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Commuting Out of State by Air
My husband is considering taking a job out of state. This job is a very rare opportunity that won't come around again. The family is routed here because of schools for our two young kids and my job, which has taken me a long time to establish in this area. One thing we are considering is that he would commute via plane 3-4 hours for 3 days every week to work, then be here the remaining 4 days to be with us. We are wondering if others have done such a thing and how they make it work. How long can this be sustained? We'd also like to hear about people who have tried it and what the downsides were. trying to make it work
Honestly, to me the hardest part is answering everyone's questions about it, because people can be very harsh critics of others' life choices and, well, it seems pretty fascinating. I've been asked why I am so ''career focused'' to put my family through this (the assumption being that I could just move with him, right?). To me, the most important part is if you and your husband both feel like you value and respect each others' careers enough to make it work, and not subtly try to convince the other one that you are making sacrifices ''for them''. On a more mundane level, pay the extra money if needed to fly nonstop, and stick with one airline so you board first, get free upgrades, and get first priority to re-route if there is a travel delay.
As for how long it can be sustained, we are fortunate as academics to take breaks from this routine during the summers and semester breaks, and we plan to do it 2 years at a time before one of us does a sabbatical in the other's city. That said, many of my college classmates with high-powered jobs in business travel 3 days a week for years.
You are welcome to ask the moderator to share my email address if you'd like to chat more. Making it work (somehow)
All of that said, it's what works for our family. My husband has always wanted to be a pilot and you can't undervalue having a fulfilled spouse. Would I do it again? Probably, but only because I know he's fulfilling his professional dream. Anything short of that and I'd feel like I'm giving more than I'm getting - which I still feel sometimes. Good luck. part-time wife, full-time mother
1. It is expensive. 2. You will be a single mother. When they are sick, it is you. When they need to be driven somewhere, it is you. You do all the picking up, so that he does not have to come home to a disaster. When there is a meeting, it is you. If school is out at 3, so is your work. You cannot travel anywhere. You cannot attend meetings. If your husband travels for work, you are a single parent even more. 3. It is probably not so great for the kids, or for his relationship with the kids. 4. If he is the type that can be led astray, he probably will be, despite his best intentions. 5. When you are away from each other, you get used to it. Then you have to re-adjust every week. 6. You will not be able to get to know, or socialize, with the people that he works with. These people will be very important to him. If you want to attend a function with him, will you and the kids all fly out there? Do you have someone to leave them with? Will you want to? My husband has won numerous awards. I have only been at one of the awards ceremonies. 7. If you can move there, do it. You will probably be considerably better off financially too.anon
I am VERY independent, so this arrangement does not bother as much as it may bother others. I am happy with time to myself. I am a mostly stay-at-home Mom (I work 20-hours a week at a daycare) so I have the luxury of spreading out household operations over the course of the day (hey girls -- let's go pick up Daddy's shirts at the cleaners...lets go to Wild Oat's to get groceries...let's clean the house) instead of trying to cram it into the weekend or after a full day at the office. I am good at creating a social life for the girls and/or me without a husband (see downsides for more on that...)
The downsides...I operate as a single Mom in most circumstances (excepting financial) for half of the month. That means, I am 'on' for 24-hours for days on end -- the husband is midway through an 11-day (four days with the airline, three with the Navy, four days with the airline) stretch at the moment. Couples may think that you are fabulous, but you are not going to get invited out to dinner unless your other half is around. I find that very odd, as I want the company most when my husband is out of town, but most people can't deal with me unless I am a complete set. It took three months to line up a date for dinner with another couple recently. The kids miss Daddy. I miss my husband. Also, time zones can be a killer (especially if red-eyes are thrown in the mix) The airline gig will last for another 24 years. The Navy gig will end in about 5 years.
We could move to LA, but it isn't for us. He grew up in San Diego and I grew up along the Russian River/Berkeley. We love our life in the Park City -- ski season ends tomorrow and the bikes come out on Monday. The public school system is one of the best in the country. Friends and family are always coming to visit. We just don't want to trade what we have now for Long Island, NY or Long Beach, CA. Maybe when I need to be 3 places at once we will reconsider, but for now, the trade-offs are worth it. jan
There probably aren't a lot of folks looking at your situation, but I hope I might have some helpful things to say, because: (1) We live on the Russian River in Sonoma County & my husband works three hours away in Mountain View (long story) & have managed to make it work -- I am a stay-at-home mom, & we have few resources & little extra cash, yet we manage to keep ourselves & our preschooler daughter happy; & (2) Some friends of ours have 2 little girls & a situation that seems crazy even to me -- the mom is a consultant who frequently travels across the country for days at a time while the dad works long (but flexible) hours running a business out of his home, ... yet they also have happy kids, a loving marriage & are both deeply involved with & committed to raising their kids. They have more money than we do for household help & stuff, but really it's their values & abilities to prioritize that allow them to balance their needs for a loving & close-knit family with their intense & successful careers
Set your priorities so you have enough QUALITY time to spend together as a family, alone with your husband, & for each of you to bond with the kids while the other spouse chills out or gets stuff done.
Figure out which household tasks will interfere with spending quality time together as a family & or enjoying some much-needed time for yourselves & ''outsource'' as many of these jobs as your income allows. Hire people to clean house, water your plants or take care of your yard, do household repairs, pay your bills & do your bookeeping & paperwork, transport the kids back & forth to school & activities, etc. Have groceries delivered & consider hiring someone to prepare meals & put them in the freezer.
If you can afford it or can get your husband's company to pay for it, DO consider having him stay overnight near work during the week. That way, he can focus on his job when he's at work & focus on you & the kids when he's at home, instead of being tired & cranky & neither here-nor-there all week. Once his boss & coworkers develop a trusting relationship, they might start letting him telecommute for a least a day-or-two per week. My husband's boss started encouraging him to work at home 2 days per week after only 8 months or so. Think about whether this is possible & develop a 2-year or 5-year plan.
Connecting with each other should be the main priority & every thing else should go to heck. I'm hoping that your combined incomes will allow you to do these things. If not, you might be in for a long slog.
Good luck! Lisa
I'm in a dual-career marriage with jobs on opposite coasts, & have managed to keep my academic job (tenured job at a research university in DC) since daughter's birth mainly by taking leaves while I finish a book & continue to look for jobs on the west coast (where we prefer living), etc. (My husband has also taken leaves from his job so that we could all be in DC durign 2 of the 3 semesters I have taught since her birth, so we haven't had to be apart much this far; also, one of us has been at home with her nearly all her life.) Next yr to keep my job I am considering commuting (nonstop flts. from OAK) to DC while my husband works here; this will mean being away 3 nights/wk (from Mon after her bedtime til late Thurs nite) for 13 wks in fall & 1 night/wk in spring (it's also possible that this would be in fall only, with no spring commute). I have a leave for the followign acad. yr. so i would have lots of time with her then (her last year pre-K). Our daughter, who is outgoing, communicative, & seems to feel very secure, has handled her father's brief absences well, but I have never yet spent a night away from her. She likes school alot--she started preschool last fall 2 days/wk & we gradually increased it to 4 days, her schedule next year. She will be 3 1/2 when this starts. Anyone have experience with a temp. work commute like this? Advice on helping daughter (or myself) handle it?
People say we're crazy, but a lot of the time when we actually explain the mechanics of the situation there is much more envy than pity. I leave on the first flight Monday and return late Thursday or early Friday. Four days a week my husband is the single caretaker and our son is at daycare much of the day, and three days a week I am the primary caretaker including spending all day Saturday and Sunday with my son. I get so much more work done in the week than I used to in all 7 days that I'm no longer distracted and trying to squeeze in work during the weekends, so in total my son gets way more time with me than before. I also get a husband who really does pitch in an equal amount with caregiving, by design he cannot do otherwise. (It helps that we have a friendly student who comes part-time for the morning routine and laundry, etc.) We do this about half of the time and I telecommute from home about half of the time.
What does this mean for me? Yes I miss him during the week, but I also miss him during the day when he is at daycare. Now I am a more refreshed and better mother, because work and family have clearly delineated territories and the responsibilities don't bleed together quite as much. I also even have personal time and time to see girlfriends during the week.
Frankly, if the gender were reversed and you re-phrased our ''commute'' as a father who works in consulting or another high-powered job that has a lot of travel Mon-Thurs, no one would ever say anything. Sometimes I point this out to people, they go silent, and say wow you're right.
So, I say, do what feels right and don't let people tell you how to live your life. You can make this work if you want to. anon
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