Having a baby is an amazing experience. Such joy, such happiness, and so many changes. One of the first challenges new parents face is trying to decide who will care for their child when maternity leave is over. Even before our son was born, my husband and I knew that we would not be choosing daycare. The plan (there’s always a plan!) was that I would leave my job as a teacher to raise our child and then eventually try to make my way back into the teaching profession. But things never quite go as planned, do they?
I had worked in corporate daycare as a Head Teacher before becoming an elementary school teacher, so I knew it was not what I wanted for my own child someday, having seen it from the inside. This is not saying anything against daycare, it was just a personal decision for me, and eventually us, down the line. So one of the first things we did after getting married, was decide to live on one income. There was no child in the picture yet, but we knew there would be one someday, God willing. So all of my paychecks went into savings, and we lived off of my husband’s income instead. This meant cutting back on a lot of things– no dinners out, no fancy gifts or cars. We lived in a small townhouse where costs were minimal. We declined invitations to eat out many, many times, and sadly, I think we lost friends because of it.
Consider the Cost
Staying at home is not right for everyone. There are more than just financial strains to consider. Leaving the workforce was a tremendous change for me. I knew things would be different at home, but I had no idea how isolating it could be or how lonely life could be at times. My baby was my whole world and I sure did love him to pieces, but I didn’t have much of a social life. I spent every day surrounded by wonderful colleagues and students at school, and now, suddenly, it was just me and my baby (and my beloved dog, thank goodness for him!) every day. So there are personal aspects to consider, too. Some people need to return to work, for their own sanity! It’s not easy being home every day with little ones.
Let Go of the Plan
The story of my life is that plans always fail. Nothing ever turns out like I think it will. My son is almost six and I am still at home with him. I have not returned to the teaching profession (as planned). Not yet, anyway. There have been long, bumpy, up and down roads, and there have been amazing days with him that I wouldn’t trade for anything. So whatever choice you make, know that it won’t always go as planned, and that’s okay, too.