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Crossing Paths: Couple juggles opposite work schedules

By Emily Study

She works during the day. He works at night. At times they only have one overlapping day off together. And on the other days, it may seem like Mary Kate and Nathan Chambers are just crossing paths.

“The hours and the scheduling can be a really big complication for somebody who works a traditional, 9-to-5, holidays off, weekends off kind of thing, because the newspaper is entirely disruptive to family life unless you are committed to it and that’s the only thing you know and that’s the only thing … you want to be doing,” Mary Kate said.

A design of the story displays what it might look like in print or on a tablet. Design by Emily Study

Six years ago, Mary Kate accepted a job as a copy editor at the Chicago Tribune. Until this summer, she worked full time and Nathan stayed home to run the house and take care of their two kids Lincoln, 6, and Levynn, 9.

“I was really lucky knowing that for years, if I couldn’t be there, thank goodness at least it was him that got to be there for all those things that I missed,” she said. “They weren’t in day care, they weren’t with someone we didn’t know. He got to at least experience and do all that when I didn’t.”

But in July Nathan was hired as a part-time copy editor at the Tribune — taking a night shift that competes with Mary Kate’s 10-to-6. Before, the couple spent Fridays and Saturdays together as well as workday evenings, but since Nathan started working again, they only regularly get to spend Saturdays together. And on the days they both work, the couple has just one hour of overlap in their work schedules.

This change in agenda has created an entirely new dynamic between Mary Kate and Nathan, forcing them to balance their opposite copy editing schedules and juggle their work at home.

Because they both work in the unrelenting newspaper industry, finding time off — much less, time around the holidays — can seem nearly impossible.

“The only thing we’ve ever either one worked in is newspapers, so we know that’s sort of a 24/7, 365-days-a-year thing and somebody’s got to work Christmas and somebody’s got to work Thanksgiving and that’s just part of it,” Mary Kate said.

But one thing has always seemed to help the Chambers get through their hectic schedules: flexibility — whether it be their own or their kids’.

“We’re really lucky that they have … been flexible with us for the last several years to kind of figure out this crazy urban life as we have,” she said.



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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.