Friday, March 1, 2013

Stay at Home Mom

^^^  That's me... I am one of "them".

When the hubs and I first started talking about having a family of our own, we hadn't really "planned" for me to stay home. We talked about it, but hadn't made any real decisions on the topic. When I finally got pregnant, we debated it a lot. We were in a situation where we were living considerably below our means after a very rock few years prior, but there was still a bit of fear and uncertainty as to "if" we could truly afford for me to stay home. I enjoyed my job and had big career dreams so we thought I'd continue to work, and we had even started looking in to daycare options.

Then we found we were having twins and in the end, we couldn't afford for me to NOT stay home. Even though I made a fairly decent income, I would have literally only been working to pay for childcare. Pair that with gas money, car maintenance, tolls and other travel expenses as well as the occasional lunch out and well, then I was actually spending more then I was making.

When I landed on bed rest the first time at 12 weeks we bit the bullet and decided I would resign at that time. It ended up being a blessing in disguise because I ended up on bed rest again a few weeks later and THEN there was the NICU and bringing home two preemies who needed extra special care. I don't know how I would have juggled all of that and continued to work full time, my heart goes out to those who have done it. Not to mention the fact that we would have likely needed a higher level of childcare for Addison with her feeding tube.

Being a stay at home mom is not for the faint at heart. Sure it's a blessing and many people dream of being able to stay home. But it's also a lot of work. (Nope I am not getting into the Mommy Wars. My working mom friends work just as hard as I do and I have the utmost respect and admiration for them. My own mom was a working mom, while her mother was a stay at home mom.) I have days where I feel like pulling my hair out and cannot wait until bedtime. There are also days filled with smiles, laughter, hugs, cuddles and lots of fun. It's all worth it in the end.

Just because we can "afford" for me to stay at home doesn't mean that we aren't making sacrifices or cutting corners where we can to make ends meet (remember my post about clipping coupons?), as well as insure that I can continue to stay home at least for now.  I wouldn't be able to do this if not for some sacrifices on the hubs part too, and his willingness to work those extra hours when we need it (not that he has a whole lot of choice because overtime comes with the job and isn't always optional.)

I have often been asked how long I will stay home. The short answer is "I don't know." There are a lot of variables to that equation. Ideally I would like to stay home for as long as possible, and perhaps go back to work part-time once Addison and Blake are in school. That being said, it's important to both Jake and I at least one of us is there for them before and after school and can actively participate in school activities with them. Not to mention the flexibility to be there when one of them is sick and needs to stay home or has a doctor's appointment - you name it. And then there is still the possibility of another child down the line. As long as we can afford it, I hope to be able to stay at home with the next little one too.

If you are planning to stay at home once your little one is born, or are wondering if you can afford to stay home... my advice is to save every penny you can now. Try living off of just one salary and banking yours. Pay off any debt that you can now, so it's not hanging over your head. Many people would recommend that you have a good savings, though that is more a general rule of thumb then just prepping to stay at home. Reality is that sometimes it doesn't all work out so that you are comfortably prepared for becoming a stay at home mom (I still planned to have another 20+ weeks to work before I resigned), but as I have learned you can make it work in other circumstances. And maybe right now it's not the right time for you to stay at home, but you can later. Or maybe your husband would be better suited to stay home. Or you are both meant to be working parents. That's ok too. Do what works best for you and your family.

Don't let society make you feel guilty for whichever option you choose. As long as you are happy, your family is happy and you child(ren) is(are) well taken care of then you have done a job well done.

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