Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Modern Day Mary Poppins" and other options for income on the road

This week an article appeared in my personal Facebook feed that made me realize for once I was on the engine of the "gravy train" instead of still waiting at the station platform...because I'd missed the train completely.  The article was titled "'Modern-day Mary Poppins': College graduates embrace nanny-ing as a career".  This article is...well...about me.

Picture of me and my "practice kids" with Truman in my belly
 In 2009, I was laid off from a job due to the economy.  I had been working for a large local insurance company in Pittsburgh, PA.  It wasn't my dream job, but it was a Monday through Friday, daylight job that paid the bills.  My college degree is in Elementary Education.  I had struggled for years to obtain a full time teaching job...sometimes working two jobs (substitute teaching by day and working full time jobs outside of school hours...for no other reason than to provide us with health benefits).  I was desperately trying to get noticed.  The dangling carrot in this crazy cycle with no work / life balance...a full time teaching job with my own classroom.
Teaching while pregnant
 This lay off occurred the same day, in fact, that Brian had signed the contract to purchase our second home.  Though I was entitled to both a comfortable severance package and unemployment, we knew we were going to need more income to maintain both our current lifestyle and two homes.  I began scouring Craig's List for odd jobs.  I was even willing to cut grass just to make the ends meet.  And then it came to me...why not babysit?!?  It was a no brainer.
Amazing view from an amazing travel experience with one of my families
 I secured jobs with 3 families all through the use of Craig's List.  Each family had different needs and all equaled close to a full schedule.  At the time I had no idea how much I would like this type of work and how far it would carry me in the future.  My jobs consisted of caring for the children of these families in their own homes, most times in the absence of the parents (though in some households the parents were home during my care).  I took my work very seriously.  I planned crafts and activities.  I helped with homework.  I shuttled kids to and from activities.  I met more families and expanded my client list.  My age, degree, and experience made me an ideal candidate for these families.  Hiring a more mature and "highly qualified" individual gave them a sense security.  I was in charge of my own destiny and it felt good.  Unlike previous jobs, I was my own boss and my accountability was to myself and of course, the parents.
Get your cold lemonade! 
 I've revisited teaching during an interim period prior to Truman's arrival.  Following his birth I knew returning to full time employment and placing him in daycare was not an option for me.  We had waited 12 years for a baby and I became conflicted at the thought of giving up the opportunity to spend as much time with him as possible.  I was lucky enough to be welcomed back with open arms by one of my original families.  I advised other families of my renewed availability and once again my client list grew quickly.  It was as if I have never left the work I loved.  I came to the realization, though I am good at teaching, it is no longer for me.  I love being a nanny and will continue to work in the profession whenever possible.
A chance for exercise
While in Arizona, we began our stay as Volunteers with the National Forest Service.  We were located in an extremely rural and remote area.  Here I also used Craig's List to search out jobs in the field of child care, but learned very quickly we were a minimum of an hour from any available job.  I embarrassingly had to rescind a job acceptance after realizing that the drive would have been two hours one way.  It hadn't looked that far on the map.  Being new to the area, I hadn't taken into account the large mountain range and the long windy road.   Locations on map appear closer than they actually are...damn mountains.  Instead, I found employment in the only general store in Roosevelt, Arizona...make that the only general store within 30 miles.  It was also a good experience, mindless and relaxed.  The local customers were the best.  I especially enjoyed working mornings when the regular retirees would come in for cup of coffee and their daily dose gossip.  I had a great boss, who validated my addition to the staff.  I thrive on positive reinforcement.  In addition, I worked with an wonderful staff.  Writing about it makes me miss my Spring Creek Store family.
The day we left Roosevelt @ The Spring Creek Store
 Fast forward to present day...
I am currently using a site called Care.com to find employment in the places we travel.  Brian had recommended it years ago, but I didn't listen.  He was right all along.  Care.com is awesome.  The profile set up process is fairly easy (taking less than an hour) and the jobs are abundant.  We arrived in Hawaii on August 5th and by August 17th, I had my first job.  Since that time I have had regular employment with approximately 6 different families, many offering opportunities for repeat employment.  The hardest part of the job thus far, keeping up with a calendar to avoid double booking.  I have informed my families we will be moving on at the end of the month to continue our journey and as a result have easily filled my October schedule.  Parents want one final date night before my departure.  Repeat employment is all the validation I need.
A trip we took to a local natural landscape playground
 These recent employment experiences have been an encouragement that we can sustain ourselves anywhere we go.  Local jobs offer an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the local community, while child care jobs definitely assist with learning the lay of the land.  And neither type of job deterred from the experience thus far.  In all honesty, these encounters have enhanced the journey.