Parenting

Stay-at-home mom seeks new job

Jennifer and her husband try to maintain optimism and a sense humour during their job hunt.

Photo: asiseeit/iStockphoto

Last month, we found out my husband will be laid off from his job at the end of April. As a stay-at-home mom of two children, this news was devastating.

We live in a small town where job prospects for his skill set are very slim. Our town survives on jobs that pop up during the summer travel season — jobs that are still months away from being posted and often require applicants to be under the age of 30. This does little to quell my mounting panic because, honestly, I’m not patient enough to wait until local summer jobs are available — and our 20s are far behind us.

So my husband and I spend our days (and nights) on popular employment sites looking for jobs that fit each other’s skills. In many ways, job hunting together is like being on an episode of The Newlywed Game. You have a couple who, in theory, know each other well enough that they vowed to spend the rest of their lives together. But when asked a few simple questions designed to find out just how well the couples know each other, it turns out they don’t know each other very well at all.

Mr. P: Here’s a great job illustrating detailed hardware widgets using AutoCAD! You would be great at this!
Me: But I know nothing about hardware widgets or AutoCAD.
Mr. P: But you’re a graphic designer. It can’t be that hard to draw stuff in Illustrator, can it?

Me: Here’s a great job writing marketing copy about health care and something to do with bodily functions!
Mr. P: I’m a technical writer and I write about very serious government regulations and robots. Adjectives are for bloggers.
Me: Don’t you have a thesaurus in your office?

Of course, the above conversations are paraphrased, but you get the idea — we are finding our own dream jobs and trying to convince the other to apply for. And despite having been together for nearly 15 years, we actually know very little about each other’s skill sets. I’ve interpreted his work in healthcare to being an expert on all things medical and he pictures my work in magazine design to mean that I’m an AutoCAD expert. It’s led to a few hilarious conversations and makes us wonder if the only job we are qualified for is seasonal part-time work at the LCBO.

One thing that has struck us both is how our priorities have changed since leaving the fast-paced city life behind us to raise our children in cottage country. When my husband I sat down together last night after the children were tucked in, we talked about the things that are important to us in a job and in our lives. Despite having a skewed image of what we think the other is professionally trained in, we are on the same page when it comes to what we value in our personal lives:

  • Being home to help our son get on and off the bus
  • Being able to grocery shop for nutritious fresh food and prepare hot meals
  • Being able to spend as much time as possible outdoors with our children

That said, we need to be realistic — not picky — in our job hunt. Careers requiring evening and weekend work or extensive travel are reluctantly applied for. Entry level jobs are also an option, as are a wide variety of part-time and work-from-home opportunities. We’ve cast our nets wide — we have to catch something, right?

How do you keep your sense of humour during stressful times?