Carrie Anne, Blogger and Stay-at-home Mom

30 Aug

I feel it’s already worthwhile because of all the time I’m spending with Isobel and all the things I’ve done to improve myself and the overall quality of life for my family. I have no regrets and I love this new adventure, hard work and all!

-Carrie Anne

I have this theory that many women/moms who take the time to blog dream of leaving their day jobs to write and publish full time. But the idea of it is as big and scary as jumping off the corporate ladder to open your own business or to produce a CD.

This is partly why I am so excited about this post, where Carrie Anne of Little Big tells me about her new adventure. Little Big is one of my favorite blogs of all time and I always recommend it to friends looking for ideas of how it should be done. She has a great voice and is a wonderful photographer. Her photographs of her time with her family and friends are simple and joyful and if she didn’t post certain things “thrifty” living, I’d have no idea she was decorating her home/entertaining her kid/living on a budget. Recently Carrie Anne left her job as a school librarian to stay at home with her daughter, Isobel. I followed her from her announcement of this plan to her recent post updating readers on how her stay-at-home-mom gig is going and it finally dawned on me that she had the perfect story for She Has Moxie.

If you gave your new adventure a job title, what would it be?
I have a feeling I’d have to use both sides of the business card to describe what I do now. I’m somewhere between June Cleaver and a Viking with a taste for vintage. Treasure hunting is really too passive for what I do. I don’t hunt in thrift stores—I pillage.

What can you say about the decision making process you went through to do this? What weighed most heavily in your mind? Was there ever just a tipping point in deciding to leave your job as a school librarian?
The hardest part then is still the hardest part now: the fact that I gave up a once-in-a-lifetime job in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Giving up a job in a recession still strikes me as maybe not the smartest thing to do, but I thought about it long and hard. I miss the kids and I miss being librarian, but I’m so happy with what I’m doing now.

The tipping point came for me when I found out the school district’s ultimate goal is to eliminate school librarians entirely and replace us with an automated system. I realized I may as well leave and follow my dream since I will be laid off eventually.

Can you talk about what you did to prepare yourself financially, or what you thought about in terms of finances? Were finances a big concern?
Finances still are a huge concern. We saved what we could and I track my spending meticulously. Shopping at thrift stores helps, as does all the meal planning I do, and other than that it’s my goal to live well on a small budget. Other than that we’ve cut back, and all those years of Anthony working retail while putting himself through college has really prepared us for living simply, you might say. Heh. I’m trying to contribute to the family’s finances by running my Etsy shop, shooting portrait photography, and selling photos on Getty, a stock image company.

How long were you a librarian? How do you feel about training in something & then making a big change in another direction? Do you think you’ll ever go back to it?
I was librarian for eight years. I never received a MLIS degree (if I’d had one, they never would have hired me—it would have been too expensive for the district) so leaving this job means I will most likely never be able to go back. School librarian positions only come up once in a blue moon, and, as I mentioned previously, the plan is to phase them out entirely, so by the time I’m done raising a family there won’t be a position to go back to. This is exactly why leaving the job I loved was so bittersweet—there’s no going back.

Do you get work done while taking care of your child? How does staying at home to care for your child plus write/photograph/curate an Etsy shop change the balance of duties with your work-outside-the-home husband? How much time do you feel you devote to non-household work?
Some days it’s really tough to get anything done while watching Isobel, but other days it’s not a problem at all. But for all that I have a schedule and a system that really helps me stay on track. Sticking to my schedule gives me just enough discipline to shower regularly and meet with other humans in non-awkward social situations. It’s so easy for the person who works at home to devolve into a weird proto-human who never leaves the sheltering womb of the cave. (Ed.: Uh, yeah, I agree!) I try to get ready and start some chores and be a good example to Isobel, although we have been known to play outside in the morning while still in our jammies once in a while.

 

I schedule two work days a week where I get baby-free time to the order of four to six hours a day to write for the blog, edit photos, and list stuff on Etsy. One day a week I devote to housework and errands, and the remaining four days a week are spent having adventures. I detail the whole schedule in this post here. Some days, though, work piles up, photos need to be edited, or a home situation demands extra attention and I take a longer work day than usual. It happens, but if I stray to far from the schedule I start to feel off and I go back to it more with more dedication than ever.

I really don’t go crazy with the housework during the day (or other times, for that matter, I like to save my crazy for more productive endeavors). I might clear and load the dishwasher or fold a bit of laundry, but I save the heavy lifting for when my husband gets home. We clean the kitchen together after dinner and fold laundry and clean the floors as a team. It’s really important for me to set this precedent for Isobel. Just because I stay at home and do most of the cooking (by choice) doesn’t mean housework is solely my responsibility. My husband and I clean together so she knows that men are perfectly able of pushing a vacuum cleaner, and further, ought to on a regular basis.

So you’re running your own business! What skills are you using more now that you’re doing this? Any you wish you could improve or would recommend that people work on before making this kind of change?

Self discipline, planning, and time management are the big ones. I need large amounts of both to get through each day, and it can be hard to buckle down to a pile of work when you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder. I’m doing pretty well but there’s room for improvement. Also, procrastination has become a dirty word.

I’d recommend everybody develop these skills no matter what you do, but if you can’t learn time management I think you are especially screwed. You are double-screwed if you have children. Keen organizational skills are also necessary, but as someone who was drawn to librarianship usually is, I have that quality in spades.

How will you define success in this new adventure? After taking this big leap, what will make you feel like it was all worthwhile?
This is really the question I’m wrestling with right now. I know I need to have a specific, definite vision, but right now I’m still taking things one step at a time. I’m still feeling out the limits of how much I can and want to work, how much Isobel needs me, and plans for the future. Really, to go back to question number 6, I’d advise people to have this figured out already, because it sure would be handy.


I feel it’s already worthwhile because of all the time I’m spending with Isobel and all the things I’ve done to improve myself and the overall quality of life for my family. I have no regrets and I love this new adventure, hard work and all!

 

I cannot thank you enough, Carrie Anne, for your time and thoughtful answers. I think there’s a whole category of stories to be written about women who are combining creative work online or otherwise (writing, blogging, photography, art) with parenting. I know people have done this for centuries, but I feel like we get to know about it through blogs and it’s one of my favorite things to read about. I’ll keep following Little Big to find out how this is going and what your vision turns into.

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4 Responses to “Carrie Anne, Blogger and Stay-at-home Mom”

  1. Erin August 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    love this! It’s interesting to see what it might feel like to take the leap and change course completely. And I love having a new blog to check out 🙂

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Snapshot « Little Big - August 31, 2011

    […] I had the very great pleasure of being interviewed by Amanda of She Has Moxie. In it I explain what it means to be a cross between June June Cleaver a […]

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