6 reasons to be a stay at home mom, and 4 reasons not to
Becoming a new mother puts you into the position of being a constant decision maker. From what brand of diapers, formula, and pacifier to use, to what’s for dinner, and finding that illusive perfect pediatrician.
Of course, you are used to making decisions. In fact, you do it every day.
But the “mommy” ones are different, because you are now responsible for making decisions that not only affect you, but also the tiny human who shares half of your DNA.
One of the biggest decisions you may come across is deciding whether or not to return to work, or stay at home once the baby comes.
There are so many considerations that go into making a decision like that and it can be a struggle to decide what is best.
Before becoming a mother I tried to consider the pros and cons of each side and it was extremely difficult. That being said, I don’t think I truly understood either side until after that little human came into my life.
Below you will find considerations for both sides. Do what works for you. You should never feel guilted, or judged into the decision you make. Just make sure you are informed and ready to take on whatever you decide.
Sit back and relax, and dive into this post, because it’s a long one, but I wanted to share all of the things that I considered before having a baby, and now as a mother.
REASONS TO STAY AT HOME
#1. Quality time
Of course, the “quality time” concern needs little explanation. If only you could be in two places at one time, parenthood would be a lot easier.
It is impossible to measure the feeling of spending time with your baby. Obviously, it is the largest consideration for whether or not to go back to work. Many mothers find themselves dreading the idea of spending any hour away from their babies, let alone 8+ hours 5 days a week.
That being said, in no way does going back to work, or deciding to stay at home define how much you love your child. The second that little one comes into the world you will be enamored with every little squeak and coo that they make no matter what your professional plans are.
If you are one of those people who knows you will do nothing but think about your baby all day long while at work, consider how valuable of any employee you will be. Will you be able to provide the same level of work to your employer that you did pre-babe?
If the answer is “Yes”, well then you keep doing you! You are a superwoman and should continue to kick ass in your professional life.
But if you are on the other end of the spectrum you should take no shame in admitting to yourself that it will be difficult to give your all at work, and your all at home, because it will be. No one will tell you otherwise. It is freaking hard to manage a career and a family.
Personally, before becoming a mother I was 100% convinced that I would not be able to stay at home. I was sure that I would become bored and would need to return to the professional world to feel like myself. However, when the company I worked for went out of business right as I began my maternity leave I was given an opportunity I never thought I would. For once, it wasn’t up to me to make a decision to return to work or not. The job I had worked in for 5+ years no longer existed.
So if I did decide to work it would be in a new role in a new company. As I grew more comfortable in motherhood, I found that the days went by quickly and weeks turned to months before I knew it. I was not bored, I didn’t feel like a piece of me was missing even though I was no longer earning a pay check.
When I first went on maternity leave I told myself I would look for a new job around 6 months, and then it pushed to 8, and then a year. And now I periodically peruse job postings online and nothing sounds even remotely inspiring to me.
I have surprised even myself in the fact that I have no desire to return to a career right now. Not in the sense of “I don’t want to work”, because let me tell you, motherhood is work. It’s just that the thrill of success and career development isn’t in my wiring anymore.
At least for the moment, that is.
I am sure one day I will want to return to work, and kick ass when I do. But for now, it doesn’t feel like the right move for me.
#2. Easier time with breastfeeding
If you plan to breastfeed your baby, you will quickly realize what a time suck (no pun intended) it is. You will be at your baby’s beck and call whenever they are hungry.
Of course, the nutrition and bonding time is unmatched, so if you are determined to stick with it it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you have as a new mother.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The more often you nurse, the more milk your body will produce in order to match the baby’s needs. Many working moms rely on pumping during lunch time, and work breaks throughout the day. However, even the most efficient breast pump does not work as well as your own little one. It may become more difficult to keep your supply up to match your baby’s needs.
Supply concerns may also come secondary to finding a comfortable spot to pump at work to begin with. Many states have laws protecting new mothers that require employers to provide a safe and private space to pump. But you may feel uncomfortable whipping your boobs out at work no mater how private things are.
Being home with baby means that you are not required to pump (or are able to pump less often) and allows your babe to get fresh milk straight from the source.
Breastfeeding is a natural part of motherhood, but it also can be stressful. So if it is important to you to provide breast milk for any amount of time you may want to consider the challenges of producing, and storing milk for your little guy/gal on a daily basis if away from home.
#3. Worry free care
If you are the lucky few who has a mother, or mother in law willing to provide free child care then please remember to be grateful for that every single day. Many new moms are not as lucky and look to put their infants in a day care program.
This is a stressful experience. You want what’s absolutely best, and safest for your child, and unless you know tons of local mothers who have babies in great programs it may be hard to find a place that works for you and your family.
Also, many facilities don’t provide care to infants under two, so you will likely have your baby in an at-home day care. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it may be harder to find many reviews of the particular home.
The decisions to stay at home ensures that you know exactly who is taking care of your child (obviously, it’s you, supermom). And although it is not easy to take care of your infant 24/7 you will at least have peace of mind that your baby is receiving the best care.
#4. Unexpected money savers
Being a family on one income definitely tightens up the purse strings, but there are some money saving considerations of deciding to stay at home.
For one, you don’t have to pay for childcare. In my area, care for an infant under two years old is easily $1,500+ per month.
Also, assuming you had at least some sort of commute when working, you will save money on gas by filling up the tank less often.
You will eat lunch out less (a blessing and a curse, because you won’t have time even if you wanted to). And you will likely have more time to make homemade dinners for the family as well.
You also won’t be hitting the mall as often for business attire, so you will be saving money on clothes. And to piggy-back on that, you will have less items that need dry cleaning.
And lastly, unless you are a glamazon, it is likely that your physical appearance will be pushed back on the priority list (whether you want it to or not), so you may find that you hit the salon less often, and spend less money on hair and makeup items.
I don’t mean for this to sound like you will turn into a classic mom who chops her hair into a sensible mom-cut and gives up entirely, you just will find that instead of spending 40 minutes getting ready in the morning, you will rather be watching your baby giggle while you read a book, or if you are really lucky, take a nap yourself!
#5. Less rush
The thought of waking up to an alarm in the morning after waking up to a crying baby multiple times at night sounds awful to me. But having a full time jobs means that you will need to get yourself up in the morning, do all the things you normally do, as well as getting the baby ready for daycare.
Hopefully, you have someone else in the house to help with the process, but even with a partner’s help it is going to be a bit of a rush every morning.
Of course, tons of mothers make it work, and work well. But adding one (or ten) more things to do in the morning will likely be a challenge.
#6. More sleep for everyone
If both you and your husband (or partner) are working, then it is likely that you will want to share the night time duties of tending to the baby. You can take turns, or call “not it”, whenever the baby cries. The two of you should share duties because you both need to get up and head off to work in the morning.
However, if one of you will stay at home, perhaps the night time workload doesn’t have to be split evenly.
For example, if my husband has a big meeting in the morning, then I am perfectly fine letting him sleep in the other room so he gets a good nights rest. I know that even if I sleep the sh*ttiest sleep ever, I will likely be able to make up for a little bit of lost sleep the next day while the baby naps.
Now, this definitely isn’t everyday. But it certainly takes the pressure off knowing that we both don’t have to sleep like crap every night.
Oh, and I get to sleep in on the weekends!
REASONS TO GO BACK TO WORK
Duh, you will be making less money if one of you decides to stay at home with the baby. The is definitely the largest plus for returning to work.
Struggling financially can put a huge strain on the family and your relationship.
When considering to stay at home, you must set a realistic budget to make sure it works. For many families it’s just not feasible.
Even if you can make it on one income consider the things that you will have to give up to make it work. Likely, non essentials will fall away. Things like, meals out, entertainment, premium T.V. services, salon services, impulse shopping, the new car you were planning for in a year or two, or saving at all. Are those things you are willing to give up?
Also, consider the benefits you receive from work that aren’t just financial. Do you have company paid medical insurance, health savings account, or a matched 401k you currently participate in? Those are all benefits that you will no longer be able to participate in while unemployed.
If you want little disruption in your finances, then continuing to work is definitely your best option.
#2. Adult conversation
If you stay at home with baby you may find that you go upwards of ten hours without speaking to another adult. It can be pretty draining.
Especially when your husband comes home with stories from work and you have little to add to the conversation.
Having real grown up conversations makes you feel like an adult. After a while of staying home with your baby you will find yourself sing-songing nearly everything you do, even while alone. “Mama is going to wash her hands, wash her hands, wash her hands, Mama is going to wash her hands so they’re really clean”.
If the thought of that makes you want to vomit, well then you probably should consider keeping some adult time at work.
#3. Secondary validation
This one has really been the only thing that has made me feel like I may want to return to work.
Basically, it’s the “gold star” recognition that is lost in motherhood.
At work, you can kick ass, and hopefully your boss notices. You may be working towards a promotion or a pay raise which keeps you constantly motivated.
You may have had a little argument with your husband, or mom on the way to work, but once you are at work and someone says “Hey, that thing you worked on is really helpful, keep up the good work”, all the other crappy things melt away.
Validation is a big part of self confidence and feeling valued.
That aspect of your life will go away without a career.
Of course, your husband may say “You’re such a great mom”, and that feels lovely, but it’s no pay raise.
The way I tried to explain it to my husband is basically that we all have different aspects of our lives – personal, professional, emotional. If one of those areas is suffering, but the other two are still in check, you are in pretty good shape. However, if one of those categories is eliminated entirely, then the others hold greater rank.
So if one day you feel like a sh*tty mom, well that’s just want you feel like. You don’t have this other version of yourself saying “Today I was a sh*tty mom, but I nailed that presentation”. You still probably won’t feel awesome, but at least you have this other part of yourself that other people notice and makes you feel appreciated.
Motherhood is a thankless job. It is the best job in the world, but you will never be promoted, or get an awesome pay raise.
#4. No gap in employment
If your plan is to return back to work eventually, then you need to consider what your resume will look like when you do.
If you take any substantial amount of time of you will like have a noticeable gap of employment.
This may deter potential employers from even considering you for an interview.
Also, depending on the field in which you work you may find that a break of even a year or two will mean that you are not up to date with technology and trends.
If you continue to work, the only gap you will have is the time in which you took off for maternity leave, but that certainly will not be listed on your resume.
With constant employment you will be more desirable to future employers, and you won’t have to start at the bottom.
If returning to work after a couple years, you may have to take a pay cut, or get back in to a lower position than you had before. Do you want to start all over again?
Deciding to stay at home or returning to work can be one of the hardest decisions a new mom faces. Unfortunately, that type of pressure is typically uniquely female. It is expected that we should intrinsically know what is best for our family.
But the truth is, you don’t know what’s best for your family until you experience it. And even when you think you have figured it out, it may truly not be feasible for your family.
But that’s okay. No family will be perfect and it is not your sole responsibility to make sure that yours is.
Most importantly, know that even you go back to work, you can always decide that it’s not working out and stay at home. Or vice versa, you can plan to stay at home and then shortly decide it’s time to apply for jobs.
I am one of five daughters, all of whom have children. Currently, I am the only one staying at home, all the others work and have worked since the birth of their children. My mother also worked when I was a baby (although she stayed home when my sisters were younger). I can honestly say that none of my nieces or nephews are some how damaged by having mothers who work. If anything I think it provides a great example that women are able to accomplish so much for their families.
That being said, for me and my family it felt best for me to take some time and stay home. In my heart it is what I felt made the most sense. My husband and I have talked long and hard about it, and the sole fact that we know that I am the one caring for our baby all day out weighs all the other concerns.
I am not sure if I will have this luxury for long, or even for future children, but for now my full time job is “Mom” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
XOXO, -M. Have a great day!