From time to time, Sarah and I hear from Best of Both Worlds listeners about the other programs they’re listening to. A number of people mentioned The Double Shift, a new podcast from Katherine Goldstein that focuses on modern motherhood, the choices people make, and the policies that affect them. She’s gotten a lot of attention for such creative content as visiting a 24-hour daycare that serves working families in Las Vegas. A lot of women do shift work, and if you work overnight, and you’re a single mom, you need someone to watch your kids. And there are high-quality places that do just that. She explored what it means to develop childcare that meets real parents’ needs.
When we first talked to Goldstein about coming on the program — and she was on this week — I mentioned that we always loved to share strategies that worked for our guests. She responded, somewhat cryptically, that she had a different take on this. I have to admit, I wondered what she was going to say!
But when I followed up, I learned that she had overhauled her entire life in order to make her chosen career and family situation work. More precisely: she moved her family from New York City (which is very expensive) to North Carolina (which is less so). She moved from somewhere where she had a limited support system to a place where she had extended family (from one side) and where the other side then moved to be with her.
Needless to say, this changed matters. She was able to self-fund The Double Shift until revenue started coming in. Because of the presence of extended family, she and her husband could put their son in preschool as their primary childcare, and then have ready back up should he get sick, or if they needed to travel, or if they needed to work longer hours.
Goldstein and her husband have made a fairly equitable split of childcare. She works best in the morning, so she is not the morning parent. He gets their son ready in the morning; she does the later shift.
I recognize that moving your family to somewhere with a low cost of living is not a strategy that works for everyone (though as a fellow former NYC resident, I get it!). On the other hand, there is something to be said for having a clear eye on your goals and changing your life to achieve them. Goldstein wanted to reach audiences with her ideas on modern motherhood, and policy, and she wasn’t going to be able to take a big risk to do that if her expense structure demanded a certain income.
Also, there are some major upsides to having helpful family close by. Goldstein and her husband actually ship their son off to stay with his mom every Friday night. They can go out on a date and then sleep in the next morning. Not a bad thing for a marriage at all!
Please give the episode a listen, and let us know what you think. Have you ever made a major change to give your family a more sustainable lifestyle?
The question section features a listener who needs to make a major lifestyle change. She introduces herself as a stay-at-home mom, then goes on to describe her multiple part-time gigs (in addition to a lot of volunteer commitments). She’s trying to care for her youngest child and do these gigs simultaneously, and she’s becoming increasingly resentful as she works nights and weekends while the rest of her family has fun.
Sarah and I both noted that we find it strange that this listener identifies herself as a stay-at-home mom. She’s not; she’s a working mom with inadequate childcare support. She can’t be philosophically opposed to paid care (or she wouldn’t listen to us!) so the question is how she can figure out a situation that allows her to do her work and have time to relax. We suggested a few ideas for getting at least some guaranteed work hours. Just because you theoretically can do some work from home without childcare doesn’t mean it’s sustainable long-term.