I am consistently fascinated by how families make working and raising kids work. It is interesting what works for each couple and how that changes as you go through different stages of life. I love how we all seem to find our own ways.
I have been a mom for 17 years and been out of college for 20 and different things worked for me at different times. I have worked full-time, I have been home full-time, I have worked from home, worked part-time and worked full-time again. My husband was at home for two years, then worked part-time. All of these things worked well for us at certain times and did not work so well at other times.
Now my husband has started his own business and we have agreed that what works best for us and our relationship is for me to focus on the home and kids and for his focus to be on working. He is happier that way, and so am I. Our kids are happy with it, too. I have started my own consulting business and will work around the kids’ schedule.
While I am glad that we have moved forward to a plan that works for us, bracing for the monetary change is always challenging. Both of us being self-employed makes for increased insurance expenses and a less consistent income.
We are doing some things to mitigate the financial change:
Focusing At Home
We are focusing on spending manual labor instead of money right now. We are cleaning up the yard, painting and building things that we already have the materials for and just wrapping some things up. This also gives us a sense of accomplishment during the uncertain times of starting two businesses.
We are hanging out at home. We are playing with the kids, enjoying a movie, talking walks, riding bikes and generally just hanging out at home instead of going to do something that costs money.
While I do believe change is good, that feeling of uncertainty is not a comfortable one for me. At all. So, I have learned that during these times of change, I feel better if we are prepared for the unexpected. Before I left my job, we made sure our house was well stocked. A big stack of furnace filters, batteries, toilet paper, food in the pantry, etc. makes me feel like we will be OK even if we have a tight few weeks financially.
You never know what life will throw your way, so I also am using this time to take stock of things we have prepared for emergencies, like water, food and power backups. This makes me feel more secure and is always a good idea. The next storm is just around the corner – literally and figuratively. Being prepared puts me at ease.
This is a good time to question each expense. Do we have phone services we don’t need? Do we want to support our kids going to summer camp? Do we want to do another season of soccer? Could we just make ice cream cones at home? Is it practical to pack a lunch to eat while we are out and avoid eating out? Does it make more sense for us to make our own baked goods? We are stopping and thinking before each expense and making sure our spending is in line with both our priorities and our budget. That is not to say we never spend on these things, but at least when we do it is purposeful.
Now that I have more time to focus at home, we have more time as a family in the evenings. We are using some of that time to finally off-load some things that have been taking up space. We are selling these items on Craigslist, in a garage sale and on eBay. Big chicken coop and fencing? Sold. Old fashioned typewriter? Sold. Extra router? Sold. Each thing we get rid of gives us a few things: satisfaction, more space and money to use during this period of transition.
We are finishing our deck and backyard areas. We need some furniture in these areas, but instead of buying something cheap (that won’t last long) or spending money we don’t have on better quality brand new, I am trolling Craigslist and garage sales to see if I can find items that are high quality but maybe just need some elbow grease and love. I can sand and paint or stain, I can make new cushions and I can do these things with the kids. They will learn some life skills and we can all be proud of our accomplishment when we enjoy our outdoor areas.
I know that there will be bumps along the way, but if we can stick to these basic principles, we should be able to make it through our time of transition.
Who knows? As our kids start leaving home, our career needs may change once again. It is best to just enjoy the journey.