The other day I was talking to Mrs. Carl Sagan about going back to work. Her youngest starts preschool this year, leaving her with six glorious hours per week which she has all to herself, and she is thinking that she needs a more productive hobby than surfing on Etsy. She’s thinking about thinking about getting a job, maybe something in retail that would let her work just three mornings a week, but it seems like a lot of effort for not a lot of money. So she’s not sure.
I’ll be facing the same decision in a couple of years. Sir Monkeypants and I always thought that I’d go back to work once the youngest was in full-time school, and thanks to a recent decision by our school board, Little Miss Sunshine will be one of the first to experience all-day, every-day Junior Kindergarten in three years. Three years may sound like a long time, but I feel like I need to have an action plan in place now. If I need some retraining or time to break into a new field, I need to get started on that ahead of time.
I’m finding it to be a really sad, hard decision to make, though. Even though it’s hard and often boring and usually frustrating, I do love being home with the kids. I love that we get to paint together and play in the backyard together and just have time for chatting. I realize I would still see them if I were working but I can’t get my head around all the details — how do working moms find time to do the laundry, make dinner, clean the house, take out the garbage, shop for Christmas presents, plan birthday parties, write thank-you cards, and blog — and still have time to spend with their kids? It’s overwhelming.
I guess I want exactly what every other mother wants — a job that has completely flexible hours, that allows me to “work from home” at a moment’s notice when the kids get sick, doesn’t ask for any overtime or weekend hours, and pays a lot of money. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?
The other day I had an epiphany in which I thought, “Mrs. Carl Sagan and I should start our own Etsy shop!” We both love Etsy, it’d be totally flexible hours — we’d work whenever we feel like it. It would be fun and exciting to design our own jewelry/handbags/clothing/whatever. I actually got really excited about it.
Then I really thought about it. I had about six ideas of things I could make, mainly sewing projects. I did some pricing and once I considered the cost of supplies, how long it would take me to do the work, and what I thought people would actually pay as a markup, I think I’d make about…$1 an hour. And that doesn’t even take into account time spent shopping for fabric, creating new designs, and standing in line at the post office.
Totally not worth it. The dream is dead.
I also used to fantasize about being a writer — in particular, getting paid for blogging. I’m already doing it, I love it, I find time for it even on days when I’m caring for the kids full time — wouldn’t it be ideal if someone would just give me $100 000 a year to do it? One time I saw an interview with the writer of Woulda Coulda Shoulda, one of the top personal blogs on the net, and she admitted that she now made more from her blog than she ever made in her career as a programmer. Wow!
But I must say, after four years of blogging it seems like quite the unlikely scenario. There are, literally, a million bloggers in North America alone, and I’m sure at least half of them are housewives dreaming of making a living from their blogs, and there are probably less than 100 women in NA who are actually able to do so. So the odds do not look good.
I’m forced to admit that my old career — software development — is really about the closest I’m going to get to the dream job. It has very flexible hours, and most places will let you work from home when you want to. It pays really well, definitely enough to cover the cost of required daycare and have enough left over to pay for an annual family vacation.
Here are some things I’d rather do for a job than programming… Doctor. Midwife. Allergist. Nutritionist. Writer. Book-binder. Book editor. Librarian. Governor-General of Canada. Head of the IOC. Million-dollar winning Jeopardy contestant. School teacher. CBC Radio producer. Owner of a Tim Hortons franchise. Owner of my own vanity publishing business. Graphic designer.
Oh, and there’s also stay-at-home-mom/blogger/head of the PTA.
I think, though, that the world of software probably my best choice. Plus, I won’t have to hear my mom’s voice in my ear saying, “You’re wasting your brains and education by staying at home!”
Good thing I still have three years to suck it up, stop being such a whiny, self-indulgent baby, and get used to the idea of working again. Hell, I’ll probably love it when I get there.