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Old 08-28-2013, 10:37 AM
994 posts, read 1,113,527 times
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Let me preface this with saying I have always worked. In fact, I've worked from the time I was in high school, throughout college (in part-time jobs and professionally focused internships) and career-level roles up until this very moment many years later. I worked through my pregnancies, took the minimum amount of time medically allowable for maternity leave and always jumped right back into the flow of the dual-career, working mother life.

Of course, it has not been easy. It has been stressful and burdensome, emotionally, financially and personally. I am sure that I, too, have paid the "motherhood penalty" in my profession, having been somewhat marginalized for no reason other than having children.

Nonetheless, I am a very driven person. I've worked hard to build an extensive resume. However, I am at a crossroads and now have this question: Is there any real reason to BECOME a stay-at-home mother once the kids are in school?

My reasons for now considering this are varied. For starters, we have relocated to a new city and have no "help," or people we would feel comfortable entrusting our children with. Of course, there is after-school care available, but that does not take into account the many, many breaks that occur during the school year (for winter, spring and fall breaks, in-service for teachers, snow days, etc.). In fact, I've counted about 50 days during the school year when school is not in session. Plus, there are the summers. Logistically, it seems like a nightmare to try to manage all these breaks with two careers, with no relatives nearby or other reliable assistance.

Secondly, things flow better when I am at home. Even when working from home, I am able to better manage our household, reducing the stress for all involved. Homework, cleaning, meals, appointments, doctor's visits and more occur much more seamlessly and less rushed when I'm on deck.

Thirdly, there is the element of time. Our kids are getting older, and time is slipping by fast. My time as a mother has been a blur. Frankly, I can remember more about workplace meetings I've been in than milestone moments of their development at times. That's sad. Of course, a slowed-down life could help me feel like I am making up for lost time.

Fourthly, it seems like there are legitimate reasons to be at home, or at least work a less demanding career, once the kids are older, rather than younger. With them coming into their own as individuals, it seems like there are more risks, pressures and needs associated with later stages of development. There are logistics (with interests and activities) and needs (emotionally, psychologically) at play in which it seems like it would be beneficial to be closer, rather than having latch-key kids or consuming their time with caretakers who really don't care about them.

As a "career woman" with two degrees, I am struggling with this. Has anyone STARTED staying at home, either as a work-at-home parent or stay-at-home parent with school-aged children? What have been the pros and cons? What criticisms have you encountered?
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:50 AM
Location: Happy wherever I am - Florida now
3,359 posts, read 10,657,923 times
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Forget the criticisms, it's your life. You get to make the rules.

Sorry you didn't get the important time with them you wanted when they were younger. I do think it's important to keep up some sort of career as you never know what will turn up in life however, you don't have to sign on to one that grabs you by the tail. You sound like a smart woman, start thinking outside the box. You can have a variety of careers during your lifetime. It's one of the things that makes life interesting. See if you can think of something to put together that gives you flexibility either one you do on your own or one you find or propose to someone else.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:17 AM
Location: SF Bay Area
1,392 posts, read 2,325,255 times
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Originally Posted by hautemomma View Post
Has anyone STARTED staying at home, either as a work-at-home parent or stay-at-home parent with school-aged children? What have been the pros and cons? What criticisms have you encountered?
I stopped working one month before my kids completed elementary school. Pros and cons will vary from person to person depending upon your families lifestyle (i.e. it was ideal for my family since my daughter was able to participate in extracurriculars afterschool which involved traveling a distance from our home which she would not have been able to participate in if she didn't have a ride. After being home a couple of years, my son also had extracurriculars requiring a ride. For me, everything was less rushed and it was much easier scheduling their orthodontia or other appointments afterschool than after work. My kids liked having me home during the summer and not coming home to an empty house afterschool, and would frequently have friends over which they wouldn't have done if I wasn't home). Nobody criticized me (actually, no one cared one way or another).
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:36 AM
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Yes I stay at home with my school aged children. It's a personal decision and most of the time I'm happy I do and sometimes I wish I didn't such is life.

I too have a respected degree from a top ten liberal arts college and made decent money before I quit working. But we moved to a new area for my husband's job and the commute into the nearest large city here would make it so I couldn't get home until late every night. Combine that with my husband's travel and the kids' extra curricular stuff and it just made sense for me to to stay at home.

What I like about it. I like being intimately involved in my children's school. I'm on the board and I'm there a lot. I like being around to help with homework. We have a son with ADHD and I'm grateful that I get to be around to handle him outside of school. I'm also grateful that I have time to take the kids away for the summer to the beach. I like the lack of chaos.

I admit that I do miss the feeling of being successful and appreciated for that. I've started doing a little freelancing from home and its rewarding but it isn't the same as a corporate ladder. I have ruined my career and won't be able to ever return in a way that I could have had I not quit. I'm ok with that.

It's a personal decision with pluses and minuses on both sides but don't let outside criticism make your decision for you. Good luck
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:43 AM
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I've stayed home since they were born, they're 16 and 18 now. One has Asperger's and a lot of my time had been spent driving to and from therapies. Later, we sent her to a private school that could better address her issues and we had to provide transportation for that. There was no point in me working outside the home. You need to do what is best for your family.

I had a friend who had a difficult time getting pregnant. She finally had her daughter and gave up working to stay at home. Although she never regretted it, she said she wonders if she should have sent her kid to daycare and then stayed home once they were in middle school. Every day after school let out, her neighbor's teenaged daughter (whose parents worked) would come roaring down the street in her boyfriend's car. They'd go in the house, the shades would go down and 1/2 hour later the shades would go up and the boyfriend would leave. There are different reasons at every age to be home.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:50 AM
2,350 posts, read 4,279,563 times
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Originally Posted by hautemomma View Post
have this question: Is there any real reason to BECOME a stay-at-home mother once the kids are in school?

Has anyone STARTED staying at home, either as a work-at-home parent or stay-at-home parent with school-aged children? What have been the pros and cons? What criticisms have you encountered?
Like you wrote, you have time to do a lot of domestic things and hobbies. You have time to support your kids' activities. Time to work out. Time to do home improvements. You don't have to pay outsiders for a lot of things like home maintenance or painting or child care. So, there are a lot of financial benefits. (Unless the second income is really high, the return on working isn't too high if you have to pay for a lot of day care for example).

My wife is a psychologist who doesn't work anymore. We have four girls 14, 12, 10, and 5. Lots of activities (cheer, soccer, swimming, shopping, friends play dates, orthodontists, doctor appointments). Just last night she was wondering how working parents do all these things. Something has to give.

No criticisms.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:54 AM
Location: Finally in NC
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We too are in a new city with no family/friends. Back home, I was working where I'd get home right before the kids got home. Now, In our new area, I was getting home 90 minutes after them. My husband and I work opposite shifts because we didnt want to do daycare. Now that even our youngest is in school, I'm home for the first time ever. I didnt like getting home after them, trying to cook, help with homework, try to fit in housework, and do all of the paperwork for my job. I did it fr a year and that was it. I felt I was neglecting my kids and with them in school, when they are home, they need a dedicated parent here. I can now schedule appointments, volunteer at school, be home on days off, and I am not so STRESSED about how to get it all done. I feel more relaxed and am glad to be here for my kids. I can walk them to school and walk to meet them after school. To top it off, my youngest has a disability, so he really needs me in the evenings, and my 2 older are in middle school, so they need me at night too. i had too much required work I had to bring home after 9 hour days and it was taking too much time. Kids grow up too fast. I still don't know how we're going to pay the bills since I was half the income, but my kids need me and I'm happy with my decision.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:55 AM
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I think you get busier as a stay at home mom when the kids start school. Sure, when they are in school it's not as busy but after school is sure is with homework, activities, playing with friends, etc. I did a lot of volunteer work in the kids' schools when they were in elementary school and then was home when they got home to help with homework, take them to various activities, get dinner ready, etc. I just don't believe in dropping your kids in day care all day, every day, sorry. There are some people that need to, single parents, but most people that use daycare could get by easily on one income if they had planned for that...but it is what it is. Your children are only home for such a short while...having dropped our youngest at college last week . Enjoy your time with them while you can!
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:16 PM
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Could you possible consult or freelance from home while the kids are in school? You don't mention what field you are in, but many fields have the ability to do this now.

I totally understand where you are coming from. I left a professional job when the kids were born, but planned on going back when they got to school and then realized the same things you posted above. The solution for me was to start a freelance writing business part-time while the kids are at school. It allows me the flexibility for school vacations, sick days and being there after school for them each day. I make equal to what I made before with part time hours and about 8 weeks off a year. I take a lot less projects from my clients when I know a school vacation is coming up (we are year round) and I can also work nights/early mornings if needed during vacations. There is no way our house would work with me working full-time and this is a happy medium solution that works great for me. You could even do it just taking a few projects here and there to bring in money or stay busy.

Just another option to consider.....
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:24 PM
Location: Texas
599 posts, read 479,099 times
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We are in the opposite situation. I have 3 kids, 6,4, and 1 years old and stay at home. I plan to go back to work when the youngest starts school. Is it my preference to go back? Nope - for the exact same concerns you have. But since DH and I decided to wait to have kids, financially, I have to to go back if we want to pay for our kids' college and retire at a reasonable age.

I know it's four years from now, but the thought of working and taking care of all the things listed in your post seems overwhelming to me. The thing I have working for me when I go back to work is that my profession is teaching. I will get summers off and similar holidays off.

I think if you can afford to do this, you should go for it. If after a year, it doesn't work for you, then you cn always go back to work - maybe not the same job but.
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