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Well, I’m a startup co-founder, which is probably one of the most demanding careers you can have in Silicon Valley. My husband is a senior engineer who also works in tech. And we have 2 young children (which is in many ways more demanding than either of our professional jobs).
People love to ask me how we manage this, but I need to challenge the idea that raising kids while working in tech is some insurmountable, family-destroying parenting crisis. It’s not. And it’s certainly not unique to tech. Sixty percent of families in the US who are fortunate enough to have 2 parents are dual income.
We manage in the same way lots of dual-income families do. Childcare costs a fortune, so we cut our costs as much as possible to help pay for it. We moved to a cheaper apartment with a longer commute. We cook at home, live modestly, and save money wherever we can.
We set boundaries at work, and we share the duties of parenting. We work 9 to 5, and take responsibility for making the most of those working hours. We take turns doing school pickups and protect each others’ work time. We eat dinner every night together with our children and maximize our quality time on the weekends, whether it’s a big family outing or just going to our favorite burger joint.
Sometimes I work after the children go to bed, but most of the time I don’t. I am extremely vigilant about scoping and prioritizing my work so that I don’t have to do a bunch of overtime to meet my goals. I do this because I value my marriage and my own mental health; working overtime is costly to both of those things. Amazingly, this discipline hasn’t affected my output or productivity at all.
At times it does feel overwhelming, but then I think about the millions of families with only a single parent, or with working parents with rigid, inflexible jobs, or who struggle much more than we do to afford child care. We are insanely privileged to have the type of job that allows for emergency time off because the kids are sick, or WFH time when we need to show up at the preschool in the middle of the day. We have it easier than so many other American families.
So my best “how to have it all” tip? Get some perspective. Focus on what’s important and cut out the rest of the bullshit. Make time for your significant other, dial back the overtime. And go out and do something with your kids. (Hey, there’s an app for that!)
Anne K. Halsall is a mother of 2 and co-founder of Winnie. Read more from Quora below: