I woke up one Saturday morning and said to myself, OMG I’m a weekend parent.
My only daughter, at the time, was fifteen months old when we put her in full-time daycare. And shortly thereafter I found myself missing her and wanting to spend more time with her. I made a decent salary working from home and I wasn’t ready to give that up, but I did want to spend more quality time with her. So I started to think about how to find a happy middle ground.
I was born in what is sometimes considered Generation Y, the Generation between X and Millennial. I grew up in the North East with two siblings, my mom was a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) when we were young and no one worked virtually. My father didn’t have a college degree but was able to buy a small house in an good neighborhood, whereas my husband and I are college educated, employed and struggle to find a affordable home in a good neighborhood and school district to move to that won’t leave us living paycheck to paycheck.
Some questions I struggled to answer for myself were:
- Would I be able to get my full-time job back after reducing my hours?
- How would I stay competitive?
- What if I needed to work on a day I didn’t have childcare?
Furthermore, if you’ve read any articles posted by major publications about the issue of parents that staying at home vs. working full time on kids behavior and future “success” you’re probably more conflicted than ever. One article I read said children that have SAHM experience less stress and are less aggressive over the long-term than children who go to daycare and another that said, children who had working mothers hold more executive positions, all with supporting evidence and studies to back up their claims. I knew I wouldn’t find my answer searching online.
Over my 4.5 years being a parent, now with two children, living in an expensive neighborhood I’ve met a lot of moms and most moms I know do not stay at home. Here is what I heard on the street from working and SAHMs (unfortunately I’ve never met a stay at home dad).
The working moms more often than not:
- Need the extra income
- Generally like there careers
- Were the breadwinners of the family
- Had parents caring for their children
While the stay-at-home moms more often than not:
- Were educated outside of the U.S.
- Part-time was not an option
- Had cultural or societal reasons for being the primary caretaker
- Were scared to leave them with strangers
What works for us now
Two years ago before my second child was born I was able to go from working full-time to part-time, but I wasn’t an executive making six figures and with two young children in daycare all of my earrings would be spent on childcare costs. Also our co-op apartment was paid off so we didn’t have a mortgage to worry about and the fees were manageable on my husband’s salary alone.
For now it works for us, but there are drawbacks such as the sheer exhaustion day-to-day parenting brings without reprieve. I found myself craving more sleep and alone time than ever before. In fact, although I was at home there wasn’t more “down-time” there was more time “working” as a parent. I found that motherhood is much harder than some people think it is. It’s a non-stop, action-packed messy adventure. My children on the other hand are getting outside more, enjoying unstructured free play and my undivided attention. I love my kids and am so grateful to spend time with them but I am equally grateful for having work to challenge me mentally and for time away from them.