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My baby was 2 months old. I was 8 weeks into my maternity leave and I was drowning in guilt. I didn’t want to leave my baby to return to work. I didn’t want to leave work to stay home with my baby. I had been fully attached to her since day 1. And after my postpartum journey, I didn’t have the mental strength to leave her entirely. I needed her just as much as I felt that she needed me.
Conversely, I didn’t want to cause my family to be financially burdened by not returning to work. I liked my job and the people I worked with. I had worked since I was 15 years old. Was I ready to sacrifice my career, my social life, my financial freedom, and consistent 9-5 schedule?
I made a pros and cons list. I calculated a budget. If I were going to convince my husband that staying home was the right decision for us as a family, I needed to have evidence and a sound argument. He’s an attorney, after all.
- no childcare cost
- no insurance cost for her
- providing a peaceful home environment vs daycare
- vegan baby-led weaning
- cloth diapering
- clean laundry/house
- guiding her as we wish as parents
If I stayed home with her, I would be her primary caretaker. From the ripe age of 3 months, I would influence her daily life, from sunrise to sunset. I would need to make our home, all 700 sqft of it, baby safe. I wanted to make it the perfect environment for learning, playing, and living.
As a stay at home mom of one, I would be able to keep the house somewhat tidy. We would be able to switch to cloth diapers, thus saving money. And we would be able to try baby-led weaning when she started solids.
- less financial freedom
I couldn’t think of any other cons. We would have less financial freedom? Of course, this includes a long list of other losses. We wouldn’t be able to buy a house. We wouldn’t be able to afford new clothes, for baby or us. We wouldn’t be able to travel like we had in the past. We wouldn’t be able to make needed repairs to our cars. We wouldn’t be able to afford insurance for me. We wouldn’t be able to buy gifts for others. We wouldn’t be able to buy, buy, buy.
I could handle less financial freedom. After crunching the numbers, I realized infant child care was going to cost more than half of my monthly take-home pay. So, how much financial freedom would we really have any if I returned to work?
I was ready to talk to my husband – I felt a wave of emotion as I waited on him to come home from work. We would talk on our evening walk. We enjoy discussing our days and life on our walks. Maybe it’s the serenity that comes with being outside in nature, but we are always more relaxed and open to discussion.
He walked in the door with a smile on his face – he always acts happy to see us, even if his day is long and exhausting. He changed his clothes. I strapped baby in to her carrier. We leashed the pup and headed out for our walk. We walked in silence for the first 10 minutes or so. The first ¼ mile of our walks are usually pretty quiet. It gives us both time to reflect on our days.
I was still thinking about how to start the conversation. Should it be the first thing I talk about? Should I bring it up towards the end of our walk? Hmmm. Why wait?
“Babe,” I said. “I’m think I want to stay home with her.”
“Great! Let’s do it,” he said without hesitation. He sounded relieved. I wasn’t expecting this reaction. He was relieved? What about the pants he desperately needed or the dental work he’d been waiting on for months?
“Really?” I asked.
I was comforted by his relief. I didn’t have to state my points for the argument I prepped. He was on board 100%.
Working Moms, SAHMs Unite
Now, I understand that most women don’t have this option or even want this option. Many women want to focus on their careers, whatever they may be. Some women don’t have additional household income or support they need to be able to stay at home with their babies. Moms will likely feel guilty no matter their decision.
Moms who decide to work, know that you are LOVED and APPRECIATED. There is nothing wrong with returning to work, focusing on yourself and your goals. Your baby will still be nurtured and learn important values from you.
Moms at home, you are also LOVED and APPRECIATED. There is nothing wrong with staying home, focusing on your baby and your relationship with baby. You can put your career on hold or start a new career. Your baby will be nurtured and learn important values from you.
After being home with baby for 11 months now, I can honestly say that the transition wasn’t exactly easy. I used to enjoy going into work, walking during my breaks, gazing out my window in between tasks. I’ve had some of the greatest moments, but I’ve also had some of the most exhausting – caring for a tiny, active human who is hungry for love, snuggles, and learning 24/7.
But I love staying home with baby. I love that I started my journey of becoming a stay at home mom with her. Being her primary caregiver and teaching her most of what she knows is incredibly rewarding. Watching her grow and change from day to day is entertaining, and has taught me to stay on my toes so I can grow and change with her.
How and when did you decide to become a SAHM or parent? Tell me in the comments below!