Moms who work far away from home
June 25, 2009 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Any married Moms out there took a job in another city or state because you need a job and there was nothing available in your profession locally? I am assuming that you come home on weekends. What are the ages of your kids? How does family life work? How is it working out financially--renting a house/apartment, paying for two households--is it worth it? How does the hubby deal with it?

How do you deal with day to day family issues/problems/etc. if you are not there during the week? How are the kids handling the situation?
posted by sandra194 to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is somewhat common among academics. Even if you're not an academic, you might think about heading over to and asking this in the work-life balance forum. I assume the family-life aspects of a commuter marriage are similar regardless of what career you're in.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:24 AM on June 25, 2009

my husband (clearly not the mom) worked in another city for nearly 4 years recently. He came home on weekends or we went there. about 1.5 hours away. It was easier for the ones left at home to adjust, which led to some resentment on his part even though it wasn't that we didn't miss him, just that we didn't have the time to sit at home pining away for him. Life had to go on. I found that on weekends, i felt like we had to make up for lost time all the time. Good in some ways, but bad in others. For instance, our kids missed out on some spend the night type activities, because they hadn't seen their dad all week and we wanted to be together as a family. My kids are pretty easy going and we have lots of family in town, so they had lots of support and so did i. he was close enough he could drive home for events sometimes, so that helped. All in all, it seemed to much harder on him than us. Can get lonely when you know your family is all together some place else.

He rented an apartment. A really cheap one bedroom, with no cable etc, but still expenses were probably close to 6000 a year just for extra living expenses.

In the end, a lower paying job back in the place where we live was worth it, but had that not been an option we could have continued as we were for awhile. Just took extra work and some sacrifices.
posted by domino at 9:32 AM on June 25, 2009

I used to work with a woman who lived in Cleveland and drove up to the Detroit area (where our office was) every Sunday night. She shared a small apartment in the area with someone, and left Friday afternoon to go back to Cleveland. She had three kids (all girls), the youngest was a high school freshman. Her husband worked, too, but nearby and was home every night. Whenever I asked her about it, she said the main thing she disliked was the drive home Fridays - lots of traffic, and she was too tired to really do anything but collapse once she got home. Her kids seemed OK with the arrangement, although one daughter (not the youngest) came up with her a few times on school holidays (she was the one who missed mom the most, apparently).
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:08 AM on June 25, 2009

Of the couples I know that try this, the spouse left with the children generally has a less stressful/time consuming job (or no paid work at all) and a strong family support system nearby. The person who is effectively a single parent can quickly build up resentment of the bachelor life the absent spouse is living; it takes a lot of communication and effort to show appreciation for each other and what each spouse has given up.

Growing up, my father worked over 3,000 kms away and commuted home every other weekend (I believe he worked ten days straight, then took a day to travel home, two days with us, then a day to get back to work). He had no choice and we lived like that for several years. My parents made it work through love and steer determination but reverted to normalcy after the economy improved.
posted by saucysault at 12:13 PM on June 25, 2009

Again not the mom, but my husband did this for a little over five years. He worked 2 hrs. away by car, four days per week. He was able to get 40 hours in 4 days because there wasn't anything at home pulling him away mentally. He was lucky in that his bachelor brother lived 10 minutes from the office, so he paid him a very small rent.

It was really difficult on me. My youngest was 7 months old when he started and we have no family in the area. I have really great friends, though, who helped out when i needed them. The hardest thing wasn't the day-to-day taking care of the kids alone. It was going to all the school functions alone. For some reason, that just hit me really hard. He missed conferences (although some really good teachers consented to having him listen in by phone), class plays, festivals, concerts, etc. It was harder on him than me to miss those things, but it sucked to have to go to all that stuff by myself.

He started telecommuting 2 years ago and it's been absolutely wonderful. I recommend that option if it's available.
posted by cooker girl at 12:21 PM on June 25, 2009

Doing this right now only my teenage son stayed with my ex/his father. I took a job I absolutely love, thinking I'd go home often. It's at least a 9 hour drive and various weather events, illnesses, work issues, etc. have prevented me from making the trip home quite a bit.

On the weekends I'm not there, I am miserable and do little but think about what I am missing by not making it home. However, my love for my job and the peace I've found otherwise seem to level it out so only the weekends I can't see him are practically unbearable. In the end, I don't think I would recommend taking a job as far away from a child as I did. I think it would work wonderfully if I were 3-4 hours away instead of 9.
posted by justlisa at 6:12 PM on June 25, 2009

My mom has done this for a long time, about as long as I can remember. It's been at least 7 years, maybe as many as 9. She went to school about an hour and a half away for her PhD, and she finished in January. She's been up there doing post-doc work, and started a new job this week (still with lots of travel, though).

As far as lodging goes, she rented a room for a few years and bought a foreclosure about 5 years ago. She lived alone until one of her post-doc friends needed a place and moved in with my mom. She would drive home Tuesday nights and go back Wednesday morning, and then come back again Friday night and leave Monday morning. Most of the time she was home about 4 days a week, but there were a lot of times where she was too busy with work and wouldn't be able to come home.

My dad has a fairly high paying job and we had a lot of savings, so it wasn't a huge financial hardship on us. Except now we've sunk a huge amount of money into renovating this second house and can't sell it any time soon.

The whole situation has been incredibly difficult for me. I think I was about 13-14 when my mom moved, and it had a huge negative impact on our relationship. I didn't want to talk to her, became hugely sarcastic whenever forced to interact with her, and I tried to hurt her a lot. I mean way more than the average mom & teenage girl relationship. It took me a long time to figure out why we don't get along, but I think I see the whole situation as her abandoning us. She would try to come home and act like nothing was different or try to make up for lost time and it really angered me. If she wasn't there to hear about my day I sure as hell wasn't going to tell her about it three days later. Once I was old enough I'd schedule work/activities/dates so I wouldn't be home when she was because I resented all of us having to organize our schedules around her when she wasn't even there most of the time. I partially chose to go to a college close to home because I didn't want to abandon my dad and brother the way my mom did. I don't know much (to this day) about what she studied, her friends coworkers, her classes, her trips, etc. because I don't want any involvement in that part of her life.

On my good days I recognize why she did it and that she wouldn't have ever been happy if she hadn't. On my bad days I'm angry and resentful for her choosing to leave us. I'm sorry to say I have way more bad days than good and I can't see this changing for a long while. I don't want to speculate about how the whole thing affected my dad or my younger brother, but I think it's safe to say it's hit me the hardest.

YMMV, of course. If your kids are a different age it may be easier or harder. Your kids are maybe more easy-going than I was. A lot of my problems stem from the fact that my mom chose to do all this, so if taking this job is your only option it may not be so difficult on your kids. But if there is any chance at all that you can make it work without taking a job so far away I would strongly recommend you do that.
posted by lilac girl at 9:54 AM on June 27, 2009

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