31: Finally in Control

31: Finally in Control

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Finally in Control

Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.

~Scott Caan

“I hate Sunday nights,” my five-year-old son, Jordan, said. “It means the weekend is over, and I have to go to daycare for five whole days before I get more days off to play.”

“I know, buddy, but it’s how things are,” I said. “It’s that way for me, too.”

“Do you hate your job?” he asked.

I shrugged. “It’s not so much that I dislike my job. It’s more that I miss you and your sister so much during the week.”

“I miss you, too, Mommy. I wish we could spend more time together.”

I pulled him close so he wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes. I truly didn’t hate my job, but I did hate being away from my children so much. Like most working mothers, my kids spent long hours in a childcare center, and our evenings together were filled with dinner preparations, homework, and bath time. Many nights felt like a race to get the kids fed, clean, and to bed at a decent hour.

The weekends were our only time to just play and enjoy one another’s company. I loved that time, but it wasn’t enough.

I longed to spend more time with them before they started school full-time, but our family needed me to have an income. I felt stuck. I was unhappy with my situation, but I didn’t see a way to change it.

And then a friend of mine told me about a part-time opportunity that sounded perfect for me. It was a job I would love, and it would allow me much more time with my kids.

There was just one problem. The part-time job would mean a significant pay decrease, one I wasn’t sure our family could survive. But I needed to find a way to make it work.

I made a spreadsheet of my current income and the associated expenses, like childcare, work clothes, and travel costs. I subtracted my expenses from my income, and I was shocked to see that the number had gone down by half. I was losing half of my income just to pay someone else to take care of my kids — a job I wanted to do myself.

It seemed counterproductive, but the sad truth was that our family needed the other half of my income to survive. We couldn’t afford for me not to work.

Which left me right where I’d started — trapped.

Unless I could find a way to make the part-time opportunity’s paychecks match the half of my current income that I actually got to keep.

I started researching preschools in my area, and found that the part-time childcare they offered was far less expensive than the rates I was currently paying. I practically happy-danced when I thought about my children in someone else’s care for just a few hours a day, instead of the full-time hours we were currently apart.

I spoke to my friend about the scheduling logistics with the new job. “Could I put my kids in morning preschool and make this work?” I asked.

When she nodded, I felt a glimmer of hope. “And what about clothes? Would I need to buy a new wardrobe?” I asked.

My friend shook her head. “You could wear what you have on right now.”

My glimmer of hope sparkled brighter.

I started a new spreadsheet with the part-time job’s income and the associated expenses. The income was far less than what I was currently making, but the expenses were too.

Tears filled my eyes as I realized this could actually work. I ran the numbers by my husband, who was skeptical at first.

“Think of how often we eat take-out food, simply because I worked all day and didn’t have time to cook dinner,” I said. “If I’m only working mornings, I’ll have more time to cook at home, and that will save money.”

Gradually, he saw my reasoning and agreed. I resigned from my full-time job and accepted the part-time position. I pulled my children out of full-time day care and placed them in the mornings-only preschool.

Each morning, I worked at a job I loved while my kids attended a preschool they loved. Each afternoon, we read books, baked cookies, and snuggled on the couch watching movies. Gone were the rushed evenings with no time to enjoy one another. Gone were my constant feelings of guilt and loneliness because I missed my children.

I stopped dreading Monday mornings and started enjoying life. I was actually happy.

Quitting my full-time job was a huge risk, but I did it with my eyes wide open. Through research and extensive planning, I was able to make the right decision for myself and my family.

I used to feel trapped in a situation I couldn’t control, but now I’m in control of my own life.

~Diane Stark

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