I have had to opportunity to experience the best (and the worst) of both worlds when it comes to working or staying home with children. With my first child I had to work. At first just part-time then I went to full-time later on. Then with my second child, I couldn’t afford to work. I know that sounds silly, but when childcare for two children costs as much as I was bringing home, it didn’t make sense for me to work just to pay for childcare. So here I am now as a stay-at-home mom.
But until you have experienced firsthand both worlds, you cannot possibly and reasonably understand the challenges that they each bring.
Have you heard about the “Mommy Wars”? Well if not, it’s basically that other Moms have been outwardly judgmental towards others moms because they chose to do things differently. Working moms judge stay-at-home moms and vice versa. Both do it without fully understanding what the other life is like.
I have had enough of this crap. So I am taking a stand and I am going to explain some of the Pros and Cons of each lifestyle. My goal is to hopefully enlighten someone about moms who have made the decision to either stay home with their kids or return to work. As I said, I have done both. I have experienced them both firsthand.
THE WORKING MOM
You get more adult social interaction without having to join a group or go out searching for friends. You probably have at least one person at work that you can talk to and gossip with. Believe it or not, it’s good for your health! And it doesn’t take much effort. You both are already there and you already have something in common, your work.
You will hopefully have a little more income to work with. Having two incomes can make things a lot easier, even if it’s just a little bit. It makes it easier to stretch your money until the next payday. Especially if you get paid on alternating weeks as your husband.
Your child/children will learn important social lessons if they go to daycare or even family member’s house. Children need to interact with people other than their parents and siblings. They need to learn how to take directions from other adults to prepare them for school. And they need to learn how to deal with kids as well.
Your life may be a little more organized. You make not always think it is. But just having an actual routine and schedule you have to follow helps so much. It makes you prioritize your time so that you can make sure that everything gets done.
You will have to find someone you trust to take care of your child while you are at work. And not only to they have to watch your child, but also feed them, and hopefully teach them things, too. That can be so hard to do. Especially with all of the stories you hear of babysitters or even family members causing harm to the children.
Childcare can be so expensive, too. If you don’t have parents or a family member willing to do it for free or cheap, you could be spending a few hundred dollars a month on childcare. For my two kids to go to daycare full-time it was going to cost me over $900/month! And that wasn’t even the high end fancy daycare. That was a day care that many lower income families used.
Children will also learn things from daycare and other kids that you may not want them to know. They will learn words and behaviors that force you to have a “lesson” with your child about why it’s not ok to say that or act that way. They also get sick ALL THE TIME! People don’t want to stay home with their kids when they are sick, so then your kid gets sick. And if you’re like me, you actually take the time off and stay home with them.
You may feel like you’re always in a hurry and that you don’t have time for anything. You may feel like you never get to rest. You go to work and then you may have to come home and cook and clean and then get everyone fed and in bed. Sometimes you want to pull your hair or runaway for a couple days.
THE STAY-AT-HOME MOM
You don’t have to go to work and deal with a boss, co-workers and all of the drama and crap that comes with having a job. You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn (hopefully) and get ready. You don’t have to deal with all of the idiots of the world if you don’t want to leave your house!
You get to spend every day with your kids. You get to watch first hand when they learn something new or reach a new milestone. You can also be able to be the one to teach your child like a daycare would.
You learn to be creative with kids, money, and everyday life. You learn how to make crafts with the random items you have around your house. You figure out ways to make household items last longer and not waste anything or you may learn how to make some things yourself.
You get to wear whatever you want! No lame uniforms or dress codes to follow. Hello, yoga pants! And if you’re having a “blah” day or you’re not feeling well, you can stay in your pajamas all day if you want to.
You don’t have someone telling you what needs to be done and when, so it is very easy to procrastinate and not get anything done. You have to be a self-motivator if you want anything to get done. Otherwise you will end up on the couch all day and you and your kids won’t get dressed until 4 PM or not at all. You have to be the one create a schedule and force yourself to stick to it.
You don’t get any time off unless you make time for yourself. There are no breaks or lunches and your shift literally never ends. You don’t get to leave and just forget about work until the next day. You are always there and you always have to take care of the kids. So if you don’t schedule out time for yourself away from home and the kids you will go insane!
You may feel very disconnected from the world. Unless you make an effort to get out and connect with other people, you can become very lonely. That is why you hear about and see all of those mommy groups. You won’t get much time away from family so it is important to find other moms with similar interests and ones in a similar life stage.
Because you are a stay-at-home mom, everything related to the kids and the house becomes your job. All cleaning is your responsibility. You are in charge of feeding, dressing, bathing and getting the kids to bed. Making sure they have enough mental stimulation other than the T.V. all day long. And believe it or not it is actually quite difficult to keep a house clean when you and the kids are home all day every day.
These are just a few things about each life style. I could go on and on about how each one is just as good but also just as hard as the other. But the point is, that no matter how you do it, being a MOM is HARD WORK, PERIOD!!!
As moms, it is our responsibility to do whatever works for our own families. What works for my family will not be the same as another family, and I am OK with that. It’s never alright to judge another mother for how she has to support her family. Whether that means going to work and putting her kids in daycare or staying home with them. You never know if it was really a personal choice or one forced on them by circumstances. As I said earlier, I did not have a choice with either of my kids.
I hope this helps at least one woman realize that we all work hard for our families and that we need to support each other instead of demean and criticize each other.
THE AVERAGE MOM