Written by Mom AKA Nicole Virant.
He was excited to start a new job that offered a promotion at a new college. Little to his knowledge after working there for six weeks, he was told there was an organizational restructure and he would be laid off.
One of our biggest downs eventually became one of our biggest ups. What initially seemed like a blow to our family actually brought many positive lessons and growth. I’ve been reflecting over this encounter and have heard so many similar stories of struggles, so I thought it would be helpful to share my experience.
1. Never underestimate the power of your personal community
We had friends, neighbors, coworkers and family who provided support throughout this time. It makes my heart full to know that we are surrounded by those who care and go out of their way to help lift others up when they are down.
It’s easy when you are in a situation not to want to ask for help. Maybe you don’t think you need it, maybe you are embarrassed, whatever the case is helping one another is one of the main reasons we are on this planet together.
In other words, stay positive! After having a few beers and a burger at a local burger joint, Jon’s coworker, Bob (an accountant in his seventies) shared that sometimes bad things happen so good things can. This might seem simple, but it is so true. Although it’s no fun going through tough times, there’s a brighter tomorrow right around the corner.
3. Greater respect and appreciation for my husband.
A layoff not only affects you financially, but more so emotionally. In just a day, Jon went from being the main provider to being a stay-at-home dad. Now arguably the stay-at-home parenting business is one of the most respected and difficult jobs around.However the lack of the stability of a job and the stress surrounding finances, health insurance and the like, quickly increased tensions and the fear of the unknown.
Most men wouldn’t be able to handle such a transition. Jon did it with ease. In fact, I think he actually manages the household and kids better than me most days.
He’s also acquired quite a few stories of what not to do during the interview process if the company wants to impress a prospective employee.
What amazed me is even through this experience, he remained strong, focused and determined to do what is best for our family and himself. I admire his courage and strength.
4. Building a stronger relationship
I’d like to think, if the world suddenly was overthrown by aliens, Jon and I would come out triumphant or at least die laughing together. We seem to do particularly well together under stress, with the exception of directions and driving.
Imagine your partner and you are on the show Naked & Afraid, (the show where you are sent to a jungle with one item and zero clothes) and you just have each other to survive. I kind of feel like it was a similar experience because we had to be creative on how to find solutions to our new problems.
Just like any other couple over time, you eventually become complacent. Routine after routine, things remain the same, you get bored….you get the picture. Difficult times allow for a renewal of your relationship. There were arguments, tears and several tough moments, but these helped us rise to the occasion.
Part of being in a relationship is helping lift your partner up when they need you. We most certainly did just that.
I am more in love with him. He’s closer with the kids. And he’s one helluva of a husband.
5. Value what you have and remember what’s truly important
We live in a “gimme world” gimme this, gimme that! You see the pictures on Facebook of the vacations, the new cars, and the new whatever. None of that crap matters. None of it.
You appreciate the house over your head, the fact you are able to have food. You really take off the lens of the consumer world we live in, and truly value what you have.
Your family, your health and your happiness are far greater things than material wants. It’s can be easy to forget this.
6. Put yourself to the test and come out feeling like a boss
Jon was the main income for our family. I had been working part-time, so we had to quickly come up with some ways to pay the bills as we surely couldn’t afford everything on just my income.
Coincidentally, I took a new job that same week and began hustling to make sure we could cover our bills and make things work. Some weeks were tough. The change from being a part-time stay-at-home mom to full-time was excruciating some days. I remember nights of crying with Jon because I missed the kids so much.
Sometimes you just gotta do what you just gotta do. Each week I reminded myself this was only temporary and the girls were fortunate to have daddy at home. I’d remind myself that the girls weren’t in daycare and to try to remember the good parts about the situation instead of allowing myself to drown in a pool of tears.
We were able to pay the bills and get health insurance which was a huge weight off of our shoulders.
7. If you don’t have to settle, don’t!
I remember Jon jokingly saying that he’d take any job that was offered to him. Sure there were low paying jobs, jobs that he’d hate and a good mix of other considerations.
This gave Jon the time to think about what sort of a career change would benefit him and allow him to move to a new industry and career. His work experience was only in higher education and with the skills he learned being a supervisor, he was able to translate well into a human resources position at a local hospital.
He loves his new job (although it’s new and he has a lot to learn), but already in just under a month he’s been using his unique skillset and providing invaluable services to his organization.
When things don’t go as planned, let it be an opportunity. Take the time to consider all possibilities. Be open to exploring and don’t be afraid to really get to know what you want in life.