I got a day job! (Part ... 2?)

Last spring, a couple of months after landing my current day job (after a nearly seven-year mix of staying home with kids and self-employment - a transition I wrote about here), I struck up an online conversation with Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps about the atypical (and generally less publicized) move from freelance to full-time, not to mention the added puzzle piece of juggling a family on top of working for an income and more general creative fulfillment. After almost a year passed, she picked the thread back up with a phone chat a few weeks ago for an upcoming article on this very topic in the Craft Industry Alliance journal. We had a lovely chat about the challenges of juggling a day job that’s not necessarily as fulfilling or flexible as running a creative business, versus the endless, exhausting hustle that is being your own boss.

In the end, however, my comments were not included in the article, which took a generally more positive attitude toward the kind of thesis put forth by folks like Austin Kleon (who doesn’t have a day job) and Jen Hewett (who doesn’t have a kid) that the work you do for pay makes financially possible your other creative pursuits and that quitting your day job should not necessarily be the end goal of those efforts. Let’s just say, after almost 18 months of exploring the unique work-family-creativity trifecta, I don’t agree.

With just 168 hours in a week, if you’re working full-time, outside the home, have at least one child, and want to stay generally healthy (and/or maintain any kind of social life), there’s just not much time leftover to pursue creative efforts in any sort of substantial way. And I’m not trying to make excuses for myself. Having kids is a decision I made, fully aware it would have significant consequences on all areas of my life. But this is the specific demographic I find myself in (and it’s not exactly a niche, to have a job, a kid or two, and creative needs) and at the end of the day, it’s a pretty simple math equation. Adding kids to the mix makes the whole “keep your day job” thesis pretty shaky and very few people are talking about that (not to mention the fact that I’m a little weary of the advice to keep my day job from people who quit theirs’ years ago). People are talking about striking a “balance” between career and family. People are talking about fitting creativity into and around your 9-to-5 schedule. But very few people are addressing this: just how do you keep at least three balls in the air: day job, family, creativity? Is it possible to have a full-time job, one or more kids, and a meaningful, consistent creative outlet?

At any rate, Abby linked to my blog post that started this whole dialogue in her newsletter on Wednesday, then Tara Swiger tweeted it. I’ve been getting some decent traffic from those two mentions. And initially I was thinking, that’s cool ("let's get this party started, amirite?!") but, over a year later, people are kind of reading the optimistic “before.” And as it turns out I wrote about the transition at least two other times before I got a job, when I was trying to cover at least the cost of part-time daycare, and again after I decided to pull my youngest from childcare and my oldest from any sort of after-care (here and here). If those were collectively the “before” posts, should I follow up with an “after” post?

Well, I’m not really there yet, because I’m somewhere in that orange-blue-green intersection in the above Venn diagram and I’m not sure how I feel about it, to be completely honest. So it’s safe to say this is my “middle of the story” post. Part 4, if you will, of an at least 5-part story. If you’re in the middle of your work-family-creativity story, I want to hear from you. Tell me your story at becky [at] rebeccabirdgrigsby [dot] com. And if you come across stories like this one, from a fellow "freelance to full-time" creative type (with a kid, to boot!), send them my way, won't you?

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