To Work or Not To Work: The Question (A Four Part Series)

workseriesMost see me as a stay at home mom (and I identify more with that “label”), but I have actually worked on and off since my first was born. I’m involved in a lot of work with the community, I homeschool, I blog, I’ve held both full-time and part-time positions occasionally. I work, a LOT, even if at times it is more of a “volunteer” position. I don’t know of any SAHM who feels they don’t actually have a job. They do real work. But I also know the struggles that come along with being a working mom and the fear that comes along with becoming a SAHM.

When I was pregnant with #1, I held a wonderful salaried position with benefits and a great title and felt it was absolutely necessary for my family. But then, due to complications with my pregnancy, became unable to work and decided to try the staying at home thing. But, here I am again taking the plunge into the workforce. So maybe I’ve really always associated with both, as a SAHW(orking)M. What has been the driving force behind each decision? Let me give you a little peek as to why I became a SAH/PT/FT/WAH… ok, who am I kidding, I’m just a mom.

My kids. My job as mother always comes first no matter what. But what does that actually mean? For me, it meant making the decision to put my children above all the other priorities even on paper (yes, things that at one time had seemed like absolute necessities have been downgraded, some thrown out entirely) because their hearts and minds are the reason I do every single thing that I do. Now, hear me out, I didn’t neglect the real world. There are bills to pay, there is fun to be had, I just approached each season differently. My children needed me more than they needed the 2,000sqft house that we had worked so hard for and bought with pride; they needed me more than they needed ballet lessons at 3 and Montessori school; they needed me more than they needed to wear the newest clothes and to ride around in the latest minivan models. Even when I became a single mom and was left wondering how in the world I would financially make it all work, my kids needed me more than they needed to have their world turned upside down even more by being thrown into school while I began working a 40hr/wk job. None of these things were wrong to have, but in my mind there was a choice: them or me.

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Financially it may seem black and white. Income coming in means you are increasing your family’s financial pool right? Not necessarily. Consider every single penny because it literally can come down to nickels and dimes. How much do you spend on gas to get to work? How much do you spend on work clothes, lunches, daycare, after school care, etc. that you would no longer need to spend if you stopped working? How much do you spend on the “extras” and by “extras” I mean absolutely everything other than the bare minimum. I’m not saying you have to live on the bare minimum as a SAHM, but maybe you want to, maybe you won’t even need to, maybe you will see that your entire paycheck is going towards your car note and daycare (true story, I’ve had 3 friends this past year realize that was their entire paycheck…) What about switching to part time instead of full time? What about taking a pay cut to work from home instead of working out of the house (although you may still need to add in some childcare costs, let’s not pretend working WITH your children around is the easiest thing to accomplish!) If working full time is not your desire and you wish you could spend more time with your family but feel financially obligated, make sure the obligation is a real one.

Not every mom wants to be a stay at home mom, not every mom wants to be a working one. I think the absolute most important thing is being 100% honest with yourself about what you truly want to do with your life, what your financial situation is really like, what your family needs and wants from you, and what influence each decision you make is going to have. Because as we will see, the emotions behind these choices are a lot harder than how it looks on paper…

Stay tuned for post #2, where I will continue exploring this topic!

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