Don't quit your day job.
Working 9 till 5, what a way to make a living. Until you stop: be it for love, children or to try something new and suddenly you realise it's damn hard to get back in the club again.
I loved working. I love being a mum, don't get me wrong (and I naturally consider it a full-time job and the hardest job in the world) BUT I realllllly loved working too.
I started work in tourism marketing some twelve years ago as a plan B until I wrote the greatest Australian film (ha) and enjoyed every fight over marketing funds, disparity over rate codes and argument over Expedia rate percentages in my eight-or-so years in PR and marketing. It was obviously not my passion, but I liked it a lot and I was pretty good at it sometimes.
Eight years ago I met someone who's career was considered more important than mine. Their goals and dreams and ambitions were non-negotiable - which made mine negotiable. This is the point where I'd like to blame someone else for not pursuing my dreams, my career. But it is at this point that I blame myself.
I let my goals lapse into dreams. And I made my dreams expendable.
Wasted potential is sometimes an unfortunately innocent victim in the pursuit of a romantic relationship. Be it for the reason of distance, household funds, children or location there is often a member of the relationship who draws the shorter career straw, and it is most often women.
I'm not saying this is a begrudgingly made choice and often not regretted - but there is a broad spectrum of women in many industries that didn't recognise their potential to succeed professionally and
entering the job pool again later in life can be difficult and restrictive.
In my case, I was first employed by my husband to work for him in 2011. This doesn't bode terribly well on later resumes you can imagine Previous employment - my lounge room floor for zero dollars an hour. Later on we moved to the States where I was legally not able to work and then I became a full-time mum. Suddenly, it was five years later and I'd effectively been out of the workforce that entire time.
I cannot stress to you how important this is.
Don't let a partner become your financial plan.
After leaving my career to work for my husband, I wasn't getting paid and was slowly working through any saving I had left. When he left his job we had no family income coming in - or coming in in spurts - for quite some years and it meant I had absolutely no savings at all after a year. I had a credit card linked to his credit card and no access to bank accounts. That's right - I was 30 years old with no savings and no access to any bank accounts at all.
This is not a plan.
Although I now see this clearly as financial abuse, I should have had a plan in place. Do you know how much money you have? Do you have a wet-weather savings? Do you have a superannuation plan or an investment? Make sure you are looking after your future and the future of your children by knowing how much money you have access to. I couldn't live a free life due to financial restrictions, and eventually left my marriage with nothing for myself or my son. I am smart, educated and confident and I had $0 savings at 33 years old.
You assume that your marriage will last and that you can trust another human to provide for your future - but this is up to you. If you make steps to ensure you are protected even if you don't need to it will take an entire level of stress away from your life and your relationship. Which leads to -
Money and love.
Money is one of the most contentious issues in any relationship. In fact - it has been cited as the second top reason relationships fail. If one person is earning the household's money, no matter how amicable you relationship is, they have an element of financial control over the other which can create power struggles in fragile relationships or, like ours, relationships where it is used over the other party.
Have the tough conversations about money.
I was too scared to ask my husband the tough questions when it came to our finances. I had no idea how much money we had or when it was going to run out. Living pay to pay is really hard at 25 so it's exponentially harder at 35 and with dependants.
If you are unsure what your financial situation is - you need to fight for that information. It's better to have an awkward conversation now than a desperate situation should something happen.
Working 9 till 11:30.
I need to stress in this section that being a stay-at-home parent is 100% a full-time/overtime/ongoing job that requires constant overtime and no meal breaks. I love being a mum and every second of being with Archie on the days we are at home together. But you are not just your children's mum: you are a human person. When I realised I wanted to work again, I felt so much guilt around not being at home everyday to raise him.
I felt like I shouldn't have had children if I wasn't going to dedicate my all to it.
But this is bullshit.
You are JUST as good of a mum if you go back to work. In fact - it will give you some financial freedom if that's not already a part of your world and allow you to keep a foot in the door should you wish to go back full time later in life. This is one of my biggest regrets, that I didn't maintain a steady contact with the work-world during those five years. Once out, it is extremely tough to get back in and I have even tried writing "professional mum to a crazy human child" on my resume - it doesn't work. If it's not for you, and you love the mum life then hurrah, your 6am train-commute days are over but if working is something that's in your future (by choice or necessity); do not as I do, do as I suggest warmly.
Dream those dreams.
Maybe you'r not a parent, and your workalife is put on hold for your partner's work or other reasons. DREAM THOSE DREAMS GIRL. I can't stress enough how much you need a creative/brain-use/physical outlet of your own. Being in love is awesome and gooey but don't sacrifice your own mental wellbeing later down the track for someone else's. If you are feeling like there's a lack of compromise in your family-career-cycle make sure you flag it. I don't wanna be like the old lady who tells you of past atrocities she has suffered but dammit don't sell your dreams short!
Find a partner who loves your ambition.
I can't make childcare cheap or work locations stable so I know I'm giving advice with no real-life compatibility but I can recommend this: don't leave anything in the tank for later. Do it all now.
Getting back to basics.
Starting at the beginning is hard, but it's not impossible. You're a smart, talented human person with skills and talents.
When I found myself at the beginning, I applied for so many jobs but they all looked for recent experience in a field and my experience was extremely un-recent and kinda not even in real fields. Hello - I would like a job please. Previous experience involves planning Irish nightclub media.
So I sat down and weighed up my talents and passions. And that's the point from where I made my next move.
PLEASE NOTE: AS ALWAYS, I AM NOT AN EXPERT. I AM STILL VERY POOR.
But I do hope you can learn from my mistakes to not make the same ones - or at least make the same ones and then we can laugh about it together as we cry into wine.
- Stay active. Keep your brain moving in whatever capacity you enjoy.
- Stay up to date with your chosen industry. Read an industry newsletter while breastfeeding or listen to a podcast on your drive to the school Christmas play.
- Don't give up. These are YOUR dreams: you are in charge of reaching them.
- Be strong and confident. You got this.
- Don't let someone else decide your financial freedom.
Good luck and please send me any tips/stories and love. Don't send me complaints please - I'm a people pleaser.