If you read The SHU Box blog, you know that my Best of Both Worlds co-host, Sarah, recently moved to a new home. Her husband got a new job at the same hospital system that employs her, and so they put their home on the market and rented a place closer to their employer.
Even though this is a local move (30-40 minutes from their old house) this has created a lot of change. New schools! New routines! So we decided to devote an episode to family moves. We discussed a lot of topics from Sarah’s recent move, and my move to Pennsylvania back in 2011:
Why moving mid-year is sometimes better than over the summer. Sarah was apprehensive about moving her children mid-school year. But some blog readers noted that when you come into a class in the middle of the year, it’s a special event (as an elementary student with one teacher; this can be different for older kids). The teacher can assign kids to welcome you, and families will get a note about you coming, so many will reach out. Whereas when you come in new in September, everyone’s sort of new, so you don’t get that. Sarah has certainly found this to be the case.
What to do first in a new house. All your bathrooms need toilet paper, soap, and towels. No one wants to get stuck without these things! Also, label one box “OPEN FIRST.” Put anything like fish food in there. We learned this the hard way.
Unpacking is a process. Honestly, we still have boxes in the garage. Someday I’ll go through them, but our first 8 years in this house have also been years with many small kids, and building my business. It has not been a priority.
Smart ways to think about new routines. Sarah’s commute is slightly shorter, and now that she’s not pumping, she also has some more open blocks in the day. However, these blocks aren’t long, and it’s very easy to let them disappear into nothing. We talked about new things she’s built into her routine (driving or walking her daughter to school some days) and how it’s wise to give small chunks of time a specific purpose. I struggle with figuring out how to use the 15 minutes between the middle-school run and the middle kids’ bus stop time. She might aim to use one former pump break plus the extra 15 minutes she could have at the end of the day due to her shorter commute to finish her notes, and not need to wake up early on weekends to deal with these.
In the question segment, we tackle a different moving scenario. A woman’s flexible job is now moving, which means her commute is about to be very long. She doesn’t love her job, but as she positioned the question, it’s worked well given her husband’s high-stress, travel-heavy job. So what should she do?
I started by saying that when you’re making a lot of justifications about a job just in light of your husband’s job…stop. You can have an interesting, well-paid job that uses your talents regardless of what he does. If there’s anything I want to be remembered for with my writing it’s challenging this notion that there can only be one big job per family, so the woman naturally must limit her ambitions and talents or else she’s a bad wife and mother.
OK, off my soapbox! Practically, it’s always easier to land a new job when you’re currently employed, so I think our listener needs to give herself 6-12 months to see what is out there, and network like crazy within her field. While her current job might be flexible, it’s probably not the only flexible job out there. She might find something absolutely wonderful, at which point she can either take that offer, or go to her current job and say hey! I’m looking at this other job because my long commute is unsustainable. Then pause and wait for them to offer what they will. Because if they love her and want to keep her, they may suddenly find that working from home 3 days a week is A-OK. Or not, but then she has another great option.
Sarah added to this, as a side note, that she didn’t really mind her time in the car. It can be me-time if you use it well, listening to podcasts like Best of Both Worlds, so that’s something!