Childfreelife’s Weblog

{December 22, 2009}   My Downsizing Story

For the first 6 years of my adult life (21 forward), I lived with roommates in apartments and rental houses paying 300-400 a month for my share in housing. Then at some point, I decided I needed to own a home and my housing expenses doubled. My husband and I bought one, we were both making good money at our jobs and I figured we could afford the place if one of us lost our jobs. Both of us lost our jobs.

I could go through all the things we did to try and save our house, we had two roommates, cut every imaginable expense. But when it came right down to it, we bought in good times expecting them to continue and for us to both continue working, the good times ended, we are in a great recession. And like many American’s today, we can’t keep our house.

When I was laid off again from the job that would have allowed us to modify our mortgage. I cried for a day. Then I let go of the house in my mind. A huge load was off. I stopped crying. I am sure it helps that so many others are doing it, that I know first hand others are doing it because I work in bankruptcy law, and that I know how because I work in that field. There are multiple options for letting go of an underwater house. I think the simplest in our area, is just giving the house back to the mortgage company.

I think my personal downsizing story is kinda sad, but I am writing about it to give people hope. One of our roommates was too broke to continue living with us and moved in with his girlfriend because both their hours were cut at work. However, our other roommate wanted to move with us. We found a cute rental duplex that was a bunch cheaper and still has plenty of room. Its closer to public transportation, the little downtown art community, and the library. I am returning to my pre-mortgage life of about $300-400 of housing expenses per person, and it is freeing my life up so much.

And good news folks, my boss that had to recently lay me off, found me a new job! I interviewed for it and a I start in January. It wouldn’t have been enough or in time to save my mortgage, but it will mean I can comfortably begin to regrow our emergency fund, and actually start saving for retirement.

Sometimes endings signal new beginnings. And this is definitely one of those times.


{December 15, 2009}   Free Time

I was enjoying a post by Brit Girl about how childfree people spend their time. A year ago, I was very very busy. I was in school part time, worked full time, participated in religious activities, and played weekly theater games. Contrasted to now, I am unemployed, quit the theater games, and I finished school? I seem to have a lot of free time, and yet I feel no compulsion to have children to fill it.

I have been painting pictures and selling them with my free time. I have been going to cultural events, I have been taking temporary contract jobs in the legal field, and I have been looking for work. I think it is true that looking for work is a full time job in itself. I have interviews, I write cover letters and customize my resume, and I contract painting sales. In addition, I continue to be involved in religious activities, I volunteer my time mentoring a child, and am a good friend.

Child free people are unlikely to wale away the hours doing nothing.  Most child free people I know do keep very busy. Some of my favorite artists never had children: Georgia O’Keefe and Mary Cassett for example.

If you are a child free person who doesn’t have a lot to do: consider the following:

Volunteer your time. Do you have a skill that you could share with a non-profit agency? I am a good listener and I am good with teenagers. It was a perfect fit for me to mentor a child through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Some of my friends in the legal profession have gotten very involved in Pro Bono/Free legal service clinics. Giving back is a great way to spend your time.

However, when childed people ask me what I do with my free time, sometimes I think of free time as only time that is not committed to something in particular. I sometimes struggle to answer, because I barely think of myself as having free time, I have many full slots in my schedule. But I realize when I think about it, what free time might mean to a childed person is: time without children. I have lots of that time–most of the time, unless I am hanging out with someone elses kid(s).

Perhaps I am off base here, but thinking back, every-time a parent has asked me about my free time,  to them free time was time with a babysitter or daycare. And that time is rarely free, it is often bought and paid for. This isn’t always true. I do know some parents who spend free time with their children. Free time to some parents is time playing in the back yard, watching cartoons, and cuddling or napping. But those types of parents aren’t usually the ones that grill me about my free time.

This was a rather rambly post, but I realized I hadn’t stopped in here for awhile and I wanted to write something.

et cetera