Coping with BIG changes in the family


#1

Hi all. Apologies for the length. I guess I’m doing a bit of unloading as well as seeking counsel here.

My family is going through a period of major change, not the least of which has been my returning to the Church.

I lost my job a few weeks ago. The mill I’ve worked at for twelve years is going to one shift, which leaves me about fourth on the call board. This means that I am essentially unemployed.

This has been a fantastic job, enabling me to support our family on a single income which has been higher than the average income for two income families in Canada. Part of the problem is that our bills reflect this level of income. The only “extra” we have is our dial-up internet access. No cable, no magazine subscriptions, etc.

Unfortunately, my formal education ended with high school. I have no degrees to enable me to find a decent paying job elsewhere. Downsizing is the order of the day in my industry, so there are few prospects of getting on at another mill. Even if I did, I would be on call and working little.

While I’m able to collect employment insurance, I plan on working through a temp agency. I do have a first-aid ticket which makes me a lot more valuable in industry and construction. Temping will expose me to numerous companies and likely lead to a better paying job than I could get by going back to full time security, which mostly pays minimum wage.

So now my wife has had to find a job so that we can keep our heads above water. She has been home with our children for many years. No trounble getting work. She’s been hired by a local call centre and starts training next Monday.

The problem is that the training lasts for five weeks and runs from 13:30-22:00 Mon-Fri (1:30-10:00). This means that she will have to give up her activities at least during her training. She’s an assistant leader with our boys’ Beaver colony and also at a support group she is part of. She mentioned today that she feels like she will be missing our son’s lives. She’ll be able to see them for a few minutes in the morning before school and will be gone before they get home, and they’ll be in bed before she gets home.

There is also a very strong likelihood that odd hours will keep her away quite a bit once her training is done.

So I’m gearing up to be the primary parent and she’s gearing up for a full time job. Has anyone else been through this? What did you find helped with such transitions? My wife has suffered from depression. The support group is a cognitive therapy group for this and similar disorders and I’m very concerned about her being cut off from that for the next five weeks at least. Helping the kids cope with such major changes in the routine? Any words of wisdom?


#2

You have my sincerest thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry for the hardship and suffering, but know that you are united to Christ on the cross while enduring this test as a family. God will take care of you. Keep Him close in prayer, both individually and as a family.


#3

[quote=Lapsed]There is also a very strong likelihood that odd hours will keep her away quite a bit once her training is done.

So I’m gearing up to be the primary parent and she’s gearing up for a full time job. Has anyone else been through this? What did you find helped with such transitions? My wife has suffered from depression. The support group is a cognitive therapy group for this and similar disorders and I’m very concerned about her being cut off from that for the next five weeks at least. Helping the kids cope with such major changes in the routine? Any words of wisdom?
[/quote]

Lapsed,

My dh lost his job when my 2 older kids were both under age 3. I had just cut down to very parttime the week before he quit his job. At that time, he had no degree. The only work available for him at that time was shop/factory work starting at very low wages. We made the difficult decision for him to go back to school and get a degree while I supported the family. Luckily, I have my degree and was able to find flexible full time employment which allowed me to be home when he went to school. It was heartbreaking for me, as I wanted to be a SAHM. However, over time (this went on for nearly 6 years), my dh became a steady influence in our kids’ lives. To this day, we have a seamless operation here. If dad’s not home, mom is and vice versa. Dad can take care of anything–meals, boo boos, bedtime, etc. My kids have an extraordinarily close relationship with Dad. My husband is such an involved dad. Volunteering for things at school, being there for PTO meetings, etc. I think his desire to be involved stems from his early “Mr. Mom” days. It was a blessing in disguise for our family. He now has a job he loves and I can finally work that very parttime job I wanted. I think if you keep the house up and take good care of your kids while your wife is working, her depression will not worsen. If she knows that the kids are in capable hands, and her work load at home is taken care of, working won’t be as much of a hardship. Even though dh made scrambled eggs and toast for dinner a lot----at least I came home to a meal after a hard day of work!!! I will keep you in my prayers.


#4

we went thru a similar scenario when we had 3 kids under 5, without going into details on the reasons. I got a 9-5 job at a bank and worked as a waitress midnites on weekends (which paid as much as the day job), while DH was Mr. Mom to our kids and his cousin’s baby, and went to school evenings. His cousin babysat all 4 kids from 4-6 when I got home (she was a school teacher). Her husband was in med school and gone all hours as well, but often babysat on weekends if he was not on duty. We all lived in the same 2-family house and called it our “commune” because we often shopped, prepared meals and ate together to save time and money.

Going back to work was great for me because FT mommyhood nearly drove me bonkers, sad but true, and my depression and mental health problems cleared up almost immediately. I had kids for “fun-time” in the evening, supper, bedtime routine etc. My kids learned to do household chores, work as a team, and had lots of fun with dad which they still remember and talk about as the high point of their lives. DH finished college and grad school despite critics who decried our early marriage. Cousins also did well, and since both couples were alone in a strange city we had each other for support and friendship.

When DH got a job I was able to go to school and kids adapted well, they loved daycare, which was only a few hours a week because we adjusted our schedules. I worked midnites for many years so I could be home in the critical after school hours.

Because we had learned early to be adaptable, when his first career fizzled we were able to be flexible while he went thru necessary training and readjustment in new career, then years later when he quit and started a business, when I changed careers, relocations for business, lay-off due to plant closing, returning to grad school. We learned to view these changes imposed from the outside as challenges and opportunities, not tradegies.

Our kids also benefited from strong parenting from both parents, and availability of both parents much, not all, the time. Support network is essential. There is no one ideal model of parenting that works all the time for all families. Be adaptable and as I tell my kids if there is one thing I would do differently it would be to trust God absolutely


#5

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