Stay at Home to Work Transition: From Carpools to Cubicles

I started a part-time job last week as an editor at a news website. I’ve been interviewing for a while so I was lucky to find a gig in this sagging market and an opportunity to learn new skills.

While I‘ve been freelance writing from home for the last 3 years, the last time I set foot in an office, Bush 43 was president,  Michael Jackson was singing, and Bernie Madoff was still living on Park Avenue. It’s definitely been tough adapting to a corporate setting after nearly 5 years in the safe haven of my house.

All my boys (ages 6, 9, and 12) are finally in a full day of school and most weeks this summer they’re in camp so it’s the right time for me to dip my toe back into the working world and figure out what I want to do when I grow up some more.

For the last several years I’ve been a stay-at-home mom trying to keep my journalism/writing career going in my down time.  My priority was managing our family and the house so I fit in work commitments  around carpools, homework, groceries, and bedtime tuck-ins.

I’m ready to focus on work again but. …it’s an adjustment.

Ego Issues:

Challenge:  It’s always difficult to start fresh. I hate feeling inept and out of control in a new situation. I’m also taking a significant pay cut and a step down compared to my last management position.

Bonus: Less responsibility means less stress and although I’m eager to get up to speed and take on more, after several years out of the office, it’s nice to ease back in and find my way slowly.

Time Management

Challenge: Instead of coordinating schedules and tasks the night before at home, I have to look at my calendar for days, even weeks in advance to make sure I plan all the pickups, drop-offs, meals, and equipment before I leave for the office.

Bonus:  Once I get on that train, there’s nothing I can do about it so it’ll be what it will be.

Learning Curve:

Challenge: Although my news background still helps, I’ve changed fields from TV to online production and the tools are completely new. My first day I had a delightful 27-year-old training me and she clicked around so fast I felt like grandma learning to text. There must be 20 steps to getting a story online.

Bonus:   I’m learning new skills that will help me stay relevant in this ever-changing media world.  And I get to live vicariously through the life of a modern 20-something working gal in New York—and still get to go home to Wilson and my kids.

Commute:

Challenge:  I don’t hate my one-hour door-to-door commute—it’s a brief and pleasant train ride and one subway—but I resent the time suck.  It’s two hours I could be with my kids or tackling my to-do list.  Plus, the trains are unpredictable. On my first day, there were half-hour delays and some trains were diverted to another station.

Bonus:  On the train, there’s time to decompress, read, and chat with commuting friends uninterrupted.

Wardrobe:

Challenge: Need to keep up with young fashionista media types who live in Manhattan and spend half their salaries on shoes and handbags.

Bonus:  No more yoga pants and tank tops.  For two days a week I get to dress like a lady and have a legitimate excuse to shop.

I’ve already suffered through several frustrating days and there will be more to come before I feel comfortable with the technical aspects of the job and understand all my responsibilities. My coworkers seem nice and helpful and I’m jazzed by the energy of a newsroom again.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I anticipate at least a few mortifying stories– spilled coffee on the boss, missed deadline, accidentally publishing my to-do list on the World page, etc—in the coming months. Please share any home-to-work transitions you’ve experienced in the comments. I’d love to hear about your new employment escapades!

13 responses to “Stay at Home to Work Transition: From Carpools to Cubicles

  1. Brooke congrats – first Paris and now a new job – very busy summer!!!!

  2. Congrats on new gig! I relate to everything you said…AND I’VE BEEN IN THE WORKFORCE FOR 9 YEARS WITH KIDS! What could that mean?!🙂

  3. oh I am so jealous! I MISS THE NEWSROOM SO MUCH. Almost as much as I miss New York in general. How exciting though, I have so often wondered how people can do it all, work and family, because I’m a frazzled mess with only one of those. Good luck at the new gig! Keep posting so I can live vicariously through you!!

  4. Brooke,
    Congrats! Hope you enjoy the new gig … and the shopping! XO – Maryann

  5. Whoops! Didn’t get my name on that comment. Where are you working? And congrats!

  6. Brooke, where are you working???? And Congrats!

  7. Awesome! Congratulations!!!

  8. Amy Koehler

    Woops. That was me, Amy K.

  9. Great news, Brooke and I’m sure you’ll show those well-dresses 20-somethings a thing or two!

  10. Looking forward to hearing all about this new chapter. Such a big change, which will no doubt pose new challenges and rewards. Can’t wait to hear your perspective on everything. Always love the posts!

  11. Anonymous is me, Brooke – not sure what happened there. Sorry for the duplication.

  12. Fun hearing about your new venture. Keep us posted on your progress, I look forward to hearing all about it (and being inspired by it).

  13. I look forward to hearing all about it, Brooke. It is inspiring to me to read all about it – there are a lot of Pros to being back at work, and getting a reminder from you is helpful. Thanks!