Monday, April 14, 2014

On Going Back To Work

I stayed home for 8 years then this past fall I started a part-time job outside the home.

While the transition has been smooth and the job is going very well, it has still been a transition and a big change.

Most of the 8 years that I was home full-time, I also worked from home doing childcare, sewing, baking and some other odd jobs from time to time.

I am a homebody and I loved being home. I still love being home. I have never been bored at home. There is always something to do!

When I started looking for a job outside the home, we set some specific guidelines on what to look for.

1. Short commute. I didn't want to drive more than 20 minutes one way. Obviously, a shorter commute cuts down on gasoline costs and wear and tear on the car. It also saves a lot of time! My drive to work is 7-10 minutes and only uses about a gallon and a half of gas weekly. Another reason for a short commute is that while we are currently a 2-car family, in the event that we were to change back to one car, working close to home would make that situation a whole lot easier.

2. Part time. This is my frequently asked question! Why only part-time? Quick answer: I want my life back! Longer answer: I'm working because we need some extra money to supplement our income not because I have nothing to do at home. Currently, working 25 hours per week meets that need and allows me time to keep up with things at home, run errands and operate my Etsy shop. (Most days I feel like I work much harder at home than at work--LOL!) While we don't know what the future holds, our hope is that me working outside the home is more of a temporary situation than permanent.

In addition, working part-time outside the home brings in about the same income as when I was doing childcare at home for 50 hours a week. Seriously! Even though I'm not home as much, I have a lot more freedom and more concentrated time to work at home than before.

A part-time job is working really well for us right now!

3. Less responsibility. This sounds weird but hear me out. I've worked on my own for a long time. I'm an introvert and I do well by myself. However, we thought the best job would be one where I would be working with other people and assisting them rather than being in charge. My current position is a floater/substitute so I fill in and cover for other teachers as needed. I still have responsibility obviously, but I'm not doing all the planning, etc. When I leave work for the evening, I leave my job there. It's much easier for me to take time off as well.

4. W-2. Yes, on my list was a job that would provide me with a W-2!  With both of us being self-employed, tax time is a bit of a headache, not to mention that we haven't received much in the way of refunds for about 7 years. Even one W-2 will make it easier. 

5. Quality working environment. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I've worked in NAEYC accredited centers in the past. Once you do this, you really don't want to go back. NAEYC Accreditation means smaller child to teacher ratios, staying in ratio at all times, more experienced and educated staff, developmentally appropriate curriculum for young children and generally, just a better working environment. There are many quality centers that are not NAEYC accredited so obviously accreditation doesn't mean everything! Of the several job interviews I had, this center was the one with which I felt most comfortable and it is NAEYC too.

I'm still figuring out how to rightly balance work and home and get what is most important done. Obviously, there is simply no way I can do it all. I think I extend more grace to myself  in this area now that I am working outside the home than I did when home full-time, which is a good thing!

So, even though several years ago, I didn't see myself going back to work, I have and it's working very well for us at this time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Relatively Painless Ways To Declutter

Having trouble getting started with decluttering and getting rid of stuff you know longer use? These five ways are a good place to start and depending on your attachment level, pretty painless!

  1. Trash. Look around your home. Find anything that is obviously trash and throw it away. Newspapers, receipts you no longer need, junk mail, broken items. 
  2. Magazines. I know we love our magazines but really, how many do we need to keep? A good rule of thumb is to keep 2 or 3 of the latest issue of each magazine to which you are subscribed. If you haven't had a chance to read a magazine that you've had 6 months or more, you probably won't. Most articles are available online now but you can also tear out something you want to keep, file it and toss the magazine. If way more magazines are coming in than are being read, it may be time to rethink your subscriptions and stop the flow!
  3. Plastic containers. How many of the sour cream and yogurt containers am I actually going to use? It's ok to keep a few--I keep some to send leftovers home with friends--but be realistic. Toss the extras into the recycling bin and enjoy the extra cabinet space.
  4. Partially empty personal care products. Is your shower full of partially empty bottles and your bathroom counter cluttered with all sorts of stuff that is rarely used? It's time to bite the bullet and toss, toss, toss! If it makes you feel better, commit to using some of this up before opening new bottles, but do it quickly before you lose your resolve. Have a bunch of free samples? Purge those too! Not only will your bathroom look so much nicer without all the bottles and clutter, it will be so much faster to clean. Win, win!
  5. Clothing and accessories. For some this may be more difficult but it can be easy if you simply get rid of the items you haven't worn in a long time. When the seasons are changing is a great time to tackle your closet since you are changing out your clothes anyways! Are there items hanging in your closet that you haven't worn all winter? Weed them out! No need to store something you aren't wearing! The exception is dressy or formal wear that you may only wear a few times over the course of several years. I have a nice dress that I wear to weddings and other dressy occasions. Even though I use it once a year or less, I still keep it! Just make sure what you are keeping actually fits and is a piece you really will wear.
A donation box set in the closet for easy decluttering as I switch out my wardrobe for the summer. 

What are your best decluttering tips?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Marking Rags

Most of our rags are old towels and washcloths. I know the difference between the rags and our current towels and washcloths but not everyone in our household does!

So I borrowed a trick from my sister and wrote "RAG" in permanent marker on each one. 

We also have old bath towels  that have been given a new life as "dog towels". Not only are they useful for drying a wet dog, they also come in handy for car washing and big spills. I wrote "DOG" on these. 

Now there will be no question which are rags/ dog towels and which are the good ones we use everyday!