Do I Stay or Do I Go?
Making the decision to be a working or a stay at home parent has to be one of the hardest choices ever. There are so many factors to consider that not many people think about. No matter how you look at it, there is a sacrifice being made. Some people sacrifice time away from families to make more money. Others choose to earn more while leaving their children in the care of someone else. It seems no matter which choice we make, we are often made to feel guilty for our decision. I have a sister who is traumatized by her 11 year old son constantly reminding her of his early years at school when his mother worked a demanding job, missed a lot of shows and just wasn’t there. When making the decision to be a stay at home parent vs. a working parent, here are some things to consider:
- What is your main reason for reconsidering being a working/stay at home parent? Maybe it’s more time with kids/time away from kids. Maybe you want to work on a personal project.
- Do you have a childcare provider you can trust?
- Can you afford to not work? Can you and your spouse, if you have one, survive on the income you would have if you didn’t go to work? Do you have an alternate plan in case your first plan fails?
- Is it possible to work from home? Many companies today offer the opportunity to do at least partial work from home. Plan ahead, if you can prove to your employer that you can get your duties done without having a physical presence in the office, you’ll do a lot to help your case.
- How much does your job affect your mental health and personal life? Does your job cause extreme levels of stress, anxiety and/or depression? It may be time to consider a new line of work, even if that means less pay.
- What will you do if you aren’t working? Even if you aren’t working for someone, you should still be working on yourself. Plan a new routine with structure that will help you grow as a person in your new free time. It is important to maintain a positive self image and constantly seek improvement. This can be exercise, brain activities or working on a new business idea.
As a parent, it is so important for us to be present for our children. There have been many nights I was busy working on emails, and answering weekend texts from my boss, missing out on quality time with my kids. We make sacrifices every day. Most days, we tell ourselves that we are choosing work in order to support our children financially. And mostly this is true. But I don’t believe in getting home at 8pm as a family, kids falling asleep before they have time to take a bath. I don’t think we should have to ever choose between a child’s important event and work. At the end of it all, the couple of dollars you made will be spent on something you don’t remember and both you and your child will have missed the memory of their important milestone. I think there can be a balance between earning a living, spending time together with family and keeping your sanity. That’s going to mean something different to each of us. Each situation is different, find what works for you.