Work-wise, we’ve seen quite a bit of change in our little house in the last few months.
I’m very pleased to be able to say that I’m being kept busy with my family photo sessions – just the right amount of busy that I’m not biting off more than I can chew, and busy enough that I’m not wondering if I should be getting a ‘real’ job. And I really, really enjoy it. The whole process from shooting to editing, to showing families their finished images is just great. So, it’s perfect really.
Aside from a mention here and there in other posts, I realised that I’ve not officially linked to my new work venture on here yet.
My family photography website has been now been live for a few weeks, you can check that out here. There’s lots more that I want to do with it, but all things start off small, as they say.
There’s also a Facebook page, where I post sneak peeks at sessions I’m editing, offers, and any other news. You can find that here. I know (or hope!) that ‘likes’ will build up naturally as I do more shoots, because it’s a great way to reach local people who might be looking to have a family photoshoot in the near future.
Sam has also got a new job within the same company. He started his new role a few weeks ago, and although it doesn’t grant us any more luxury with our finances, it’s a further step in the direction he wants to pursue career-wise. I’m really happy for him, as I’m well aware that our circumstances forced Sam, at twenty three, to step into the role of provider before he got a chance to figure out what he wanted to do ‘when [he] grew up’. Once you are in the position of chief mortgage and bill payer, it becomes difficult to pursue anything that isn’t a stable, secure job with a salary that keeps us all afloat.
I always liked the idea of working for myself. But prior to Arlo, I’m not sure I ever would have quit a salaried job to strike out on my own. I very much doubt I would have taken that risk of not being able to afford my rent and lifestyle.
Post-Arlo, everything was different. Childcare costs meant I couldn’t actually afford to go back to my old job, and to further complicate things, my hours of work were not compatible with childcare hours, try as I did to rectify this.
I’ve loved being able to stay at home with Arlo, and in a world where we had more money, perhaps I would never have wanted to go back to work. But under these circumstances, I felt forced into the ‘Stay at Home Mum looking for work that fits’ role.
I didn’t like that all the stress of providing money fell to Sam’s shoulders while I took a backseat. It’s not fair for it to be that way, and yet it was agreed with little discussion because he had the better earning prospects.
I felt useless when we started months with £20 after the bills went out. £20 to feed a family and four weeks until the next payday – hello credit card. This way of managing our finances was clearly not sustainable.
I spent six months filling out job applications whilst Arlo napped. Competing with thousands of other people who all wanted the same flexible-hour roles. Applying for things that would not have been on my radar two years ago (Dinner Lady? Christmas staff at the Apple Store? Rejected for both, by the way). Entering each salary into various tax calculators and painstakingly attempting to navigate the numbers presented before I knew if the job would work, would I be earning anything after childcare costs? I could write a whole separate post on my job search and the lack of support (I’m looking at you, Jobcentre Plus), but that would probably be really boring. Suffice to say, I got nowhere in those six months I was looking for work.
I had a few ideas for business ventures. But they involved start-up costs, and we just aren’t in a position to risk more debt. There were a few websites that I wanted to make, but I was reluctant to buy web hosting as I knew Sam would be angry that I was spending money we didn’t have on projects that involve more time than I have in order to be succesful. But then, for my birthday, a friend bought me a web hosting package so that I could put one of these projects into action. I decided to forget the other website ideas and instead concentrate on launching my photography business, as it was by far the most viable option, and because I knew I would love it. It really seemed like the natural route to go down – I have previous experience, it fits in very well around Arlo (I work weekends, nap times, and evenings), and there was no risk with start-up costs.
We are still having tight months. It’s not like I’m suddenly earning millions, and at this stage, a whole lot of it is going back into the business (I bought that lens from my brother because he decided to sell it meaning my borrowing days were numbered). But importantly, I can see this venture working. Maybe, at some point in the future, I will be able to say that I provide a decent secondary income for our family. So far, it blows any previous work plan I had in my six months of ‘extended maternity leave’ right out of the water.
I wanted to write a little thank you. It was the lovely comments on my photos received on this blog and the support of a few very encouraging friends that started off this idea and got me to this stage, after a long while of being out of work and feeling that I didn’t know how to get back in.
In the past, I have moaned loads about the lack of options for working mums, and for mums looking for work. What I couldn’t appreciate until now, is that a change of circumstance can also create new opportunities. When you have nothing to lose, no job to quit, no money to sacrifice (AKA me on ‘extended maternity leave’), it can be a great time to reassess the skills and ideas you have and try something new. Having Arlo gave me a great opportunity to test the waters with the ‘working for myself’ idea. For once, instead of feeling despondent at the absence of feasible opportunities for working mums with young children, I feel a bit in control.
From my most recent sessions: