I was listening to the How to Money podcast in the camp pick-up line the other day (I do this a lot — I like Matt and Joel’s chemistry, and that they’re two young dads who talk about issues of work and life, not unlike Best of Both Worlds, albeit usually through the lens of money!).
One of their guests, Andy Hill, was speaking about his various side hustles, and Joel and Matt asked how he found time for these amid his family duties. Hill mentioned that he and his wife had decided that each of them would get two nights a week to do their own thing. On the nights he covered, she could walk out of the house at 7 p.m. or so (she’s mostly home with the kids during the day) and do whatever she felt she didn’t have time for during the rest of her life. Likewise, he got two nights as well, which he often used for his side projects (like his podcast).
While two nights a week might not work for many families, this is a version of a practice I’ve long suggested for helping people maintain their sanity: give each parent one night off per week. It can be easy to decide that you “can’t” do X, Y, or Z after having children, but this is often not true. It might not work to take an hour long class at the gym every single work night, but if you have one you particularly love, it’s quite reasonable to go to that Thursday boot camp. Likewise, it’s probably not fair for someone to go on a 2-hour bike ride with a group every single week night, but once a week? Why not?
By trading off, with each person getting one week night off per week, each of you can keep up with at least one time-specific interest outside work and family. And that can make life feel more rich and full.
Now, there are caveats to this. Both partners need to have relatively predictable jobs, and jobs that don’t generally involve a ton of evening activities or travel. Party A might be willing to commit to covering a night for Party B, but if Party B is constantly working late on short notice, or might be out of town 2-3 nights per week (in which case, Party A might note, Party B is already off from kid duties multiple nights), this can lead to resentment.
This is why we’ve never done the trade-off. My husband generally is around some non-zero number of weeknights per week, but he does travel for work, and not necessarily on the same nights every week. So we’ve taken another approach: arranging for regular childcare. Back in NYC, we always had a sitter come on Tuesday nights so I could go to choir. Here in PA, Thursday is now choir night, and so we have later coverage that night. This can work too. Or you could arrange for childcare and both take the same night off. It’s more expensive, but perhaps more efficient.
Do you give each parent one night “off”? What do each of you do with the time?
In other news: Jasper has more box office predictions for this weekend. The Lion King will take the first place spot with $94.5 million in domestic sales (down 51 percent from its opening weekend take). Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will open to $45 million, and take second place. Spider-Man: Far From Home will take in $11.5 million (down 46 percent) and Toy Story 4 will hit $10 million (down 36 percent). Crawl will hit $3.6 million in order to round out the top five.
He also predicts that Aladdin and Spider-Man: Far From Home will both pass $1 billion total worldwide revenue this weekend. Tune in next week as we check his predictive powers….