Work/parenting balance, marriage money talk

- Hi Mary Jo,

I recently went back to work full-time and have young kids at home. Do you have any advice about how to balance work time vs. family time?

Thank you, Lillie

Dear Lillie,

This is a big step for you and your family; like all transitions, it takes time and patience. Practicing and embracing the following habits will help:

  1. Set a schedule and stick to it. Make sure you schedule time for you and your partner. Even if it’s just an hour a week, those times for your relationship matter.
  2. Keep a daily checklist of tasks to be done and have a priority number behind it. This will help you focus on what matters most and slow down with one day at a time.
  3. Let go of guilt. You can’t be all things to all people and you can’t be two places at one time. Do your best. The house doesn’t need to be immaculate, and you don’t need to be the perfect mom for your kids to be happy, loving, and successful.
  4. Share the chores. When mom goes back to work, it’s a change for everyone. To be successful the family needs to rally together, meaning everyone does their fair share.
  5. Focus on the positive aspects of returning to work. When we focus on the negatives, we find more of them. Change your expectations and think about what a good role model and mentor you are for your children. Kids who grow up with working moms learn to be resilient, resourceful, and more responsible for their own chores.

Hi Mary Jo,

We’re getting married in December and have practiced abstinence until marriage. At what point do you become intimate with money, monthly income, and credit scores?

Thanks, Samuel and Monica

Dear Samuel and Monica,

One of the most important talks to have before marriage is the money talk. Finances are a top reason for divorce. It’s not what you should talk about on the first date, but you should talk about it when your relationship becomes serious. That means now for the two of you.

First, set a date to have this conversation. Try to stay away from transition times (when you first get home from work, late at night when you’re getting ready for bed, when your waking up, etc). Save enough time so no one is in a hurry.

Secondly, keep it fair. There should be an equal exchange of information. Keep information in a folder that you both have equal access to.

Finally, be transparent. If you’ve decided to share a life together, you need to know how much each person is making and about their credit score and debts. Have a plan about whether you’ll open a joint account or keep your own personal accounts within your marriage.

Once you’ve gone through all of this, take time to celebrate your love. Creating a healthy marriage includes communicating about your finances and sharing a vision about your life goals.

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