Sunday, December 31, 2006

Seriously Consider What Staying At Home Is Like

When I started staying home with my son, I believed that each day would be exciting. I did not know exactly what we would be doing, but I could not imagine that it would get boring. Of course, I also believed that I would do far more writing and take on more exciting projects. After two years at home, however, I have discovered that I am not as cut out for the life of a stay at home mom as I had thought. In fact, I am not cut out for it at all.

That has led my family to re-evaluate our set up to make some changes. The experience has taught me that many women do not feel as happy with the choice either to work full-time or to stay home as they seem to be. In fact, in researching this issue, I have discovered that study after study suggests that few women are truly happy with their choice. That is because we make the choice while considering societal pressures, which is not very healthy.

When you read typical articles about deciding whether or not to stay home, they address some important issues. Can your family afford to have one parent stay home? What adjustments would you need to make? Will the baby benefit from being at home with one parent? How will he or she get social interaction? These questions all are ones to consider, but many of these articles neglect the second person in the picture.

In the majority of families, Mom is the one who will be staying home with the baby, but we rarely take her needs into account. If you are thinking of staying at home, there are issues that you need to consider devoid of any outside pressures or influences.

First, are you emotionally prepared to stay home? While you may think you will enjoy the quiet of your home everyday, think about the reality of what that means. There will be no office gossip (which you may find you miss), no meetings, no lunches out with your co-workers. Many stay-at-home moms face a massive emotional change when they start to stay at home. They find themselves more isolated than they had imagined.

How will you find social meaning? Perhaps your two of your college girlfriends live nearby and are staying home. The three of you could spend time together. What do you do, however, if none of the women you know are at home? Will you meet new people? How? Where? Think about the practicality of your decision before you jump into it.

Where will you go to recapture your sanity? While the thought of being home with a baby may seem pleasant, it can be harsh. The baby will need you frequently, and he or she will not be able to offer much in the way in the reciprocation. While you no doubt will get great pleasure from spending time with your child, some people need more in return than others. While I have spoken to some moms who talk about how they get ultimate fulfillment from seeing their babies smile and coo, I need more than that in my life. Some of this difference, I believe, comes from the type of person you were before your baby was born. I worked in a field with a good deal of recognition and interaction with public officials. Going from that to a baby trying to hold his head up as the highlight of my day was a tough move.

Make sure that you can deal with the emotional side of staying at home. For some women, it brings elation, but others find that they are not happy with the decision to stay at home. Should you find yourself in that position, be prepared to accept it and move on. It does not mean that you have to put your child in full-time daycare. You may look for other options, such as part-time work that you can work around your current schedule or even a part-time daycare provider. Be sure that you pay attention to what your head and heart are telling you and make the right decision for everyone in your family.

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