Need Input from Women on Being a Stay at Home mom..mixed Feelings on What to Do

Updated on July 21, 2008
A.M. asks from McHenry, IL
23 answers

Hello all,
I am at a stand still. I so badly want to be a stay at home mom. I am not as driven at work and get disappointed in myself for not feeling more ambition in this area. I want to spend more time w/ my daughter who has been a true miracle to my husband and I. We have 4 miscarriages previously and I feel this need to be with her. I feel like I should be the one seeing her eat mandarin oranges for the first time or take her first step. She is in daycare now and doing really well. I am concerned if I follow my gut and take her out to be a stay at home mom...is this best for her? She really likes her teachers and seems to be developing repoire w/ the kids her age. Avi granted is only 9 months, but she is thriving at daycare. Also, with this economy is this really a smart move? Gas prices are thru the roof and many companies are laying off or cutting back. I have mixed feelings on what to do that is best for the family and ultimately Avi.

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So What Happened?

Hello all,
I really appreciate all the wonderful feedback. I am following my gut and will be leaving my full time job in August. I really think this will be the best decision for my family. It is so nice to get others view on this subject and I received several.
Thank you all!!!!!!!!!!

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S.R.

answers from Chicago on

I don't have much to add to what has already been said, but I wanted to recommend the novel The Ten Year Nap. It is a fun read and addresses so many aspects of being not only a SAHM, but also a mom in general. So much in that book really hit home and gave me a lot to think about. Good luck!

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

Every situation is different. I'll share with you my perspective and experience, just as food for thought.

I am a high school teacher and my husband is an executive, meaning I have a choice as to whether or not I want to work. When I was pregnant I was so sure that I wanted to be a full-time SAHM. We decided we would give it a trial run because I was fortunate enough to take a leave of absence and still come back to my job and pick up right where I left off. Between my maternity leave, summer vacation, and a leave of absence I got to play "stay at home mom" for nearly 9 months, and boy did I ever underestimate that role! I thought I'd just seamlessly transition into this perfect mom and housewife who gained fulfillment from completing all the necessary motherly duties, but I was an absolute train wreck. I missed working - I never in a million years thought I would say that. I missed working with high school students on a daily basis, watching them grow, helping them make good decisions, working with people in my building to develop curricula, and socializing with my peers. I love my job even more now that I had the chance to step away from it.

My son is now in daycare and thriving as well. Of course, nearly every mother has the thought "No one can raise my child better than I can", but I stopped myself and thought "Wait a minute! As a teacher, I work with students every day, adding a different and diverse learning opportunity that they likely do not get at home." I think the same holds true for my son. He is around caregivers who love him, nurture him, show him new things, and enrich his life. They've also dealt with hundreds of infants and toddlers, and my experience is limited to one!

In my opinion, I think everyone has a different calling in life. There's nothing wrong if your calling is to be at home with your children or if it is to balance career and family. You don't love your family more or less if you choose one or the other. Search your heart and soul and make the decision that is best for your family, but just try to research all angles before making a decision.

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

It took us 2 1/2 years of trying to get pregnant, and we had an amazingly beautiful and healthy girl. I knew then and I now (b/c I know my husband well, unfortunately) that I will probably never be able to be a SAHM and will always be the main breadwinner. I wish I could stay with her, and I miss her. But, I have two things to say from the other side, having been back at work 4 months now. One is that raising children is and should be a community affair. By choosing a daycare, you are choosing that community for your child. Two is that my daughter is social and has so much fun being around all of the other kids! Even when she started at 3 months, her favorite thing was to watch the kids play. I never could have provided that to her, her favorite thing. At least, not on the level that the daycare does.

I do know that I am missing pieces of my daughter's days, but the reality is that no one can take mom's place. And you can find a daycare where you can take an active role in how she is raised, and hopefully one near your work, where you can visit during lunches.

Just some ideas. You know in your gut that you must do whatever is best for your child, rather than what would make you feel better.

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A.

answers from Chicago on

I would caution you to seriously consider the long term impact of leaving work altogether... I know our children are only little for a short time, and that we want to be with them to see every first, but that is a double-edge sword. In a few years, they don't need us every minute of every day. It is really just a fraction of your time as a mother, but it can change everything.

If you've stepped away from a career, you may have stepped out forever. Many people falsely think they can take a few years off and get right back into the job market. It is not true for most professionals. Without a solid plan in place, even a year off can be disaster. I was fortunate to have up to 7 months off full time, and the ability to be part time for 6 more months with my daughter. I know if I left my job permanently, I would never be able to reenter the field. Is the first 2 or 3 years of your child's life worth sacrificing the rest of your career? How many people do you know that successfully re-entered your line of work after years off?

Working does not have to be an all or nothing scenario. Have you considered speaking to your company about alternative work hours / flex schedules? Part time? Have you looked for a different job that would give you more time with your daughter?

Just an alternative perspective... Obviously, I'm a working mom who's happy with her choice. I know it is not for everyone, but I encourage you to think about your choice beyond the immediate future. You never know what the future holds, good or bad.

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N.P.

answers from Chicago on

First and foremost, if you and your family can truly afford you staying at home and you believe that this is something youw want, then I say give it a try. Your children are only young once. I stay at home and can't believe my kids will be 2 in a month.

As far as leaving your career, yes it is hard. And yes, re-entry is hard. If you are planning on doing so, it is important to understand that you may have struggles and that you may almost have to start from square one. It also depends on the type of work that you do. So for one of the posts stating that your career is shot by quitting any amount of time... I completely disagree. You just have to understand that it won't be the same when you get back, you may have some struggles, but if you are up for the task, then something will work out for you.

As far as general day-to-day, being a stay-at-home mom isn't peaches and roses. It can be difficult both from the childcare aspect and for your personal identity. You have a very limited amount of time alone and when you are "alone" you are showering, cleaning, catching up on bills, etc. It's a long day. And it's also VERY hard not being around adults and many days truly not having a moment to yourself and thinking that some sort of daycare would be nice! :) What helps a great deal is becoming involved with a Moms group... I belong to MOMS Club (momsclub.org). It's a fantastic organization. I was on the board and now I am President. I never would have thought I would be so involved with volunteering. Participating in this helps me feel "work" active. Not to mention, it is an excellent way to get you out of the house, meet other moms and provide different play settings for your child. You can find other groups through MOPS or Meetup.com.

Also, find out if your work would be willing to work out an alternative schedule with you - part/time or work from home. They may not but it's worth a shot. Just prepare a good plan. I did this with my company. I knew it was a long shot based on the type of work I did and the type of company but it doesn't hurt to try.

It's a very difficult decision to stay-at-home or work and be a mom. There are days that I want to go back to work and days that I don't. There are days that I wonder what it will be like when I do go back to work. There are days that I wonder, can we afford this? But there are days that I know my kids are getting love that they can't get from anyone else. It's a personal decision. Good luck!

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M.O.

answers from Chicago on

There are so many types of moms- SAHM, WAH, WM...it takes all kinds. There is not a right or wrong type of M.. Some moms would be horrible SAHM's and others would be awful WM's.

After my son was born, I decided that I wanted to leave my teaching job to be a SAHM. Remeber, that when you become a SAHM you are kind of creating a new identity. I feel like the teacher in me is a million years away. Now, I am solely M. with only memories of my former life. Though, I would not trade it for the world. I love spending everyday with my son. He is so adorable and funny. I love it that he will just laugh by looking at me and that he gets hugs all day long from his M.. As a SAHM it is important to get involved in M.'s Meetup.com groups, playgroups, and activities such as; Kindermusik. If you don't put yourself out there; you will go crazy just talking to your child all day! (: I need adult interaction and stimulation for myself. I make sure that we have an outing at least every other day. Your house will get more MESSY, because you will be home more to make a mess. If your husband works long hours I would advise getting a cleaning service, because as I learned I can't clean with my son following me around the house.

I don't consider myself a Suzy Homemaker or a Betty Crocker. I do have aspirations for myself. I will go back into teaching and I have even thought about becoming a reading specialist or school librarian. I plan on going back to school for another degree. I have also known several people in my field who have left to be SAHM's and reentered the teaching field. You have to listen to your gut..mine told me to stay home and teach my child. I am VERY fortunate that I can stay home and that my husband makes enough income for me to be able to do so. I felt that I would be a horrible WM. I wouldn't be a good teacher knowing that I was not with my son. My head would not have been into it and I just would have been really depressed. I really loved my job a lot...and some days I miss it.

A collegue of mine told me not to quit my job right away. She was right. She told me she tried to be a SAHM, but after her 6 month maternity leave was up, she realized it wasn't for her...I waited until 3 months before the school year started to give notice and I am glad I took my time to think through my decision. Like I said before, being a SAHM is for some people and other people it is not- there is no right or wrong decision.

I think for some WM's- work helps keep their balance...and I think that is a good thing. I WISH I had balance at times. I have wanted to tutor 2-3 nights a week; just so I have a part of my own self, my former identity. Though, due to the intensity of my husband's work schedule, I can't commit to even one night a week. Though, I would never trade being a SAHM for anything in the world...

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

I worked part-time in an office after my first and second daughters were born. After the third, it wasn't cost-effective to have 3 in daycare, so I stayed home. It took me 6 months to adjust. It took my husband 4 months. He really struggled with anxiety because he was the sole breadwinner/insurance holder. I've been an at-home mom for 5 1/2 yrs now. I really enjoy it, but it was a struggle emotionally and finacially in the beginning. I just started another part-time job that I can do from home. It's been nice having that extra spending money.

Before you decide to quit your job, why don't you and your husband sit down and talk finances. Be frank about your bills and what you need and what you can do without. Do a trial run for a few months - live only off your husband's salary (except for daycare, that is an expense that will go away if you quit work, so that should still come out of your paycheck, but that's it). Put the rest of your paycheck in savings or a money market to collect interest. Can you live within those means? If you can, then I'd say you could safely quit your job, if not, then time to revisit the budget.

After the budget review, research and see if you can take a leave of absence from your job. How long will they hold your current position? How long will they guarantee a position for you?

Only you and your husband know what is best for your family. Open discourse is the only way to find out. Best of luck and let us know what you decide.

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K.

answers from Chicago on

Everyone's different, but I'm a working mom. In an ideal world I would work 10-20 hours/week. I think this is a great balance between having enough time with your family and getting out of the house to feel like you have some real adult interaction and a career. Possible for most moms? Maybe not (it's not possible for me, unfortunately. I work more than I would like). But maybe it's an option for you?

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J.M.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

I had 3 miscarriages and many other problems before my son (now 28 months) was born. I went back to work for one week after my maternity leave and just couldn't do it. I now also have an 11 month old girl.

Being a SAHM is hard. I miss time with adults, that feeling of accomplishment, and time doing "my thing". But, it was the right decision for us. Between my husband and my schedules childcare was a nightmare. I am glad that I am here with my kids, that I get to see them grow and learn. If your daughter is thriving where she is she is obviously getting enough from you and her other caretakers. I agree with other posters you have to do what is best for you and your family.

Weigh it all out and know that no matter what you decide you are a good mother!

Good luck!

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T.C.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

I am a stay at home mom. I know it's a tough decision. If you can afford it financially, that's one obstacle out of the way. If you can, then do what your heart tells you. Some kids do thrive in daycare, but in my humble opinion (I hope I don't offend anyone here) daycare is no match for a committed, loving, active stay at home mom. I stay home, but am part of a mom's group where we have playdates 2-3 times per week. If your daughter is thriving in daycare, she would probably need the same type of stimulation (social & otherwise) to continue thriving at home. You don't want her to get bored. Have you researched playgroups in your area? If not, check out meetup.com. I've found 2 great playgroups on there & they are lifesavers! I would definitely try to find playgroups & activities in your area before you make a decision (other activities can be found at libraries or your local park district). Good luck!

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L.K.

answers from Chicago on

I had many fertility issues also . I am a stay at home mom of two year old boy/girl twins.It is great to be able to stay home and experience everything with them and I wouldn't trade it for the world but I would recommend working part time if it is possible. When you stay home it is so easy to lose yourself because you really are focusing all of your time with them.Staying home is the hardest job I will ever do.If you worked a day or two you would get that balance of adult and child time.Whatever you do, don't feel guilty. It is tough to be a working mom and a stay at home mom just in different ways.You give up something either way. so, if you work part time you'll probaly be happiest. Good luck!

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E.F.

answers from Chicago on

Follow your gut feeling. I don't think you will ever regret spending time with your children.

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J.P.

answers from Chicago on

I understand completely, as I just made this decidion myself. I did go back to work after my 1st, and she was at a home day care that I loved. While pregnant with my 2nd I was torn about what to do. Part of me wanted so badly to stay home, but part of me longed to keep my job that I loved. After she was born, I decided that I need to be home with them. She's probably my last baby, and I want to be the one with her all day! I feel like I did miss out on some important stuff with my 1st. But, lucky for me, I am not going to be home ALL the time, as I have some private tutoring lined up, so I can work opposite hours of my husband (also a teacher). Finances will be tight, but I'm willing to sacrifice. It's better for me than to feel like I'm rushing around all the time, spreading myself too thin, and paying much of my salary to someone else to spend time with my babies. My one suggestion if you stay home is: stay connected to other adults. I'm lucky to have lots of mom friends. Now that my oldest is not in day care, I feel like she does need to be with other kids, so we do classes at the park district, etc. I was anxious about my decision before I did it, but now I'm SO HAPPY! Could you do something part time? My friends who work PT get the best of both worlds! GOOD LUCK!

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J.R.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

I had two kids who were in daycare after age 2 (before that my mother watched them but when she got sick it was too much for her to handle them all day). I am now home with #3 and #4. For us the decision was pretty much made for us. I got laid off (position was eliminated really, though I always had stellar reviews so I know it wasn't performance related - aside from another 100+ people also losing their jobs) and then it became quite clear when I got pregnant with #4 that there was no way I could make enough money to put 4 kids into daycare. If my salary covered daycare/after school care, that would be one thing, but it wouldn't come close to being cost effective for us.

I am still adjusting to the mental aspect of not contributing financially - that is hard for me... i've never been 'dependant' on anybody before, so this was a difficult transition. Secondly, I think that there are benefits to both the SAHM world and the working mother world. If you, yourself feel a need to be closer to your daughter, and can swing it financially... do it. I don't think either mother is more or less better because they are home...or not.

If you take yourself out of the workplace for a year, or three, I would not believe this will put a damper on your chances for getting a job later when you are ready. If you are out of the workplace for 10.... you might want to work doubly hard to ensure you can compete with those who've had no interruption in work experience (maybe taking a couple refresher courses at a community college or seeing a headhunter to ensure your skills are still marketable).

Ultimately, the decision can't be made for you... if you are feeling that much desire to be home with your little girl (and it's TOTALLY understandable why you do) then try to make sure you maintain social interactions with a mommies group, or swim lessons or other activities (some really good ones offered at the park districts now) If that's a concern.

Gas prices are absolutely horrible - 60$ in my minivan didn't even fill the tank... with 4 kids, and 2 adults I can't drive anything smaller...

I love being home with my babies... i love being home when my older 2 kids get home from school... and the only part I miss about working, is the interaction that I had with other adults.... without interruption :) But looking back, I also don't have any regrets about my older 2 being in daycare either. Whatever you choose, don't have regrets or you'll all be unhappy...

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L.M.

answers from Chicago on

A.,
You know you definately need to follow you gut, but I can tell you as a mom to 3 kids under the age of 5 I can't imagine being anywhere else but home with them. And I definately understand your concern about the econony and gas prices. That is why I own my own business from home. I am able to raise my kids and yet make a good income from home and the best part about it is that I don't have to do any hard core selling or parties!! If you would like more information feel free to Request a Interview from me at www.abundantlifeathome.com or drop me a email at [email protected]____.com

Good Luck in whatever you decide to do!!

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T.S.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

This post will bring a LOT of answers for you. Some probably are going to sound very opinionated and possibly judgemental. I've found that the SAH vs WM is a pretty hot topic on this site.

All I can tell you is that you need to do what is in your heart. It doesn't matter what works for me (I work full-time and love it) or what works for my friend (she stays at home and loves it) or what works for anyone else. It's about what works for YOU and your husband and your child.

Being a Mom is defined by so MANY things, whether or not you work isn't one of them.

That being said, you sound torn. Maybe you can just cut back your hours and work 2 or 3 days a week? Your daughter can get the best of both worlds that way. If you feel she loves being in daycare and fear taking that away - then let her be there part time. Our center offers discounted rates for part week or 1/2 days.

Just a thought. But, I agree that if you are unhappy then something should change. We are ALL better Mom's when we are doing what makes us happy.

Good luck. :)

T.

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J.C.

answers from Chicago on

You were given gut feelings for a reason. They are only little once. My three year old is so big already and now my 8 month old is following suit quickly....I don't regret a moment that the budget was tight that I was the one witnessing them. If you are concerned about money there is stuff to do with your child with you. I was a nanny from the time he was 6 months up until he was 18 months and then began a home daycare myself. THen I got to watch him and his friends interact as well (I also had a hand in molding and guiding his friends...)

Follow your heart.
J.

K.F.

answers from Chicago on

Can you take a leave of absence & keep your daughter home with you & then make your decision? I am taking 1 year off to be home with my kids-- ages 5, 2 1/2, and one more on the way in July. The longest I was home with my first two was 5-6 months. I knew after returning to work w/ my 2nd, I couldn't do it again. I am due at the end of July & will take off a year to see how it goes. Then I will have to decide to stay home & resign from my job, or go back. It's never an easy decision, but I have always tried to listen to my heart, and make the choices I felt were best for me & my family. I'm sure you will, too! Good Luck!

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M.J.

answers from Chicago on

You could start by trying to take your emotions out of it. I know it is hard to do. Make some calculations as to the cost/benefits of working and staying home. You mention cost of gas, but if you aren't driving to work everyday, you will not be using as much gas. Wardrobe for work, lunches out etc. cost of daycare. then compare all of these costs to your actual take-home pay. After all of that, then let your emotions back in!!! if you can afford to stay home, I say go for it. I think it is a wonderful thing being able to stay home with my kids. I worked part-time after my first and until my second was about 4. they are six years apart. The youngest is now 13 and being home with them has been great. You find that even when your kids get older, they need a parent around when they come home from school. also, the ability to support them by volunteering at their school for things, attending their after-school athletics etc. What about them being able to participate in summer activities? that is important too.

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Y.S.

answers from Chicago on

I went back to work when my son was born and worked until he was 3 and my daughter was born. I experienced both - being a working mom and stay at home mom.
I love being home with my kids and I believe it's best for them. I feel better that I'm the one raising my own kids and not someone else. It's not worth it. Every situation is different and you might have to give up some things when not bringing in a second income - less spending, you have to watch your expences etc, but to me every smile on my kids' face, every kiss, every hug makes it worth it.

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A.K.

answers from Chicago on

I am a SAHM and love it-but I do miss the work world. My kids are almost 3 boy(in August) and 16 month old daughter. I decided when I was 6 months pregnant with my second to stay at home. My son goes to speech therapy along with PT and OT, so it was easier for me to stay home and get him on track. Both are doing well, I have actually decided to watch another 2.5 year old in my house, so my kids get interactions with another child and go regularly to meetup groups for SAHM. I do miss the work but for me, I am able to bring in extra money watching another child and being home. It was too expensive for me to have two in childcare, so right now it works for our family. Do what you think, you will hear a bunch of opinions, but you have to do what is best for your family- with your gift after 4 miscarriages, maybe you need to do this for yourself. If you do decide to stay home-keep busy, join the SAHM meetup group and get active. I think too often people give 110% to their kids and forget about themselves, so take care of yourself.

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S.X.

answers from Chicago on

studies show women are most happy working part time, whatever that means. i only work 1.5 days a week and its perfect : )

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S.C.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.!

I'm a mother to a 3 year old and a 7 month old (both girls). I love staying home with them and having the opportunity to work as little or as much as I like.

I am a Pampered Chef Consultant. I started with them back in August 2007 when I was 7 months pregnant. There's nothing to it. The products sell it's self. The Pampered Chef is a great company with great people to help you achieve your dreams.

Let me know if this is something you may be interested in.

Good Luck!

S. Centeno
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