Could I be a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM)
On a late Monday evening, in the beginning of December, I curled up with my tiny human (affectionately called Squeaker for the guinea pig squeaks that she made as a newborn) and made one of the hardest decisions I had made up until that point. At the time, I had convinced myself that I was insane because I decided to give notice that I would be leaving the workforce and ringing in 2017 as a stay at home mom. It had taken more than a month to come to the decision and it was certainly not an easy one. I did every Internet search from success stories to the “OMG, this just is not for me”. I had written, balled up, and thrown 16 Pro/Con lists – granted they were mostly duplicates, but still, all of that paper added up (I’d never survive District 13).
Days were spent pored over blogs from SAHM ‘s that were masters of whole house organization and living frugally. I made even more lists and I eventually came to the realization that this is my life and no others woman’s circumstances matched up with mine closely enough to be used as an example. Of course, once I stopped obsessing over it I had my ‘aha!’ moment because that is usually the case across the board. My life, my choices, my outcomes. However, if there is anyone as neurotic as I am about over-thinking every decision; here are my top 6 considerations that gave me pause in choosing to stay at home.
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1) Can I afford this? Or can my family function on one income?
If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that this is every parent’s number one question. Understandably so, we live in a world where we value the almighty dollar sign above most else. Luckily for us, it was feasible, but the purse strings are going to be cinched pretty tight from here on out. If you cannot afford to live solely on one salary, what type of addition would be needed to make it feasible? For instance, would it be possible if you were able to get a part time job working an opposite time slot from your spouses’?
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2) What, if any, professional consequences will you face?
I am very lucky in this case as my previous work experience is in emergency services communications (911 Operator / Dispatcher). While I may have new procedures, certifications, and equipment — I should in theory be able to fall back in easily. Those with more project or experience based careers may not be quite as blessed. Another consideration is retirement and this is where I have to take a hit for my choice.
As a state employee most of my adult life, by not working I have nothing going into my retirement account. I am vested at this point, so if nothing else, I will have a small amount for the future. I am still researching additional options that I can try to put into action now to better prepare for retirement. Right now I am lookingoing at 3-3.5 years before my daughter can start school (3-K or Pre-K). That’s of course if we dont have another child.
3) Am I prepared for a change in the dynamic of my relationship?
I thought at the time that this would end up being a non-issue, but it weighed on me heavily and rightly so. Obviously with my staying at home housework, child care, and other domestic responsibilities will fall back on me. Now, please don’t feel that I am obligated to an unfair share of household duties. I have absolutely no qualms working even ifor it means I am the only one doing dishes. That is not to say that I don’t occasionally resent that I don’t readily get the help that I had before. I do feel that we are still in transition at this time and that things will smooth out more in the future.
4) Am I prepared to be the primary parent?
Any parent has bad days and any child will certainly have more difficult days than others. For example, my Squeak was born with her eyes wide open and fights sleep like an octopus. She’s also teething and since she is still nursing I am her best friend. Sure, Hubs tries to help, but there are some days where his company is not enough and she tugs at my shirt for extended periods of time. Then there are other times where she is a bitty baby ringwraith and shrieks until I pick her up. Helpful hint, a baby carrier is amazing, strap her to my back and she’s content for a while.
5) How will I spend my spare time?
Initially I had quite a bit of work setting up and organizing our new home. I thrive on making obsessive lists and have meticulous order in the chaos (trust me, it’s a thing). Beyond that I have 15-20 hobbies that I would like to try my hand at. Watercolor, yes please. Sewing, don’t mind if I do. Toilet paper origami, why the hell not? In hindsight, I grossly miscalculated the amount of downtime that I actually have. There is too much actual work that I get to try to finish while wrestling with a grabby goblin strapped to my back. I can dream though and when she gets older we can take up hobbies together.
6) Will I be happy?
This was the other huge, huge factor when I was thinking of leaving the workforce. I had said repeatedly after my maternity leave that I’d do anything to stay home with her. Squeak is my pride and joy, but in staying home I gave up the vast majority of daily social interactions. It’s a 20 minute drive to get to town just to pick up a few groceries. Play dates need to be a higher priority for both of us. That being said, I am still unwilling to give up our time.
These were my big 6 factors. Of course, there are tons more that may apply differently to each situation. At the end of the day, had I chosen to stay at work, my entire paycheck would have gone to fuel costs and childcare and I wasn’t okay with that on top of having less time with her during the day. If you’re considering staying at home, I hope my list gave you something to digest. For those moms who already took the plunge, what were your biggest deciding factors?