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Bellevue, WA, 98007
United States

The best laid plans

Going Small(er)

The best laid plans

Marc Scattergood

You know how you’re going along, you’re in your groove, you’ve got your routine down, and then…life throws you out a window?

Don't throw off his groove! (Emperor's New Groove, Disney, 2000)

After leaving a toxic job with no flexibility, in April, I opted to take our son out of daycare (we couldn’t afford it on one salary) while looking for a new opportunity. My husband continued working at a job he loved in downtown Bellevue. In July, I went back to work for a large local employer: this time, I did my due diligence, and gave every single person I talked to the “work-life balance” speech, the “I’m a new mom” speech, and the reasons I left my last role. I was told that would be no problem.

It was a problem. I lasted a month.

And then my partner’s company shut down. Boom. We were both unemployed.

Fortunately, (which seems like a strange word for this) we’ve been through this so many times, we have the routine down pat. Cut down on expenses (no longer working for that new employer I just mentioned was surprisingly helpful here). Make more meals at home. Continue downsizing our books, collectibles, and other “stuff” that has swelled to fill a 5-bedroom house.

Funny, though, we haven’t fallen out of this pattern from the last time this happened, back in April. Also, a toddler is a surprisingly effective savings device. Why dine out when you don’t even know if they’ll eat? And their bedtime is 6:30pm? New clothes? You’ve got to be kidding—they want $30-$40 for a pair of shoes that might not fit the next day. Part of that 'cycle' prep we talked about? Making sure we could afford to keep young sir in daycare for a few months even while unemployed.

We’ve spent the end of summer and the beginning of fall catching up on those house tasks that are hard to do with a small human being around. Cleaning gutters. Trimming back trees. Mulch. (‘Mulch’ is a fun word.) The exterior of the house now looks as though someone might live in it. Maybe we should have left the run down look going till after Halloween.

Our toddler activities usually involve driving somewhere to a trail and hiking, with toddler either toddling along, or traveling on his Sherpa, aka “Daddy”. We love our Osprey Poco Pack. We fold the toddler into his Tuffo Muddy Buddy, slip on his MyMayu waterproof boots, and effectively have him zip-locked away from rain. One stormy weekend, we hiked Seminary Tail down to Lake Washington in St. Edwards Park. It was cold, and windy and pouring, and the toddler loved every single second. You can’t go outside in the PNW without getting drenched for about six months of the year. It’s important to us we instill a love of the outdoors in him early.

By the lake at St. Edward's Park. About to head up the south Ridge Trail - far more fun than the Seminary trail.

By the lake at St. Edward's Park. About to head up the south Ridge Trail - far more fun than the Seminary trail.

Returning to work will come soon enough—the constant cycle of layoffs is frustrating, but it has helped both of us embrace the time it gives us, rather than run around burning energy in anxious, futile bursts.

Are you in an area where layoffs are common? How do you handle that time while you’re looking for a new job? What do you do to keep anxiety at bay?