ANN BAILEY: Staying at home and staying busy
Two months ago, I left a traditional job to be a stay-at-home mom/writer. Since then, I often get asked how things are going, so I thought I would share some of the challenges and rewards of making a career change.
One of the things I was most apprehensive about was how I was going to fill my days so I wouldn't go “stir crazy,” especially during the long month of January. I was used to being extremely busy and worried that I might not have enough to do. The remedy to that, of course, is to make sure that I do have plenty of things to do.
Whether it is writing my book, cleaning out closets or doing volunteer work, each day I have things I want to accomplish. Meanwhile, I go out for coffee and lunch with family, friends and former co-workers so we keep our bonds strong. Maintaining friendships always has been important to me and I know that staying connected is an important part of doing that.
Keeping busy and getting together with friends, along with attending my children’s school activities and sports, helped the month of January sail by. This month, I am even busier as I have several freelance stories to write for publications. Several of them are agricultural stories and I was delighted to be asked if I would write them.
I covered a day of educational workshops at a farm meeting this month to get the information for the stories and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the updates on various agricultural production issues. I covered agriculture for Agweek magazine for about half of my career with the Herald, developing many sources and meeting a lot of good people. It was fun for me to catch up with some of them at the farm meeting.
I also enjoyed having the opportunity to learn some new things about agriculture. I grew up on a farm and, later, as an adult, helped my dad and brother on the farm. Although, it has been a couple of decades since they farmed, I still have strong ties to agriculture. Attending farm meetings and writing stories about the information presented keeps me in the loop.
Another thing I like about freelancing is the variety of stories. I don’t just cover one “beat” but write about a variety of topics. It may be agriculture one day followed by a feature story and then a business story. Diverse topics keep freelancing interesting and give me an opportunity to meet a variety of people.
While writing is a passion, family is my focus, and, for me, the biggest benefit of not working at a traditional job is that I can plan my schedule around my children and husband. I can pick up Ellen, my fifth-grader, at school every day, leave in the mid-afternoon to attend my sons’ sporting events, have lunch with my husband or clear my schedule if they are all at home because of a snow day.
Besides asking how things are going, people also ask me if I plan to get a job. I tell them that I don’t know what the future holds. If there is a job opening for a job in which I could use my skills and which is flexible enough to fit my family’s schedule, I probably would apply for it. For now, though, life is good and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
I know that not everyone wants to or can leave their traditional jobs. I didn’t make the decision to do so until two months ago and it wasn’t one that I took lightly. I thought about it, talked to my family and prayed before I decided to make a leap of faith. It turned out to be the best decision for me at this time in my life.
Recently I heard a commentator on Catholic radio who was talking about a career change she had made say, “If God brings you to it, He is going to see you through it.”
Amen to that.