My story begins two years ago, almost to the day. I was eating my lunch in the break room when my boss came in to grab her light lunch of popcorn and an orange. While she waited for the buttery corn to pop, she casually asked if my husband and I had started trying for another baby yet. I’m pretty sure I choked on that particular bite before answering with a sheepish smile that yes, we had started trying. I didn’t tell her the exact day that we were going to start trying, but I might as well have.
She smiled. “You’re not going to leave us, are you?”
“No way! I love my job!”
I spoke the truth. I had absolutely no intention of being a stay-at-home mom. My job paid well and my mother-in-law’s work schedule was very flexible and light at the time. There was no reason to even consider staying at home. Later that month, the nausea had set in. We had become pregnant on our first try! I wanted to wait to tell my bosses (I had 4!) until I had reached a safer point in my pregnancy, but it was becoming exceedingly difficult. Because I was fairly thin before getting pregnant and because it was my third pregnancy, my work pants began getting snug and uncomfortable very early on. I had to tell them the good news when I was barely 6 weeks along! My bosses and coworkers were all very happy for me, but I did have to field the same question over and over; are you going to continue working?
That question came up over and over throughout my pregnancy, in some form or another, and especially after 3 of my coworkers had also become pregnant. The entire office was suddenly in a pickle and wondering who was going to stay, and who was going to go. This whole time, I was on Team Stay. They had meetings in which they told us that they would understand, but to just let them know as soon as possible if we had changed our minds. Over the next several months, two of my coworkers had changed their minds. They wanted to stay at home. This didn’t change my opinion at all, though. I still wanted to continue to work at least 25 hours per week when my daughter was born until she was a year old, then return to full-time. I had told my bosses my plan before I had even started trying to get pregnant, which is a lot more than most employees do!
The following Summer, we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. She was a handful, but I enjoyed every minute with her. Instead of being grateful for every restful night, I found myself missing her, wanting her to cry so I had an excuse to pick her up again, rub my nose into her sweet-smelling downy hair, hold her tiny hand in mine. I also found myself counting down the days that I would have to return to work with dread and a heavy heart. I emailed the office manager and asked her if I could extend my leave another month and she obliged without issue.
When that quick month was up, I cried. I went back to work and tried to get back into the swing of things. Instead of getting into the swing of things, I found myself worrying about when to pump, what the baby was doing, if anyone would ever really get her to take a bottle. Honestly, I was a mess. After only two days back, I went in and talked to my boss. I apologized and told her that I wasn’t ready. She was disappointed but understanding. She told me that I could have my job back when I was ready. I drove home and told my husband, who, just as I had expected, had been having a hard time trying to get our princess to take a bottle.
Sticky Childcare Situation
In a short amount of time, my mother-in-law had also decided to take on a lot more hours at her job, leaving us without the part-time sitter we had thought would be available to help us. By the time my daughter was born, she was only able to help out one day a week. This wasn’t ideal, but my mother-in-law isn’t obligated to help out with our children in any way. She is a grandma. She occasionally takes the boys out and has come over to the house a few times to play with our daughter, and that’s fine. She is not the mother.
When two people decide to bring a child into the world, they are the only ones responsible for the care of that child. It was unfortunate that things didn’t go as planned, but we had to look at other daycare options. Everything we came across was almost as expensive as any money I would make at my job. Also, my boys’ school schedule had to be considered. This past week, they were on Fall Break. Their odd schedule was a bit of an issue when I worked full-time as well, but my mother-in-law was working less hours and I was able to let my boss know in advance that I would need an extra day or two off that week or my boys would go to camp a few days, so it worked out alright. Now that we have three children, it’s a little more to ask of anyone, and day care is a lot more expensive for a child our daughter’s age.
A Demanding Career
Although it wasn’t necessarily one of the reasons we decided for me to stay home, I will say that my husband’s job is very demanding at times and it’s a good thing I’m able to hold down the fort when needed. He works in I.T. for a large company where I’m pretty sure he’s a rock star. This week alone, he’s put in over 70 hours. This is not unheard of in his industry. As an I.T. professional, you pretty much know you’re going to occasionally be responsible for waking up in the middle of the night to fix an issue, be called while at church with your family, dinner with the parents, or any other inconvenient time of day or night. I.T. professionals also succumb to the idea that sometimes they will be asked to work a ridiculous amount of hours in any given week to solve an issue or finish a project.
This past week just so happens to have been one of them. 3 days in a row, he had to leave before the kids were awake, and came home after they were all in bed. Then today, during a swim meet, he had to leave early to hop online and put out another fire. As annoying as it can be at times, these aren’t complaints. We both know that he’s lucky to have his demanding career. We also know that during these times, it’s a good thing that I stay home. If I didn’t, there would be a lot of days or nights that our chosen sitter would be working overtime just so I could get to my job. My staying at home gives our kids a very stable environment, even when Jeff’s job seems crazy.
Despite the fact that this career is an excellent opportunity for Jeff, some jobs can be extremely detrimental to your health. It’s not the case with everyone, as some people clearly love living life in the fast lane. However, it can’t hurt you to see a doctor and have a cholesterol test. Don’t think of it as a sign that you need to slow down or quit your career, if things are bad, your doctor will prescribe you a statin drug meant to lower your cholesterol. You can even order this medication online via Canadian Pharmacy Meds and save money and time while staying healthy.
Mother, Wife, Teacher
Being an at-home parent allows me the opportunity to be my children’s first teacher. All of our children are very smart (I won’t brag much, honest) and I love being the one to teach them about the world. I take my job very seriously, probably because I love them so much. I know that there are excellent day care providers, nannies, and preschool teachers out there who truly love what they do. I really think that loving your job can make you better at it! Because I love snuggling with my kids, sitting down and teaching them to read has always been a reward and not a chore.
As for the finances, I know that if I went back to work immediately I would not have continued to breastfeed and I doubt I would have continued to use cloth diapers for any amount of time either. I don’t have to buy work clothes or spend as much on gas money commuting. I can make meal plans, organize coupons, and cook meals at home as well. In addition, my husband never has to rush home so that I can make it to work on time. He never has to worry about meeting the babysitter to relieve him/her. This past week honestly might have been a deal breaker for any sitter with reasonable expectations!
The fact is that being an at-home parent isn’t for everyone. It works for our family, though. We’ve looked at the finances, the benefits for our children, the benefits for me and for my husband as well. It makes sense for us.
Are you a stay-at-home parent that has any tips to share? Are you thinking about becoming one and have questions?
Done here? Check out 5 Ways Being A Stay At Home Parent Saves Money over at iHeartbudgets! They break it down in black and white for you if you’re on the fence!