Becoming A Stay At Home Mom? Consider This First
There are so many decisions to be made when a new little family member enters your world. Should you buy a bigger house? Or turn the home office into a nursery? Should you start a college fund for the child, like, yesterday? Should kids eat gluten? Clearly, being a parent is extremely overwhelming. Then there is this other decision many working moms face: do you continue to work when you have kids? Some moms believe that the answer is easy—whether they decide to work, or not. But life is really never the same again once you have a child, and while there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to continuing your career or being a stay at home mom, both will come with surprises. When you’ve been used to working five (or seven) days a week for years on end, suddenly not doing that spurs a lot of other unexpected changes. Here are things to consider before becoming a stay at home mom.
Is your career your identity?
Really ask yourself how much your identity is wrapped up in your career. If it’s a lot, well, quitting work can cause an identity crisis, and even some depression and anxiety. You’re used to you the career woman, not you the mama. Making that identity transition can be an emotional roller coaster.
Could you take classes in the meantime?
Would it be possible, while you’re a stay at home mom, to take some online classes that would give you an edge over the competition when you do go back into the work force? If so, it’s worth doing, and can provide a life-line.
Would you be able to go back?
Do you plan on going back to work when your kids are grown? If the answer is yes, how difficult would it be to go back? Is your industry the type that changes so rapidly that, leaving it for even a year puts you more like five years behind? These are important things to consider. Or perhaps you do the type of work that you can come and go from, as you please.
Could you work from home?
Would you be able to work from home? Even part time? This is an excellent solution for a lot of moms who want to be with their children, but can’t or don’t want to give up their careers. You’d be surprised at how often companies are willing to make these compromises for mothers. Even if you can work half of the day from home, and half at the office, you’ll feel involved in your children’s lives and not spend too much on childcare.
Kids can be nasty bosses
Just know that you’re leaving a battle and walking into a war zone. Children will be, in their own way, some of the toughest bosses you’ve ever had. There is nothing easy about being a stay at home mom, and children do not abide by a 9 to 5 schedule.
Can you handle minimum adult interaction?
Your kids will be your only social interaction all day! Just prepare for that. Maybe Skype or Facetime friends whenever you can.
Is this about money or the care?
If being a stay at home mom is about not spending money on childcare, do the math: you may lose more money this way than if you’d still worked, and paid for a nanny. And there are ways to have a nanny and still feel close to your kids.
You’ll wear sweats for a long time
Just a heads up, you’ll be living in sweat pants and yoga pants. You’ll have ambitions of putting on cute outfits but something will literally always get in the way, and you’ll quickly realize that children and mommyhood has a way of destroying all cute outfits.
Your day vs your partner’s day
At first, you may feel a disconnect from your partner because he comes home from the world of offices and meetings and spreadsheets and clients, and you’ve been in the world of diapers and cartoons and stackable snack cups.
Are you comfortable with one income?
Make sure that you two can afford to have only one income. Take a good look at your expenses, and make clear plans on how things will need to change if you only have one income.
And with not having your own income?
You, personally, will need to ask yourself how you feel about not making your own money, and spending the money your partner makes. Yes, you’re a couple, and it’s all community money but, if we’re being honest, there is some pride at stake.
Is this in the prenup?
What happens if you and your partner do not stay together? That could mean that you quit work to raise his children, and one day you no longer have access to all of his funds, and your chances at getting a new job are limited due to all your time off. It’s a good idea to have some clause in the prenup regarding how you’d be compensated if this were to occur.
Is your career your social life?
Ask yourself if your career has been your main source of a social life all of this time. If it has then, you could find yourself feeling rather lonely as a stay at home mom. You may want to join social groups with other stay at home mamas.
Have something else that’s yours
Make sure that you have some other sort of group, hobby, volunteer work, or ritual that gives you an identity outside of motherhood. You’ll need this desperately when your kids leave the nest one day!
Society may judge you
You may find that your friend group dwindles slightly. Some career women—especially those that don’t have kids—have a hard time relating to stay at home moms. It’s a shame because, if they made a little effort, they’d realize you’re still you and nothing has changed. But just be ready for this potential shift.