WorkingMomI realized last week that I have now been a stay at home mom for a year. I have not stepped foot in an office, worn business causal clothes, or received a hard earned paycheck in over 365 days. I wear yoga pants every day, a wet ponytail, no makeup, and the highlight of my day is going to the gym. I’m a straight up stay at home mom. And yet here I am a year later still feeling like the working girl in SAHM’s clothing. It’s probably time I accept that I’m no longer moonlighting as a SAHM. I’ve crossed over. But there’s a BUT

But…I can’t kick this nagging feeling that I want to go back to work. No, I sort of need to go back to work. Not for the paycheck; but for the mental health and the confidence that learning and challenging myself brings me. This need nags at me and also totally conflicts with my want to spend loads of quality time with my little ones while they’re little – which is such a short time.

When I began this journey of staying home with my daughter (and now son) I really thought it was just going to be for a short time, like a month or two – tops. I saw it as a little break from corporate America. A chance to take a nice long vacation to the beach, make some good memories with Annabelle while we had some time together, and focus on finding a great job doing exactly what I wanted to be doing in my career. And then I found out I was pregnant…

Being pregnant while job searching can really muddy up your plans! It felt like bad timing finding a job only to tell them I’d be going on maternity leave in less than a year. Do I tell them during the interview that I’m expecting or wait until I have a job offer? I felt like I was being dishonest and the whole thing stressed me out so much that I decided it was a sign that I should stay home with Annabelle. I’ll never get this time back with her, so why not try it out?

It’s been such a blessing to stay home this past year. I actually love that Annabelle was about 18 months at the time because she was at a great age where we could really get out and do fun things together. We go to the zoo, the Children’s Museum, parks, play dates, lunch and more and that’s all Monday-Friday! And being home with Leo without a maternity leave clock ticking away at me has been wonderful. I don’t feel sadness and an “ending” to our quality time nipping at my heels.

I really wish I didn’t need any more than that. I’m totally content being with my kids and having lazy days. But I feel like I’ve lost a lot of confidence in myself since staying home. I didn’t realize how much of my identity was sort of wrapped up in having a career. Not that my identity was “marketing” per se, but it’s the independence that I felt from working. I loved feeling like I was contributing financially to our household. I loved feeling smart and receiving accolades for a job well done. Getting a thank you from the hubs when I wash and fold three loads of laundry, make the bed, and unload the dishwasher is nice, but I’ve gotta have more. Call me greedy.

This makes me feel a little crappy admitting that sometimes being home with my kids isn’t enough to feel “complete”. I want both worlds, to be honest. I would love to find a fun, challenging job that also lets me work part-time. It’s so hard to find a great part-time job that isn’t a step above an intern or assistant level, and it’s hard to take so many steps backwards once you’ve already established a decent career over a 10 year period.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking online at jobs that look interesting to me and I find myself getting excited at the prospect of returning to work. Annnnnnd then I feel sadness that an end may be near. Watch me go to work and instantly start fantasizing about lounging in my PJs until 10am, hitting the gym at noon, going to the zoo on a Tuesday, and cuddling up with my sweet, sweet babies. GAH! This is why this decision is so hard! I feel incomplete staying home and will feel like I’m missing out on watching my kids grow if I go to work. I wish I could be steadfast in my role, either way. But there’s a major gray area which makes me so confused. *deep sighs*

How many moms have the best of both worlds? Working some and staying home some? I’d love to hear how you do it!

5 Comments on Return to work or stay at home? Ugh, why is this decision so hard?

  1. I was a corporate trainer before and made the choice to stay home with our kids when my son only had a year left before kindergarten and my daughter was not quite 1 yet. I absolutely loved the lazy days home with the kids. Being able to do things with them throughout the week was awesome, instead of trying to cram another life in a two day weekend. I wouldn’t give up that time spent with them for anything in the world. When my daughter started kindergarten last year, I went back to work full time. I work for the same company I worked for before, but I now work 100% from home. So, I’m there to put the kids on the bus in the morning and I’m there to get them off the bus in the afternoon. I definitely have the best of both worlds. I can totally relate to your struggle though! Best of luck!

  2. I’ve followed your blog since you were pregnant sweet Annabelle. Following your journey has been so fun for me!

    I don’t miss working one bit. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old and every day I find myself thinking how blessed I am to be able to spend so much time with them. After my son, I felt so lost with out work or the social aspect I had daily. I worked really hard at setting up a schedule or activity every day to get us out of the house and busy! I had to make all new friends and basically start over! However, it has all been worth it. I know I will probably go back once the kids are in school, and that makes me a little anxious because I feel so content right now-like this is what I’m meant to do! I try to ditch the yoga pants at least twice a week and feel like I’m still “cool” and not fall into the SAHM stereotype! Which means do my hair, put on make up, jeans and maybe even some earrings if I’m really feeling jazzy! 😉

    It’s hard when things aren’t black and white. I do think just from reading your blogs-you seemed very content working and being a momma to Annabelle. If it’s pulling at you that you aren’t 100% happy with staying at home, then I would look for something part-time and see how it goes. Either way I wish you the best of luck and I hope you find what makes you most content!

  3. I had three small kids, and the only way to actually “see” a profit, over and above the childcare costs – was to work swing shift at the Hospital. It was BRUTAL to get home at midnight, and be up with 3 little kids before 0600. I am convinced that some kind of work outside the home is good for mental health and friendships – but the only realistic way to do it, with little ones – who will get sick, who will have MD appts., etc. is to be part-time. Once they go to school, does not mean the balance is easier….after school stuff becomes a challenge. My advice: Part-time don’t worry about the career goal just yet…..

  4. I went from FT worker and working my way up in my career to working PT a year ago. I work Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30-5:00and have Tuesdays and Thursdays at home with my almost 3 year old. I wanted to work to still have some “adult” interaction. I like working one day and having the next with my daughter at home; unfortunately I am not getting the interaction I had hopes for. The departmentI work I doesnt really talk and I sit on a cubicle. I no longer feel as important because honestly when you are part-time you miss out on some of the things going on in your department and you can sometimes be given the “filler” work. I also feel a little judged by the other Full Time workers & perhaps they are jealous I get to work PT. I am now most likely going to be a FT SAHM and am nervous. If I dont it would be my daughters 4th daycare and shes not even 3…I am taking this as a sign that I need to try being a FT SAHM. It is such a stressful decision…I feel your pain. Iam hoping to sell crafts and build my photography business so I hope that fills my “work ethic” needs. Best of luck in your decisions.

  5. Holly, I get where you’re coming from 100%. I also worked 3 days per week in the office before I became a FT SAHM. It sounds like the perfect situation, but I too Felt like an outsider in my group, I felt like the others were a little jealous–including my new boss who came after my schedule was in place. Then it felt major pressure to perform better to make up for my home days and ultimately it became a very unhealthy situation and we parted ways. I could’ve found something else quickly but I wanted to scratch the itch to be a SAHM and I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. I’m finding now that it’s easy to make it all about the kids to the point where you don’t do anything for yourself or by yourself anymore and it wears on you. Mamas gotta have something that’s all her own or else she’ll go crazy!! Good luck trying out being a SAHM, you won’t regret it. Because you can always go back to work, but you can’t go back in time and get that time back with your little ones!

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