The End of Entitlement: Our Twin Family Experience

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Always tending toward lifechange x 2, my husband and I recently made an involuntary exodus from gainful employment to the land of lost jobs.

In truth, we feel highly optimistic about our prospects (“First one to get a job with benefits wins!”), and appreciate the fact we are being forced to actually walk our aspirational talk.

For years, Scott and I have bemoaned the societal trend of maximum expectation for minimum (if any) effort. [e.g. “I’ve got my degree, I should have a higher-paying gig.” “I exercised for 10 minutes, why are my thighs still big?” “I was on the last place team, and look at my trophy!”]

With frugality now at the fore, I realize how some of my previous parenting practices unknowingly nurtured that instinct for immediate gratification with our twins.

After reading an iVillage piece by renowned parenting expert and educational psychologist Dr. Michele Borba, with tips on talking about the presently challenging economic times with children, here were my thoughts:

Our twins are seven; and while we certainly wish to retain their innocence as long as wisely feasible, we feel they — much like we — have much to learn about fiscal responsibility and the value of indulgences we’ve previously (and embarrassingly) taken for granted.

A three+ year freelance gig for me evaporated in December with the proliferation of corporate bankruptcies; and last Friday, my husband’s nearly 15 years of employment at Circuit City drew to a close.

Never for one minute did we contemplate “not telling” our children the truth.

We won’t be going out to eat so much. We won’t be buying books impromptu with every visit to Barnes & Noble. We will think twice about “unnecessary” expenditures — budget streamlining we could have – and probably should have – done before. As a result, we think we’ll be teaching our children the import of hard work, prioritization skills and the all-too-often overlooked”treat” aspect of so many purchases/outings previously perceived as the norm.

We are not fearful, and have voiced that truth frequently to our children. There ARE jobs to be had, and while they may not pay what we were accustomed to, they will help us make ends meet until the “right” gig(s) comes along.

Perhaps I sound in denial, or worse, delusional, but there are facets of our current situation for which I am extraordinarily grateful. Windows for re-defining entertainment and family time have availed themselves already, and I am confident we’ll have a clearer, healthier perspective for the temporary challenge.

Is your family confronting economic shift? Have tips, ideas or thoughts to share? Please leave a comment!
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cross-posted from our family blog, Twinfatuation

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11 thoughts on “The End of Entitlement: Our Twin Family Experience”

  1. My husband lost his job this week. In November he left a job that he had for nine years for what we thought would be a better opportunity….a government job. Unfortunately he was told that they over-hired for the vacant positions and had to let him go. We were already in financial panic mode. This has just added more pressure. The resumes are out and we can only keep our fingers crossed. Thankfully our twins are only two and they won’t know the difference. What this dip in the economy HAS taught us – or rather, reminded us – is how to live simply again. How to live with what we’ve got instead of always acquiring more “things.” I feel like I’m in denial too – but the thought of enjoying what we’ve got and becoming more aware of the wonder and beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis is really exciting and so far has been very liberating. I’ll definitely keep my fingers crossed for all of us to get jobs – sooner tha later. (PS – I read your book when my girls were infants) and before I discovered twin blog world and I loved it – it helped me out alot!)

  2. My husband’s company gave everyone a mandatory five-day furlough. Five days without pay is certainly do-able if it means no layoffs, but there’s talk the furloughs will happen quarterly, which is quite a stressful thought. I really like the fact that you’ve taken a positive approach to your situation. It’s making me re-evaluate my own emotions. My daughters are only three so the entire concept is something they can’t grasp yet, but, like you I always want to tell them the truth about finances when they’re old enough to understand.

  3. I agree that there is no time like the present to remind ourselves of what “need” vs. “want” is all about…this from the girl who just returned from Target therapy time. :(

    One thing I am working on this week is outlining what items we buy at what stores to see where I can trim some fat. When I shop at too many stores, I end up buying too much food that goes to waste, and simply too many “things.”

    One of the best money tips I have is to preplan your meals…maybe with a theme thrown in. For example, if you had a mexican week, you would need salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, black beans and a few other items and could make quesidia’s, taco’s, taco salad, nacho’s, enchilladas, Mexican soup, etc. (Sorry about the spelling). I think the trick is to have less variety in your grocery cart, and use all your leftovers. At least that is what I am concentrating on right now.

    I really am hoping that you and your husband get new jobs ASAP.

  4. Cheryl,
    I think the fact that your perspective is so good, you will ultimately be very successful.
    Sounds like you have a lot of great plans under way and I will tell you, a great way to save $$$ that i use is making natural foods. (nothing prepackaged) It’s so much cheaper to make homemade cookies than it is to buy a bag of Chips Ahoy, etc….

    praying you have much success in your job hunts :)

  5. I lost my job during maternity leave with my twins. I’m now at home with them while I finish some schooling (my husband is, for the time, still employed). My 4 year old son has gone from 5 days of preschool down to 2 half days to make ends meet.
    We do a lot of free/cheep outings: play at the indoor playground in the mall, take trips to different parks, the library, trade movies with friends…lots of ways to be creative.
    We now plan meals and make our food at home 95% of the time – a huge savings. There are lots of ways to cut corners without making big life changes.
    We explain to our 4 year old “Everyone has to make choices on what to spend their money on…we’re choosing something else (insert something fun and relevant to him)”…when explaining why he can’t have a “treat”.
    Like you said, it’s a good way to live and probably one we should have been doing for a long time.
    Best of luck to you in your search! Let us know how it goes!

  6. Cheryl–I’m sorry to hear that your family is dealing with the financial stress of being out of work, although I am impressed with how positively you are approaching the issues.

    Couple of thoughts while we’re talking about saving money:
    Krissy talked about planning meals–also making twice as much and freezing some!
    Free activiites at libraries etc.. are fantastic

    Here’s hoping you find the job market improving quickly!

  7. I’m also going to be losing my job soon – but my husband and I don’t have children yet, so I think that will lessen the financial stress. Like you, if I have to get a job that just pays the bills (even if it’s waiting tables) that’s what I’ll do. Hopefully my recently finished MBA will open up some doors for me, but I”m being realistic too.
    :) Becky aka StinkyLemsky

  8. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve both been forced back on the job market, but what an inspiring attitude you have! I’m so thankful that my husband, in-laws and I all work for the government and have comparative longevity in our positions. It’s a scary time.

    Although our finances haven’t been touched, we have begun to be more responsible. We recently starting working with a financial planner and got our affairs in order. As a result of deciding to eat healthier, our grocery bill has dropped significantly and eating out has practically ceased.

    I haven’t done a good job of teaching our kids about frugality, though. Your post inspires me to think about how 2-year-olds can learn about prioritization in some sense other than time management. I know they’re mature enough for simple stuff.

  9. I just went through this.

    I am on mat leave right now and our twin boys are 1 year old as of January 29th. We get a year off in Canada so I was 10 months in to my mat leave when my husband lost his job mid-November. So there we were, right before Christmas and leading up to the boys’ first birthday, not to mention the fact that we were set to move house on January 8th! Probably one of the most expensive times in our lives and all of a sudden neither of us was getting a full time salary. Talk about stress!

    The happy pictures of the boys’ first Christmas and birthdays are tinged with a look of what can only be described as fear on my face and my husband’s face. We had no idea what would happen but had to believe that a job for my husband was right around the corner. Even though it had been 6 weeks already without so much as an interview.

    The good news is that the “drought” is due to end this coming week when I go back to work and my husband starts his new job. We will go from a 1/2 income family (my mat leave paid 55% of my full pay) to a 2 income family again.

    Though the time was stressful, we are very proud that we made it through and managed to smile and laugh with our boys every day. We did our best to remain optimistic as we celebrated important days with our boys and moved in to a house we could no longer afford. We knew that a job was out there for my husband, he just had to find it.

    And one of the good things about having twins, or having any children is that you are forced to go about your daily life as though all is well because stuff has to get done! I was happy to have our boys to distract me every day from the reality of our situation.

    I wish you every success in this “bump” in the road. Keep telling yourself “it is temporary”. And be there for your husband if his self-esteem takes a hit as my husband’s did.

    Thinking of you.

    Carrie

  10. WOW! You all are a remarkable lot! Thank you so much for the tips, empathy and encouragement…I’m going to share your thoughts with our Double Daddy.

    May we ALL find our needs met and a wealth of happiness in the coming year — and beyond!

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