Thursday, September 6, 2007

What comes after SAHM'ing?

This is a question I've just begun to ponder. First, some happen news that relates to my pondering: we're expecting a new baby in March! We're pretty excited, even though we expect to be pretty tired with three under four. (Though, honestly, I don't know if newborn tired really beats early pregnancy tired - ick.) But, it means that I have, theoretically, at least six more years of full-time child care ahead of me, before our youngest is in school.

So what happens after that? Assuming, of course, that there aren't more kiddoes by that point. I'm beginning to realize that going back to a 40-hour-a-week job isn't that appealing to me. I've been trying to figure out why that is, and what exactly it is I want to do instead.

Part of the reason - a big part - is that I want to be available to my kids should they need me, even though they'll be in school. If they're sick, I want to be able to come and pick them up. When I was in school, my parents both worked or went to school, but a lot of their work was from home, and we knew we could always get a hold of them if we needed to, which was very reassuring. Also, one of them was always home when we got home, which really made home home.

I'm not really pondering doing no work, but I'm beginning to think about doing something from home or with flexible hours, for the purpose of being available to my kids, and being home when they get home.

Then there's the second reason that a traditional 40-hour-a-week job doesn't sound attractive: because what I really want to do for money is to write. Preferably novels, but I like doing freelance articles too (and they're easier to get published).

So my current plan is to take these next six years as a time to slowly (during kids' naps, in the morning before they get up) write and submit and write and submit and work on becoming successful enough in my chosen field that when the kids go to school, I can legitimately take the extra time to write, knowing that I have the ability to make (at least a part-time) living from it.

At least, that's the plan I've come up with as I've tossing the title question around in my head. It also seems to have in its favor the fact that if working at it an hour or two a day for six years finds me largely unsuccessful, well, I'll know I need another plan. Seriously, being a SAHM seems an almost perfect proving ground for a writer. If I can do that while doing this, it means that I really want it. (And any success in the meantime sure helps the family budget. Though I took the profits from the articles I sold so far and used them to buy MS Word - the better to write and sell more articles, my dear.)

Of course, I'm sure that my plan isn't the only one out there, and I'm guessing there are other SAHM's out there looking at the same question. What's your take on the question? What are your ideas, your plans, your dreams? Are there things you're doing now to prepare for when the kids are gone for larger amounts of time? I bet there are a lot of people whose answer is: "I'm going to homeschool", but even then, what happens when they go off to college? Are you planning on taking some extra classes yourself while you teach your kids? Anyone gunning for a part-time masters degree?

Since I've only recently started thinking about this, I'm really interested in what other people think. In fact, if you have some great thoughts and want to write a guest blog, just let me know. :) Or just fill up the comments with great idea. :)

Thanks for your input!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell


Mom to 5...Daughter of the King said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I know exactly how you are feeling. I have 5 kids, but the youngest three are 3,3,and 2. The three year olds are 12 weeks apart in age. I am always telling my dh that I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I was a teacher BK (before kids) But I dont' want to go back to that full time. I don't know that I can be a good mom and a good teacher I am pondering. Like you I want something with some flexability. Hmmmm....I'll be interested to see what others have to say.

Jennifer F. said...


I've just started my adventure with three under three, so I can relate to your worries about being tired!

It's funny that you bring up this topic, I was just reading the two most recent posts over at Home Living and have been enjoying their thoughts on the subject. I think that their perspectives are so unique. Good food for thought.

For me, I've had this crazy idea lately that I'm just not going to plan ahead in that department. I just love my various hobbies and interests that I'm pursuing right now, yet none of them are what I planned to be doing five or even two years ago. I find that when I just focus on remaining prayerful and being open to where God might lead me, I ended up doing much cooler stuff than I would have come up with on my own. :)

Amber said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy, how exciting!

As for what I'm going to be doing after the kids are out of the house, (since we're homeschooling) I'm leaving that very open. I figure I'll probably be somewhere in my 50's by the time that happens, and I really have no intention of trying to plan anything that far in advance. I'll keep learning and exploring the areas I'm interested in and keep trying to listen for God's will in all of this and I'll just see where that takes me!

qualcosa di bello said...

jessica...first congratulations!! you will be tired but it will be joyful. we are parents to 4, all who have been homeschooled...2 in college, 1 in high school & 1 in 8th grade. i have been pondering this questing for what seems like forever, but in less than 5 years, homeschooling will be complete. i have prayed over this very much & i felt what you expressed...& ever so slowly i have been taking various courses toward a completely different field than my before kids work (which i could not imagine a 40 hour week of now!)

i have prayerfully chosen courses that help me & my children too (esp. with some gaps i felt during the high school years). soon my high schooler & i will be taking a foreign language at the community college - fun together! i am so very glad God slowed me down & allowed me to grow so much during this time i have been educating my children. i learned a lot...especially not to dwell in the future because the present is really what matters. i have slowed down enough to be more quiet before God & hear the still small voice speaking to me, a tremendous blessing for me. & i have learned to embrace the questions & the waiting that are natural to this season of my SAHM life.

i pray for many blessings for you during this time & the years ahead.
(PS. i have always loved how you sign your posts!)

Tienne said...

Congratulations Jessica! What wonderful news.

Your dream and mine coincide. I'd love to make a living writing because it's truly the only thing I want to do. Part of me has ideas (once the youngest is in college) of working outside the home for social justice as an immigration lawyer or something, but that's so far away I feel I'll be a completely different person at that point. While my kids are still kids, I definitely want to be home.

For me, the challenge is finding the time to write. A few hours each day would do it, but getting those hours uninterrupted...there's the rub! I look forward to hearing any tips you have on how to carve out time without sacrificing something essential (housecleaning, time with family, etc.)

Elena said...

Hurrah! Congratulations on your littlest. A third child adds so much richness to the family. Two kids are a pair of playmates, but the third makes them a whole little community of their own, and it's really, really wonderful.

I've been thinking about the whole "what next" thing, too. I, too want to write freelance as much as possible now, paving the way to do it full-time later on. But I've decided to focus on music rather than words, and instead of books and articles, I'm working on flute solos for student collections. There seems to be a pretty big market for flute music--it's hard to make it as a flutist because there are so very many of us out there, but this way I just might be able to turn that to my advantage. If you can't beat 'em, write their music. Or something like that. We'll see how it goes. =)

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I'm late to the party. :) But I do have plans for after my children are young. Primarily, I will be homeschooling, so I won't be able to have the same sort of "career" that you will with the kids in school elsewhere. However, I fully intend to continue teaching music and participating in it as well.

Right now that is just two private students. But I'm hoping to pick up a few more, and maybe just maybe the Anglican Chorale will accept me this year or next.

Someday I'd like to go back to school and study conducting and composition. That may never happen, but it is a fun dream.

The fact is that my possibilities are somewhat curtailed by our choice to homeschool. That is something I'm still working on coming to terms with. But I do think that there will be opportunities throughout the child-raising years if I keep my eyes open and get brave enough to jump on them when they come up.

Kelly said...

Well, for us, Jesse's dream is to be a university professor and our dream as a family in this life is to always have our door open and help those college students in need of a 'family'. So, in a sense, I hope to always be mothering.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Even though it doesn't sound like you plan to homeschool, I think you may still find it profitable (in a non-$ sense) to stay home.

Jill Savage in her book Professionalizing Motherhood does a good job (through her personal story) of explaining the varied jobs of the at-home mom through the stages of the children's growing.

One of those that (I feel) is the biggest strikes against the 40-hour work week is the transition time she describes, when school gets out.

She described how her daycare kids would arrive all bubbly and share their favorite parts of the day, and how all that would effervesce off hours before the moms hit the scene.

Jill realized she wanted to be the one who heard her kids share all that-- not some day care provider-- no matter how loving.

I think a mom is responsible to raise her own kids-- even if she outsources the teaching.

Even in the teen years I think mom should be home. Do you know the overwhelmingly most-common place for a 1st "sexual encounter" is in the home before the parents get home?

That one statistic is very motivating to me!

Ruthie said...

Really good thoughts, Jessica, and ones I've been pondering too; I find that this question brings up fears of losing my identity in "mother", and I wonder how much it's good to make sure I'm still "me" (whatever that means), and how much it's sin, my wanting to "be somebody", and not "just Christ's child". My vision lines up more closely with another poster - to love college students through my home, to live near campus as Matthew will be a professor, and I also want to do some sort of homeschool co-op and I would enjoy administrating within that, but again, the "me" issue comes to the forefront here - am I only a compliment to others, to my husband, my children? How much do I embrace that and how much do I work to have my own identity? Even to think that bothers me. Hmmm.

Oh, and how exciting about #3! I love hearing when godly families are having more! Let's evangelize the world through our children-disciples!

Courageous Grace said...

Congrats! Hubby and I are expecting our first in January. I'm visiting your blog for the first time, and after reading a few posts, I realize you and I have a lot in common.

Of course I'm not yet to the point of worrying about going back to work, or maybe I am. I'm planning on getting my teaching certificate a couple of years from now and teaching elementary. But it could be that I'm terribly naive and have no clue what I'm in for.