SAHMs and Working Moms: Rock Your Decision, Sister.

no more SAHM working mom guiltI work part-time. I’ve also done the full-time working mom thing and the SAHM thing. And because I have, I know everything about everything.

Given my work and stay-at-home experience, I can definitively say why working is better, and I’ll give you five reasons why I can’t be a SAHM again:

1) I’d have to give up the housecleaner because I’d be home, and of course I would have loads of time to clean.

2) I’d have to actually do those kid craft projects I’ve been pinning since my kids would want me to hang out with them.

3) My kids would actually expect me to make pancakes. Not defrost them. So I’d have to learn how to cook healthy, balanced meals the whole family would love.

4) I’d have to “enjoy every minute!!!!” Including the poop and vomit. It’s a requirement that SAHMs love every minute of their day, didn’t you know?

5) What would I DO with all my free time all day? I mean, I’d be bored, right? Because SAHMs just kinda hang out all day.

This all sounds ridiculous, right? I don’t actually think any of those things, of course. I’ve been a SAHM and I know better.

But there are working women think those things about SAHMs. And there are SAHMs who insist working moms are letting other people raise their children.

Who has it harder? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Do SAHMs lose their brain cells because they don’t work for a company? Do working moms actually raise their kids since their kids are always in daycare?

Enough already! Why is this still an issue?

Actually, I know why this is still an issue. It comes down to one thing: guilt.

The media loves to stir up “mommy wars” because they know that moms often feel guilty about their choices – or lack thereof. This innate guilt many of us feel makes us jump into the SAHM vs. working mom debate to defend our way of life.

I had this in mind when RadioMD interviewed me last week for their “Staying Well” show. The segment I spoke in was titled “Is Being a Working Mom Really Worth It?”

(By the way, the host sounds just like Delilah – you know, the nighttime radio host, love doctor, and problem solver extraordinaire? I was initially taken aback, thinking she going to ask me to dedicate a Chicago song to all working moms across America. And of course, it would be “You’re the Inspiration.” Duh.)

Anyway. I made the point that I think if a woman isn’t comfortable with her choice the guilt will fester, and that is what causes the mommy war drama. We all need to remember we are doing the best we can as parents, and the likelihood is that our kids will be just fine – whether we work, stay home, or do a combination of the two.

For me and my family, me working part-time is perfect. Working is worth it to me, even in those months where I don’t actually make much money. That’s my family’s decision. I’m rocking it. Yay, me!

Lots of women choose to or have to work full time. And to you women I say, rock on, mamas. Way to go, bringing home the bacon. Your kids will be awesome, too. They’re learning all sorts of great stuff at daycare and from you. Yay, you!

SAHMs are rocking the at-home mama gig. You’re spending quality time with your kids. You’re the household CEO, CFO, and cruise director. Your kids are also learning great stuff and will be awesome. Yay, you!

Let’s let go of the guilt and raise our kids in the way that works for our families. We’re all making sacrifices and making gains from whatever we do. Let’s own our decisions and ROCK THEM. No more guilt. Agreed?

Are you a SAHM or full/part-time working mom? Do you feel guilt about it? How do you think can you let go of it?

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When your husband’s job is your source of guilt

hubs jobToday I’m home with no kids. It’s a work day for me. But due to the nature of being a freelance writer, I unexpectedly have no work to do. I’m waiting for clients to get back to me with comments on drafts, and they haven’t yet.

So in the meantime? Nothing to do.

After five emotionally and physically draining days of rehearsals and recitals, a soccer game, stressful work deadlines, and hosting a big party, I should just enjoy it. I know this. Get a few household chores done, do some yard work, and not stress out.

So why do I feel guilty?

Stop being ridiculous, I tell myself. Let go of the guilt already. What is your issue?

But the stupid guilt remains. And I think I know why. It’s something that’s been weighing on me for a while. I keep thinking about it and each morning, I have to confront it.

I feel bad about Hubs and his job.

He has to trudge off, five days a week, to a job that doesn’t exactly inspire him and bring home (the majority of) the bacon. In the meantime, I’m home today, “getting a break” from my part-time job and my SAHM responsibilities.

And while I have plenty of hard days with the kids and some stressful work deadlines, I generally love my 9-5 gig. While Hubs does not.

Doesn’t seem fair to me.

I see it in Hubs’ eyes each morning. The resigned look of responsibility. He puts on a happy face most of the time because he knows he’s fortunate to have the job that he has, but I know what he’s thinking.

And yes, I know we’re fortunate to have jobs, a house, a nice life. I get it. I really do. Sometimes I feel silly even thinking about our “first world problem” of Hubs’ job. It probably bothers me more than it bothers him.

But I do believe that no matter what your job is – a CEO, a mid-level worker bee, a teacher, a roofer, a policeman – you should get some joy, inspiration, or satisfaction out of what you do. We have to work for the majority of our lives, so our jobs should be fulfilling in some way.

And I want Hubs to have that.

I see male friends of ours beginning to wrestle with mid-life crises, and I get why now: Going to an uninspiring, soul-sucking job over and over, five days a week, for the past twenty years gets to you eventually. So I’ve been ruminating over a plan to help Hubs avoid that.

In 2014, Grace will go to full-day kindergarten. It will create an opportunity for me to bring in more income – and maybe Hubs can do something different with his career. Something that might not pay as much, but be more meaningful work for him.

Or maybe he could work part-time and go to law school – something I know he’s always been interested in doing.

Honestly, I think it simply sucks that we have to spend 40+ years of our lives working so damn much. I wish we had more family time, more vacations, less school, less commitments. But that’s not reality.

So I want to make reality as fulfilling and happy as possible, you know? OUR reality. Not just mine. The fulfillment balance seems way off right now – and I want to fix it.

Are you and your husband/partner in a similar position?

 

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Is it worth it to be a working mom?

So the other day, I was thinking about the astounding amount of money Hubs and I pay for two measly days of daycare and a half day of babysitting for Grace. Since I am a freelance writer my income goes up and down, and some months it feels like it’s not worth it to work – financially, at least.

I threw together this little card and posted it on Facebook as I was contemplating the tiny amount of money I brought home last month:

daycare or work

And I asked the Honest Mom Facebook fans: Truth? Or sarcasm?

I was shocked at the response. It was one of the most commented on and shared Facebook posts I’ve ever done. 786 likes, 774 shares, 85 comments. Pretty big stuff for my page.

Obviously my ecard touched a nerve. And I can totally understand why – because I can empathize with both camps (working moms and SAHMs).

I used to work full-time. But when I was pregnant with Grace, I quit my job. I had had a complicated third trimester with Annie and  I was heading down the same road with Grace (early contractions due to stress because of – you guessed it – work). I did not want my baby or me to go through that stress again.

But even if I was having a smooth pregnancy, I likely still would have left. Because though I loved my job and my colleagues, I felt like my priorities were out of whack. I felt unbalanced.

I felt like I never saw Annie.

Monday through Friday, I dropped my two-year-old off at daycare at 8:00am and picked her up at 6pm. This meant I saw her for a total of two hours each day.

Two hours.

And they weren’t quality hours, either. They were consumed with eating and getting ready for school/bed. That was pretty much it.

It was killing me.

I knew Annie was in good hands. She loved daycare. I loved work. But I loved her more. And I missed her desperately.

Hubs and I went over the financial implications of me not working as much. I am fortunate that I am a copywriter and it’s something I can do from home as a freelancer. We knew we’d have to make some pretty decent adjustments, but we also knew I could ratchet up the freelancing gigs if needed.

Plus, Hubs was also missing Annie, and if I was home with her he figured he’d start working a day from home to maximize his time with her. And he’d also get extra time with her each day, since his short commute meant he usually got home by 5:30.

So I did it. I left my well-paying, ladder-climbing, fun yet stressful job. And I am now a part-time worker, part-time SAHM.

And I don’t regret it.

But honestly? I think I would if I wasn’t working at all.

When I left the corporate world, I was in a great place, career-wise. I had worked my BUTT OFF to get where I was. And I loved what I did. I couldn’t imagine leaving my career behind completely.

It’s not all about the money. The money is GREAT, of course. Earning a paycheck is very satisfying for me.

But for me, work isn’t just about money. It’s about professional and creative collaboration with adults I respect and enjoy working with. It’s about having a sense of pride and accomplishment in creating a successful email campaign, advertisement, or research paper.

And it’s also about … well … not being with my kids 24/7.

I’m not cut out to be a SAHM. If I was, I’d jump in and embrace the role whole-heartedly. But I’m not. I found that out in the years after Grace was born, when I basically was a SAHM.

I know that I’m a better mom because I have some separation from my kids a couple days a week.

I’m more patient and present with them when I’ve had my own time without them, doing something that has nothing to do with them.

This may sound unbelievable to SAHMs who love what they do. And the fact that I love working part-time yet enjoy my days home with Grace may sound crazy to full-time working moms who love what they do.

But there it is.

So, are those months where I bring home $56 after accounting for daycare/babysitting expenses worth it?

Hell, yes.

And that’s my final answer.

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