If you had told me 7 years ago that I would be a full-time stay-at-home mom, I would have definitively said, "Hard pass. Nope, not me." I had dreams of working throughout my kids' lives. I am a teacher by trade, and so was my mom. I thought my children would live a childhood much like mine - getting to school early with me and staying late, spending most days in the halls of school while I prepped my own classroom. However, all of that changed the moment we got pregnant with my oldest daughter. Now I have been a SAHM/WAHM for the past 7 years, and I don't see an end in sight.
I taught preschool and kindergarten before we started to grow our family. I loved it and I didn't see me stopping anytime soon. When we got pregnant with our oldest, we quickly realized that day care for an infant in California would cost way more than I would get paid. Financially, it didn't make sense for me to work. So, two weeks before she arrived, I left my job. My husband is military and deployed 3 months after she was born, so I was actually thankful that I could be home with her instead of having to get up for work every morning. Since then, I never really considered going back to a traditional job.
I have always loved working though. It's weird - I know - but even though I often don't get paid much (or sometimes nothing at all), I love producing something outside of motherhood. I decided it would be my goal to try and build a career working from home instead of a traditional 9 to 5 job.
What About When the Kids are in School?
Now I do work from home. I run my own business in branding and virtual assistant services, I have a military spouse YouTube channel, I am the managing editor of Daily Mom Military, and two days a week I get back to my teaching roots by running a preschool from home (one of my first businesses after having kids). I love it. LOVE IT. I have found a new career that I never thought I'd have and the biggest perk is that I get to stay home with my kids.
But I often get asked, "What about when the kids are in school? Will you go back to work then?" Short answer: No. I have no desire to get up early or spend my days in a classroom or office. I love having the flexibility that I do now to be there when my kids are sick, to run errands, or simply to workout.
Back when I was going through the whole "should I work, should I stay home" debate, I read several articles about how developmentally it is more important for you to be present with your child during the later stages of their development versus the early infant and toddler years. In short, there are so many changes that children are experiencing during early adolescence and beyond, having a parent available and present during those stages of life is important.
It seems backwards, I know. Most parents feel that they should be present when their kids are young so they don't miss out on major developmental milestones. However, basic albeit, loving, care can be provided by any caregiver without major repercussions to a child's development. But during periods of major personal development, like the pre-teen and teenage years where they are so easily influenced by peers, children need the positive influence of their parents being present with them.
It is also harder for a parent who is working full-time and who has the idea that their child is self-sufficient to recognize negative patterns. When a parent is able to be there for their child right after school, attend games, and be a listening ear, they will be more aware of the unspoken needs of their children.
This isn't to say that working parents can't be present for their children or recognize negative patterns. Many parents are able to balance the changes in their child along with a career. However, for many of us, work gets the best of us and even with best efforts we may miss the signs that our child is giving us that they need help
I have been fortunate enough to given the opportunity to stay home with my children. I can give myself, and my family, the option to have a parent at home. I have worked to develop businesses that I can do from home which is important to me as a mother and as a military spouse. But most importantly, I want to be home and available to my three girls as they go through some of the biggest changes in their lives. I want to be present for the days where they are going through intense hormonal changes, for when they are crying over boys, and to explain that girls can be mean but that they are stronger. I want to be a SAHM when my kids are all in school because my job right now is mom first. And I'm lucky enough to be able to make that choice.
Looking for more? Check out "Your Kids DO Benefit from Having a Working Mom" here on Daily Mom