Being a Working and Stay-at-Home Mom

The working verses stay-at-home mom issue will always be something to debate about. There are too many factors to consider and every situation is so unique, that there is no reason to compare or debate about which is better.  It's different for every mom and every family, and there definitely is not one right answer. I met another mom this summer who assumed I didn't work and said "I don't know how you do it. I need a break from my kids. Staying at home is so hard". I've had moms that stay home say the exact same thing to me about working. It used to offend me. I didn't like the feeling that they felt bad for me, but I also wanted to punch them in the face because I wanted to be home, but it wasn't the right decision for our family at the time. When someone that I hardly knew said the "I don't know how you do it" line to me about staying home, I realized that there is no reason to be offended. Working moms are in awe of stay-at-home moms, and stay-at-home moms are in awe of working moms. Why? Because they are both incredibly hard roles. Hard and rewarding for very different reasons. Some days I don't know how any of us do either one.

In the past year I can honestly say I've done it all. The first two months after Beckett was born I was at home on maternity leave. Then I went to work full time. Because I work for a school, I have summers off so I have spent the last two months staying home. Now I am returning to start another school year, but this time it will be part time. I also have a photography business on the side, so I have worked from home too. And it's hard. Every single one of those situations is hard. They are also rewarding, fun, fulfilling, and challenging for completely different reasons. I feel so grateful that I have been able to try it all in such a short amount of time because "the grass is always greener on the other side". I have been to both sides and here are the pros and cons I have noticed for my situation.

Staying at Home Pros

  • Obviously being there for your kids at all times is a big one. You don't have to worry about what someone else is feeding them, how much TV they are watching, if they are safe, how they are being disciplined, and if they miss you.
  • More time to cook healthy home cooked meals.
  • It's easier to work out every day. 
  • It's much easier to be consistent with schedules and sleep training. 
  • It's less stressful because you're not trying to get out the door early in the morning, and you don't have your work load to worry about. But I feel like I need something else to work on because my mind would quickly turn into a mush of toys and baby einstein movies. Having my photography business is great for giving me a creative outlet. 
  • Not having to get up and try to get out the door in the morning is so much easier. The problem is sometimes you don't get going at all and all the sudden it's 3 in the afternoon and no has gotten dressed yet. 
Staying at Home Cons
  • You would think you have more time to get the house cleaning done, but this is false. In reality, you have more house cleaning to do because every time you turn around there is another dish in the sink or more toys on the floor. 
  • It can be isolating and lonely. Especially during the winter months when it's harder to get out of the house.
  • Sometimes the days just drag on. Those last 10 minutes until it's nap time seem like 2 hours. 
  • Less money. The really crappy part is you have so much time on your hands all you want to do is go shopping and redecorate the house. 
  • That darn pantry is just right there. Life is like one big constant snack attack. 
  • At the beginning of summer I felt like we were living a dream. We went hiking and swimming with friends almost every day and it was so fun. After a few months the excitement faded and we were planning daily outings just because we needed to for our sanity, but it began to feel like the same old thing. 
Working Pros
  • It's a wonderful break. I used to hate when people would say this, because it sounds terrible to say you need a break from your kids. I don't feel like I need a break from Beckett, but it's a break from cleaning the house, wiping down highchairs, changing dirty diapers, and wearing sweat pants all day. It's a chance to put on some nice clothes, and get out to chat with your own kind (adults). 
  • Nothing has ever been rewarding or fulfilling to me as being a mom. But the satisfaction from having a job and loving what you do is different, and wonderful too. 
  • You have more money. It's interesting when you break it down though, because going to work can cost money too. Maybe if you don't work then you don't need two cars. Costs on gas go down, you don't go out to lunch as much, zero child care expenses, and you have more time to make things at home that you used to buy. 
  • As mentioned in the stay-at-home cons: there is less cleaning to do. I usually clean up the kitchen and toys after Beckett has gone to bed. When we wake up in the morning we have a quick breakfast and we're out the door. We get home in the evening and the house is just the way we left it. By this time of the day when we stay home, the sink is full of dishes, I've swept the floor at least twice, the bathroom get dirtier, and there are toys scattered everywhere
  • I don't like the idea of my baby being taken care of by someone else 40 hours a week, but I do think it's good for kids to be used to babysitters and being away from mom. They get to socialize with other kids, and get used to being in other environments.

Working cons
  • Dinner is always a challenge when I work. I LOVE using the crock pot. But there are only so many pulled pork and soup meals you can handle. 
  • When I am home during the day, I can have dinner ready to go and the dishes done by the time Mark gets home. Then after dinner we can go play outside or just relax. When we have both been at work all day it seems like by the time the dishes are done, Beckett had a bath, and lunches are packed for the next day, it's practically time for us to go to bed. 
  • Arranging for child care. Finding the right person can be hard, and it gets really stressful when you do find someone you love and they get sick. 
  • It breaks my heart to leave my baby with someone else when they are sick. But sometimes taking a day off of work is so hard to do last minute. When I'm sick it doesn't matter either way because you can't rest very much when your'e chasing kids around the house. 
  • There may be less of the daily cleaning to do, but weekly chores like grocery shopping and laundry have to get done no matter what. I don't want to do those things after work when I haven't seen Beckett all day, or on our weekends when those are our only times to go out and have fun, so I end up doing them late at night after Beckett is in bed. 

After looking at all the pros and cons, I feel like I will have the best of both worlds this year. Some days that I go to work will be a challenge, and staying at home in the winter with only one car is going to be rough sometimes. This way I will experience the pros and cons of each situation every other day. I feel so lucky to have the chance to stay home more. I have a wonderful friend that will be watching Beckett two days a week and my amazing Mom will still drive all the way to our house once a week to spend time with Beckett. And I'm especially grateful for my husband who sacrifices and works super hard so we could make this work!