In my adult life, I’ve always worked full time. If not more. Sometimes, I was also working part-time and volunteering, too. So much of my identity and sense of both value and worth were tied to my professional life. I found my validation in feeling I was needed and in doing a good job. I prided myself on working as hard as possible and never saying ‘No’ or ‘I can’t’.
My work was my identity.
Even after I had kids; I missed so many moments. I rushed out of the house in the morning and was distracted by work-related issues when I was home. You see, I had a compulsive need to do it all. I loved it, but at the same time, I felt like I was drowning. That is, until April of 2017, when we relocated to Vermont.
My husband’s employer promoted him and sent us to Vermont. This meant a major lifestyle change. We needed to adjust to being a single-income family. We lost our free childcare (my mom), so I planned to stay home with the kiddos. I needed to adjust to being a stay-at-home-mom. Surprisingly, we had less trouble adjusting to being a single-income family than I had adjusting to staying home all day with the kids.
While I absolutely love the time that I’ve had this past year-plus with my kids, it did take me a while to hit my groove.
Easily, for the first eight months, the only adults I regularly talked to were my husband and the check-out lady at Price Chopper (we were basically besties by December). There were days we didn’t get out of our pajamas and times when I wasn’t even sure the last day I’d showered. It was a little rough and I was definitely missing adult interaction.
And then, out of nowhere, in mid-December I saw a Facebook ad for a company that hires teachers working remotely to provide online English as a second language (ESL) instruction.
I hadn’t been looking to work, and we didn’t need the money, but, I was sucked in. Working remotely was something I could do while my kids slept. It would use skills I’d honed my entire professional career. It would give us some extra ‘treat-yo-self’ cash.
I told my husband about it and he thought it sounded too good to be true. Surely our computer and WiFi would not be up to snuff. We’d have to put out money to start. It had to be a scam. But, no. No to all of it. This is not a pyramid scheme or a multi-level marketing company. It is legit.
I submitted my application and I was invited to interview.
This company is based in China and offers one-on-one English tutoring to Chinese children in a flipped classroom, full immersion, online environment. This means that the students take an active role in their learning and only English is spoken in the classroom. I passed each step of the interview and onboarding process and in January, I was teaching children on the other side of the world how to speak English. I LOVED it!
Along with working and making money, this opportunity also brought about adult interactions through the community of teachers I met. I attended online workshops, obtained certifications, and got as involved as I possibly could. All while my kids slept.
For no real reason, I suppose, other than I was feeling myself and my success; I added this new work experience to my LinkedIn profile.
Before I knew it, I was being recruited by another company. This was a startup looking to offer 1-to-4 English lessons to students in China. I was happy with the company I was working for and hadn’t even thought of leaving; but, the recruiter at this new company offered me the opportunity to move up and grow as the company grows. It was pretty enticing. So, I jumped at the offer.
Within a month and a half, I was promoted to a trainer and then a mentor.
I’ve already gained so much from this opportunity; both personally and professionally. The group of mentors I’ve joined has quickly become great friends. They, along with my group of mentees, have offered me the chance to interact with other adults throughout the day. The professional development offered at this company has allowed me to enhance my skills and grow as an online ESL teacher while I work remotely.
The timing is also perfect, as my youngest son has just started full-day Pre-K. I’ll still teach while my kiddos are sleeping and I’ll work on my mentoring duties while they are at school. The craziest part is that the forecasted amount that I will make in my first year of working remotely teaching ESL online is just under the amount I made as a first-year teacher at a private school. And I don’t even need to leave my house. I don’t need to get out of my pajamas. But, most importantly, I don’t need to miss precious moments with my kids.
You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with me?”
In May, Governor Phil Scott signed a bill that offers a large financial incentive to move to Vermont and work remotely. While I won’t qualify for this incentive, as my family moved to Vermont in 2017, if this post has come up in your Google search, I’m guessing you might be interested. Vermont is beautiful! You should move here and while working remotely. Or, if you are like me and your other half is getting relocated to Vermont and your life is about to be flip-turned-upside-down, consider teaching ESL online. It has given me so much: adult interactions and friends, a feeling of being useful in an educated and professional way, and a reason to take a shower (even though my students and coworkers wouldn’t even know if I was smelly); all while still being a stay-at-home-mom.
Major life changes, like moving 400 miles away from ‘home’, are always unpredictable. If you add on the complete removal of your professional identity, you could find yourself in a seriously low place. Luckily, in our increasingly globalized world, there are many opportunities for working remotely to maintain your professional life while also being a full-time mom.