My husband works… a lot. When I say a lot, I mean 80+ hour weeks are the norm in our house and travel is a frequent occurrence for our family. My husband, whom I will refer as “Mr. Tax” for the purpose of this article is Tax Director for a public accounting firm. What people don’t realize is that public accounting is 365 days a year operation and while there are certain times throughout the year when my husband is less busy, that simply means he is working a 60+ hour week instead of an 80+ hour week. It’s quite different than individual accounting and has much different deadlines and extensions. My husband has always worked in public accounting for as long as I’ve known him and in order for him to progress in his career, I knew there would need to be a lot of sacrifices from both of us. Mr. Tax sacrifices sleep for the most part and I sacrificed my career when we decided I would stay at home with our children. The only members of our family who haven’t sacrificed anything are our children. They’re key players in our family, because we are firm believers that their childhood should never have to suffer as a result of their dad’s career choice.
On average, Mr. Tax arrives home between 6:30-7:30pm during the week. More often than not, we eat dinner together at least 5 nights a week. By 2018 standards, that is more than average, but sitting at the table together every night has always been a priority for us. This gives all five of us time to talk as a family and keeps us grounded. Are the afternoons a little crazy with homework and after school activities? Absolutely. The thing all five of us seem to look forward to the most is gathering at the dinner table to eat dinner and share our days with one another.
Like I mentioned before, our children have never suffered as a result of the long hours and frequent travel. Like most parents, our three children are our top priority. Mr. Tax is fortunate to work for a firm that prides itself on “work/life balance.” The benefits are fantastic and the support the firm provides for its families is incredible. Mr. Tax has missed the occasional parent/teacher conference or doctor appointment, but we prioritize which school activities, doctor appointments and other functions are most important. At the end of the day, they all know they can count on both of us to be there when they need us. They also understand that their daddy works hard to provide for his family and their mommy works hard to make sure the household functions properly. When Mr. Tax is away or if he’s working late at the office, we make it a point to Face Time with him before the girls go to bed. Just because daddy is away or working late, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time to hear about their day.
Don’t get me wrong; there are some amazing perks to Mr. Tax’s job. For example, last October the two of us took our first, real trip away from the kids to Vegas. It was technically a work trip because Mr. Tax was promoted and spouses were required to attend training sessions along with the employee, but an all expense paid trip to Vegas? Yes, please! It was really great to meet and commiserate with other accounting spouses, as well as gain perspective on new expectations of my husband and possible new expectations of me. Our family also gets to attend a yearly conference hosted by Mr. Tax’s firm at Disney World. During the day, he will teach clients about the latest and greatest in his niche of public accounting while the girls and I live it up at the resort and parks. There is even a family night that includes a big dinner for attendees and their families, complete exclusive Disney character meet and greets and a dessert party on the docks of The Grand Floridian Resort. It’s the little perks like these that make the job a little more bearable.
Preparation is very important to our family. Each Sunday, the entire family prepares themselves for the week. For my husband and I, this means going over the upcoming week (including if outside childcare is needed for the week) and making sure everything is in place for the week (clean uniforms, groceries, meal planning, after school activities, doctor appointments, etc.). For the girls, this means making sure their rooms are tidy and reviewing their school agendas. When all five of us are organized and prepared for the week, things run smoother. Preparation continues throughout the week in the morning and at night. While setting schedules are important, frequent reminders are helpful in making sure Mr. Tax and I don’t miss anything. We communicate constantly to make sure everything is accounted for (full pun intended). The easiest way for our family to quickly communicate is via texting. The old adage, “if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen” hold true for our family so we prefer to text and email when we are discussing and fine tuning our schedule.
As I write this, I’m enjoying a quite evening at home while my girls sleep peacefully in their beds. Mr. Tax is traveling this week for work and will also be traveling next week for work. Since having children, I have begun to enjoy the solitude during the evenings after the girls go to bed and Mr. Tax is traveling or working late. I pour myself a glass of cheap champagne, catch up on terrible reality TV and unwind after a long day. Of course, this doesn’t occur until everything is prepped for the next day.
Here are some tips that have proven to be helpful for our family in managing Mr. Tax’s work schedule and our busy family schedule:
- Prioritize! Make a list of what is most important for your family. By prioritizing it helps everyone communicate what is most/least important.
- Keep a calendar! An electronic calendar isn’t my forté so I keep an old fashion, hand written calendar on the wall of our kitchen and my husband adds his work commitments to our calendar.
- Face Time and Skype! Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but this certainly does not apply to children. Make it a point to talk and see each other daily.
- Communicate! If something important is happening next week, make a point to discuss it as a family so that expectations are clear.
- Organization! Prepare for the week the Sunday before and spend time each evening to prepare everyone for the next day.