This post is courtesy of guest blogger Lida Bunting.
When the main breadwinner loses his job, your world can go into a quick tailspin. And, on May 27, 2018, that is exactly what happened to us.
Regardless of the financial implications of my spouse being out of work, the fact that there was another body in the house all… the… time… was really stressful. I couldn’t wait to get out of the house, and, my previously perfect quiet and productive days were now gone. I didn’t have my private space. I work from home, so I didn’t have my quiet time. Everything was shared – including the office space that I used to love. I had started my own business only 2 years earlier, so I had taken over our home office. I loved my work space. I loved my quiet time. And, I needed every single hour my kids were at school to bust my butt so that I could grow my business.
Instead of sticking around the house, I would grab my laptop, go to Starbucks or the library, and just work there so that I wouldn’t have to be home. We were both unhappy – I wasn’t happy because I was not as productive as I would have been at home, and he was unhappy because he felt uncomfortable working in the home office that I had taken over.
As far as regular-day life, the first few months of him being home, I was adamant to keep the routine “as is”. I didn’t let him do any of the jobs that I typically took care of – feeding the kids in the morning, making their lunches, preparing their snacks, going over their school work, writing the teacher notes, etc. I didn’t want to get comfortable with him around, because then I figured it would be harder to go back to the way it was. And, I thought he’d be back at work within 2 months. So, I reasoned, I will shoo him away from my domain and he can go work in the office and find himself a job. Pronto.
Well, one month turned into two, which turned into three, and then somehow turned into eight. I gave up on my domain. I gave up on my turf. And, despite fighting it so long, I found myself liking the shared responsibilities. Where I previously was the sole parent for the kids’ needs during the day, and for chauffeuring them to and from activities after school, he had taken on lunches, snacks, homework and half of the activities.
I found myself more relaxed and happy. And I wasn’t alone in that new attitude. There was a change in all of us. There was less yelling at the kids. We gave and received a lot more hugs and cuddles throughout the week. There was less rushing around and being frazzled and uptight about everything. The duties were being shared, so the frustration was cut in half.
I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. And, if you had asked me 8 months earlier if I was working hard on growing my own business and if my family was close, I would have said, “hell yeah!” But, I wasn’t. My company had been lower on my priority list as kids, volunteer responsibilities, and home duties would trump my work. So although I thought I was building a business, I really hadn’t been. Him losing his job gave me the kick in the butt that I needed. No longer could I approach this as a few hours a week type of job. The 3 clients I had would not sustain us, and I went out and knocked on doors, networked like crazy and built up a legitimate company. As far as the kids, they developed a great routine with him, and I learned how to manage my time and share ‘our’ office (although, I’d still like to call it ‘my’ office ).
He did get a job and went back to work. It took me 8 ½ months to adapt to the new dynamic when he was home, and only about 2 weeks to get back to the “old” ways. But, we did make some changes. Changes that would not have happened had he not lost his job. For instance, we realized that our roles as parents and providers for the family needed to be more shared. Whereas he was the main provider for our financial needs, we realized that I needed to step up and also contribute financially to the family. I needed to dive into my company, bill more hours, and run it like a business should be run, and not as a hobby. And, he learned that all the duties with the kids couldn’t fall on me and he now takes a much more active role in the morning routine and evening chauffeuring. Balance, I have found, is everything.
So maybe him losing his job has a silver lining around it – my business has grown and I’m consistently billing more hours, and we are both coming away from this with a new outlook on parenting, our jobs, and, especially, our kids.