These last four months have been quite possibly the most difficult that I have had to endure. I came home on May 9th, 2017 wondering what the next chapter in my life would be. I wondered exactly how long would my stint as a laid-off stay-at-home-dad be?
We have been through this before. We knew exactly what we had to do as a result. We knew that for the next few weeks, months, possibly years, I’d be a stay-at-home-dad.
The Struggle Is Real
It wasn’t easy both times. There I was laid-off, treating my job search like it was a 40 hour a week job. Spending most of my day huddled over a computer as I searched the job boards for anything new. Refreshing every five minutes thinking that, that would be the refresh would land me a job. Scheduling phone interviews for during naptime so that there wouldn’t be a screaming toddler in the background turning of a job recruiter.
Hoping that someone would take a chance on me. Doing my best to translate how my time as a stay-at-home-dad would work in the organization.
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There were so many days that I would be sitting on the couch almost unwilling to engage with my 1-year-old because I was almost certain that I would be getting the phone call that would change everything. Then there was the moment that my son would start his daycare again, and nearly every day after dropping him and his brother off at their respective schools that I would break down in tears in the shower. I started to feel like a failure because there I was failing at finding a job.
Learning To Stay Positive
Throughout these last four months, there is one comment that my mother-in-law made to me the weekend after I became a laid-off stay-at-home-parent: “Stay positive, it’s the one thing that will get you through this.” For some reason, her comment really hit home during this time. Eventually, something will come my way whether it was going to be weeks, months, or years.
It was easy for me to say, but another thing for me to really do, but I attempted to take anything that was a sign of hope. Getting word that someone had looked at my resume, any email asking me to expand upon my resume so that the company could determine if they wanted to bring me in for an interview.
Everyday Is A New Day
There are going to be days that you are going to feel like a failure. You are going to be sending out your resume, wishing, hoping that it will make it past the HR software so that an actual human will see it. There will be days that you are going to get rejection after rejection, it’s going to feel worse than getting rejected from your jr. high crush to attend the school dance.
Wake up, take a shower, shave and get dressed as if you are going to work, take the kids to school, and then head to your local coffee shop and be as productive as you can be. It is going to be tough there for a while to know that eventually, things are going to turn around for you. You are going to be sitting there waiting for the call that will change your career. But don’t treat every day like your future employer is going to call your phone. Treat the day like you don’t have a job, and you are going to do everything that you possibly can do to have your phone ring some day.
It Only Takes One
One of the things to remember though is that all it takes is one. All it takes is one interview for someone to see your potential. One of the best things that you can do knowing that you will be eventually heading back to work is to treat every day like you have a job.
One of the mindsets that my wife and I took during my time as a stay-at-home-dad was that whatever will happen, will happen. There might be jobs out there that you feel like should be yours, but when do land that job you are going to look back on your time as a laid-off stay-at-home-dad and start to understand why things happen the way that they did. There might be jobs that you start to look into the interview and realize that it wasn’t going to be as family friendly as you would have hoped or the hours weren’t going to be as flexible as you thought or maybe the benefits weren’t quite what you would have hoped they would be.
Remember Who Is Counting On You
As you are on your job hunt and on those days that you get discouraged because it seems like no one wants you to work for them, one of the things that you need to remember is that there are people who do count on you. Every morning, every afternoon, and every evening your family counts on you each day to be able to provide for them even though you are not necessarily bringing in a paycheck. When you look at it, your paycheck might look different than the rest. Your paycheck is being able to be there for your family at the drop of a hat when something happens. You don’t have a job to worry about making sure that it is OK for you to take off.
It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better
Here is one of the things that I took away from the two times that I was laid-off and became a stay-at-home-dad, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. There are going to be days that you wonder if you are going to be able to make it through without punching the wall. You are going to want to scream into the pillow and there will be days that you want to hide your tears from your family. You might fight with your spouse over how you are going to be able to afford this and that while you are waiting for your first paycheck to come.
But remember that at some point, things will turn around. The two times that I was laid-off, and got the phone call that I was hired, times were looking bleak. I was fighting with my wife, I felt like things were never going to get better for the two of us, I was starting to get depressed with my job search because it felt like no one wanted me. I was applying for jobs that would be just OK to have and that would allow us to be able to afford the bills, but they weren’t the jobs that I would be satisfied with. Then out of nowhere, my phone rings and I was offered the job.
Remember, when you are laid-off and become the stay-at-home-dad to keep your head up. It’s going to suck and there will be times that you feel like all hope is lost. But your family is counting on you whether you get a job or not to be there for them. It might not feel like you are pulling your weight but you are because you are at home either taking care of the kids or providing for them in other ways. It will only take one thing in order for what might seem like the worse time in your job hunt to turn it all around.
You aren’t in your job hunt alone. There are many of us, like myself who have been in the same boat as you. You are going to turn it around. And who knows, you might even find out that you like being that stay-at-home-dad that you end up finding away to make it work with you staying at home.