Toronto Zoo
TOP

In it together

My wife will likely be taking a year’s leave of absence from her current job to be the director of a local non-profit community organization. She’s very excited about the opportunity because she loves doing community work and because it will also give her some valuable management experience that she can take back to her former position. The trouble is that the non-profit sector doesn’t pay quite as well as the public sector, and her new position will mean a substantial decrease in salary.

She and I chatted quite a lot about this before she made her decision, and we’ve done a few things to get us through that period. We restructured our mortgage. I’ll be working more paying hours. And we’ll also be tightening our belts a fair amount as a family.

This isn’t a huge deal for me. I can remember when we were first married, still in university, scraping by on a month to month basis. We know how to stick to a budget when the need arises. We’ve been there before.

Our kids, however, definitely haven’t been there before. We have taught them about budgeting, about saving for things they’d like, about not spending frivolously. We’ve also tried to model for them a lifestyle that doesn’t make wild expenditures or splurge on things that aren’t necessities. But they’ve never before been in a situation where we honestly won’t have the money to do some of the things they want. It’s entirely new territory for them.

So, we sat them down yesterday, and we had a family chat. We talked about how sometimes in order for one person in the family to do something, we all need to shift our lives a little, like when a kid wants to play soccer or take dance class and the parents need to make time to get them there. We talked about how this was a bigger change than normal, a pretty big decision, but how we thought it was the right one, and how we would all need to make some sacrifices in order to let mom help some some people who needed it.

They were a little wary of all this, especially when it became clear that it meant losing some of their little treats, like buying snack at the local market after school on Mondays and ordering pizza once in a while. The idea that we really wouldn’t have the money for things like that was hard for them to grasp. In the end, though, they started to get on board, and this morning I heard one of my kids bragging to his friend about his mom’s new job.

So, here we go, all of us in it together, on a year’s adventure.