Some women chart their ovulation with phone aps and some have a birth control malfunction, either way the how you become a parent is less important than what you do once you become one. The same is true for staying at home with your kids. Some women know for a long time they want to stay at home and others have it thrust upon them, but its the what comes now questions that tend to stick out in your mind. Here are the common misconceptions about staying at home and some tips to make staying at home work.

Myth 1: You Must Be So Lucky To Afford The Luxury Of Staying At Home – I’ve heard this plenty. It ALWAYS makes me want to laugh. There is almost nothing luxurious about staying at home and a LOT of women end up staying at home because it so darn costly to work and put your kids in daycare and pay for the MANY other costs of working. While yes you do make money working, you also spend a ton of money on gas, convenience foods, clothing, beauty routines, daycare, etc. I ended up packing on some serious debt paying for my right to work outside the home for the 4 years I did it while raising small children.

Tip: Get On The Same Page As Your Spouse – The number one thing I had to do before even dropping from full-time to part-time work after my daughter was born was to get my husband on board. We had to crunch the numbers and that meant looking at all the income and expenses of our household and also factoring in the costs of my working outside the home – daycare, formula etc. Years later I opened a daycare that lasted exactly 6 months. When it failed I knew we could make the transition from one and half incomes down to one with some more planning and sacrificing. BUT I know that I could not stay at home without my husbands support – both financially and emotionally.

Appoint a CFO

Crunch the numbers, make a budget, and appoint a CFO (chief financial officer) of your household. I’d venture that most couples consist of a spender and a saver so appoint the saver to this job. My husband and I used to have separate finances and we each paid certain bills. Staying at home and living off one income meant that we had to adopt the “united we conquer, divided we fall” approach to our finances. We decided I’d be the one in charge of the budget and paying all the bills and it’s worked out pretty great for the past two years. We’ve paid off close to $9,000 in debt while living off his income. I know we’re lucky that he makes a decent living and not everybody can swing being a single income household. But alternative and part-time work arrangements might be possible. I’ve learned that if I want something bad enough I WILL find a way to make it happen. You can also look for ways to make money from home.

Myth 2: You Must Be Staying At Home Because You Don’t Have Career Prospects – I grew up with many feminist ideas about women and work. I even took a college course on it for a women’s study class. I am college educated and worked in the Marketing/PR field for 10 years before staying at home. Yet I distinctly remember a male college professor who would look at my life now and consider me a failure. When I told him I wasn’t going to graduate school his response was, “What are you going to do then, stay at home and have kids?” I think in our society’s efforts to make things fair – to say women can do everything men can do I think we’ve forgotten that women can do one fundamental thing that men cannot. We can be mothers. But somewhere along the way, women have been made to feel worth less if they aspire to motherhood without a career in tow as well. I feel especially bad for men who choose to be SAHDs because society is even harder on them.

Tip – I personally feel there are no real reasons behind the “mommy wars.” It’s a result of insecurities based on what society thinks motherhood should entail. Should we all be Martha Stewart wannabes creating Pinterest masterpiece art projects for our kids or Corporate titans wearing a baby carrier? The truth is we’re neither. We all fall into the gray areas between and people feel uncomfortable in the gray areas. We look across them to the other side and make comparisons and assumptions. How can we stop doing this? Simple: Own YOUR choices. I’m not saying defend them because if you own them, and if you choose your life every day, there’s no reason to defend it and that goes for whether you work outside the home or not. The truth is moms need a lot of support and it shouldn’t matter whether we get that from other moms who have chosen the same path or not.

Myth 3: You Have ALL This Free Time – I’ll admit I get 3 blissful kid free hours while my son is at pre-K and my daughter is at school. I also know this sweet deal expires when my second daughter is born this July. Not only are you surrounded by little people all day demanding all your time and attention, but a lot of SAHMs volunteer for everything under the sun, take side jobs or work from home. There are many days when I wish I was at work where I only had one boss instead of two (soon to be 3).

Tip – Don’t forget about you. When you stay at home it’s so easy to assume any and all sacrifices need to be made by you alone. It’s truly important to keep doing things that make you happy and get out of the house without the kids at times. A refreshed, fulfilled mommy is a happy mommy. A happy mommy equals a happy family.

Motherhood is a privilege not a right. I know many childless mothers out there. Chances are you do to. So if you want to stay at home and can make it happen then go for it. I don’t regret my choices and neither should you – no matter what you choose. A belated Happy Mothers Day to all of you, because motherhood is truly the hardest and best job there is.

 

 

 

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