I've been reading the posts in this forum with interest; the reason is that I now have a totally amazing 15 week old, and am going to be returning to work part-time in January. However, I'm really torn about going back to work right now; my part-time job is 4 days a week, and E. will be in daycare about 4 or so hours a day--not a ton of time, I know, but after spending all my time with her, it seems like a lot! Plus, there will be lots of other "extras" in my job that will most likely end up with me having to spend more time away from her. Finally, I'm not great about being able to compartmentalize the stresses of work, and I hate to think of work constantly intruding on my time with E.
Now, E.'s not an easy baby at all--she's definitely high-needs-ish, so I know it's not all unicorns and rainbows being home with baby. On top of that, DH works long hours; he's usually gone for about 12 hours a day, but that number is often higher. Plus, he usually has work to do once he gets home, and generally spends a sizable portion of the weekend working from home (but makes sure to spend every second he can being an involved husband and father). So if I did SAH, it's going to be a lot of hours doing it all by myself.
Like many of you have written in other threads, I'm worried about what staying at home will do for my sense of self. I have several advanced degrees, I've worked hard in my field, I'm proud of my accomplishments--and I never thought I'd have any desire to stay home after E. was born. I'm not sure I'm cut out to SAH, but at the same time, my heart breaks to think of leaving E while I go to work. I keep thinking it'd be great to stay home for her first year or two and then go back to work, but I'm just not sure that's what I really want. As you can see, I'm pretty confused right now...
So, this long-winded post is my way of giving a little bit of background on me as a preamble to asking y'all about your experiences as a SAHP. Why did you decide to become one? What are the most rewarding aspects of being a SAHP? What are the most challenging? Do you ever regret your decision to SAH? Did you change course and, after returning to work, decide to SAH? Do you have any advice for someone thinking about staying at home?
I'm really looking forward to reading about your experiences and perspectives, and hoping that in doing so I might be able to get some clarity on my own situation!
I became a SAHM kind of by accident. My then-fiance and I moved back to my hometown when I was 7 months pregnant so there was no point in me getting a job when we had first moved. After DD was born, I just sort of kept staying home. I didn't go back to work until she was 6 months old and then I worked part time for about a year. The extra income was nice and because DH and I had opposite schedules, we didn't have to send DD to daycare. I lost my job in February and DH and I decided that we would rather I stay home with her than deal with daycare. We cloth diaper and there weren't a lot of daycares in our area that would accommodate that. We recently moved again to DH's hometown and I'm still staying at home. I like that I know exactly what she's doing, eating, playing with, etc. I can tell if DD has had processed/sugary foods because it definitely affects her behavior. Also, we don't have cable television. We have Netflix on our Wii so if I decide to let her watch TV, I can control what she watches, plus there aren't any commercials for her to see so she doesn't really have a problem with the "gimmes". She is a little stand-offish around other kids sometimes, but once she warms up to them she's fine. I did go through a period where I felt really cooped up and tied down by her. DH would go out for drinks after work or make last-minute plans with friends and I'd be stuck home with DD because we couldn't get a sitter on such short notice. I tried going back to school part time but I just wasn't happy doing it. I finally accepted that this is who I am and being a mother is what I do. Once I came to terms with it, it became very rewarding.
My advice would be to always make time for yourself, even if it's just a few minutes every day, and not to worry if you don't get everything done that you planned each day. Sometimes it's more important to spend some extra time cuddling or playing than it is to get the dishes or laundry done. I would also make sure that you and DH are on the same page when it comes to what you're doing with your time every day. I know my DH had trouble understanding why the house wasn't spotless when he came home from work until he had to try to do some cleaning with DD around. Until then, he didn't understand how much time a little one really demands and how hard it is to get other things done. There will be good days and bad days, just like any other job, but it's worth it for me. Good luck!
Wife to DH 08/09 and SAHM to DD 09/08 and DS 11/11
Surprise! Expecting #3 Nov. 2013!
While my decision to stay home was conscious, one thing I didn't do was try to plan it out far in advance. We always said we'd take it year by year (since I'll be looking at an academic schedule whenever I get a job in my field) and reassess. DS is on the waiting list for daycare at the university where DH works. He's one now, and at this point I'm not planning to work yet next year, but beyond that we'll see. I think it's good for my mental state that it's not something I've committed myself to forever - it's just what works for our family right now.
I mostly love it. There are days when it's exhausting, and stifiling. But there are also days when it's so fun and rewarding and it just feels like the right thing to do. I've gotten better about doing things for myself and taking breaks. It has also gotten a lot better since DS entered toddlerhood. There are days when I feel like I'm wasting my degree and experience, but then again I'm thankful that I finished my graduate work before DS was born, because I can't imagine doing it now. I've got my whole life ahead of me, and there's plenty of time for work. It sounds trite, but even on my worst days I know I'll never regret having this time with DS. I can't say I'd feel the same if I were working. YMMV, of course.
Honestly, one of the things I love most about staying home is how much it simplifies our household life, and our life as a family. I can keep the house together and run errands with DS, there's no worrying about who can cover a doctor's appointment or stay home with him if he's sick. No worrying about daycare issues. My evenings and weekends with DH are pretty stress-free, and we can spend time having fun as a family because I've been able to manage the errands and whatnot with DS during the week. DH and I were just talking last night about how different our lives would be if we were both getting home from work at 5:30, scrambling to get dinner made and put DS to bed. He truly appreciates having me SAH, so that helps too, naturally.
Good luck, I know it is a hard decision. Very few women in my social circles are SAHMs, and it was kind of hard for me to picture myself doing it at first. But ultimately, it has been so empowering to feel like I'm doing the right thing for our family. Work will always be there, but these childhood years will be gone before i know it.
The ability to work part time at my old job would have been a deal changer for me being a SAHP. There are many things I disliked about that place in my last two years there but keeping my skills up, earning money and time to myself would have made it worth it. I love love love being a SAHP. I don't have advanced degrees but I'm a total geek who does historical research for fun. I actually think I might be able to write a book about one of the things I've been researching. No one else has quite put it all together yet.
Getting lots of little things done around the house does make it worth it. My DH used to do the grocery shopping on his way home from work. It was cool in that I could put an order in and have something fresh for dinner but it would delay him almost an hour. We eat together earlier and we all have more time to hang out in the evenings.