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Mastering Working from Home

 Posted by on May 21, 2018 at 13:10
May 212018
 

In this age of technology, telecommuting and working from almost anywhere is a real possibility with some awesome benefits. I’m a regional manager for a large insurance company, and while we have an office in my area, it’s about 90 minutes away from my house. This doesn’t lend itself to be an easy commute every day, so I usually only go into the office once or twice a week. The rest of the time I am working out of my house. And, in the process, I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. Here are some tips to master working from home:

Lee-Anne

Have a clearly defined space with rules and boundaries. I have had various forms of office space throughout my career. It started as a chair at the dining room table and eventually morphed into its own room with a desk and everything! I am lucky now to have a door that separates my work area from the rest of the house, and my family respects that if the door is closed, mommy is busy. I can leave my computer there and not have to worry about anyone spilling chocolate milk on my spreadsheets.

One of my biggest struggles has been blending work time and home time. Many people (my husband included) think that because I am working from home, it means I can do stuff around the house such as laundry, dishes or minding the kids. I have had to correct that assumption many times. Just because I am physically home, doesn’t mean I am not working. It’s the same as if I was in an office somewhere from 8 – 5 every day. My time savings is the commute and breaks. Because I don’t have to drive somewhere, I can “leave for work” a little later which allows me to help get the kids ready for school. If I take a lunch, I can use it to do some chores, sure, but if I was at an office I would be using that time for myself and so that is what I typically dedicate my breaks to.

Define working hours. I start my day around 7:30 a.m. and end it at 4 p.m. During those hours, I’ve asked my family to pretend that I’m not there. On the flip side, I don’t work during family time. When you take work home with you, it can be tempting to jump on and check emails in the evenings or after bed time, but usually once I finish for the day, I am done. Sometimes, if I get taken away from work for an hour or two during the day for a personal thing, I will work that evening to make up for some of the tasks I didn’t get done, but it’s rare. I find that routine is best for me and everyone else.

Be professional. My husband is in the Army National Guard, and when he is not deployed, he is a stay-at-home dad. Our 6-year-old goes to school, but our 2-year-old is home with him, and let me tell you, she is loud! Luckily, my door muffles most sound, and my husband keeps her relatively quiet when he knows I am on the phone ̶  which is a lot. If I must be on a call with my kids around, I try to give them activities that I know will keep them occupied. Most importantly, I keep my phone on mute and I only take it off when I speak.

Be comfortable. I struggled with headaches for years only to find out it was a direct result of how I was positioned while working on my computer. It caused muscle spasms which led to dreadful headaches. Be kind to your body and make sure you are working ergonomically!

Moral of the story is: working from home can come with some challenges, but if you prepare and set boundaries, it can really complement the military family lifestyle. You will master it in no time!

Dec 052017
 

Fifteen years after we last saw each other in person, my face lit up as an old friend walked through the door of a quaint restaurant in Virginia. She was the first Marine Corps spouse who ever took me under her wing. Back then I was a newly married spouse with two little kids, eager to learn but afraid to fail. She handed me the reins to a small family readiness volunteer team and she had faith in me, even when I didn’t have faith in myself. She helped me overcome my fear and I’ve been thankful ever since.

Cassie

A week or so later, another one of my early mentors hugged me tightly in a different restaurant. We’d met more than a decade earlier when we volunteered together during one of the toughest deployments either of us had ever experienced. We stayed in touch from duty station to duty station, but our lunch date was the first time we had seen each other in five years.

I wanted to thank them both, in person, for their mentorship—especially the past two years, when they stood by me as I mourned the loss of one of my children. These women, and others like them, taught me what it means to show up for someone when they need you the most, even if you are separated by distance.

Until recently, I thought that mentorship in the military community meant volunteerism— lead by example and participate in activities. Be the change you want to see in the world. So that’s how I operated for 15 years. Unit functions, trainings, family days—you name it and I was usually there. But it wasn’t until my life was turned upside down in 2015 that I realized what true mentorship looks like. My mentors closed ranks around me when the worst possible thing I could ever imagine happening, happened.

I didn’t know when I met these women we would stay in touch through the years. I couldn’t have predicted that one of them would give me the courage to switch careers, another would become one of my closest friends, and another would later turn to me for support when her own family was faced with devastating news. At the time, I just saw these women as kind and full of wisdom—and that was enough. Ask yourself these questions:

Who in your life has been your mentor? What are the qualities they have shown that resonate with you? What would you do if you had the chance to be that for someone else?

Mentors are trusted advisors. They listen without judgement but are not afraid to tell you what you need to hear. They see your worth when you can’t – and most importantly, they lead by example.

I’ve learned from these women that mentorship is about meeting people where they are and being willing to open your heart to someone who needs to hear from somebody who has been there. It’s having coffee with a new spouse who has a million questions about driver’s license rules and permanent change of station orders. It’s leading a volunteer team when no one else will. It’s coaching someone through work-life balance. And sometimes it’s having the courage to stand with someone in their pain. But more than anything, mentorship is about showing up.

By mentoring one another, we create a legacy of camaraderie and friendship that transcends time and geography. We create a new generation of kind, open-hearted military spouses willing to see each other through the hard stuff. And together, we’ve got this.

Sep 052017
 

When I first started college, it wasn’t because I wanted a degree. It was because our family needed cash and I needed skills. I started school when my oldest son was about six months old and I was in my early twenties. I enrolled in a bookkeeping certificate program at a local community college, and the plan was to complete it in a year and go to work. That program eventually led to more school, a degree and a successful career in the defense industry. It was a safe, reliable and portable choice, and I managed to make it work for more than a decade. But, I always felt like something was missing professionally. Deep down inside, I wanted to be a writer.

Cassie

A few years ago, I took my first self-assessment offered through the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program. Self-assessments can help you understand your professional interests by evaluating the type of work you find interesting and what activities bring you joy. After more than 15 years in defense, I learned that there was a reason that writing had always been tugging at me. It was number one on my list of professional “best fits.”

I reviewed my self-assessment results with a certified SECO Career Counselor who helped me understand it was possible to change course and it wasn’t too late to have the career I wanted. So, I decided to go back to school. I also started pursuing more writing work. That was almost three years ago.

Many of you may be just starting this journey to determine your career path. I am happy to tell you that as a military spouse, you have access to tools that can help you live your best professional life.

  • MySECO. Imagine if you could research occupations, build a career plan, find a school, search for scholarships, build your resume and search for jobs using one website dedicated to military spouses. It already exists. MySECO offers the above-mentioned tools and a wealth of resources just for you.
  • SECO Career Counseling. SECO offers nationally Certified Career Counselors to help you determine your career path and educational goals. To schedule an appointment with a counselor, contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. Also, be sure to check out SECO’s new counseling packages.
  • SECO Assessment Tools. If you aren’t sure which careers are the best fit for your skill set, or even if you have no idea where to start, the SECO program provides industry-leading assessment tools to military spouses free of charge. From Entrepreneur EDGE™ to Myers-Briggs to Career Scope, SECO has you covered.

These tools made a huge difference for me. As I write this, I’m working to complete a graduate program in English and creative writing. I am excited about my professional future for the first time in years, and I finally feel like I’m doing what I’ve always been meant to do. Will you do the same for yourself?

Four Ways to Use the MWR Digital Library

 Posted by on July 18, 2017 at 12:56
Jul 182017
 

A few years ago, I discovered the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library and it changed my world. As an avid reader, college student, mom and business owner, I felt like I had hit the mother lode when I found this free resource for service members and their families. Here are four ways you can incorporate the MWR Digital Library into your life to save you time and money, and to get your summer read on!

Cassie

  1. Access to digital and audio books. Access thousands of digital and audio books for free; download the latest best sellers or catch up on a classic. You can browse fiction, nonfiction, reference and more – it’s like having your own library in your back pocket. A word to the wise: this service is very popular and there are a limited number of copies of each book, so it’s a good idea to place your favorites on “hold” in advance. You can check out up to 10 titles at a time.
  2. Academic, professional and personal research. As a college student in need of sources for academic papers, I’m able to access some great databases for free. I also recently started my own nonprofit and needed to research more about the needs of the population we plan to serve. The MWR database had just what I was looking for. My husband and I have also used the library for personal research on investing, consumer product reviews and even small engine repair – which kept us from having to buy a new lawn mower!
  3. Test prep and scholarship searches. I have a teenager who is preparing for college. He also hasn’t ruled out a career in the military. With access to free test prep tools, he has used the MWR Digital Library to better prepare for testing and to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Service members also have access to preparation materials for other branch-specific military career advancement tests.
  4. Access to K-12 resources. The MWR library offers academic resources for both students and teachers. The Teacher Reference Center provides access to teacher and administrative journals and magazines. Age-appropriate TumbleBook collections provide reading and academic resources for school-age students. And finally, Tutor.com provides free homework and tutoring help to students who need it. I can’t speak highly enough about the services offered through Tutor.com. It has been a lifesaver for my kids on multiple occasions, because this mom is NOT good at math!

Don’t miss out on this free service – it can be a real time and money saver. The resources mentioned here are just a sampling of what’s available to you and your family. Happy exploring!

May 022017
 

I cannot count the number of times I have been asked, “What would you tell your younger self?” Unless Michael J. Fox plans to lend us a DeLorean, it seems pointless to play around with what-ifs and what-should-have-beens. Instead, it would be much more productive for me to share – out loud – the glaring lesson I learned about what truly makes for a satisfying military life journey: having something that is solely for you.

Bianca

Sure, our community is as diverse as it is similar. But there is one definite commonality amongst us all. We married men or women who in their late teens or early 20s set off on a structured career path equipped with benefits, growth potential and transferable skills that employers value whenever that uniform is hung up for good. On the other hand, we – the military spouses of this current generation – often have a differing experience. We encounter detours and roadblocks on the way to becoming what we want to be when we grow up. We all know the most likely reasons for those hardships because we talk about them all the time; the moving, the unpredictable deployment or training schedules and the demands of being the primary caretaker for the family we build.

We have absolutely zero control over those named obstacles – they are part of the fabric of our life. I believe that while it is not a straightforward path to our goals, it is vital for your self-worth that you define something valuable to work on for yourself. What do I mean by that? Whether it is chasing a degree or finding a job that gets you out of the house, building a career or taking a fitness class on base, spouses need some outlet to go after their ambitions. And luckily, the organizations who have taken on the mission of supporting this community know this – and they’re committed to making it happen.

This is where the upcoming Virtual Military Spouse Symposium comes in. Here’s what we know: Military spouses connect online. So, the Department of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program, or SECO, decided to meet us where we are by bringing innovative speakers direct to our computers. You don’t even need to leave your house. I can almost guarantee you will find something on the agenda that either aligns with what you already know to be your “thing” or ignites an interest you didn’t know you had.

Some of the topics include:

  • Cooking demonstrations for aspiring chefs (or spouses who want to change up meals at home)
  • Leveraging LinkedIn to connect with actual hiring managers
  • Tips on moving a career across duty stations
  • Starting a business

Those are just a few of the topics that stand out to me from the four-day event happening May 15-18. Look, nobody disputes that loving someone with a demanding job often means your dreams and goals get a little tougher to accomplish. Yet there are so many underutilized resources (yes, I used the buzzword) to get you to your finish line. But they only work if we give them a try. Here’s homework: Go check out that agenda, think about what interests you in this season of your life and register. It is free. Give yourself a shot!

Mommy and Me Go Back to School

 Posted by on July 27, 2016 at 08:00
Jul 272016
 
Kristi

Kristi

Yesterday I registered for my first semester of graduate school and had a fantastic first meeting with my advisor. That overachieving student in me woke up and shot out of bed for the first time in nearly 10 years. With the adrenaline I had pumping right then, I probably could’ve read my first textbook cover to cover, unfortunately, the textbook assignments haven’t been posted yet.

Today was a little different. I spent the entire morning trying to log into my student orientation. When I was finally in, I was greeted by a header that read, “Karen S.” Which is only an issue because my name isn’t Karen. If ever there was a head-to-desk moment, this was it. I had visions of my hard-earned master’s degree with the name Karen on it, and I wondered — only half seriously — if it would be easier to just legally change my name or get back on hold for the remainder of the day.

I have to see the humor in that situation. I mean, it is a pretty funny story. But, there is a lesson in it — aside from the all-important realization that the tech helpline is long on knowledge, but short on appreciating my jokes. Yes, this snafu was a hearty reality check alright. You see, I’m not the only one going back to school this fall. My son will start kindergarten (sniff, sniff), and my daughter will head to preschool for the very first time ever (sniff, sniff, cry uncontrollably).

As a mom who has worked from home longer than my babies have been alive, I saw the opportunity in them starting school. No more am I juggling my schedule around a 3-hour “school day” or no school at all. More uninterrupted time means I can accomplish more in one day. Not to mention it’s a good distraction from the fact that my kids are growing up.

Just yesterday, after my most frustrating day of grad school to date (granted I don’t start until the end of August), I was still able to remind another military spouse that there isn’t much that a mom with a goal can’t handle. And I stand by that. We can multitask. We can focus while the noisiest toys in the house sound simultaneously, cereal flies across the room and the dog barks at every … single … person walking down the sidewalk.

But, though I’d like to think so, we aren’t superheroes. To be successful, we do need a plan and some serious organization, after all this isn’t just keeping track of one person’s assignments, it’s that on top of everything else moms already do.

Put it (all of it) on the calendar

I already know I’ll get a calendar of all my assignments on the first day of class. That magical paper is getting printed and posted by our family’s communication station (which isn’t as complex as it sounds — it’s a calendar and bulletin board in our pantry). I will also post the monthly calendars for both kids in there as well — no mom wants to be the one that forgot about preschool pajama day.

Make time for school

My grad school is 100 percent online, which for convenience’s sake is more fabulous than fabulous, but it also means forcing myself to block off a time and space where I focus only on school. I figured this out years ago when I started working from home, but it’s only human to find distraction in laundry, errands, whatever is on TV and — of course — my family. I don’t have the luxury of an actual office in our quaint 1,200-square feet of townhouse, so the best I can do is section off a space for my desk in the living room. That’s my setup, and while it isn’t a favorable study space when we have a full house, it should do the job when I’m the only one home. As a backup, I’ve also found an installation library right down the street from both of the kids’ schools. Who says you can’t still be hover mom when everyone’s at school?

Fight the urge to “mom” all day

As far as small kids go, mine are pretty patient. When I tell them I need them to play on their own for 15 minutes so I can finish something, they’re pretty respectful. But a 5-year old that respects your time is not always all the respect you need to get the job done. Someone will always need a drink of water. Someone will always give you puppy-dog eyes because it’s been eight minutes since you last played with her and she’s bored. There will always be laundry, and a dirty dish, and an errand. My biggest challenge — and maybe yours too — will be tuning everything else out. I want to give my goals just as much attention as I do everyone else’s. It’s not selfish, no matter what that mothering instinct is telling you.

So, from my freshly organized desk, I’ll wrap this up so I can focus on the last few days of summer with my kids. We’re full of butterflies, and with our new school clothes (them, not me — there’s no dress code for distance learning) and a fresh stack of school supplies, we can’t wait to kick off a successful school year.

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Mom Goes Back to School: Financing Graduate School

 Posted by on July 14, 2016 at 12:15
Jul 142016
 
Kristi

Kristi

I’m guilty of occasionally being a secret shopper. No, not one of those store sleuths grading customer service, but one that shops, then after returning home, quickly discards the evidence — bags and tags — and mingles the new in with the old so as not to draw attention to it.

Most of the time when I assure my husband that “We’ve had that for months,” he just rolls his eyes. It’s harmless; he would just prefer our coffee table be free of decorations so there is more room for his feet. But when I got the itch for graduate school, I knew this wasn’t going to be a purchase I could shoulder shrug out of. Graduate tuition is not a one-time purchase; it’s an investment — one that can take years to pay off — and one that requires a discussion between spouses.

As silly as it sounds, I was dreading the initiation of this discussion. The responsible mom in me felt guilty spending a large portion of our family’s income on my something for myself. An occasional new pair of jeans or throw pillows — I can live with that guilt, but thousands of dollars’ worth of tuition? I was losing some serious sleep over this.

Because my husband is an incredible guy, he was nothing but supportive of my idea to go back to school. His exact words were, “You support me, and I support you. That’s how this works.” Unfortunately, support is not an accepted method of payment when tuition is due. We had some big decisions to make.

To GI Bill or not to GI Bill

We wrestled with whether or not to use the GI Bill for my education expenses for weeks. I initially refused to use it. I wanted it there to fully fund one of our kid’s college education. Period. Case closed.

Once I was accepted to my long-shot, first-choice school and that $55,000 price tag got real, I started to doubt that forgoing the GI Bill was the smartest thing financially. Reopen that case. Here was my reasoning:

  • My family was going to have to pay for education one way or the other — whether for me, my son or my daughter.
  • There is a very real possibility that we could set aside the GI Bill for one or both of the kids, and they end up not needing it because of scholarships.
  • We have 13 years before we have an undergraduate student. That gives us 13 years to save and plan for the expense — and we are. My graduate school starts August 29.
  • We have 13 years to search and apply for scholarships for our kids. I was surprised to find that you can start applying for awards when kids are as young as 5 years old.
  • One way or another, we’ll have tuition to pay for at some point. It seemed a little self-defeating to take on that great debt, which would turn into a monthly payment after graduation now when obtaining a master’s degree could qualify me for higher wages to help fund tuition for my kids.

GI Bill findings

I filled in my own opinions with actual research and contacts to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now, since it’s a government organization, know they will not advise you on the best choice for your situation, but we all know that didn’t keep me from weaving my story for the poor woman who rescued me from hold. I believe her actual response was, “Yeah. That’s your call. I don’t know.”

She did, however, fill in some fact-based gaps for me on the Post-9/11 GI Bill:

  • The bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits. Using 24 months still left my kids with partial tuition assistance.
  • Tuition is covered in full at participating public universities. Private schools, like the one I will attend, are typically more expensive, so there is a cap on assistance. As of Aug. 1, 2016, that is $21,970.46 per academic year.
  • The recipient must apply for the GI Bill. This was a surprise step for me. I knew my husband could control distribution amounts, but the actual application was an extra — luckily, online — step.
  • The confirmation of the GI Bill award can be delayed in the fall when many students begin enrollment.

This was all enough to convince me. And after more open communication with my husband, and a few other family members, we were certain using the GI Bill was the best choice for us right now. I applied and received my award letter within three weeks. After I register for classes, the veterans department at my university will handle communications with the VA. Thus far, the process is much simpler than I gave it credit for. Truly, the hardest part of the process was deciding the best financial decision for our family.

 

Raising Kids and Dough From Home

 Posted by on June 30, 2016 at 16:01
Jun 302016
 
Julie

Julie

It takes two incomes to meet most families’ needs. When one parent deploys, the other has a long work commute and family lives too far away to help care for the children, some couples decide to find alternative work situations to manage the children and funds. Figuring out how to go from full-time employment outside the home to working from home while raising children is enough to twist your mind into knots. Determined milspouses can do anything they set their minds to, so if you want to find a way to work from home while raising your kids, it starts with some honest self-assessing, researching, planning and networking.

Assess your skills

I sat down and thought about what types of tasks I enjoyed doing and which I really hated. Then, I assessed my skills and qualifications to narrow down the types of work-from-home jobs that would suit me.

This step will be a bit easier for you if you use the online tools and information tailored to military spouse employment from Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, or SECO. This website has tools and information to help you explore your skills and passions while identifying careers that might work well for you. The SECO website also has information to help you with researching, planning and networking — all steps covered from beginning to end.

Research your work options

I started researching a few career possibilities like telemarketing, sales, child care provider, and medical billing, coding and transcription (but there are plenty more fields to consider). After learning more about each of those fields and their required certifications, equipment, education and experience, combined with my limited time and funding for making this transition work, I narrowed down my list to medical transcription.

Make sure you are thorough in your research. Find out if you need a business license, child care provider license or if there are other regulations you need to adhere to. Learn how your new venture will affect your taxes. (If you are self-employed, do you need to pay your income tax quarterly to avoid penalties? What qualifies as a tax deduction for a home business: mileage, utilities, home office space, education, and equipment?) Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone currently in the profession you are interested in pursuing. They may be able to help you save some money and time since they’ve already been where you’re headed. I asked a medical transcriptionist if she had any recommendations for places to purchase the equipment. Her recommendation led me to find my equipment at half price.

Research your expenses and child care

There are three other important factors to research:

  1. Your household expenses —Are you able to cut expenses to save money? This may allow you to look for part-time work instead of full time or to take a slightly lower salary to get you started.
  2. Your work/parent schedule — You’ll need to have a planned schedule of the pockets of time you can work and when you can actively be mom — and the kids well supervised during both times. Try working before the kids get up, during naps and after they are in bed. If you need more work time than that, set them up to color or do a craft near your workstation so you can supervise them while being productive.
  3. Your plan for day care — Even if your reason for working from home is to be able to raise your children, you are still working and kids don’t always stick to their schedules. Create a backup plan for the days the kids won’t allow you to work. Consider registering your littles for preschool for a few hours in the morning, hiring a local teen to babysit them after school, or finding another parent in the same situation and swapping babysitting duties so you both have uninterrupted work time.

Plan your next steps

After researching my options for medical transcription programs, certifications needed, course pricing and financial aid possibilities I started to make a plan. I attended medical transcription course classes at the local adult learning center a couple of nights a week for about a year while still working full time.

Remember to include the job search process in your plan, as it can sometimes take a while before you can go full time with the at-home position. Look for companies that cater to mobile careers and military spouses. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP, is a great resource for finding companies committed to hiring military spouses, and some of them offer remote work.

Network

Making an effort to get to know your classmates, instructors, professors and professionals in your chosen field can be the difference between a long job search and a short one. I was able to find a subcontracting position as soon as I completed the medical transcription program through networking. A fellow student connected me with a contractor, and my instructor provided a reference letter.

Network with friends, at PTA functions, on the sidelines at your kids sporting event, with other military spouses and everywhere you go. Let people know what you are working toward, because you never know who might have the connection you are seeking.

Seize the moments and make it happen

I was due to deliver my second child in three months when I completed the medical transcription program and landed my subcontracting job. I continued to work full time at my day job and worked part time from home, doing transcription work at night up until my son was born. I took a couple of weeks off to recover and started working transcription from home, full time at that point.

Working from home while raising children can be challenging, but I found the rewards to be worth the work. It taught me to seize the small moments in life and work them for all they’re worth, whether that means being productive on the job while your little one naps nearby or being completely zoned in to playing with your children when they are awake. There’s a lot of shifting gears and swapping hats in this combined role, but you’re a milspouse and you’ve already been doing that. If working from home is the life you want, seize it and make it happen.

6 Reasons We Should All Be Volunteering

 Posted by on May 2, 2016 at 21:53
May 022016
 
Kristi

Kristi

It hit me when I was pinning gold leaves on my husband’s collar one unusually hot February afternoon: I’m not the “new spouse” anymore. But, I didn’t feel ready to be a spouse with answers; I still had a whole mess of unanswered questions. I still use names like, the Jack Nicolson and the wedding one to describe my husband’s uniforms. I know they have real names. I know I should probably know what they are after nearly eight years, but I can only fit so many penguins on my iceberg — I have to leave room for school pick-up and drop-off times, my own phone number and, of course, my sponsor’s social.

We are all learning as we go. We all went through that “stupid question” phase. If we’re being honest, we’re all still going through that phase because the minute we have something figured out, someone changes it.

My purpose in showing my military spouse age is not to invite comments about how I don’t look a day older than my first deployment brief or how I am wise beyond my military spouse years. Although, if you feel compelled, who am I to stop you? Really, my point is to spike participation in…well…everything.

Lack of volunteerism among military spouses is an ongoing issue — go figure, it’s the one thing that never changes from installation to installation. Don’t misunderstand — there are always, always a handful of ladies and gentlemen who do the work of many with just a few of their own hours to work with. I know, for myself at least, I’ve always put off getting involved until my kids were older and I had a better handle on this whole military spouse thing. Realizing I’m no longer new at this made that new-spouse expiration date hard to ignore.

We are all busy; we are all perpetually the new kid after each move. We all have our kids, fur babies, jobs or school that vie for our time, and we couldn’t possibly add anything else into the mix. But there’s a cyclical stigma with volunteering: People avoid it because they don’t want it to take over their agendas, but because most people are hesitant to get involved, five people do the work of 500. The cycle continues with that, “If I don’t make eye contact, you won’t call on me,” mindset — because we don’t want to have another thing to do at the end of an exhausting day. But volunteering doesn’t have to swallow up our time, and it shouldn’t. If everyone in the military community found something to do once a month there wouldn’t be so much work to pile on the regular volunteers.

Volunteering somehow, somewhere in the military community is worth our time because we can:

  1. Support military-community programs that support us and incoming military families
  2. Learn on the job
  3. Make new friends
  4. Network with other spouses
  5. Add some community involvement skills to our resumes
  6. Be a part of decisions that shape the military community

You don’t have to do it all, but we all just have to do something. So, the next time you get an invitation in your inbox or your service member comes home with spotty details about something you could do (you know, if you want), get the details before you number off the reasons you can’t do it (believe me, no one is guiltier of this than I am). Chances are all we’ll have to do is give two or three hours of our day — that’s pretty harmless. And carving out a little time now will ensure that popular programs and services are around for the next round of incoming military spouses and service members.

Feeding the Soul and the Family

 Posted by on March 15, 2016 at 15:29
Mar 152016
 
Guest Blogger Stacie

Guest Blogger Stacie

Blogger Biography: Stacie met and married her soldier in Arizona and went to the recruiter with him, where he said, “I’m not in, if you’re not in. Are you in?” After saying yes and spending 23 years in the Army, within the next eight months he had retired, begun a civilian career, and both their college aged kids moved out. This left them nearly empty nesters, except for the dogs. Formerly an avid sports and stage mom, hanging up her keys to the swagger wagon enabled her to concentrate more on work and life after the Army. Stacie hopes to one day have a chicken coop and fill it with hens she intends to name after country music stars.

I had a fantastic media career during my journey as an Army wife. I loved what I did and then one day, Operation

Iraqi Freedom happened. My husband was gone, my job required more than 40 hours a week, and my kids really needed me. Eventually, I quit my job and had to figure life out again. I bounced between jobs for a while, finding things I could do while the kids were in school. I liked working, but I was missing the satisfaction I got from radio. I needed something more than a regular job had to offer and wanted to try out being my own boss. Working from home fed my soul and saved my sanity, even though it took me years to map it all out.

When I began working from home, I was a virtual and personal assistant. I became certified through our post’s Army Community Service office and bought a great computer. Within a few weeks, I was working with a few remote companies and several in town. My specialties were blogging and small business support, but I would take on almost any task a customer requested.

After a cross-country PCS, I was unsure if I wanted to try to restart my business. The recession hit my industry hard, and people stopped hiring for work they could do themselves. The few clients I had before leaving our last duty station were all local, and needed me in person. In a new place and searching, I saw a bracelet pictured on a friend’s social media page and knew I had found my newest adventure!

I joined a jewelry direct sales company in August of 2010 because my love for their sterling silver military charms was instantaneous. Initially uncertain if the sales field was my thing, I eventually just went for it. I had tried direct sales twice previously, but it never seemed to suit me. After these last few years, I am incredibly happy with my decision to become a consultant. I was very fortunate that I was able to begin growing my team nearly immediately, and can speak from the sincerity when I say that I work with some of the most amazing women anywhere.

Having had two successful home-based businesses, I have learned how to manage working at home. It is a delicate balance between responsibilities, but can be managed by anyone if you decide to go for it.

An encouraging spouse is always a great start. Be open and honest with each other about expectations, work hours, finance, and how the new job will impact the family.  When the entrepreneur and the spouse have a firm understanding of the business and its potential, it helps both parties.

In addition, having a clear vision of how finances will be impacted by the new position will take a lot of stress off the family. Starting a new business can take commitment of more than just time. Assets are frequently necessary and, most commonly for home businesses, are borrowed from the family budget or savings. Knowing how much of the business income is marked for reinvestment in the business and how much is used as a paycheck alleviates confusion and helps set realistic objectives.

All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.