Monday, July 28, 2008

Hiatus

***I revised this a few hours after initially posting, down at the bottom with an ETA***

Up until the kiddo was born, I always worked outside the home. Other than when I was a full time college student, I worked full time from the age of 17. I'd always wanted to be a Stay at Home mom, and that was what Hubby and I planned for, and I've considered myself extremely fortunate that this is what I've been able to do for the past five years. Now that the kiddo will be starting full-day kindergarten in just over a month, the time has come for my hiatus from "working out in the world" to end and I'm starting to get a bit stressed out about that.

Not because I don't want to go back to work, mind you. I certainly don't want to just sit at home and my plan always has been to find a job - something part time, at least for the next year or two, then back to full time once the kiddo is older. I mean, sure, if we had the means for me to not have to work, I'd happily volunteer instead of finding a paying job, and I've always held the dream of someday getting an MSW, so if it was possible for me to go back to school, that'd be awesome too. Since we're not members of the idle (or any other kind of) rich, though, any money that is earmarked for college at this point is going into the kiddo's education fund, not mine.

So, it isn't a distaste for work. It's just that I am feeling a bit at sea when it comes to what exactly I want to do. I've done many things in my employment lifetime... I've done secretarial/administrative office work, I've worked retail (albeit briefly), I've worked in a grocery store, I even had a (thankfully short) stint in telemarketing. (That was enough to convince me I do not want to do that kind of outside or inside sales. *shudder*) I've nannied and done farm work (though that wasn't for pay as much as "because I lived on a farm and Mom and Dad made me...."). Back when I was fluent in Spanish, I once worked in an office where being bilingual was required. (Alas, my Spanish skills are now seriously rusty after decades of disuse.) I temped quite a bit in my early 20s, and enjoyed that. I didn't mind being the new face in an office and would happily take short-term or longer-term assignments. I also worked in the staffing industry as a recruiter/account rep, and so I know the industry from both sides.

In my most recent career, I worked in vocational rehabilitation for individuals with disabilities. Basically, that meant that I helped folks with disabilities (from high school aged on up to senior citizens) find and keep jobs in the community. I loved this job, I loved this line of work. I started in this area as a "Job Developer" which meant I worked with clients to help them identify a job, put together a resume and get ready for an interview. I'd identify a job that met their needs and desires, assist them with the application/interview process, and then if they were hired, I'd work with the employer to ensure success on the job. We had separate job coaches, but we were a small agency so I did a good bit of coaching as well. After a few years job developing, the boss of our department left and I got his job. That meant less working with the clients and more managing and paperwork and grant writing type stuff, but again, we were a smaller agency so I still carried a caseload.

So, considering that I used to write resumes and teach interviewing skills, that isn't the part of finding a job that I'm stressing about. It's more about finding a job that meets all the parameters I presently require. (I think that I might be considered "hard to place" by my old job's standards, sigh...) If I could have my dream job, it would at this point be something that I didn't have to take home with me at night. My old job was really a 24-7 on-call type of situation, as our clients worked all hours of the day, night and week. I'd stress about the old job, I'd expend energy thinking about it and planning for it and even dream about it. Now, when my first priority is my kid and not my career, I don't want that. When I'm home, I want to be home, if you know what I mean. That limits the job options a bit. I've heard from some of my former colleagues and even have been offered jobs in my old field. While I loved that type of work (if not the pay that came with working in a not-for-profit realm), like I said, I don't want to be bringing it home with me, not to mention that the jobs that have been mentioned have been full time. I've thought about just working per diem as a job coach or job developer, but the hours I'm available put a serious crimp in that.

That's the second criterion for my next job - the hours. Ideally, I'd want to work 20-25 hours a week. I'm envisioning something like a Monday-Thursday, 9-2 type position. I would prefer to have a day free each week to do things with the kiddo's school, and I absolutely need to be home to put her on and take her off the bus each day.

Thirdly, the job needs to be close enough to our home and school that I'm not spending whatever I earn on gas. Before Kiddo, I used to drive 20 minutes one way to get to work, and then for my job I was driving all over creation. Now, I want to be able to get to her school within 10-15 minutes at the most, so I'm geographically limited.

Then there is the question of money. There are some jobs I'd love to do, but the pay doesn't justify the effort. I've got a not-for-profit heart and need a for-profit paycheck. Benefits aren't important as I'm (fortunately) covered by Hubby, but even taking that out of the equation won't necessarily translate to a higher salary. In today's economy, I can't afford to work for minimum wage or close to it, like a nonprofit gig would pay.

Finally, there's the question of wardrobe. One of the benefits of my last job was that the agency I worked for was definitely "business casual" and my working wardrobe therefore was as well. I do own a few suits, but I don't want to have to wear them often. I'd actually rather not have to wear nylons and heels at all, truth be told. I certainly don't want to have to go out and buy a wardrobe so I have clothes to wear for a part time job...

So, while I harbor romantic ideas about working part time in a diner (without actually ever having waitressed, mind you - the closest I've come is working for a caterer at parties and country clubs, totally different ball game) or at a shop at the mall, likely I'm going to wind up doing some sort of office work. I just have to hope that I can find a part time, decently paying, business casual gig someplace where the coworkers are friendly and the work's not a total bore. (Yeah, I don't want to take it home with me but I don't want it to be mind-deadening, either.) Think that job is out there somewhere?

Practically speaking, I've already spoken to one of my two most recent supervisors (the other, sadly, passed away this past winter) and she is willing to provide me with a reference. I haven't yet dusted off my resume, but I have been perusing the classifieds. I think I may start inquiring at the various staffing agencies in town and see if they have any part time office positions. I'm also going to start networking to see if someone knows of something that I might be able to do. Hubby keeps telling me how he's heard of So-and-So that just hired someone for my exact "dream" job (well, the practical dream job of right now - the dream dream job, being George Clooney's personal assistant, of course, isn't really within practical grasp at the mo...) so he is fairly certain I'll be able to find something. We shall see.......

In the meantime, if you know of any job that fits my bill, I'm a quick learner, great at computer work and type over 100wpm, can handle a multi-line telephone, learn names quickly and file like nobody's business...

ETA: Oh, Jen just had an excellent point in the comments! I also need to be home during the summer when the kiddo is off from school! Crapola - that is another level of difficulty. I absolutely will not put the kiddo in daycare (and I mean no offense to those of you out there who use daycare for your kids - for our kiddo with her special needs, daycare isn't an option we could consider) so I'd need to be free around whatever her summer schedule will be next year. The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking that finding something in an office through a staffing agency might be my best bet. How else, unless maybe I get a job working at a school, will I be able to have the summers off?

Working from home would be a decent option, if the pay was good enough. I have a friend who just suggested the idea of doing freelance writing from home earlier today. That's something to consider, too. If I could get some sort of writing/computer work from home gig (that wasn't a total scam!) that would rock.

Well, I can't really start applying for anything just yet since I won't be able to start until September, so I guess I still have time to puzzle this one out. I know I'm not the first SAHM (which truly has been my dream job, other than the George Clooney personal assistant thing, of course) to re-enter the work force after a child-rearing hiatus, and I doubt I'm the only one who has requirements in a job like I do. So, fingers crossed that there is something out there for me with a paycheck attached!

5 comments:

Momof3 said...

Good Luck, I will be in a similar position in another few years. And I have no idea about how to get back into things!

My name is Andy. said...

Have you considered some sort of work from home stuff? A lot of it is not legit, but some can be. Also, I have a friend who does secret-shopper work. I could send you a link to the company she works for. It's legit.

Good luck!

Jensboys said...

I have the same dilema. Homeschooling for the last 3 years severely limited my (nonexistant) free time. Now I will have all 4 boys in school full time. But in 3 different schools on 3 different schedules.

I am the mom that goes on every field trip. Volunteers every chance she gets. I am not willing to give that up. And the idea of having to work through the summers while my kids are at home? Completely distasteful to me.

And we need the money. As in NEED more money. But I don't want a job as much as we need the money. Its a tough quandry.

Good luck figuring it out.

Migraine Mom said...

I am a children's counselor and I LOVE my job...I am currently a school counselor at the elementary school where my children also go. I have my summers off and my schedule is the same as theirs...my principal is really cool too and let's me "chaperone" all their field trips as a school employee so I don't have to take the day off. Maybe a job in the school in the front office or the library? That might work...

Cher said...

Hey girl, I'm in the same predicament....So I'm going to work at the school as a reading aide...
helping "in class tutor" the kids who don't have the at home support they need.

It's what I do normally as a volunteer when I go in to keep my eye on Autumn, and the pay is dismal, but I can walk to the school, and I work the same hours that Autumn is gone....plus I don't need to be the primary breadwinner here, just earn enough to ease the pressure.