I stopped working professionally after having a late-in-life baby at 46 years old, and I truly enjoyed my new arrangement of responsibilities. These were privileges for me and a second chance. They were also an opportunity for a do-over in parenting, without all the pressures of keeping up with the demands of a career that society often uses as a measure of success. In the beginning, it was very hard for me to leave the workplace because it was as though I were losing my identity and sense of success behind. Since then, I’ve experienced productivity in ways that others may not consider a real job by carefully looking after each member of my family. I keep in mind that no two families have the same dynamics. I had been burned out from trying to do it all: running a house, taking care of children, and working full time while my husband’s demanding profession took him away from home and our family most of the time. Since I left the workplace, my time is more productive than ever, and it takes the stress away from everyone, including me.
My day begins around 5 in the morning when I take my daily medication and a cup of coffee. It’s recommended to wait an hour before eating and this hour alone is my most productive time on my computer. I open my Daily Dig and Daily Prayer email subscriptions from Plough Publishing. They are short reflections of living a Christian life and great reminders that always help set my heart, mind, and soul with compassion and help me be ready for “giving’ for the whole day. If there are any emails that I need to respond to, this is when I handle them. And if I’ve been invited to review something, this is my time to do that, too. Then I check my Facebook mail, where Thrive Global tops the list. I’m always in search of better ways of living and providing a sense of well-being for everyone around me since I had trouble balancing them before. And these reminders keep me on top of things. In the past, I’d found it hard to work outside the home and be able to keep a house and family although I knew others had success with it. Perhaps they had more help, or were better at delegating. This wasn’t my situation so I had to do things that worked best for my situation. And this different way of living has been very productive and prosperous for me for the past 21 years. It’s something you may want to consider as well.
After I read and respond to my emails, I can feel that my mind and soul are nourished for the day. I then have my breakfast, and by this time, my husband and son are up so I make them breakfast. That is, if my now grown son isn’t away at college and my husband isn’t out of town. If they’re away, I might start writing before my shower. My writing stirs a passion that usually stays with me the whole day until I get back to the keyboard after dinner. I’m not usually on social media and rarely write during the day unless there’s an urgent reason. My day of work starts with keeping my house in order, along with tackling my list of errands to take care of everyone’s needs, including a quick check-in phone call to extended family. Once I start moving, I probably won’t sit down until lunch time. That’s when I start thinking about what to make for dinner.
I’m much more productive since I stopped working. Now I use my time to grocery shop and plan healthier meals that are less expensive than picking up prepared food. I’ve learned to be a better homemaker, and make the furnishings around my house work better, by sewing or fixing whatever we have. I’ve also learned to be a wise shopper when buying clothing for my entire family. At first I even starched and ironed all my husband’s shirts before we could afford to send them out. I did clerical work for my husband’s business, which freed me to take my children to playgrounds, recreation centers, and libraries, and even to the beach. A professional hairdresser, I often did someone’s hair to repay a service for our family. I stretched myself so I didn’t have to go back to work.
The anxieties and stresses of leaving my job and making ends meet made me not only more productive, but also more protective. There was no more anxiety about my young child having to staying late hours in the hair salon waiting for me to finish my work day and missing much of her childhood and after school playtime. Now we were eating better with time to prepare a healthy meal for my family. And there were no more stressed-out mornings, rushing my child off to school so I could shower and dress for work. And there were no more heartaches of watching the clock at 3:15, when she’d be let out of school when my next client sat in my chair. Regardless of the extra income gained, working outside the home wasn’t fair to my child, my client, my husband, or for anyone; not having to do so allowed me to give them my best that they truly deserved.
I realized stress and anxiety are a natural part of everyone’s lives, and earning an income and working are necessary. I traded my stress and anxiety for the different stresses and anxieties of choosing who needed to be served first. And I have never felt more productive than when I’m supporting those who need me. Doing this, I feel happier and healthier when I see everyone around me thriving. That’s why it’s most important to look carefully with your eyes and heart open to the needs of everyone living with you. It will be your most productive work you can do.
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old-school Italian parents. Catherine’s artist father’s works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, and the works of Marianne William. She is also a contributor to the Huffington Post. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom and a contributor to These Winter Months: The Late orphan Project Anthology.
Originally published at medium.com