Almost 17 years ago, I started my “adult working life” by designing bimonthly magazines while working from home. It was wonderful and I loved the flexibility, but being newly married right out of college, my husband and I found our budget too tight. I was forced to find a full-time job as a book designer, working long hours in a corporate office. Over the years, I moved from one office to the next, from designing books to library marketing graphics to product packaging, newsletters, trade show booths, and finally, apartment advertising.
During the seven years that I designed apartment advertising books, I worked my way up to an art director position, while also giving birth twice to sons. For each maternity leave, I relished being home with my babies, and I experienced profound depression each time I had to leave my children in the care of others while I went off to work. I felt guilty that I was “missing” their childhoods, and I was appalled that most of my paycheck went to paying for their childcare. My husband and I just couldn’t figure out how to make ends meet without me in the workplace, and we struggled to balance two busy working parents with daycare, elementary school, extracurriculars and more.
When my children were 6 and 4, I was downsized from my art director position and was able to come home. My older son was in kindergarten, and my younger son was able to drop out of daycare and stay home with me full time. I researched all my options for work-from-home positions so I could stay home with my youngest and be flexible to help out at my older son’s elementary school whenever needed.
When I was first laid off, I struggled to find meaningful work. I tried several multi-level marketing companies, but I am quite the introvert and not a very good salesperson. I thought about starting my own little home daycare, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I started a pet-sitting business, which I still do to this day, caring for dogs and cats while their owners are on vacation. Pet sitting is fun, but it wasn’t steady enough work to completely solve our budget problems.
I have a journalism degree, and I had been blogging since late 2007, so I decided to put my writing skills to use. By networking and scouring WAHM job boards, I have been able to assemble a database of clients I write for regularly. The topics I write about are varied, which keeps my creativity flowing: parenting, marketing, green living, travel, food, and lifestyle. I also work as a social media and marketing assistant for a local baby boutique, scheduling social media posts, writing blog articles, designing their catalog, and even shooting videos as on-camera talent showcasing their products, all from my own home.
I’m so happy I was able to choose a rewarding career that has allowed me to be home with my family, raise my children, do meaningful work I love, and still contribute to our family’s budget. Whether I’m working from the couch in yoga pants or grabbing coffee with a client, it’s gratifying to be able to say that I designed my own lifestyle!