Ever since I was a young girl, I knew that I would be a stay at home mom. I decided it when I was four years old, and I would get tearful every time I saw my mother leave for work. I thought to myself that when I have children, I would stay at home with them, because that’s what mothers should do. When my Dad worked night shifts, we would be home with him during the day, then on day shifts, we went to daycare. And I hated daycare. And, I missed my mother even when we were home. So, I just knew that I would be a stay at home mom when the time came for me to be a mother.
I did stay at home soon after my first son was born. After a few months, I found a part time job at a school right next door to my neighborhood, and worked there, because my husband’s schedule allowed him to care for the baby while I was at work. It was a nice arrangement that lasted maybe two months or so, until my husband’s schedule unexpectedly changed. So, I quit the job and stayed home.
Now, here I am with four children, and for the first time in six years I am a full time working mom. And, it hurts. At first it didn’t. I viewed working as a necessity since my husband was unemployed. I applied for several school librarian jobs, and I received a job offer. I thought to myself, “How can I turn a job down during this economy, when my husband doesn’t have a job?” I just didn’t have the heart to do that.
So, I went to work. Although I love my job, I still feel that I should be home with my children, and it’s starting to get to me. In the beginning I felt really good about my decision, and enjoyed going to work, and enjoyed coming home to my family. But, now I’m struggling with the decision.
So, what can you do to manage being a working mom, when you really want to be a stay at home mom or work part time?
1. Excellent childcare– For any working mom, it helps to ease your mind knowing that they are in great care. Since I always hated daycare, I knew that I just would not have the heart to put my children in daycare, although they could be different from me and enjoy it. I know mothers who say that their children love daycare and look forward to going each morning. That provides a lot of comfort to a mother’s heart. Having your husband or the children’s grandparents care for them can make a world of difference. It does with me having my mother care for my children. But, still, I want to be the one there during the day.
2. Go part time or flexible schedule– I have searched for and applied to several part time school jobs, and have not received one. The next best thing is to try to go part time or flex time in the job you are already in. Come up with a schedule that would work best for you, and pitch it to your boss and see what they say. Show them how you can still be an asset with a different schedule. That might mean working one day from home, or working 35 hours instead of 40. It’s worth a try, and all they can do is say no.
3. Set up a financial plan to get back home– If your heart is truly set to be home or work part time, set up a time table to make that dream a reality. Start a business on the side, pay off as much debt as possible, move to a more affordable area or home, sell a car, etc. In the end, I do think it’s worth it to do what you have to do to be able to spend the time you want to with your children.
4. Make your time at home count– Working mothers love to talk about quality time over quantity of time. And it is important to make that time count. That might mean co-sleeping with your baby to enjoy being closer, babywearing when you are home, snuggling with your children for a time of reading stories and talking about your day, going outside and playing games, allowing them to “help” you with dinner, enjoying dinner together, having Friday night movie night, devoting most of your weekend to your children and not doing other social events until after the children’s bedtime, and overall, just enjoy being with them in an unhurried way. That takes planning ahead and cooking dinners that you can quickly make or cooking on the weekends and just heat up during the week. Make cleaning and cooking things that are quick and simple to do. Otherwise you can become harried and stressed out, which interrupts the quality time that you could be spending with your little ones.
5. Find the positive– During this season of your life, find the positives. You are helping to provide for your family; if you enjoy your work, you have time to do something that you enjoy; having a break from your children can make you appreciate your time together so much more; you may have more patience with your children, your drive to work could be part of your “me time” to listen to encouraging music, audio books, pray, or just meditate on positive things. Be sure to focus on the positives to help get you through until you can reach your goal. Just know that you can still have a strong attachment bond with your children by being a loving, engaging, and attentive mother while you are with them.
Ladies, are any of you trying to make a transition from working to stay-at-home mom? Or are you trying to make the reverse transition (stay-at-home to working). Share your experiences.
Sundi is a mom of four who lives with her husband outside of Atlanta, Georgia.