Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Biggest Obstacle: Myself

I’ve been a stay-at-home Mom for 3 weeks now. To be honest, I like not working at a job. It sounds depressing, and backwards to most women I know. But I take pride in planning meals, keeping the household budget, cleaning our house, and planning activities for my pre-toddler. Everyday, witnessing my daughter’s exploding mobility and vocabulary is quite a joy. I don’t miss my commute, my boring cubical or any of the egos I was surrounded by in the corporate world.

But I do miss adult conversation and earning money. Therefore that is why I’m pursuing work-at-home options. But I’ve hit a snag - myself. I’m not sure I have it in me.

I’m not sure I have the stamina. In order to work legitimately from home, on my terms, I feel I must start my own business. However, I know some people who have started businesses, my former boss being one of them, and I know owning a business involves a huge time investment. The reason I gave my former employer for leaving was that I was unable to invest the time anymore and wanted to focus more time on personal obligations.

If I got burnt out at my last job, won’t I get even more burnt out taking care of a small child during the day, and working from home on the nights and weekends? But then I think back to a time when I was able to persevere in the face of extreme time demands: when I breastfed my daughter.

It took so much more time than I ever imagined. My own husband was asking me why I didn’t just quit if it was that much of a burden, and even told me about a few Moms he worked with who had tried breastfeeding, had problems similar to mine, such as late milk production, and who quite after 2-6 weeks.

And while I whined about it to anyone who would listen, I didn’t stop doing it. Why? Because I had faith that I was giving my infant daughter the best possible nutrition; her constant sucking on me would not last forever, and had I quit prematurely, I would always wonder what if…?

I thought to myself, what was the difference between my job and breast feeding? Why did I persevere with one but not the other? The answer lies in the fact that I was convinced the short-term sacrifices of one would likely result in long-term reward but not the other.

Had I continued with my job, and kept putting in more hours, and made my boss happy, my rewards would have been maybe a 5% raise, and maybe an even more impressive sounding title, but most definitely an increase in hours. And with my commute it is very likely that volatile gas and tolls would have eaten up much of my 5% raise. All the while my daughter is getting bigger.

This past week, I have come to the conclusion that I should not seek work-at-home opportunities, as much as work towards creating a business that would require a lot of time investments in the short-term, but have reasonable potential to pay more for less work in the long-term.

I’m not going to abandon perusing the 3 options I mentioned in my last post. I’m just going to approach my research from a different angle. I’m no longer seeking a part-time work from home opportunity. I’m going to focus on developing my business acumen. Despite my experience in the corporate world, my work was detail work, with very little experience with the big picture.

I have some doubts. One of them being at this moment my sheer lack of knowledge. The other being fear of judgment. In my circle, working long hours is seen as the price you pay for a comfortable upper-middle class income. And people feel they must be busy in order to feel important. Expecting to get paid more for working less is simply a ludicrous idea. And there is part of me who fears there may be truth to that belief. But to me time is life, and I don’t want to be misunderstood. I WILL have to work a lot in the beginning with the goal to eventually work less.

To overcome my first doubt, lack of knowledge, I’m going to read of course, but I’m good at reading, reflecting, and making lists. I need to actually go out and DO something. Therefore, I’m going to call up at least 10 Network Marketing companies in the next week, and ask them about their business model. I will not give any networking marketing company my money until I have spoken to and evaluated several. How many? I don’t know yet because I don’t know how many such companies exist.

To overcome my second doubt, judgment of friends and family, I’m going to keep my plans from them for now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Week Three July 21-25 - Investigate Work At Home Options

“There’s no such thing as easy money.”

That’s what my Dad always says. This project I both look forward to and dread the most. In my research into legitimate work at home options, I am forcing myself to take a good honest look at myself and ask myself:

Am I lazy?
Do I lack discipline?
Can I really make much money working 4 hours a day from home?
What are realistic but ambitious expectations?

Let’s see if the capchka, really works. To all “earn money from home!!!” solicitors: I’m not interested.

Maybe I should say that again, in bold this time: I’m NOT interested.

I’m not going to shell out a bunch of money to your companies because I don‘t trust you. Don’t waste your time.

Do I have to highlight and underline that 3 times? I hope not.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, I‘m sure you have all heard the adage: “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

Most people love that advice, but I think that’s overly simplistic advice. I say, “Find a way to fulfill a want or need of enough people while doing what you love and maybe the money will follow.”

My saying is a little more wordy, and not at all catchy, but I feel it establishes more realistic expectations. Besides if everyone did what they loved, there would be no septic cleaners, and society needs those.

The “…doing what you love…” part might even be optional. I tried doing what I love, and after doing it for a profession, I stopped loving it. But if I am able to help someone because I am willing to do what few people are willing to do, perhaps that someone will be willing to pay for it. Septic cleaner might be the way to go.

But for now I want something that will fit around Rob’s work schedule so that I don’t have to pay for daycare. Working from home isn’t even a requirement, I just suspect that is the best option for avoiding daycare.

So I have 3 fears:
1. Myself - Can I be disciplined enough?
2. Solicitors / Legitimacy / Avoiding Pyramid or Ponzi Schemes
3. What I love doesn’t really have any practical application

And I have 3 ideas:
1. Online Affiliate Marketing
2. Medical Billing or Transcription
3. Multi-level (Party) Marketing

For each of the above, I’m going to ask myself these questions:
How much will it cost?
Can I work around Rob and Fiona’s schedules?
What is the earning potential?
What are my hopes for this job?
What are my fears?

Realistically, this process may take 2 weeks instead of 1. In fact, I had considered allotting a week for each idea, but decided this time, unlike when I was cleaning my house, and over-estimated how much time I would need, I need to stay motivated by moving at a constant pace.

Oh, and by the way, I’m only sharing my ideas with my parents, husband and you folks online who may happen to read this. I don’t really want any judgment from people I know, but if the online community wants to judge me, that’s ok.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Recipe in Progress: Southern Style Shepherds’ Pie

Even before the price of food starting going up, I saved money by packing leftovers for my lunch instead of going out on most days. I only went out for lunch as a treat like once a month. I would plan weeknight dinners that worked well as leftovers. After dinner, I would pack the leftovers into lunch size portable containers and put them in the fridge. All I had to do the next morning was grab the container and go. With just a little planning - it was a snap.

Shepherds’ Pie is one such dish because it is fairly easy to make if you are able to use an oven-proof sauce pan and then move the sauce pan directly from the stove top to under the broiler. The dish is also very kid friendly, and it is versatile, using up any kind of frozen or leftover vegetables readily available. I came up with this sweeter version to shake it up a bit.

Caveat 1: I wanted to call this Southern Shepherds’ Pie, but I can’t claim any authenticity, since I grew up in the Mid-Atlantic, and now live in New England. Consequently, I added “Southern Style” so no one can accuse me of being a poser.

Caveat 2: Overall this turned out good, but based on my husband’s feedback, I’m going to tweak it, and may post a revised version later.

The Recipe:
1 lb. of ground beef
1 tbs. of canola oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1 (15.5 oz.) can of sloppy joe mix, such as Manwich - I used el cheapo brand
1 (29 oz.) can of sweet potatoes - I used Princella
3 tbs. of butter
¼ - ½ cup of skim milk
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

In a large sauce pan, preferably one that is oven-proof, brown the ground beef over medium high heat, drain in a colander, and set aside. In the same sauce pan, add the canola oil and then the onion, green pepper and carrot. Sauté the vegetables until tender, and then add the drained ground beef back to the pan.

Add the sloppy joe sauce to the beef and vegetable mixture and reduce the heat to low. While the sloppy joe beef mixture is warming, drain the canned sweet potatoes, and put in a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Mix the sweet potatoes and butter with electric beaters. Then while mixing, gradually, add the milk a couple of tablespoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

If your sauce pan is oven-proof, top the sloppy joe beef mixture with the mashed sweet potatoes, right in the same sauce pan you used to cook the sloppy joe mixture. Otherwise, move the sloppy joe mixture to an oven-proof casserole dish, and then top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Top the mashed sweet potatoes with the shredded cheddar cheese.

Place the sauce pan or casserole dish under the broiler for just a minute or two until the cheese is melted. Be careful since the cheese will melt quickly under the broiler.

Let sit for one minute and then serve.

Serves: 4-6 (This made enough for my husband, toddler, and me for two meals: dinner and lunch the next day. My toddler doesn’t eat much, and my husband eats huge quantities of food.)


The Reviews:

Name: Rob
Relation: My husband
Age: Early 30’s
Comments: Overall this was very good, but he felt the mashed sweet potatoes were too soft and recommended omitting the milk next time. He also suggested adding brown sugar to the mashed sweet potatoes, which I had considered but deliberately omitted because I thought the sloppy joe sauce combined with brown sugar would make the dish too sweet.

Name: Fiona
Relation: My daughter
Age: 17 mos.
Comments: Mmmmmmm!

The Cost: $7.24 - estimated*

How did I keep the cost so low? By using mostly el cheapo brands, and buying 75% lean beef that was on sale because the sell-by date was the following day. Some of you may have higher standards, but for what it’s worth, it tasted good and my family is still alive to tell about it. I froze the stuff immediately, and thawed it in the refrigerator the day before I used it.

*When possible, I tried to calculate the costs, but I felt a little silly determining how much 3 tbs. of butter and a ½ cup of milk costs, and in truth, I don’t measure exactly when I cook so consider these prices simply estimates.

1 lb. of ground beef - $1.74
1 tbs. of canola oil - gosh I don’t know - I bought the stuff a while ago and don’t have a receipt. Probably negligible.
1/3 cup chopped onion - $0.39
1/3 cup chopped green pepper - $0.42
1/3 cup carrot - $0.42
1 (15.5 oz.) can of sloppy joe mix - $0.86
1 (29 oz.) can of sweet potatoes - $1.68
3 tbs. of butter - $0.26
¼ - ½ cup of skim milk - $0.13
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese - $1.34

The Next Rendition: For the mashed sweet potatoes, I’m either going to omit the milk or add just a couple of tablespoons. I’m also going to add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. For the beef and vegetable mixture, I’m going to add some frozen corn. I’ll let ya’ll (getting my southern accent on) know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Week Two July 14 - 18 - Create An At Home Routine for My Daughter and Me

Warning: the following post is a little mundane. Considering that I don’t think many people are reading this yet, and this blog is sort of a self-indulgent endeavor for me, mundane is ok. And other parents who are transitioning from working outside the home to at home parents may be able to relate to this.

The plan for this week is to create a flexible weekly and daily schedule, which I created yesterday. This week I’m going to use the schedule as a guide. I’m not naïve enough to actually think that I will be able to follow this schedule to a “T.” Already I’m a little off of it. For example, the away from home activity for Tuesday is to go to a weekly “drop-in” at a community center for families in my town with children under 4. I went to the drop-in as planned, which lasted from 9:30-11:30. I was even able to stay until almost the end, but did end up leaving about 5 minutes early during circle time because Fiona was acting up and did not want to sit. She had a pretty amazing attention span for her age, sometimes sitting quietly for a whole 30-40 minutes, until she started walking a couple of months ago.

Next I ran to Ocean State Job Lot to find some inexpensive flash cards and musical toys for our scheduled Flash Card Time and Music Time. I estimated we would get home around 12:15 for lunch, which is already 15 minutes off schedule, but being anal isn’t possible with a 17 month old. I got home at around 12:15 as planned, and figured we would eat lunch, and maybe have 15 minutes of free play time before nap time at 1:00.

However, the drop-in must have worn the poor girl out, because when I went to get her out of the car seat, I noticed she was conked out. So Fiona’s nap time was moved up a bit, but I was starving, and went ahead and ate lunch without her. At the time of this writing, she’s still napping, and will undoubtedly wake up hungry at 1:30 or maybe even 2:00.

I was going to post the schedule but I’m not going to bother. Maybe if this blog generates some interest, and readers request it, I’ll post it. To most people, making a schedule for being a stay-at-home Mom may seem just a tad ridged. But I made one because without one, I’m afraid I would end up spending my days with Fiona in front of PBS Sprout TV. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good station for toddlers and preschoolers, but I don’t want to spend all of my time with Fiona sitting around in front of the TV. Also, I came from the corporate world, where I had schedules to follow and a to-do list. I’m afraid without some kind of schedule, I would feel a little lost.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

“Different Layers of Clean” & Plans Derailed

The plan for Thursday was to clean the Master Bedroom - the messiest room in the house. This room earned this status because we never needed to show that room to guests and we kept Fiona out of that room, eliminating any motivation to clean it much during the past two years. Two years ago we got new bedroom furniture, which prompted us to clean the room - this was right around the same time I found out I was pregnant.

To give you, dear reader, an idea of the extent of the squalor, my husband had a pile of clothes right next to the bed that had been there for two months. I remembered he had said he put those clothes next to the bed because he wanted to throw them out. They were mostly old T-shirts, not fit to donate. However, as I looked at the pile on Wednesday, I noted some nice looking shorts, and a button up shirt. The shorts looked like the new ones we bought only a month ago.

Before we went to bed Wednesday night, I asked him, “Is that the pile of clothes next to the bed the pile you want to throw away?”

He got really agitated, and said, “No. Don’t touch those clothes.”

I replied, “Don’t get huffy; I thought you said you wanted to throw those clothes away.”

“I did throw those clothes away. These are different clothes. Don’t throw these away, don’t put them in the laundry, just leave them alone.”

“If I’m going to clean the room, I can’t just leave those clothes there.”

“Then just throw them on the bed.”

“Why can’t I put them away?”

“Because I’ve worn them.”

“Then if you’ve worn them, why can’t I put them in the laundry?”

“Because there are different levels of clean.”

At that point, I just burst out laughing. “How can there be different levels of clean?”

My husband was trying really hard not to laugh. I think he saw the absurdity in his comment, but didn’t want to admit I was right. “Good night,” he said, and turned over.

On Thursday when he called, I mentioned that I put his different levels of “clean” clothes in a bag and then asked him what he meant by different levels of clean.

He replied, “Haven’t you seen Ghost Busters II?”

I guess I forgot about the different levels of clean line.

. . .
Anyone who has kids knows sometimes the best laid plans get derailed. Wednesday night, Fiona was waking up fussy, and had a temperature of 101. I had given her some Children’s Motrin. In the morning she seemed fine with a temperature of around 98.

Nevertheless the policy at my daycare was that when a kid has a temperature as high as 101, the kid must wait 24 hours before returning to daycare. Therefore on Thursday, my day to clean the messiest room in the house, the master bedroom, Fiona was home. Luckily I managed to get a head start on that room the day before. Somehow, while Fiona was napping, and for a few minutes here and there, while she played in her room behind a gate (until she would realize she was behind the gate, and walk up to the gate and shout, “Ma”), I managed to clean the master bedroom.

Fiona’s temperature was normal all day, and she was her normal self, trying to get into the cat food bowl and such. I was feeling rather smug, since I finished the master bedroom, and there wasn’t much to clean in Fiona’s room, other than her changing table which I stopped using once she was around 6 months old, and became mobile, and has since become a collection area for clutter while I change her on the floor.

I figured it would take maybe 30 minutes top to de-clutter the changing table, and then a few minutes vacuuming, and viola! Fiona’s room would be clean, and I would have the entire Friday. I planned to go grocery shopping since when I was working I had little choice but to shop for groceries on the weekends, when the place was packed and picked over. Then, once the groceries were put away, I would have the rest of my Friday to blog, go to the library, maybe watch a Lifetime movie. Ah me time!

Imagine my disappointment, and not to mention concern, when Thursday evening Fiona’s temperature was back at 101. Not only did Rob and I feel she could not go back to daycare, we decided she needed to go to the doctor. I called her doctor as soon as they opened Friday morning, and the earliest appointment was at 2:45. That morning, I decided to go grocery shopping, and then went back home for lunch. Fiona and I spent the remainder of Friday at the pediatrician, where Rob and my concern was validated; Fiona has her third ear infection in the past 7 months. Then I went to CVS to pick up her amoxicillin. By the time I got home, it was dinner time. I did not get a chance to de-clutter Fiona’s unused changing table.

Fiona’s room, once the cleanest room in the house, is now the messiest, other than the basement, garage, and now kitchen, which I cleaned on Monday. I was keeping it clean too. What happened was the clean kitchen inspired my husband to do some painting in that room this weekend, and now we have painting equipment sitting around, which I plan to put away tomorrow.

I didn’t put the stuff away this weekend, because Rob told me not to. Yesterday, Saturday, Rob was painting, and I do appreciate it, but really wish he would have waited and allowed me to enjoy the clean house a little longer. I decided to keep my disappointment to myself, since when I was working, the last thing I wanted to do was a weekend project. I reasoned I worked enough during the week, and errands took up enough of my weekend, I wasn’t going to engage in a weekend project. But there was Rob, after a 50 hour work week painting our kitchen. Bless him.

I guess I am one who wears her heart on her sleeve. While he was painting, Rob saw me sitting there, with a disappointed look on my face, as I surveyed the furniture that was moved from the wall, and the painting equipment which was strewn everywhere. He asked what was wrong, and I said nothing.

Then he said, “You are disappointed since you cleaned this kitchen and now it is in disarray, aren’t you?”

And I admitted that yes, I was. After he finished the job, he saw me eyeing the painting equipment.
“Don’t worry, I’ll put it away,” he assured me.
“When?” I replied.
“I’m not done with the project.”
“It’s not going to sit here for a week.”
Other than touching up one edge, I’m not sure what other painting he has left to do. Anyway, I decided to allow the stuff to sit for the weekend, but if it wasn’t put away by Monday, I would do it then. When I mentioned that to Rob today, he seemed ok with that.

So I have a messy changing table and painting equipment in my kitchen, but other than that, the place doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did. Maybe my home isn’t Martha Stewart Living caliber, but it is much closer to being a home, as opposed to CHAOS.

I’ll close out this week with the familiar Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Cleaning my house may give me some illusion of control, but I will never be able to control everything.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mid-Week Progress Report - Making My House a Home

My house is coming along. I have done the kitchen and the family room, which makes up approximately half of my house. After only 2 days almost half of my house is clean. I saw my Maine Coon cat, Pepper lounging around the house, and I said to her, “How do you like your nice clean house, sweetie?”

As I said in my last post, I gave myself a strict, 1 day per room rule. I had to spend 1 day and only 1 day on each room. I’m finding that cleaning these rooms has taken less time than I thought, and has not taken the whole day. Since I gave myself a strict 1 day per room rule, once I was done with the room, I did not move ahead to the next room, but had the rest of the day free.

On Monday I did the kitchen as planned. I started at 7:30 in the morning, and by 3:00 I was done, and that was including an hour I took off mid-day to eat and run out and get cat food.
Unfortunately, my allergies were acting up, and I couldn’t really enjoy my free hour before picking up my daughter at daycare. I had a nasty headache, and I spend the hour laying down with a wet wash cloth on my head.

Yesterday, I did the living room, and this room only took 3 hours, and if I wouldn’t have taken a few minutes off for a mid-morning snack (I eat breakfast at 4:30 in the morning, and by 9:30 I get hungry) it would have taken even less time. I started at the same time, and by 10:30 I was done. I made some calls, one to the Town Hall in the city my daughter was born about getting her birth certificate, and another to my bank because apparently my debit card had been compromised. More about that later.

At 11:00, I left to pick up my daughter’s birth certificate. Yes, I waited until my daughter was 17 months old to get her birth certificate. I probably still wouldn’t have it, if I didn’t need it because we will be driving through Canada next month to go to my parent’s house in Michigan.

By 1:00 I was back from the city. I ate some lunch, and at 1:30 I went to the library, where I stayed until almost 4:00 when it was time to pick up my daughter from daycare.

For today, I’m doing the bathrooms. I don’t expect the bathrooms to take long, and I may break my 1 day per room rule, only because tomorrow is the master bedroom, which is the worst room in the house, as far as mess is concerned. I may start on the master bedroom today to get a head start.

But first I have to go to the bank. As I had mentioned, my bank sent me a letter telling me my debit card had been compromised. I couldn’t imagine how it had been compromised, since I rarely use it anymore, and I hadn’t seen any suspicious activity on my account. Therefore I called the bank to find out how my card got compromised.

When I called, the lady on the other end said, “Do you shop at Hannaford?”

There are no Hannafords around me. I said “No.”

Then the lady asked, “Are you sure you have never shopped at Hannaford?”

And then I remembered 3 years ago I had shopped at one when my family was on vacation in Maine. I said, “Well, yes, but that was 3 years ago on a vacation in Maine. They keep the account numbers that long?”

And the lady replied, “We got a notice from Hannaford that they had your account on file, and it could have been compromised. They really do hang on to them for a while.”

Frankly I don’t think retailers should keep the account numbers on file at all. It seems to me a company would eliminate a large liability simply by not saving credit and debit card numbers. I remember a few years ago, I noted a debit on my account from REI, that I had never made. I called my bank, and almost canceled the card, until I noted the debit mysteriously got credited.

I mention to my bank how weird that was, and the person from the bank said, REI probably had my number on file, and accidentally charged it for someone else’s purchase, but credited it once they realized their mistake. I decided not to go through the hassle of waiting 7-10 days for a new card unless I saw more suspicious activity. At the time I was living off my debit card, and 7-10 days without one would be a huge inconvenience.

Something else that is a little disturbing is that my bank sent me a letter the last week in June, and I thought this Hannaford compromise happened like a month or two ago.

Anyway, one of my errands for today is to apply for a new debit card. At least it is less of a hassle now that I’m not working.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Week One - July 7 - 11 - Make My House a Home

As I mentioned in my last post, The Last Day, my house had become sorely neglected. I live in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), an acronym I can’t take credit for since it was coined by FlyLady.net. I would describe it as similar to living in a frat house, which is really sad since my husband and I are in our 30’s and are responsible for rearing a young toddler.

What may be difficult for someone to believe when visiting my house (not that a have a lot of visitors, I tend to keep them away) is that I’m actually a neat person. In college, I had the same roommate for almost all 4 years, and my side of the room was always immaculate and she was the messy one, the packrat who kept everything and had a place for nothing. There was an invisible line down the center of our room where her mess ended and my neatness began. My side always had to be the side near the door otherwise no one could get in or out.

So what happened? I fell in love with a man who was the male equivalent of my college roommate, at least as far as neatness is concerned. And I had mentioned there was an invisible line in my college dorm room, which was because, while I am good at cleaning up after myself, I am not good at cleaning up after others. But when you share not just a dorm room but an entire house and a life with someone, you stuff just intermingles, and keeping separate sides is more difficult. But I can’t completely blame my husband for living in squalor; that isn’t fair. As my job became more demanding… ok I can’t blame my job either. I had about 90 free minutes on most days (other than the days I had to work from home) and I could have been cleaning during that time, I just chose not to. Instead I chose to watch TV and blog.

What had caused me to become more motivated to clean my house, besides quitting my job? I realized my house is not a home, just a place to sleep. It became that way because my husband, my daughter and I didn’t spend much time there. Even on the weekends we were off running errands. The weekends were really the only time we had to run errands. Since my daughter and I will be home more often now, I want it to be a pleasant place. I also want to teach my daughter the importance of taking pride in where she lives, and taking care of her things.

My husband and I live in a townhouse style condo that has 2 bedrooms, 1 ½ bathrooms, and about 1200 square feet. I always wanted something more. I wanted a house with at least 3 (preferably 4) bedrooms with about 1500 (preferably 2000) square feet. That was why I busted my butt working. But as I was busting my butt, I didn’t make the most of what I had. I always said once I had a house I would keep it clean. But now I’m beginning to think that I should make the most of our condo. What I like about our condo is the low mortgage which gave me the freedom to quite my job. If I was living in my dream house, I would be stuck in my job, because my husband and I would not be able to afford the mortgage otherwise. Which reminds me of a quote I heard somewhere, I don’t remember where:

“Do you own your things or do your things own you?”

Cleaning our mess is a little overwhelming, but here is my plan. I am going to spend 1 day each on each room of my house, and for each room I am going to get 3 boxes, and label them, “THROW AWAY,” “GIVE AWAY,” and “PUT AWAY.” This is a method I got from FlyLady.net.

Here is my schedule for the week:
Monday, July 7 - Kitchen - The most used room of the house, which is why I‘m starting there.
Tuesday, July 8 - Living Room
Wednesday, July 9 - Bathrooms
Thursday, July 10 - Master Bedroom
Friday, July 11 - Fiona’s Room - The neatest room of the house, which is why I left it for last.

Other guidelines:

  1. I will spend 1 day on each room and only 1 day. Even if the room is not clean to my satisfaction, I will not continue on that room, but move on to the next room as planned.
  2. I will create a schedule next week for maintaining what I began this week.
  3. Any remaining mess will be cleaned as part of my maintenance schedule to be created next week.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Last Day

I had the perfect job - for someone else.

Everyday, I spent 2 hours (1 hour each way) commuting. Not only was my commute getting more and more expensive, on a typical day, I spent more time in the car than I did with my 17 month daughter.

My employer was flexible with me, which was good, but the price was that I sometimes had to work from home. Everything has a price. And I guess my life is the rule more than the exception for Mom’s in the corporate world.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life. Once I calculated what I was spending to work - the commuting costs, the daycare costs, and the taxes, I wasn’t really bringing in that much money.

On June 18, I made the difficult decision to resign. My last day is today, July 2.

I wouldn’t recommend my decision to everyone. Here are the factors that made my decision:

  1. My husband and I have decent savings besides our retirement accounts to act as a cushion.
  2. Our mortgage was already low, and we recently refinanced it, bringing it down to $660 a month - cheaper than most rents.
  3. I wasn’t even grossing 50K annually (before all work expenses). This made my work expenses, not to mention the demands of my job less worth it in my mind.
  4. I wasn’t the only one getting stressed over my job. My husband was getting stressed and said to me, “If you want to be a stay at home Mom for a while, I support that.”

For all of my good intentions, I do have fears, and I don’t want to have any illusions that my life will get easier. My life, in fact, could get harder. But if the rewards are greater, if not financially, then personally, than I can live with that.

I have fears however. I don’t want to squander our savings. I understand the beauty of compounding interest. I still hope to find a legitimate part-time work from home opportunity, so I can continue to add to my retirement account, spare our savings, and maintain my professional skills, but I anticipate that will be difficult.

With my fears in mind, I have one motto: Thou shall not squander my time.

To that end, I plan to approach my responsibilities as a Mom, and my responsibilities in my home with the same organization I applied to my job. My plan:

1. I will continue to get up at 4:30 every morning, except for the weekends, as though I was going to work.

2. I have developed a plan for my first 3 weeks after my job:

Week One - July 7 - 11 - Make My House a Home
I gave my daycare person more notice than my job, making next week the last week my daughter is in daycare. My reason for this is that I want to spend the time making my house a home. My house has been sorely neglected.

Week Two - July 15-18 - Create An At Home Routine for My Daughter and Me My week “off.” As I say with sarcasm since I will be watching a 17 month old. I want to spend this week creating a flexible daily and weekly routine for my daughter. One of the benefits of daycare was that my daughter had a routine, and I want to maintain a routine for her. I also want to spend this week creating a daily routine for maintaining my home, and managing our finances.

Week Three - July 21-25 - Investigate Work At Home Options
I have some ideas floating around in my head. When my daughter is sleeping, I plan to document these ideas, and for each idea ask myself: How much will it cost? Can I work around Rob and Fiona’s schedules? What is the earning potential? What are my hopes for this job? What are my fears? The plan is to determine which path to take.

Hopefully with a plan in place, I can make the most of my time.