For most couples, one of the first conversations they have when they start talking about babies is about money. Financially speaking, they wonder, what will life after baby look like? Can we afford it? What will it really cost?
My husband and I got married a little later in life than your average just-graduated-from-college-now-time-to-get-married couple. By the time we met, married and got the positive pregnancy test, we were in a great financial position. We'd both been in the workforce for at least a decade and in professional careers. The financial aspects of having a baby didn't scare us like it would for other couples.
But the question still came up as to whether I'd continue to work once the baby was born. Growing up, I'd always thought I would be a stay-at-home someday. I have huge admiration for stay-at-home moms; they do great work by spending the majority of their hours shaping their children. Most of the stay-at-home moms that I know are super impressive women. I have a great respect for that!
We'd prepared financially for me to stay-at-home, but I decided to keep working after our son was born. Why? There are probably many reasons, but it boiled down to a few big ones:
- I enjoy my job. If I didn't, it would've been a no-brainer to stay at home.
- We're committed to a debt-free life. Including mortgages. And I want a bigger house someday in a different school district. My income allows us to save up for that.
- It'll never be easier than now to work. Right now, I just have one child and he's still really little. He likes it when other people hold him. He doesn't mind being packed up in the morning to go to the babysitter's. In a few years, that might not be the case.
- It seems that most moms do earn an income of some kind. Not all stay-at-home moms do this, but quite a lot of them do. Maybe it's working at home or teaching piano lessons or running a blog or selling make-up or doing bookkeeping for a small business, but many a mother does contribute to the household financially. I could do some of those things, sure, but they wouldn't pay what my current job pays.
- Most of all, my company let me step down to part-time hours. It's a rare company that will let you do this and I know it would be difficult to find a company that would hire someone for just part-time.
At this stage in my life, working part-time is perfect for me! I'm able to spend more time with my son than I would otherwise. My son gets to take most of his naps in his own crib. When he gets older, I'll be there to do most of the discipline and teaching. When he's in school, I'll be able to greet him at home with a juice box. I don't feel rushed or stressed with home responsibilities. The house isn't always spotless, but I'm comfortable with it. It isn't a hardship to plan meals or do the grocery shopping. Our evenings and weekends aren't spent catching up on chores and errands. And yet, I'm still able to contribute to my family's financial well-being.
Will I always be a working mom? I don't know! Right now, the trade-off is worth it. Working 24 hours a week for the pay that I receive is worth it. I honestly love my job, I have fantastic co-workers and a hugely flexible company, but being the best mother that I can be is of the utmost importance. I only get one chance to do this mothering thing. I don't want to look back on my life and think "I wish I would have done something different."
I know not all women have the same choice that I do. For their families, working full-time is a necessity. For other women, their careers are very gratifying to them and they can't imagine not working full-time. And even if women do have a choice like I do, they make different choices than I do. And that's great! For some women, they have no desire to work outside of the home. For others, they wouldn't trade any time at home for any amount of money. Each family gets to make their own choice and this is ours. I want to live my life with no regrets and right now, working part-time is a decision that I don't regret. To me, it seems the best of both worlds. And I love it!
How did you decide to stay-at-home, work full-time or work part-time post-baby?