As with most every decision in life, the choice to stay at home came with a list of pros and cons. I’ve already detailed my reasons for choosing to stay at home, and now that I am home, it doesn’t mean that life is perfect and without obstacles. But for our family, the pros continue to outweigh the cons, which is the main reason I’m still staying at home.
Here is my personal list of the good and the bad of claiming stay-at-home mom as my job. (There is no ugly, unless you count toddler tantrums, and those are bound to happen whether I’m working or not!)
- The firsts. When I was working, I knew there was a good chance James Michael would experience some of his ‘firsts’ at daycare: his first crawl, his first steps, his first words. It was to be expected because he spent 40+ hours a week with someone else. I tried not to harp on this while I was working, because there was nothing I could do about it at the time. But being home for Beau’s first year has ensured that I am there for all his firsts, and I have really savored them.
- Caring for sick kids. I was very fortunate that James Michael was rarely sick while I was working. The few times he was sick, it was for a very short stint and my job allowed me the flexibility to work from home when needed or leave early to take care of him. I’m not sure what I would have done if I went back to work after having Beau. He was sick the majority of the winter, sleeping upright on my chest at night for weeks at a time. I can’t imagine trying to perform at work after those restless nights, especially because just surviving at home was hard enough.
- Sleep deprivation. Piggy backing on the sleeping deprivation caused by sickness, as a mom you are also deprived just because you have a young baby. Some babies are great sleepers, sleeping through the night at an early age. My babies have not been great sleepers (so far–I’m hoping Scarlett surprises me!). JM and Beau didn’t consistently sleep through the night until they were nearly a year. I remember a particularly tough week when JM was 7 months old or so where he woke up 7 to 8 times a night for a few nights in a row (no idea why because he didn’t get any teeth until 11 months). I had to call into work after a couple nights of that because I was so sleep deprived my body felt sick and nauseous. As a stay-at-home mom, you still encounter sleep deprivation, but your main job is taking care of your kids (something you can do in your sleep–because we all do!) and not being productive at your professional job.
- No worries about work/life balance. When I was working after JM was born, work/life balance was hard. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t have a job that required a lot of extra hours or traveling. But I still felt like I never had enough time with him. I dropped him off at daycare by 7 a.m. and picked him up before 5 p.m., so I got roughly two hours at night with him before bedtime, and often he would fall asleep in the car on the drive home for a quick cat nap, which meant even less time with him. I know that some women work long hours and have much more stressful jobs than the one I had, and I can’t even imagine how they cope with balance.
- Freedom to come and go. This may seem like a minute detail, and maybe it is, but it’s nice to be my own boss–in a sense. Now, admittedly my to-do list grows at a faster rate than I can even begin to check things off, so I’m not much different from working moms in that regard. But I do have a little more freedom in that I can take the boys to my parents’ house for a couple days during the week if needed or rest during their naptime like I did during the first trimester of this pregnancy. I can schedule appointments during the day instead of worrying about how much work I’ll miss (even though it’s a lot of work dragging the boys along with me to each one).
- More time to do stuff I have to do anyway. I’ve already admitted I’m not the pristine cleaner, but it doesn’t mean I never use a mop or vacuum. In fact, I’d say I clean more now that I’m staying at home than I did while working because I can squeeze it in during random pockets throughout the day. Besides cleaning, there are other things that simply must be done, such as preparing dinner, giving little boys baths, folding laundry, etc. Even though I’m staying at home, there are still a lot of things on my list. But now that I’m in charge of my schedule, I don’t have to wait until after 5 p.m. to get everything done. I can fold laundry during naptime or put dinner in the crockpot when the boys are in the playroom. It sounds so simple, and I assure you my days are quite exhausting, but everything eventually gets completed.
- Loneliness. Fortunately, I have not been plagued with loneliness yet as a stay at home mom, but I know of other bloggers who have so I decided to include it. If I would have stayed home after having JM, back when we lived in our condo with limited natural light that was 30 minutes from James’ gym and before we started going to our current church, I imagine how loneliness could creep up. By the time I started staying at home, we had moved into a great neighborhood a mile from the gym and began attending a church nearby that has lots of moms with young children.
- No breaks. This may be one of the hardest aspects to being a stay-at-home mom. On one hand, most of us chose to stay at home so we could spend more time with our children. But on the other hand, we’d all love a little break. Just an hour or two here and there to focus on ourselves. Once my kids started napping at the same time, that helped and guaranteed 1 to 1.5 hours of time that I could use to focus more on me. But at the same time, there are always other things pulling at you, like the laundry and meal prepping. No breaks means you are also always on your feet, which I was unaccustomed to with my desk job. I do try to sit down during afternoon naps, especially now that I’m pregnant, but when the boys are awake I feel like I’m just as active as they are–making snacks and meals, cleaning up messes, playing outside (aka chasing Beau away from danger), refereeing indoor play time, etc. I’ll have to do a whole post about this later, but my kids rarely watch TV or play apps. Beau is just too young, and earlier this year JM started having adverse reactions to electronic stimulation so we cut it out almost completely. If he reacted better, I would allow him limited screen time to give me a short rest or allow me to get things done, but for now it’s not worth it.
- No income. Life seemed a lot easier with two incomes and a very loose budget. It was much easier to allocate money toward savings and write large checks for unexpected doctor’s bills or home repair projects. And I didn’t think twice about stopping by Target once a week on my lunch break. Now, I’m much more aware of my spending. I still frequent Target, but I ask myself if we really need it before purchasing. Items like diapers get a ‘yes,’ while extras such as another workout tank get a ‘no.’ If you talked to me year ago, I’d tell you I planned on freelancing once Beau was a year old. But then we learned of Baby Scarlett so my freelancing plan will have to wait a little longer.
- Using my brain. I’m hoping freelancing will be a good way to keep up my skills and use my brain until I decide to re-enter the workforce in a few years. Sometimes I really miss using my communications, analytical and website skills. One reason I’ve made a commitment to blogging since this summer is to keep the words flowing, keep my brain thinking and keep me abreast of some current online trends. But one day, I think I’ll enjoy working with a team again in the professional world.
Are there any other pros or cons I’m missing?