Work is such a significant element to our lives. It gives us a sense of purpose, builds our self-esteem, knowledge and skills. It brings meaning to life and helps us to accomplish things. Whether our work is in or out of the home, I know that the majority of women I have met in my life work flipping hard – either raising their families, running a business or in employment (or a combination of these)!
Some jobs bridge a gap for us – some jobs fulfil our dreams. And some, like the work that we do with our kids, has great long term significance and influence.
After spending 9 years at home (with the odd side hustle or academic course), this last year has been quite a different chapter for me as I have been working outside the home in (part time with overtime) employment as an activities coordinator in our local residential home – and boy have I enjoyed it (on the whole). Now, as I approach my maternity leave in the next few weeks, and a return to working full-time again in the home raising another Smith, I have been thinking a lot about what I have gained and loved about working outside of the home for the last 12 months. I have been thinking so much that it is so great to be aware of what a blessing this job has been in my life for this period.
Here are 4 things I was reminded of over this last year that I loved about working and that it brought into my life …
Knowing Myself, the skills I have and using them in new ways
A lot of this knowledge came from being a mother/life generally and also my counselling study but, working in the role of an activities co-coordinator has really helped me to feel such joy in being able to use my skills and ideas in new and creative ways. I enjoyed using my brain a lot more; coming up with ideas and finding ways to adapt to the needs of those I worked with and creating meaningful activities – it has been so fulfilling.
I remember when I first saw the job advert last September (I believe it was), I felt that in many ways it had been written for me and made me excited to embark on something that sounded both fun, but also challenging and providing help for others. It drew on my caring nature, my love of talking to people, my love of music/games/play and also my creativity. I have loved going to work to have these a part of my life.
I think this a biggy for most parent’s who work outside of the home too and I never realised how much I would come to value it. Whether with fellow colleagues, residents families or the residents themselves; I very much valued the adult chat and interactions work has brought. After so many years at home with little ones and days spent with a little pal next to me/following me/at times pestering me (as lovely as it is) it is refreshing to be able to talk about life, politics, films etc and generally just banter with other adults in a different setting. Not to mention, having the head space to talk in full sentences!
I found this also helped me both as a wife and parent when I returned home as despite being tired in a new way, I was able to have more capacity to talk with my kids and it also gave us as a family interesting things to talk about beyond the every day. The kids have loved asking about how people were as they spent a lot of time at the home visiting before covid and loved stories of my day as I heard about theirs.
A change of scene
I have never been one to stay at home all the time, despite being a stay at home mum. I enjoy being out and doing things and have found having kids outdoors either engaging in nature, groups, visits to places of interest or just to meet up with people is so beneficial to them and me!
Work brought a great change of scene to life and no two days were ever the same. I realised that I enjoyed stepping into the world of our residents, getting to know them and their lives and sharing our experiences. I found it enriching to learn of their life – accomplishments, heartaches, children, legacies and lessons learnt – it was funny, heartwarming and inspiring to me.
This change of scenery not only helped me to get out of the house and gain the general benefits of work, but I began to grow in gratitude and appreciation for my life and family as they showed me how wonderful life is and how such little things can bring great joy.
An obvious love but one I have appreciated too. As I have for the majority of life both before and whilst having kids, worked in some way, I have enjoyed the bonus part of earning money. At times it was quite sporadic with blog work or with sales jobs I had, however one thing I loved is that this job brought in a decent and reliable pay packet every month that we were able to count on. It has meant that we have been able to build some savings as well as over the last 12 months or so just helping out with family life. The money I have made has also enhanced life with bonus trips and treats, we might otherwise not have afforded. I have enjoyed having extra money to be able to do more to the house, get the kids stuff, go shopping and generally ease burdens whilst Nathan was a student doing his PGCE.
I love in our family that it ebbs and flows with taking on financial responsibility. Nathan takes on the main role as provider for us and we are happy with that. We are yet to reach a season where we are flush, and we also know in the future that this responsibility will likely be more split as the kids get older and more independent, but I am grateful that whilst our income has never been massive, we have always managed and had enough for both our needs and a few extras on occasion! Nathan worked the majority of our marriage as well as getting his degree and we decided that I would stay home being a full-time mama (with the odd side hustle like I say). This came with sacrifices but has been fine too. Then we shared it a bit this last year as I worked and did overtime too and then, with the last lock down it saw a combo of me being full time (and possibly more) and he staying home with the kids and us both sharing in home schooling around it all.
Whatever the future holds regarding my choices to work outside of the home, one thing I know is that I will always value the work I do – be it in or out of the home. It gives me purpose and meaning, a sense of joy and enriches me and my family.
Now as I approach my maternity leave and a different chapter, I am excited to embrace a different vibe. I accept that I am coming into a new season where I will be home again with baby and the kids, but I would also be lying if I didn’t say that I will in many ways miss working out of the home. I have loved this last year of working around the fam and got used to this routine and the balance/bonuses it has brought into my life. I am yet to see if I will return to work on a part-time basis, but either way I know that the choices future me makes, will be what is right for me and my family.
One thing I am sure of is that as the baby grows, I definitely want to progress my education and with that, I have every intention of progressing what I do outside of the home too – I have goals and dreams and ideas to offer and work I want to do in other areas!