When I quit my full-time job at a huge, multi-national pharmaceutical company in 2003 knowing that I was giving up a great income, fantastic benefits, and a company car, I didn’t look back. I didn’t regret it for one moment.
After all, at the time I was eight months pregnant with my first child. I was full of excitement for what was in store for me next. And I was fully committed to being a full-time mum. Motherhood was going to be my new job and I was going to be the best mum ever and have the best time ever being that best mum.
Ah, the folly of relative youth…
Relative youth indeed, this photo was taken the night my husband proposed.
We were both very much still caught up in the corporate world then.
Of course, motherhood was and still is a wonderful experience. Everything about being a mother is incredible. And it’s also an incredibly huge learning experience.
After a few months of going cold turkey on the corporate world, I did start to realise that I was the type of person that needed mental stimulation. And if my newborn son was sleeping properly, there were times when I actually had several hours on my hands in which I could do something adult, something for myself.
In the last few months of my pregnancy while I was working full time and feeling more and more uncomfortable as the baby grew, I did become exhausted.
But about six weeks after the baby was born I began to get my energy back. I can remember feeling so much better (and lighter!). Despite the breastfeeding and night-time waking, my body was bouncing back and so was my mind.
Baby Number 1 was a shock to the system. So were the other three...
I still didn’t want to go back to work. I was still committed to spending all of my time with my baby. But I began to entertain the idea of doing something from home, which meant I would have stimulation and contribute but still call myself a full-time mum.
I could have the best of both worlds.
Losing my income was actually impacting on us and I began to feel to effects of giving up my income.
Mental stimulation also kept me balanced.
Contributing to the household and the household income gave me a sense of worth.
Then I discovered the 25 words or less competitions.
You’ve probably seen them. They’ve always been on products as promotions, in newspapers and magazines, and now there are even websites that list the various competitions available. Some people enter these competitions ‘professionally’ – they really make a job of it.
Baby Number 1 growing well. Check. Baby Number 2 on the way. Check.
Blue Mountains Cable Car.
So, me being me, I decided that I’d focus on entering these 25 words or less competitions. I didn’t feel that I had any particular aptitude to winning them, mind you, I just thought I’d give it a go. What did I have to lose? They were free to enter so they cost nothing, but I could win stuff. And you have to be in it to win it.
I would source competitions everywhere. My eyes were always peeled for new opportunities. Anything I saw in the supermarket or a newspaper was fair game.
I started entering competitions.
But I didn’t just send anything off.
I crafted every entry with time and care and effort. I know it’s only 25 words, but it’s actually quite difficult to write something clever, original, funny or engaging in just 25 words.
Sometimes I used poetry. Sometimes I used alliteration or humour. Sometimes I used persuasive language to pull at the heart-strings.
I was entering quite major competitions too, some that offered what I considered to be huge prizes, like holidays.
After a while, I started winning some of these competitions.
Again, me being me, I created a spreadsheet that recorded all of my wins.
The competitions always stated what the prize was worth, so I knew the dollar value I was aiming to win.
Some were small things like chocolate bars, chopping boards, baby outfits, flower bouquets, books, toys, but there were also some major prizes.
Like five nights at the Novotel in Darling Harbour – which I won!
It got to the point where I was receiving packages almost every week. Every few days there would be a package on my doorstep when I got home.
It got to the point that if there wasn’t a package on my doorstep, I would be disappointed. I’d become conditioned to expect something to turn up every week.
This was a strange position to be in. Having gifts, freebies, turn up on your doorstep to the point that you expect them. It was like having Christmas all year round.
And I just kept entering and winning.
It was very addictive.
Instant gratification, winning, opening presents – they’re all very addictive and satisfying.
25 words won my Playgroup a Mothers Morning Tea and Pampering Session from Paradise Foods. In another competition, I won 10 Spot (the Dog) Book Pack Prizes and a Party with a Spot Dress-Up Costume. That was a highlight for the neigbhourhood.
In the first year on my spreadsheet I recorded $11,500 worth of prizes. I couldn’t believe how well I’d done. I was spurred on by this to keep going.
The second year, I got about five or six months through and I’d won $4,500 worth of prizes.
A light bulb went on in my mind.
I'll continue my story in the next blog issue!