Even before Santa delivered my last doll, I knew I would love to be a stay-at-home mom. Once pregnant, though, this desire became a decision. My fulfilling nursing career was contributing significantly to our income, but my husband and I agreed I should devote my time to motherhood. For our family, this was the best option, although in hindsight there were a few consequences beyond financial loss that we had failed to consider.
The Choice: Stay home or pay for child care?
We decided against daycare because I could not bear to miss any of our kid’s milestones, and my husband knew he would get the best accounts of their every moment from me. It was a relief not to worry about a caregiver’s trustworthiness, what attention our children might receive, and the stress of sick babies.
Who stays home?
Sometimes both parents want to be the one to stay home. My husband has always been a hands-on dad, but reasons such as his higher earning power made me the logical choice, much to my delight.
Loss of my income
For many families, existing on one income is impossible, but thanks to my husband’s education, hard work and our ability to live within our means, we’ve been fine. We decided the stress of two working parents and the cost of child care outweighed the benefits of my income, particularly since I wanted to be home. It takes trust to become dependent upon a spouse’s salary however, and I had to find ways beyond employment to be a strong, smart female role model to my children.
What is better for our children?
A friend once told me she was a better parent because she worked outside of the home. She had more patience and was more engaged during the hours she was with her child than if she had given up a career she loved. Being away from my children and juggling the demands of employment and parenting would have made me much more irritable and impatient. Whatever situation makes a person the best parent is ultimately what is best for the child.
What is better for me?
Spending so much time with my kids has been priceless. My decision to be absent from my career for so long, however, will influence my inevitable return to the work force. An almost 20-year employment gap in my resume is both terrifying and limiting. I consider it a small price to pay, though, for the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom.
Other than the occasional babysitter for an evening out, we have never paid for childcare. While this worked well for our family, I would encourage anyone thinking of giving up a career to raise their children to carefully weigh all the considerations I have presented.
Other content by Susan Foster:
How to Survive and Thrive When Your Job Title is “Stay at Home Mom/Dad”
How to Make a Cake With Both Chocolate and Vanilla Frosting
Five Things You Should Take to a Kid’s Soccer Game