to stay or not to stay…at home

SAHMboys

When I got pregnant with James Michael, I had always intended on going back to work after my 12 weeks of maternity leave. I saved up much of my PTO that year to offset not being paid the final month of my leave, and was on a couple daycare lists for when I went back to work.

Those three months of leave were awesome. The first month I was exhausted and still adjusting to the sleep deprivation, the second month I started CrossFitting again and getting out and about more with JM, and the third month was this happy medium where I was getting enough sleep to survive and starting to really get the hang of this mom thing. And then I realized I had about two weeks left before I had to go back to work, and I became anxious and quite unsettled.

The daycare at the top of my list wouldn’t have an opening for JM until a month after I went back to work, and it was also  the most expensive option. I began to question my back-up daycares and got more antsy by the day as my return to work was impending. James and I discussed me staying at home with JM, but it wasn’t something we had planned on and it wasn’t right for our family at the time. Instead, we decided that I would return to work, and once I had our second baby, I would stay at home if everything was going well with his business.

A week before my leave ended, I was referred to an in-home daycare and I changed up my plans for JM and sent him there at 3 months old. I’m sure he would have done just fine at a normal daycare, but honestly, it was more about me feeling comfortable at that point. So, feeling that my baby was in good hands and armed with the future goal of staying home after baby #2, I returned to work.

I can’t say I was ever super mom and I can’t imply it was easy. I went through the all-too-common mommy guilt stage quite often, as I wished for more time with my new baby and more time in general to manage everything. I shared my struggles and feelings in many of my posts:

When I returned to work, my director (with three kids of his own) was extremely understanding. He allowed me to work from home two days a week, and set the ball in motion for me to cut my hours down to 32 a week. This made things more manageable at home, especially not having to endure the commute, and allowed me to spend more time with JM. Even then, I knew that I wanted more time once I had my second child.

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to stay home after I had Beau this past summer. It’s what I wanted, and right now, it’s what works best for our family.

My Reasons for Staying at Home

1. I wanted more time with my boys. I wanted to spend those sweet, sleepy-eyed mornings with them instead of rushing to get out the door. I wanted to soak in all their ‘firsts’ as well as watch how they grow from day to day. Though admittedly ill-equipped, I wanted to train and teach them as well as my parents taught me, despite both working full time.

2. My commute doubled once we moved this summer, and I couldn’t justify 2-3 hours in the car each day on top of an 8-hour workday. My options as far as spending time with my kids were pretty extreme, as there was no foreseeable happy medium option. If I worked, I’d see them for roughly 1.5 to 2 hours before bed; if I stayed at home, I’d see them every waking hour.

3. Owning a gym, my husband works abnormal hours. He comes home for random pockets during the middle of the day, but doesn’t get home at night until 8:45 p.m. If I worked and the boys went to daycare, he would barely be able to see them on weekdays since he gets home after they’re in bed.

4. I was burnt out from my job. I spent 4.5 years at my job before I had Beau, and like most jobs, there were great times and there were stressful times. If I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant with Beau, chances are I would have looked for another job by the end of this year, one that was a change of pace and closer to our house.

5. We didn’t want to pay for two in daycare. And since we’d like to have at least one more child in the future, we definitely knew we didn’t want to pay for three in daycare.

I’m sure every woman’s reasons for working or not working once she has kids differ based on her own set of circumstances. Do I think there is anything wrong with kids going to daycare? Absolutely not. My son went for a while. My siblings and I went to a great church daycare and have some really precious memories from it. I hate when I hear stay-at-home moms put down daycares. I hate when I hear women insinuate that a woman’s only place is in the home. I think a woman’s place is doing what’s best for her family, whether it means working full time, part time or staying home.

Even though it was a hard 15 months being a working mom, I’m so grateful for the experience. It really puts things in perspective for me and helps me to realize that every day I get to spend with my boys is precious. While I don’t have the luxury of sitting on the couch watching soap operas eating bon bons every day (such a cliche!), I will say that, for me, being a stay at home mom is easier than being a working mom. I’m sure it all depends on a woman’s professional job, but when I was working, my attention was constantly divided and I was stressed and taxed in both areas. Now that I’m staying at home, my main focus is my family, and even though there is always a ton to do and I never feel like I’ve accomplished enough, I’m grateful that I don’t have to pile feelings of shortcomings at work on top of that. I think that if James had more normal hours and was home at 5:30 or 6 p.m. each night, working would have been a bit more manageable for us. But he doesn’t have that option and likely never will. So for us, staying at home was our best option while we have young children.

I still plan to go back to work after my kids start elementary school, but seeing as how we’d love to be blessed with three kids, maybe, just maybe four, that means it will be quite some time before I enter the professional workforce again. In the meantime, I’d love to keep my skills up by taking on freelance work, though seeing as I rarely have extra time now, I think it will be at least next summer before I can pursue freelancing. Right now, the little extra time I have that’s not spent blogging (which has become quite infrequent, I know) is spent managing my Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/hobsonhomestead).

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