My lovely fellow contributor, Theresa, recently wrote a thoughtful post called, Top 5 Reasons I’m NOT a Stay at Home Mom. It came from a place of honesty. I appreciate that she shared her experiences without perpetuating the tension of the Mommy Wars—because I am so over all of that. We are all on the same team! (#TeamMom)
Theresa was smart enough to point out that all of our situations are unique, and I want to expand the conversation by sharing my family’s situation and what works for us. I have a 7 year old son, a three year old daughter, and a one year old daughter. I worked full-time when my son was born and for the first year or so of his life. I took a year off and then went back to work for a year before deciding to stay at home again. I have been a stay at home mom since he was 3 and my daughter was born. I have had a part-time job here and there, but it has always been 10 hours or less a week and a job in which my children can go to work with me. In the end, being a stay at home mom works for my family, and here’s why:
1. For us, it makes (better) sense financially.
Between after school care for my oldest and full time care for my younger two, a good portion of my income (if I were to work) would be eaten up in childcare costs. Add in gas, a work wardrobe, and other work incidentals, and I wouldn’t be making much (or any) money. I had some practice at living off a single income which helped. When my oldest was quite young, my husband was out of the country for a period of time, and I supported my son and myself. I think that made some of the sacrifices easier after he returned and I became a stay at home mom for the long haul.
2. I’m a better stay at home mom than I am an employee/mom.
I’m not a perfect mom, but on most days, I feel like I’m an ok-to-good mom. When my oldest was born, and I still worked full-time, I did not feel like a good mom. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel like a good employee either. I was pulled in both directions and couldn’t make either work. I knew I was not doing what I needed to at work, and that worry only worsened the situation. I was too tired after work to be the mom I wanted to be and too weary from having an infant (and feeling serious mom guilt) to be the teacher and employee I wanted to be as well. It took a little bit of time, but my husband and I eventually realized that we could change things for the better.
3. I chose the lesser of two timing evils (for me).
When I worked full-time, the last 30 minutes of the day were eternally long. Wow, did that half of an hour drag! The time between 4 pm and 8 pm. is the longest four hours of my day now. Everyone is tired, hungry, and cranky. The time is full of cooking, playing, eating, bathing, and reading. It’s chaotic, but that intensity helps me feel that the two hours of “rest” I enjoy before going to bed feel truly earned. My kids call the bath tub water while it drains a water tornado. Those five minutes it takes for the water tornado to finish are the looooongest five minutes ever. I often stand there, willing that water to just. get. down. the. drain. The thing is, bath time just before the water tornado is full of giggles and cuteness, and the bedtime story time right after will be full of snuggles and coziness. I will take that neverending water tornado over the last 30 minutes of a work day—any day. (Granted, if I worked full-time I would still have the water tornado, but then I would have the last 30 minutes of the work day AND the water tornado, and I just can’t take both, y’all.)
4. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
I just sorta fell into my career before I had kids. I hadn’t planned on it, and it never felt 100% right. When I graduated from college, I worked at a bookstore trying to figure out what to do. A coworker suggested that teaching at a Montessori school might be a good fit for me. She knew a school that was hiring, I applied, and I got the job. I loved the Montessori method (still do!), and there were a lot of things about teaching that I adored. At times, I felt confident and proud of my abilities in the classroom, but often, I looked around and felt like all the other teachers were better at teaching than I was. I knew and assumed I would be a mom one day, and I felt like that’s what I was meant to be—and still believe that. As far as a future career, I will just have to figure that out later on.
5. I like being a stay at home mom.
I like the routine of taking my son to and from school and spending the day with my daughters. I like having the freedom to run errands during business hours and do arts and crafts with my daughters whenever we want. I like the flexibility of my days and the freedom to stay home or go out. The freedom and flexibility are both things I craved when I was working. Now that I have those things and I get to spend so much time with my children, I feel incredibly lucky!
I regularly look at job ads and always come back to the same conclusion: being a stay at home mom is what works for us right now. It’s what makes sense for us and what makes us happiest. What works for your family right now?