Deciding between job w/ brutal commute & remote job w/ travel

Hi parent community,

My husband is considering between his current job (3 hr round trip commute, 5 days a week in office, high stress, but strong “brand” and he loves the work) and a new job offer that seems *much* better in a lot of ways (remote, significant pay increase, more work/life balance, less stress, but less exciting/hip). We’re in a very privileged position to even have this dilemma - and, I am looking for advice. I want to do the right thing for our whole family.

it seems like a no-brainer on paper that he should take the new job; however, I’m feeling really anxious about the monthly travel. We have a 3.75 year old and a 4 month old baby and I just returned back at my full-time job (80% remote, flexible, but demanding). We don’t have family nearby to help, but with the pay bump we could hire help. Though how easy is it to find someone to support for like 12 hours a month doing both babysitting/household type tasks? Husband doesn’t want to actively job search so if he doesn’t take this job he’d keep the current one and there isn’t much room to set additional boundaries for better balance. But he’d be open to future opportunities via recruiters.

I’m also worried about not having a network of people I could call on for support in a minor emergency while my husband was traveling (ex: sprain my ankle, which unfortunately I’m prone to, or if I’m seriously ill. Like, right now I have “mild” pneumonia due to the lack of sleep from this season of life, and my husband has taken over most of the cooking/post childcare routine with the kids because I’ve been out of commission a few days. 

But at the same time, my husband is currently not able to care for myself, or work on his reactivity, is physically or emotionally unavailable for most days (like might be home for dinner a couple days per week but can’t hold a conversation, regularly lashes out at me due to being depleted/stressed, and our relationship really sucks at the moment. Imagining him being remote, more available to me and our family, less stressed for 75% of the time sounds liberating! But the travel makes me panic.

1. How do people find/build a support network for both regular household/babysitting type support, and those people to call on during an actual emergency when your coparent isn’t available (with no other family around)?

2) And in general, what advice do you have for making this decision? Am I overthinking this? Can you give me hope if he were to take the new job? Thank you!

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

First of all - I feel ya. Young kids, full time jobs, and all the stress that comes from that. I'm in the same boat though my kids are a bit older now. I think this is a bigger issue than what job is right though. You mention being ill because of this "season of life" and your husband's reactivity and I think that goes deeper than just the job choice. Whether he makes the job change or not you both need more support! You are totally in the thick of the most stressful/sleepless time when it comes to parenting so there's no judgement here but get more help and quick! 

Do you have the space to hire an au pair? That might give you onsite and flexible support for the day to day AND for the times your husband is gone. Alternatively I have found good luck with Urbansitter for last minute babysitter needs and also to find a regular babysitter. Would a night nanny for a brief time help while you're little one goes through sleep regressions? 

As for the job, I definitely think any choice that lowers the daily stress is the right one and sounds like the new job is the better option. Good luck!

When my kids were younger, I was in a similar situation where my husband traveled a lot for work, and we didn't have family in the area. We found a single mom with a child the similar age as my older child that I met at a mom's group. This mom wanted to be home with her child when he was young, so this was a win-win situation for both of us. We paid her a fixed amount every week and she would come to our house and babysit all the kids (or take them out somewhere). It worked as a playdate for our older child and while they were playing, she was able to care for our baby. Her schedule was flexible, so she was able to help out in emergencies. Not sure if this would work for you, but just wanted to share what worked for us. 

Hi, can you describe the travel that would be expected in the new job? For example, is it one week every month, or two days at a time, or...? And is the travel planned in advance or more ad hoc (i.e., how much notice would you have so you can plan for help)?

I would definitely take my partner traveling one week a month over commuting 3 hours every single day. It sounds like your job is flexible; maybe you could work a little more during the 75% of the time your husband is around so you can work a bit less when he's gone. You can definitely find hired help that you bring in inconsistently - you may end up needing a few different babysitters to make it work, but it's doable especially if you are able to pay well. I would also actively try to cultivate the kind of network you're talking about, maybe through your kids' daycare/preschool. We started a babysitting coop when my older kid was <1 and it has been a life-saver. It is much less active now, 7+ years later, but if I needed someone in an emergency I am sure someone in that network would come through. We have had a few situations like that in the group over the years. We have also gotten to know our neighbors and have a few families within a few blocks who we could drop the kids with if something came up, from something serious to just needing someone to walk the kids to school if I have a last-minute meeting. It takes work but it's worth it.

I think commuting is DEATH! On 12 hours, our former nanny works 8 hours a week for us which we pay for whether we use her or not because I have semi-frequent night meetings and my husband works at night. She is $35 per hour and is amazing with babies and tidying. I’m happy to connect if you want to connect.

You don't mention in your post the extent of the monthly travel with the potential new job. Would be be one week/month, for example, or just a couple days? I think that will really affect how doable it is for you and how much outside help you'll need. Do you currently have any childcare for your toddler and baby? I don't think it would be too difficult to find a babysitter or a rotation of sitters who you could call on for help a few hours a month. BPN is a good resource for that, as is word-of-mouth from parent friends, or It sounds like either way your husband is not very available to help you currently, so finding external help might be a good move anyway.

It definitely seems like the new job would be a better option, especially for the work/life balance benefit, not to mention the pay increase. As someone whose partner is considering a similar move (from a high stress, poor work-life balance job to a lower stress position - albeit with a significant pay cut), I know what you mean about the downsides of having a coparent who is physically and emotionally unavailable. I am eager for my partner to make the change even though it will mean a hit to our finances. 

I have some advice, but I'm curious about how often your husband has to travel for work. You say monthly, but is it monthly for a week? Or monthly for a few days? It sounds like your current situation is already not working for your family, and if he has a 3 hour commute, what currently happens when you need care and he's not around?

It isn't easy to find someone to help for 12 hours a month, but could you pair up with other families in your neighborhood or friends to provide a full time job to a potential family helper? Or maybe find a nanny share of some kind? I've seen several posts of this nature in several local facebook groups.  

Also, you are in a tough season right now with your 3.75 year old and 4 month old. But it won't last forever! What happens when you look forward to when your kids are 5.75 and 2-ish? Does the new job seem more appealing to you? Your situation is tough now, but kids grow up and become more self sufficient. I hope this helps, and you and your husband come to the decision that helps your family the most!

Hi There, My heart goes out to you. Having kids those ages with a full-time dad/husband in charge of kids-home would be a challenge! So you are in a very tight spot.  Sounds like there are pros and cons to both of the job possibilities.  Also sounds like he's going to chose whatever he wants anyway. It's all on you right now--let's be honest.  If more money and having him gone would help you hire help and have a peaceful home, that could be ok.  If he decides to take the remote job, I would make it clear that you are struggling and need help from him with certain specific home and childcare duties.  Either way, you need another set of hands to help with the work. It almost doesn't matter who provides that other set of hands--nanny or partner.   I won't even get into the fairness of this situation because it sounds so very hard right now.  Please reach out to family and friends and let them know you are struggling and need moral and tactical support.  You deserve support and love so you can keep giving it to your amazing children. 

This is a great question. Unfortunately, only your husband and you can make this decision.  What I have found helps is truly talking about the factors that are most important - e.g. is it short commute, more flexibility, more $$$, ego, brand, etc. etc.  It's hard to have the best - usually there is a tradeoff (as you're facing) between two factors - e.g. 'hip' workplace / brand vs having flexibility - only the two of you can answer that question.  Ideally, of course, the 'hip' place would have a ton of flexibility - but since this is not the case, you can either find a new option or decide what is more important for you / your family / your husband's career.  

In reference to your first question, we have three kids (who are now older) and both had very demanding careers while they were young (and still now).  No family around.  We solved it by having an au-pair - so actually bought a house that would allow us to have one.  That was the only way (we couldn't really afford a nanny).  It would be very hard for me to have to rush to pick ups / drop offs with a day care - this was when we had to be in the office most days.  Perhaps now it's easier.  This person also helped a ton in the evenings and other times.  We had an au-pair for a total of 9 years while the kids were young - our careers prospered and we were held to a standard of no more than 50 hours of support per week.  Rough - but very grateful that we were able to do it. 

That sounds so difficult 😞 no thoughts on #2, but for #1, I have made some good friends physically near me through Buy Nothing, by giving and receiving baby stuff. These people all live near me due to Buy Nothing rules, and obviously have kids because of what we’re asking for or giving away. Not sure where you live but if you’re near North Berkeley, feel free to message me! I’m strongly interested in building a community like this, where we can call on each other for small and big things without tons of overwrought planning. Something that’s similar to what I remember my mom had (when stay-at-home parents were more common and they had time to build local friendships with other nearby parents). Good luck!!!

Hi, wow that sounds like a tough situation. I think you should really listen to your husband on what he wants to do because ultimately it is his career choice. I wonder if you could move closer to his work and if he could ask for a raise giving you a third option. 

on the travel front, you could make that work. I have always traveled for work and my husband sometimes does. We have always had someone help and varied the hours year to year based on what we needed. When unexpected things arose we used urban sitter to find a last minute helper. You can never plan for all the contingencies but we made it work (my son is now 12). 

The commuting sounds brutal so on paper as you said it seems like an easy choice. But I would hate for your husband to end up resenting giving up a job he loved. I know that I would have had a hard time accepting that if my family decided that was the best outcome for me. 

I can't fully answer as I haven't figured out one-off childcare myself yet, but wanted to mention a few things to consider from our experience.

We just moved from my beloved east bay over the bridge to cut my husband's commute by two-thirds. He was spending 2.5 hours a day in the car, with our toddler, 5 days a week and felt extremely drained.  And it put very tight guardrails on our days to plan our whole lives essentially around his commute (I'm in the office 4 days a week). Since the cut to his commute, he's much happier and has much more energy at the end of the day and can take the kiddo out for walks or to the park in the evening, which we could never do before. So shortening a commute, in our experience, has been extremely valuable.

I'm the one with more travel in our family. So, in our case, the fact that my husband's routine has daycare drop-off/pick-up regularly built in is key. If we had to come up with an ad-hoc solution for every time I traveled it would be really tough. Are you able to handle drop offs, to potentially two locations with kids 3.5 years apart, on your own? If your situation works well for that, and you don't ever travel, you could be ok.

We have had times where both of us need to travel, and we've been fortunate to lean on local family with advanced planning. Colleagues of mine with no family around have brought in family to help when they know they'll need it in advance (concurrent business trips). Can be costly, but can be worth it to them for their needs or for a long period of time.  But my constant fear is for our toddler getting sent home sick with no notice when there's only one of us to respond. Or some other kind of emergency. For that I have no brilliant solutions.

The hours available for childcare can make all the difference with your demanding jobs. We barely make it work with 8:30-5:30 childcare. If your situation can offer you a long window, that may alleviate some stress on a day-to-day basis. And if you have flexibility, that can go a really way (I assume). I wouldn't know! haha!

Good luck with your decision!

OMG, I feel so badly for you.  I could have written a very similar letter 30 years ago, except that remote work on Zoom did not then exist.

What you are going thru is the real deal. You have post-partum hormonal issues, even if you are doing a good job keeping your head above water. Hormones can make the idea of the husband's travel seem even more frightening. Should that be a show-stopper for him taking the new job with the travel requirement? Only you two can decide.

When I had an infant and a toddler, my husband first had monthlong trips to Hong Kong/Malaysia.  Then he had ACL surgery - with him doped up, flat on his back, leaving me to juggle the kids and frequently run to the grocery store for ice for his knee-cooler. Our nanny quit in the midst of this. And I, too, got "mild" pneumonia.

Now that we are old, I look back on that period as being one of the most stressful in our marriage.

 Consider these questions:

> 3 hr round trip commute, 5 days a week in office, high stress, but strong “brand” and he loves the work

My husband loved his work at old Hewlett Packard so much that he would make the same decision again to work there again, even with the commute. Does your husband hate the commute as much as you hate its side effects?  Must he do it during peak traffic times?  My husband actually did not mind being in leaving 4 a.m.

>We don’t have family nearby to help, but with the pay bump we could hire help

My advice:  hire two people, so that if one of them quits you are not forced to not work. If the preschool calls to say "Your child misbehaved, come pick him up" you say "I can't leave work now".

> ’m also worried about not having a network of people I could call on for support in a minor emergency while my husband was traveling

Can you import a relative for a year or so? It is "all hands on deck" time.

> home for dinner a couple days per week but can’t hold a conversation, regularly lashes out at me due to being depleted/stressed, and our relationship really sucks at the moment

What worked for us was to keep having sex - even if I was not in the mood or totally groggy. I was in such a stressed time then that it was better to not talk. But nonverbal affection helped a great deal.

> 1. How do people find/build a support network for both regular household/babysitting type support, and those people to call on during an actual emergency when your coparent isn’t available ..?

I hope other BPN people can make suggestions, b/c this is a hard problem. The best you can do is hire people. You can't build a friend network on the basis of desperate need. Other working parents are stretched to the elastic limit too.

I can't answer whether your husband should take the new job,  If he loves his work right now, that is weight on one side of the scales.

How much risk is there that the travel could destabilize your marriage? That's the risk worth pondering. If he is deeply committed to his family and monogamous, that is a weight on the other side.

Whenever one changes jobs there is risk that the new job won't work out. But to attain rewards, it is often necessary to take some risk. When one has an infant and a toddler, that is not a great time to undertake risky situations. But from the way you describe it, the status quo is not working for your or for your family.

I wish all the best for you.

Anticipation of a change can be exciting for some, and scary for others. Sounds like you can think of the positive from the change, and he is thinking mostly about the negative. Frankly men rarely like change if they are not the ones pushing for it. 

It sounds like a remote first job would simply make your (and his) day to day life easier, with some planning needed for work trips. As a parent where I and my husband both travel at time for work, it's not easy but not impossible. Maybe on those days you and the kids get take out and hang out in the park for an extra 30 minutes. Known travel dates are a lot easier to deal with than the daily "when is he going to be home" issue of a long commute. And I have found job listings will say travel is needed but the actual timing of travel is pretty low, since it's cheaper to Zoom. 

1. Search on Facebook for a local babysitters group, here on BPN or something else babysitters use and set out what you'll need- finding help that works (though it may not be ideal) can be done if you are willing to pay fairly. During an actual emergency, have a real talk with three of your closest friends here and maybe two other parents at your kid's preschool and hash out a support plan.

2. Your husband spends 3 hours out of a 24 hour day in traffic. That's absurd if he has another option and you have two kids at home. While starting a new job can feel annoying and maybe he's concerned about you both working primarily remote, that commute sounds rough and soul sucking. How does he want to spend day, really? Does his job really give him that much more satisfaction? Seems like he needs a 'come to Jesus' talk about what you need from him to make it feel more equitable in your home. 

He should take the job!! I'm here to tell you you can handle it. We have had luck with Urbansitter for finding temporary help, and someone I know recommended Jovie as well.

Emergency help is harder for sure. Are you friends with your neighbors? some of ours are very nice and spontaneously offered to help with the baby if we ever needed it. We've also had luck connecting with other parents through Buy Nothing groups and, more recently, making friends through Bumble BFF! I think for me the key is asking people for help, instead of assuming they wouldn't want to.

For what it's worth, I found it easier to find candidates that fit your description -- 12 hours, doing both babysitting/household type tasks -- by posting on for a mother's helper instead of a nanny. The language change seemed to fit better when what you're looking for isn't necessarily someone to take the kids entirely off your hands in as much as you're looking for a second SET of hands. The vetting / interviewing process takes time, there's no way around that, but once you land on someone you like, I suspect you may want more than 12 hours per month (if finances permit -- ranges we found were about $27 an hour to $35 an hour). 

That said, really, what you're describing is the fact that nuclear families are not set up to succeed in this culture, period. There is nothing easy about it all so you are not overthinking anything -- everything we all do requires a lot of thinking. For us, the paid help has been a big deal, to give us more space to create systems that reduce our overall stress. (aka, a tiny bit more space where someone can shoot out, get groceries, cook a bulk meal and freeze half of it, or even just take a nap). Have a lot of friends but working on community in a help sense -- it isn't necessarily intuitive to people how to help each other out. Faith communities have more understanding, familiarity and groundedness in this regard, if joining one or tapping into a network is an option for you all. 

Mostly just want to say again you're not overthinking. It's hard to figure out. You're both doing great given the circumstances. 

Something my therapist sometimes says : this feels hard because it IS hard! It sounds like the new job is the only chance for getting the space you need to build a good support network. Some things that have been helpful for me:

- advertise for a mothers helper in your neighborhood. We found our 14-yr-old MH on BPN. She folds laundry, empties dishwasher, is great with our baby. kids that age can be really helpful during summer/weekend

- if you’re close to campus you might consider emailing a couple departments asking if students are interested in PT work. We found a great babysitter that way. 

Nothing can fix a long commute.  In fact, it's one of the things that predicts poor life satisfaction.  I know the idea of being home alone with two young kids is simply terrifying, but it is so so clear that the new job will bring you both so much more happiness.  I'm sure you will get a dozen responses saying the same thing.

Here are a bunch of ways I have found to get more support: and Urbansitter - finding people with whom you can build a relationship so you can schedule them in for those 12 hours you need them.

Buy Nothing and Neighborhood groups on Facebook

and the most important one - join a mom's group with your 4 month old!  I am still in touch with the one I was in 4 years ago and we regularly offer advice and if necessary, actual support (or if not, just babysitter references so you can amplify your search).  The one I had was this one and it was so helpful

Regarding the community, hopefully you will start to meet a lot of families as your children begin preschool/Kinder. In the meantime, can your husband use this new job offer to potentially negotiate with his current job for a higher salary & a partly remote work week? You mention not yet having a big community or family where you live right now and since your children haven't entered school, this might be a good time to move closer to his work.

I remember raising 2 babies/toddlers when my husband commuted several hours in each direction (I was also working FT) and it was hard.

Good luck!

You didn’t write specifically (and maybe you don’t yet know) what is expected of your husband in terms of travel with this new job opportunity. Is it one short trip a month? Is there flexibility around the dates, or will he be required to travel for bigger meetings or events he can’t control the timing of? Is this something he can plan ahead, or will he be called away on short notice? If he will have some level of control over this, and if you’re talking just 2-3 days a month — that seems way more doable IMO. I too have two young kids, a husband who travels frequently for work, and family all living on the east coast. What has worked for us is:

1) planning family visits around my husband’s work trips. Not always possible of course, but since family wants to come visit anyways, we will try to schedule them to overlap with who’s travel. We often pay for flights, too, if we’ve asked them to come and provide childcare backup - consider it a business expense.

2) hiring some babysitters off to hang with our older child while I’m home or doing errands around the neighborhood with the little one. Haven't found anyone spectacular but it helps conserve your energy for after hours solo parenting. Also consider this a business expense. 

3) trying to schedule trips (and flights) that minimize the time I’m on my own. Again not always possible if he’s going far, but if he’s just going down to LA for instance, he’ll make it a day trip vs overnight - or time his departure or return so that he can still help with the more hectic parts of our day (pick up/drop off/dinner/etc).

4) allowing ourselves to break our own rules.  For example, we generally limit screen time before bed for our older child. When I’m solo parenting, she gets to watch a short show while I nurse and put the baby to bed. It’s the only way I can feel confident that she’ll be safe with me distracted in another part of the house for 30+ minutes (and won’t barge in to disrupt baby’s bedtime).

Find whatever “survival mode” means to your family - maybe that’s skipping extracurricular activities, eating more takeout than usual, scheduling play dates (at another kids house), etc - and have no shame about deploying all of those tactics when you are on your own. 

We have also found support in unexpected places, eg neighbors that offered to walk our older daughter to school while I was solo parenting a few months ago (their son goes to the same school). I have never felt comfortable asking for this directly, but have found that the more we invest in these relationships, the more they proactively offer to support us in these small but meaningful ways. 

For what it’s worth, my advice is to hire as much help as your income allows, regardless of the job choice, including help with the relationship as well as practical help like a nanny. Having some professional support while you work on building a more informal network of friends and other parents in your community will probably help you untangle all the threads of the decisions and struggles you are facing. Wishing you the best as you both sort through what to do! 

The stresses of working parenthood is no joke, even if we're in places of comparative financial security. Your youngest is in their most intense care situation for the next 9-12 months, and then things will shift. The day in day out flexibility and reduction of a grueling commute (for your husband) means there is one less parent able to be present day in, day out. And that also wears on relationships. We have a 5 year old and a 10 year old and live in the East Bay, and we have found that there are many responsible sitters and nannies looking for extra side-gigs. You probably will find that with the ample references and referrals from Berkeley Parents Network, you can easily develop rapport with a few, so that you have ample backup lists of help for travel times or other needs. We have also developed rapport with other families in preschool, and in a pinch can help with a pickup if pre-arranged, playdates, etc which all help. You're not overthinking at all! Best of luck/wishes! 

The basic dilemma seems very challenging -- my main suggestion was to consider hiring more household help -- a weekly cleaner, and a "mother's helper" for more like 10-15 hours a week. This is a relatively time-limited situation until your younger one is two, and eligible for a longer day in childcare. If you have someone coming regularly to help, you can ask them for more hours in a crisis/when you are ill. Also, over time your preschool/daycare can be a support, as you get to know people. It is worth trading money for your health/mental health if possible.

This is so hard and these are really demanding and difficult ages. If the pay is really great, a nanny may be a solution. I don't think you can find 12 hours per month help. But, you could find full-time or part-time nanny who helps regardless of whether your spouse is travelling or not. The challenge is to find a nanny who is willing to work with you and kids during sickness. If you or your child has a contagious illness like cold but not Covid, would the nanny continue to work with you or your kids? If your spouse is travelling and you don't have nanny's help because of illness, that would be a very difficult situation. 

Does your older one go to preschool? We invested a lot of time and energy in our preschool community and relied a lot on other parents and teachers for childcare swap, emergency pick-up, and babysitting. Our kid is 11 years old now, but we are still close with many preschool friends. Many preschool teachers also babysit outside of school. 

Over the years, we've tried various things (meal kits, meal deliveries, and a lot of food deliveries and premade foods). If I had enough money, I'd love to have a personal chef help provide healthy meals at least once or twice a week. We rely 99% on grocery delivery and items are purchased online through Amazon/Target.  It's expensive but I honestly cannot figure out how to do it all while holding down a demanding full time job and a spouse who is available 50% less than I am. 

A friend hired a young student as a household helper for 3 - 4 hours a day, 2 - 3 times a week and this person helped with pickup/dropoff, laundry, dishes, and toys/baby related light cleaning/straightening. 

How often does your spouse have to travel? When my kid was younger, my spouse had a job that required him to travel once a month and it was difficult but we survived. 

Remote job seems really nice. I think everyone would be much happier most of the time. If you can afford it, I'd seriously look into hiring a part-time or full-time nanny who is willing to do light housework. Our nanny helped us survive the younger years -- she did dishes, helped with laundry, kept the toys neat and tidy and we have remained close over the past decade. 

He should definitely take the remote job with some travel! You as a family will be gaining 60 hours/month of parent time and losing however many hours/month it is of travel, which you didn't exactly specify but maybe as low as 12. Seems totally worth it!

It's very likely that you can find regular paid help for the time he is gone, but if not, there are services that send in people short term (like when nannies are sick), and since you will be home anyway, that seems like not a big problem (not to have the same person each month). And as far as building a network of (unpaid) support, that will be much easier when your oldest starts kindergarten (which is actually quite soon). Until then, I would try to connect with parents at the preschool or other activities your older child does. And/or join a new parents group with other parents of babies - those sometimes blossom into reciprocal relationships. It sounds like when you are well, you would have some flexibility to offer support to other parents, which makes it much easier to ask for help sometimes. Faith community is also where many people find this kind of support!

You didn’t clearly explain what the monthly travel entails (what does 12 hours/month mean?). Regardless, this sounds like a complete no brainer that yes, you are overthinking. Take the new job, hire a babysitter/housecleaner/food preparer (and maybe also a couples therapist), and go away yourself every other month for the weekend to get some rest and recharge.


You got lots of great replies and I would agree with the general bent of taking this new job with some travel to reduce the horrible commute. We have a similar situation to you guys (5 year old, 2 year old, two working parents - both mostly remote, but I travel, no family within 1500 miles).

Couple other thoughts on managing the travel - I've had a job that requires me to travel about twice a month for roughly four days each time since my younger child was about 8 months old. I also have a one week international trip coming up - that will be my longest one yet. From a job point of view, when you're working remotely, the travel is invigorating and an important connection to colleagues - so I think it will be good for your husband if he becomes remote. From a family impact point of view, my husband manages this pretty well (he works remotely but has a demanding job) while I am gone. I can rely on him to be a full parent and I also try to set him up for success by making some meals in advance, doing all the grocery shopping, doing laundry before I leave, and constraining the travel as much as possible to days when we have care. I also try to give him some personal time on the weekend before or after to decompress. So those are the types of (kind of obvious) things your husband could do to help you manage the travel. 

We have had some emergencies come up - one week, our childcare closed out of nowhere for the week due to a covid case, and in another case our child was vomiting and there were some logistics with getting one kid to daycare while not wanting to put the other one in the car. Plus she was home sick with my husband. In the first case, we hired a friend of a friend's au pair for the week, and frankly my husband was less productive at work, and the second case we called a neighbor we were close to who could stay at home with our daughter for a half hour and again, he was less productive working at home. But the ultimate backup for emergencies is me canceling a trip or coming home - I generally feel empowered to do that if needed, though it hasn't happened yet. 

Lots of people are likely in your shoes - no family nearby, really desperate to build a support network. I think that starts by offering to help neighbors and friends if you see an opportunity - watch their pet when they're out of town, offer to have their kids come play at your home for a couple hours, take them a meal if they are sick (or just invite them over for dinner), offer to be backup/overnight care if they're expecting a baby. We built a strong relationship with some neighbors with kids during covid, and it has leant a piece of mind to emergencies. We rarely have to tap them, but I think there's a mutual understanding we are there for each other. In general, I think people want to be helpful - both to be helpful, and to build a relationship where they can have some expectation of reciprocity. And finally, I use Urban Sitter for babysitting. Getting used to doing that has felt very liberating because I've gotten to know sitters I like and I feel like I have some flexibility if I really want to get out of the house for a date or need some backup care. I haven't had to use it super last minute (like same day), but I've done it next day.

Good luck to you!

Original poster here: wow, thanks so much, everyone for your heartfelt, thoughtful, and frankly brilliant responses.

To answer the common questions that came up:

-The travel would be 2-4 days during the week (not including weekend travel days), within the west coast ish or to the east coast. Our marriage has been struggling - but, I’m not worried about an affair. We’re in couples therapy and committed to making this work. 

-Our 3 year old is in full-time preschool and our baby is in full-time daycare (7:30-5 and 8-4:30 respectively), both in our town 

-I’m back to work full-time and my job is 80% remote, once weekly commute to Oakland (about an hour during traffic times). It’s a family-friendly job with limited travel (approx 2x a year but I can skip the travel until baby is 9 months)

This is a tough choice.  I think taking the new job is better, simply because it would eliminate the 3 hour commute.  That's dead-time apart from family, exercise, and just well-being.  I would prioritize whatever employment gave me the most time with my family.  I can definitely understand the anxiety about being on your own when he travels though. Good luck with the decision!