Working Mom to SAHM… And Back Again


When I was a kid, the one thing I never expected about being an adult is how many different lives you can lead all within the same life.  Parenthood, it turns out, is one event that can be a life-shifter.

I worked in an educational sales field before being a mom, and never expected that I would want to stay home full time as a parent.  I wrote about our transition to a single income here.  The days spent reading nursery rhymes on the couch and playing “Dinosaur Train” in the driveway were unforgettable and such a blessing.

I wondered if I would ever go back to work, and if I did, how hard would it be to transition back?  It turned out that the hours spent reading with my daughter were the foundation to my return to work.  We read books about American Girl characters, classics like The Wind in the Willows, and many, many dinosaur books.

My husband and I are not willing to give up having me home in summers, so that has limited my work choices.  When my daughter was in 1st grade, I started back to work at her school as a substitute cafeteria worker.  This was hard, physical work, but it gave me experience interacting with all kinds of children.  I met amazing, hard working, ladies who worked at the cafeteria and then went to work at other physically demanding, low paying jobs.

Taking a very entry-level job in a school was my starting point for other school opportunities that didn’t involve lifting 25 pounds of mashed potatoes.  I got to know the principal which allowed me to step into a reading paraprofessional position.   I have found that to increase your wage in these part-time positions, you have to be willing to move around a little and try other school districts.  Each position increased my hourly rate and gave me more experience.

This fall I was looking on the teachers’ job positing website to read about a position a friend was applying for, and I happened upon the holy grail for me… a school library position.  I silently showed it to my husband and he was fully unboard.  It was 3 miles from home, paid about 20% more, and had benefits like paid holidays.

I got a call back for an interview quickly, but it was a strange interview and I didn’t think I had a chance.  At the end, I handed them a list of the 50 or so kids’ fiction books I read in 2016.  

I got the job.  I think the knowledge of kid lit was the clincher.

So, I am happily at a school library every day, home before the bus drops DD off, and making enough that I get matching retirement benefits and an opportunity to contribute to a 403b which I definitely am taking advantage of.

It felt like a long road back, but every job I took contributed to the next job.  As soon as I got the library job I emailed my cafeteria boss and thanked her for my time there…without that job I would have never have landed the other ones.

My advice to a parent choosing to stay home with small children is to do it if your finances and heart are telling you to.  You may find that being home gives you new skills and interests that take you in a career direction you would never have anticipated 📚!





13 thoughts on “Working Mom to SAHM… And Back Again

  1. Kyle

    Honestly, that sounds like the perfect job! That’s so cool that you were able to work your way into it, and I can’t imagine how rewarding it must be.

    1. Jen Post author

      It really is! I have an English degree, but never thought I would be talking about “The Lightning Thief” with kids instead of discussing Chaucer! Of course, all these jobs were made possible by being debt free, as my income is still nominal compared to my “career.” We use my income for vacation and savings.

    1. Jen Post author

      We liberal arts people have to stick together. If you can get your hands on the new book “The Inquisitor’s Tale” I think you’d love it. It’s s Newbery runner up

  2. Caleb Kohl

    It is so amazing how many options are available to those living a debt free lifestyle. You were not forced into any of these jobs because you “had” to make money. This is a great example of the benefits of living debt free. Good job! And how considerate of you to contact your cafeteria boss and thank them, that shows what a thoughtful person you are 🙂

    1. Jen Post author

      Very true. One position was not a good situation. Knowing I could walk gave me the gumption to stick it out. Additionally, it gives you a certain confidence interviewing. I don’t need to make up things about myself. Not that I would be arrogant, but I’m not afraid to be honest.

      1. Caleb Kohl

        I’m really tempted to pay off my house. We have several rental properties that currently cash flow enough to pay our mortgage but we could also sell them and completely pay off the mortgage. I want the long term benefit of having 5 paid for properties in about 18 years, but I also want the freedom of no mortgage. So in that sense, I am jealous of what you have 😉

      2. Jen Post author

        Yeah, we like things simple and rental properties would stress us out. I already have mornings with a kid looking for lost homework, and a tenant with plumbing issues would send me over the edge! A senior citizen friend of mine has an apartment building, and a paid for, modest home. They now have a property mgmt company to simplify things in their retirement. It has worked for them.

  3. Flo

    Options are definitely a good thing! When I quit working 4 years ago, I wasn’t sure if I would go back or not. I did temporarily, but now I have too many things that keep me busy! However, some of those things also would be an advantage in going back to work as I’ve continued learning along the way. I think sometimes people forget how much more important being happy in what you do is than making tons of money. Some of the best jobs I’ve had didn’t pay great, but I didn’t dread going to work each morning.

    1. Jen Post author

      It’s interesting to me that all of the jobs I have had have given me experiences that have been useful and necessary for whatever came next… including the job of being a SAHM. No experience wasted.

  4. Mrs. Kate Singh

    I’m a SAHM right now and I’m loving it. I don’t want to go back to work…although, I do miss the comradery and being more a part of the world. I have taken to writing and that is where I’m making some money and finding an outlet. Love your articles once again.

    1. Jen Post author

      If I didn’t have a job where I was off for holiday breaks and summer, I wouldn’t be working. My current situation is just right for us, and I relish the time on breaks and after-school with DD. When I was a SAHM and homeschooling mom, I learned so much from my daughter and the books we read that the experience really is a foundation for my school work in the library today.


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