As most people know, my kids typically go to daycare Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. And it’s been pretty nice. Greg takes them to daycare on his way into work, which leaves me with the entire day to work on writing projects, tinker with our two websites, and do housework. And, thanks to warmer weather, I’ve also been taking 20 or 30 minutes to get a short exercise walk in. Other days, I get an early start on a really nice dinner that’s ready and waiting when Greg and the kids get home.
But it wasn’t always this way. I used to have a 9-5 job outside of the home, and our life was quite different back then. A lot different. In fact, when I look back on those days, I often wonder how I did it. Here’s why:
Vacation Was Impossible
When we first started working at our old place of employment, we got 15 PTO days each. Three weeks doesn’t sound so bad, but it’s not that great since those 15 days were our vacation days, our sick days, and our kid’s sick days. Add in the fact that Greg’s family lives out of state and that means that we were always scrambling to find ways to stretch our days. We usually had to pray that no one got sick in November and December because we would literally have zero days off. And since we “earned” our vacation days as the year progressed, we couldn’t take any unpaid time off. We were literally stuck with 15 days a year- for vacation, for family obligations, and for the days when one of us got sick. It sucked.
I Never Had Time for Housework
When I worked a regular 9-5 job, I literally never had time to do housework, nor did I have time to make healthy meals. Our entire life was spent rushing from place to place, running the kids here and there, and collapsing out of total exhaustion at the end of the day. I worked until 5:00 so that meant that I never had dinner ready until 6:00 or 6:15. By then, the kids were starving and crabby. Any free time in the evening was spent doing laundry or dishes. I started to feel like less of a human and more of a machine. It was miserable.
No Time for the Kids
When I worked outside of the home, I felt like I never had quality time with my children. Working until 5:00 meant that we barely had time to eat dinner and take baths, let alone play. If we were lucky, we maybe had 20-30 minutes to really pay attention to one another each night. The weekends were always spent catching up on yard work, cleaning, and errands. By the time I was ready to quit my full-time job, I started to wonder if the life I was living was really what it was all about. What is the point of having kids if you never get to spend quality time with them?
That Time I Quit My Job
Fortunately, I was able to quit my job and become self-employed in April of last year. And now that I’ve been a one-man show for almost a year, I can easily say that it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Gone are the days of neglecting my children and my health for the almighty paycheck. Gone are the days are scheduling my entire life around my job and someone else’s agenda. Some other perks of being self-employed:
- I’m able to do housework during the day. In fact, it’s a welcome respite from my writing jobs and blogging. It’s easy to start a load of laundry, move it to the dryer, then put it away once per day. Same thing with the dishes.
- I get to take vacation whenever I want. Sure, I usually work on vacation in some way, shape, or form. But it’s totally worth it. I no longer have to schedule around anyone else or ask anyone for permission. Any time I take off is on my terms.
- We get plenty of quality time with the kids. Since I get to do housework during the day, I no longer have to do it in the evenings when the kids are home. I also usually have dinner on the table when they walk in the door, which means we have more quality time in the evenings as well.
- I get to live my life in the most natural way possible. I love being home during the day because I can shower at a time that feels right. I make myself healthy lunches. I no longer have to plan my life around being somewhere else for the majority of my waking hours.
None of these perks sound particularly ground-breaking on their own, but I can’t express what a huge difference this has made for my family. That’s why, without a doubt, I hope that I am never in a position where I need to work for someone else ever again. Now that I’ve lived this life for a year, I can honestly say that the life I had before wasn’t a “real life.” In fact, my “life” was work and everything else was planned around it. Now that I realize that, I’m determined to succeed.
And the truth is, now that I know what this life is like,
I would rather be poor than work for someone else anyway.
What are your thoughts on balancing work, life, and family? How many vacation days do you have? Is it enough?