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.