When I was a kid, the one thing I never expected about being an adult is how many different lives you can lead all within the same life. Parenthood, it turns out, is one event that can be a life-shifter.
I worked in an educational sales field before being a mom, and never expected that I would want to stay home full time as a parent. I wrote about our transition to a single income here. The days spent reading nursery rhymes on the couch and playing “Dinosaur Train” in the driveway were unforgettable and such a blessing.
I wondered if I would ever go back to work, and if I did, how hard would it be to transition back? It turned out that the hours spent reading with my daughter were the foundation to my return to work. We read books about American Girl characters, classics like The Wind in the Willows, and many, many dinosaur books.
My husband and I are not willing to give up having me home in summers, so that has limited my work choices. When my daughter was in 1st grade, I started back to work at her school as a substitute cafeteria worker. This was hard, physical work, but it gave me experience interacting with all kinds of children. I met amazing, hard working, ladies who worked at the cafeteria and then went to work at other physically demanding, low paying jobs.
Taking a very entry-level job in a school was my starting point for other school opportunities that didn’t involve lifting 25 pounds of mashed potatoes. I got to know the principal which allowed me to step into a reading paraprofessional position. I have found that to increase your wage in these part-time positions, you have to be willing to move around a little and try other school districts. Each position increased my hourly rate and gave me more experience.
This fall I was looking on the teachers’ job positing website to read about a position a friend was applying for, and I happened upon the holy grail for me… a school library position. I silently showed it to my husband and he was fully unboard. It was 3 miles from home, paid about 20% more, and had benefits like paid holidays.
I got a call back for an interview quickly, but it was a strange interview and I didn’t think I had a chance. At the end, I handed them a list of the 50 or so kids’ fiction books I read in 2016.
I got the job. I think the knowledge of kid lit was the clincher.
So, I am happily at a school library every day, home before the bus drops DD off, and making enough that I get matching retirement benefits and an opportunity to contribute to a 403b which I definitely am taking advantage of.
It felt like a long road back, but every job I took contributed to the next job. As soon as I got the library job I emailed my cafeteria boss and thanked her for my time there…without that job I would have never have landed the other ones.
My advice to a parent choosing to stay home with small children is to do it if your finances and heart are telling you to. You may find that being home gives you new skills and interests that take you in a career direction you would never have anticipated 📚!