I have been a bit quiet lately as it’s been a pretty full on 2 weeks for this single mum. My daughter and I returned back to reality, after 6 days in Perth so she could see her father, and then I GOT RETRENCHED. ARGH!
I decided to check my work emails in the taxi on the way home from the airport, and read that my entire team that I work with (there are 4 of us in total) had resigned. It was a massive shock for me, and everyone else in the company. I knew it was a possibility, that as a consequence, my position may be made redundant. There were 10 days of not knowing what was going on, and then I got delivered the news I was half expecting.
As a single mum, news like this can be pretty terrifying, which is why I’ve prepared this Dealing with Redundancy list for when things don’t go to plan. You never know when the unexpected might happen, and being a single mum is all about being prepared for anything.
Dealing with redundancy, for single mums
When I got told that I was getting retrenched, I tried to hold it together during the meeting, and then I burst into tears. I then left work early and met a friend of mine for a glass of wine in the city before I had to go pick my daughter up from day care. The trouble is, when you’re a single mum there’s really no time to wallow when you have your kids around. So if you can, take a couple of hours child free to get some of the immediate emotions out of your system, without having to worry about the nail polish that your child has just poured on the floor boards, or the paint that your child has just spread all over the bathroom wall (last week was not a good week). After getting in the car and having a bit more of a cry, I reminded myself of all the positives of the scenario. Take some deep breaths and try not to catastrophise your thoughts, as it’s very easy to let your mind race to every worst case scenario. Now is the time to focus on the good, so you can lift yourself up and be mum again.
2. Process it, and take time out.
When something unexpected happens, an instinctual reaction may be to take your child out of day care IMMEDIATELY, apply to EVERY job under the sun and just have a general FREAK OUT. I think you really need some time to let the dust settle before making any major changes. Now is not the time to make drastic changes. If you can afford it, take a couple of weeks to process any changes before jumping into anything. If you are really under financial stress have a look at the resources page for ideas on where to get assistance, and revisit your Centrelink options.
3. Save money when you can.
I am very lucky that I have been on a major saving spree over the last 12 months. My goal was to buy an investment property at the end of next year. I still want to do that one day, but now I am lucky that I have savings to get us by until I start working again. The investment property can wait, but at least we have funds to get us through for a while. When you are working, use the opportunity to put some money aside for emergencies. Set up a savings fund and have money from your pay transferred into it either directly from your employer, or through an automatic direct debit. More about saving in another blog post, but pay yourself first, even if it’s only a small amount.
4. Re-evaluate your life – what do you want?
A couple of weeks before my position was made redundant, I had a meeting with a life coach. The thing is, I hadn’t been very happy in my job for a little while, and I was trying to think about what I was going to do with my life. I was having a real “life is too short to be stressed out and to be doing something you don’t love” moment. I was driving all my friends crazy, talking about the meaning of life and saying “#YOLO”. So I think the redundancy was really the push I needed to make a change. But the coach said to me that when I started working again after I had my daughter it was out of financial necessity not about what I wanted to do. She was correct. Who has time or money to think about themselves and what they want to do when they are a single mum with a baby? But now I am in a position to take some time to think about what I actually want to do with my life because YOLO. So if you can afford the time and money, take this time to re-evaluate your life, and what you want to do with it. Single mums, well actually all mums really, spend their entire time doing what’s in the best interest of their child, and life revolves around the child. Now is the time to think about what YOU want. Do you want to find a new job? Do you want to start a business? Perhaps you want to start studying something? Maybe you want to pack yourselves up, and go backpacking? The possibilities are endless.
5. Work out your budget
You need to sit down and work out your budget ASAP. Things will be different now that you don’t have an income. Work out exactly how much money you have coming in, and work out all of your expenses. Unfortunately the bills won’t stop coming in. Download this budget spreadsheet template to help you out. It’s a good idea to keep a money diary for a week. Write down every little thing you spend money on, and then take a good look at it at the end of the week. What can you cut out? Do you really need that take away coffee every day? Can you stop any subscriptions? Can you shop around for cheaper private health insurance? Perhaps you need to cancel that gym membership for a while? Also, use a redundancy pay out to pay off any credit cards or other debts, if you can.
6. Take action
Now that you have registered the news, and thought about options, it’s time to take action. What do you need to do to put your choices into action? Do you need to update your resume or references? Do you need to enrol in a course? Figure out a plan, and take action.
I do believe that things happen for a reason, and that good things can come out of negative situations. As for me, I’ll be working on my passion project (Single Mother Survival Guide) and also starting a business. So get out there and start the next chapter of your life. Good luck! #YOLO