10.29.2013

Working Vs. Staying Home


I went back to work 9 months ago after ‘staying home’ for 4 years. I put that in quotes because I did go to school full time for most of that time, except right after I gave birth. My schedule was flexible and I was home for most of the day with the kiddo.



I’m not here to debate which is right because really either one is perfectly fine. People who stay home obviously feel that’s the best, those of us that work would probably say differently. These are just my thoughts after transitioning between the two for the last year.

Before I had children I never ever wanted to stay home, I also never wanted to be a teacher, in fact it was up in the air if I ever wanted children. One day I just decided it was time to see how cute our kids would be :) It really takes a certain type of woman to stay home AND DO IT WELL. I sucked at it, I was forever trying to find reasons to leave the house, shopping being my number one go to on a regular weekday. Being that we lived a little ways outside of the city, I put, oh around 80k miles on my car in less than 3 years.




The older Madison got the more I realized that teaching your kid stuff was NOT EASY. With her there was no, oh let’s sit down and learn our letters. I’m sure I was doing it wrong, I am not patient, but it was frustrating and not fun for any of us. Thank God for preschool! She was behind all of her friends that went to daycare every day, her speech was slow to develop, and I felt like a terrible parent.  Preschool changed all that, she learned to work in groups, she learned to listen to people besides her parents, she learned to take turns, and she learned her letters, numbers, weekdays, months, songs, prayers, etc.



Going back to work was my inevitable decision after finishing my degree, college isn’t cheap. On one hand I was eager for a new challenge, to be around adults, to learn new things. On the other I was scared I would miss out on so much. I wouldn’t be able to volunteer for her class stuff or take her to the arboretum on a Wednesday morning just because it was gorgeous out. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a very flexible boss who is totally fine with me taking off a few hours to be with her for a special occasion.



I’m not going to lie; I’m actually a little relieved that I won’t be staying home with Aiden. I think the stress of taking care of a baby all day everyday took some of the joy out of it for me when Madison was a baby, maybe just because she was a difficult baby? While we did have some good moments for sure, I won’t say that I felt great about my situation. Plus I think Oliver taking on more this time around will be good for him, it’s only fair that he take a lot of the night feeding given that he doesn’t have to be at work until noon? Haha. Poor guy.  He had the luxury of leaving every morning last time; it will be interesting to switch roles.


Money obviously plays a role, our life is much easier with both of us working and saving. Could we do it on one? Maybe, but it would mean no extras, no preschool, no vacations. We enjoy our lives and it takes two of us to make it happen.
I’m sure it won’t be that black or white when the time comes, but I’m hoping that I’ve learned a thing or two from the first one :) Have any of you gone back to work after staying home?

44 comments :

  1. I could have written this exact same post.

    I stayed home with my son for 13 weeks, then transitioned back to work very slowly from part time to full time. Right now my schedule allows me to work 36 hours M-Thr and I work the remaining 4 from home.

    Every Friday around 2pm, I am reminded why I don't stay home full time. I'm really, really bad at being a stay at home mom. I lack patience, my son thrives in a busy environment with kids his age.

    Day care has been such a blessing for us. Like you, my schedule is flexible enough I can make the occasional class party, etc.

    I still suffer from a lot of mom guilt. I often find myself thinking of him while I'm at work and thinking about work while I'm with him. I know it's a daily battle I won't always win. But I still hold fast to the idea that we are doing what is best for our family. We love our lifestyle and our comfort level. We couldn't do that on one income.

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  2. I stayed home just 5 months with both my girls and then my husband was able to take 4 months off after me! It was a great experience for him to be in that role...although the chores weren't done I knew he had bonded with our girls! Some days he even knew more than me about them! I'm a teacher so hours for me are a little kinder than the 9-5 would be. I crave time with my girls but I am also blessed to have summers with them. Bills don't stop so you have to do what you have to do.

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  3. I've never truly stayed home...but when my stepsons were little I was in school and around a lot more. I sucked at it. Exactly what you said, I couldn't stand being home all day and constantly wanted to go do stuff. Unfortunately back then we didn't have much money to do so, so I was just grouchy a lot. My son has gone to childcare outside the home since he was 10 weeks old and I love it. I don't have the personality to be a SAHM I don't think. I like working and having my own time. He is lucky to have an awesome babysitter and really, a second family. It works for us. Everyone has to make that choice for themselves. I think the hardest thing about working when having a little baby is the sleep deprivation - it sucks to not be able to nap!

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  4. Gotta admit, when I first saw the title I was like 'not this again....please!' I've really had it with the working vs staying home debates. BUT, I loved your take. I loved how honest you were and how you're doing what works for your family. Life can be tricky and difficult so do what you can to make it work for you and make you and your family happy!

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  5. I stayed home until my first was 3 and my youngest 11 months. I figured the older one could tell me everything that went on during the day so that made me a little bit more comfortable in my decision. Don't get me wrong, it was hard, I cried for many days when leaving them. I loved being a SAHM. I would still be doing it if finances allowed but like you, we like things and vacations and dance classes and other sports. It all costs money. I did the same thing you did though when I stayed home. We were always on the go and I spent quite a bit of time online shopping when the girls were napping. I always kid that I spent more money when I didn't work but I'm pretty sure that's true. My boss is awesome about letting me go when needed too. I'm just finishing up school and when (if) I leave here, that's one thing I will really miss because I know it's not easy to find.

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  6. I worked full time after my first but quit 8 mo ago when my second was born. Home is where I wanted to be. But I totally understand wanting to work and get to leave for several hours a day. I don't think there is a perfect situation. You just do what you feel is best for you and your family overall. Happy momma = happy family!!

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  7. I've been a SAHM pretty much since the kids were born (over 18 years ago). I always kept busy with small things that brought in a little extra spending money (watched another child, ran a boutique, freelanced for scrapbook magazines). After #4 was born, I did actually work full time for over a year (from home, just running into the office once or twice a week for an hour or so) ... looking back I'm not sure how I did that.

    I love being able to stay at home. Even as the kids are now all in school and we've discussed me maybe going back to work, it does seem so complicated. Hubby works over an hour away, leaving early, getting home late. I have to get the kids everywhere they need to be, if someone is sick or hurt, I need to be available. Even with a flexible job, I think I'd stress out.

    I must admit ... those few hours home alone each day ... heaven!

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  8. Your blogs reads what I felt like five years ago. I was home with a 2 yr old and an infant. I went back to work when my youngest was 9 months old. However, once my oldest went to first grade homework increased and it became overwhelming. I tried to have my me time (running after work everyday) and it cut into her homework time. I wasn't able to workout before work. This year I have a 2nd grader and a kindergartner and homework is no joke. I quit my job a week after school started this year to re-prioritize and give more to my family. After going back to work, I left the teaching up to the pre-school and primary teachers, with hardly any review at home to reinforce. A little advice would be to reinforce, reinforce and reinforce some more at home what they are learning in school. Everyone does what is best for them at the time. There is no wrong way, we just end up reflecting how we would do it differently after the fact! :)

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  9. I totally understand that it takes a lot of work to stay at home and teach your child. I'm staying home with my baby right now because he's only 8months but I do plan on going back when he gets a little older. Even if it's part time - I want to get out of the house.
    I'm curious how it's going to be with your husband taking the midnight feedings... Keep us posted;)

    Join the Link Up Party
    www.happymedley.blogspot.com

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  10. I stayed at home for the first 2 years and then was part time for the third. I've been full time for almost a year and a half now. I had the same problem with never actually staying home. We shopped A LOT. Which I'm not sure how considering we were on one income and BROKE!! But I was lazy. I would lay around on the couch until noon then get up, get us dressed and we'd go shop or to lunch or to the park. There was no learning time, no craft time, none of that other "perfect mom" stuff. Thank god for Nick JR. he still seems to be ahead of most of the kids on the learning curve. I chalk that up to him being around adults 95% of the time. I still have mixed feelings about it. Like you I miss being able to just go to the park when its nice or doing fun stuff with Jace during the day. But on those days where he is in a crappy mood or has more energy than a hummingbird I am so thankful for my time at work! There is definitely no "right" or "wrong" when it comes to parenting. As long as those babies know they are loved we're doing just fine!! <3

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  11. I've always worked outside of the home and I"ve always wondered what it would have been like to stay home but that was really never in the cards for me. I think just like everything-everyone's situation is so different and needs are different. You seem to juggle it well... Madison of course seems so well rounded--that obviosuly you working outside of the home works for your sweet family.

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  12. I am a working mother of 2 - a 3.5 year old and a 1 year old. I really struggle with the decision to stay working or just stay at home. I feel like I only get to see them for 20 minutes in the morning and about an hour at night. I HATE that. I am working on my MBA right now so I will continue to work until them but am seriously thinking about either working part time or not working. But you know how the saying goes - the grass is always greener on the other side. Why can't I be a stay at home mom that sends their kids to daycare? Oh yeah, daycare costs 20k/year...

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  13. I went back to work in August after being at home for almost 7 years. It has been wonderful and terrible at different moments, but it was the right decision for me. I enjoyed being at home and I think it was easier for our family to have one adult without a schedule, but I love my new role outside the house. I think you just have to decide what is best for you and your family and don't look back. Also, don't compare yourself or your situation to others - it doesn't do any good. Live your life and love your life! If you love yourself and you love your kids, you're doing it right! ;)

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  14. I quit my well paying, corporate job when pregnant with the second. Most days I consider checking Monster for full time jobs! Ha! It's not easy either way! 😊

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  15. I stayed home for 11 years doing daycare. For me, it was a great decision...I soooo badly wanted to be home, but we couldn't afford one income. However, I do feel that my kids suffered a bit with me being so stressed out, lol! Now I work outside the home 3-4 days a week and I LOVE it! I support both types of moms, we are not all the same:)

    By the way, I religiously read your blog but never post much, you motivate me to keep working out!!

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  16. First off I love reading your blog!! I'm a mother of a beautiful 3 (almost 4 year old) Daphne and I had my son Cameron in August of 2012. Going back to work after having Daphne was very difficult for me. I had several friends who were all at home mothers and I felt like I was failing as a mother because I couldn't be there with her. I'm so blessed to have my Mother watch them for me which is a huge help on our budget as well. I finally had a conversation with a co-worker at the gym where I teach and she said, "Christy, it's about quality of time, not quantity." I think that was my "ah-hah" moment. I realized that there are some women who are home with their children and may not give them the quality time they need because as an at home mother there's ALWAYS work you are doing. I think staying home vs. working is a personal decision. I choose to work for almost all of the exact same reason you do, and when I'm home I do the best I can to get quality time with them. Most nights it's just snuggling, watching a movie, playing a game, coloring, playing cars with Cameron, etc. I do know that whether we are home or working we all love our babies just the same and we all deserve more credit than we give ourselves.

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  17. I stayed home with Jack and Jude until a few months ago at 4 & 2. I am glad I had that time with them...but I was BAD at it. I got very easily frustrated with them. I was NOT good at teaching them (luckily Jack has been speaking full sentences since he was about 10 month old.) Being home and broke was no fun. I DID have an AWESOME support of friends when I moved to Omaha, I have AWESOME Mom friends. But thats when I was preg with Jude and Jack was 2, before that it was me and Jack in a big city, none of my friends had kids and my hub was going to school and working. It was lonely and boring. I decided to go back to work because my 2 year old is a complete social butterfly and needed to learn more. My father in law is retired so he picks them up from school at 11:30 and they go home, nap and then I am there at 5pm. It works well for him too cause he has a "job" a purpose everyday and gets to hang out with the boys everyday which he LOVES.

    My house is way less clean and I feel guilty on days my 2 year old doesnt want to go to school and asks to stay home with Mommy (Jack the 4 year old likes going to school most days) other than that it completely was the right decision. They are learning more than I could teach them, I enjoy our time together so much more and I have way more patients with them. Having money to do fun things and having a routine instead of just sitting around with my Mom friends works for us. There IS NO right or wrong. Both have their pros and cons. Ive done it both. As long as you are doing what you think it right for YOUR family, you are doing something right.

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  18. I stayed home for several months after having my first child and to be honest, it was way not fulfilling. My husband worked long hours, most of my friends hadn't had children yet, I longed for adult interaction and I felt like I worked too hard for my bachelors degree to "just" stay home. So, I went back and then 6 years later my son was born, I returned when my maternity leave was up. And it gave me a sense of stability that no matter how long my night was, I knew my day job. I was good at it.

    Last year, we made the decision that I would stay home with the kiddos full time. Honestly, in the past I would never have even considered it. Ever.

    But, a year in and it is the best decision that I have made. I am more involved in activities (with and without kids), have a better routine and I can't believe I really like it :)

    Sure, the "mommy wars" will always be there. Who works outside the home, who doesn't, who does both, etc. But, right now, this works for my family. :)

    So, Meg, you do what is best for you! I think we need to support women in whichever role they choose. You go, girl!

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  19. My Mom stayed home with us, so my entire life I thought I would just love to do that. I was so afraid that if I worked that I would miss out on so much. Fast forward to having my baby I got to stay home with him for 12 weeks. I was a mess. I didn't know how to function! I've always worked, that's where I pay our bills plan our grocery lists, plan what we're going to eat. I would end up every day at my Mom's in the afternoon, because I needed to be around people that could talk back. It would drive me crazy because it was easier to stay at my house, but I just would go nuts. I was stressed all of the time. Then I went back to work and I felt this relief. I was like my son is actually fun. I never end up at my Mom's in the afternoon. Now I have it nice and I don't have to work full time so I get off at 2 and we are home by 2:30. I love it because work gives me just the break I need and I don't feel guilty about leaving him to go work out or leave for a little bit to go run and errand or something, but I actually want to be with him when I am. I like it too because like you said, we do have the extra money now to take vacations, and buy extras when we want to. I've learned that every person is different and what works for each person is different and that's ok!

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  20. I've always had to work, it was just never feasible financially for me to stay home. I enjoy working (mostly) though because I need the stimulation of other adults. I did stay home for about 8 months right after having baby girl #4 but that got pretty boring after a while and I never had the energy to pack up all the kids and take them somewhere

    I think finding a daycare you love is key because you know that the people there care about your kids as much as you do.

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  21. Nothing wrong with being a working mama!

    I took all 12 weeks of FMLA when my son was born. 8 weeks was covered by STD insurance because I had a C-section, but the rest I used sick/vacation time I had accrued.

    I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work for your family. When my son was really little he spent 2 days with Grandma and 3 days at daycare, which was a nice balance. Not sure if you have any family members willing to help with a newborn but it made a big difference for me in the beginning.

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  22. I've been a sahm for 2 1/2 years. It wasn't planned at all, in fact it's something I never said I would be. But the same week I discovered I was pregnant with my son I was laid off from my dream job. I enrolled in college again & had been accepted into my program of choice but became so sick from pregnancy I had to put it on hold. I was determined to find another job before my son was born. It never happened. So I played the sahm role always wishing to enter back into the work force. When he was 7 months we got pregnant with his sister (semi planned). She's now 7 months & he is 22 months & I wouldn't change having them this close. I knew I could never pay for daycare for even one child if I went back to work in my field so for now I stay home & wait for them to enter kindergarten. I love being a sahm but feel the pressure of my kids not excelling intellectually as fast as those in daycares. But the quality of daycares in our area scare me so I'm happy to try my best teaching them at home for now.

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  23. I've been a sahm for 2 1/2 years. It wasn't planned at all, in fact it's something I never said I would be. But the same week I discovered I was pregnant with my son I was laid off from my dream job. I enrolled in college again & had been accepted into my program of choice but became so sick from pregnancy I had to put it on hold. I was determined to find another job before my son was born. It never happened. So I played the sahm role always wishing to enter back into the work force. When he was 7 months we got pregnant with his sister (semi planned). She's now 7 months & he is 22 months & I wouldn't change having them this close. I knew I could never pay for daycare for even one child if I went back to work in my field so for now I stay home & wait for them to enter kindergarten. I love being a sahm but feel the pressure of my kids not excelling intellectually as fast as those in daycares. But the quality of daycares in our area scare me so I'm happy to try my best teaching them at home for now.

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  24. We have 4 and I cannot go to work cause we just simply cannot afford care. My older two go to school all day, my 3rd goes 4 mornings a week. It would cost me 150 a week alone just to have the older two in afterschool care. The other two would be about 360 a week! So we are in that stage where we just cannot afford for me to work so we have to make it work. I am pretty frugal but do get bored. I miss adult interaction, etc. But I know this too shall pass!

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    1. Absolutely correct: This too shall pass. Soon enough they'll be in school & you'll have to decide what works best for your family again. I as home for 10 yrs. My youngest is now in 1st. I worked this year as a sub. it's convenient in many ways. I enjoy & work well with children. I have 2 gifted students & feel confident in educating/explaining things in a way that children understand. There's a difference/ juggling of having to be somewhere (work) as well as all of meeting my kids needs. Having responsibilities outside & inside the home. The extra money is GREAT, but it's has come with a cost in my case.

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  25. Right after I read your post (and mind you, I, myself don't have any children, but I still like to read about them), I read this post. I think you'd enjoy it!
    http://momastery.com/blog/2013/10/29/friendly-fire-4/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Momastery+%28Momastery%29

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  26. I stayed at home for almost 4 years, then I made the transition to school full time, and now I work. Each scenario has it's ups and downs, and sometimes I wish that I had the option to stay at home again. I think I mostly feel that way when I am super busy and feel overwhelmed. I was a pretty decent housewife, and loved staying at home with babies. The toddler years were tougher for me, and that is when I wanted to look into preschool. Well, we couldn't afford preschool and me also staying at home, so it felt natural that I would go back to college and not be a SAHM anymore. Realistically, when I stayed at home, I wasn't completely stimulated or happy. I try to remember that when I wish I could just ditch my profession and sleep in or stay in my pajamas all day long. I am a much happier person making money, having adult conversations, and interacting with the world. Besides, by 18 or 19 months, I was frustrated and wanted a change. I just want to be a mom- not a fulltime teacher or sole source of entertainment for my child. I also get sick of the expectation that since I was home, I could cook and clean all the time. Wretch! Not my cup of tea anymore!

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  27. I worked (Teacher) for the first 2.5 years of my daughter's life. Then I had my son and started staying at home. I thank God for finding an awesome active playgroup because otherwise I think I would have gone insane. After the first year of my staying home, my daughter began pre-school 3 days a week. Now she is in Kindergarten and my son goes to pre-school 3 days a week and I have started substitute teaching a few days a week. It is nice to get out and to be making some money and I will likely be going back to teaching full time in the next year or two. I have no regrets either way. I enjoyed staying home but this was always a temporary plan for our family. I have no desire to stay home forever.

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  28. You are so right every person & situation is different. I've been a SAHM since my girls were born, twelve years ago. One of my daughters was diagnosed with Autism when the girls were 2 so that pretty much made the decision that I would not go back to work. She had so many therapy appointments & needed me to work with her at home too. Plus her sister also had developmental delays which required therapies & me working with her at home as well. Today they are both doing amazing, it's a miraculous story. However, homework is overwhelming for them & for me. So I'm glad I have the time to help them because most nights it's hours of homework. I don't ever remember my parents helping me with my homework growing up, but times have changed A LOT. I don't think I could deal with the stress & responsibility of a fulltime job & then coming home to help with homework & run the girls to all their activities. I applaud all working moms because I don't know how you do it.

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  29. Seriously thanks for writing this! I am 19 weeks pregnant with my first child and i am always wondering do i stay home with the baby or do i go back to work! luckily my boss if amazing and said that i can come back to work on reduced days if i want. As much as i know that i will love my child and miss him while i am at work. i also know that i will appreciate every little moment i get to myself whether it be at work or the gym or whatever. each mom is different but i would go crazy being at home all day long everyday!
    You a great mom keep on rockin it!

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  30. We are pretty lucky here in Canada, as we get a year off for maternity leave. I took 10 months and then my husband took 2. I actually quit my job when my daughter was 2 and didn't go back to work full time until she was 4. I loved being home with her, but I missed my adult time. Plus, I felt that my brain was "wilting" for lack of a better word. No matter how much you love your child, everybody needs a life outside of "home". Makes for a more well-rounded and happy family.

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  31. I would be the worst stay at home mom ever! We all have our strengths and weaknesses and recognizing them is key! I get horrible cabin fever, limited patience, and I have NO idea how to teach a little person how to speak, learn numbers/colors, etc. I'd rather leave that up to the professionals :)

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  32. I am really impressed by your honesty in this post. I also felt/feel the exact same way - I think my kids have excelled in their daycare/preschool years.

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  33. I'm pretty sure that your daughter being behind is not because you stayed home. She's learning all those things at pre school now because she is at the age cognitively to learn that stuff no matter where she is. That is why pre school begins at age 4. We as mothers are "teachers" to our children whether we are aware of it or not, whether we like it or not. Its called raising our kids. They primarily absorb from us. I have always been a stay at home mom, so I dont know what happens when they spend most of their begginings to their lives with someone else. Children are like sponges their first few years, always learning from everyone around them, and it's not just the abc's. I prefer to be the one doing that for my own children full time. Aftet all its only for those 4 short precious years. As good parents we must always sacrifice for our children, and they must always come first. I hope all works out well for your children, for you, and for your husband. *just my humble opinion*

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  35. This is such a great post. I felt like I didn't have much of a choice other than to return to work after my babies were born. When Aaron was born 13 1/2 years ago, I only had 7 weeks at home with home and then returned to a 30 hour work week for a year before going to full-full time. With my daughter I was able to take the full 12 week maternity leave and then returned once again to a temporary reduced schedule. The reduced schedule was not an option after my 3rd was born but I did have the 12 week leave. I never felt like staying home was an option for me, we are a 2 income family and some will say that's a choice and so be it. I felt so lucky that we found an in home day care provider that turned out to be more of an adopted grandparent for our children. They have all gone there for their entire day care experience and she has become a treasured part of our family and I will always be grateful for the ways that she helped us raise our children. I don't doubt for a minute that they are better because of it. I think having her in their lives is a large reason I didn't suffer too much from "mom guilt". Maybe that sounds awful, but I've never felt like they suffered from having 2 working parents and an awesome caregiver to care for them in our absence. It's a very individual choice, and the same thing is not right for everyone. To each her own. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on such a personal issue in such a thoughtful and respectful way. That's why we love you!

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  36. I've been a stay-at-home-mom AND a working mom (I work from home as a professional musician/recording artist/composer), and it is NOT easy. I am a lot like you where I really struggle with being domesticated and enjoying the role of SAHM. There are days when I feel "Gosh I'm so lucky I get to stay home with my kids", but a lot of the time I long for adult interaction more, to not have to feel like a maid, or wishing I had more time to do more things other than wipe poop off the toilet seat. And for my work, it's whenever I get time. Sometimes it's late at night, during naptime, or if I'm desperate for long interrupted chunks of time I hire a babysitter - which gets mega expensive for 8 hours.

    My husband works full time for Microsoft and he makes really good money, but we've talked about switching so that he is a stay-at-home dad and I work full time on my music. But it needs to happen when my music is at a point where it's making as much as his job is, and right now it's about half. So not quite there yet. But it's sort of a goal for the future. My hubby woudl LOVE to stay home with the kids, and honestly he would make a much better house-husband than I make a house wife. Hahaha. So I hear ya.

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  38. SO GLAD you posted this! I posted a question similar on Instagram the other day and quickly deleted it because I was scared of the debate and comments that would begin, I didn't want anyone to be offended (and it seems like people are either pro one way or another).

    Don't feel guilty for your decision, I read a few of the comments above and just shook my head. We keep having this discussion about what to do when the baby comes, and I plan on staying home for 12 weeks and then pursing a part time job until we do IVF again. I know I will miss the social aspect of working as well as the extra income, although it will be SO HARD to leave the baby the days that I do work, I know it's what is best for our family. I figured part-time work is sort of the best of both worlds for the first year, so it was a good middle point for both the husband and I to agree on!

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  39. Thank you for this post. While I am a stay at home Mom currently, it wasn't planned and the lack of patience you mention is how I feel frequently staying at home. I really struggle with knowing if this is the right decision or not. So I love reading working Moms who love working (my Mom was a working Mom and she liked it too).
    Have a great day! :)

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  40. I stayed at home for the first 8 months when my daughter was born. I went back to work out of need for our family, I worked for two and a half years and just recently quit to stay at home again when my second was born.

    It has been a tough transition. There are aspects of working full time that I miss, but I'm just trying to enjoy this season too.

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  41. Great post. I went back to work after my daughter was born, this time I think I want to stay home.

    Parenting is a team job. It's so wonderful to have a partner to help out!!

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  42. I found a great company that focuses on living a natural and healthy lifestyle. While being able to earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at http://sm.momsprovide.com

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