How Others & Myself Judged my Decision to Stay Home

I’m not going to lie, I was not feeling optimistic when I started writing down people’s reactions to quitting my job and staying home with my kids.  My expectation was that I would end up with a long list of negative statements and judgements.  I realized afterward that this was probably my own insecurities and hesitation around the change.  If you read my initial post on why I quit my job, you know that I never saw myself as a stay at home mom.  I have been working traditional full time jobs for the past 10 years.  It’s not that I didn’t respect the work of at an home mom “career”, but I was (AM) unsure of my ability to be as disciplined and accomplish as much as I see other moms out there doing.  I thrive on structure and routine and unfortunately I have relied on working for someone to give me that structure. So I was the first person that judged this decision.

 

A huge chunk of my life has been spent studying and growing professionally and it makes up a huge part of my identity.  So many questions were floating through my mind.  Would I ever be able to get back in the field after walking away? Would I want to go back? Should I try a new field where I could potentially make more money? What do I really love? How would I even structure my day without being told what the deadlines are? What type of role would I play in my marriage if I didn’t bring home a paycheck anymore?  Which is probably why someone said,

“Well I’m happy for you, but how do you feel?”  

They could see my hesitation in how I shared the news. At the same time, I was incredibly excited to spend more time with my kids.  I often felt like I didn’t get enough time with them and was worried when they were with others. Others were taking the lead on their developments and milestones. 

I could have listened to these statements below and let them support my insecurities instead of slapping them away and pushing forth into what I know is right.

“So, you are JUST going to stay home with the kids?”

“That’s nice, I think I would get bored.”

“So what are you going to do all day, just chill and watch the kids.”

I know I don’t have to tell the mothers out there that all of the comments and others of that nature were not from parents.  They have no clue what’s in store!  I decided to embrace the positive instead.  Many people were encouraging, congratulating me on the change.  Saying,

“I get it. I really do.”

“I’m excited for you.”

“You have inspired me to make a change myself.”  

These statements were SO powerful.  You may be thinking, what’s the big deal? There are actually bad things out in the world, being a work at home mom does not fall in that category.  That wasn’t really the point for me- it was the idea that there were people around me that supported and encouraged me.  This is the kind of person that I thrive to be and hopefully am. We do not need to be doing the same thing to still be doing great.  I can support working moms, single moms, stay at home moms, formula feeding moms, breastfeeding moms and the list goes on. This is the next step in my life and I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’m ready to enjoy my successes and get back up after failures I’m sure to experience. I’m also ready to encourage and support you in the choices you decide are best for yourself and your family.

 

 

Why I Decided to Quit My Job & Stay Home With My Kids

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.