I never thought I wanted children, and my husband and I were in agreement on this through our dating, engagement and first 7 years of marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed our child free- life, full of last minute plans, vacations and guilt-free nights that required me to work late. I was proud to be a working professional and looked forward to work. But something happened when I hit my 30’s: I kinda, maybe, sorta wanted to give this whole parenting thing a try. A year after my husband and I had the conversation, we welcomed our daughter into the world and subsequently, everything changed for me. I no longer had the drive to suit up and spend long hours in the office. In fact, the thought terrified me. I wanted to be a stay at home mom.
Despite my heart’s desire, being able to quit working and focus only on mothering was not an option for our family. We live in Southern California, have bills, student loans, car payments and want to pay for our daughter’s college tuition one day. With no plans to move to another state, I needed to keep working. And I’ll be honest- I was pretty mad about it. At first I was angry at the economy. Why was everything so expensive, and especially in California? We didn’t even own a house at the time, and were modest spenders. We hadn’t vacationed in years and I shopped Target for my wardrobe. Then I became frustrated that my husband didn’t make enough money to “allow” me to stay at home. How come all the other moms at the parks had spouses who had bigger salaries? Yeah, that was a horrible feeling to direct at my husband, but it’s how I felt at the time.
In spite of some strong feelings at first, I was eventually able to settle down and find many positive aspects of being a working mom. Personally, I am blessed to be able to work from home. While there are definite moments where I don’t get to relax in the comfort of my own home until well after my daughter is in bed, I also realize how special it is to send off emails while my daughter sits in my lap.
If you’re a working mom who struggles with a desire to be a stay at home mom, but just can’t do it, this is for you. Your time may come where you can quit your job and spend all your time with your kids, but it may not be now. You’re going to need to cling to some positive aspects of working, and believe me, there are plenty!
1. Role Model
If you want to be a stay at home mom, you’re probably focused on being the number one influence in your kids lives, and I get it. I would much rather be there for my daughter, than my boss. But there are many ways you are “there” for your children and being a role model is an important one. Being a working mom doesn’t mean you are showing your kids that you enjoy being away from them. It means you love them enough to work a job to provide for their needs and plan for their future. Trust me, I know it’s tempting to only look at work as the reason you have to leave your kids at daycare, but we’re looking at the positive aspects, right? Now’s a great time to show your kids that hard work results in the feeling of a job well done, and that sometimes we carry through with things that we may not always enjoy. In a way, we are all made to work- we need it for our self-esteem and to feel like we are putting our talents to good use. While your kids are years away from working a job, school is probably around the corner, which is an equally important forum in which to work hard.
2. Creative Outlet
Whether you’re a number cruncher, paper pusher or marketing expert, your job probably provides you with a way to express yourself creatively. As a working mom who spends tons of time with my daughter, believe me when I say that cupcake liner crafts and macaroni jewelry will not meet your creative needs for long. Treasure the time you get to spend at work doing “adult” things and solving problems that don’t involve finding the next episode of Sophia the First or how to get that stain out of your kids favorite T-Shirt.
3. Less Financial Stress
It’s been estimated that 70% of American couples squabble over finances in their marriages, and I’m guessing you’ve had a spat or two yourselves on the topic of money. While your initial argument may have started from not having enough money to stay at home, working will staunch that quickly. It’s a heavy burden for one spouse to carry the entire financial weight of the family. Even if you aren’t saving or investing money, working to pay every bill and need can be too much for one person. If you are a working mom, you are not only providing financially for your entire family, but you are relieving unbelievable pressure from your spouse or other family members who may be supporting you. You don’t have to cringe when the credit card statement comes, or when you receive a random email from your bank. Not only will you have less financial stress, but you’ll probably ease up the marital stress as well.
4. Financial Flexibility
In other words, you can do more fun stuff. While I’m still entirely jealous of my stay at home mom friends, I also find the joy in my financial flexibility. Because I work, I can afford to enroll my daughter in swimming, take her to an afternoon movie and have a special dinner out. Sure, I can’t afford to outfit her in a Burberry wardrobe (who wants that, really?), but I can manage to buy her the things she needs and also do “fun stuff” too. Could I live without those things? Yes, and many stay at home moms are unbelievable budgeters and make much bigger sacrifices to remain at home. My hat is off to them in a big way. But as long as we’re looking at the positive aspects of working, it has to be said that financial flexibility is a big plus.
5. Personal Relationships
Being a stay at home mom can be pretty lonely, despite play dates and your best efforts to find other mom friends. One of the big bonuses of being a working mom is the opportunity to gain personal relatioships with all types of people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. It’s refreshing to make new connections who could even pan out into your personal life. I’ve met some amazing people working, and those friendships have carried on for years- even after we no longer work together. We all need adult friend in our lives, and work can be a wonderful place to engage in adult life.
6. Gives Your Child Independence
You can choose to see childcare as time away from your kids, or you can view it as an opportunity for them to interact with other kids. They can learn to share, communicate and problem solve with kids of different ages, and get much needed exercise and social time. And hopefully, they will be unsually happy to see you when you get off work! Who doesn’t love that?
7. It’s “You” Time
At the very least, time spent at work is time that’s just for you (well, and your boss). Sometimes I admit, I’m envious of the regular breaks my husband gets by being out of the house so often, working in his office. His time spent at home is purposeful and usually in good spirits. Since I work from home, I’m exhausted, tired and well out of patience at the end of day spent all day with my 3-year old. I’d imagine it’s the same for a stay at home mom who watches the clock for her husband’s quitting time. When you’re all out of other ideas as to why working is a positive thing, think about it in terms of regular time that’s just for you. You get a break from your kids constant needs, and can hopefully return home for some intentional time with family.