If you haven't heard already, I put in my notice of resignation at work last month and have been home full-time for two weeks now. I've mentioned it on Instagram a few times and shared the news with my newsletter subscribers, but I've had a few people ask me to share more about my decision to quit and everything that went into it and that's something that I want to share, so I wrote this post for those of you who have asked (and those of you who haven't).
Why I Quit My Full-Time Job to Stay Home with Two Toddlers
Quitting my job was not something that I was expecting to do heading into 2018. It was something that I wanted to do and that we had talked about doing, but there were no plans in the near future for making that talk a reality. My job provided a good income for our family, it played a key role in my being able to get my four year degree without taking out any student loans and was going to help us build our savings, pay off our house and take care of some house projects we were wanting to do. Not to mention, the benefit package at the company where I worked was really good. It was hard to justify leaving a company where I'd worked for eight years and felt like I had job security in a position that I'd worked hard for.
What it ultimately came down to was how working full time was affecting my mental health and how that in turn affected my family. The stress that I was experiencing at my job and the stress that I felt from trying to balance working full time, keeping our household running and spending quality time with my husband and kids was affecting me mentally and physically. In the first month of 2018, I ended up in tears every single Friday, for no reason other than I felt overwhelmed, exhausted and incapable of completing all of the things that needed to be done for each of the roles that I was playing in my life. It was impossible to put on a happy face all the time, so my kids felt that stress and were affected by it and my poor husband was the victim of a lot of the frustration that I felt due to my current situation. I was not in a good place and I knew that something had to change.
My overall goal and focus for 2018 is to create a better relationship with myself and to get back to a good place mentally and physically. My struggle with postpartum depression began when Emmy was about three months old and it has remained a struggle for me over the last year. I became a very negative person in that year and when I sat down at the end of 2017 and reflected on what I could be doing better, I realized that I didn't like who I was at all.
I didn't like who I saw in the mirror on the surface level. I was unhappy, overweight, and never cared about how I dressed or what I did with my hair and makeup anymore. I didn't like the woman who was below the surface either. I felt so tied to the routines I'd created in an attempt to keep all of my plates spinning that I had no time for fun outside of my scheduled "fun time". I found myself resenting anything that interrupted my carefully planned schedule because there literally was no room in my life for anything more. Extra activities, events and tasks only added to the stress and overwhelm I was feeling and put me further behind. Even the slightest spill by my kids required lots of deep breathing on my part. I didn't have the time buffer to have patience and deal with what is normal for parents of young kids because I had places to be and things to get done and every second of my time was precious.
Typing out that last paragraph makes me cringe and cry because I hated that version of myself, and I don't use the word hate lightly. That was not the me, the mom, the wife, the employee, the sister, the daughter, the friend, etc. that I wanted to be. I was not my best self and I was so far from it that the trip back to being someone I was proud of seemed daunting. Going into 2018, I vowed to make changes. I was determined to put myself first because I knew that by truly taking care of myself and my needs, I would be in a better place mentally, emotionally and physically and I would be able to be the version of myself that all of the people in my life needed me to be.
I started setting boundaries and rearranging my routine. I cut back at work and put a firm number to the hours that I was willing to work. I'd been working a lot more than I'd committed to work for about six months and I could tell that it was really wearing on me. My mornings home were set aside for the kids. We did fun things and I focused on making that time with my kids quality time, whether we were on some exciting outing or just at home reading stories and playing with their toys. When I was at work and during nap time, I buried myself in my job. I worked my hardest to complete my tasks, meet my deadlines and do everything to the best of my ability. Nights were chaotic but I tried to make them meaningful; from dinner as a family to bedtime routines to the hour that I set aside to clean up my house and the time that I set aside to spend with my husband. Everything was still very routine but I felt more in control and intentional than I had before.
February came and I was still overwhelmed and unhappy. My husband started to point out that I became a grumpy, crazy woman on Sunday nights, rushing to get things done and feeling frustrated that my house was such a mess after a fun weekend. I felt like we were heading into the new week already in a whirlwind and that stressed me out. Fridays would come and I would be exhausted and overwhelmed and I would cry and be sick to my stomach for no explainable reason other than that my body couldn't maintain the routine I had set for myself. My weekends were spent trying to finish the things that hadn't gotten done during the week, recharging my batteries and just being lazy, and then we'd start the week all over again.
No matter how organized I was or how well I stuck to my routine, I wasn't able to complete the the things that had to be done, let alone the things that I wanted to do. I decided that something had to go, so I mentally made a list of the different roles that I fill in my life starting with the ones that were the most important to me. When all was said and done, my job was at the bottom of the list. I shared on Instagram stories a couple of weeks ago, what that job had done for our family and how it had been exactly what we needed through so many stages of our lives. I realized that in our current stage and season of life, me working full time might not be the best thing for our family, my family needed me at home and my family needed me at my best.
As for everything that went into our decision in the end and how I decided when to quit... In January, when I was struggling, we sat down and decided that I would go part time in April to help with the transition of my position and then fully quit by June. We had some financial goals that we were working to meet and every extra dollar we could make would help us achieve those. Every single day after we made the official decision that I was going to quit this year, there were one or two things that would happen that made me wish we'd set our timeline for sooner. Within two weeks, I knew I couldn't work any longer so we sat down and made the quick decision for me to quit that week and the next day I put in my notice of resignation.
It was a little scary giving my notice so soon and what felt like on a whim because we'd planned financially for me to have another month or two of full time income and benefits. We took the leap of faith and never looked back and we haven't regretted it yet. Within a week of me giving my notice, we saw so many things happen in our lives that only confirmed that it was a good decision and that we were going to be ok.
The kids are working to adjust to our new schedule and routine and I am still figuring out how to best spend the 35+ more hours of time that I have each week. I really love being home with my family full time and feel like the time that we spend together is more enjoyable and quality than before. This week Bensen has started to ask me, "What are we doing today, mom?" when I go into get him each morning and for some reason that makes me happy. Now that I'm not going in a million directions, I am more focused and intentional with the things that I'm doing in my life.
I have felt more productive, present and happy in the past two weeks, although they haven't been without their struggles and frustrations. Currently I'm focusing on my family and creating new routines that work for us. I'm also focusing on putting together new content for this site and the local date night website that I started last year. Being home full time with two toddlers is exhausting and some days still end in tears, but I have yet to wish I was back at work and I'm truly glad that we were able to make this move for our family.
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography