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StorkNet Home > Parenting Channel > Working Mothers Cubby

When Working Moms Decide to Stay At Home
by Kenyatta Thomas
Working outside the home and deciding to raise a family is a difficult job. But the choice to stay home can be just as difficult. I always like to believe there is more than children that ties moms who work outside the home and moms who stay at home. We are intertwined.

We are the same.

Deciding to remain at home is like deciding to ride out corporate downsizing. You write down the pros and cons of your new job, and you figure out your finances, and hope your new "position" will be as challenging as the one you held previously. You seem to be doing just as much work - or more - but for very little pay or no pay.

What's the pay off for the mom who works outside the home and the mom who decides not to return? Our children ~ their growth, and development, and our love for them and hope that what we TEACH them makes them productive and compassionate human beings.

That's the ultimate paycheck that both working moms and moms who stay home receive - from the same well. And when they cash that check, it's the best feeling in the world.

StorkNet Moms on the transition to stay at home:

When I decided to become a SAHM I was pregnant and new to Military Life. We moved 2,000 miles away from home.The jobs available on post were few and far between even if I wanted to work. And the next town was far away. Most of the Military Wives were SAHMs on this post. Being in the Military is hard moving around and finding jobs that will hire you because they know you are temporary. But, I love taking care of my family and my house for a living. My DH and I are working on owning our own business also. I feel we will get much satisfaction out of that. My advice to working moms who want to make the transition to SAHM more smoothly . . . sit down and figure all your monthly bills. Look at your car payments and credit card bills. Try to pay off or at least slim them down before quitting. You know you will have your house payment, utilities and what not. Try to get your monthly expenses down to a minimum so you're not killing yourself on one income with just paying bills and buying food. ~Rachel

I was an insurance underwriter and spent a lot of time negotiating and organizing financial reports. Now I negotiate with a 10 month old (a lot harder than a group insurance rep) and do the household finances. I'd just like to add that this is the hardest job I have ever done. I adore my daughter but this can be very isolating and lonely at times, especially in the beginning when baby is small and pretty unresponsive to everything except eating. I do handiwork and read. I also watch probably too much TV but I try to choose programs which are informative or documentary in nature. These can help keep your mind sharp and gives you something interesting to discuss with your husband other that just how many poopy diapers you changed that day. The TV can be a lifesaver in the winter months when getting out is not always possible here in Canada. Don't be afraid to use the TV constructively no matter how you feel about it. Even just voices in the background for company can help. ~Nancy

It never occurred to me that I wouldn't work until Thomas arrived. I love teaching! Perhaps I will go back to it someday. I think it is the perfect job to have while raising children for it gives you a schedule and vacations that is very close to theirs once they are in school. I think you have to prepare yourself for just how difficult it is going to be. Anyone who thinks being a SAHM is easy is just plain mistaken! It is hard, constant work. And (as Nancy pointed out) it can be very lonely. Thomas is wonderful, but he is not much of a conversationalist. Building a community for yourself, be it online (StorkNet keeps me sane!!) or with other mommies in your neighborhood or at playgroups is SO important so that you do not feel isolated and alone. ~Elsie

I was a daycare teacher for many years and switched to nurse aide when I went to nursing school (though I always functioned as a student nurse--doing nursing skills that were supervised by the nurses). So, I guess I was working for about six years when I got married and quit. I intended to work until I had a baby, but I had a rough pregnancy and a lot of trouble with my nursing license so that I quit looking for a job when I was outright asked if I was pregnant by a nursing supervisor in my seventh month. However, it wasn't by choice that I didn't work through the pregnancy. For anyone considering staying home, I would recommend that you have a community network built around you for support. I live in the country with no second car, so I spend a lot of time on the internet (when Emily is sleeping or playing happily). I also tend to watch the TV way more than I would like to, but you have to remember not to completely submerge yourself in children and forget who you are. You need outlets for your own efforts and you always need adult conversation. ~Johnna

There are also financial considerations that are taken into account, when deciding if making the transition to stay at home is something that a working mom can afford. At first it was really difficult to get by. There was little or no extra money and my child support wasn't coming in regularly. (Don't ever believe all the stuff you hear about deadbeats going to jail for not paying, only 25% of divorced parents will ever see the child support they are awarded.) We slowly paid down the bills and that freed up a lot of cash to take care of things, plus my DH got a couple of BIG raises that more than made up for my loss of income. I think the biggest thing that influenced me to become a SAHM was my divorce and remarriage and knowing we could afford for me to be there with the girls. My oldest daughter was about 3 at the time and took it pretty hard and she really needed a parent with her . . . it was hard for her when mommy went to work, especially with the hours I was putting in. I would suggest setting aside the income you are making now, minus childcare, and saving as much as you can for a couple of months. Learn to live without the money and the savings might come in handy in an emergency. ~Dreama

We have sacrificed that extra comfort for me to stay home. We don't eat out much, don't go out much, don't pay for babysitting, rarely ever impulse shop (especially for over $20) and always stick to a very strict budget. If we added my income, we would be very comfortable rather than comfortably making it. However, we feel that what I give to the family is worth giving up that chance to impulsively spend and entertain. ~Johnna

As you can see from the various StorkNet Moms, there are a variety of reasons why women decide to stay home with their children, but there is also the mom who has "been there and done that," so to speak and for reasons just as personal and difficult, decide to return to the work force.

These former working moms also find themselves using their skills from their respective careers, in the home on an everyday basis:

I worked for two different large corporations in financial management positions. My husband graduated from medical school in 1993 and started his own practice in 1995. He asked me to come manage his office, and I worked full time in his office from 1996 until the twins were born. I think the biggest skill that has transferred to my home life is organizational skills. Believe me, with twins you have to be organized or you will fall apart. ~Allison

I worked 10 years for a bank. Working at a bank I had to fix customers banking problems, be patient with them etc. I think it has carried over with Tyler. ~Tysmom

On the Transition BACK to working outside the home, this former working mom and present stay at home mom sums it up nicely:
I have made the transition from being a working mom, to a SAHM, back to a working mom, and let me tell you, there is no job more difficult than DECIDING!

The initial decision to stay at home was very easy . . . I wanted to be there for all of the "firsts"! I didn't want my little baby growing up attached to a stranger more strongly than his own mother. So, I stayed home! Yes, it was difficult to juggle the bills and money. But, in my opinion, it has been worth every bill sent to collection, and every missed Friday night at the movies!

If money was of no concern to me, I would, without a doubt, stay at home with my three children. I know a lot of women say that they cut corners on many things, and forego the nights out to dinner and movies. Been there, done that. I have enjoyed tremendously, the rewards of being an at-home mommy . . . but even while I am working outside the home, guess what? I am STILL a full time mommy! Just because you are spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (more or less) doesn't mean that you are a full time employee and ONLY a part time mom. Motherhood is a lifelong career . . . FULL time! I want to live a life without worrying about how we are going to make it another four days with only $5.00 in the bank account. Money does NOT make the world go around, but I've got to be completely honest and say that it sure does help make it easier! I became tired of the almost incessant flow of words that fell from my mouth that consisted of "not right now, we can't afford it." Believe it or not, it was said least of all to our children. Nonetheless, I WANT to be able to afford it . . . whatever "it" may be. And I don't mind working for "it"!

Yes, I'm going to feel the pang when I drive away from my little ones every morning, but I'm going to be doubly overjoyed when I see their grinning faces every afternoon! Yes, I'm going to enjoy the rewards of being a mommy just as much as I would if I were to stay home, but I'm going to enjoy it doubly, with a little less financial stress!

To stay at home or work outside of the home is definitely a personal choice, with no one choice being right or wrong. It's only wrong if it's not right for YOU! ~Kel

In closing, I would just like to add that there is more of a kinship between the mom who works outside the home and the mom who decides to stay at home than ever before. Regardless of how society and the media sometimes like to play up the great divide between these two groups of women, I have found that they are both the same.
  • They're the same in their desires to do what is best for their families.

  • They're the same in their quest to provide as much love and stability for not only their children, but their families - and it is NOT a question of how much more each sacrifices, or loves their children.

  • It's more of a question of HOW they go about providing what they deem necessary to maintain a certain quality of life for their children. That's where the ultimate difference lay between these two groups of moms.
It's not a contest of WHO loves their children more. Ultimately, it just comes down to WHICH road they will take to achieve that common goal of providing what's best for them.

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