First and foremost, create a new daily routine. While catching Leno and Letterman and waking up late is fun at first, it’s detrimental to your wellbeing. If you’ve been accustomed to waking at the crack of dawn everyday for the past 15 years, it’s best you stick as close to that as possible. Make a written, hour by hour schedule for yourself and stick to it. Sticking to a schedule for everything from job search to housework will keep you from falling into that pit of indolence otherwise known as daytime TV.
Make an effort to maintain your physical appearance. It’s so easy to spend a day at home in pajamas, with no makeup and frizzy hair. Wasn’t messing around with all that stuff one of the things we wished we didn’t have to do when we were working? But looking good on the outside promotes feeling good on the inside. It’s the least we can do for ourselves since we won’t be able to go out and buy new clothes every season. Damn you, Project Runway!
Indulge your hobbies. Most of what we like to do can be done cheaper than we’ve been doing it. Like to read? Pay off those old fines and get in touch with the library again. Like to write? Embrace your inner J.K. Rowling and put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard. Painting or drawing? Break into your kid’s art supplies and unleash your inner Frida Kahlo (First, please read aforementioned advice on appearance. Do not neglect to wax your upper lip, if necessary). Like to cook? Try new recipes, but shop for all the ingredients at a discount store rather than that fancy pants, bourgeois market you’ve been frequenting. Miss lunches out with your coworkers? Meet for coffee instead. It’s cheaper and easier to fit into their schedules. Do you miss shopping and fashion? Volunteer at one of your local nonprofits and offer to assist low-income women find interview appropriate attire at clothing banks or secondhand shops. This leads me to my next tip…
Volunteer. When you were working, how many times did you say, “I’d volunteer if I only had time.”? Now you do. Find your passion at a local non-profit or just go to your kid’s school and be one of those mothers. If you can’t bring yourself to do it for the warm and fuzzy feelings, then do it for the experience and space on your résumé that’s been neglected all these years.
Last but not least, figure out how to make this unemployment thing work. This is your new reality. Unlearn all those shortcuts you’ve become accustomed to taking just to make it through the week as a working mom. No more eating out, no more paying the neighbor kid to cut the grass or shovel the driveway, and no more running to the store to buy new underwear rather than wash an entire load of laundry. If you can cut back on the ugly consumerism that’s taken over all of us, you just might find that you don’t have to work as hard what you don’t really need, and life can be better than you ever thought possible.