Telling the kids about job loss - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 09-23-2012, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In August we moved our family across the state for a new job for my DH. He was looking for a change and this offered a great salary, benefits, etc. We cleaned out our savings and took on some debt in order to move. I was thinking about being a SAHM but after much discussion we decided I should work to help pay down our student loans. Jobs here are few and far between, but I found a decent one, although the pay is not great.

Last week my DH new boss told him that he felt they just didn't communicate well and gave him a 30 day notice. He spent all of three months there.

This is a huge blow to our family because he was/is our main wage earner. We are going to go from comfortable to just above the poverty line. We will be collecting unemployment and food assistance, and may need to do things like sell some possessions to make ends meet. We hadn't yet rebuilt our savings, so our emergancy fund is only about two weeks worth. I was paying off the debts we aquired moving. greensad.gif

In addition to trying to figure out how to make our lives work on my very small salary, I'm struggling to figure out how to tell my kids about this major change. They are 5 and 2, so little ones. But now my 5 year old will need to be eating (the now free) breakfast and lunch at school, and my little one will be home all day with daddy. Things they enjoy, like the occasional zoo/museum trip, are no longer in the budget. So this change will affect their daily lives in ways they will both notice and care about. And, of course, I feel it is important for them to know why daddy is sad/mad about his job.

I am so very angry about this situation that I'm having trouble thinking rationally about how to break this news to my kids. Any ideas?

CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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#2 of 12 Old 09-23-2012, 09:03 AM
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I'm sorry about your loss.  I think I would start by emphasizing the positives, such as dad being home more.  And I would say that now you have to make "careful choices" about how to spend your money.  (Try to avoid using words such as "poor.")   


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#3 of 12 Old 09-23-2012, 11:36 AM
 
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I've gone through many job changes with my DS. He is now 12 and honestly, its just part of life.  Not always a positive, or something I had planned on but its part of life.  I didn't necessarily tell DS 'mommy lost a job'  or 'mommy got fired/downsized/laid off'.

 

I've learned to become very resourceful in planning free activities, yes the zoo is out but a zoo membership for a birthday gift is a welcome substitute!.  The county fair is a no, but a picnic at the park is just as fun.  The library in our area has tons of kids programs as well as career workshops and resume clinics.

 

Free breakfast/Lunch at school - can you still send a healthy snack?  I work in a school district and even kids who take the free meals - bring snacks or 'fillers' from home.  (look at the menu, some days are just dizzy.gif and grossedout.gif)  We do have an offering of 'veggie bar' and fruit cup at each meal (sometimes applesauce and broccoli etc)

 

Get in touch with the school counselor or social worker to  just let her know what is going on.  The school generally has resources available. IDK if you need referrals to food pantry, coat closets, utility assistance etc.

 

I would keep it simple for the kids.  You guys just moved in August?? Its only September- everyone is adjusting, things aren't working out as planned.  Daddy is sad about that.  Daddy is happy he gets to work another 2 weeks but we need everyone's help to be responsible.  (recycle cans, plastic bottle if you have deposits, turn off lights, save left overs etc)  Daddy is going to be home more and mommy is going to be working.  This is just something family's do.  We are a family and we love each other.


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#4 of 12 Old 09-24-2012, 03:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your thoughtful responses.  I think you are right about playing up the positives such as daddy being home more, getting to ride the bus (instead of mom taking you to/from school) and exploring free activities in the community.  I've already sourced out a free martial arts "club" that the whole family can attend together, and several free local events.

 

The situation is slightly more complex because I'm a teacher in the same school my daughter attends.  I logically know there is nothing shameful about needing help, but I am an intensely private person and it is hard to have my entire community aware of my troubles.

 

Honestly it is the school breakfast/lunch thing that is stressing us out the most (which is silly, since maybe the $200 shortfall before we buy any food should be the stress).  But my eldest is a very picky eater.  She likes only a very small range of foods.  Thankfully, they are inexpensive ones such as corn tortillas, apples, and green beans.  It hurts my heart to not put organic and minimally processed food in front of her for every meal, but we need every penny and free lunch is, well, free.  Of course, if she flat out refuses to eat it I suppose the cost is a non-issue.  At least the healthy food act means that the food is reasonably healthy and real (not heavily processed).  Since we live in a small town most of the food is also made here on site, which I think also helps keep the health factor higher.

 

I will be applying for food aid.  We make about $50 a week too much for the state food assistance plan, but we do qualify for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) assistance.  It isn't as much, but it will help us buy staples like fresh fruits, milk, and cereal.  My eldest will age out of it in November, but we will still get a little help based on my younger daughter still qualifying.  That same $50 a week also prices us out of utility assistance.

 

We are also going to be able to have both the kids on the state health care plan called CHP+.  That $50 a week makes us eneligable for Medicade coverage, and I'm so grateful there is a plan in place to help us cover the kids for a very reasonable cost.  I don't feel wonderful about not having coverage for my husband, but if we add him to my insurance we will be majorly underwater each month.  We are trying to source out some short term disaster insurance that we can afford.

 

Clothing I am not too worried about because that is one thing I'm certain the grandparents will happily buy for us, and we also have several nice consignment/thrift stores locally if we need something.  My husband and I can easily make due with what we have for a long time. (Hopefully this situation is not permanent.)  I've also saved my eldest daughter's clothing for the younger, so really it is only my eldest that I would need to worry about. 

 

And yes, we just moved the family at the end of June.  So our support network here is not fully established yet.  In many ways that makes it harder as I don't yet have a good friend nearby to lean on at this difficult time.


CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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#5 of 12 Old 09-24-2012, 05:59 PM
 
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What state are you in? I ask because we also call our kids health insuarance program here in CO, CHP+. There is also a supplemental food program here called "Commodities" that will take your kiddo through 6 if you need it to. Although it's a federal program, not all stated participate, CO does.
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#6 of 12 Old 09-25-2012, 07:12 AM
 
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First, I am so sorry to hear that you uprooted your family for a job that didn't pan out.  

 

Second, I don't think kids process job losses like adults do.  My DH was laid off all off 2009 and parts of 2008 and 2010.  DS2 was three, four and five years old at the time.  He proudly told strangers that "My dad got laid off." and now at seven refers to it as the "good old days when I stayed home with Daddy"   I get that the free lunch is uncomfortable for you, but the way it is structured other five year olds are not going to know and most wouldn't care. 

 

I think the most important thing you can do for your kids are to nurture you marriage in this situation.  It is going to be stressful, but you need to remember that you are on the same team.  

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#7 of 12 Old 09-26-2012, 12:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lunarlady View Post
I will be applying for food aid.  We make about $50 a week too much for the state food assistance plan, but we do qualify for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) assistance.  It isn't as much, but it will help us buy staples like fresh fruits, milk, and cereal.  My eldest will age out of it in November, but we will still get a little help based on my younger daughter still qualifying.  That same $50 a week also prices us out of utility assistance.

 

And yes, we just moved the family at the end of June.  So our support network here is not fully established yet.  In many ways that makes it harder as I don't yet have a good friend nearby to lean on at this difficult time.

If there's any local mom's groups, reach out.  What's the worst that could happen, you end up in the same situation your currently are?  Case in point, a lady joined one of my mom groups last October or so.  Things happened in that family, and 1-2 gals had the idea of collecting up things so they could have a Christmas.  We collected and dropped off half a minivan full of stuff - gifts (clothing, toys), food, a few things for mom and dad, etc.  Still gives me the warm fuzzies (and she definitely appreciated it, we're good friends now).

 

Anyway, phrasing it that 'yeah, how cool is it that we get to have more family time!?!' and 'check it out, it's creative dinner night!' and such can definitely help.  Hubby was laid off for a bit in 2009 right after we got pregnant with #4, I had my first prenatal appt at 33 weeks when we had health insurance/income again.  Wasn't fun, and he spent the whole next year in a neighboring state working (only place he could find a job at that time) so it was just pregnant/post partum me and 3-4 kids 90% of the time.  Sucked serious @$$ for most of that year, but it ended up being a good thing for us in several ways, and paved the way for him to get his awesome job that he currently has.  :)  One door closes and a window opens and all that.

Wouldn't worry about the kids on free lunch or anything.  I *wish* my family could've qualified for free lunch back in the 80's, but our annual income was $40 too high.  Yes, you read that right.  I knew this stuff when I was 9-10yo, for sure (granted, my dad didn't hesitate to blame me and my sister for that stuff, but still).  Kids are resilient.  If you love them and guide them and all that jazz, they'll think it's hunky dory or some new adventure.  For example, when we thought we were moving because of the hell job hubby had for that year?  I kept talking up the new city to the kids, telling them about the fun stuff we could do there, etc.  When inside, I was a mess because this is my own little town where I've slowly accumulated friends, this is the house three of my children were born in...  So it was almost a letdown to the kids when we ended up not moving, but hey, it could've been worse.

 

 

 

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Originally Posted by mnnice View Post

 

I think the most important thing you can do for your kids are to nurture you marriage in this situation.  It is going to be stressful, but you need to remember that you are on the same team.  

Yup, this.  It's going to be a bit nerve-wracking for you guys, and marriage is hard work sometimes even during all the happy rainbows and unicorns days. 


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(If you're curious, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, and yes, it's a busy house)
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#8 of 12 Old 09-27-2012, 09:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What state are you in? I ask because we also call our kids health insuarance program here in CO, CHP+. There is also a supplemental food program here called "Commodities" that will take your kiddo through 6 if you need it to. Although it's a federal program, not all stated participate, CO does.

Yes, we are in CO. I will have to check out commodities. Thanks for the tip!

CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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#9 of 12 Old 10-09-2012, 04:04 PM
 
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How are things going?

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#10 of 12 Old 10-10-2012, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, tomorrow is his last day of paid work, and so things are about to hit the fan so to speak. My mom sent us a little money, and a big box of clothing for the kids, which was super nice. My largest struggle is DH. He keeps buying things and saying "might as well spend it while we still can.". Drives me crazy because money is not like fruit...it's not going to spoil if you don't spend it! Not that he is going crazy or anything, just buying little things (like snack foods) that are not in our super paired down by 70% budget. The kids are fine but my eldest still refuses to eat hot lunch. My little one is excited to be home with Daddy all day. And the eldest is excited to start riding the bus home to daddy. So hopefully things will transition smoothly. We have a few months before we burn through the savings and things get desperate. Hanging in there and hoping hubby finds something.

CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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#11 of 12 Old 10-10-2012, 10:52 PM
 
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As others have said, kids don't perceive these things the same way adults do.  Personally, I don't feel that it's right to burden kids (especially little ones) with worries about financial/employment concerns.  If you can keep on a brave face and explain things positively, they'll follow your lead.

 

A close family member was in similar circumstances long ago.  She recently told me of a day where the only food she had left in the house was a bag of carrots, a small amount of butter, and a little milk.  None of her four kids had been fond of carrots, so she was very worried.  She got up early and steamed the carrots before the kids woke up.  She mashed them up with the butter, poured in a little milk, and then divided it out into small bowls so that each person in the family would get two meager servings that day.  To her surprise--the kids were very happy and one of them exclaimed "We're having sunshine for breakfast!"  Fortunately, circumstances did eventually improve.  However, her kids would continue to request "Sunshine breakfast" occasionally.  Kids are resilient little creatures.  Good luck!

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#12 of 12 Old 10-13-2012, 01:56 PM
 
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DH should apply for unemployment if he hasn't already.  While being eligible for unemployment if very YLMV situation generally when you are laid off versus outright fired you are going to be eligible.  It would be worthwhile to pursue it even if it ends up a dead end.

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