Fathers weigh in on "having it all"Like many fathers, Matt Zirnhelt of Grand Forks is a very involved dad, juggling the many responsibilities of work and family life and making sure he and his wife, Tara, are there for their daughter, Violet, 5.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
Like many fathers, Matt Zirnhelt of Grand Forks is a very involved dad, juggling the many responsibilities of work and family life and making sure he and his wife, Tara, are there for their daughter, Violet, 5.
Matt works long hours during the weekend. Tara, who has worked regular daytime hours, is looking for a position that would allow her to be home when her husband isn’t.
“With our two different shifts, Violet had one of us at home all the time,” Matt said. “One of the challenges we’ll have in the fall is that I’ll have less time with Violet. She’ll be going to day care.”
Do people in their age group have it all?
“It depends on what they want that ‘all’ to be,” Matt said. “Is that vacation at the lake as good as a vacation in Florida? Are there things we want to do to the house? Sure. We still have goals and dreams.
“We’re not struggling by any means. For the most part, we do what we want,” he said. “You can be happy with whatever you have.”
Among their friends he sees some who are frugal and some “who spend their paycheck in one night,” he said. “The majority of the people I know keep their appetites small enough to stay within their means. People with families tend to be more frugal.”
His family is always on the lookout for ways to entertain themselves “without breaking the bank,” he said. “You think you’re going to be able to do the same things as you did before the baby, but you’re going to have to make sacrifices.
“We all make our compromises at times.”
Ryan and Erin Schmaltz of Grand Forks both work outside the home, Ryan at Nodak Electric Cooperative and Erin as a nurse at Altru Hospital.
Finding balance “is a little tough” at times, Ryan said, especially when his wife works a late shift and their daughter, Eva, 20 months, needs to be dropped off or be picked up from day care.
“It gets a little hectic,” he said. “But we kind of make it work.”
He’s noticed that friends who don’t have kids “have nicer things” and go to restaurants and bars more often. “But that lifestyle is going to change when they have kids.”
One’s level of satisfaction depends on how one was raised, he said. In the past, people with larger families could live more cheaply than today.
“My wife and I have a good balance. Yes, there are things we want that we may have to wait for.”
Those things may drive decisions about the number of children they have and when they have them.
“Day care can get pretty expensive, at $500 a month for one kid,” he said. “And then you add a second kid in day care, and then a third. At would point does it not pay for the spouse to work?”
Call Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1107; or send e-mail to email@example.com.