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Posted by on Feb 9, 2011 in Children, Family, Life, Moderation, Save money, Stay At Home Mom | 16 comments

The Choice To Stay At Home

The Choice To Stay At Home

I used to work in a day care when I was around 19. I had about 2 years of college under my belt. I had no formal training, my experience was only babysitting families (to which they never checked any references). I had a clean record, thank goodness. They hired me on the spot and paid me minimum wage. I was given my own room of one year-olds. I was to take care of 5 children from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. I loved kids! I was going to enjoy every minute!! Then I saw what went on in those “classrooms”. There was no instruction, no love, and little to no care. Just a bunch of twenty-somethings with no education (I was the only one who attended college) or training to their name. I made the decision to quit after about 3 months of this nonsense, I just couldn‘t witness the carelessness and sadness any longer. After this short-lived career, I knew for certain this wouldn’t be happening to my children if I were to ever have any. Sadly, this chain is one of the more popular facilities in the area and still exists today. I don’t think it was circumstantial, I firmly believe several daycares are like this, but obviously not all of them.

Being a private piano teacher, I’ve had the rare opportunity to speak candidly with other Moms for the last ten or so years. I’ve often discussed with them the choice to stay at home with their children. I would say that in the 100+ families I have had the pleasure of teaching, about 50% have been working Moms or Dads and the other 50% made the choice to stay at home. The first 50%, the working Moms and/or Dads, have all told me at one point or another that they regret their decision to work instead of stay home with their children. They all warned me, especially when I was pregnant, that it’s such a short period of time & it is so worth it. They’ve all told me to stay at home by any means possible, because before I know it, I’ll have a teenager about to graduate from high school & I’ll want to turn back time & try again. Every one of them. The other 50%, the stay at home Moms & Dads, have no regrets. Not one. They are all completely satisfied with their decision to forego the money and choose to raise their children for whatever period of time.

When I was pregnant with our first born, my husband and I knew more than anything else, we wanted to be home with our children. We want to be the ones raising them, not some strangers getting paid minimum wage with no attachment to them whatsoever. They learn so much when they are small, why not take the responsibility on of teaching them about life. After all, we are the ones who brought them into this world, shouldn’t we be the ones who spend the most time with them? Sadly, that’s not the way it is anymore. Society has changed. Luckily, it seemed my job was perfect, I could teach piano lessons while they napped or did their homework or played outside. It was the perfect plan. Perfect until reality hit. If the children were sick or anything came up, I would be unable to teach. They always should come first, after all, that is the point. So then it became a money issue…

We were two adults used to living by ourselves. We were used to roaming whenever and wherever we pleased, spending each and every penny on anything our hearts desired. We had it figured out with two incomes. Easy, breezy! Let’s see if we can maintain that lifestyle after a child enters the picture. Hmm, I don’t think that’s very realistic. How would we do it? It was impossible. So, we made some changes. Drastic changes.

Cable? Gone. Who needs to be watching constant television with two growing minds in the house anyway?! Eating out? Less. Admittedly, we’re still working on this one. New clothes? Never. It’s amazing what you can do without, especially when you don’t have to look real good for anyone! Visits to the salon? Rarely. I can get by with some cheap mousse and gel these days. Fewer dental check-ups, less expensive glasses and contact lenses. There are tons of ways we cut back like this. Simplify. We know it’s temporary and they won’t be here in this house forever. It’s worth everything in the grand scheme.

We got creative. There are so many different ways to earn money from home these days. It can be something along the lines of selling handmade items or offering services. Perhaps creating a partnership with other stay-at-home mom hopefuls. How about combining your children with others and starting some sort of class? Anything at all. Tap into those resources and think. It IS possible.

I clip coupons like the best of ‘em. I know of every bonus point and reward system in the consumer industry. Part of my job as a stay-at-home Mom is to find ways to save and/or not spend money. We are constantly sitting down to re-budget and figure it out. We make it work.

So I say this to you women struggling with the idea of staying at home: Listen to your instincts. If they are telling you to work, by all means, go to work. On the other hand, if they’re telling you to stay at home with your children, make some changes. Parenting sometimes (if not, all the time) means sacrifice. If it means going down to one car and living with your parents or in a small apartment, go for it! Your child will only know home as the one you create for them. It doesn’t matter where it is, just that you are there. It most definitely is not easy, but we strongly feel it is right. Home is where the heart is.

16 Comments

  1. Love this Leandra!I too worked in day care around 20ish and saw the same things you did and vowed then and there I would not work when I had children. Although I always planned on being a stay at home mom and it was important for me to find a partner that felt the exact same way- which of course I did! I know for me there are days when I wish I had a job to go to, just for a break and extra money, but you in the long run I could not imagine being anywhere but home!
    These kids are and will grow up so fast and I want to raise them, I want to be the one kissing their boo boos and loving them up all day. No one will ever love and care for my kids the way Matt and I do and that is the simple truth (except may be family/grandparents). I do understand though, that for some families it is not an option to have one parent stay home, but for those that it is I say go for it!

  2. Geeze…where were you ladies 14 years ago?!?! 😀

    I went through a LOT of internal struggle when Amelia was born, and I decided to stay home. We even tried some day care/nursery school for a while, and then when Morgan came along, that was it. No more working at Catch Eye Interiors (sorry Dad!), I just couldn’t do both. And it seemed insane to me to work a job just to pay for daycare. So I stayed home. William supported me all the way, every minute. But I struggled within myself.
    Society today makes women feel like they “have to” get a job after having children. That they aren’t pulling their fare share if they aren’t spitting out babies and making money at the same time. My mother in law told me when I was pregnant with Amelia, “I am glad I’m not you girls in this day and age. Having to make these decisions would make me crazy.”
    At the time, I didn’t really understand what she meant. I thought it was great to have the choices. What I learned later was…do we really have the choice? I mean, it’s EXPECTED of us that we will have jobs after having babies. Is that really a choice?
    Over the last decade and a half, I’ve had moments where I was actually embarrassed to say I stayed at home. When the dreaded question, “what do you do?” came up, I hesitated. I’d stammer out…”I am at home with the kids.” And I felt lame…LAME!!
    By the time baby number three came into the picture, things were different for me. I felt like a true leader, teacher, caretaker, house manager. I keep things running around our home. Why not be proud of that?
    My kids all love to be with me, even the 14 year old! They’ve all wished at some point that they were home schooled just so they can stay home with me! They all have days when they’ve come home from school and told me they missed me! And that is what makes it all worth it. Every minute is suddenly right and true.
    I know my kids. Through and through. And they know me, and love me anyway! 🙂
    Thanks for letting me write my own blog on your blog Lele! Keep it up, you’re fabulous!
    XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

    • Definitely was a struggle, I couldn’t agree more. I am finally at peace with the fact that the decision is made. Kudos to you, you ARE a true leader, teacher, caretaker and HOUSE manager!! And you should be VERY PROUD of that!! Thanks for the input and the ongoing support!! XOs!!!

  3. I like your post, I just want to take exception to the notion that 100% of moms who work regret it. I work fulltime and still feel extremely happy and bonded with my kids. Iwas lucky enough to be able to take the first 20 months of each of their lives off and do the stay at home thing — which I also loved — so I feel like I have seen both options and they are both good. The last thing us moms should do is make one another feel bad or wrong for our decisions. there are lots of ways to parent well. I loved being home full time, but I also love having a job that lets me use my mind in a different way and have “adult” time and then get to be with my kids for the other half of their (and my) time.

    also, not all daycare is like what you saw. The early childhood center i send my kids is amazing. full of love and enrichment and the opportunties to learn and gain confidence and have fun and socialize. granted, some women couldn’t afford the kind of care we have, but those women also can’t afford staying home, so their lot is hard no matter what. but that is a discussion for another time and place….

    just my 2 cents.

    • I understand, Shira. Thanks for your opinion! I love to hear what Moms think! I’m glad that you are happy having been able to both work and stay home for a while with your children. I’m certainly not making anyone feel bad or wrong, every mother is in charge of her own decisions and it is frankly none of my business. This is simply our decision and what is working best for our family.

      I guess I’m not at the point in motherhood where I’ve needed “adult” time on a regular basis. Part of the point of my post was that I give 100% to my children, and that is a choice. I also mentioned that daycares are not all assumed the same. I know wonderful places exist, but for us, we know the greatest enrichment and opportunity we can give our children is here with us. Believe me, we have fun, socialize, learn and gain plenty of confidence!

      One more thing that I cannot leave unsaid, we are in no place to be living off one income. In fact, we could be entitled to freebies such as health care and the like if we so chose. However, we have chosen this path. We find ways to make ends meet. Staying at home is that important to us. It may not be to others, but that is our reality. Thanks again for your input!

    • It’s a difficult position to be put in and should not just be an issue that women have to deal with. Starting with the fact that there is no federally mandated maternity leave in the USA, which makes me come to the conclusion that “we” as a society don’t like to think about the impact that having children has on “us”.

      • I couldn’t agree more, Alma! I didn’t touch on the Dads & they should receive just as much credit. They, too, face their own issues with staying at home to raise their children. I did meet many stay-at-home Dads in my years of teaching! The US is definitely far behind on that issue. So far behind that there is no case in sight! That is another blog all together! I love to hear your opinion, always, especially coming from a place other than the USA. Perhaps I should have entitled this piece “The Choice To Work To Stay At Home”…Thank you for sharing!

    • Oh, and I also forgot to mention that the Moms & Dads with whom I’ve discussed this topic were parents of teenagers or almost-adults, all older kids. They were just reflecting on their pasts and giving me their advice years after they made the decision to work. I’m not exaggerating about that either, I have yet to meet a parent of a child grown and gone who didn’t wish they had or could have stayed at home. Makes me wonder…

  4. There is a case to be made here to for stay at home dads, the choice to stay home is not exclusive to women. Work is by definition “exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something”. Are you not trying to produce happy, emotionally balanced human beings who will one day be positive forces in society? Any parent who places a priority on their children, be that staying home or cutting back on “work” to raise children is still, after all, WORKING. I see that society has NOT changed, if it had changed then women (or men) who choose to stay home and raise their children would be receiving money from the government as payment for raising the future leaders of the country, as is the case in several countries in Europe.

  5. Very inspirational! I completely agree. When I’m a mom, of course you know I want to be an author, but I’ll have my own home office, and I’ll start writing novels younger, that way I can get out all my good ideas in the beginning lives of my children. Then maybe as they grow I can write more spread out in my life. I like to think about me staying at a nice comfy house with what, two kids, and sitting in my office typing away on my computer, writing after writing after writing. And I stay home to watch my kids though, that way I can grow old with them growing oldER. It sounds lovely.
    Haha, look at me, I don’t even know what college I want to go to, but I’m already planning what to do with my career and kids… ^.^ 🙂 <3

    • Regardless of your age, Amelia, you’ve got a better head on your shoulder than most adults. You are going to be a phenomenal Mother-Writer someday 🙂 Thanks for your words!

  6. Leandra this is great! I also wrote a post about the importance of staying at home with your children. My husband did take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act that is offered in every workplace and he stayed home for 3 weeks with both births. What a blessing and time of bonding that was.

    Josh has actually been working from home for a year now and the fab 4 is together everyday 🙂 I wouldn’t trade it for anything my girls have such great relationships with both of us because we are the ones shaping and molding them, not the 20 somethings that think they are parents from 9-5. It is just as important to us as it is to you and your family.
    You’re right if theres a will there is a way!

    • No need to explain, B! We know we’re in the same mindset. You have a wonderful blog as well. For those of you that don’t know, Bethany is author of http://www.themodernmama.wordpress.com. Great, fun blogging! If anyone else knows about being a stay-at-home Mom, it’s her! Thanks B!

  7. Good that you are happy with your choice. But Steph and I LOVE our daycare and are amazed at how much Henry learns there compared to what he did when he was at home (with grandparents). It has been beneficial for him socially and academically. We spent a lot of time looking for a daycare and I know some of them suck. But to paint all daycares with one brush is like painting all mothers with one brush.

    –E

    • Agreed, E. Definitely not saying all daycares are the same. In my experience at one place, seeing it from the other side was a little scary. It’s wonderful that you have the advantage of being an educator yourself, you know what to look for. It’s a tough decision either way, parents should know their options and be informed. Glad that there are proactive Dads & Moms like yourself & Steph that do their homework. Unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone, which is why some of these “bad” daycares still exist.

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