Sink or Swim

I’ve spent a great deal of time today researching and applying for jobs I can do from home. We don’t NEED the money because we live far below our means but it would be nice to be able to take the kids to the movies or buy a new pair of shoes once in a while without having to skim the grocery budget for weeks in advance. I’ve also known all along that as the kids get older and need me less that I would eventually return to the work force. But I have no desire to return to teaching and I recognize that I have a rare opportunity right now to find a more desirable balance between work and home than I had before.

There were aspects of teaching that I loved but to be honest, it wasn’t my dream job. In order to do the job as I felt it needed to be done required long hours and a level of dedication that I found difficult to balance with my responsibilities to my family and to myself. And teaching isn’t a job that I believe anyone should do if their heart isn’t in it. So, even if we hadn’t decided to homeschool our kids it would have been time for me to move on.

So, here we are, a little more than three years into our homeschooling life, the kids are becoming more independent and recently I’ve begun to ask myself, “Where do I go from here?”

I still have responsibilities at home and full time work just isn’t desirable or realistic right now. I also want to be smarter than I was before and really think about what I want and need from my work.

  • I need flexibility. My kids need me a lot of the time and their schedules are top priority. My husband and I have also recently expanded the side work he’s done for years into a small business and I have to be available for all of the responsibilities that entails. So, whatever I pursue for my own interests has to fit into these existing parameters.
  • I need intellectual and creative stimulation. The aspects that I enjoyed most in teaching were the parts that challenged my mind. There are many ways I’ve found to meet this need since being at home and I’d like to find a way to build upon these hobbies. I enjoy both writing and photography a great deal and have managed to earn a bit of money doing both. But neither is enough at this point.
  • Finally, I need money! This one is painfully obvious but still needs to be said. I have flexibility and stimulation in my current endeavors but they aren’t paying much. I don’t need a lot of money, as I said before we are doing okay. We pay our bills and have a few extras- but they are very few and we’d like to have more. However, the financial gains can’t come at the expense of everything else. The reason we tightened our belts in the first place was because we believed what we were gaining by my staying home was worth sacrificing half of our income. We are not willing to go back to the way things were and this means that we’ll continue to make some sacrifices- but maybe I can earn enough that we can make FEWER sacrifices than we are right now.

When I looked at this list and looked at the work that is available for me it became abundantly clear that my best options right now are to pursue several opportunities simultaneously. Everything I found met the first two criteria on my list but, as I already stated, those are easy to fulfill when you’re not concerned with the third criteria. However, I did find a lot of flexible, creative outlets that can build on each other to meet those financial goals. I can do some guest blogging on paying sites, submit photos to magazines, continue portrait photography and submitting article queries. I can tutor online. I can even do a few things outside these parameters like clean a few houses as long as I’m not abandoning the parameters altogether. A friend of mine refers to this as multiple streams of income and, for me at least, it makes a lot of sense.

For a long time I was falling short in one way or another- my family life suffered for my career or my career suffered for my family. My own emotional well being suffered for both. It’s time to find a way to balance all three. In the past I’ve talked myself out of pursing things as a means of protecting myself from failure, but now I realize that not trying is another form of failure. And while, from an emotional standpoint, it’s definitely safer to sit on the sidelines I think I’m ready to sink or swim.

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