Several years ago, my husband's office moved.
And it had a significant impact on our family.
While we had lived just three miles from his
former work location, we suddenly lived almost 20 miles away. And he had to
drive on some of the busiest, most congested roads in our city.
Suddenly, my husband's commute was taking close
to an hour each way. It was causing him an incredible amount of stress. With a house that is paid for and a school our daughter is
very happy in, moving did not make sense.
Besides, he'd moved once before to be closer to
work. Then work relocated. While the work commute is a factor in determining
where to live, it is not the only one. It did not make sense for our family to
uproot and make an intra-city move.
Mass transit is not a viable option in where we
live. And my husband has been with the company he works for close to 30 years, accruing
benefits and a seniority he would lose were he to change jobs.
But the commute took a
toll on my husband. So much so he eventually decided to change to a non-traditional work schedule. He found if he went in later, and left later, he
missed much of the bad traffic. The distance to work itself was not the issue;
it was the congestion on the route. Changing the timing made a difference.
He has started taking our daughter to school in the morning on the way to the office. It has been time together they both love.
It also meant our
daughter and I saw very little of him during the week. He often arrived home just as I was preparing to turn out her
light. And by the time he ate dinner and was finally able to relax, it was
around 9 p.m. So I had much less time with him.
hard. The new schedule threw the parenting structure we had developed completely
off its axis and impacted our entire family dynamic.
We adjusted and made
the most of our time on the weekends. Family time was the priority, and we limited
activities that would take away from our being together. But we all hated what
little time we had to be together as a family during the week.
husband decided it wasn't enough. So he switched his schedule back.
He has started taking our
daughter to school in the morning on the way to the office. It has been time
together they both love. We get to have family dinners again, after which he
and I switch off kitchen and child duty. We both have the opportunity to read
with her. And time to spend together as a couple.
I often imagine what our lives would be like if I, too, were commuting to a job outside the home. And it's not a pretty image.
He is not loving the
commute, however, and after just a short time is starting to feel the stress
again. It takes a serious toll on him. As much as he loves the extra family
time, he is once again considering changing his work schedule, after only a few
But she and I are so
happy to have more time with him. It has made our lives so much better. It is
infuriating we have to choose one over the other.
I understand my
husband's stress. I used to commute nearly an hour each way to my job. In that
case, I was single and chose to live at the beach even though my job was downtown. It was
a sacrifice I was willing to make because I loved the benefits of beach living.
Would I want a commute
like that now? Absolutely not. I often imagine what our lives would be like if
I, too, were commuting to a job outside the home. And it's
not a pretty image. It would have a seriously negative impact on our
family, and I can't come up with a single benefit to outweigh that.
Working from home has
been the compromise. It enables me to use my education, stimulate my brain, do
something I truly enjoy and earn extra income for our family. I feel blessed
we are in a position for me to do so.
It also means I am
alone much of the time. The longer I am out of the workforce, the harder it would
be to find a job should I choose or need to in the future. And my being home
means my husband has fewer options.
These are not unique
issues. They are faced by many families. In fact, we are in the minority today, because we do have the option for me to work from home and only have one parent
The simple fact is, for better or for worse, commuting is part of American life. I wish it weren't so.