When I decided to quit teaching full-time to stay home with our boys, we knew the change purse would be a little lighter. Being rather stubborn, this did not deter me. Within a month, I went from working as a teacher from 7:30-4:30 (plus many night and weekend hours) to staying home and making homemade baby food, frequenting the public library, and going on play dates.
My life as a total stay-at-home mom did not last very long. We quickly realized I was going to at least have to work part-time if we were planning on feeding our children. My one writing gig at the time was fun but not very lucrative. I conjured up my service industry skills which had been sleeping soundly since college. Waiting tables worked for a while, but I was praying for something more conducive to our family’s schedule.
Luckily, within weeks of that first frustrated prayer, two opportunities came my way, both were in the field of education and both allowed me to work from home (one was teaching an online course at Western Carolina University, the other auditing paperwork for the school system), so I worked during the boys’ naps and after they went to bed. Since then, I’ve worked a number of jobs including part-time teaching (online and in person), freelance writing, auditing, and blogging.
It’s been kind of crazy and there have been months where by day 20, we are alternating between hot dogs and pinto beans with cornbread. I could do without the hot dogs, but I’m not complaining about the latter.
Despite being rather broke, I’ve learned some important lessons along the way.
1). Whether you’re staying home full-time with your children, working part-time, or working full-time, all are extremely hard for different reasons.
2). If you receive a restaurant gift card during a time when your budget is manageable, don’t use it. It may just come in handy at a later date. The other day, we found a gift card that had been a Christmas gift. After eating at home for two weeks straight, we were super excited to to have someone else do the cooking, serving, and cleaning up.
3). Don’t stress out if your children aren’t “stimulated” enough. My children actually like staying home and playing in their own yard. I’m always the one who tries to constantly book our schedule. The other day they played with three sticks, water, and a bucket of soil for two hours.
4). Visiting the grandparents is fun, entertaining, and cost-effective. We can always find something fun and exciting to do, especially when my dad is a collector, my mom loves to play Elvis music, and Todd’s mom has a golf cart and several teenage/young adult cousins who love to play.
5). Go on an “adventure.” This is what my four-year old calls it when we go on a walk off the beaten path. A couple of weeks ago, we walked down to the empty fairgrounds which is near our house and found an antique tractor. The boys played on it for thirty minutes straight.
6). Lastly, though the hubs and I have been fretting over the budget lately, the boys have obviously gone unscathed. As long as we’re together and creatively finding new things to do, they’re as happy as can be.
The cheesy adage, “the best things in life are free,” is true after all. With that being said, however, I am certainly ready to give up hot dogs, especially when “mechanically separated” is part of the ingredient list.