Friday, June 29, 2012

Quitting the Day Job Ain't No Picnic

I quit the day job - or rather - it quit me many years before I was published. Start up-itis and endless rounds of layoffs. I got axed somewhere near the end. The DH and I had read an analysis somewhere that said something like "In a dual income family, the lower of the two incomes is effectively reduced by at least half." The reasoning went along the lines of - you pay for childcare, increased costs for eating out (because neither spouse has the energy to plan and cook meals), outsourcing costs (house cleaning, yard work, dry cleaning, etc). There was also the possibility that the second income bumped you into a hirer tax bracket so you paid more there, too. And then, there was the loss of leisure time. In a dual income family, free time (the hours you're not at work) is spent doing endless chores and running errands.

We realized the analysis had us pegged. So we made a deal. I'd stay home and manage the household. He'd work a job which provided a paycheck and medical benefits.

It's worked out pretty well, but quitting the day job ain't no picnic. House managing is endless work. It's repetitive and, frankly, boring. It can be enormously satisfying, however, being able to care for your family yourself. And yes. The chores and errands and crises can pile up just like the crap in the photo above - and you're usually on your own in dealing with them. One of the biggest problems I have is that issues, chores and assorted emergencies expand to fill the available time - most notably - the time wherein I'd normally be writing.

The trick is to realize there is no leaving your day job. You merely trade one for another. In my case, I went from database administration to managing every aspect of a household. I have to schedule it and I have to schedule writing. If I don't, neither gets done. Sure, people call asking me to do x or y or z, because I'm not working. But I am. It's yet another challenge for the self-employed - if I don't respect the fact that I'm working, no one else will, either.

Did my wordcount soar when I went to working from home? Nope. I suspect each of us really has a daily upper wordcount limit. Our story generation engines only work so far ahead...and one can only stave off tendonitis for so long.

Oh. Just to be fair, the DH and I did trade off. He stayed home and I went back to work. Lasted for 18 months. He hated it. If you're an extrovert who generates energy by interacting with other people, I'd urge you to hesitate before you quit your day job. You may find a bunch of your mental stimulation comes from working with people who challenge you (in a good way, usually). 

Since I seemed a better personality fit for the work from home model, we switched back. Though, one of the adult toy shops up the road is hiring. I admit it's tempting. Just for a change and a little mental - er - stimulation.


  1. I couldn't agree more! I quit my day job over a year ago, and I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I'm not writing much more now than I was when I had a full time job. My days are filled with chores and tasks that endlessly pile up. I think about going back to work every now and then, but I really like the freedom of being my own boss.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. You nailed it on the head as to why I am working from home. Many know my husband is in between jobs at the moment (his time with the military was up and we decided for him to get out instead of reenlisting.) We've had several people ask why I've not gotten another job to help, and I keep telling them, "We have two kids. Whatever job I got would not make up for daycare expenses." And no, the house work is NEVER done...