9 to 5

Are you a parent employed outside the home?  Whether you work full time or part-time it can be a challenge with pros and cons.  Have you examined the real costs of employment?

Before having children I worked as a receptionist and bookkeeper at a doctor’s office.  I enjoyed working there but the plan was to be an at-home mom and fortunately we did not need my income.  My husband worked in the computerized medical instrumentation field.  He helped develop a CT (computerized tomography) scanner for G.D. Searle. D.D.H.

Just before our son turned one year old I happened upon my previous boss at a community event and learned that my former co-worker had suddenly quit, leaving the boss in a bind.  I agreed to return to part-time work for the summer months giving her time to acquire and train a new employee.  A high school student agreed to come to my home to babysit. (Thank you, Tracie.)  I rode my bike the 2.5 miles each way to the office and back home.   My travel and clothing expenses were nearly zero.  I think weather may have required me to drive a few times.  After paying taxes, my babysitter who worked 40  minutes longer than me each day actually made more money that summer.   However, I had the satisfaction of regular exercise and helping a friend.

Our family continued to expand and we continued on one income.  I was working 24/7 at home as a mom, teacher, and homemaker.  When our #1 son was 14 years old my husband began a business of building custom furniture and our income dropped by 75%.  Did I go out and find a job to supplement our income?  I did not.  I did not have a marketable skill that would have netted a worthwhile income after subtracting taxes and all the expenses of employment such as transportation, clothing, childcare, and increased meals not prepared at home.

IMG_1756We preferred to live on a lower income.  Employment for me was not desired primarily because we wanted to continue to homeschool and I volunteered many hours every week at our church as a youth director.  As our children became teens they were also involved in this youth ministry.  Eventually, I was hired at our church as a youth pastor.

Years later, when we had only one child at home, we enrolled him in a homeschool  co-op where he attended classes two days a week.  At first I volunteered at the co-op, but by the second year I was employed as the receptionist and later the dean of students.   Like many parents who understand the benefits of working at their child’s school, I only worked when he was there.

Not being employed does mean living with less income.   One may choose to deem that a problem or a challenge and opportunity.  I consider having more time with my children and spouse a wonderful benefit.   It also means having more time to do activities which help stretch one’s income such as couponing, gardening, canning, home cooking, garage sale and resale shopping.    There are tons of ways to stretch your money.  I recall being gifted with a book titled The Tightwad Gazette, from which I gleaned a few ideas.   Amazon carries it, cheap, and many others of that genre in print or digital format. Mary Hunt is a newspaper columnist with lots of money-saving tips, whose articles I enjoy reading.    Her website is: www.everydaycheapskate.com/moneysavers

Whether you choose to pursue a career, work part-time or full-time, do your best to get a clear picture of all the ways doing so will impact you and your family beyond just more income.   Sometimes you have more options than you think you do.   If you are a parent, you will be working somewhere all day every day, 24/7.

P.S.  Our nest is empty and I am working part-time with lots of flexibility and I am enjoying doing so.

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