American Families Have Dual Incomes, Yet Less Time Than Europeans
2 years, 2 months.
Two years and two months ago when you were born, we moved away from Nashville where Mommy and I had secure jobs and a great network of friends.
Why? Because life in the big city was too busy for us. We felt so starved for quality time, that we wanted to expose you to a slower pace of life.
So we moved to my hometown in Alabama, where, guess what? We were unemployed for the majority of our 8 months there. Sure, we had plenty of quality time, but it wasn’t really quality time because we weren’t actually making any money to justify our existence.
As your dad, it devastated me, knowing that I brought you into this world, only to not be able to provide for you.
Obviously, we moved back to Nashville, got even better jobs than we had before we left, and now life is wonderful.
Except for that one thing: Finding quality time for our family is still a struggle.
Mommy and I both work full-time, plus I have a part-time job. While your parents are at work, you spend nearly all of your waking hours with paid professionals and your peers at daycare.
Granted, it shows. You’re highly socialized: You know how to eat with proper utensils, you use the potty at school, and you don’t suffer from separation anxiety.
Yet Mommy and I have about 20 quality minutes together with you on weekdays, if we’re not counting getting you ready for school and getting you ready for bed.
We really do have so little time with you. Sure, we’ve got the whole weekend with you…
That’s when we buy groceries, clean the house, take the recycling, catch up with friends, and go to church; all based around your nap schedule.
If we were in Europe, I guess things would be different. I just read this article in The New York Times called What We Have Less Of, by Paul Krugman:
“So what we have is a situation in which American families have more stuff, but they have managed to afford that stuff only by being two-income families, with ever less family time — unlike their European counterparts, who have gained in shorter hours and vacations what they lost in stay-at-home wives.”
It’s a nice thought, to actually have a comfortable amount of quality time, as a family. We tried that and couldn’t afford it.
I know it sounds strange that we don’t have cable TV or smartphones, but aside from the obvious financial savings, we also have a few less distractions in our house.
Quality time is a rare currency. As your American parents, we are always desperate to figure out ways to get more of it with you.
However, working less isn’t an option.
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