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April Malone, the host of Yes, I Work From Home, does a solo episode this week and shares portions of her own story about working from home for 12 years through 5 moves while going from a single woman to a mother of three. She talks about how bad weather played a role in her getting her first work-from-home job and how she kept that same job through several big moves. April talks about some of the different ways she's set up her offices in her various homes, including some of the things that worked and didn't work as well. When the department she worked for decided to downsize, she reveals how a random side-gig became a full-time job for over 2 years during a time of transition.
If you'd like to be a guest on the Yes, I Work From Home Podcast, please go to www.yesiworkfromhome.com/podcast/guest and click on the first big green "guest interview" button to let us know more about you and your work-from-home life. We are on the lookout for people with interesting stories about how they're making their WFH life work, whether you're working for yourself or someone else. You can also recommend someone else who you think would be a great fit for this podcast using the second green button "guest recommendation."
Find out more about our host, April Malone, and Yes, I Work From Home at our website https://www.yesiworkfromhome.com
If you work from home as an remote work/teleworking employee, freelancer, independent contractor, or entrepreneur, please join our work-from-home community on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/yesiworkfromhomecommunity
Hello, hello! My name is April Malone; I am with Yes, a work from home, and this is the podcast. Today, as you may have noticed, I don't have a guest with me, this is going to be my story. You're going to learn a little bit about how I have been working from home for 12 years and why and how and where.
But, before I get into that, I do want to take a moment and invite you to be a guest on the show. I actually have a website. You can go to www.yesiworkfromhome.com/podcast. If you go there, you'll see two buttons. You can either look at all the episodes, or you can click on "become a guest." You can also go to www.yesiworkfromhome.com/podcast/guest. And on here, you're going to find a few buttons. It's going to do a little description of who we're looking for and a little bit about the kinds of people we are hoping to have on our show. Basically, if you are an entrepreneur or an employee of any sort, freelancer, teleworker, remote worker, and you have an interesting story. Maybe you've overcome some challenge and been able to live a better life because you're working from home; or maybe you were forced to work from home from circumstances that are outside of your control. Whatever your story is, we would like to hear more about you. You can click on the button that says "guest interview," and there it will open up a form. You can fill out a few questions about yourself--some of them are optional, some of them are not. Just let us know why you might want to be on the podcast, who you serve. I just want to mention something about my guests, and you may have noticed this if you have listened to some of the previous podcast episodes. We will let you share what you want to share. If you are interested in promoting the product that you are serving people who work from home with; like, for instance, if you are offering coaching or consulting services for people who work from home as far as accountability, productivity, tech resources, something like that, we want to hear all about it. You can tell us how to find you, where you are, what you sell, and all of those things, that's great. If you're an employee and you don't feel comfortable sharing your personal contact information or even the name of your employer, that's fine. You don't have to. So, if you do go back and listen to some of these episodes, you might hear some of those people are sharing, some of them aren't. It's what comfortable for you. And I'm great with all of that. This is a diverse podcast. I like variety. So the niche that I am serving are the people who work from home or the work from homers or whatever you want to call--some people say homeys, whatever you want to call yourself, that's fine, remote worker, teleworker, entrepreneur. We want everyone to feel comfortable here. What we have in common isn't maybe the dollar amount that we make every month or, you know, the kind of lifestyle that we live; but what we have in common is that we all work from home, and we're trying to juggle our lives--a home office or desk sitting in the middle of who knows, the kitchen or living room, and, also, you know, working and living in the same space. So that's what we're about. If you're interested in being a guest, I would love to have you fill out that form. You can send me a message again in like Facebook Messenger, I'm out there: April K Malone. You can find me. So all right, without further ado, I am going to get into telling you my story.
Okay, so this is like a story in five parts. I have lived in five different houses; and I just want to talk a little bit about what that's like and how I started there.
Okay, so I graduated from college. Now, I actually studied music and art; and I had a bachelor's. I studied at Wisconsin--University of Wisconsin--River Falls, and it's a beautiful small town, about maybe 2000 people on campus. I really had a good time there. I really enjoyed the art side of it more than I thought. I went in as a music major, thinking I would be a music educator. And, after observing a few classes in the public schools, I was like, you know what, this probably isn't gonna be for me, I'm not really interested in having to learn how to play every band instrument and be able to instruct and lead, you know, larger ensembles like that, because I didn't personally have a lot of experience in that setting. I was more of a solo pianist, if you will. And, again, I think some of it comes to personality. I realized that I didn't have as much training as some of my colleagues did. So, if I started, you know, my high quality piano lessons later in my, you know, even into my teen years, some of my competitors or classmates or colleagues, whatever you want to call them, they had been taking really great piano lessons since the age of three. So, I discovered that I was good at photography. I really enjoyed it and started to spend a lot more time in the photography studio as well as the pottery studio. Now, while I was in college, I had the opportunity to go on a trip down to Peru. There was a local church that I was involved in, and we just spent two weeks in Peru, going into lots of schools, elementary schools, middle schools, maybe even high schools, public and private; and it was just a really amazing experience. And when I graduated, I had the opportunity to travel again with that same organization. for four months. I did like an internship with them. It was a team of about 16 people, we were supposed to go to India, let's see, three countries in Africa, Bulgaria, and Kosova/Kosovo. But my team ended up doing a little bit of a different route, because we have such a big team, they split us up. So, I ended up in the Dominican Republic twice and Puerto Rico and then Kosovo, and we had a little bit of a layover in Switzerland while we were waiting for the visas to come through for Africa that never came through. So, some of my teammates did get to go to India. I have not been there. I still have the visa in my passport that has now since expired, but this was about 20 years ago, right when I graduated in 2000. So, when I when I graduated from college, I kind of felt like it was harder for me to know what I was going to do than it was when I graduated from high school. When you graduate from high school, everyone's like, you know, what do you want to be? What do you want to study? What do you want to do? And I knew I wanted to go to college. Well, when I graduated, that's when it got really tricky. I had always hoped that maybe I would get married young and have a big family. My parents actually had 10 kids. So, you know, that was kind of my dream. I don't know? Just so you know, like, disclaimer, or spoiler alert--I only ended up having three children. We got married when I was 31 years old. So, anyway, to go back to the college years, I always had my eye set on, you know, something that I could do from home while I was raising my family. And then life kind of through a different curveball at me, and I didn't get married for another 10 years.
So, I ended up being encouraged to apply for a position at Mayo Clinic. So, I grew up in southeastern Minnesota; and there's a big clinic there. It's a big, world famous medical center. And they were doing a sponsored program for people who wanted to become medical secretaries and transcriptionists. And I did kind of like typing. I wasn't really interested in the desk work or the medical side of things. Never felt very comfortable about blood. I never had a desire to be in nursing or anything like that. But it was paid, and they were going to pay you to go through their training for three months. And I did talk about this a little bit in, I think it was Episode 5, a friend of mine who's also medical transcriptionist, we chatted a little bit about some of this.
I went ahead and took this job to do this medical secretary training/transcription. And at the time, they weren't allowing people to work from home; but my parents were kind of like, "But, maybe in the future, that would be the sort of thing that you could do from home." And I was like, "Whatever." And I took the job with the expectation that I would only fulfill the one-year requirement. If they sent you through the training, they expected that you would go ahead and work for them for a year.
So, fast forward, 17 years later, I'm still employed by the same company. And isn't that how it is with a lot of people? It's like, once you get those health benefits, or, you know, that regular paycheck, it's kind of difficult to turn it down. I did go ahead and got a master's degree. I got my master's degree in adult education. I'd considered for a while going into art education, maybe doing like the K-12 certification and being an art teacher, and I discovered that it would take me longer to get that K through 12 certification than it would be for me to actually just do my master's degree. So I got the master's degree in adult education, and I feel like a lot of the things that I've learned in that program were complementary. A lot of the things that I learned when I was studying the Montessori method that we have used at times with our children, a lot of it has correlation with the adult education as well.
So why did I stay in that job for 17 years? Well, let me tell you, I ended up being onsite with them for, I want to say, about seven years. I did a little bit of a float secretary work and then I worked for a urologist, all of the parts that have to do with urology would be things like, well, the male infertility and the prostate cancer and some of the bladder stuff that's all kind of tied in there. We did have female urology as well. I was on the most of the time with guys. It was okay. I worked for a great doctor and had some really great colleagues there, and it was fine.
But, when I got my master's degree, there was a really bad year for weather that year. If you've ever lived in Minnesota, you know what I'm talking about. In the year 2007, there was just an unprecedented number of blizzards that year. The wind was very strong. It was very cold. The snow was very dry, and when that wind came, it would just be whiteout conditions--a lot. And I was driving about an hour every day to get to work. I was driving from a small town called Austin, Minnesota, to Rochester; and interstate 90 goes from that. And there's a lot of windmills out there--for a reason, because it's so windy. And I would be driving, and I was white knuckling it almost every day. Because, even if the skies are clear, you never know if things are going to be blowing across the street, across the highway. Black ice is a thing, and it is just really easy to wipe out. So you would--sometimes you'd be driving along, and there'd be 30 cars in the ditch kind of thing. So not really great on the peace in my life. I felt like I was going to die almost every single day as I was commuting to work which is not a good thing to feel like every day for an hour.
So, it was Christmas Day. It's like that breaking point, you know. I'm going to tell you my story of how it all came down. But on Christmas day, I was trying to drive home. It was about a 35-minute drive to my parents house. And, again, it was whiteout conditions. It was about 20 below zero Fahrenheit, and I had a friend, a young gal was with me to come and celebrate the holiday with us, just to kind of be part of our family, an extension of our family for that weekend. And we were about 10 minutes from my parents' house, and I got notification from my family that the rest of the relatives who were all traveling all stopped and turned around and got home again safely, because it just wasn't safe enough for them to go that last 10 miles. And when I got to that point where everyone else turned around, my car broke down. I also got notification that the highway was closed and that there would be no tow trucks. And I felt like I was a sitting duck in the middle of this whiteout condition on the side of the highway, but not that far over. I felt like if a plow were to come by, it would totally just smash us to smithereens. So thankfully, my father, my step-dad was able to come and rescue us. It was his $100 K-car, I think he had. It was the kind of car where you could see--I thought this is like a thing that people would make jokes about, but you could actually literally see the road through the floorboards, there was like a hole down there; and I'd never been so happy to be in a car in my life. So, my dad came and rescued us and got us home. And my mom had prepared food for, I don't know, 20-30-40 people; and it was just the immediate family. Again, I am one of 10 kids, so it's still kind of a crowd even just to go home there. But my mom said, "April your face is white as a sheet." You know, "You look like you saw a ghost, do you need to take a minute?" And, so, we went back into the bedroom; and I just started to sob, and I've never really felt like I had, you know, a panic attack or a meltdown like that; but that really definitely was one of those moments where it was like, I just knew that this life that I had been living, you know, driving and commuting and, working where I was, was just gonna have to come to a halt. I couldn't do this anymore. And I told her, I'm like, "Mom, I love my family. I love you--all of you guys, but I can't live here. I can't stay here in Minnesota any longer. This is the last winter. I can't do it again." And I had been saying this for about 10 years, but this was like, you know, the straw that broke the camel's back sort of situation. And I was just finishing up my master's degree. I had, I think, one semester left. And, so, I did have some friends that had moved down to Springfield, Missouri. And I had gone and visited them a few times and made a lot of friends actually, some of their community was just really welcoming; and I really liked what was happening down there. I liked the weather a lot. People that live in Missouri don't think that they're South, but for me, coming from Minnesota, it felt very warm. There wasn't a lot of snow in the winter--just, yeah. It wasn't 20 below ever. So, I decided. I set my sights on that city. I had to pick. I had a friend who was trying to convince me to come out to Billings, Montana, I think it was; and that, to me, would be more of a lateral move, also cold and blizzardy. Sometimes they would even get snow before we would in Minnesota; so, I was able to rule that out pretty easily and went ahead and found a place down in Missouri.
Well, in the meantime, I was job hunting for positions in Missouri. But the problem was that--their cost of living is so low and so amazing, they don't need to pay, I guess, as high of wages. So, in Missouri, the wages are not nearly what they are in Minnesota; and I was struggling to find something that would pay me more than I was already making--or even half of what I was already making. Some of the jobs I was looking at that required like a master's degree were literally paying half of what I was already making as an hourly employee, as a secretary. And, coincidentally, at the same time, Mayo Clinic announced that they were going to finally expand their transcription program to work from home. So, they were starting to allow the people who wanted to work from home to make that transition. They had beefed up the security enough, as far as confidentiality and those things are concerned that they felt comfortable letting people work from their home. And there was a whole transition, a lot of trainings and, you know, rules and protocols in place about protecting the medical record and patient confidentiality stuff. And, so, they had just kind of been piloting that right around the same time that I was looking for a job. I went ahead and applied for two of the different positions, and I got the second one. And I think they required me to do my training onsite for, it was supposed to be three months, and I was able to complete it in about two, two and a half to two months. So I went ahead and purchased a house down in Missouri. So my first day on the job officially as work from homer--I'm just gonna say it awkwardly every single time--someone who works from home, was in my new house down in Missouri. Well, in order to be able to accomplish that, I had to have certain things in place. They required me to have my internet wired into the same room that I was working from. So, I'd either have to like go into my house and find out where the cable was or the DSL hookup was and choose to put my office there, or I would have to have those guys come and like drill holes into my wall and set up my office wherever I wanted, as long as they routed everything into that room. Well, I had them route those wires into three different rooms in my house, just in case I changed my mind. So, I had an upstairs bedroom and a front office and, also, like a dining area where I could have set up my office; and I ended up keeping everything up in this bedroom upstairs. And it was nice. It was a four bedroom house. I was single, I was living alone. I had a guest room, my bedroom, an office, and a library. And that was a pretty sweet deal. I eventually got roommates, and I eventually got married. And we eventually had a baby. And I was able to keep that same office that whole time.
So, then, when I got married--I met my husband; and even, while I think we were dating, it was pretty apparent that he would be graduating from his degree soon and would be pursuing a second grad school. He wanted to transfer and study. He was studying one thing, and he wanted to study and a complementary thing to that. So we ended up--we knew that there wouldn't be a program for him in the city that we lived in, and it was inevitable that we would have to move. And I knew that going into the relationship. And sure enough, we had a baby; and about six months later, we moved to Illinois. And I have interviewed some people from Illinois. I've interviewed some people from Springfield and Minnesota--you can kind of see where I've made my connections here.
So, once we went to Illinois, we ended up downsizing from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom house. And the second bedroom was itty bitty. It was more like a little breezeway/walkthrough, like extended large closet; but that was where we put the baby. So, I didn't really have an office; and we had a very long, narrow living room; and we were able to just take some of the bookshelves that I had from the little library that I had at the previous house; and we kind of like--I don't know, we stacked them together in an L shape, and we put brackets on all of them and kind of jimmy-rigged a little, like, I don't know, an L-shaped office in the back. We were able to put up a baby gate so the baby would stay out when she started to crawl and walk and everything and would get into the wires; and, so, we baby gated it. I think we even had two baby gates on that thing.
And it was it was okay. When I was working at night. As I mentioned in the past, I worked overnights when I was doing this transcription job. And that was kind of like the low man on the totem pole, you get the worst schedule; and, then, eventually, you'll try to move up. Well, I ended up keeping that evening, you know, it was like 11pm until 9am schedule. It was kind of convenient, because I had the baby sleeping, and then we didn't have to pay for full-time daycare while I was working. My husband would go to school in the daytime, and I would sleep with a baby for a few hours. Sometimes we would hire like a mother's helper or I would call it like a part-time nanny, who would usually come in for about four hours, when I was working three to four days a week. That helped me get those three to four hours of sleep that I needed to kind of survive those years of having a baby and working. So that worked okay, except for it was open air. So if anyone is ever trying to set up an office in your home, and you are going to be on the phone or you have like a very sound sensitive job, so I was trying to listen to these dictators, the people that are doctors who were trying to like, you know, narrate their medical records--I'd be trying to listen to these foreign doctors or people who would talk very fast, and I'm trying to type what they're saying. And it was really crucial that you hear correctly, because you don't want to make a mistake in the medical record.
So the trick with that whole office setup was that I couldn't hear very well if my husband was like, say, watching a movie or something. Or if the kids would wake up and would be crying. And sometimes I'd even have to answer the phone and talk to someone, say, in the emergency room about a priority rushing note or something like that. So one way that we were able to solve that problem is that my husband, he couldn't listen to the TV on regular volume; but he could get a headset. And so he got like, headphones; and, then, he got one of those extension cords that you could basically, you know, have an eight foot cord. So he could have the TV on the wall and then he would sit eight feet away on the couch, and I couldn't hear his show which was great for us. So that's one way that we were able to survive those years. It was a good time in Illinois. We lived really close to the school. He was able to take his bike, and it was about a one mile from the front door to his office. And we just were able to get by with one car since I--when I first started working from home, about a month, maybe three weeks later, after I moved and started working from home in my first house in Missouri, my car broke down. And it was the first time I never had to commute. So it was terrible not having a car. I would have to like walk to the grocery store or you know, take a bus or something like that. Some friends loaned me a car for a while, which is wonderful. But we never had to get a second car. We were able to live off of one car, because I always worked from home; and we could either just share or he could ride a bike.
So, then we ended up moving back to Missouri. We wanted to live in the house that we owned. That's another story for another day. I won't even get into that. But, long story short, the house was not available. It was occupied by other people and then also roaches and fleas. And, so, we had to rent another house. I was about seven months pregnant at the time with our third child when we moved back to Missouri. And it was just a temporary situation where we were hoping to just live there while we had the baby and while my husband continued his job hunt. So when he eventually got the job in Arizona, we moved again. So, we had about 10 months in this kind of like rental house. It was three bedrooms. We had the the two kids in one bedroom together and, then, thankfully there was that third bedroom where I was able to set up my office. And he also had his office in the same room, so that he was job hunting; and I was working from the same space. There's not really a lot to talk about with that one, other than the fact that I had to, every single time I moved, I always had to have the cable guy come out or the DSL people to drill holes into my walls. And that that has basically happened to every single house that I've ever lived at. When we looked at possibly moving back into the house that we owned, I was going to switch from DSL to cable. I felt that cable was a little bit more secure and fast and dedicated. I felt like I wasn't having to share that line with all of the other people as far as like speed. So, I did pay for the people to move the the cable once again to the house that I had already put like three different places, I had them install cable; and then we ended up never living there. So, fun times.
My husband did get a job in Arizona; and we had a very, very short amount of time to basically get rid of half of our possessions and move across the country. And, so, that was interesting. Our baby was about 8-1/2 months old when we moved, and she learned how to walk the same week that we were unpacking our house. And, again, it was fun times. So, in the rental house that we lived in Arizona when we first got here, we chose to rent because my husband was in a contract position--it was a two-year contract; and we didn't know if it would be wise to try to buy, not knowing if it was going to be a permanent job. We had learned that the hard way with the house that we had in Missouri.
So that was a four-bedroom house. It was a sort of situation where we didn't really have a lot of choice of what we ended up living in that time, because the housing market was so crazy, even for rentals. Rentals will be snatched up before you could even go see it. When we flew into town, I think there were 20 houses on the list that we wanted to look at, and the night before, they were only 12 left; and the morning that we were able to finally get out and go see houses, there were four. And the fourth one was gone before we could even see it. So, basically, it came down to we had to just sign the paperwork before we could even see anything else. We just had to, because we had to fly out the same day. So, we ended up in this kind of big house which, now we kind of wish that we would have stayed there; because it was bigger than the one that we're in now. But four bedroom again--we had that office space, which was nice. I liked it, because I was able to position my desk so that I could see out the door if the door is open, like if I wanted to be able to see my family; but I could also close that door. And it was just so nice, again, to have a door that would close and even lock if I needed to.
And then, now, we are in another city in Arizona. And that leads us to the house that we're in now. So, we moved to be closer to the kids' school which was nice because I don't have to drive 20 minutes every single time I need to drop off the kids or bring them a lunch or go sign a paper or help volunteer. It does it put a little bit longer commute on my husband. He doesn't mind I don't think too much, because he gets 20 minutes of quiet. Maybe he can listen to the radio or a podcast, but we did have to go ahead and upgrade and get a second vehicle at that point. Oh my goodness, we were the people who just wanted a minivan more than anything. When you have three kids across the backseat of a Toyota Corolla for several years and they can all reach each other and hit and kick, there's never anything better than finally being able to separate the kids and give a little bit of space and even fit things into the car. So it's good.
When we moved here, we had all three children into one bedroom; because I needed to work in the third bedroom. It was going to be the office/guest room, but I was working three days a week, four days a week for Mayo Clinic; and they required me to have to two eggresses. So an egress means like an exit/entrance; so, I needed to have like a door and a window or two doors or whatever combination, two ways to get out of a room. When I worked for Mayo Clinic, they actually required us to fill out a checklist. Every single time I moved, I had to show that I had a fire extinguisher and a battery operated flashlight and a few other things to just show that I was in a safe environment. I had to take pictures and show everything. When I worked for Mayo Clinic, they also required us to have a certain amount of ergonomic furniture and desk equipment and setup, and they provided some of those things. They provided a split keyboard and an ergonomic mouse with, like, a trackball. They gave us the monitors, and they gave us instructions about how to set up the monitor so that they would be, you know, an arm's length away and no higher than eye level. They did not provide a chair or desk, and this is where I kind of went wrong. When I started working from home. And I'll go back a little bit.
When I first started working from home by myself in that first house, I bought a chair. It's actually the same no--it's a similar chair to what I'm sitting on right now. Salvation Army would always kind of get the leftover chairs or the surplus chairs from Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and then those of us who started to work from home, we could go and pick them up for $10 or something like that. It was actually a pretty good deal. Well, the first one I got was a little wonky, like it looked right, it had the correct things, it had all the adjustable features, you know, the seat and the tilt, and the angles and the arms and all of those things. It looked great. We were supposed to have an adjustable keyboard tray of some sort. And that's where I went wrong. I bought one. Thankfully, the Salvation Army also had a keyboard tray that you could basically screw into a table or a desk, and that would give you the flexibility to move the tray to, you know, to be a comfortable height. Well, I bought it; but I didn't install it. So they required us to send pictures of our setup. And I did. I took the pictures of my--it was just a regular folding table, but if I had the ergonomic keyboard tray, that would have been okay. Well, I'm a very honest person overall; but that day, I had good intentions. I thought "Well, I'll just take the picture really quick." And, so, I laid the the keyboard tray across the arms of my chair; and then I never got around to actually installing it. Well, fast forward a year from then, I couldn't work. My arms were hurting so bad, I thought I had carpal tunnel. And a part of it was just because I never properly set up my keyboard to be adjustable. So I was kind of like--I thought if I just left my arms kind of in a straight position that that would, you know, work. But I think I was holding my arms out in an awkward position, which probably was creating a lot more strain on my shoulders and my arms and my wrists. So I was icing myself and using ibuprofen. I was having people massage--I think I met my husband during that time. So, he would sometimes massage my arms, just trying to help me get through a shift. It was hard. I actually ended up in a car ride nine hours back to Minnesota. My supervisor said, you know, if I couldn't work my full shift that I would need to be seen. And, you know, the best place to be seen when you work for Mayo Clinic is Mayo Clinic. So I hopped in the car and drove there. And the guy, he gave me two pieces of advice that really cured me. I thought perhaps he was going to tell me that I had carpal tunnel and that I would need surgery. And, thankfully, it wasn't that. The tendinitis was mostly just coming from me being stressed, working hard, and never taking a break away from the computer. I wasn't stretching. He said you can't just do your banking and surf the internet on your 15-minute break. Because, you know, we were required to take a 15 minute break and a lunch. Every four hours, we were given 15 minutes, and then every eight-hour shift, you would get your lunch, either 30 to 60 minutes. But instead of actually like leaving my computer and going and stretching or walking or exercising, I would just sit there eating at my computer and checking my personal email or, who knows? I think there was a lot of online banking happening and maybe--I don't even know if Facebook existed back then? 2008? Yeah, I think. You know, just surfing the web and not leaving. So he said not only do you need to take a 15-minute break and your lunch away from your computer, but you need to take micro breaks as well. He said you need to every hour, you know, stand up, move, stretch. Even if you're reading, you know, your work, you can do some of these kind of yoga moves. You can do the praying hands, palms together, stretch down, back and forth a little bit.
He just taught me several things, and any person can look up these things. I know my husband actually now where he works, they even have it built into their system. I think sometimes it maybe disrupts their work, but it's kind of like a mandatory rest break, where the computer basically says "It's time to stretch now, here's some things you could do" and even shows you a video of how you can do them. Now, if people are compliant with that, they probably wouldn't have as much pain. But I know it's easy to blow those things off and maybe even bypass them at times. And that's what I was doing. I knew what to do, I know how to do it, I knew I should do it; but, kind of like, you know, taking good care of your body, eating correctly, exercising, being good with your money, we always know what we should do, but we don't always do it in practice. And that's what happened to me. So I learned the hard way. You know, ergonomics are not a sexy thing to talk about. Nobody likes to talk about ergonomics. Nobody thinks that they need that, but I learned the hard way that you do. I'm thankful that I didn't need surgery. I'm thankful that it didn't get so bad. It never--I've had a few flare ups in the past few years, you know, that maybe last a couple of days, but nothing ever again, like what I experienced that summer.
So moving forward, here I am in this new house, we have three bedrooms, I'm in the spare bedroom; and my in-laws wanted to come and visit. Well, I didn't really have another place to work that would have had two eggresses. I would have had to bring this desk into my bedroom. And we were going to just do that temporarily. But it was a little bit more than just that. I wasn't only working for Mayo Clinic at that point. I was working about 33 hours a week for Mayo Clinic, I think it was like three days one week and 4 the next. But then I had picked up an extra little side gig. I started teaching English in the middle of the night to students in China. Super fun job. It was the sort of thing that I kind of felt like, you know, 33 hours a week with Mayo was pretty good; and I was able to work extra hours often if I wanted to. But things were kind of starting to shift and change. And I kind of wondered what was going to happen next. Sometimes they weren't offering those extra hours. I had always for, you know, the better part of 10 years, been able to work as many hours as I wanted, sometimes 40 sometimes 50 or 60. When my husband was job hunting, and we had the baby, I was working a lot of hours during those years. But it kind of felt like I wasn't getting any of that extra time anymore. And, so, when I saw an advertisement on Facebook, it was VIPKID. I know a lot of people have worked for them now, and it's kind of a household name, I think, these days. A lot of people know someone who has supplemented their income in some way by teaching for one of these online English as a second language programs. It kind of struck my fancy. I was like, "Oh, what is this?" And I think within a week I was hired. Within a week I was teaching for this new company and still working my Mayo job. And then, after I'd log off for Mayo Clinic, I would log in, and start teaching these kids. It was so fun. So, the conundrum that I had when my in-laws wanted to come to visit was that they needed to have the spare bedroom. We didn't want to put them up in the living room with an air mattress. We were like "You can have the bedroom, but I'm going to have to move all my stuff out." And moving into my bedroom wouldn't have been a very big deal when it came to doing the transcription work, but the teaching part is loud. I was singing. I was playing my melodica which is like a little organ thing that you play with your mouth--looks like a piano. Really loud and annoying. I'd be singing Happy Birthday and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes at four o'clock in the morning. And so I didn't want to wake up my husband. And I kind of started eyeballing my closet. I decided--my husband was gone, and I just shoved my whole desk in here. All the clothes were in here, and we were able to eventually take the clothes out; and we built some wardrobes. So, I have actually been in this office for about two years, two and a half years now. It's nice because, actually for the podcast, you know, it's quiet, it's small, it's kind of full of stuff. Even though we took the clothes out, I still have a lot of, like, the teaching props that I use. I have a comfortable chair in here. I have--I often have to wear a different colored shirt for some of--I work for two companies now, teaching English. And, so, one is like the orange-themed shirts and the other was red-themed shirts. I started teaching English as a second language for adults as well as children. And the second company that I got hired with, they're called iTutorGroup or TutorABC. They've been around for about 20 years. They have a twenty-four/seven schedule. So, when I was working for VIPKID, I could only work either 6pm at night to 6am in the morning. Sometimes it would be 7am in the morning, just depending on the restrictions at the time. More recently, they cut us off at 6am here in Arizona. China is 15 hours ahead of us here in Arizona. And so their 6pm is our 3am. So, if I want to like work during their primetime hours, I wake up at three o'clock in the morning, or sometimes I was waking up at two o'clock in the morning to start teaching. I've been living that life for a few years. So, I did shift from working those overnight hours for Mayo Clinic to shifting to working overnight hours for VIPKID. Eventually, shortly after I did accept the teaching job with VIPKID, Mayo Clinic announced that they were going to be offering a separation package. And that just meant that they were going to be downsizing in the department, but they didn't want to force anyone to leave at that time. They were going to just let people choose if they wanted to go; and if they did, you would basically receive something similar to like a severance package. And I had been telling people, "Oh, man, I just really love teaching English so much; but I should probably keep my job with Mayo Clinic, because I've got pension, because I've got these benefits. I have tenure, you know, a few things. I'm good at my job." But, when I knew that they were probably going to be downsizing going forward, I didn't know if I would maybe make the top 10%. You know, if they were only going to be able to keep 10%, I didn't know if I would make that cut. And I would rather leave on my own terms. At that point, my husband's two-year contract position did get changed to a full-time position, and he was offered benefits; and I was able to--I was able to replace my income pretty well, but I did need to work more hours. The 33 hours a week that I was working from Mayo Clinic, they did pay me shift differential which basically just means you get paid an extra bonus for working those terrible hours on the nights and the weekends. The overnight weekend shift differential was significant. So that was kind of a loss for me. I did end up having to work more on the weekend than I wanted to. When I worked for Mayo Clinic, originally, I was working every single weekend, every single month, every single year, for like seven or eight years.
And then when my third baby was born, I was able to negotiate something. They were going to allow people to go down to one out of every six weekends. And I agreed to work one out of every four weekends. I got a little bit of a perk, I guess, as far as my flexibility about those four weekends that I had. But as soon as I started working for the English speaking companies, that's when I had to go back to lots of weekends. I was working 20 hours a week during the weekdays, Monday through Friday. I would get up about two o'clock in the morning and I'd teach until about seven most of the time, five days week; and then I was working every weekend. I would login about 9:30 to 10:30 at night and work until 9:30 in the morning, Friday night and Saturday night, which would equal to be, with my lunch break, about another 20 hours. So I was working full time. And I did this for about two years, but it was brutal in the fact that I never took a day off. There would sometimes be four months or seven months before I would take a day off. Sometimes I would have a smaller shift, and I would only maybe teach two hours instead of five. But it was kind of starting to wear me down when it came to the constant, you know, every single day of every single week working.
So I've been able to find a few ways to get out of that. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I've been able to reduce those hours a little bit. I was able to start interviewing some of the people who wanted to work for the company that teaches kids and adults. And I'm not really doing that actively now. They've had, you know, some changes in the hiring process. They had been hiring people that were speaking English natively and also people who were speaking English as a second language, but at a fluent native-like fluency. And they have adjusted some of those requirements now. So, I'm not really actively recruiting for that company. But I really did enjoy the months when I was interviewing and helping people get hired. I've got the map here and just helping people get set up was really a fun time. I was able to actually take some of the daytime hours when I was teaching for the second company; because, rather than only being for the kids, they were actually teaching adults from around the world. So, there's a lot of these maybe like Chinese speaking families that were coming from, like, say, Mainland China, who would move abroad, a lot of them live in Canada, US, UK, all around Europe and stuff. So, even though they are primarily Mandarin-speaking families, they might live in a different time zone. And, so, if you're consistent with opening your schedule while your kids are at school here in the US, I was able to start filling up those hours. It was kind of wonderful. I thought, now that my daughter is going to be going to kindergarten, my baby is finally going to be in kindergarten, I'm going to finally, after 12 years of working nights and weekends, I'm going to finally be able to work days again. Well, then the pandemic hit.
So that leads us up to now. Currently, we have our three children at home with us. They are still enrolled in their charter school. It's a public charter school, and they are currently taking their classes. I think some of them are even in class right now as I'm recording this. They are taking classes with their teachers in their grade. And my husband and I are both working from home. My husband's position isn't a work-from-home position; but, as of the pandemic, it is. They actually even provided him an allowance to buy a nice sit/stand desk, and they provided him a chair; and they gave him a little bit of extra for his--I think they gave him a monitor, and he was able to buy a keyboard tray or something like that for his desk. And, so it's looking like he's going to be with us semi-permanently, at least at this point. He does go onsite once every seven or eight weeks, if he's on call. Other than that, our whole family is home all the time now. And, so, it is different than when I was working from home by myself. It is different than when I was working at home with just the baby. You know, now we're having to like not only juggle my husband's meetings but also my interviews, if I'm recording or if I'm, you know, doing any kind of consulting or something like that or if I'm teaching. My kids have learned to always go to Daddy if he's in bed, and they're like sick in the night; or if they need something they just go to him. They've learned to not knock on my door repeatedly. If they knock once and I don't answer right away, they know that I'm probably in the middle of teaching or recording. So, we've been able to make it work more or less.
And I don't know what it's gonna look like, you know, going forward. We are planning on having our kids home with us for this year. That's, you know, definitely a change. It's a mindset change. It took about six weeks before I think I really kind of came to grips with the fact that, you know, I am not going to be able to do, you know, these changes that I had wanted. My daughter was a preschooler last year, and she ended up staying home with me for two months. There was something going on with preschool, and we just felt like she would maybe do better with me for a couple of months, working through some things. And I didn't feel like I could get a stitch of work done when I had, you know, my four year old with me. Well, the summer came around, and I looked around; and I'm like, "You know what, I think we're gonna keep our kids home. And I think I'm going to try to start a business." I've had this dream of starting the Yes, I Work From Home podcast and the company for some time, for over a year. And now with the pandemic, I know a lot of people are working from home, I really, really felt like it was, you know, time: "Oh my goodness, a lot of people need the community and to be able to collaborate with others who are like minded or who are living a similar lifestyle." And, so, even though this wasn't great timing, you know, with having all three kids working from home, as well as the two of us working from home, it just felt like it needed to be done. So, in a future episode, I'm going to go ahead and talk about what this company is, what Yes, I Work From Home stands for, what we're going to be doing. Some of the things that we already have in motion and are going to be putting into motion soon. That will be coming forth in them maybe in the next episode, maybe the next one after that. I have a few interviews lined up.
But, again, I just want to say thank you for listening. If you are interested in being a guest on the Yes, I Work From Home show, go ahead and reach out to me. Go ahead and go to www.yesiworkfromhome.com/podcast/guest, singular guest. And you can not only apply to be a guest on the show, but you can also maybe recommend. There's two buttons, actually, the second one is guest recommendation. It basically will pop up a Google form, it's going to ask you for some of your contact information. We are looking for guests who work from home, who also help people who work from home. So you can either have an interesting story about your own employment, about your own family, about where you live or your lifestyle, that's great. If you work from home and you also help people who work from home, we especially want to hear from you. We're looking to find people who help, who can talk about things such as ergonomics, as I was saying, productivity, accountability, health, and wellness.
Again, this has been Yes, I Work From Home, and we look forward to seeing you next time. Take care!