Little Miss Moneybags is now a working mom!
There's so much to the story that it's hard to figure out where to start. The last month has been fairly chaotic - we've bounced around from both ends of the "SAHM returning to the workforce scale" and looked at multiple options for childcare. We've been frugal in some ways and spendthrift in others. Each event has enough to talk about to generate its own post, but I don't know if I'm ever going to catch up to my own life in that regard, so I'll just sum up here.
I've been home for about three years, since Pickle came home from her very long NICU stay. While I never intended to be a stay at home mom it was definitely the right choice for our family at that time and I am so, so thankful that Peanut and I had made arrangements in case it was required - we were able to be a one-income family without any trouble, and still managed to cash flow every month (even with emergencies), pay down student loan debt and save for retirement, and live comfortably. To be sure, our emergency fund is nowhere near where I'd like it to be, we've managed to do no college savings for our kids (aside from gifts they've been given for that purpose), and while Peanut has done very well increasing his earnings every year, our expenses have risen as well. After about two and a half years at home, I started to feel a little stir-crazy and was having a pretty hard time emotionally and intellectually with the challenges of being around small children 24/7. It got to the point where we felt like even if we had to take a loss on childcare costs in order to get me back into the workforce, it would be worth it for our family.
I took a standard approach to job searching - applying for relevant positions, letting my network know I was looking - and also reached out to companies that might have a need but no job posted. I had a lot of interviews but wasn't getting any offers. I had just started thinking seriously about starting a full-time freelance business when I got an offer for part-time work. Freelancing was very much a last resort for me (the whole point of going back to work was to get out of the house and talk to other adults every day, and I've talked before about how I don't want to be an entrepreneur). So I took the part-time job, even though it didn't cover daycare expenses.
In a way, it was a nice transition back into the working world and possibly a better transition for the kids to be away from me only three days a week instead of five. It's been great to be working but not awesome to know that we are literally paying a price for me to do that, not to mention the additional costs of my commute and the additional food costs (lunches out, takeout for dinner, and a lot of food waste that I wasn't able to manage very well). But it definitely fit in with the stories I've heard of women who stay home for a few years - what it does to our career trajectory, what it sets us up for in the future. Well, this is my bed, and I'll lie in it.
Then, the old saying that the easiest way to get a job is to have a job came true for me. A series of events led to me being offered a high-level position with unbelievable pay (more than Peanut will make for several more years), excellent benefits (financial and otherwise), challenging work, something that makes a few ticks on my bucket list and also sets up the rest of my career in an interesting and possibly life-changing way. Literally overnight, I went from being a drain on the family finances to the breadwinner and a potential employer, as we can now afford things like a nanny and a housecleaner. Peanut has the opportunity to take some creative risks with his own career. This is the kind of thing I dreamed might happen after leaving the workforce, but I never actually thought it would happen. It's very much like winning the lottery - it's made that kind of difference in our family's financial future.
It's been a little bit mind-boggling, to say the least. I'm hoping that as things shake out I'll have more time to talk about it here - there's a lot to unpack.