laid off and learning to love it… my journey from corporate sprinter to life marathoner

sahm: preschool days 01/04/2010

Filed under: Laid Off,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 10:00 pm

one would think that preschool would be no big deal for someone who put their child in daycare starting at 12 weeks of age, right? wrong. even though he attended full time until he was 27 months old (and i became unemployed), this adventure feels very different.

when i was laid off last year, i quickly sought out a preschool for my son to try to keep him socially engaged. however, i could not find one for kids under 3. i found an “early 3” program but he couldn’t start until january 2010… so i completed an early enrollment in my excitement and wondered where life would lead us in 2010.

since then, i have grown quite fond of spending the days with my two kids. i like our slow, easy mornings. i also like our playdates and new friends. i like letting them relax and explore whatever appeals to them on the days where we have no plans. as the snow fell this morning, it was stamps and ink pads followed by building the tallest cushion tower ever (which of course the kids had to tumble down)!

when november 2009 rolled around, i had to make a final decision on enrollment. i hemmed and hawed. i cried to my husband: i could not imagine being away from my son and would miss him too much! my husband reminded me that it was only two hours, two days a week. plus, it would give our son a chance to learn new things and give me solo time with my baby girl. i took a deep breath, signed all the papers and mailed in our payment.

next week is his first day. guaranteed, i will be the one crying.

the big difference to me is that he is now a walking, talking, potty-using preschooler. he has grown into an observant, loving and articulate little guy who i love spending the day with. i have to remind myself that preschool is not daycare. yes, he will learn new things but thankfully in a small class with a low key setting. also, he will still get to share the majority of the day with his sis and i – for which i am extremely thankful.

he must know change is coming. tonight as i carried him into his room, he whispered, “thank you for taking care of me, mommy.”

i miss him already.


sahm: working all the time 11/06/2009

Filed under: Laid Off,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 11:40 pm

since i was laid off in february, we have done pretty well getting our family onto a tight budget. no major missteps. however, a few months ago i realized i had fallen short in the “me” category. i found it hard to justify money in the budget for any splurges for me, including dinners out, coffee on-the-go, and my haircuts and color. my gray hair was taking over!

i review job postings regularly and try to stay connected overall. until something fantastic came up in the full-time category, my goal was to find a part-time job that let me work from home while the kids slept: before they woke up, during naps and in the evening as needed. something legit. i did not quite think it was possible.

as fate would have it, something fantastic fell in my lap with all of the above criteria. i started in july and hence, have much less time for this blog. 🙂 however, it pays me – this blog does not! plus, the work keeps my brain moving differently than singing Christmas songs and playing at the local park does.

the content is mildly entertaining, the people i work with are normal and the pay is good. i also never have to deal with office bureaucracy – something i will never miss. however, since i do not have to dress up for work anymore, i do sometimes miss cute shoes. (sigh)

anyways, we use my pay for extras and will fund Christmas entirely with it. i pick up a latte every once in a while with no remorse, save a portion for my retirement, pay for things like the zoo membership, and treat the kids to lunch every few weeks when i think they (and i) can manage through dining out without daddy. this mainly happens when i start to crave first watch…. YUM… first watch.

most sahms i know seem to work FOR PAY in some way – they own a small business, work a few hours out of the home after their spouse is home, etc. it’s not for everyone, as it pretty much means you never slow down and always have something to be doing. i am more productive when i am busy, so it has been alright for the most part. however, it has its challenges too. i am managing pretty well but often have to remind myself to prioritize the work behind the important things.

i am sad for those people who put work ahead of the important things. i was that person once and i hated the feeling that my family was coming behind work. i will never be that person again. even if the shoes were really cute…


sahm: sing it, mama 08/24/2009

Filed under: Activities,Laid Off,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 10:07 am

i have always liked to sing. i usually sing in the car and around the house, especially when music is on. now that i am home full time, my kids now hear me sing – a lot. at first, my son was NOT a fan. he would often tell me to stop singing. as you can imagine, this did not go over well.

he used to really hate it when groups of people sang songs, especially “happy birthday.” at his 2nd birthday party last november, he actually cried when everyone started to sing to him! my husband and i talked about it and we knew there was something wrong but we didn’t know how (nor did we really have time) to try to figure it out with both of us working full time.

when i was first home with them, i started putting music on a lot: in the car, in the house, and for no reason other than for background sound. i sang along and was often told to stop. but i kept going. i found some tunes for him – silly kids songs that were still tolerable for adults (ex. laurie berkner, justin roberts). i referred to this music as HIS music. i think it worked.

amazingly enough, in the past 6 months, i have been so fortunate to witness my son overcome his social dislike of singing. and to top it off, he sings himself! his mind is like a steel trap so if i stop singing mid-song, he can finish almost every verse. his vocabulary has expanded one hundred times over, just from lyrics.

we now sing constantly. he asks for his music and wants it turned up louder. he yells, “sing it, mama!” if it’s a favorite song of his. we sing together. it’s awesome.

the best part is that for my birthday 3 weeks ago he actually sang to me, by himself, at the breakfast table that morning. i cried. one of my best mommy moments ever.

sometimes you don’t know how to *fix* or work through an issue or phase with your kids… you just live your life and hope it works itself out. i don’t think this one would have worked itself out this quickly or with as much enjoyment (for both of us) had i still been working.

so for this alone, i want to say thank you to my former employer for laying me off. totally worth it.


sahm: the spice of life 07/22/2009

Filed under: Laid Off,SAHM Choice,Saving Money — ccatet @ 9:35 pm

the business where i used to work had a fabulous brand new cafe with every possible food you can imagine: stir fry bar, pasta bar, daily pizza specials, a deli, grill, mexican food station, salad bar, soups, milkshake machine, the works. when i was pregnant with my daughter, i lived it up every single day. sometimes i miss working there JUST because of the cafe.

in general, i have always enjoyed eating out. however, since i was laid off and on our new and much reduced budget, it’s much more rare that we eat out. if you’re wondering, our budget is a total of $50 for the month to eat out and we average 2-3 times out a month with those funds plus a plethora of coupons. as a result, i have been known to fantasize about eating out and ordering something tasty that i didn’t have to prepare for DAYS in advance.

tonight, for example, i am having dinner with an old friend and we’re going to a great local burger joint. i have been dreaming about the amazing salad and the burger for three days. even more so, i am not indulging in a cookie right now in order to justify that scrumptious burger.

i cook with a fair amount of variety but there will always be something nice about someone else cooking for me. however, the frequency of someone else cooking for me has substantially dropped since i was laid off. i am the sole grocery shopper, meal planner, food preparer and usually, the clean up person. my husband offers, but i usually send him to play with the kids so i can have a few minutes alone to myself and he can visit with them after his day at work. sometimes those 5 minutes are the only minutes i get alone until bedtime.

when i do get out to eat now i make sure to enjoy every second, especially when there are no children hanging off of me. i am learning how to slow down when i eat since i usually have to rush with the kids. i order something that i don’t cook at home and make sure the meal is ordered exactly how i like it. when the food arrives, i dive in – YUM!

since we don’t eat out as much, i am also trying more new recipes than i have in years. if i am craving a meal, i try to reproduce it at home which has made cooking very experimental and a little bit exciting. i am proud to say that i am making variety in our lives in a place that it never existed before.

if you’re wondering, as of now i have no plans to return to my old employer’s cafe… even if i still do dream about the food from time to time.


sahm: don’t take it personally 06/24/2009

Filed under: Laid Off — ccatet @ 11:01 pm

you’ve just learned you have lost your job and yet all you hear is how to not take it personally. i wish the people delivering the message could hear themselves say it. unfortunately, the humor and the irony is lost in the moment…

at first, i didn’t take it personally. i believed what everyone told me when i was being briefed on my departure. during that meeting, i was elated to be free of the shackles!

however, within days, i felt rejected and unloved and as though my 4 years of undergrad and 2 years of grad school were a complete waste. i really wanted to enjoy the fact that i was now free to be home with the kids, but my ego had taken a major hit. there was bit of denial: surely they would call and want me back! ok… so that didn’t happen.

my next emotion was anger. i was extremely ticked off. it takes a lot to make me mad and i got very mad. they decided i was no longer valuable to the organization after i played by all the rules, fairly and appropriately. how can you not take being laid off personally? i was so angry at myself that i had invested all of that time plus emotional and mental energy – and THEY were the ones to tell ME to leave? i vowed to never give so much of myself to anything outside of my family ever, ever again.

i have heard it all: to be laid off is a badge of honor, a rite of passage, and of course – been there, done that. but you know what? it still stinks like a 3 day old diaper. i am glad it’s behind me.

it took about a month for me to nurture my ego and pull myself together. i had to grieve for the loss of my job and the majority of the relationships i had cultivated over 9 years. it helps that i have a great family and great friends who rallied around me daily. most of them were glad i was home, visibly more relaxed and available to play more. genuinely though, i think they just wanted me to be happy which they could see i was not – at first.

i am very aware now that i was missing some of the best parts of life by being cooped up in that office every day. i love spending my days in a swimsuit, loving on my kids, getting sprayed with a hose, going to parks, breathing the fresh air… you really can’t beat it. i may not get paid, but the joy is deep.

and one thing i know for sure… the best is yet to come.


sahm: the PINK slip 06/14/2009

Filed under: Laid Off — ccatet @ 8:55 am

oddly enough, the morning started with a jovial email exchange with my husband. the corporation i worked for (lovingly referred to as pantiesbymail.com by my brother) had sent an early email stating that 400 associates were being laid off that day. i forwarded it to my husband who, knowing how i had been feeling, asked me if i would be running to the front of the line or casually sashaying? i laughed it off… thrilled at the prospect of being let go but pretty certain it wouldn’t be me.

i was informed around 12:45pm, while walking back from the cafe with lunch in hand, that indeed i was wrong.

from 12:45-2:30pm, i listened to my manager, then HR, then some ridiculous woman from a career management service talk to me about all of the details of the separation. i was trapped in a hot office and i wanted to go home. when the last person came in (the aforementioned ridiculous woman), i was all done with that place. i still had not eaten the majority of my lunch and had cried enough that my face was splotchy. she was trying to talk to me about resumes and my job search and i had nothing for her. i am sure her job was tough that day as i was one of several associates she dealt with. however, i really did not care. i was done being nice. they wanted me to go and i was ready.

she finally left and still being a bit splotchy and not wanting to draw too much attention to myself, i decided to stay in the office and call my husband. the first thing i asked him was whether he would really be alright with me as a SAHM for awhile? we had discussed the topic frequently in the past few months but this was now a reality. he eagerly supported me and we agreed to meet at home to spend some time together before getting the kids from daycare. i let out a deep sigh when we hung up. love him.

i headed back to my desk and tried to be discreet, going quietly through all of my network files and emailing anything i could think i would want/need to my home email address.

i had been told that i would be able to leave the building before any announcement was made to the team. this turned out to be incorrect as i soon had IMs and emails flying at me, checking on me, offering kind words. i had so very little for anyone else at that point, i muddled through responses but all i really wanted to do was leave.

i grabbed all the pictures of my family from my desk, shoved them in my bag and walked out. once outside of the building just before 3pm, i felt a million times better – almost like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. siyanara.

i may go so far to say i hated that day, at least up until 3pm. i did not like how it felt to be laid off mainly because the action on their part took major decision-making about my life out of my hands, at least temporarily.

now i look back and can recognize that i needed a push considering the mental place i was stuck in after processing through staying home versus working. i am not sure i would have ever pulled the trigger and i was this close to being miserable.

being laid off forced me to challenge many beliefs i had about myself and offered me the opportunity to change my perspective. with a decent financial cushion, i also had the ramp down time necessary to get our family on a more strict budget.

we are officially on one salary now and it’s not the least bit intimidating. i am living a new chapter in my life and am really, truly happy. i always thought i knew what i would do with my life but honestly, i don’t mind the bit of uncertainty. i know i am with my kids now and focused on my family and this feels so good. better than any project, web launch, database cleansing, floorset and – yes – even better than the associate discount.