I've been home full-time for three and a half years now. Since Alex was born. For the first year, I was on maternity leave -- meaning (for my U.S. readers) I was collecting EI payments and was on leave from my job. After the year was up, I never went back. It was a long and complicated story as to the various reasons I never went back, but suffice to say, I haven't worked in an office in 3 and a half years.
Instead, I plunged myself in to full-time educator, entertainer, snuggler and bum wiper. Oh yeah, and part-time freelance writer and editor. That line between part-time and full-time sometimes blurs and I find myself working a silly amount. But other times, I have no work on the go and I have lots of time to just spend with the kids.
I never really had a concrete plan as to how long I would stay home. I figured I'd definitely stay until Austin was in JK (that's come and gone) and most likely until Alex was in Kindergarten. Then, I figured, at some point around then, I'd go and find another job.
But working for myself has been both rewardig and profitable. And I'm only doing it part-time. The possibilities open up dramatically when I think about when I can actually work on a more full-time basis.
And the possibility of that terrifies me.
You see, unlike Austin who spent last year and this year in half-day Kindergarten -- starting full-time school in Grade 1 next September -- Alex will be going to full-day Kindergarten. All the schools in Ontario are changing from half-day to full-day for 4 and 5 year olds by 2015 and our school is changing in September. So suddenly, two years earlier than I expected it -- I'm going to have no kids from 8:30 until 3:30 every single day.
Did I say that that terrifies me.
Part of it is just not wanting to change -- I like being with my kids every day. And I like the fact that I get Austin every afternoon still. And the idea that I can now have 6 to 7 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY to work, instead of only an hour and a half when they're both in school (Kindergarten and preschool) and many evenings and weekends is something I rejoice at. But is also causing me a lot of anxiety.
What if I can't get enough work to fill all of my hours. What if I find myself for days and weeks at a stretch with no work. That's the nature of contract work -- you work when there's work, and you don't when there isn't. And if I go through great stretches with no work, what will I do to fill my days in a quiet house? And that's the second downside to working for yourself (the first being when there's no contracts, there's no paycheques), there's no colleagues to work with -- no water cooler to chat at. Just me, my basement office and my laptop.
Will I like it? I don't know. Will I be able to get enough work to transition from part-time to almost full-time? I don't know. Will I prefer to go back and work for a company and go to an office every day? I don't know. Will I continue working from home and try it out once the kids are both in schol? Yes. Because doing this gives me the flexibility to take my kids to school every day and pick them up every day -- and just be with them a little bit longer. But is the whole thing making me anxious a whole year in advance? Absolutely.