Choosing to be a stay-at-home mom

My husband and I finally decided to have kids in our 30’s. We had been married almost eight years before the child discussion ever came up. Before that we were both fine with our decision not to have kids. But then as I neared thirty, my biological clock began ticking.

Once we decided to take the plunge, we talked about what would happen after we had the baby. Would I want to work and place the baby into daycare or would I want to stay at home? It really proved to be a short discussion.

It was clear from the beginning that we both would rather I stay at home with the baby rather than return to work. And fortunately, we had the resources to allow me to do that.

Now, just so no one jumps up and starts complaining, I do believe there is nothing wrong with both parents working and using daycare (or grandma or a nanny) to help them raise their child. I know some people can’t afford to have one parent stay home and also that some mothers aren’t cut out to be stay-at-home moms. There is nothing wrong, right, better, or worse for ANYONE’S decision on whether they work outside the house AND at home or if they just work at home.

And believe me, raising kids is definitely work. It is not just sitting at home while the kids nap or play. It is teaching them to eat, walk and explore. When the kids were younger, each day was a new adventure – a trip to the zoo, story time at the library or even just a trip to the grocery store.  Now they have the challenges and adventures of going to school. (Lexie is half-day preschool and Jase is in the first grade.)

When my husband and I made the decision that I should stay at home, we had no clue if I would be one of the women who loved staying home or if I would miss the challenges of working or even just miss the adult interaction with my coworkers.  Well I can say after seven and a half years of doing this, I have never regretted my decision. I have never been bored. Every day is something new.

With Lexi starting kindergarten next year, we have already begun discussing whether I would want to rejoin the work force or continue to stay home. Choosing to remain a stay-at-home mom would give me plenty of time to devote to my writing and would allow me to still be heavily involved with the kids by volunteering at their schools. So again, I think that will be a short discussion. The answer is obvious to me – stay at home.

Balancing my time between the kids and my own interests

“Will you play with me?” my daughter asks.

I sigh. I am right in the middle of working on something and now is not a good time. “In a little while, honey,” I say.

Then she wanders off and if I am lucky she finds something on her own to keep her busy, but sometimes she comes back a minute later with the same question and will keep returning with the hope that my answer has changed.

I sometimes wonder when I tell her I am busy if I do it too often. Everyone always says that kids grow up way too fast and that you should enjoy them while they are young.

While I am sure this is true, you can’t spend every minute at the beckon-call of your child. They need to learn to play by themselves too.

So I guess my dilemma right now is how to properly balance spending time with the kids and getting things done that I need to do.  I have heard many parents say that spending time with their kids is more important than a clean house. In fact, I know quite a few stay-at-home moms who do nothing but attend to their kids and play with them all day.

But that isn’t me. Besides keeping the house marginally clean, I also have my own work as an author and blogger. I don’t want my kids to be my only focus. I want to be more than just a mom, and I think the kids benefit from me having my own interests.

The key is finding out how to balance my time with them with my own pursuits. I make every effort to be involved in their lives. I volunteer at their school. We go to the zoo, museums and the theme parks on their days off or weekends. It is rare that I don’t have something planned every day in the summer even if it is just taking them to the pool.

But there are times when I need to work. I do a lot of my writing while they are in school but sometimes other things – errands, a breakfast out with other moms or doing the invoices for my husband’s business – take up my time and that leaves me with working while they are at home.

And that is where the balancing act begins. Sometimes I do get up and read a book or play a game with them. But other times, I feel the need to work and put them off. Whenever I do, it always leaves me questioning if I am neglecting them or giving them the opportunity to learn how to amuse themselves. After all, that is a pretty important thing to learn too.