Jon Ruzek left his job to help his kids during the pandemic. He's not planning to go back.

A parent makes a phone call, while taking notes.
Record numbers of Americans have left their jobs during the pandemic as part of the Great Resignation — many of whom are parents who needed more time to help their kids
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At this point, maybe you know someone who has joined the tide of the Great Resignation. Maybe you yourself are part of the “Big Quit.” Record numbers of Americans have left their jobs during the pandemic — many of whom are parents who needed more time at home to help their kids with distance and hybrid learning.

Jon Ruzek
Jon Ruzek
Courtesy of Jon Ruzek

Jon Ruzek is one such parent.

He worked in alumni relations and student affairs at the University of Minnesota for the better part of two decades. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, he left his job to help his school-aged children – who are both on the autism spectrum – with distance learning.

The move has changed Ruzek’s perspective on his career and work-life balance. Host Cathy Wurzer sat down for a conversation with Ruzek to learn more about the experience of parents like him.

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For Ruzek, it was a hard decision to walk away from his job. Even a year and a half later, when his kids were returning to in-person learning, he was still processing the loss of his professional identity.

“I probably didn’t give myself time to mourn that loss of that past former self and then move on,” he said.

But since leaving his job, Ruzek has realized just how burnt out both he and his wife were before the pandemic. “I’m not a perfect parent. Nobody is,” he said. But now Ruzek finds he can be more present for his kids and in the household, allowing his wife more bandwidth.

Ruzek said that while he is looking for part-time and freelance remote work, he isn’t planning to return to the workplace full-time. He’s happier and more balanced in his new rhythms today than he was before the pandemic.

“I even bought a ukulele the other day,” he told Wurzer with a chuckle.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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