Today is Part 2 relating to how my family’s life has been impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic, and in it I talk specifically about my job layoff and how I kept it from sinking us financially. If you haven’t had a chance to read Part 1 yet, I recommend that you do so before continuing on with this post.
All caught up? Great! Let’s keep going.
March 30th. The day I got laid off. In fact, it was the first time in my life I’ve ever been laid off.
It’s also the first time since I was old enough to get my first job (somewhere around 9th grade), that I wasn’t employed. I’ve always either had a job (or two!), or was switching from one job to the next (but I’ve never left one job without the other securely waiting for me), or was simply on vacation or maternity leave. But I’ve never not had a job.
And in some ways, I don’t think of this as a true layoff, as I knew that I’d be back to work once things got back to normal.
The problem was the unknown timeframe.
- When exactly were things going to get back to normal?
- How long was I going to have to be in limbo like this?
- How long could my family survive on just one income?
- Would my husband be laid off too?
- How would I be able to keep myself mentally sane during this time?
Those were the questions that were keeping me up at night.
What I will say is that survival mode kicked in as soon as I hung up off that phone call with my boss. My first thought was to our finances. And since I bring in the larger income, it was going to be an adjustment. We’ve also been working though Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps to help pay off my student loans. We are almost there, but not quite. Those of you familiar with his baby steps know that means we didn’t have a huge amount of cash sitting around for a rainy-day situation like this, so I knew I needed to immediately put the brakes on as much outflow as I could.
My first step was to file for Maine Unemployment (also a weird first-time thing for me!). I knew the system was immensely bogged down from all the recent layoffs which were happening, so I wasn’t expecting much from this right away, but I at least wanted to make sure I got the ball rolling so that we would get something….hopefully….eventually.
Secondly, I called everyone we paid monthly. I called Matthew’s school, Emma’s daycare, the bank which holds our mortgage, my student loan, the cleaning service (my little luxury in life) – everyone. Most places were doing some sort of COVID relief, so I knew that I would be able to take advantage of some great programs to ensure we had plenty of financial breathing room. The things that were luxuries got canceled – for the time being. (I can clean my own house – I just hate doing it. But I knew I was going to have a lot more time on my hands around the house, so it was the right move.)
After figuring out who we’d still have to pay and how much, I sat down and redid our monthly budget. Thankfully the changes were enough, and we were suddenly able to make it just on Rob’s income. We wouldn’t have much extra, but we would be just fine. That knowledge in itself took a huge weight off my shoulders. As long as Rob wasn’t forced into a lay off situation as well, we could make it work!
On the bright side, my layoff solved my childcare problem with Matthew’s school being closed. However, I’m not cut out to be just a stay-at-home mom. I have immense respect for those of you that do it – it’s a hard job. But it’s just not for me. I’m also not cut out to be a 100% career woman (at least while my children are young like they are). I miss them too much when I’m working and I know this is time I’ll never get back. Therefore, the part-time employment I’ve done since Matthew’s birth is the perfect compromise. Three days a week I get out of the house and get to flex my intellectual muscles. The rest of the time is spent with the kids – playing, taking trips to the library, going to see friends, exploring, visiting activity centers…. And I love it!
But staying at home…. literally staying at home. Each day being me – only me – watching and caring for two young and very demanding children. Unable to leave and find something new to explore to keep them engaged and interested. And having to try and keep them somewhat quiet while my husband spends all day on conference calls working from our home? All the while trying to cook three meals a day plus snacks, keep up with dishes, laundry, grocery shopping and house cleaning, without a chance to escape to get my desperately needed alone time each day?
Now this is a beast I hadn’t tackled before – not even during my maternity time off!
And I’ll admit – I didn’t necessarily do so well with it. At least at first. More on this next week.
All the best,
P.S. If you are struggling with a job layoff due to COVID, I urge you to take the steps I did above. I found that even companies who normally have no wiggle room for making payments have amazing programs going on right now to help you out. No company wants to be remembered as the one that wasn’t gracious during this pandemic! There’s no shame in it. Take advantage of what programs are offered to you, and it’ll help you through this time with greater peace of mind around your finances if nothing else!