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Balance: Work and Family

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by newspaperman, May 10, 2011.

  1. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    Pretty interesting Frankenthread to come back to life ... I thought when I left my SE job for education 13 years ago, that was it. It was a clean break.

    I've been a full-time high school teacher for 13 years and was a daily newspaper reporter for nine. Yet, I still consider myself a journalist, not a teacher (and yes, I do teach journalism for 1/3 of my day, but I wasn't hired into that position). I was named my school's Teacher of the Year a couple of years back and still feel like a fish out of water in the classroom and at home when I'm writing (I mention that not to toot my own horn, but simply to point out you *can* be successful in another field and it still feel foreign to you).

    Within two weeks of starting my teaching gig, I was asked by a friend to do play-by-play (which has always been a passion of mine) for high school football. Another friend - an SE - asked me to freelance. I've kept my toes dipped in the water ever since, and probably work more now than I ever did as an SE when I was pulling 70-hour weeks. I've worked my way up to being a broadcaster in pro hockey, do weekend work on the PR staff for a major racetrack, while still broadcasting and writing in other areas on the side. I'm a broadcaster and a journalist, but I have a "real job" to put food on the table. You can leave this business, but it never really leaves you. Every now and then, I look at PR jobs just simply because I'd like to go back to doing what I love and am wired to do full-time, but then I remember my 13 weeks of vacation every year (and those 13 weeks match my kids' vacation). I pretty much shut down in the summer so I can be a dad.

    As far as dealing with a family ... it's a grind. My wife works as a reporter/desker for a tiny 5-day-a-week county newspaper, works nights for really, really low pay, hasn't seen a raise in 10 years. We have two kids. Between me working 2-3 jobs at any given time of the year and her working several nights a week, we have to do a significant juggle as far as child care. When things get busy for both of us, we might only have one or two meals together as a family in a week. We make it work because this business is in our blood ... but the other part is, being married to a fellow journalist means your spouse is going to understand the long nights, crazy hours, days where you're basically a single parent, the days cooped up in the home office because your editor has just dumped a ton of last-minute work in your lap (as often happens to my wife). Parenting is both the must frustrating and the most rewarding thing you'll ever do. But the latter far outweighs the former. You can have a career in this business and a family, but you will have to work at it.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
    WriteThinking likes this.
  2. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    That's how we did it before our kids started school so we could avoid paying for daycare (and it remains that way, but that's largely due to factors beyond our control ... my spouse has dipped her toe in the waters of looking for other jobs since our kids are now in school). When we have conflicts, they are few enough that the grandparents can step in.

    But work on your marriage and family when that happens. Because your time together is so limited, you have to make the most of the time you do have together. Turn off the phone, stay off social media, don't even think about work. Focus on your spouse and kids.
  3. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    How did you manage the transition to teaching as far as licensing, certification, and other education-specific aspects? I'm giving secondary education a close look as teaching at two- and four-year schools all but requires a PhD, and given the job market for PhDs I'm not sure the life of an adjunct is worth another three to four years of making next to no money. What gives me pause, though, is how I would continue to pay the rent if/when I do the licensing program and Praxis tests, let alone any student teaching.
  4. stix

    stix Active Member

    I mean, as tough as this job is, sports journalists aren’t the only people to struggle with work-life balance.

    Honestly, I get kind of annoyed that my colleagues think this is the hardest job in the world for families. My best friend is a police seargent who pretty much has to work every single holiday.

    Point is, life is what you make of it. If you can’t find a healthy work/family balance in this job, I’d be willing to bet you can’t find it in another one, either.

    No matter your profession, it’s really up to you to figure out how to balance your life.
    MNgremlin likes this.
  5. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    At the time, Indiana's transition to teaching required undergrad coursework in license area + 18 weeks of part-time student teaching (5 hours/week). We were a PM paper, so I worked the morning deadline shift, then went and spent two afternoons a week in the classroom. Took a a year and a half. I believe now, at least in Indiana, college degree + passing the Praxis test in the content area is about all that's needed. It's up to each state.
    TrooperBari likes this.
  6. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I hope Nebraska's setup is similar as my degree choice (Asian Studies for undergrad, International Affairs for Masters) might be a bit esoteric for secondary education.
  7. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    This over and over again. Spot on.

    I was still in sports about 15 years ago when our children were born and, dammit when our local pro sports teams would win and advance on in the NHL or NBA. That meant about two weeks of hell. THAT was when I knew I had to get out.

    My ex and I raised two pretty spectacular children for those first years. I was the "morning parent", she was the "afternoon parent'. Then, somewhere around them both getting to elementary school, she lost interest in the actual parenting part of it all. That being said, I credit the tight bond that I have with my son and daughter to being because I was always there in the mornings. While I worked late at night, I would make some the time knowing that - one day - I probably wouldn't have the time and they would have other things going on.
  8. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    I agree that work/life balance can be hard to find in any career. There are lots of careers that provide that struggle (cop, firefighter, nurse, among them).

    However, the travel, the mandatory second-shift hours, the amount of night/weekend work, the 24/7 nature of a journalism job well done, does make it difficult. But it can be done. You simply MUST budget your time and make it work. It's not easy, but you try make the most of the family time you do have and LET YOURSELF GET AWAY FROM THE JOB.
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