A year and a half ago, when I was trying to decide whether to go back to work (before the decision was handed to me on a silver platter), we played the numbers again.
That game where you take your salary, subtract the obligatory taxes and then subtract the cost of two kids in full-time daycare to see how much is left over. The game is useful to see if it's even worthwhile to go back to work or whether working is just a money-losing venture. (Now that game doesn't take into account the EI moeny you're receiving while on maternity leave versus the no income you receive as a stay-at-home mom, but it's still a worthwhile exercise. )
It would've been worthwhile for me to go back -- after taxes and daycare, we would've been left with a little less than a third of my salary. Then of course there would've been the added expenses of commuting and work clothes but you get the general idea.
When we decided I would stay home, it was a decision made on the assumption that I would be bringing in no income.
But soon after we decided I would stay home (or maybe it was at the same time) I decided to do some freelance writing. The decision was solely based on one thought "hey I can write, let's see if I can pick up a little bit of writing work".
In 2009 (or at least the second half of it, which is when I started writing), I did just that, pick up a little bit of work.
But I'm proud to pat myself on the back right now and tell you that as 2010 closes out, I will have worked enough "on the side" to make up that one-third of my salary that would've been leftover had I gone to work every day.
All while getting to do what I really wanted to do -- be a full-time stay-at-home mom.
I'll be honest, it hasn't always been easy. And some days, when I'm tired I think that I'm insane for wanting to be a full-time mom and a part-time writer. Because some weeks,
there isn't enough time to do it all. And there certainly isn't any time leftover for me.
There was a period from mid-May until the end of July where I was working almost constantly. Every afternoon and many evenings and weekends were filled with me sitting in front of my computer. Once or twice I found myself working until 1 a.m., only to get up with the kids at 7. In those months, it was a little too hectic. And I considered finding part-time daycare come September if that pace kept up.
But like the nature of all freelance work, it didn't. But work remained steady throughout the fall -- with many 'naptimes' filled with work, a few evenings a week and the occasional weekend afternoon. Enough to keep me busy. And enough to bring the money in.
The kids are used to it, even if they don't understand what 'work' is when I say mommy has to work. With my Blackberry closeby, I'm able to respond to work requests wherever I am -- I took a job this summer while at the splash pad with the kids and another one while wandering around Riverdale Farm. It might be a busy life, but I can do both my jobs at the same time while at the park. So life ain't all that bad.
As 2011 approaches, I'm going to do it all again. See if I can make that much money again, or as my contacts snowball with referrals and my client list continues to grow, maybe I'll even be able to make a little more. Goodness knows, having the extra money that we didn't expect to have when I left the working world has been helpful. And if all goes well, by the time the kids are both in school, I may have enough work on my hands to do this full-time and then maybe I'll never go back to an office again.
But now I'm getting ahead of myself. Because right now, if I take on much more work than I did this year, I may seriously need to look into daycare options.