Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Would you work if you didn't have to?

So, this weekend was blissfully relaxed, involving dinners in and dinners out, trips to the gym and the dog park, walks downtown with the dog, trips to many furniture stores, and the eventual purchase of an absolutely hideous but incredibly comfortable and well-made recliner. Yes, it's ugly, but it will make our family room totally functional, and it was affordable and it has a lifetime warranty, and if/when at some point we can afford to redecorate that room (low on our list of priorities as it's at the back of the house and designated as a comfortable family zone, not a space for entertaining), the hideous recliner can either go in a nursery (not only does it recline, it rocks as well! And it will be perfect for nursing) or to the basement.

So, yes, recliner purchased and now we just have to wait 6-8 weeks for the pile of insomnia-curing relaxation to be built and delivered.

But oh, the weekend was just so lovely, and also so short, and I don't want to go back to work I DON'T WANNA. And I actually really like my job quite a bit so I can only imagine how all the people who DON'T like their jobs feel about having to go back to work.

I imagine that it would get old very fast to be unemployed and not know what to do with yourself all the time, and to be worried about money and trying desperately to find another job. But what I do wonder about isn't forced unemployment, but CHOSEN unemployment. Like if you become a stay-at-home mom, or if you just are in the luxurious financial position of not having to work for whatever reason.

I intend to keep working when I have kids. Maybe, depending on various circumstances, I'll go down to 80% or 60% time, but I'll want to keep working. I like my job, and I like my income. I like being stimulated and I like feeling like I'm making a contribution. I like interacting with my coworkers and having something that feels like it's all mine. And I actually enjoy the work that I do, for the most part.

But even though I like my job, it's kind of like going to the gym. The goal is to be finished, right? Don't we all feel like that? Nobody ever WANTS to stay at the office for longer than necessary. Everyone feels good when assignments are finished, even if they like the work that they're doing. I would guess that there are very few people who love their jobs enough that they would work more than they absolutely need to, you know? The exception that I can think of to this would be particularly creative, artistic, self-driven jobs like photography and novel-writing--but even then, only in certain cases.

So, that's my question. Would I keep working if I didn't have to? I think having children would actually be a reason why someone might like to keep working--not because you don't love your children and want to be with them, but because you would need different types of stimulation and different forms of interaction. I know that I'm touching on the Great Working Mom Debate, and I don't really mean to be--but the kind of not working I'm thinking about is more along the lines of ladies who lunch.

Would not working, assuming there weren't other major responsibilities like child-rearing to deal with (because that is also work), be enjoyable? Would it just be like Labor Day weekend times infinity? Or would it get old and stultifying real fast?

It's complicated, because if you had enough money that you didn't have to work, you would also likely have enough money to take on all sorts of other time-consuming projects, like redecorating and traveling and shopping.

I think, for me, even if we were billionaires, I would definitely want to do some sort of adult work that required me to use my mind the way I do in my current job. Whether or not that would translate to staying in my current job, or trying to establish and run some sort of charitable organization, or what, I don't know. But I can't imagine staying home all the time and never doing much outside the home.

But I still wouldn't mind if Labor Day weekend were to last another week. Or two. Or maybe even three.

What about you? Would you keep working even if you could afford not to?

46 comments:

sarah said...

hmmm, isn't that called RETIREMENT?!

If I had the option not to work, and could survive comfortably as far as financials go - I'd get a part-time job, and travel extensively.

And for the record, being unemployed gets really old, really fast.

Oh, and people who love to work more than necessary? They're called workaholics. Aka, my mother - she's a teacher who hasn't taken a summer off in decades. She's always upgrading her skills, getting more certifications, etc; this year she went to China and taught ESL for four weeks. She admitted to me once that she would have really enjoyed becoming a lawyer SOLELY FOR THE WORKLOAD.

Swistle said...

I would keep doing some of my blogging work but not all of it. If I had a regular job, I would definitely not keep doing it---but it's not a fair test, because I've never had a job that wasn't entry-level hellishness.

But I DON'T think I'd keep working, because I find it pretty easy to find a bunch of other stuff to fill my time. One of my mom's friends doesn't work and she's been bored for decades---if I was like THAT, I would keep working but maybe do volunteer work if I didn't need the money.

Becky said...

I think that I would get a part time job somewhere fun, like a bookstore. And I would love to travel, like Sarah. But if we had the money, I wouldn't want to keep working at what I do now. It's not nearly rewarding enough.

I do know a few people who work more than they need to at their jobs (my husband and a couple of his coworkers), and they work at a technology company. But he loves the kind of work he does (building point to point wireless internet connections for businesses). One of his coworkers does it because he's a total workaholic (the man was back to work within 2 days of his daughter's birth, most recently, and not because they couldn't afford for him to take the time off). But Ryan does it because he likes to figure things out, and that's a lot of what his job entails. It's interesting for him.

bessieviola said...

If I could afford it? More than comfortably? No, I wouldn't keep working. I'd stay home and be Mom and volunteer and freelance. I'm sure that the possibility of being bored would exist, but there are always things to do - sometimes you just have to look for them.

playintherain said...

No question about it, I would most definitely NOT work if I didn't have to. If L and I were completely financially stable and comfortable on one income or were independentally wealthy or won the lottery, that would make it all work. I've always said taht I didn't want to work, but I wouldn't want to just sit at home. I would volunteer in the community and at school if I had kids. Probably so much so that it added up to the amount of time I would work. Or perhaps I would have apart time job that I did just for fun. LIke work at Pottery Barn or something.

Now, seeing as I'm unemployed now. I do worry about money and it's been hard to occupy my time bc I can't go out and do stuff bc that costs money and I don't have it. However as the weeks unfortunately go by, I find more and more things to do around the house and am not so depressed about it. Now if only I didn't have to make that damn trip to theunemployment office today to make sure my claim is in order...

SoMi's Nilsa said...

What a great hot topic ... now, if only you didn't write it to jump start a week after the long weekend. Me sleepy and my brain isn't working properly. =)

I'd definitely consider not working to raise children. I'd also consider not working because I had enough money not to. Having said that, I will always be involved. Whether it's blogging or taking photography. Volunteering or learning how to sew. Reading or meeting up with other non-working friends.

I'm not sure I could not work and not stimulate my mind. That'd be a sure-fire recipe for disaster in my world. Having said that, I will be working for many decades to come - we are not in a position to be a one-income household. And that's just fine by me.

Cady said...

If I could afford it, I would quit my job in a heartbeat. I love what I do, but there are other things I don't love. I might do some contract work for my company, but I would enjoy being able to really take care of my house, cook fabulous meals for my hubby, and enjoy watching my children grow up.

Erin said...

I think I wouldn't want to work if I didn't have to, but after being unemployed for only two months a few years ago, I was bored out of my mind. I'm sure it's a different story if you have children, but maybe not considering how many mommies entertain themselves with Facebook games and blogging. (I realize that they probably do this during downtime, but still).

Heather said...

I dont have to work, we dont need the money (though we are still careful with what we buy and how much we travel). If I did get a job the entire income would go into savings. If I was to work, I'd go for a job I loved without care of income level. Since I dont have children, I guess I'm who you're asking about.

My time is more than full. I take care of our preschool aged nephew and niece three days a week. I study part time at university. I go to the gym and do dance class and card making nights etc... I do volunteer work and when I have free time from all that (and being a housewife), I do handcrafts.

I'm never bored. Even before the children arrived I wasnt bored, I'm totally capable of entertaining myself year after year. However I did miss the mental stimulation hence university part time.

Ms. Flusterate said...

The only reason why I work right now is to pay my daughter's college tuition. I've been a stay at home mom, a full-time and a part-time worker (always with kids as I had them early).

I think I have the best of both worlds right now. I work 9-1 so I'm home in the afternoons for the kids and their activities (high school and jr high) yet still busy doing law office stuff in the morning. What I'm most proud of is paying for college for my daughter...ALONE.

My Ex husband does not contribute and I refuse to let my husband help as he has 2 kids (one in college, one a senior in HS) that he pays for as well.

I guess I could not work and stay at home and do...? and have my daughter take out student loans,etc. but my mom did the same for me and it feels right.
melissa

d e v a n said...

Well, I'm a sahm so I'm not sure if that's considered working in this context or not. It feels like work, with some crappy pay. haha
When the kids go to school will i go back to work? I don't know. Maybe part time, or maybe I'll do some volunteer stuff...
My dh is a workaholic for sure, I'm not sure how he'll ever be able to retire!

AshleyD said...

I would do something I was absolutely and completely in love with... like being a Child Life Specialist. The only reason I chose not to do this a career is because it doesn't pay well enough for me to live off of. But if I didn't HAVE to work, I would do it anyway. I get so much personal satisfaction from knowing that I am contributing, I think I would go crazy if I didn't work at all.

Fiona Picklebottom said...

I stay at home with kids now, but without the oodles of money that would make choosing not to work once the kids are in school stimulating enough to actually do. If I DID have the oodles of money, I so totally would not work. I would do a lot of traveling, hobby-type stuff, reading, movie-going, cultural event-going, etc. I would have NO PROBLEM whatsoever filling my time with things other than work.

the cubicle's backporch said...

I think the only way I would not work is if we won the lottery and Mr. C could stay home too. B/c being at home by myself (while searching for a job) isn't fun at all. And I'd much rather have a job and be able to buy things rather than be on a tight budget!

Mama Bub said...

I don't work, but I do have a two year old at home, so...

I do enjoy not working. At the beginning of the school year, I always miss teaching, but that fades as I realize how much I enjoy NOT working. Once Bub is in school, I'm not sure if staying home will continue to be an option, but I can say that I would truly enjoy not working. That said, I wouldn't mind working two days per week. Best of both worlds.

Bella said...

I think I would keep some kind of job (part-time, volunteering), just for the social interaction and the mental stimulation. But I would probably not work 40+ hours a week simply because life is short and there are so many things I would love to do (traveling being one of those things).

your overworked sister said...

I want Heather's life.

your still overworked sister said...

hehe, just kidding, I do love my life. But I would to not have to work! And just do volunteer work and take care of (future) babies. And learn how to cook. And sew.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I've finished my degree and I'm in that holding pattern looking for a teaching job in a province that doesn't have many openings... and I'm bored out of my mind. But I think this is the type of unemployed that is the worst, because you have a goal in mind and you can't see it happening yet, so you're just wallowing in self-pity hoping against hope you WILL get the job you've been training and preparing for for YEARS. (It's a little sad 'round these parts right now, lol).

That being said... if I could be a SAHM, I would in a heartbeat. I would have no qualms about staying at home with my kids, cleaning and cooking and being totally domestic. I mean, the job I want is to be a kindergarten teacher which is also spending the day with 4 and 5 year olds... so my lifes work would also be with kids, haha. So yeah... I'd stay at home in a minute.

If I didn't have any children, yeah, I'd totally still stay at home if I was financially stable but I'd be a volunteer or organize something-or-other or do some crazy side-job that I always wanted to try (like wedding planning or something) that wouldn't be a "risk" because of my financial freedom.

Ms. Molly said...

If I could not work I would not as simple as that. But, yes I would volunteer, travel & keep a beautiful house.

Sagebrushy said...

Yeah, I would keep working. If I were comfortable financially, I would take the leap and go back to school to enter the workforce in a different field.

I like working, as long as I feel like I am contributing. I couldn't work just for money, though.

bustysatan said...

Wow, Jess, way to grab a hold of the third rail of womanhood with both hands!

I've been told (and fully believe) that you never know how you'll feel about staying home with your kids until you have them, but right now I can't imagine being a SAHM. It's not the example I would want to set for my children (male or female) that men provide financially and women provide time and affection.

Ashley said...

I would absolutely not work.

I can't imagine being bored or feeling like I'm not contributing - I find ways to fill my time!

Erin said...

I would work part-time. No question about it. That, to me, is the ultimate ideal. (If you have that opportunity when kids come along, TAKE IT. My job unfortunately is an all-or-nothing deal, otherwise I would already be a part-timer.)

In fact, I've been brewing a post in my head about this exact topic. I identify with my job; I feel like it's part of WHO I am. I enjoy doing it, too, but I think it's that first part that really makes me want to stick around as part of the workforce, even if I didn't have to.

Alice said...

i wonder about this myself. i know that if i had kids, for example, i WOULD want to keep working because i'd need the adult interaction.. as much as i love kids, and i'm sure i'll love mine even more blah blah blah, i'll still need some non-kid time. i just know this.

on the other hand, just doing WHATEVER I WANT and not working...?? that might work. i could do some charity.. and some fun activities, like dance lessons (or, uh, pole class, whatever) and maybe take interesting classes at universities i've always been interested in, like arabic...? so i think i'd be OK not actually having to WORK per se.

d e v a n said...

I think it's a misconception that being a sahm puts out an example that only a father can provide financially and a mother can provide love and attention. It's really not like that at all. It's each woman's choice to be either a sahm, or wohm. Being a sahm IS, imo, setting a good example for your kids in as many ways as being a wohm does, although they may be different.

bustysatan said...

I should have clarified that I wasn't judging SAHMs (or wasn't trying to), but that I don't think it would be my choice. However, I'm curious deven, truly curious - with a desire to start a discussion, not an argument - how you think that it sets some other example and/or what example you think it sets.

bustysatan said...

I'm sorry! I didn't mean to misspell your name either, devan. Drives me nuts when people do that to me IRL.

Lauchlin said...

I've always been kind of shocked by people who say they wouldn't be able to fill their time without a job. Who are these people? Even when I'm unemployed, like I am right now, I have more things I want to do every day than I can possibly cram in. I'm reluctant to start looking for a job, even though I need the money, because I don't want to give up the time that I have. Working 40 hours each week is a soul-destroying, spirit-crushing, anxiety-inducing waste of time for me, to the point that if I go too long without a vacation, I start getting panic attacks about how I'm wasting my life.

Having a job is a horrible, noxious obligation. If I were wealthy enough that I could get by without working, I would very happily spend the rest of my life making myself busy with the things that I like to do.

Kat said...

NO!

missris said...

I would probably work part-time in a bookstore or with kids and I'd definitely volunteer as well. I'd probably also do contract work if it interested me. I'd take classes at the local university. I'd love to travel. I'd read a ton. I'd be in great shape because I'd actually have time to workout. My house would be clean. I wouldn't be drowning in dirty laundry. But yeah, I need the mental stimulation and to interact with adults. I'd work.

Nose_in_a_book said...

The old 'what if you won the lottery?' question, huh? I'd travel, take lots of classes, maybe do a postgrad degree course, definitely some charity work. But I wouldn't choose to be as busy as that sounds. I am quite fond of lounging around and would definitely do more of that!

Stevie said...

I would do a lot more volunteer work than I normally do, and would probably take a lot of classes. University of Washington has a great program called the "Experimental College" where members of the community can take all sorts of classes - cooking, computer programming, dance, language, arts & crafts...the list goes on.

And of course, I would travel travel travel.

LoriD said...

I think I would have to do something that used my degrees and talents - probably at a charity, or start my own charity. I wouldn't work as much as I do now, that's for sure.

SLynnRo said...

I can technically afford not to work, but I don't think I'd want to. And uh, Mr. A would not be keen on it.

lfar said...

Well, for starters, I go to the gym because I love working out. Not finishing a work out, but actually working out. Also, I guess my job is a student... and I do that for free. I pay to do that. Imagine if we got paid for being students? And this summer I volunteered in Kenya. That's a job, right? That I was doing for free?

But to actually answer your question, I've never had a job that I would have done for free. When I graduate though, I'll keep looking until I find that job. Maybe I'm an idealist... but I think just like people find their one true love, I will find my one true job, and I will be happy and love it forever.

ccr in MA said...

No, I would not work if I didn't have to. I'm pretty sure I would love not working!

d e v a n said...

Bustysatan - it can be a touchy subject, no? I'll try to say what I mean without hurting anyone's feelings...
My husband provides time and attention, and i provide other things besides those - though obv not $ at this point. I don't believe my kids will grow up believing that mothers provide time and attention and fathers provide money, because it's not true in their lives. I mean, it IS true, but it's not exclusively that way, kwim?
I think sahm's get a bit touchy when people imply ( not that YOU did!) that they aren't contributing to society or to their family by staying home. There are days I LONG to go to work, but not because I think I need to contribute more - because I would like a BREAK. lol
(Whether it's easier or not isn't really the point. Just that neither is easy in reality. I've done both.)
Either way, in my mind - it's just another choice. Life is full of them and what's right for me isn't right for someone else.

Non Sequitur Chica said...

I don't think that I would survive at home without a job. I think that although I didn't want to go into work today, it's more that I am looking forward to the wedding and our TWO WEEK honeymoon.

Melospiza said...

Sitting down at 9 p.m. to finally write a comment on this fascinating question...

I would work if I didn't have to. Sort of. But it would be the sort of work that isn't work--I would work on my novel, and learning new languages, and maybe I'd practice violin again: I'd have a structure to my day, for one thing, and goals, and benchmarks. I'm finding (after a year of not really working) that I NEED these. I also NEED time away from my two kids. Boy oh boy, I need it and so do they.

That said, I DON'T like working at anything 40 hours a week (although maybe if I was working on 100% my own stuff for that 40 hours, so that the other time would really be off time, to play board games with the kids, or raise goats, or whatever, not that raising goats is really #2 on my list of what I would do in my spare time). I wish my job involved more being outside time (like, ANY being outside time). I wish that everyone had more time off--I don't think 50 weeks of work is healthy for anybody.

If I didn't have to work, I would want to work differently--isn't that just a way of saying that I wish I had a different job?

Bridget said...

I agree with Jess that going to 80% or 60% would be ideal - and trust me, I am not a mother or a wife, but I did not want to return to work today. Thank you, holiday weekend.

I have seen a few friends' lives change after they decided to be stay at home moms and I don't think it's for me. I have never been one to enjoy an entire day without adult conversation (WHICH WILL HAPPEN) or a day without some alone time. I think as long as both parents are involved - working or not - the kids will feel just as loved and cared for as they would if one parent were working and the other not.

sassafras said...

If my husband didn't have to work either then I think I would enjoy it but I have a tendancy to be a hermit and subsequently get depressed about it so me alone not working with nothing to do probably wouldn't last long.

Holly said...

That was so sweet...and I know just how you feel! Whenever my boyfriend goes out of town I have high hopes for all the things I will do since I will have some "alone" time but I always forget to factor in the "lonely" part which always sort of makes my grand plans seem a little less urgent and of course, never as fun as when my partner is around! :) Hope the time flies!

Holly said...

Wow...I just realized I commented on the wrong post! Nerd alert! I meant to comment on "Apart".

Whoops! :)

Penny said...

Yes, but I'd be doing something far more enjoyable and less profitable.

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