These last few months have been quite possibly the most difficult that I have had to endure. I came home the day after being laid off wondering what the next chapter in my life would be. I wondered exactly how long would this latest stint as a laid-off father be?
My family and I have been through my unemployment twice before. We knew exactly what we had to do as a result. We knew for the next few weeks, months, possibly years, I’d first and foremost be a stay-at-home-dad.
Being unemployed wasn’t easy either time before. There I was laid off, treating my employment search as a 40-hour-a-week job. Spending most of my day huddled over a computer searching job boards. Refreshing every five minutes thinking that this time “the” job would appear. Scheduling phone interviews for the kids’ nap time so there wouldn’t be a screaming toddler in the background turning off a recruiter. Hoping someone would take a chance on me.
There were many days I would sit on the couch almost unwilling to engage with my 1-year-old because I was almost certain I would be getting the phone call that would change everything. I would break down in tears in the shower. I started to feel like a failure.
Avoid unemployment blues, stay positive
“Stay positive. It’s the one thing that will get you through this.”
That’s the comment my mother-in-law made to me the weekend after I first became a laid-off father. For some reason, it really hit home.
Eventually, something will come my way whether it was going to be weeks, months or years. That was easy for me to say, but another thing for me to really believe. I attempted to take anything as a potential sign of hope.
My advice: Wake up, take a shower, shave and get dressed as if you are going to work. Be as productive as you can be, looking for a job or tending to the home front. You may be sitting there waiting for the call that will change your career, but don’t treat every day like your future employer is going to ring your phone. Treat the day like you are going to do everything you possibly can do to receive that call, some day. All it takes is one interview for someone to recognize your potential.
But some days you are going to feel like a failure. There will be days you are going to get rejection after rejection. It’s going to feel worse than getting rejected from your junior high crush.
Family is Job One
My wife and I took the mindset that whatever will happen, will happen. There might be jobs out there that you feel like should have been yours, but maybe they didn’t happen for a reason. Maybe it wasn’t going to be as family-friendly as you would have hoped or the hours weren’t going to be as flexible as you thought or maybe the benefits weren’t quite what you would have hoped they would be.
On those days you get discouraged, remember there are people who do count on you. Every morning, every afternoon and every evening your family counts on you to provide for them and those things aren’t necessarily what can be bought with your take-home pay. You are at home either taking care of the kids or providing for their needs in other ways. So when you look at it, your paycheck just might look different than other people’s. Your paycheck is being able to be there for your family, at the drop of a hat if necessary, when something happens.
Finding work gets worse before get better
One thing I took away from the two times I was laid off before is that going to get worse before it gets better. You’ll wonder if you are going to be able to make it through the day without punching the wall. You are going to want to scream into the pillow, and there will be times you want to hide your tears from your family.
However, both times I was laid off before when things were looking their bleakest, I got the phone call saying I was hired. I was fighting with my wife. I started getting depressed. I felt like things were never going to get better. It felt like no one wanted me, and I was applying for jobs I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with but would at least allow us to pay some bills. Then out of nowhere, my phone rings and I was offered the job.
So remember: If you are laid off, keep your head up. You aren’t in your job hunt alone. There are many of us who are or have have been in the same boat as you. You are going to turn it around. And who knows, you might even find out you like being that stay-at-home-dad and, if not now, then some day you’ll make it work with you staying at home.