So, You Want To Be A Stay At Home Parent?
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t think I’d want to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). I started the parenting game several years later than most of my friends and was enjoying the fruits of an advancing career. When I became pregnant, I envisioned myself as the kind of mother that would take her three months of maternity leave and then hop right back to work. I was actually in the middle of graduate school pursuing a career change when I delivered my daughter, and then everything changed.
After a painful c-section, my slow recovery and nursing made me realize that my career might have to take a rest on the sidelines. I was realizing how much I love my daughter and wanted to be near her. I didn’t want to miss the newborn stage… or the big baby stage… or toddlerhood…
My ambitions began to change (they don’t for every parent) and my personal situation allowed me the option to be at home with my daughter. I decided that this was a good time for our family for me to be at home, and in a few years I could go back to work.
How in the world did I come to this decision? It wasn’t easy. It took lots of time, deliberation, conversation with my husband, reflection and self-awareness. If you’re considering making the leap to stay at home with your child (mom or dad!), here are a few things to consider:
Your financial situation is unique to you and for better or for worse, your family’s ability to provide for your child is of the utmost importance. If that means staying home because you weren’t making enough to justify the cost of childcare – I get it! If that means staying at work because you need the security of a job, that might be what your family needs right now. Only you and your partner can make this decision.
Your personal physical & emotional needs.
Not every mom wants to stay at home and that’s okay – even good! Ambition is an exciting part of life and mother’s shouldn’t feel pressure to stay home just because she is a woman. That said, many mothers do want to stay at home. You might also be in the season where you are breastfeeding or planning to try for another pregnancy, and it doesn’t make sense to stop and start your career continually at this time. It is a personal choice, and it might help to take several months to really examine what it is that you want out of this season of your life. Talking to a therapist might be a great benefit for this purpose.
Dreaming of more space or paying off debt? Staying at work might help you reach that goal. Know that your job is highly marketable and you’d like a break to have another baby? Maybe now is a good season to stay home. Keep in mind that there are seasons for everything and not every choice you make now will determine the rest of your future.
Once you’ve considered all of the factors that are important to you, how do you actually make the decision? It may seem too simple but start with a pros and cons list. The kind with a piece of paper and a pen. Sit down and do it yourself, and then later ask your partner to weigh in on their own personal pros and cons of the decision. Consider the affected people. Do you need to prepare your boss for a decision or take continuing education classes to update your professional license?
Make a decision, and stick to it with confidence. You are likely to feel a sense of loss for whatever takes a hit in your life as a result of your decision. That’s okay! You can grieve that loss and be excited about your new pursuit at the same time. Look for reasons to be excited in all things. If you look, you really will find them. Ultimately, try to balance your decision on your own needs and the needs of your family as much as possible. You are both equally important!