One of the goals here at Mama With A Calling is to encourage and motivate you in your journey to leaving your career and pursuing your business. What better way to learn about how to successfully quit your job and pivot to being a work at home mom than to ask a fellow mom that’s made it happen?
In this article, I’m sharing with you an interview I did with Lee Meier about how she left her career as a civil engineer to be a work at home mom as a reseller on ebay and Poshmark so she could be with her kids.
I hope you’re inspired and find some good tips in her story.
What was your job before you became a work at home mom?
My degrees (Bachelors and Master’s) are in civil engineering. In addition, I am (still) a licensed Professional Engineer. I worked for the local government as a transportation engineer. My days were spent reviewing traffic impacts of new development projects as well as designing and managing signal timing plans across the city. It was a good job, but not super fulfilling to me.
Why did you decide to pursue the goal of staying home?
I always knew I would stay home once I had kids. I wanted to be there and have time to enjoy them, especially as babies and toddlers.
How did you get the courage to quit your job? Or was it an easy decision?
I think it was easy and hard at the same time. It was easy in that I knew what I wanted.
What was the hardest thing about actually quitting your job?
There were a lot of hard parts. I was worried about all the time I had “wasted” to get my degree. The time I had spent to get my license. I was worried about what people thought of me. Basically I was worried about being a failure and not amounting to anything.
When you quit your job and were working from home, how was that transition?
The transition was one of the hardest things I’ve faced in my life. For me, I felt like I had lost my identity, my value. At the time I left, I didn’t have a job at home – I had a brand new baby. I went from being an engineer (something people said “Wow!” to) to being “just a mom.”
In the first few weeks home, I remember going to my first meeting with other stay-at-home moms. The first question they asked me was “What does your husband do?” That was a real shock to my system – that I was now defined not by who I am, but by my husband.
A few months into staying at home, I started looking around for jobs I could do at home. I really needed (and still need) something that is my own.
My first was born prior to Pinterest being around so I didn’t have a lot of places to get ideas for working from home. I toyed around with engineering services I could offer from home, but the software costs weren’t feasible for part-time work. And I had no idea how to market my services.
I became a Kindermusik teacher and taught for a year. But it was hard because classes were in the evening around dinner time.
Shortly after my Kindermusik stint, I received a phone call from our local university to teach transportation classes there. That job expanded to other courses and other colleges. Prep and grading could be done at home, but I had to arrange for childcare to do the actual teaching. It was a fulfilling job, but the pay was atrocious! If I had to pay for childcare, it wouldn’t have been worth it.
How’d you choose your current business?
By the time I’d had my third baby, adjunct teaching had pretty much dried up. A friend had been selling on eBay with the goal of paying for her daughter’s dance classes. She was making much more than that and referred to it as her “business.” I remember thinking “That’s not a business!” But she was bringing in quite a bit of money, and she encouraged me to give it a try.
I started and found that it was the perfect job for a stay-at-home mom. Over the years since I’ve started, I’ve been able to fit it into my family’s schedule. Sometimes I source (thrift store shop) with the kids. Sometimes I get to go by myself when daddy is home. Photographing and listing items happens during naptime. I ship after the kids go to bed.
It is what I consider the perfect job. No more evenings teaching. No more arranging for childcare. And some months I make what I used to make in an entire semester of adjunct teaching!
How do you balance working from home with your kids around?
Balancing working from home is definitely a challenge. The best tip I can give is to try to separate the two as much as possible. Having a dedicated work area helps. And having as much of a schedule and routine as possible.
What advice would you give to a mom that’s wanting to work from home but fears leaving her career behind?
In an ideal world, work on getting your at-home business set up before leaving, especially if you are financially dependent on having that income.
I would also say to realize that you have not “wasted” anything. Not your education, not your career. It has all led you to this point. Even if you end up doing something completely different, you will be surprised at the skills you will bring to your new endeavors.
What’s the most liberating aspect of working for yourself?
The most liberating aspect of working for yourself is the flexibility it provides. Flexibility to have time to read books, play games and snuggle with my kids. Flexibility to have my evenings and weekends free. Flexibility to build my business around my family life. And if a kid wakes up sick and can’t go to school, it’s not a big deal. I can even go on vacation and still make money while I’m not working!
Final Thoughts From Alexia
What a great story! I absolutely love that Lee didn’t let any fear about what others might think or where the money was going to come from stop her from following her heart and begin home with her kids.
I hope this interview with Lee Meier was helpful and I hope you’ll check out her blog for more information about reselling as a stay at home mom.