By Loraine Balita-Centeno
So many of us dream of one day pursuing a passion, living the dream of doing what we love the most, and maybe as a bonus having more time to spend for the children. But we have to stick it out at work, we need this steady income to pay the bills, and let’s not even get started with the tuition.
So you’ve been keeping that dream in the back burner for now, day dreaming about it every once in a while, when your work seems so overwhelming and you wish you were doing something else instead.
Maybe this dream involves running your own food business because you’ve always been in love with food and you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, making scrumptious meals, which is so far from what you are doing now crunching numbers in the office. Or your daydreams could be filled with images of you gardening, selling organic fruits and vegetables, because deep in your heart you’ve always been a farmer and an advocate of healthy living and consuming organic food.
And then you tell yourself, someday I’m going to do what I love but for now I have bills to pay. You need to be realistic because you’re a mom with children depending on you financially.
But did you know that there are moms who have successfully made this switch? Moms who, for years worked full-time, but then decided to leave the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work office setup to pursue a dream, or get a much more flexible work arrangement that now allows them to earn money, do what they love, and spend more time with the kids.
Yes, it’s possible. And of course it does come with months of adjustments and difficulties, but if this is something you really want it’s possible and you can pull through.
If not now, when?
Mommy Aurora Suarez, 43, for one, managed to do that. She is now enjoying her career as a life coach while spending more time with her daughter. She spent 16 years working for one of the biggest publishing companies in the country where she eventually became a publisher before moving on to work as a marketing and purchasing director for a major bookstore while doing life coaching part-time.
But she always dreamed about having her own business and would often have questions in her head about that dream. “These questions ranged from ‘If not now, when?’ to ‘You always tell your clients to live their best life. Are you following your own advice?’ When I sat down with my questions and came up with answers that were true for me was when I decided to pursue life coaching full-time,” she says.
Although the first few months were difficult, she says, she found herself working round the clock. “I remember sitting at my desk precisely at 9 a.m., taking a one-hour break for lunch, and then working until 3 p.m. At 6 p.m., I would start again. My work would include writing and blogging, working on my collaterals, social media, strategizing, doing my homework as I was still training to be a life coach, marketing consulting, and coaching clients,” she recalls.
She felt miserable and remembers asking her life coach: “This was my dream! How come I feel like this?” So her life coach guided her so she could visualize her ideal work day and helped her find pleasure in it. Her coach also took steps to make sure she was happier at doing her business. “Yes, a life coach can have a life coach, too,” she says.
“I thought that the loose structure would make me lazy and unproductive. But I realized I had the power to choose to be productive and happy at my business and that was the best way to serve my clients, my family, and myself,” she says.
Now she enjoys running her own business and as a bonus she has more time to spend with her daughter. “I make sure I’m done with work by the time I pick her up from school. Then we spend the afternoon doing her homework, reading together, and imagining names and plots for her books,” mommy Aurora says.
For moms who are thinking of making this switch—leaving a full-time job to start a business and spend more time with the kids, Aurora says they should sit quietly and really think why they want to make this switch. You have to ask yourself: What is really my intention?
“If you’re doing this because setting up a freelance business has always been a dream and you’re doing what you love and that this is aligned with your vision for your life, then I applaud and support you in this courageous choice. Prepare yourself both financially and emotionally for this step,” she advises.
But if your only reason is to escape your current situation and if you’re using spending more time with your children as an excuse, then you need to reevaluate this choice. “Your new venture [still] deserves your wholehearted attention for you to succeed,” she says. You will still need to clock in hours and you need a lot of courage and determination to carry on, especially when times get challenging.
Leap of Faith
Other moms though just took the leap, and trusted their instincts. “They say that if you keep on waiting for the right time to be ready, it will never come, because you’ll never be completely ready to do something—you just do,” says mommy Maita de Jesus, 33, who runs her own writing and editing business.
Mommy Maita spent a decade as a magazine editor. And while she enjoyed flexible work hours and loved her job immensely, the travel time to and from the office meant she would only see her daughter 30 minutes every day. “I wasn’t around much during my daughter’s first year,” she laments.
“Until one day I found myself in a position where I realized I was no longer wanted in the team, and it broke my heart,” she says. She packed her things and left. “Very dramatic, and not something I recommend anyone doing, but it was what my heart was telling me to do, so I did,” she admits.
What seemed like an impulsive decision at first turned out to be a good one for her daughter. “The next day, I brought my daughter to the hospital for a checkup with a specialist for her cough. We didn’t leave the hospital for five days—we found out that she had anemia, and was suffering from pneumonia,” she recalls. “I realized that I no longer wanted to be employed full-time. I realized I didn’t want to slave away in a job, in which I knew I was replaceable or not wanted, while the person who wanted me the most was being neglected. My life was out of balance, and I sought out to change that,” she says.
Good thing, the adjustment period went surprisingly easy for her. “It was as if God was waiting for me to take a leap of faith, and he had a huge safety net to catch me and break my fall. I fell into my freelancing work quite well,” Maita says. After texting her contacts that she was free to write and edit, the ball started rolling and it hasn’t stopped since. It’s been two years and her writing and editing business is thriving. “My life now is hectic, but I love it,” she says. She’s with her daughter almost 24/7 and gets to work while her daughter’s in school or spending time with the grandparents.
“Looking at it from the point of view of outsiders, my decision to take a leap of faith, especially one that I made so suddenly, was foolish. But looking back, that leap of faith was all perfectly timed by God,” she explains. “He knew I was ready, and I poured my heart into my work. And it’s the best decision I’ve made in my career so far.”
To the mom who’s been wanting to switch to a different career, start her own business, or pursue her passion, Maita says: “Go for it! There will always be a million reasons to not go after something, but I’m telling you—commit to your dream, and whether you succeed or fail, you’ll be proud of yourself that you tried. And that’s a much better feeling compared to the minutes you spend on a job you hate.”