.  Many parents over-schedule their kids b/c they're trying to keep up.  If your kid isn't particularly fond of something, ask them if they want to drop it.  I think it's good to have kids try things, and great if they really have a passion for all things, but generally they have 1 or 2 things that they really enjoy.  I'm sure they could cut something back though.

Try to do some teleworking.  I'm not sure if your jobs allow for that or if it's possible.  My wife and I both telework full time and have 3 young boys.  I don't know how you normal people who go into the office do it each day...  I save hours each day not having to drive, dress, groom, etc.  I can re-invest that time in work and other things.  If I'm on a conference call I can drop clothes in the laundry or unload the dishwasher.  You can't do that going into an office each day.  I find that my "work" is way more productive, although I miss out on the office politics (mostly a good thing), but I am out of sight out of mind to leadership, which can be a career killer.  Overall though it's helped work/life balance.

Try to figure a cost to the work, commute, etc.  Maybe a $20k cut would work for a full time telework job or career change, not sure?  I know that raising kids w/tons of activities is very difficult.  I am out of the house Tue-Thurs all night during Winter, Mon-Thurs all night during Fall/Spring, so we don't get much break either.  Doing things during these events that fill your cup also help, like maybe going for a run during kids practice, reading a book, socializing w/other parents, listening to a podcast, doing yoga. 

Finding ways to multi-task w/kid activities is super important.  When my son plays his basketball games, I watch when he's in, then I read on my phone when he's on the bench :)  Filling that gap time w/kid events is super important though and helpful to an over-scheduled calendar.

civil4life

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2019, 11:27:29 AM »
My employer just changes the percentage they will pay of the health insurance.  So if you took one day off or 20% less time, they require you to pay 20% more of the premium.

I am not sure which of you is a professor, especially during those busy seasons teach less courses or are you able to set your class schedule time?  Is it possible to get some TAs to take over some of the grading or even some teaching.

When I was kid I was packing my lunch in elementary school and cleaning one room.  Within a few years my siblings and I were each responsible for dusting and vacuuming a room a week, setting table, doing the dishes, take out trash, etc.  I started mowing our lawn at 10. 

My sister limits my niece to one sport per season.  Also growing up I went to a high school about 20 minutes from home.  I played softball and there was 3 of us that lived close so our parents then us as we were allowed to drive rotated driving.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #33 on: February 11, 2019, 11:13:54 AM »
I appreciate all the brainstorming!

It's just not realistic for either of us to stay home right now. She makes $60K, plus awesome health insurance, plus 401k matching, plus she even gets a vehicle allowance each month because she has to drive some for her job. We just can't give that up right now. Her staying at home and not buying as many clothes or cooking from scratch more wouldn't even put a 5% dent in the lost income.

We had a long talked and crunched numbers this weekend. We're going to try to give each other a night off more often. That will help.

And I want to clarify about the "not getting home until 8PM thing." That was because of my daughter's sports schedule, not because of work. We both generally leave work at 5PM. So it's not like either of us works for a taskmaster. But even with reasonable hours and reasonable commutes, it's still a grind. (I know other people have busier schedules, so that's why in my OP I admitted this might sound like whining).

We are both on board for just plowing through until we hit $500K NW. But this thread is a reminder that we do have options, if we choose to tweak our lives at some point. But it's funny; neither of us drive a clown car. Our house is reasonable. Our commutes are reasonable. We have a good marriage. Our kids are great. Our jobs pay well. And we're still stressed.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #34 on: February 11, 2019, 01:21:43 PM »

But it's funny; neither of us drive a clown car. Our house is reasonable. Our commutes are reasonable. We have a good marriage. Our kids are great. Our jobs pay well. And we're still stressed.

Oh, so youíre human. Congrats. Who do you know lives a stress free life? I doubt anyone. If normal, relatively healthy and generally fine is the worst of your stress, youíre doing great. Maybe keep a gratitude journal to keep reminding yourself how good life is, while still trying to find tiny solutions to optimize and improve. It can always get better, just keep in perspective and if you ever lose that perspective, volunteer at a homeless shelter for a day.

Malkynn

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #35 on: February 11, 2019, 01:57:10 PM »

But it's funny; neither of us drive a clown car. Our house is reasonable. Our commutes are reasonable. We have a good marriage. Our kids are great. Our jobs pay well. And we're still stressed.

Oh, so youíre human. Congrats. Who do you know lives a stress free life? I doubt anyone. If normal, relatively healthy and generally fine is the worst of your stress, youíre doing great. Maybe keep a gratitude journal to keep reminding yourself how good life is, while still trying to find tiny solutions to optimize and improve. It can always get better, just keep in perspective and if you ever lose that perspective, volunteer at a homeless shelter for a day.

I'm gonna go ahead and totally, completely, and utterly go against the sentiment behind your post.

I agree with the "oh, so you're human part", but that's because I think that almost any dual working couple with their kid in sports is likely to be bloody exhausted.

He can be grateful for how great his life is and still feel run down and shitty. In fact, I think it's this absurd mentality that being exhausted is normal that drives people to continue on in these lives that are possibly unnecessarily tiresome.

If that level of income and their daughter's sports truly are their very top priorities, then yeah, they need to suck it up and accept the costs of the trade offs they've chosen to make and be grateful for the opportunities to achieve their goals.

However, I doubt that someone posts a thread like this if they are truly on their best path and living their best life. If not, then sucking it up and focusing on gratitude can actually be tremendously bad for mental health.

No one needs to feel grateful for feeling shitty. That's illogical.

OP: If your wife could make an extra 60K working an extra 40 hours a week, would she? Would you think it unreasonable for her not to?
No! Obviously not!

So saying that she must, as a given, work the first 40 hours a week for the first 60K is an equally nonsense concept.

She only needs to work 40 hours a week if the trade off in terms of time/energy/money actually makes sense for your family. If it doesn't, then change it because it's a bad trade.
Everything is a trade off.

It's not that your wife "can't" quit, it's that you have collectively decided that her time and energy are worth the income. It's an active choice you've made, not a passive parameter within which you live.

The life you are living is exhausting *because* it's normal and normal life seems to be pretty exhausting. You may need to live exceptionally in order to overcome that normal reality, which is where I agree with MrThatsDifferent, because you shouldn't expect your life not to be exhausting. You've chosen a normal, exhausting life.

Don't fall into the knee-jerk reaction of thinking "oh no, we can't even consider that option because on the face it seems unreasonable" because sometimes, those trade offs are actually amazing deals.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 01:59:00 PM by Malkynn »

cats

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2019, 02:27:40 PM »


But it's funny; neither of us drive a clown car. Our house is reasonable. Our commutes are reasonable. We have a good marriage. Our kids are great. Our jobs pay well. And we're still stressed.

All of this stuff is relative.  The people you are comparing to are likely also stressed out and maybe in even worse straits financially.  To figure out what your low-stress and on-track-for-FIRE lifestyle looks like, you need to stop comparing yourself about people who are no way going to FIRE and may not ever get to just plain old R before 70.

As an example, my husband and I have one car between us.  To us, having a second car would be an outrageous level of spending and having a lifestyle that necessitates it sounds pretty awful to me right now.  But for many families, it's totally normal/reasonable to have two cars.  Well, it's also normal and "reasonable" to work into your 60s and maybe not even be able to fully retire then, so...who cares what those people think is normal?

How flexible are your work arrangements regarding work-from-home days?  When my husband and I each added a work from home day each week I found it helped a lot with cutting stress.  Getting into the office (even with a reasonable commute) is kind of draining.  Not having to do it once during the week frees up a little time to stay on top of housework or even just have a lunch break that is truly a break (I can take a 20 min nap if I need it!). 

robartsd

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2019, 02:51:48 PM »
Overall, it sounds like you're feeling all the normal mid-life stresses. How, I wish I had a concept of retiring early through frugal living before I was an adult instead of picking it up in my mid-30's.

After school activities sound like your biggest time issue - and you're still a few years away from outsourcing this to your kid. Can you find other parents with kids in the same programs to help each other out with the shuttling of kids back and forth?

J Boogie

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #38 on: February 11, 2019, 03:49:49 PM »
We have recently developed this commonly held societal norm that children cannot be unattended.

They can't really go and play at a park with kids in their neighborhood anymore. They have to be escorted to and from by an adult to be around other children with an adult supervising.

It's a shame, because I'd be happy being a free range parent but not enough to deal with the pushback. I'd be interested in my kids playing independently, but not really interested in being a pioneer of the movement.


Cassie

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #39 on: February 11, 2019, 04:35:20 PM »
No more than 1 activity per child. Easy meals some days such as grilled cheese and soup, frozen pizza, deli chicken and sides. My mom helped me with the kids and in return I would take care of my dad who very sick occasionally.

Poundwise

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #40 on: February 11, 2019, 08:47:54 PM »
The life you are living is exhausting *because* it's normal and normal life seems to be pretty exhausting. You may need to live exceptionally in order to overcome that normal reality, which is where I agree with MrThatsDifferent, because you shouldn't expect your life not to be exhausting. You've chosen a normal, exhausting life.

Don't fall into the knee-jerk reaction of thinking "oh no, we can't even consider that option because on the face it seems unreasonable" because sometimes, those trade offs are actually amazing deals.

I agree!  Before we cut down on activities, it felt as if we were constantly being forced to eat a turkey, steak dinner, entire chocolate cake, ice cream, and three kinds of pie at every meal and clean our plates. And it felt as if we refused to take the cake, for instance, it would be removed and then we could never have cake again.  It got better for a while, but now our plates are gradually filling up again.

At the risk of over-extrapolating, I think this frantic feeling that even upper middle class families have is a function of the lack of a safety net, and dare I say it? income inequality.  We fear that if our kids don't excel in at least two activities, that they will miss out on the top colleges, the scholarships, and the plum jobs. And I don't have an answer for this problem.

Feel free to let me know if I'm way off base on some of your reluctance to slow things down a bit. 

Malkynn

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #41 on: February 12, 2019, 06:07:47 AM »
The life you are living is exhausting *because* it's normal and normal life seems to be pretty exhausting. You may need to live exceptionally in order to overcome that normal reality, which is where I agree with MrThatsDifferent, because you shouldn't expect your life not to be exhausting. You've chosen a normal, exhausting life.

Don't fall into the knee-jerk reaction of thinking "oh no, we can't even consider that option because on the face it seems unreasonable" because sometimes, those trade offs are actually amazing deals.

I agree!  Before we cut down on activities, it felt as if we were constantly being forced to eat a turkey, steak dinner, entire chocolate cake, ice cream, and three kinds of pie at every meal and clean our plates. And it felt as if we refused to take the cake, for instance, it would be removed and then we could never have cake again.  It got better for a while, but now our plates are gradually filling up again.

At the risk of over-extrapolating, I think this frantic feeling that even upper middle class families have is a function of the lack of a safety net, and dare I say it? income inequality.  We fear that if our kids don't excel in at least two activities, that they will miss out on the top colleges, the scholarships, and the plum jobs. And I don't have an answer for this problem.

Feel free to let me know if I'm way off base on some of your reluctance to slow things down a bit.

Is that why you guys all have your kids in multiple activities? For college??

That finally makes sense.
I was wondering what was up with like, every American on this board having kids in organized activities. It's just not that common among my friend group.

Sure, a lot of kids up here are on insane traveling hockey teams, but usually the whole family is obsessed with hockey. It's not unusual though for non-hockey kids here to be in absolutely no organized activities, even among wealthier families.

That's probably because our universities don't require anything for admissions other than highschool grades, no essays or letters of recommendation or anything.

Mystery solved.
I was really wondering about all of the activities...

Unique User

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #42 on: February 12, 2019, 07:20:34 AM »
DD always wanted to do every club at school, but we tried to limit after school activities to one at a time.  She also played a sport through middle and high school.  I always found parents that wanted to carpool so I could limit pick up to 1-2 days a week.  Most parents are as burned out as you and would welcome a break also.  Do your schools offer activity buses?  DD never wanted to take it as it was a long bus ride, but my standard response to her in middle school was asking whether what she wanted to do was worth her taking the activity bus.  Our high school has block scheduling so club meetings and extra teacher help are during lunch, which I love. 

No answer on getting up so early, that won't end until they graduate or schools have later starts.
 DD is a senior and I am super excited to be at the end of having to get up at 6 am every morning.

Not sure what you do, but is there any possibility of remote work?  The large megacorp I used to work for had a standard policy of allowing 2 days a week remote.     

NonprofitER

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #43 on: February 12, 2019, 07:59:38 AM »
Lots of great suggestions so far. I think most families struggle with these same issues (time, peak work life phase during kid-raising years).

My husband works long hours (12-13 hr shifts as a hospital, ICU/helicopter RN) and I have worked as a nonprofit ED (not exactly silicon valley level stress, but a lot of hours and not high pay).  When our child entered 1st grade, something had to shift for us. The 5pm - 10pm window just felt too rushed and too focused on logistics (DINNER! BATH! BEDTIME!).   

I managed to start nonprofit consulting from home and now work 30 - 40 hrs a week, but with the benefit of being able to pick up our daughter when she gets out of school at 3pm. Even if I have to take a call or work more after I pick her up, its much lower key than before and the afterschool activities don't feel like an intrusion because there's still downtime for her (and me).  My pay is roughly equal to what I was making, which is to say, it hasn't grown, but hasn't fallen either.

Of my closest female friends who are also caregiving for 1 - 3 children, about 60% of them have found ways to either decrease working hours to 30 - 35 hours a week, or put themselves into a position where they're location flexible (esp after 3pm).

I think even if your wife (or you) were able to leave work at 4pm or 3:30pm, it would do wonders for your family balance, without sacrificing earning years.

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #44 on: February 12, 2019, 08:02:10 AM »

Is that why you guys all have your kids in multiple activities? For college??

That finally makes sense.
I was wondering what was up with like, every American on this board having kids in organized activities. It's just not that common among my friend group.

Sure, a lot of kids up here are on insane traveling hockey teams, but usually the whole family is obsessed with hockey. It's not unusual though for non-hockey kids here to be in absolutely no organized activities, even among wealthier families.

That's probably because our universities don't require anything for admissions other than highschool grades, no essays or letters of recommendation or anything.

Mystery solved.
I was really wondering about all of the activities...

I'd say that that is a large part of it. Certainly any top 50 (and probably top 100) University is going to expect several extra curriculars on top of excellent grades. If you want to get into a "good" school you start plotting your activities when you are probably 12-13. Which means that you start testing out a bunch of activities to find your natural talents in your elementary school years.

I'm an early 80's baby and when I was applying for colleges, if you were going to anything other than the local state U (or if you wanted a large scholarship from state U), it was standard knowledge that you needed to have an arts activity, a sport, a volunteer activity and at least one academic extra activity (student council, debate, quiz bowl, student paper etc). Granted, in the late 90's/early aughts those things would usually also get you a scholarship as long as you were in the top 10 or so of your class.  Now they just get you into the school but usually don't get you much money.

It is also just part of the culture for middle class people, especially with two working parents. When everyone puts their kids in activities, that is the only way for your kid to socialize.

We were very anti-activity when we first had kids, but we found they never had anyone to socialize with because everyone else was in activities. So we started a few activities too.

Malkynn

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #45 on: February 12, 2019, 08:48:47 AM »
I'd say that that is a large part of it. Certainly any top 50 (and probably top 100) University is going to expect several extra curriculars on top of excellent grades. If you want to get into a "good" school you start plotting your activities when you are probably 12-13. Which means that you start testing out a bunch of activities to find your natural talents in your elementary school years.

I'm an early 80's baby and when I was applying for colleges, if you were going to anything other than the local state U (or if you wanted a large scholarship from state U), it was standard knowledge that you needed to have an arts activity, a sport, a volunteer activity and at least one academic extra activity (student council, debate, quiz bowl, student paper etc). Granted, in the late 90's/early aughts those things would usually also get you a scholarship as long as you were in the top 10 or so of your class.  Now they just get you into the school but usually don't get you much money.

It is also just part of the culture for middle class people, especially with two working parents. When everyone puts their kids in activities, that is the only way for your kid to socialize.

We were very anti-activity when we first had kids, but we found they never had anyone to socialize with because everyone else was in activities. So we started a few activities too.

Fuuuck.

Just reading your post tired me out. That seems like an absolutely insane amount of pressure on kids and families.
Between the effort to get in and the cost of your best schools, it all sounds overwhelming.

cats

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #46 on: February 12, 2019, 09:26:22 AM »
The life you are living is exhausting *because* it's normal and normal life seems to be pretty exhausting. You may need to live exceptionally in order to overcome that normal reality, which is where I agree with MrThatsDifferent, because you shouldn't expect your life not to be exhausting. You've chosen a normal, exhausting life.

Don't fall into the knee-jerk reaction of thinking "oh no, we can't even consider that option because on the face it seems unreasonable" because sometimes, those trade offs are actually amazing deals.

I agree!  Before we cut down on activities, it felt as if we were constantly being forced to eat a turkey, steak dinner, entire chocolate cake, ice cream, and three kinds of pie at every meal and clean our plates. And it felt as if we refused to take the cake, for instance, it would be removed and then we could never have cake again.  It got better for a while, but now our plates are gradually filling up again.

At the risk of over-extrapolating, I think this frantic feeling that even upper middle class families have is a function of the lack of a safety net, and dare I say it? income inequality.  We fear that if our kids don't excel in at least two activities, that they will miss out on the top colleges, the scholarships, and the plum jobs. And I don't have an answer for this problem.

Feel free to let me know if I'm way off base on some of your reluctance to slow things down a bit.

I definitely feel this.  I don't WANT my husband and I to both be working FT jobs indefinitely and I definitely worry about how that will impact our kid if it continues into starting primary school (he's 3 now).  But I also feel quite keenly that other people are working more and if we take ourselves off the income treadmill...it might not be a tidy little step off or simple speed reduction, we might also just get flung off into who knows what, as others continue to accumulate while we stay "still" or have drastically reduced income.  Does my kid need every little luxury in life?  No.  But I do want to be able to guarantee him healthcare, healthy food on the table, warm clothes, and a good shot at making his own way in life.  The income/wealth inequality in the US and lack of a social safety net means that if I don't provide that last thing for my kid, he could fall pretty damn far.  I read stuff like Tech is Splitting the US Work Force in Two or Helicopter Parenting is the Route to Success, and it definitely sets off a lot of anxiety for me.  So yeah, for all I am on here telling OP he needs to rethink his lifestyle and who he is comparing himself to, I can see myself falling into the exact same situation in another 5-10 years and TBH, part of me thinks maybe that would be the best outcome for my kid.  On the other hand, I see parents who are definitely working the career track harder than I am and I can see it's costing them in various ways (either in having a higher spend rate than we do or in health impacts, generally).

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #47 on: February 12, 2019, 09:47:46 AM »
I'd say that that is a large part of it. Certainly any top 50 (and probably top 100) University is going to expect several extra curriculars on top of excellent grades. If you want to get into a "good" school you start plotting your activities when you are probably 12-13. Which means that you start testing out a bunch of activities to find your natural talents in your elementary school years.

I'm an early 80's baby and when I was applying for colleges, if you were going to anything other than the local state U (or if you wanted a large scholarship from state U), it was standard knowledge that you needed to have an arts activity, a sport, a volunteer activity and at least one academic extra activity (student council, debate, quiz bowl, student paper etc). Granted, in the late 90's/early aughts those things would usually also get you a scholarship as long as you were in the top 10 or so of your class.  Now they just get you into the school but usually don't get you much money.

It is also just part of the culture for middle class people, especially with two working parents. When everyone puts their kids in activities, that is the only way for your kid to socialize.

We were very anti-activity when we first had kids, but we found they never had anyone to socialize with because everyone else was in activities. So we started a few activities too.

Fuuuck.

Just reading your post tired me out. That seems like an absolutely insane amount of pressure on kids and families.
Between the effort to get in and the cost of your best schools, it all sounds overwhelming.

We are really trying to figure this out right now, with two kids in middle school. Additionally, the amount of homework heaped on middle school kids (at least where we are, Silicon Valley) is ludicrous. I've followed up with the teachers before, & there explanation is always that the other parents are REQUESTING it. Blows my mind. What this means, unfortunately, is that if our kids aren't doing the same volume of homework, they are struggling more with the fast paced classes (because the other kids are studying so much). An example. My sons are both in advanced math (it's a tested in thing, we didn't ask for/push this). My youngest son is struggling, because they are crunching through the content so quickly. I asked a few friends, & they've been sending their kids to optional math "academies" three times a week for years. .. .Again, mind blown. So, we have the option of our son dropping advanced math (which, he doesn't want to do), creating extra study time (which, neither of us want to do), being okay with subpar grades (Cs), or some other solution we haven't stumbled upon yet. It's making me rethink our decision to keep the kids in the bay area. I hate the competition. I grew up in a small town, went to an adequate school, and ended up with this life. Why do the kids need to be pushed to excel at 11? I get so angry, but don't have any solutions

eudaimonia

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #48 on: February 12, 2019, 11:31:22 AM »
Thanks for posting this. You definitely aren't alone although our circumstance is slightly different. My wife and I are early 40s, one kiddo (preschool), and I work full time while she takes care of the kiddo and is doing her Masters in the evening.

The biggest challenge we have (and it sounds like you have a similar challenge) is work/life balance. When I say work I'm not just referring to the job - taking your kids to activities is work, cleaning the house is work, your job is work, commute is work, your side hustle is work, etc.

The main thing I've discussed with my wife is that we have to be the ones to set the limits and make space for us to "live". Also, the biggest pressure for more "work" isn't us or our kid - it's other parents and the expectations of the top 20% earners in the US to "always be on". However, we've determined that this lifestyle doesn't align with our values.

To balance things out, we are going to ensure that we continue "make space" as our son progresses through life. That means we look a bit different than the typical neighbor: 1) right now I do the minimum maintenance on our 30 year house - we are a bit a slum lord to ourselves, 2) we live very frugally so that we can pay our bills, wife goes to school, kid goes to daycare (no nearby parents), 3) we accept that our 60%+ savings rate from pre-kid is gone - if we save 20-30% I'm very ok with this. Our neighbors think we are super poor (we're not) and that is actually super freeing. They feel bad for us so they don't pressure us to have the latest new toy for our son and they certainly don't expect that we can pay for a raft of activities going forward. Awesome.

I can already see that slightly older kids in the neighborhood are getting into all sorts of toys, activities, etc. The pressure is immense but only if you decide to go along. We are ok with being the "weird family that doesn't take our kid to 27 different sports events a week". I don't plan to coach, if our son wants to go to an activity he can bike there (very MMM) or don't go. I remember being bored as a kid and my mom offered to "help" by giving me chores around the house. When did that get replaced with activities every evening until 8pm? Is that how you grew up? I certainly wasn't raised that way so why fix what wasn't broken?

But you might be thinking, "times have changed and we have to compete". We'll I think that's nonsense. This only benefits the institutions. We don't plan to "force" our son to go to college and we will help him lay out a plan to beat the rat race without being a rat (if he desires). If he wants to go I have confidence that he will find a way to make it happen (and we'll help a bit but we aren't going to hold his hand every step of the way).

Anyway, good luck with your decisions. To me it sounds like the problem is your expectations for your kids and activities, rather than work, but it really comes down to your objectives. Sit down with your wife and figure out a plan forward. We have ours. In 5 years we're dropping out of the rat race entirely, living in a van, and road schooling our son. Perfect life education on how to side step the system. 
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 11:34:48 AM by eudaimonia »

mm1970

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Re: Wife is tired of working, and frankly I am too. How to push through?
« Reply #49 on: February 12, 2019, 11:58:49 AM »
The life you are living is exhausting *because* it's normal and normal life seems to be pretty exhausting. You may need to live exceptionally in order to overcome that normal reality, which is where I agree with MrThatsDifferent, because you shouldn't expect your life not to be exhausting. You've chosen a normal, exhausting life.

Don't fall into the knee-jerk reaction of thinking "oh no, we can't even consider that option because on the face it seems unreasonable" because sometimes, those trade offs are actually amazing deals.

I agree!  Before we cut down on activities, it felt as if we were constantly being forced to eat a turkey, steak dinner, entire chocolate cake, ice cream, and three kinds of pie at every meal and clean our plates. And it felt as if we refused to take the cake, for instance, it would be removed and then we could never have cake again.  It got better for a while, but now our plates are gradually filling up again.

At the risk of over-extrapolating, I think this frantic feeling that even upper middle class families have is a function of the lack of a safety net, and dare I say it? income inequality.  We fear that if our kids don't excel in at least two activities, that they will miss out on the top colleges, the scholarships, and the plum jobs. And I don't have an answer for this problem.

Feel free to let me know if I'm way off base on some of your reluctance to slow things down a bit.

Is that why you guys all have your kids in multiple activities? For college??

That finally makes sense.
I was wondering what was up with like, every American on this board having kids in organized activities. It's just not that common among my friend group.

Sure, a lot of kids up here are on insane traveling hockey teams, but usually the whole family is obsessed with hockey. It's not unusual though for non-hockey kids here to be in absolutely no organized activities, even among wealthier families.

That's probably because our universities don't require anything for admissions other than highschool grades, no essays or letters of recommendation or anything.

Mystery solved.
I was really wondering about all of the activities...
There is so much of this.  And so many of my coworkers (mostly the Indian & Chinese PhDs) are obsessed with making sure their kids are #1, or at least in the top 10.  Because you won't get into the "right" college.  Which, I get it.  For them, being the best was required in order to get into their US-based PhD programs.  It's incredibly competitive to get into the top universities, and our UC's aren't far behind (the average SAT score of incoming freshmen to UCSB is something like 1385?  It's the equivalent of about 1310 when I went to college decades ago, and that's insane.)

So, it's the sports and the volunteering and the music.  I'm pretty vocal with my coworkers about how unnecessary I think all of this crap is.  I mean, kid #1 is in junior high, he's got straight A's.  He's gonna be JUST FINE and I really don't give a crap if he goes to MIT, Cal Tech, Berkeley - or if he goes to a state school or small college or university.  He's going to be FINE.

Although, there is a point.  I went to a top 10 engineering school, and the joke was that it's where people chose to go if they didn't get into MIT or Stanford.  Husband's boss's daughter is there as a freshman, and I made that joke to his wife.  She said "yep!  Didn't get into Berkeley or MIT, so that's where she is!"  Berkeley is a state school and a LOT cheaper than where I went.  Also, MIT and Stanford have bigger endowments and can give more financial aid.