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

the sweet spot: look at them 08/12/2013

Filed under: General,Parenting,SAHM Choice,Uncategorized — ccatet @ 6:47 am

usually i am right next to my kids, walking and talking with them. but this summer, i have been able to watch them from a distance a little more – and they amaze me.

last summer they both wore life jackets EVERY TIME we hit the pool. now they both swim like fish (or a mermaid in the case of my daughter). this week, they were each practicing flips in six foot water, my son was cannon-balling off the diving board and my daughter was swimming across the width of the deep end – and she did it easily. she bobbed and flipped between front crawl and backstroke, taking her time and enjoying the water. my heart swelled with pride.

i have to stand back, and not cling too tightly. they are ready to do it alone.  i am not quite ready for it, but i won’t hold them back. i watch them move through the water with such happiness and grace. and while they are good swimmers, they are also new swimmers. they aren’t aware of all the things can happen. true to my motherly duties, i watch around them constantly and keep them in spots where they can have fun and be safe.

the process of teaching a child to swim is in stark contrast to my old work life with deliverables and deadlines. you cannot rush any child to swim, or put him on any kind of deadline. you can offer lessons, expose them to water, make them feel safe, and make the time fun. and based on how frequently you do this, your child may or may not swim in the next ten years.  it can be a long road, or a shorter one. it all depends on the kid, and you.

nobody tells you this out of the gate, but most aspects of parenting are like this: a very long road. there can be so much day to day minutiae, especially as they get bigger and more autonomous, that you forget to just look at them and take it all in.

i don’t get sentimental very often. yet this summer, more than ever before, i am aware that they are becoming big kids and we are sliding into the sweet spot. my baby turns 5 and starts kindergarten next week. the minutiae is in high gear with birthday events and school coming, piled on top of the end of summer activities. even though i still need to get a lot done to be ready for each event, i will find a way to actually take it all in – by their side and from a distance. i don’t want to miss a thing.


saving money: one month down 02/01/2011

Filed under: Organization,SAHM Choice,Saving Money — ccatet @ 7:54 am

i need tangible goals. i will admit that i enjoyed the annual review process and goal setting when i worked in corporate america. i know, i am a sick person. yet there was something rewarding and fulfilling about knowing what was expected of you for that upcoming year.

the first year after i was laid off was all about survival: could we pull off living happily on one salary plus my part time meager income? once i knew the answer was yes, i knew i needed to challenge myself. in the absence of goals, i tend to lose focus on the bigger picture. to combat this, last year i set a few financial goals, never even sharing them with anyone but my husband. i was thrilled that by december 1, 2010 we had met all goals!

for 2011, i needed to change it up. i stumbled upon a simple organized living article in november which spoke of items a certain frugal family never pays for. i was intrigued. click here to read it. subsequently, i spent time over the holidays reviewing our 2010 budget. specifically, i was curious which categories we spent the most in and where we might have room for additional savings.

let’s be serious. i wasn’t willing to go to any extreme. i refuse to cut out diet coke, a margarita here and there, 1-2 monthly restaurant outings, my iphone, running shoes, gutter cleaning, or the rare trip to the dollar movie theater with the kids. first, i made a decision to not renew any magazines during 2011. this is no biggie since i have ZERO time to read them anyways. plus i know i can find the same, if not better information, online.

next comes the second and much larger goal. during 2011, my husband and i will refrain from purchasing clothing and accessories for ourselves, with the exception of running shoes. although my husband would probably survive given the +15 pairs of running shoes he has around the house currently, i am not willing to injure myself in the process of meeting this goal!

in the 31 days since 2011 started, this goal has already not been easy – for me. my husband will probably not notice that the year has passed without new clothes – men!! me on the other hand, i have been eyeballing a more functional winter jacket and have gotten ticked off at the lack of water protection on my current winter boots. yet, almost daily i remind myself that they are perfectly fine and i do not need anything.

on the plus side, i am looking very closely at everything i wear (and don’t wear) and already have a nice pile of items to donate. i am fairly certain that by the end of this year, i will know exactly what items i truly need and will be much more conscious about clicking “add to cart” and “submit order” in the future. i also hope to sock enough away in our family vacation fund that we can actually go somewhere this year and pay for it all up front –  maybe even disney!

i can now say that – whew – i made it through one month. only 11 more to go. wish me luck.


sahm: mama’s night out 01/18/2010

Filed under: Daddy,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 9:41 pm

a few months ago, I was in a rut. although my kids were happy, my husband was happy, our budget was on track, the house was clean and organized, and we had plentiful friends and playdates – unfortunately, i was not really happy. for several weeks i wracked my brain but i could not figure out why.

then it hit me. when was the last time i left the house and spent time alone with a friend? TOO LONG. in fact, when i realized it had been a long time, i looked at the calendar and noticed it had been almost 6 weeks. SIX WEEKS without quality time with a friend. how had i let it happen?

oh, but life got in the way.

being the type A that i am, i knew if i didn’t schedule/dedicate a time to getting out, perhaps once a week, i would never do it and time would continue to pass me by. i love being with my family – the four of us. but i was torn by the need to breathe, slow down, be with friends and feel like something other than a mama for a few hours.

i picked a day that seemed good for my husband’s schedule. for planning purposes, we agreed this would be “daddy-night” every week: he would take care of the kids and i would leave sometime after 5pm to either have dinner or coffee with a friend, run errands or just go somewhere and relax by myself. in my excitement, i immediately sent a few emails to get some “dates” on my calendar. i never looked back.

it’s been over three months and i reflect back on the time i have spent with these amazing friends with a great deal of happiness. they make me laugh, cry and keep me connected to the world with something other than facebook. everyone is busy and i appreciate their friendship and time now more than ever since i am a bit isolated in my new world. however, i am a better mom when i can make the time to do something for myself.

i have some sahm friends who never get away from their kids and rarely take time for themselves. to each his own, but that is not me. not only do i want my kids to see that it’s alright for me to go spend time with friends, but i also want them to know that their daddy is fully capable of caring for them. he seems to enjoy this time with them an enormous amount which makes me love him even more, if that’s possible.

sahms don’t get a break: we’re always on. we also have the same challenge as moms who work out of the home in that there are never enough hours in the day. i never understood this until i became a sahm after working outside of the home for several years. even now, i am NEVER caught up on EVERYTHING, but i don’t know many moms who are. such is life with little ones.

however, later this week when i go out, i will have dinner with a good friend whose company i really enjoy. thankfully, i will forget all about the things i am behind on… at least for a few hours.


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: perspective 10/28/2009

Filed under: SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 3:24 pm

as the fall winds down and we head into the holiday season, i have been reflecting on my time home with the kids. i was laid off 8 months ago this week and can’t believe how our lives have evolved and changed.

i now have the strength and courage to go places with my children – alone – that i never would have gone before. initially, it was survival but now it’s great fun. today we jumped on trampolines all morning, had lunch at bob evans and this afternoon we’re going swimming. 🙂

my son will be 3 in a few weeks and is a full blown preschooler. he is very funny, loves to run (just like his mom & dad), and can tell you in great detail about any truck or construction vehicle on the road. when i was first laid off, i used to find myself pretty lonely. however, he has become a fabulous companion to me during the day. he asks good questions and listens to the answers, connects pretty abstract ideas and is extremely observant. now if only i could get him to use the potty!

i am grateful to have seen every single one of my daughter’s teeth come in. she is now working on number 11. she gets a little cough and becomes very clingy with each new tooth. although it’s hard to do everything while carrying her, i know she will be BIG like her brother soon – so i hold on to her as tight as possible. she can be a mama’s girl if she wants.

i have watched my son go from ignoring his baby sis as she crawled around to eagerly helping her up when she stumbles. they now chase each other around the kitchen island and squeal with laughter the entire time! i try to stop what i am doing to watch them and soak it up… as high-pitched as it is, the sound is truly is music to my ears. they are happy which makes me very happy.

i really don’t miss working full time. based on what i hear from former co-workers, i am thrilled to not be living in my old corporate world anymore. it’s amazing how time and space give perspective. yes, i still do look for jobs but i find that there is very little that i would even consider leaving these two monkeys for. i have a part-time, work-from-home job right now and that suits me just fine.

a former colleague said it best: “you can always go back to work, but you can only raise your children once.” he’s one crazy dude, but on this point, he is absolutely right.


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.