Earlier this year, the rat race had finally caught up with Omar Raiss.
The 36-year-old father of two had grown tired toiling in corporate America and not spending enough time with his daughter. And the pursuit of a career came at a cost.
"My daughter wanted to do gymnastics and ballet, and that stuff happens after school," Raiss said. "With our careers, we didn't have the time."
Raiss worked for pharmaceutical giant Takeda; his wife, Dr. Rashaan Ali-Jones, 38, is a partner with the Association of South Bay Surgeons in Torrance.
The Redondo Beach couple made plenty of money and had successful careers. But with two professionals chasing their dreams, they weren't able to enjoy all those special moments with their children, Amina, 6, and Ali, 15 months.
"With working so much during the week, we didn't have time," Ali-Jones said. "And you can't cram everything into the weekend."
Ali-Jones' unpredictable work schedule didn't help.
"I leave the house in the morning at about 7; I'm back at 6 (p.m.), and on a not-so-great day I am home at 2 the next morning," the surgeon said.
So Raiss quit his job. On April 19, he cleared off his desk, walked out of the office for the last time and became a stay-at-home dad.
Bold move - yes - but calculated.
"About a year and half ago there were layoffs at work. I survived the layoffs, but started thinking if I was laid off what would happen? Would I need another job right away?" Raiss said.
Raiss didn't leap at the chance to become a Mr. Mom right away, but when he did his life was transformed.
Raiss went from placing conference calls and attending business lunches to making lunches for his daughter and changing his son's diapers.
"I am pretty busy," he said. "I'll do the house chores, the shopping and the cooking."
Raiss' typical day starts at 6 a.m. He whips up breakfast for his wife and children; gets his daughter ready for school and dresses his son.
Ali-Jones hits the door at 7 a.m. to navigate from the couple's condo to her office in Torrance. Raiss is not far behind her. Most mornings, he leaves at 7:15 to drop his daughter off at school.
A few days each week, Raiss enlists his mother-in-law to watch Ali while he works around the house.
But in what seems like a blink of an eye, Raiss is making his afternoon rounds. Amina's schedule varies: some days it's ballet, other days gymnastics and occasionally a play date.
Raiss attends it all. He watches Amina's gymnastics and ballet classes from the sidelines, and offers an approving smile and his full attention.
"It's nice to be able to be there for my children," Raiss said. "My daughter's at that age when she wants and needs that support."
By the time he returns home with the children, it's time to cook dinner.
"The day goes by faster than you think," he said.
Raiss' move cost the family thousands of dollars, but improved their lifestyle.
"I like leaving a things-to-do list and coming home and everything is done," Ali-Jones said.
The children are cared for and Ali-Jones can pursue her career.
"I get a lot of comments from female surgeons who say, `Wow it's nice that your husband would be willing to do this for your career,"' Ali-Jones said.
Long before the couple tied the knot, Raiss and Ali-Jones decided that her career, a dream she had since childhood, would take priority.
"We always approached my career as the family career," she said.
Raiss supported the couple through Ali-Jones' time in medical school.
"He was always selfless," she said. "When I was a resident, and in medical school, I never thought about a bill or grocery list or anything at home. He took care of that."
The investment they made into Ali-Jones' career makes Raiss' decision to stop working much easier. Her salary is enough to comfortably support their family and lifestyle.
"I feel incredibly blessed that I not only love what I do, but I can also support a household in the South Bay and not have to cut corners," Ali-Jones said.
The long-term plan is for Raiss to stay home until Ali reaches middle school. That's more than 10 years from now.
In the meantime, he is more than happy to spend time with his children instead of in an office.
"Before you know it, (Amina and Ali) are not going to want to hang out with you at all," Raiss said.