To Work….or Not to Work……. that is the question my husband and I agonized over for several months, before I took the plunge and quit my job. It wasn’t an easy decision for us. We debated long and hard over what we felt would be right for our family. If I were to stay home once again, our lifestyle would have to change. While their are many perks to this lifestyle, there are also many drawbacks.
This isn’t my first time to be a Stay At Home Mom. I stayed home for 7 years before starting work 3 years ago. With the second income, our lifestyle changed. We ate out more, we went somewhere every weekend, rarely staying at home. And we were able to buy the kids more toys and gifts than we ever could previously. I’m not saying that we were extremely wealthy, by any means, only that it opened up a little bit more freedom than we had before. Over time that new lifestyle became our new habits.
We began to have to schedule in days that we could stay home. It sounds crazy, but we had gotten to the point where life was so hectic that we were always on the go. Every Saturday morning was spent cleaning the house, doing all the things we were not able to get done during the week. Once everyone was showered, dressed, and ready to go, we hit the town, or went to whatever we had planned that day. We always looked forward to those days when we had nothing planned and could just stay home all day. With both of us working all week, staying home had become our new luxury.
Ask any Working mother, and she will tell you that it is often a struggle to balance work and home.
Mornings were a rush to get not only myself ready but also the kids. I wish I could say that everything was organized and running on a smooth schedule…. everyone down early enough to eat breakfast together, dressed and ready to go. But ……….. I’m not a liar. The truth is that it was usually a mad dash to get everyone downstairs and in the car on time. Breakfast was skipped for me, and for the kids it was usually a quick bowl of cereal or pop tarts eaten in the car on the drive to school.
After dropping the kids off , I spent the next hour or more fighting traffic to get to work. Getting off anywhere between 5:30 and 6:00 it was another hour in traffic before arriving home at 7:00. By this time it was only an hour and a half before time for the kids to be in bed. Greg, working nights, went to bed as soon as they got off the bus, so the kids were always ready to eat, the snack he fed them worn off. There was just enough time for a very quick meal, bath, then bed. Needless to say, I didn’t get much housework done during the week. At night I would stand over the kids just watching them sleep, because I missed them so much and just wanted to be near them. I felt like I didn’t really ever get to see them anymore, and I asked myself…… who is really raising these chilren?
When we began to think seriously about me staying home again, I was resistant. Not because I didn’t want to be home, but because I was scared. I had become so accustomed to that second income, I was scared not to have it. I also worried about what impact it would have on the kids, not being able to do and provide everything we have been. During our discussion we put pen to paper, not only for budgeting, but also a list of pro’s and con’s.
All the reasons for me to continue working were material things. And all the reasons to stay home were beneficial to us as a FAMILY.
When talking to my oldest two, who are 13 and 15, the things they remember most aren’t the gifts we bought them. It isn’t all the trips to the mall, or to the bowling alley, or the movies we’ve seen at the theatres. Their fondest memories are of the little things that I once did, and thought nothing of. Like sitting on their beds, singing to them until they fell asleep when they were very young. All the silly stories I made up with their help. Reading to them, dancing in the kitchen together, charades, monopoly, Hide-and-Seek with Greg in the closet for an hour waiting for them to find him. Greg’s puppet shows using their stuffed animals. Movie Nights, with pillows, blankets, and a tub of popcorn. These are the memories they cherish. These are the memories I cherish.
And I realized somewhere along the way, we lost those special moments, and Spencer and Emily never had them. After Emily was born, I started attending college. Most of my free time was spent in class, and studying, when not cleaning house. Then I began working, and there was no free time anymore. And suddenly the decision I had been agonizing over for so long, was so simple. Each family situation is different, and there are some moms who can juggle working and home better than I ever could. But I know for my family, I am making the right choice.
It will be an adjustment for us at first……..but I am at peace with my decision.