Breaking Free from the Golden Handcuffs


We’d had several discussions before, but this one was different. This time he didn’t just listen, he heard me loud and clear. I came home from work that day not just angry, not just shedding a few tears, but literally sobbing, which quickly escalated to a bout of dry heaves and breathlessness. I couldn’t take it any longer. “I know we have dreams of buying a bigger house on the water, but what’s the purpose if we can’t enjoy it,” I told him. I am working a full-time job (that I despise), while shuffling our three kids around like a deck of cards here and there by myself, while you spend three plus days away traveling for work. My desire to be the best at everything I set my mind to do is in overdrive, but the sad truth is that I’m so overwhelmed that everything I do is falling far short of perfection. The even sadder truth is that the ones I love most are suffering because of my heightened anxiety to perform. I can’t do this anymore!

The golden handcuffs of a good paying job is like honey to your lips; once you have a taste, it’s hard to quit.

On several occasions, my husband and I would have conversations about how much I hated my job, but he was always quick to remind me that I was so good at it. It’s an easy job for you, Ashley, he would say. People love and respect you. Part of that was true. I am a people person and I do have great relationships. You can like a person, but that doesn’t mean you like what theyBreaking free from the golden handcuffs represent. My customers loved seeing me, but they hated the products I sold, therefore they weren’t happy to see me for work purposes. Sounds like a dream job, right? We would continue these conversations around our dreams of owning a bigger house on waterfront property. “The truth of the matter is, Ashley, the numbers don’t add up. If you want this big house on the water, then you must keep working,” my husband said. Hearing that statement was like a punch in the gut.

So many emotions were running through my mind. I hated to get text messages of my baby boys’ giggles from my nanny. Those were my giggles that I should get to hear in person, not over the phone. I hated receiving updates from friends that went on school trips with my children while I was at work. I know they were being kind to keep me in the loop, but I wanted to be that mom that was having fun on the field trip too. I wanted to earn money to help purchase mine and my husband’s dream house on the water. I also needed that money to help fund my dream job of becoming a published author, but I hated the job that I was doing and I hated that I spent most of my time doing a job that I hated away from my family. So many conflicting emotions were constantly running through my mind, leaving me with no real direction of which way I should go.

Words that punched me right in the gut

One evening after a grueling day of work, I picked up my younger boys from the nanny and my daughter from the after-school program where she stayed until I got off work. At nearly 5:30 in the evening, I was just getting home to start the regular chores of homework, laundry, and dinner. My middle son was begging me to go out on that sunny evening to play baseball with him, and the baby was screaming and ready to be fed. My daughter had homework to do, but was so over school because she’d been there since 7 am that morning and only wanted to play outdoors with her neighborhood friends. As I began to lay down the law of YOU WILL NOT PLAY until your homework is done, the crocodile tears began to flow from my daughter. She glared at me with those glassy eyes and yelled, “You can’t tell me what to do because you’re like my step mom, you’re never here.” The words she said cut like a knife. It was then that I realized the burdens I had been carrying were now being unloaded on my family too.

My kids are only little once. Their hearts are mine to nurture. There will NEVER be a house big enough to make up for a lifetime of missed opportunity. The golden handcuffs of worldly values can never amount to the value of quality time with my family. Maybe the numbers don’t add up because we are not living within our means. Maybe we are living so big and so large to keep up with everyone else. Maybe it’s time we cut back and just be content with what we have in the here and the now. Maybe if we are true to ourselves, the financials will fall into place. Maybe for now it’s time to truly, “Whine Down” and reclaim the truly valuable asset of time.

Time to make a decision

Recently, I stepped back from my full-time day job to be a full-time work-from-home mom. Believe me, this gig is much, much harder than it looks, but it is truly rewarding to be able to have this time with my children and focus on my dreams. Whether you are a working mom in the work force, a working mom from home, or a stay at home mom, the title M-O-M means you have the hardest job in the entire world. You have a job that demands your attention 24/7 and requires you to be at your best 110% of the time.

Breaking Free from the Golden HandcuffsAs for me, I’ve had the experience of being both a working mom, as well as a work-from-home mom, and I can honestly say that both are extremely difficult. However, for me, when I was spending my time away from family in an environment that was unfulfilling, the challenges were heightened. The golden handcuffs of work were tight, but once broken, the burden was lifted and this amazing feeling of freedom, relief, and happiness set in. I’ve always heard this saying, when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. This, my friends, is so true.

When your heart is happy, your mind is clear. When your mind is clear, your dreams are too. When you are happy, you are unstoppable. Fear kept me from leaving a situation that was draining and exhausting. Comfort kept me in a position that helped us get by. Fear and comfort muddied the waters of my mind and suppressed my potential for reaching higher. I’m now living my “Whine Down” dream. I have my kids, a strong vision, and much determination. Life is too short to not do what you love. Embrace the art of selfishness and make time for you to focus on what you love and what makes you most happy. You are never at your best inside your comfort zone, so I encourage you to free yourself from the golden handcuffs and find some “Whine Down” time for yourself!

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Ashley Smith was born and raised a southern girl in the small town of Valdosta GA. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Speech Communications and it was there she met and married her HOT and oh so supportive husband, Olin! She and Olin live on James Island where they raise their 3 children Nona Wynn (6), Caston (4), and Reyns (5 months). Ashley works a very demanding full time job as a medical device representative. She also works full time as a mom and entrepreneur. How you ask? That’s a good question. If it weren’t for my “Whine Down Time” I would be insane but my Whine Down Time helps to give me a renewed energy. Whine Down Time is a company I founded and it is a lifestyle movement for busy women like you and me to embrace the art of selfishness and “Whine Down.” Check us out at and follow us on all social media outlets! We’d love to have you join the Whine Down group! Women are wired like electronics…we all work best when unplugged for a bit!