I nearly knocked myself unconscious—running into a figurative brick wall trying to land a job—until I finally realized I’m not your ideal employee.
I went through a period of time where I desperately wanted to find a job, but I had a pre-toddler (15 to 20 months) and I was pregnant with baby #2. Leaving my baby at a daycare with a stranger was NOT ok with me. So, logic told me to restart my career with a job that would allow me to work from home. That way, I could hire in-house childcare for both kids, but I’d still be nearby to spend time with them throughout the day. Perfect! It can’t be that hard to find a full-time job (or even a part-time job) that will allow me to work from home.
Not so fast young grasshopper.
I’m a stay at home mom of two. I’ve been out of formal employment for two years, my husband’s job requires us to literally pack up and move (countries) every two to three years, and I have no interest in putting my kids in someone’s daycare for 8-10 hours every day to come into an office and work all day. It never stops there. We all know there will be the occasional work nights, weekends, and holidays. Yep. I know it happens. That used to be my life.
I’m not your ideal employee, but I used to be.
There was a time in my life —for a good 8 years—where I worked my butt off at work. I was in sometimes by 7:30 am and out after 6 pm most nights. Then there were the nights, the weekends, and the holidays. And let’s not even mention email. Emails were constant, and I jumped through every hoop; answered emails at 11 pm or later; stayed late in the office until 8 or 9 pm to get a document ready for review; worked over a holiday or logged in on a vacation day. I did it all—willingly. I had no boundaries, but marriage, travel, and children changed things.
You’re not my first priority anymore.
I used to love working. I used to manage and write proposal submissions, and I loved the feeling of reviewing a new solicitation, determining the requirements; complaining about the deadline; noting questions; setting up the schedule; facilitating the meetings; writing sections; creating graphics. I loved seeing the documents coming together and finding ways to be creative about something mundane–like plumbing, medical HVAC, or telecom. Loved it.
But now, my little people, my husband, and our home are my first priority. If something happened to one of the kids, I’d need to be there. I’m not saying I wouldn’t take my job seriously. I would, but when children, husband or home needed me, work would have to take the back burner until I could take care of my first priority—my family.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
I’m aware that I’m truly blessed and this isn’t possible stance or even desirable for everyone. I totally get that some women (and men) may take offense to these statements. They’re not for everyone. They’re for me and other stay-at-home moms, like me. I also realize that while many may agree with me, the opportunity to stay at home is not possible for everyone. There may even be those who prioritize their jobs before their families, and that’s cool. It’s all a personal choice. No judgments from me.
I found my solution.
For stay at home moms + working moms who want to work AND keep the family as the priority, I found a solution. No, I’m not going to suggest that you start cleaning houses, start a daycare, take on-line surveys, or provide customer service for any random company. No, no, and no.
When I started looking for work as a stay-at-home mom, living in Taiwan, pregnant, and chasing a toddler, these were the only suggested types of work I found. Everyone was just looking to make a few bucks. No one was looking to create wealth or even fulfillment with these jobs.
You’re a professional
At least, you used to be. Take your professional skills, your hobbies, your interests and reorganize those things to create a business that you can operate at least 50% on-line. Yes, I’m serious. No this is not a joke. Most professions—except for perhaps first responders and sports players—can be restructured online. I’ve even heard of people offering music lessons online. The world is literally happening online. You should jump in.
Take, for instance, my former profession. I was a proposal manager/writer. I managed and wrote proposals. Great. Well, proposals are highly proprietary, and most companies want their proposal people to work in-house or at least in-country. So, freelancing in Taiwan (now in China) was not really an option.
But when I deconstructed my professional background—as a proposal manager/writer—I realized I’ve got marketing, writing, sales, facilitation, and project management skills. Then, when I started looking at my hobbies and interests, I did a coaching and leadership training program and got trained as a coach. I’ve taken coding and WordPress development courses. Plus, I love cooking fast whole food meals and snacks. So, I have coaching skills. I’m a mom. I cook. I learned to code in CSS and HTML. I’ve lived in 3 countries in the last five years and speak Spanish and a decent amount of Mandarin. Those are solid skills.
Be confident in YOUR skills.
Everyone has more skills than they give themselves credit for having. So, I started deconstructing my skills—not to mention my educational background. I realized I could use my professional and academic skills to work from home. I just had to figure out what I wanted to do. So, I decided to start a blog, a copywriting business, and create a coaching-related course online.
Again, I’ve got two very small kiddos. Since I can’t do all of these things at once, (or I wouldn’t be successful with anything), I’m starting with the blog. I just needed to learn about blogging. That’s where the retooling came in handy. I found classes, and I’m taking them. As I learn some new blogging skills, I’m slowly building an audience. My goal is to make one or two thousand dollars a month within a year.
Maybe the ideal should change.
Not everyone woman (or man) wants to stay at home with their kids. It’s a thankless tiring job. It’s wonderful to me (most days), and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (most days). I’m pretty sure that even as they get older, these kids will still be my top priority, and I’m ok with that. While I may not fit into the ideal mold of how an employee should act, I’m not the only one. I’m just one of a handful of crazy people bold enough to admit it. Great employees come in many different packages but if you don’t feel like you fit the mold of your job, get out and find (or create) a career that fits your needs and the needs of your family.
If you’re a square peg in a round job, do yourself a favor and free yourself. Make a plan and get out. Jobs are no longer secure; ask anyone who’s ever gotten a pink slip. Pensions and social security are pipe dreams. If you had a job that could allow you to make yourself and your family the priority and allow you to make money from home doing something that challenged you, wouldn’t you be all about that? Yes, yes you would.
So, no. I’m not your ideal employee. No one should be. Let’s ditch the ideal and be real.
I’m a new kid on the blog block. Are you a stay at home mom (dad)? Do you own a business? Have you thought of starting a business? What, if anything, holds you back? Leave a comment. I’d love to meet you and hear your story.