As a child my dad was in the submarine service. He was gone 6mos out of the year. My mom was constantly stressed because she was like a single mom with two kids. We moved every 9-12 months. I lost all my friends each time. We were poor and we lived in crappy military housing. It was the best years of my life. The one negative thing that sticks with me from the time I was a teenager to today was that my dad didn't like his job, more than that he didn't believe in what he was doing. That above all things pained me.
There is alot of focus on what we give kids in the early years, how ideal of a world we want to creat for them. I believe the greatest thing to give kids is a good example. Something that they can live their life by. Yes you work long hours, and hard physical labor, but you probably love what you are doing. Someday your kids will face the same choices and as long as they were raised in love they will thing back on their childhood with nostalgia.
Ok in an ideal world, but I do believe in it. That being said this business is harsh on relationships let alone family. This is why there are so few women chefs. However with creativity and a love for all aspects of your life the industry does allow for families.
1. Seasonal work - some seasonal resorts are summer/winter only but many pay the head chef through the year.
2. As someone already mentioned coporate jobs. 9-5 5 days a week. (good money and insurance too)
3. Own your own business.
4. Create a kid friendly atmosphere: don't gasp. I have had several chefs whos kids visited in the calm hours of prep before service. They were always a joy to have around and they learned very quickly to be safe and not get hurt, as they get older they begged to let me let them peel shallots.
When my son was born we opened up our own place. I think it was the best solution for me. He slept in the office when he was very little. Now he is three1/2 and "earns" coins by bussing plates and silverware from the tables. And yeah its tough, I always tired at the end of the day. But the mornings are times for us. Yes I get stressed and sometimes it is 7 days a week but hes got toys in the office and the park is close by so my "break" is spent at the slides. I hope when he grows up he will have good memories. (and I can threaten him: If you dont' do your math homework you will have to work in the bakery your whole life...heh...heh). And If I am really lucky he go to become a.....plumber or actor, or poet, or miner, anything but a chef!
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."