If you've ever switched careers or become a stay-at-home-parent, I hope you feel seen for who you are. No matter what season of YOU you're in, you are still YOU.
As far back as first grade, I wanted to be a teacher. While many young people struggle to find their college career trajectory at 19, I apparently felt it in my bones at age 6. And even when I felt "stuck" in my twenties, like I wanted to venture down a different avenue, it was *mostly* always in education (Re: I definitely had daydreams about adult conversations and a career that resembled The Office. Remember Baz Luhrmann‘s Sunscreen song from the 90s? “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”).
When I made my first big career shift, it really was more of a pivot. I earned a Master's Degree in Educational Technology, and I became an Instructional Technology Specialist, which removed me from the classroom but kept me close with kids and teachers. This was a real sweet spot for me, and I encourage everyone follow their dreams and seek out those career pivots. Making even a small change in your career will make your day-to-day routine look different and challenge you in new and exciting ways. I loved the season of my life in which I was a teacher, and I loved the season of my life in which I was an Instructional Technology Specialist. But when the pandemic hit, it was undeniable that there was another new season ahead for me.
When Charlie was born during the height of the pandemic, I feared my family was going to feel so suffocated by everyone being at home all the time. And maybe we did in the beginning. But, everyone around the country was experiencing the same thing. We were all Googling activities to entertain ourselves and our kids (bathtubs filled with LEGOs... a new love for sourdough bread... SO many long walks...), and we were drinking all of the wine, watching the news ticker with daunting COVID numbers, and sending gifs to our colleagues about survival. At least this is what was happening in the Wales' household. But something wonderful happened alongside all of that chaos, doom, and gloom... we all slowed down. Even I slowed down. (I know you don't believe me, but sometimes slowing down and moving forward go hand in hand.)
Last fall, I wrote a post about what made us purchase our "Pandemic Duplex.” Here's what I said: "As the only instructional technology specialist for a K-12 district, at a time when education had abruptly gone remote, Moming two under two while working simultaneously was nearly debilitating. While all of this was difficult, something greater stared me straight in the eyes all summer: should I go back to work in the fall? I have been working since I was 16 years old. From cashier, to waitress, to teacher, to educational technology specialist, a big part of my life has always been defined by my work. For nearly 15 years, I have devoted my life to educating young children and supporting teachers. Until the pandemic, I didn’t imagine this changing. Ever."
Since it was too hard to work full time and watch my kids simultaneously, I felt like I suddenly had to decide if I was going to leave my career to be a stay-at-home-mom. This was an especially hard pill to swallow because it was something I never imaged even considering. With two parents who busted their asses 40+ hours a week (my dad worked full time and my mom legit worked at school full time all week and full time as a cashier all weekend), I NEVER pictured myself not working. So, after I wrote that post, I contacted my boss about my dilemma: I wasn't ready to send my kids back to school with so many unknowns about COVID, but I also wasn't ready to stop working. My boss is the absolute best, and in no time at all I had signed a contract for 1/4 my salary and 1/4 my hours, fully remote for the year.
Chad and I were fortunate to balance working remotely with both kids home for most of 2020. But with COVID cases falling and vaccinations on the rise, we decided to send Emerson back to preschool in 2021. We found a fabulous half-day program at a Montessori school 2 blocks from our house and agreed the benefits would outweigh the risks - we couldn't live in fear of COVID forever. Since the day Emmy started, there have been NO question in our minds about whether or not it was the right choice to send her back to preschool. We didn't realize how badly she had missed the socialization - she LOVES school and is truly glowing when we pick her up each day at noon.
Fast forward to last week while I was riding the bike and heard the most motivational affirmation:
"We need to be able to give the people we love the best of us, not what's left of us." -Hannah Corbin (Peloton Instructor)
Sending Emerson to school again did just that. It allowed Chad and me the space to work creatively and independently (while Charlie napped), without the guilt of not giving Emmy enough... enough instruction, enough attention, enough socialization. It was so good for her, and all of us, that we started tossing around the idea of sending Charlie a few days a week, too. Well, Chad and I never let the grass grow too long without attacking an idea head on, so I am writing this post after picking Charlie up from his first day of school! He will attend 3 mornings a week.
Part of what pushed us to this decision was a huge change in my life that is quickly approaching. If you're following along, you know we are under contract for another duplex. With the purchase of two duplexes in six months, we have almost doubled the amount of units we own and have decided that with 9 units to manage, it is the perfect time for me to transition from "9-5" to "Real Estate Professional." That’s the official language used in real estate and for tax purposes, which you can learn more about it here, but essentially I am trading in my 9-5 job to manage our properties full time. THIS IS HUGE. Not identifying as someone in education is mindboggling to me.
As an Enneagram 3, I am hardworking, efficient, and energized by being productive. Basically, WORK is an important part of my identity. Looking back now, I think that's why I so badly wanted to hold onto my 9-5 job this fall. I couldn't imagine not having a career, and I felt like the fork in the road (COVID) was only giving me two choices: send my kids to school or be a stay-at-home-mom. Neither of those options sat right with me because neither would allow for my own needs to be fully met. Fortunately, working remotely with a reduced schedule this past year allowed me the opportunity to pinpoint exactly what works best for our family and meets all of our needs, and that's walking away from a 9-5 office job to grow and manage our real estate portfolio.
While I am still grappling with how I will answer the question, "What do you do for a living?", I am getting more comfortable with the fact my answer will no longer involve a role in education. I will forever be thankful for that season of my life, and I am approaching the next season of my life with open arms.
With that said, on top of finishing my last school year in education, what's on my agenda for the next few weeks and months?
List 2 Chicago units for rent and secure new tenants for both (contact me with leads)
Rent one of our Michigan properties to traveling nurses (view listing here)
Hire cleaning company for above property
Turnover Charleston Airbnb a billion times (our property is 95% occupancy for February, March, and April!!)
Close on our new duplex
Purchase materials for renovations
Meet with contractors and get quotes for new duplex updates