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Full-time work, part-time kids

Custody arrangements, step-parenting, and the "balance" thing

by Florinda Pendley Vasquez  |  3312 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

My job's been particularly demanding the last few months, and it's probably going to stay that way awhile longer as we work though some transitions, and that's made me think a lot about work/family balance.

I was a young wife and mother (still a student, as was my husband), started my career just out of college, and was never really on my own till I was 38 years old. At that point the nest emptied in all directions, as my son went off to college and his father and I got divorced, and for a few years I was that single employee with no life that I really believe most employers secretly love. At that point, keeping busy was more important than any idea of "balance."

And then, after some time on my own, I began seeing a divorced father of two children much younger than mine, a girl and a boy (now 12 and 7), of whom he and his ex-wife had shared custody. When we got married last fall, it created a whole new family instantly, with its own set of needs.

My husband and his ex-wife don't have 50/50 joint custody - it's 40% of the time with him, 60% with her. This means that he and I have the kids with us two (non-consecutive) nights a week, alternate weekends, priority for vacations in even-numbered years, and alternating major holidays annually as specified in the custody agreement. We live in the next town over from his ex-wife (just 15 minutes away), who was a stay-at-home mom until after the divorce, and the kids go to school in her district. These arrangements are, pretty much, the basis for how our time is spent apart from work, and it sets a pattern to our days.

As far as practical matters go, my husband's work is closer to both his ex-wife's and our homes, and he works flextime on a daily basis to handle the afternoon pick-ups and morning drop-offs. (And kudos to his employer for providing that option!) When the kids are with us, we are with them. Sitting down together for dinner is a priority for us, and my husband and I trade off cooking responsibilities; if he's home earlier he'll often make a quick weeknight meal, and I like cooking on the weekends when I can spend more time on it. The kids have their homework times and evening routines, and on the weekends there are family activities. With the logistical challenges of the custody schedule and three adults with full-time jobs, the kids aren't "over-scheduled" in the conventional sense; in fact, they probably don't get to participate in as many extra-curricular things as they might like to, and I hope they don't feel like they're missing out on too much. My husband and I save things like "grown-up" movies and our boring (for kids) errands for the times when the kids are with their mother. It may not exactly be "balance," but it's "structure," and there's some passing resemblance.

About the Author

Florinda is a wife, mother, stepmother, blogger, and accountant employed by a Southern California nonprofit agency.

Read more by Florinda Pendley Vasquez

1 comment so far...

  • Hi Florinda,
    I enjoyed your article! You have a lot of understanding and lots of love to share. :)

    ~Annemarie

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 19th January 2008

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