Lacking Family Time

Q: Due to some very unfortunate circumstances, my husband and I had to increase our work schedules. I now work two jobs while my husband has taken a bunch more hours at the factory. We have two girls at home (17 and 11). It's gotten so bad that we've had to put the 17-year-old in charge while we're both at work. As of now, I come home at 8pm and by that time it's much too late to actually cook dinner or do anything other than sit on the couch. My husband doesn't get home until 1am, sometimes later. I basically never see him. You can imagine what this is doing to our family, both emotionally and physically. I miss our old life. And even then it was rough, but not like this. Do you have any advice on how we can spend quality time together when we are all together? -Jacklyn, 52

Dr. Anna: This sounds like such a tough situation. When your back is up against the wall, it can be hard to see the bigger picture. In the short term, during the time you do have together try setting some screen-free activities that all of you can do. Whether that's the four of you pitching in to finally clean out that closet or playing a board game together. You can also write notes for your loved ones and leave them as surprises for when they get home. Small gestures are important in maintaining connection with family.

Longer term, it might make sense to think about other options, whether it's possible to downsize, lower your cost of living, renegotiate debt, or change your spending so that you can work less. Sometimes that's not possible, but sometimes it is. During the time you do have with your husband, talk to him about how you've been feeling and try to work together to see if there is any path to working less eventually.

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