Oh man, you guys. You have no idea how much I have been DYING to share this news with you. The last month has been crazy in terms of sudden new opportunities, budget-wrestling, life-balance agonizing, and everything else that goes with such a major life upheaval.

Here’s the deal: I’ll primarily be writing ongoing posts for The Stir along with some corporate work. I’ll be doing this from home while juggling kid-wrangling, because this is the last week of the boys’ daycare. Three days a week, our wonderful babysitter will be coming from 1-4 in the afternoon to watch Riley and Dylan, and I’ll scoot off to a coffee shop or wherever I can poach some Wi-Fi.

There are a lot of questions I don’t have answers to yet. I will have daily deadlines that I’ll need to meet, and I need to figure out how to do this without relying too much on Yo Gabba Gabba. I know I will slowly go crazy if I don’t have any adult interaction EVER, and the kids need socialization too, so I need a plan for getting us out of the house and interacting with actual live humans. I need a schedule, one that can be flexible enough to accommodate unforeseen problems but structured enough so that I don’t completely morph into this Oatmeal comic.

We decided to wait on starting Riley in kindergarten this year, so I had to think long and hard about whether it was the right thing to do to pull him from preschool. (His daycare is a care center and school combined.) And Dylan, for that matter—they have both done really well in their classes over the years. Under my new salary, I can’t afford to keep sending them there even part time.

Maybe I will find a less expensive preschool somewhere down the road (although as long as we live in this area it seems doubtful), but for now they’ll be home with me. The idea is that school—the homeschool variety—is going to be part of our new routine too. I don’t have much to say about that yet, but I’m hopeful that we can figure out the time management, and that the inevitable frustration is tempered by fun. I hope that it ends up being a great opportunity to connect with my kids and enjoy the last of their little-boyhood.

I have no doubts whatsoever that all of this is going to be really, really hard, in a lot of different ways. But I’ll tell you what, goddamn if the very best things aren’t always hard as hell.

Priorities have shifted all over the place, and I won’t be going back to school in the fall like I’d planned. Winter, probably. I will slowly but surely chase down that dream, no matter how long it takes.

I still dream of a career helping people reach their fitness goals. I want to get our house sold and move to Oregon. I want to write a book. I want to do a lot of things, and my road seems wider and more beckoning than ever before. This isn’t my forever, this is my new right now. And it is so, so much better than my yesterday.

For that and so much more, I want to say thank you. Thank you so very, very much for reading and being part of our lives. Without you I would not have this opportunity, and that is the absolute truth. The words aren’t enough, but I want you to know: I am so incredibly grateful.

Now, my dear friends. The comments are open for all kinds of advice, because I would love to hear any and everything you might want to share about surviving being at home full time, figuring out schedules, avoiding hermit-ness, keeping kids happy, not collapsing in a pile of your own personal filth, and so on. Next week a new chapter of our lives is starting, and I am so happy to be sharing it with you.

birds

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Erin
11 years ago

I have no advice or comments, other than I think you are awesome.

JennB
11 years ago

I am so excited for you, congratulations for taking that first leap off the cliff. It will be scary and wonderful and challenging and, ultimately, rewarding. Learn to fly, Linda! You have a big fan over here on the East Coast!

Dawn Piecka
Dawn Piecka
11 years ago

My envy may kill me today but I am so happy for you.

Nikki
Nikki
11 years ago

Congratulations on this very exciting time!

As for suggestions, find every free kid-related day time activity you can. Then you can schedule getting out of the house without opening up your wallet. For home school resources, try second hand book stores. My local Half-Price Books has a home school section with a wide variety. Good luck to you and your family.

Danielle
11 years ago

Congratulations on taking the steps to make a better life!
Some friends of mine, marriedwithluggage (dot) com, are radically changing their life and have blogged about some creative things they did to sell their house in the Seattle area. Maybe some of their tips could help?

Anne
11 years ago

Congrats on the Big Huge Change!

I don’t work from home now, but when I did, the Most Important Thing for me was make sure to leave the house for SOMETHING every day. A trip to the grocery store, a walk to the park, a picnic with a friend, etc. If I didn’t schedule that stuff in advance and hold myself to the leave-the-area-once-a-day standard I would have hermit-ed myself and gone weeks before noticing I hadn’t left the house. Schedule things in advance!

Do you have any libraries/parks-and-rec programs/public pools in the area? Those things are free and would get you and the kids out of the house and around other people. Aim for the free stuff. It might take more searching, but it is probably there, and is more budget-friendly than, say, joining a formal kids’ gym or something.

Emily
11 years ago

Congratulations on the big step you took! I hope it all works out for you.

I also wanted to say that as far as helping people meet their fitness goals, seeing your successes inspires me to keep working toward my goals. Each time you post about your fitness journey it pushes me a little harder.

birdgal (another amy)
birdgal (another amy)
11 years ago

I admire you for taking this step Linda–unfortunately I have no advice for you, as I determined a while ago that working out of the home is probably the best thing for me and the kiddos (plus, my line of work does not lend itself to working from home AND being the primary caregiver). I’m sure the transition will be hard, but it will be so worth it. If you can find the courage to jump into the unknown, I’m positive you can find the balance in your new schedule. Good luck!

Melissa H
11 years ago

Ok, now I’m really waiting for the parenting poetry book even if you self pub. I’m convinced a volume of your poems would be the most perfect new parent gift ever.

As for advice…do you follow any homeschool mom blogs? I don’t homeschool but often find interesting ideas for how those families structure their days. Angry Chicken, Melissa Wiley, Pioneer Woman and Soulemama come to mind with varying amounts of homeschool stuff in each. Am way too lazy to link, sorry.

g~
g~
11 years ago

Congratulations and Good Luck on the new endeavor. I tried homeschooling out of necessity for preschool, hated it and while I was so happy that life dictated that I spend more time with my son, I was Even Happier when life dictated that I let someone else handle teaching him.

Lisa
Lisa
11 years ago

I stay at home full-time with my 3.5 and 1.5 year old boys. The public library here is full of almost DAILY free kid stuff to do… Storytime, craft projects you can drop in on, etc. It’s a great resource and, oh yeah, did i mention? it’s FREE! Congratulations to you and your family – i think things are going to really take off for you!

Trina
Trina
11 years ago

If you can swing it, I am going to plug Co-Op preschool. You would have to commit to one day in the class (it’s only a couple hours) and a meeting once a month. The tuition is low because the parents work in the class. You get early childhood education credit through your local community college. You get to meet other parents in your area with kids your kids’ age.

janet
11 years ago

Been reading your blog since Riley was born, mostly as a lurker. But I just have to de-lurk to say HOLY HOT DAMN CONGRATULATIONS.

Sarah Lena
11 years ago

My advice is only this: find a song that you find strongly personal and motivating. Have it with you, ready at a moment’s notice. Because there will come a time (for me, it was always scrubbing toilets in particularly nasty houses) when you will want to collapse and say “this is too hard!” and you’ll want to stop.

Listen to that song. Remember what it meant to you when you first heard it, and what it means to you now. Don’t feel cheesy about finding motivation from music or lyrics. That’s what the author/performer hoped for when they created it.

Find your center, and keep on keepin’ on.

xxoo

Meghan
11 years ago

I work from home full-time, as a journalist, so I do get out-and-about for interviews and such. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to get showered and dressed the same way you would if you were going into work. It’s not to say you can’t wear yoga pants every day, but for me, at least, there is something about that morning routine that puts me in Work Mode.

Also, I would highly recommend that when you are done for the day, be DONE. Don’t be checking your work email at the dinner table; this is a super bad habit of mine and I really need to stop. If you need to catch up after the kids go to bed, by all means do so, but don’t try to parent/make dinner/etc. while also trying to work.

In any case: Good luck! I am sure you will do great.

Emily
Emily
11 years ago

My husband works from home and juggles kid-wrangling part-time (my son is starting kindergarten and my daughter goes to pre-school part-time). His basically philosophy is, you HAVE to get the kids out of the house every day…even if it’s just to the grocery store, the bank or Home Depot. And, unfortunately, some days there’s a lot of TV involved and some days he just can’t get anything done until the kids are in bed.

Erin
11 years ago

I think you are on the right track with a schedule. I’d also highly recommend a list of things you aren’t willing to give up. Freedoms like running (without the boys), time away with your husband (even if it’s just to go on a walk or grocery shopping) or whatever else is important to you.

The other thing I’d highly recommend is that when you have your 1-4 time period, make sure as much of that as possible is spent doing the work that gets you paid. It’s so easy to use that time to catch up on email or Twitter or whatever other gems the internet has in store for you but if you are going out of the house to write, you should spend that time writing.

You could also look into a childcare trade which is a free way to have more time for working/writing.

My secret (free) childcare is the kid’s play center at the QFC in U Village. I drop off my daughter sometimes while my son is in school and then I can write or work at the Starbucks right in the store.

Congrats on living a life more in line with who you are. It will have challenges AND you’ll never regret it.

Deb
Deb
11 years ago

Dude. I am so happy for you. And since my advice will (finally!) fall into the Solicited catogory, I cannot control myself.

I am a homeschool mom of two kids, and my husband works from home full-time. So I know a lot about being at home and being surrounded.

The first thing I’d tell you is that it might be a big period of adjustment for everyone, so don’t freak out if the kids ramp up their naughtiness or clinginess or whatever their go-to behavior is when things change. Remind yourself of that and don’t let that self doubt creep in.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do a lot of formal schooling. You didn’t say if homeschooling is a long-term option for you, or if it’s what you are doing until you get your New Life situated. Either way, feel free to email me and I will support you in any way I can. Then cut yourself some slack and try not to stress about it. An amazing amount can be done in two 20-minute sessions a day. I know, it seems unreal, but you aren’t wrangling 30 kids, you’re wrangling two, and one of them will learn just by osmosis.

Third – pat yourself on the back, because you are ROCKING this whole pursue-your-dreams thing!

Operation Pink Herring
11 years ago

I’ve got absolutely no advice, but I am so happy for you and can’t wait to read about this adventure in awesomeness. Please let us know where else you’re writing when and if new things come up!

Jenn
Jenn
11 years ago

I’ve been reading your blog for ages, but not sure if I’ve ever commented. Wishing you all the best on your new ‘now’ – CONGRATULATIONS! Can’t wait to hear how it all shakes down. :)

Wendy
11 years ago

I can’t wait to hear all about this transition.

I would echo the advice some other people have posted and say try to find as many free/cheap kid activities as possible (library story time, parks and rec, free museum days, etc) and build your day around those activities.

Alyssa
Alyssa
11 years ago

First, I have to say that I think it is so awesome that you’re actually living the life you want instead of just talking about “someday”. I’m jealous. My cousin works part time and has a 2 year old son. Shes had a mom’s group since he was born. It was mostly them getting together for play dates and adult interaction. They’re just started a “co-op preschool”. One day a week, each mom takes all if the kids into her home from 9-12 and does a lesson, craft, outside fun time and lunch. So each mom has 4 free mornings a month and they all need to plan something for one day a week. It seems to work really well. Maybe there are other moms looking for something like that in your area.

Bethany
Bethany
11 years ago

I’ve been working from home as a freelancer for three years now, and I agree with the person above who said you need to find a reason to leave the house almost every day, even if it’s just a walk to the park. Also, I’ve found that I absolutely need to get ready/change out of my pajamas/etc every day without fail, even if I don’t happen to be going anywhere, because it just destroys my mood and productivity if I don’t.

Good luck to you! You inspired me to go back to grad school this fall in addition to working from home, and I thank you for that.

Jen @ lifelove'n'wine
11 years ago

This post made me tear up. You are so amazing. I wish you and your family nothing but the best in this new adventure.

Krissa
Krissa
11 years ago

Wishing you all kinds of happiness, and if I wasn’t already an avid reader of your blog this new adventure would have me hooked all over again. I can’t wait to see where you go from here!

The Pioneer Woman has a section on homeschooling, with several contributers who offer different perspectives:
http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/homeschooling
She and the other bloggers have done several recommendations of curriculum, for several age groups, for several different kinds of households. Not just for ranchwives, either, I promise. I don’t even have kids, and I want some of the stuff that has been featured over there.

LauraC
11 years ago

Again YAHOOOOOOOO!

My husband and I both work from home. I have to ditto an above poster who says getting up, getting showered and ready makes a big difference in attitude. Personally I like to get up before my boys get up so I can get some quiet time. I drink my coffee, read blogs, write my blog, answer emails.

And the night before, I always put together a to-do list for the following day. This helps me stay organized.

Good luck, I”m sure you’ll figure it out and share with us along the way!

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian

I am so proud, and excited, and amazed at this choice you’ve made. It sort of makes me tear up, and giddy, and terrified for you all at the same time.

Congrats on doing what makes you happy instead of what is the norm.

You give me hope that my life wont always be defined by my LESS than exciting 9-5.

If I could hug you, I would.

Jennifer
Jennifer
11 years ago

I was going to say the same thing as Meghan (the journalist) above. Get into a routine, which in your case will also mean getting the kids up, breakfast, get dressed (sure yoga pants are fine, just change out of your PJs) as if you were heading out the door. Also, be DONE when you’re done. The “Loss of Regimen” in that Oatmeal comic was me all over. When we moved to B’Ham and I was working from home for a large company, I was working at all hours of the day and night and actually getting less sleep and less exercise than when I went into an office.

I have some ideas also for money-making ventures for you (including some computer-related ones having to do with helping people take advantage of WordPress as a CMS on their own websites); I’ll email you after your initial “getting settled in” has calmed down.

Barbara
Barbara
11 years ago

Congrats! You will find as a mother our careers morph into different things as your kids grow up. When I was a stay at home Mom, I always got the kids out of the house…improved everyone’s mood. And remember it is more important to enjoy the kids and chores will be there later.

Jen
Jen
11 years ago

I am so inspired by your choice!

I want to support in anyway that I can. Could you maybe tweet links to your posts at The Stir so I can go there. I use Google Reader for most things, but I know that every click helps.

Melospiza
Melospiza
11 years ago

Whoo-hoo!

Lots of good advice here, but what I can offer is GET OUT OF THE HOUSE EVERY DAY.

Except when you don’t, of course, and when you don’t, don’t beat yourself about the head because of it. Fighting the current is hard enough.

Sally
Sally
11 years ago

Find a place with wi-fi AND stuff for the kids to do. We have a coffee shop nearby with a kid’s play area. Also, Chick-fil-a (do you have those out there?) has playplaces, decent fast food, classical music, coffee, and wifi. It’s pretty much working-from-home-mom-heaven.

Becca
11 years ago

I feel like we are the best of friends even though we, well, aren’t. Does that sound weird? Anyway, I am just so excited that you are sharing your journey with us all and oh my god, am I ever happy for you! I stayed at home until my little guy was about 18 months and it IS hard to make sure that you don’t get sucked into a Pajamas-All-Day-Long hole. You sound like you know the types of things you need to do–playdates, going to Starbucks to write, a babysitter 3x’s a week–and I think that’s perfect! I wish I had more advice but I don’t.

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

First, congratulations! It takes an enormous leap of faith to make these kinds of changes in your life. I know, because I started my own business a few years ago, and have been working at home ever since. For me, it’s nearly impossible to do my work at home with the kids around, although there have been plenty of days when I have. Your attitude is right on, though: this is what’s going to work for you and your family now. Reevaluate as needed. And don’t sleep with a Blackberry on your nightstand ;^)

lisa
11 years ago

I’ve been freelancing for five years & I’ve experienced a wealth of things, let me tell you.

As far as freelancing goes, I think the most important thing is to diversify your skills as much as possible. The more you know, the more you have to offer. I have an MFA in photography, and that’s where I earn some of my living, but I’ve also learned as much as possible about graphic design and some web design, and I earn about 1/2 my living doing those things. They are all creative skills and all related. I’ve done some writing too. It makes my resume look a little schitzo, but it’s paid off big time.

I don’t have kids, so I don’t have a lot to offer about that scheduling, but I do have a friend w/kids who freelances, and she does a lot of her work while the kids are at school and teaches at night sometimes. Freelancing affords a flexible schedule. I am a night owl, so I do a lot of my work at night- a schedule which might work for some parents.

One of the other commenters mentioned work life boundaries, which is really important. When I work from home, I try to have most projects done by the time my husband comes home from work so we can spend time together. I try not to work on the weekends, and if I do end up doing that, I try to work when my friends and family are busy so I am not missing out. There is nothing worse than the ringing phone during dinner or working all day and spending all night answering e-mails. Make a schedule and stick to it.

Make sure you have at least one steady source of income/one dependent client with a steady stream of work for you. I have done best in my freelance work when I have that Money Client, and it also allows me to take on smaller, less reliable jobs for my Heart Clients- non-profits and friends with small businesses. I’ve gone thru phases where all I had was that Heart Work and those were some lean, stressful times.

If you get lonely and want some interaction, or extra cash eventually, I highly recommend contract work. Many companies are letting go full time writers/designers/creative types to tighten the budget. They still need writing and creative work done, though, and they don’t have time to do it themselves, so they hire contract workers. Some contract work can be done from home, and some places prefer you to come work in-house. I have two regular in-house contract gigs, and I like them because I get to go be with people for a few hours. And the best part about it- I go, do my work, and then leave. No 8 hours chained to the desk. Companies really love their contract workers because we are really helping them out. It is a nice ego boost too!

Anyway, I could go on and on and on. Freelancing is wonderful, though. You will love it so much.

Finally, here are three blogs that I find very inspiring:

http://zenhabits.net/
http://rowdykittens.com/
http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/

Also this book:
http://www.amazon.com/My-So-Called-Freelance-Life-Professional/dp/1580052592

Erin
11 years ago

No words of advice really but I just wanted to say congratulations! How exciting!

6512 and growing
11 years ago

I’ve been juggling children and at-home freelance work for a few years (and some preschool). My advice is get out to see your friends when you can: if your friends have kids then it’s instant playdate for moms and kids.

As for home-schooling, keep it simple. Show the kids your interests and let them show you theirs.

XO
Rachel

kakaty
11 years ago

I have no advice or comments, other than to say I think you are brave and awesome. What you are doing is scarier to me than swimming with sharks or shitting in the delivery room.

Good luck, I know you will rock it.

Scott
Scott
11 years ago

Yes, it is going to be hard. But you know what else is hard? Sitting in traffic for eleventy jillion hours a week, and doing a job you hate, and missing your kids, and not accomplishing the things that make you mentally whole. So you’re used to doing hard things. Now, though, you get to do hard things that give you the life you want, and the accomplishments you want, and the awesomeness you want. You can totally do this. And you will. You rock!

Jeanette
11 years ago

I have no words of wisdom for you. I am way beyond my little children years but I can tell you one thing: I have been a long time reader simple for the reason that I LOVE the way you write! So I have no doubt that you will succeed in whatever you try to do! Good luck and God bless!

agirlandaboy
11 years ago

I think you’ve already given yourself the best advice, which is to think of this as “right now” and not “forever.” When making big changes, it’s tempting to imagine your decisions will affect you entire life from here on out, and while that may be true to an extent (it’s all part of the journey and whatnot), you don’t necessarily have to stick with your plan if it turns out to be a bad one. That said, GOOD LUCK!

Ali
Ali
11 years ago

Awesome news. Babysitter is a must :).

Amanda
11 years ago

I can’t agree more that the very best things are hard hard hard…my husband and I both faced unemployment at the exact same time and it was SCARY. But you know what? We both HATED that company. So although we were scared shitless of the unknown, we are so much better off now! Thankfully my husband found a job and I’m not able to stay home with our 23mo.

I don’t really have any tips, because I definitely wouldn’t call myself an expert in staying home, but I do agree getting out of the house is important. And showering is important because no matter what the shit is going to go down that day, you’ll feel at least a little better because you are clean. ha!

Each week our library puts on a story time hour where they read several books and do counting exercises and then have a puppet show and its all free. So we do that every week. We also do a Little Gym class each week.

As for me, two days a week my husband goes into work late so I can go to the gym and workout and then he meets me at the gym with the kiddo and I go run errands or go home from there.

So anyway, like I said I’m not expert but hopefully this gives you some ideas :) You’ll definitely figure it out as you go!

Amanda
11 years ago

*meant to say “I’m NOW able to stay home with my 23mo”

Aunt linda
11 years ago

My heart’s flying up there right along with you. You know I’ve never managed to stay in one place too long either.

jonniker
11 years ago

Definitely get out of the house, and that might mean taking both kids to an open gym in the mornings to wipe their asses out. Our Y has a great one for $5 a kid, and it’s only 40 minutes, but I’m counting on it to keep me sane these cold winter mornings that we don’t have something formal.

I like Meghan’s idea in theory, but I will say that for me, wrangling Sam and writing part-time isn’t enough, so there are lots (LOTS) of evenings that I’m burning the midnight oil just to make deadlines. It happens, but as you said, for us, this is a RIGHTNOW solution, not a FOREVER solution. (We’re going balls to the wall for some real estate goals/necessary life changes)

Shower every day — I do my showering at night, that way I can use my morning time to actually do my hair and throw on makeup and decent clothes. And yes, I do that every single day. I never wear my pajamas, i never skip the routine of getting dressed, even if we don’t leave. It makes me feel better, and I dress Sam, too.

And yes, get out every day. Now, I’m guessing that you, like me, are looking for free-ish things (or at least on the cheap), so we go to the park, the play center in the mall, a friend’s house or some relatively inexpensive activity (gym, the Y, etc.). The library, too, is a must for us, and I’ve been rotating around the libraries in the area for a change of pace. :-D

You’re going to get burnt out. You’re going to be working at midnight, and you’re gonna be PISSED and you’re gonna be wondering if it’s all worth it. And you’ll wake up the next day and do it again, feeling the same way. And then one day, you’ll be listening to that kick-ass song Sarah Lena smartly recommends you have on IMMEDIATE PLAY, and you’ll feel a little better. And then a little bit better. And then a lot better. And then you’ll feel great.

It comes in cycles. The hard ones are never forever. They will pass. It will be okay. And it’s worth it.

Kath
11 years ago

I worked at home for seven months in a 400 sq foot rental cottage, no kids, but an aging golden retriever underfoot. I was in a brand new marriage and a brand new town (a village really, no coffee shops or wifi!) but what worked for me was NOT getting showered and dressed until my work was done (approx 4 hours per day). I would get up, coffee, sit at the desk and work. When I shut things down at about noon, I then showered, got ready and got out of the house. I know it will probably work differently for you with the kids and schooling and stuff, I think my point is that you will find what works for you. Maybe take it easy for a few weeks and track your days instead of trying to implement a schedule right off the bat, you may find patterns emerging that naturally work well for you.
OY, I love giving advice. Cheers, congratulations and girl, you rock!
Kath

Nichole
11 years ago

If you’d like a guinea pig on the helping people reach their fitness goals front, I will volunteer to let you kick me into shape. Regarding homeschooling, we’re using “Five in a Row,” which is sometimes preachy but is very flexible and easy to use.

I am so impressed at your courage in this. You’re awesome!

Christine
11 years ago

I work at home with my preschoolers, too, although they do go to our church preschool a few mornings a week, in summer I have to juggle them AND my work. Some ideas:

I have a loose structure for the day, i.e, breakfast, then playtime, then activity, then errands, lunch, “quiet time”, another activity or outside time.

Each day of the week, I try to find SOMETHING to take the kids out to….the park/playground, the library, a playdate, etc, so we leave the house every day. You’ll go nuts and the kids will watch too much TV if you don’t.

I second the recommendation for The Pioneer Woman’s homeschool info. She’s awesome.

I am not a homeschooler, but my little ones were extraordinarily interested in hawks and raptors this summer, so we spent all summer doing different things around that theme: backyard birdwatching, paintings, library books, etc. Theme-based learning is easy to plan and a fantastic way to work some education into the day.

As comfy as it is to slouch thru the day in your jammies, when you get up, get dressed and ready as though you were going to work: shower, clothes, makeup if you wear it, read the paper, do coffee, etc. Then get on with your day. You’ll be more productive if you treat the day like a workday.

I find I end up working after the kids go to bed, sometimes, and sometimes I sneak off to work when my husband gets home and can keep the kids. It’s a trade off for being there all day for them, and I don’t mind. It does take some getting used to — that your ‘workday’ may end up being little bits of time all day long.

You’re my hero. Congratulations on taking the leap and putting yourself in control of your destiny! I can’t wait til your book comes out! :)

Linda
Linda
11 years ago

Love the tips, you guys. And Scott, thank you. I’m going to re-read that over and over, because YES.

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