I’ve been a stay-at-home Mom now for almost 9 months, and I am still regularly asked how we made the decision for me to quit working. Let me tell you it wasn’t an easy decision to make and we struggled with it for a number of months before pulling the trigger.
When I first started writing this post I thought I could squeeze it all into one, but the more I worked at it (and the longer it got) the more I realized that to really do it justice I needed to break it up a little bit.
There were two sides to this decision for us, the personal side AND the financial side. Both parts held almost equal weight in the overall decision and I think it’s important for me to share both sides of the coin with you. I’m going to start with the personal side, because in some ways it set the stage for the transition and was what caused us to seriously consider having me leave work.
Before I go too much farther though I have to tell you that although these are the factors that affected our decision for me to stay home, everyone is different. Not everyone WANTS to stay home. So if you are toying with this please don’t simply follow my lead, do what is best for YOUR family and YOUR situation. Everyone is wired differently and things that work for my family may not work for yours.
When I returned to work after my Maternity leave I genuinely wanted to. I enjoyed my job, my employers and co-workers. I just hadn’t anticipated the pressures that would come with trying to balance work and family. In some ways with all the changes that parenting brought about in my life the work/home balance was probably the one that I least expected.
I had been feeling the need for significant change for probably about a year by the time I finally gave my notice at work. I was stressed 90% of the time feeling like I wasn’t really giving 100% of myself anywhere. For anyone who knows me you will know that I don’t like to accept less than my 100%. I feel like giving less than that is failure. It’s just not my style. When you’ve got too many things on your plate you just can’t be 100% all the time.
While I was doing OK at work (you’d have to ask some of my former co-workers for truthful answers to that but I think I was keeping my head above water). I wasn’t doing great at home. The stress that I was feeling was affecting every aspect of my home life. I was always exhausted, and felt like I was failing at home on multiple levels. I was lashing out at my hubby over silly things, and never felt like I could relax or enjoy my “down time” because there were always things to do.
My days off would come and I would feel like I HAD to spend the entire day at home taking care of things around the house. Cleaning, baking, prepping meals, menu planning, budgeting, shopping, etc. All these things had to happen and I only had 2 days a week to get them done. Not only did I only have 2 days a week to get them done but they were 2 spread out days in the week (like Sunday, and Thursday) so by the time my second day off in the week came around I felt like I was starting over. I was playing a perpetual game of catch up.
I was loathe to plan a trip to the park with a friend because I knew it cut into the precious little time I had to accomplish anything significant at home. I also felt like I was leaving a lot of things undone and that my hubby as the self employed and working from home family member often had to pick up the slack. As a result I felt very isolated and lonely. I was desperate for something to change but I didn’t know what.
It was also never my intention to have a child and then only see her for 1 hour a day and yet by the time I commuted to and from work that was about all I was getting to spend with E every day and it was killing me. I was leaving the house between 7:30 and 7:45 to have her at daycare by 8 and me at work by just before 9. Daycare closed by 5 so my hubby was picking her up between 4 & 4:30, but I was rarely home before 6. I literally came home, we had dinner and then I put her to bed. I rarely got to play, interact, or spend any kind of quality time with her and I felt like I was missing out.
We also felt very isolated and lonely as a family. We knew that we needed to connect with other people, but we felt like we could never squeeze it in. “Friends” were people that we saw in passing on Sunday mornings at church as we dropped off or picked up E from the nursery not people that we actually had time to invest in. We were both socially starved but had very little time to do anything about it.
One of the most drastic changes in our lives since I left work is our social life. We have come to realize that we have some AMAZING friends. People that we would miss dearly if we moved away. Not only do we have pretty awesome friends, but we get to spend time with them without sacrificing time together as a family, or alone for the Hubby & I.
We have both felt extremely well cared for and loved by our friends over the last number of months (which is important when you don’t have any family around to fill that roll). In some ways the support that our friends have given our family over the last number of months has been overwhelming. Not only have we been well cared for but we have also been able to care for some of our friends in ways that we’ve never been able to do before because the pressures of work & home took precedence.
Our decision for me to leave work was heavily influenced by the personal side of the equation. If I had felt like I was balancing work and life well then the scales would likely have tipped more in favor of me staying at work. If we as a family had felt like it was working well then the decision would have been different. That said, I knew I needed a change. I knew I was stressed and not that much fun when I was home. I knew I was missing out on important events in E’s life, and was unable to maintain important relationships with friends. Some people can balance it well and enjoy it. Others like myself prefer not to. Ultimately you have to do what’s right for your family, personally and financially, and we’ll talk about the financial side in my next post!