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Mommy Musings: Thoughts and Opinions

Would I Be Happier As A Stay At Home Mom?

Yesterday I read an article about who was happier; those with children or those without.  While this is a very complicated topic, the article it got me thinking about how the choices we make as parents can affect our happiness. One of these big decisions would be whether we work or stay at home with our kids.

I remember when I was in highschool my best friend told me about how she loved being at school, seeing friends, going to club meetings, but she hated actually going to class. Recently, I have found myself in a similar situation, I like being a working mom, and going to work, but I don’t actually like working!

Okay, I admit, that isn’t all true. I do enjoy my job. I work in the non-profit sector and it is so rewarding to know that I am creating happiness in the world. While the pay isn’t great, you can’t put a price on that kind of satisfaction. But, a lot of hard work goes into making those happy endings and its so easy to feel stressed and exhausted.

The thing is that lately I noticed that half of the reason I enjoy going to work these days is because it’s just a break from the house. I get to get dressed up in nice clothes, put on makeup, interact with adults, and even if I eat at my desk it’s still better than on the floor with three kids and two dogs hovering over you. My “me time” actually brings in a lot of money for our family and that is a great thing right? Plus, life is all about balance and leading a dual life gives me the best of both worlds, although being spread thinner means I am not outstanding at either of them. But does working actually make me happy? Would being at home with the kids make me happier?

There are times when I dream about being a SAHM. I really enjoy being home with the family on my days off.  I find myself being a better parent when I am home all day instead coming home after work hungry and exhausted.  After all, parenting is work in its own right, especially if you are doing it well. The problem is that in my dreams I get to be SAHM but with the same income we make now, and I know it doesn’t work that way! Then I worry that I would go crazy, living the same routine day in and day out. I know you find ways to adjust as I did on my maternity leave with blogging and little outings, but there is something to be said about “me time” and the comfort a double income lifestyle provides.

As I have said before, kids are only as expensive as you make them, and I am a very frugal person at heart. But sometimes I like making them expensive. It’s nice to be able to buy them toys and clothes without worrying about having money for groceries. It’s nice to be able to spend $14 a week at Tim Hortons and enjoy my coffee time guilt free. It’s nice to be able to afford having a car and being able to drive places rather than being trapped in the house all day. Let’s face it, I would die without my smart phone.

I have spoken to people from single income families and I know it is hard. Many of them live in smaller communities where housing is a lot cheaper. Living in big bad Toronto costs a freaking fortune, but this is where my family is, our jobs are, it’s my hometown. But you do get to have a larger role in your children’s lives. Mind you, because we work opposite shifts and don’t rely on daycare, between the two of us we are full-time parents, and I do everything I did when I was at home (walking dogs, laundry, chores, groceries, etc.) and working full-time so I am not sure what that “larger” role would look like (I guess I would be able to cook more)?

I suppose a great compromise would be to work part-time. That way we could have more money but I could still be at home. But well-paying part-time jobs just don’t exist, and I would lose money if I had to pay for childcare so I could earn minimum wage. And after reading my posts on what a bad mother I am I doubt I would be a very successful babysitter either since no one would trust me with their kids! (Seriously, I have thought about it, but I couldn’t handle being responsible for other people’s children).

So, back to my initial question. Am I happy? Yes. Would I be happier as a stay at home mom? I don’t think so. I have a great job that is fairly flexible and we have the support to be able to afford to have us both work (we could not afford $4500 a month for daycare for three kids. Yup! That’s what it costs in my city). Plus, I find it easier to appreciate things more when I have the chance to step away from it as I do. And, gulp, in  three more years all of the kids will be in school anyways.

So I am curious to hear what you think. Are you a working mom or a SAHM and why? Do you every wonder if the grass is greener on the other side? Looking forward to hearing different perspectives.

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About Shannon C

I am a university educated full-time working mother of three children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Discussion

25 thoughts on “Would I Be Happier As A Stay At Home Mom?

  1. As a stay at home mom, I really can’t say that the idea of working appeals to me. That being said though, there really isn’t the opportunity in my community. Living in a small military community means jobs are scarce unless you want to drive into town. For me to work while my husband is working I would need to pay child care (which for 3-4 kids here is $1800-$2500) And to work opposite of him, I would still end up with child care costs as he is military and there are times he isn’t home when I expect him to be. So in my case, the money (which, living on a single family income, would be nice) just isn’t worth it. And I get my me time even though I am home with the monsters all day.
    I admire working moms, I’m not sure I could handle keeping the house in order and work full time. I think I would feel bogged down and as though I had no me time.

    Posted by MommaNeedsCoffee | February 14, 2014, 8:06 am
    • Thanks for sharing your unique perspective. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a military wife. We are in a similar situation in that we can’t afford child care, except we can’t afford to live on one income. So we both have to have jobs with flexibility in order to make it work. There are definitely times when I wish I was a SAHM for sure. Happy Valentine’s Day!

      Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 8:13 am
  2. I have been on both sides fortunately. Now when i am yearning to get back to the working life, i feel guilty. I mean people say that you have this time with your child and your truly blessed as this time wont come again, but a part of me feels incomplete, When i read your article right now i felt you know exactly what i having been feeling. I feel i may be a mom but my obituary is probably not going to have much of anything on it. Also as you said there is a sense of independence, i am itching to buy a wallet or a bag but i know its not my money to say and also when i land up buy gifts for my husband technically he is just buying for himself. I completely understand how both sides work and wish i could eat the cake and keep it too.

    Posted by khushnumab | February 14, 2014, 8:14 am
    • Thanks for sharing. You know I think this is something we all struggle with, although you have enlightened me. I read almost one blog post a day by a working mother who feels guilty for working, but I rarely read posts by SAHMs that feel guilty for staying at home, and I have often wondered why that is. I suppose no matter what path you choose there will always be some wonder as to what “the other side” is like. Happy Valentine’s Day!

      Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 8:19 am
      • When i used to work i used to feel guilty as well but now i am wiser i know how i can use my time effectively with him, I guess i feel guilty for wanting to be ambitious wanting to be a provider probably because i have always seen my mom work throughout her life, so this stay at home is quite different for my family. There are hardly any woman in my family who are not working so i guess i just want to measure up.

        Posted by khushnumab | February 14, 2014, 8:28 am
      • I feel for you. I would just say enjoy it since it won’t last forever (I assume you will go back to work at some point). You are doing the most important kind of work :-)

        Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 9:14 am
  3. I’ve been on both sides as well as continue to work a few hours a week from home. I think happiness is something we choose for ourselves no matter what the situation. I have been that working mom that said “No way could I stay home!” (for many of the reasons you said) but when I was faced with no real other option (daycare for 3 would cost more than the income I was making). It was hard adjusting to being a sahm. I felt useless and couldn’t see my true worth. It took me awhile but it works now. I am absolutely happy. I often think about rejoining the work force but I won’t until all the kids are all in school. And even then, I don’t think I’ll take an office job like I had. Who knows?

    Oh and even on one income, we still live nicely. We are very frugal (buy our clothes used or on clearance, always shop sales, budget and meal plans, etc) and live below our means (5 of us in a 2 bdrm, 900 sq ft house) but still enjoy a few luxuries like smart phones and two cars. :)

    Posted by Heather C | February 14, 2014, 8:33 am
    • You are so right Heather! It’s up to us to find happiness no matter what our situation. I think maybe that’s part of what this post was about subconsciously convincing myself that I am doing the right thing. I know I wrote it at work (shhh) when I was pissed about something and thinking about how great it would be not to work. Thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s great you can do some work from home, and I know you make a bit of money off your blog too right? As always you are very inspiring :-) happy Valentine’s day.

      Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 8:40 am
      • I make mere pennies off my blog right now :( I earn income doing guest posts on other blogs and ghost writing articles for a variety of websites. I just barely reach about $1000 a year in income. It IS nice to have a buffer in savings but it’s not something we count on. It’s sort of just a way to keep my mind busy :)

        PS on crazy rough days (full moon anyone?) I often daydream about how nice it would be to sit at my old desk all day with no whining… It goes both ways :)

        Posted by Heather C | February 14, 2014, 9:46 am
      • Good to know. I often wondered how much money I would make if I had a monetized blog. I guess it’s not that much after all.

        Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 10:32 am
      • I just posted recently about it actually. It takes ALOT of work and it’s just not something I can take on right now. I love getting free stuff and sharing but writing and owning a blog to actually make a profit is exhausting. After 4 months I think I made $2. Lol. And I spend more time than it’s worth sorting through spam more than anything. :/

        Posted by Heather C | February 14, 2014, 11:14 am
  4. I have worked part- time , full time in a high stress job sometimes 12 hr shifts & currently working at home 40 plus hrs. I have to admit I do feel very connected to my kids now but when I was working full time in office the days I got to spend with them were always wonderful now I take Advil ALOT!!! I do enjoy having more time to spend with them but I do still work so maybe it would be different if I was a complete sahm and at least had some down time to myself. I do plan more activities & am always home for when they are sick etc. I think as mothers we are hard and ourselves & always feel guilt some way we just need to be more like our husbands no guilt at all!!

    Posted by uptownmomlife | February 14, 2014, 10:00 am
    • I was thinking the same thing! There are no daddy wars with dads feeling guilt for working or judging other dads for not staying at home etc. Part is them, and part is still a hangover from the 50s definition of a family. While I could do some work at home with the three kids I would never get anything done (but when they are older and in school that would be great). I agree that while I loved being off for a year the days do blend together whereas now I appreciate our time together more because I am away from them. Also when I was a SAHM, I got very little time to myself, and now I get a whole 9-10 hours a day, which is very nice. Thanks again for sharing.

      Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 10:37 am
  5. I am on my own, so being a SAHM is not an option for me. However, even if it were I would still want to work. I took a full year maternity leave and have been back to work for a year. Going to work is my ‘me time.’ Having a career adds some variety to my life and I have a sense of self that I missed while home with the boys. The responsibilities of parenting and the home are a lot on top of a full day at the office and there are days when I think the grass might be greener as a SAHM. However, my mother was a SAHM until my father unexpectedly died. Having lived through that as a child the vulnerability of relying on my partner to be the sole source of income is not a risk that I am personally willing to take although I understand why some women do. In a perfect world the choice to work or stay home would be a matter of beliefs and convictions, but unfortunately, I think for most of us our financial situation is the driving factor. If we were independently wealthy or day care was more affordable I imagine many parents would make different choices. Regardless of whether a parent stays home with the children or goes to work I don’t think anyone should guilty about their choices.

    Posted by domesticmission | February 14, 2014, 10:43 am
    • Thanks so much for your comment. I agree, it all comes down to money in the end. Honestly, you deserve a cape, I can’t imagine how I would ever be able to cope on my own. I think since we get a year maternity leave at least we get to have a taste of what both sides are like which helps provide a more well rounded perspective. Have a happy Valentine’s day :-)

      Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 12:06 pm
  6. I am our primary breadwinner and exclusively breastfeeding our 5.5-month old daughter, so I have her at work with me half the day, then drive between my office and home to nurse while my husband has her (she won’t take a bottle). It’s exhausting. I’ve written on my blog about how taking baby to work is really working two full-time jobs half as well, though I’m lucky I’m able to. My second half of the day is a relative luxury during which I can focus on work and something other than “real life.” I share your fantasies about staying at home with the next one, though. I feel like I would be able to put more energy into the home part and my baby if I weren’t spread so thin. Baking cookies and the like are way beyond my capacity right now, but at least I have a husband who cooks all the meals!

    Posted by Kelly | February 14, 2014, 9:30 pm
    • Wow! That’s crazy. I am the breadwinner too (I make almost double my husband) which is part of the reason I didn’t take full mat leave the first time. It’s great you have a job that lets you take your baby to work, I don’t know of any. I hated pumping myself so I weaned my son a month after I went back. With the twins I took the full year so they were weaned at nine months no problem. Kudos to you. I am so thankful that even though it’s only about 35% of my usual pay we have a year mat leave here. Hang in there, it does get easier, especially for you :-) happy Valentine’s day.

      Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 9:37 pm
  7. I worked for an investment firm for 17 years before hanging that up to work with my husband at his music school. Being pregnant with twins, working 6 days a week, 14 – 16 hour days was taxing and it actually caused early labor and bed rest. Once the twins were born and we looked into child care, it was actually less expensive for me to stay at home and pay a sitter one day a week to go into work. I love being a SAHM, but would feel relief being out of the house for 6 hours, to interact with adults. I found myself creating little excursions on the way home so I could get errands done quickly without the girls. My position was eliminated due to economics so I am home full time again. I’m looking for virtual jobs so I can work from home while the girls are napping so I can make up the income. Having two incomes definitely helps, but being an older mom, being present as my children grow is priceless.

    Posted by kristagarrett | February 14, 2014, 9:54 pm
    • You have a very unique perspective. We are similar in that I worked like crazy when I was pregnant with my twins. Although I did cut down from 55 hours a week, I did manage to work until 36 weeks (they were born at 38+4). Childcare is ridiculously expensive and to be honest I have no idea how people actually afford it. I am sorry to hear that you lost your job, I hope things work out for you. You are totally right when you say time with your kids is priceless :-)

      Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 10:02 pm
      • Thank you so much –
        I first went into labor at 26 weeks and, after 4 weeks of bed rest, the girls arrived at 30 weeks. I’m in awe that you made it to 38+ weeks!!! That is awesome!!! Putting in long hours is exhausting, let alone carrying two babies along for the ride. I can only imagine what that must have been like having your first child to care for as well! I’m in awe – I really enjoyed this post, it made me think and put quite a bit in perspective for me.

        Posted by kristagarrett | February 14, 2014, 10:07 pm
      • Thanks to you as well! Yes, I was induced because they don’t let you go past 39 weeks here and they were 14lbs combined :-) it was tough with a two year old, in a sense work was kind of a break (it was a half desk job/half active job). But I am only mid thirties so that does make a difference too. I really like your blog too, since I can really relate to your posts. Have a great weekend :-)

        Posted by Shannon | February 14, 2014, 10:19 pm
  8. Ahhh Shannon, what a great post! I have questioned myself like this too and have yes decided I like the idea of work probably a bit more than being AT work (although being social is good!). I am lucky to work part time and be SAHM part time which is great… like you said, I step away from it and have more energy and appreciation for being at home with the kids!

    Posted by heidelightful | February 17, 2014, 6:13 am
  9. I work part time. Luckily we only pay for nursery one day a week as my parents look after Izzy the rest of the time, but if we had to rely on paid childcare completely it wouldn’t be worth while me going to work. I like the luxury of having my own income, and work can be a welcome break at times, though I’m looking forward to going on maternity leave in a couple of months.

    It would be nice to spend more time at home, but I’m lucky I only have to work part time and to some extent get the best of both worlds (though like you, I find that being spread too thinly makes it hard to be outstanding at either!). To be honest the more time I spent at home the more mess me and Izzy would make and I’d spend most of the ‘extra’ family time just doing more housework and finding other things to worry about!

    Posted by Kiri | February 18, 2014, 7:52 am
    • I completely hear you on the housework! Since my kids don’t go to daycare and are home 24/7 I don’t get the luxury of coming home to the house the way I left it like other working moms. Still, I am so thankful that we can make it without daycare since I can’t afford it, and I don’t like the idea of someone else raising my kids. I am glad you are able to swing PT. Congrats on your impending bundle of joy. Number two is worlds easier. With mine I actually took the full year of mat leave and wanted more! With #1 I went back at 8 months because I was going crazy LOL Thanks for reading.

      Posted by Shannon | February 18, 2014, 8:10 am

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