WWYD? - Year off/unemployed - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 14 Old 08-17-2010, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH is out of work, and it doesn't look likely that he'll find a decent job for the next year. (He's in education, so there typically aren't any job openings Sept. - June.)

We aren't rich, but we have enough savings to get by for a year if need be. Our kids are 5 and 1. If the kids were older, I'd say let's take off for the year and take an amazing road trip. We enjoy camping, hiking, and traveling. I can't see doing it with such young kids, though.

So, what would you do if you had a year off with young kids? I really want to move someplace where we could get land and start a homestead, but we couldn't get a mortgage without an income. I'm hoping someone may have an idea I haven't thought of. Spending the year at home would drive DH insane and would make it harder to explain what he did all year when he applies again next year, and I'm hoping we can turn this mess into an opportunity for our family. Thanks.
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#2 of 14 Old 08-18-2010, 12:39 AM
 
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I live in a government town in Canada where it's relatively common that two parents end up with most of a year off together with a couple of kids. See, if you work for the government, you get 93% of your pay for most of a year. If mom is a SAHM already, and dad works for the government, dad can stay home and the family's income doesn't change.
So what I see here is those families just enjoying the time together. People generally don't move or travel the world during that time. They just exist and visit family. And sometime before the year is up, the stay-at-home-parent is telling the working parent to get his butt back out of the house to work because she's had enough of him .

4 kids under 10
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#3 of 14 Old 08-18-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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I'd want to spend time doing some traveling and visiting family definitely. Volunteer work can be cheap and rewarding! I'd also look for tutoring or other education related work that your husband could be doing to produce some income and have a 'what have you done for the last year' answer for himself. You never know who will need a maternity leave replacement at some point too!

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#4 of 14 Old 08-19-2010, 12:50 AM
 
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my dh spent about 8 months waiting for work to come around (construction) ... and we had our first ds (6m at the time) so we pretty much did nothing. drove him nuts! so i see how you need to occupy this down time ...

i tried getting dh to volunteer his electrician skills to habitat for humanity or something like that ... but it never happened

i guess i have no ideas, sorry but i agree its very important to keep busy ... i think we were both driving eachother crazy after a while lol

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#5 of 14 Old 08-19-2010, 08:29 PM
 
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We had an unexpected year "off" last year. I was on mat leave, and dp just couldn't find a job (he's an artist/designer). It. Was. Awful.
Honestly, unless you guys can come up with a concrete plan to do *something*, I would push for one of you to have a job. If your dp is in education, he can get on the sub lists for your local school district(s) and/or get involved in tutoring (Sylvan, tutoring centers, privately, at the Boys and Girls Club, etc, etc), coaching (if he's got experience there, I know many teachers do!), or even ESL teaching (many NGOs are keen to use teachers, even if they aren't specifically ESL trained). Even if it doesn't pay, or pays very little!
Or, if he's going to be home a lot, YOU need to find something to do for a few hours a week. Take a class, a part time job, etc. Or, dedicate yourselves to some home improvement projects or community activities. Something!
Last year almost killed our marriage. We're still recovering. Granted, we did have some other complicating factors, like living with my in-laws (hell), but still. People need a purpose. Your dp being home is going to infringe upon your "purpose" (primary caregiver for your kids), so you are likely to feel a little off balance. He's going to feel a little off balance too because you're the "expert" and he'll need to eke out his own way of doing "your" jobs. Plus, most men have a bit of a self-esteem complex about being a provider, and it can be really hard on a man when he feels like he's not doing his "job".
Anyway, you're wise to be thinking this stiff through ahead of time. I think a year off could be amazing, but you are going to have to put some (team) effort into things.

For greater things are yet to come...

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#6 of 14 Old 08-20-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selkat View Post
Honestly, unless you guys can come up with a concrete plan to do *something*, I would push for one of you to have a job. If your dp is in education, he can get on the sub lists for your local school district(s) and/or get involved in tutoring
...
Or, if he's going to be home a lot, YOU need to find something to do for a few hours a week. Take a class, a part time job, etc.
I totally agree with this post. I had been trying to figure out a way to say the same thing, and you put it so well!

Two adults staying home with little money, no plan, no guarantee for the next year and two small children isn't a good idea. If you guys have close to the amount of money you need, it takes a lot of the pressure off and means you can find fun things to do rather than being totally about money.

If it were us, I think DH would sub or coach at a school because that can often lead to a fulltime job when one is available, and I would work a little in a book store, just a few hours a week.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 14 Old 08-20-2010, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
Two adults staying home with little money, no plan, no guarantee for the next year and two small children isn't a good idea. If you guys have close to the amount of money you need, it takes a lot of the pressure off and means you can find fun things to do rather than being totally about money.

If it were us, I think DH would sub or coach at a school because that can often lead to a fulltime job when one is available, and I would work a little in a book store, just a few hours a week.

We have money enough to get through the year. We'd forgo our annual cross-country trip to visit family and other big expenses, but we'd be able to take the time to travel locally, maybe rent an RV for a month or so, see local sites we never have time for, and explore towns to find where we really want to live. Then, hopefully in the spring we'd be able to find a job near the town we chose and have the time and energy to find a great house, move, and settle in before he started work.

DH is an administrator, so jobs don't often become available during the school year, and if they do schools typically find an interim rather than hiring someone new during the year.

There are a few towns still looking for someone. The uncertainty is killing us! I'm just trying to figure out other options so we don't waste a year with DH being miserable and me trying to hold the family together. I want this to be a positive thing, as much as it can be, for us if he doesn't get a job.
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#8 of 14 Old 08-21-2010, 07:11 AM
 
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Any education/training opportunities for either of you? If there's something DH could study in that time - that would either make him more hireable, or worth a higher pay rate, it might be a good use of the time?

Could DH try temp work? Might mean you have more savings left to put towards a house, and/or more $$ for the year.

I'd also probably try finding some crazy opportunity - remote school in Alaska, international school in a far-flung country, something like that. But I have no idea how you find opportunities like that.

What about considering starting a home-based business? Something that could be a supplement when you start your homestead?
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#9 of 14 Old 08-22-2010, 11:01 AM
 
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In my area, a sub with a teacher's license makes $100 per full day of subbing. Plus he is eligible to take all the non-certified positions like reading assistant, cafeteria monitor for an hourly wage.

He could end up working 3-4 days a week!
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#10 of 14 Old 08-22-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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Don't let the age of your children hold you back. DS was 1 when we started camping with him, and even younger when we started hiking. Now, at age 3, camping, hiking, traveling in the car, etc. is all normal stuff to him.

Anyway, DH and I had 10 months off together and we LOVED it! I ended my contract (I was a WHAM for a large environmental org.) in November, and DS was already home due to how his industry was impacted by the economy. DS is 3.

Overall, I would absolutely repeat the past 10 months. We had some big bumps and hiccups, but it wasn't due to being home together, it was becuase we didn't have a solid plan for the future. Once we decided on a plan, life improved immensely. It sounds like you already have a plan in place (have DH go back to work in a year), so you can focus on the fun stuff.

We bought memberships to three local zoos and several museums, and tried to get out of the house 3 times a week or more. We went hiking, fishing, camping, visited museums, zoos and festivals, checked out cool playgrounds, picked seasonal fruit at local farms, went to Disneyland quite a few times (we live in so Cal), went to the beach, took three mini-vacations in 6 months, visited friends and family, and basically enjoyed our time with DS.

The three of us had a great time together, especially over the last four months or so. We had a greatly decreased income, but we lived lean and focused on having money left over for having some fun. Buying memberships to zoos/museums was a GREAT investment- even when we had no money, we could still go to the zoo. My parents moved in with us in May, and while that was a hard adjustment, it freed up some money to get out of the house more often.

We became very good at sharing the household and parenting duties. DH went back to school (online) so that when he goes back to work he'd be able to show that he was doing something during his time off. I took a class with him and it was a nice way to spend time together. In fact, we decided to extend DH's time off for another two years so he can finish his master's. I'll be working during that time in a WAHM job so we'll be able to continue our fun times with DS, starting with a trip to the Virgin Islands in January.

Anyway, your plan sounds great and you'll likely have a lovely time. Like I said, don't let their age hold you back. Having both parents home was so valuable for DS; it really strengthened our family and instilled a sense of adventure that we'll likely carry with us forever. I'm glad we were able to do it and would absolutely do it again.

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer"
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#11 of 14 Old 08-22-2010, 11:54 AM
 
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P.S.- I read lots of posts from people who are worried that you won't have any money/plan. The money will return when your husband goes back to work. For us, we had some unemployment funds up until March. We both enrolled in school and used university grants and a few small student loans to carry us through. The loans will be paid off within the next 6 months, so we decided that it was worth taking on a small amount of debt so that we could be together as a family for awhile. Being in school kept us looking "busy" on a resume and brought in some money to keep us going. We sacrificed a lot in order to be home together, but I really can't say enough good things about it.

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer"
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#12 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 07:02 PM
 
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You basically have an unplanned sabbatical year on your hands, something that many employed people would envy. I agree that you should find some enriching and refreshing projects for the time off.

Sabbaticals are also a good time to evaluate where you've been and where you will be headed next, and it sounds like this is actually coming at a good time for your family. Maybe you could rent housing in the area where you are thinking about homesteading (especially if it will lower your living expenses and make your savings last longer), and make connections in the community and see if it is a good fit for your family. Because homesteading will be a LOT easier if you have connections to neighbors who can help you figure things out.

But also look for some opportunities for work, maybe part-time or volunteer. Having enough savings for a year off is great, but you also need to survive until the next job is in the bag. Does your husband (or you) have any talents that go unused in an administrative or SAHP role? Perhaps there is a way to put them to use this next year.
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#13 of 14 Old 08-25-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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If I were in a teaching field, and financially independent for a year, I would go overseas--I would teach in an community in another country, learn a new language, etc. Belieze, Peru, Italy... anywhere!

I think 5 and 1 are great ages for traveling and cultural immersion, camping, etc. There is not a magical age, really.

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#14 of 14 Old 09-14-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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Oooh mama - you need the Caretaker's Gazette.

http://www.caretaker.org/

"THE CARETAKER GAZETTE is a unique newsletter containing property caretaking and house sitting jobs, advice, and information for property caretakers, housesitters, and landowners. Published since 1983, it's the only publication in the world dedicated to the property caretaking field."

So if Mr. Smith in Tuscany owns a B&B and wants to take a vacation, you can go run the B&B for him while he's away. You're bartering your help for a cool place to stay. Opportunities vary widely by location (worldwide), lenght of stay, timing, responsibilities etc. Some might be hard with little ones, but some might work out.

I've never actually subscribed because I haven't had the time to do something like this, but I've been hoping for the perfect moment to do this for ages!! You have a great chance!!!
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