What is it like to raise a child while both parents commute ~1 hr to work and work 9 hr days? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
What is it like to raise a child while both parents work long hours? We found it to be unsustainable and difficult.
During the time period my wife and I handled this situation we had two children, ages two and four. We had no nearby family to help care for our children.
Logistically, finding child care for the commute/work hours was a challenge. We found only a handful of options that offered care for as long of a day as our schedules required. We settled on one that we felt was most in line with our personalities, and which offered care from 6:45 am until 6 pm. Even with those hours, one of us would be stressing in traffic every day as we tried to get the kids by 6. Being later than 6 pm made us feel like bad parents, (our children would be the last ones, sitting up front with a forlorn caregiver) as well as annoying the patrons of the center. And child care centers charge if you're late. Ours charged $15 per child per 15 minutes ($2 per minute total for us).
The stress was awful and consistent. Bad for the body and soul.
Financially, care is expensive! We were in Northern Virginia. A basic child care day is often considered to be 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. If you need earlier and later, additional fees apply. The first full year both children were in full time care it cost us over $35,000. We didn't choose a top-of-the-line center, either. We could have gone less expensive with a home daycare, but preferred the activities, curriculum and socialization offered at our center.
Emotionally, we were battered on all fronts. Not from outside (others), but from within. Are we terrible parents, having kids yet paying someone else to raise them? We're exhausted and hurried all the time. Does our condition affect our interactions with our children? We get home with our children at 6:30 at night. Dinner, bath, bed. Up and out pre-dawn the next day. When do we connect as a married couple? When do we connect with the kids? Weekends (I worked one weekend day) were not enough.
And that was life for us.
We muddled our way through it for over a year before we agreed on a plan to change. Our plan felt risky, as it rocked the boat and shattered the status quo.
It took another year, but we sold our house in Northern Virginia and moved to another state where the cost of housing is a third of that of Northern Virginia. Plus, employment salaries are roughly the same and with better hours, little to no traffic. (That one hour commute turned to thirteen minutes, only partially due to distance.) Much-improved family values at work (your child had an event at school? Please, go home early!) and excellent social and educational opportunities for the children.
The biggest factor in our being able to make this change: a mutually agreed upon budget.
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