We Make $200K, but I Still Feel Like a 1950s Housewife

Posted by admin on

Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.


My age and occupation: 34, non-profit tech manager (I work from home)
My partner’s age and occupation: 37, engineer (my husband commutes)
Annual household income: $200,000
City: Silver Spring, MD

Childcare costs per year: $26,000, a mix of over and under the table.
How we found our childcare: Neighborhood ListServ and word of mouth
Our kids ages: 3 and 5

Photo: Craig Adderley from Pexels

My ego has taken a huge hit to make our family work. From my perspective, I had to make huge sacrifices to make our lives work. I switched jobs from one that was intense, required a lot of long hours and travel, but was deeply rewarding to one where I can work from home and have infinite flexibility, but honestly, I feel rather meh about it. I also take on the burden of most of the parenting and childcare. I’m rather progressive in my women’s rights views so it’s a struggle to be living a reality closer to a 1950’s housewife than my ideal. Not being well styled, not being able to help out a friend easily, always feeling like everyone needs more of my time—they’re all things that have bruised my ego and forced me to re-think my identity since having kids.
Morning: I Do Mornings Solo
My husband wakes up first at 6 a.m. and I try to get up around 6:20 a.m. to get in a quick half hour of work before the kids wake around 7-7:30 a.m. on their own. The next hour is spent making breakfast and lunches (if I didn’t do it the night before), getting on clothes, cleaning up from breakfast and getting out the door. I have no idea how it takes two hours to do this—maybe it’ll get better when they’re more self-sufficient.

photo: Pixabay

My husband leaves for work by 7 a.m. to beat the DC traffic so all the morning responsibilities fall on me. I love my mornings with the kids when they’ve had a good night sleep. They’re so smile-ly and energized. I also know my time with them is limited in the mornings, which helps me enjoy it.

By 9 a.m. I’m out the door with the kids. Depending on the day I have one or two drop-offs. My youngest attends an in-home place three days a week and a preschool two days a week. The in-home place does me a solid on days that I need to travel or have longer hours for work, she’ll take both my kids. I have no idea how I could hold a job if she didn’t help me out. The flip side is that it’s only one woman so when she is sick, like she’s been for a week plus on occasion, I’m pretty screwed.

photo: Ryan Fields via unsplash

Our childcare is fully built around my schedule and because my husband’s commute is so long he is useless in being my backstop without major planning. Even though we’re lucky in that we’ve made some strategic choices that allow us to live within our means—like we bought a small house with a small mortgage, there is no cleaning service and no nail salons or spa visits—I still always panic that it’s not enough and I check our checking account weekly to make sure daycare payments and credit card bills aren’t going to bounce. We need a bigger house because my 3-year-old lives in a closet. We need a house closer to my husband’s work so he can help with the parenting responsibilities.
Mid-day: Sometimes My Actual Work Suffers Because I Work from Home (But Don’t Tell My Boss)
After drop off I sprint the mile home to get to work. I’ve now checked off my “exercise” for the day.I log-in to work for the next 4-5 hours. I work from home so at least I don’t have a real commute (unless you count the preschool/daycare drop-off). My spouse sees my time working at home as ‘me’ time so I also often do some loads of laundry, pause to mow the lawn, vacuum, change sheets, prep dinner, etc. during my work time.

This is also when I squeeze in an intense Board Role work, counseling sessions to deal with communication and anxiety issues and doctors appointments for me and the kids. All of the add-ons to my work days leave me scrambling to meet my hours. Work drops dead at 3:10 p.m. so I can run and pick up the kids and avoid minute-by-minute late fees.
Afternoon: Finally, Family Time
3:45-5 p.m. is family time. I play outside with the kids, do art projects, bring them to playgrounds, go to the library, or run errands that I couldn’t squeeze in to my work day hours. I’m usually more short-tempered than I want to be during this period because I’m thinking about the long list of things that still needs to get done for the day and anxious to get through the time together without burning down the house.

photo: Janelle Connor

The kids both get to choose one show each to watch while I make dinner, which is an adventurous nightly challenge since we’ve been without an oven for a year. Dad usually arrives home from work around 6 or 7 p.m. burnt out and uninterested in playing with anyone, but the kids just want to wrestle. We try to wait for him for dinner, but usually we’re all so hungry that we are finished and he eats alone. I feel bad, but I also get really hangry and have not mastered waiting until after the kids go to bed to eat with him.
Evening: I Love Our Evenings
After dinner around 6 p.m. we try to go for a family walk in the neighborhood. Then snack, baths three days a week, two books and bedtime. The five year old goes down smoothly by 8 p.m. If the three year old was allowed to nap by one of his daycare providers he might keep bouncing off the walls until 10 p.m. or later.

photo: Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash
After the Kids Bedtime: My Husband Won’t Stop Talking
Once the kids are in bed I turn back to the house to tackle the chores that have accumulated. I’ll do the dishes, put away any really bad messes and sweep the floor. Thankfully our house is small so everything is done in under an hour. If there is time I’ll try to tackle some online bills or sneak in another hour of work to stay on top of the stuff I shirked to do during my actual work day.

At some point, I know my husband will want to talk to me, when I have to pause and listen to him and have deep discussions. I try to not be resentful—I mean I actually really enjoy this guy, but sometimes it seems more important to keep my sanity by keeping things flowing at home than hearing his thoughts on electric cars or what we’ll do when we retire. I try to sneak in a few updates on the kids days and talk about immediate plans that he needs to be in the know about or that I need his weigh-in before moving forward.

photo: rawpixel from Pixabay

Sometimes I wish we had entered couples counseling before having kids. Or, talked to someone that preps you and your spouse with a lot of questions and scenarios and works through them with you so that you both know what the other one is thinking better. Oh well, maybe we can do this in the future.

I try to get into bed by 10 p.m., but usually, it’s more like 10:30 p.m. My husband goes to bed at the same time as me. I try to have a strict ‘no talking to me’ policy in bed while I go through my long and slow reading a book routine to fall asleep, but sometimes he’ll start talking about stuff again. It’s a good conversation, but I usually get short because I just want to sleep.

Hopefully by 11:30 p.m. I’m zonked out. About 60% of nights the kids now sleep through the night; other times we’re up and down between the two of them with nightmares and wet beds and needs for glasses of water.

I try to incorporate mindfulness and multi-tasking into my life. I am most successful when I can acknowledge when a situation sucks or when it’s awesome and embrace that acknowledgment, then move on. I keep this in mind as I drift off into dreamland.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.