In the end, it seems like it was decided for me. Let me explain… I’ve seen many posts on how to afford being a stay at home mom, but in our situation it has been “How do you afford to still work?”. I guess I’ve always wanted to do it all. I wanted a family, but to also maintain my professional career and independence. After working in education for 10 years in different capacities, I couldn’t justify the decision to stay any longer. I loved working with students and counseling them on their future, but in the end, the cost of childcare coupled with the current landscape of my work made the decision for me. It was time to quit my job and stay home with my kids.
When I was pregnant with my first son, it wasn’t even a discussion. I would be a working mom as I always envisioned myself being. We found a great loving nanny and Miles was all set. At the end of Miles’ first year, our nanny left to become a foster mom. Daycare seemed like a great next step for him and we found one we could afford, had a diverse environment and loving caregivers that we fell for immediately. Then we decided to have baby #2- our second son Ellis. We sat down and crunched numbers- Woah! Two babies in daycare would be my whole salary! No brainer that it’s time to leave my job right? Not quite.
Because I already had this vision of what my life would be like.
I loved my career- no I wasn’t a powerful, high earning downtown executive, but I loved the work I did and thought it was important. An opportunity opened at my school where I would make a little bit more money and gain valuable experience. Enough to afford daycare? Ha! I worked in a small public, charter school in Chicago (where childcare is ridiculously expensive-as much or more than sending your kids to college). We decided though that it was worth looking at other childcare options so I could continue working. And it seemed like the perfect scenario when we found another family with a 2 ½ year old girl and a nanny that wanted to do a share. Great! We could share the cost and Miles would still have the social interaction he got accustomed to during his year in daycare.
It all started to unravel after that.
Three days into the school year, we had budget cuts and my co worker was laid off. I now had to run my whole department alone and be in charge of double the work. So I quit….actually not yet. I wasn’t the only person in my school in this situation, we all worked together and made it work any way we could. But I started to feel a larger level of stress that I was bringing home every day, there were days that I felt I couldn’t catch up and be successful in balancing home and work. I had a 2 month old baby that was waking up every night and I also had to make time to pump milk everyday at work. So my hormones are all over the place, I’m barely getting sleep and doing double the work.
Meanwhile at home…To say that our new nanny was not delivering on her promises from the interview would be an understatement. My husband and I tried our best to make it work- give her feedback on things we wanted to improve, make sure she was aware of our expectations and praise her for everything she was doing well. We knew that two toddlers and an infant was a lot of work and wanted her to focus on caring for the kids (versus housework).
Then this happened…
One night, my neighbor knocked on our door and informed me that our toddler Miles was outside by himself that day. My heart dropped. I couldn’t believe it. We live in a condo in the middle of Chicago, with no gates separating our yard from the street or the alley. We called the nanny and instead of apologizing, she started to justify her decision. Her defense of the situation made us question her judgement, he is a two year old in the middle of a busy city!
So we let her go that very night and my mother in law came to help us out. Back to the drawing board…The amount of crying I did in the next few days was….well, a lot. I was only two and ½ months into the school year. Oh and I forgot to tell you…we just had another budget cut and everyone’s salaries were reduced. Remember that raise I told you about…well, it was cut in half. So we started to look at daycares and nannies that would take my whole paycheck (yes, really) so I could continue working. Until we came to our senses…
To continue working would be crazy
It is the best decision for myself and my family to jump off the hamster wheel and reassess this vision I had decided would be my life. It is okay to change the idea I always had in my mind and think of a new plan. I started to look into ways I can make money from home and also the idea that I can go back to work full time when the kids are in school, but this finally seemed like a no brainer. I needed to stay home with my babies and walk away from a work situation that continued to go downhill. That is why I think it was decided for me. All of these events happening around the same time made the best decision finally so clear.
I’ll let you know how it’s going- from living on one income now, planning my days with the boys while finding a balance to keep a sense of independence.