I should be back at work right now. I started my mat leave early last year as I needed time to rest and keep growing my babies (and who’s kidding who, pregnant in the third trimester with twins and being a phys-ed teacher don’t really mix). But instead of going back to work, I’ve decided to stay home and to continue to stay home until at least September 2012 when I hope to go back very part-time until my boys are in school. I'm grateful for the flexibility my profession provides and I know that's rare. I do plan to supply teach once a week at my school to stay connected and get out of the house, plus give my boys some structured social interaction.
My decision to stay home is not one that I took lightly, but it’s what I feel is best for me and our family. There is definitely a part of me that would like to go back to work. I love my job. I love the kids, I love the influence, I love my co-workers, I love the hours, I love the holidays. I miss it, but for me, it doesn’t sit right to go back fulltime. I didn’t realize how hard being a stay-at-home mom is. As I’ve written about before, especially with twins, I’ve found it to be quite isolating. Email, Facebook and the occasional play date have been my main forms of adult interaction this year. Four milk feedings, three meals (all times two), two naps, plus diapers, meal prep and clean-up don’t leave a ton of time to get out and about. I don’t love all the domestics that go with it. Before sitting down to write, I was mopping floors and making baby food. Sometimes I feel like my biggest accomplishment in the day is folding a load of laundry, but it’s not really noticed, there are no promotions. I realize that parents who work outside of the home also have to keep up with their house and it’s no doubt a challenge.
I have some friends who wanted to stay home but ended up going back to work because of financial reasons. While I do believe that it’s sometimes necessary, it also makes me a bit sad. One of the best decisions Joel and I made as soon as we got married was to only live off of one income. I never wanted my reason to stay home be that I had to contribute to the mortgage. This meant that when we bought a house, we were fairly limited in our options. We live in a small townhouse but it would still be considered luxury to most of the world. I would love a bigger kitchen, more play space for my boys and a bigger backyard, but it really is enough (not to say we'll never move when finances allow!). When I had an income it went towards building our savings, giving, and paying down our mortgage faster, but now that it’s gone, we don’t need to live any differently than we did before. It’s something I definitely recommend to couples where one person thinks they might want to stay home in the future. I know we are fortunate that Joel has always had good, steady work and that no matter what the circumstances this is not always possible.
The main reason that I’m staying home is that I feel it’s best for my boys. I personally don’t want to send my kids to daycare all day everyday and only see them for a few hours at the beginning and end. Especially in the early years I want as much time as I can to teach them, nurture them, influence them and shape them into loving people. I feel like I can best do that by being home with them. I know there are wonderful daycares, babysitters and family members who can look after children, but for me, I feel like it’s important for us and giving up my job is a sacrifice that I am willing to make to do that, knowing that we can afford it. Obviously the workplace needs women and some feel like they can be better moms because they work. I get that. I look forward to being a little more connected with the world this year, especially once my boys go to one nap a day. I’ll be looking up the local play groups and trying to build new friendships with other moms who are home.
I have friends across the spectrum... ones that stay home, others who work part time and many who work full time outside the home. I believe they’ve made the decision that they feel is best for their family and I'm certainly not here to say one is better than the other. They are all wonderful parents with well-loved, amazing kids. There are so many factors that come into play and advantages and disadvantages to each option, but this is just where I’ve landed. If you’re a parent, I’m curious at how you arrived at the decision you did. Care to share?