I remember the moment so clearly -- the moment I realized I needed to make a career change. I had just started my maternity leave with my first baby, and it was a happy blur of eating, sleeping, and snuggling on the couch. I had made the decision to check my work email periodically throughout my leave, so that when I returned to my full-time nursing job, I wouldn’t be bombarded with hundreds of emails. I sat on our sunny couch with my laptop while my daughter slept next to me. I logged in for the first time, skimmed through meeting minutes and practice updates, and just as I was ready to sign off, my heart sank. One of my coworkers had sent out an email that very morning with the subject line, “Only 2 weeks until Carrie gets back!” I sat there paralyzed, trying to think of any other ‘Carries’ in our office. There was no way that could be me – I had just had a baby! I frantically pulled out my phone to look at a calendar. I started counting the weeks and came to the painful realization that I had indeed been home for 10 weeks already. I counted the weeks in my calendar at least 3 times before breaking into sobs. I truly hadn’t given much thought to what it would be like after my maternity leave ended, and the thought of leaving my perfect little baby every day for full-time work and part-time grad school was just too much to bear. I decided to make a change. I had no idea what my options were or if it was even possible for a nurse to work from home, but I knew my current plan was not going to work.
Fast forward 3 years, and I’ve cut back my hours at the hospital from 5 days per week to about 5 days per month. The rest of the time I am writing nursing courses, running my food blog, and (most importantly) spending time with my family. I’m able to volunteer at my daughter’s preschool, take a yoga class, and drive the 2 hours to visit my parents whenever I want. A whole new world has opened up, and it's completely because of the flexibility working from home gives me.
To begin my WAHM career, I read every book and article about virtual jobs that I could find. I learned about nursing writers, who use their skills to write nursing courses, patient education materials, and research articles. I sent out about 10 emails per day for weeks to various education companies, and heard back from two. I felt discouraged, but one of those companies continues to provide me with consistent, well-paying freelance opportunities to this day! I took the same approach when launching my food blog. I knew nothing about running a website, so I started reading. My blog, Diet Deep Dish, is about two years old now and has led to unbelievable opportunities including recipe development jobs, my own column in a local parenting magazine, and TV appearances.
For me, the secret to building a satisfying WAHM career is perseverance. The process to get where I am took longer than I expected, but looking back I can see how everything fell into place at the perfect time. These days I begin every week with a planning session. I make a list of the specific tasks I will accomplish and plug them into my calendar. I also look back at the previous week to see how far I’ve come. Most importantly, I try to always include gratitude in these sessions. I focus on how grateful I am to be able to schedule my career around my family, instead of the other way around. The road to becoming a WAHM is long and winding, but so worth it!