How I Afford Being A Mother: Work From Home
I didn’t plan to be a “stay at home mother” or a “work from home” mother, but working from home works best for me. As a writer and an investment consultant, I can work from anywhere. I am most effective, work wise, when I conduct my business in an office, isolated and focused. However, my choice to be a mother raising healthy and competent children requires otherwise.
As a first time mom, childcare was definitely a concern. My mother is deceased, and my mother-in-law lives out of state. If I decided to return to work full-time, daycare was our only option.
I also noticed childcare to be the most frustrating topic of discussion for my pregnant peers, especially those who were not fortunate to have work from home jobs or extended leave benefits.
Let’s be honest, no mother feels comfortable leaving her infant child with a stranger before the child can talk and articulate their happenings freely. Unless you are lucky enough to have a spouse, a mother, a grandmother, or a sister-friend who is available to care for your child in your absence at an affordable rate, anxiety and stress overwhelm you every time you think about how to be a mother and how to pay for being a mother.
America is one of the only developed countries without mandated paid family leave for the birth of a child. Having to choose between raising your child and feeding your child is not synonymous with being a developed civilization. The International Labour Organization recommends a minimum of 14 weeks paid leave for families. In Europe and the Middle East, the average leave for families is between 26 – 40 weeks. (see: Paid Leave Around The World, Buzz Feed) In the U.S., we have failed to mandate any paid time off for families with babies.
This puts the burden on families to problem solve and make the best decision on their own. I worked from home part-time prior to having children, but I must admit working from home and having children is not easy. It took me 10 months to catch my breath and find a routine suitable for my work demands and my child’s development. We also downsized our cost of living significantly in order to create enough space and time for us to focus on being parents in addition to working to afford the roles.
What really helped me surrender to my role as a mother, and let go of the world’s expectations that I must work X amount of hours in addition to the demands of motherhood, was the research I uncovered about child brain development from ages 0 to 3. (see: Baby’s Brain, The Urban Child Institute)
During early childhood, the human brain grows more rapidly than any other time in our life. What we experience during our pre-school age years sets the stage for how we learn and interact with the world as adults. Affection and safety are the key elements to preparing a child’s brain to excel. If children do not feel loved or safe, they have a hard time progressing cognitively, meaning their ability to think critically and problem solve is thwarted.
According to a study, which followed nearly 500 infants into their 30s, babies who receive above-average levels of affection and attention from their mothers are less likely than other babies to grow up to be emotionally distressed, anxious, or hostile adults.
When it comes to my role as a parent, these are the facts:
- Childcare is as expensive if not more in some states than rent and housing costs. Where I live in Philadelphia, the average cost of childcare is $800 a month for infants.
- Many studies show that a safe environment, a caregiver we trust, and affection are the most important tools in brain development during our early years.
- The decision to be a parent is just that, a decision.
For our family, I could not justify making extra money outside my home just to pay someone else to care for my kid. Also, if in fact affection is what stimulates the brain the most from birth to age five, my presence in my child’s daily activities is critical. I am the parent. I should be the one making my young child feel loved and safe not a stranger for 40 – 60 hours a week.
The final factor for me is that I chose to be a parent. My children will be babies for a short time. Then they will grow old to have their own lives and desire more independence than they do now. I get five years, if that, to hug and kiss and love them into amazing human beings. There will come a time when school, friends and their own passions peak their interest much more than their dad and me. If five years is all we have to sacrifice in terms of career and extra cash, it is well worth it for the lifetime of memories we’ll have with our happy children.
Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience.