The easiest decision I ever made was becoming a Mommy. I always knew I wanted children and there was no doubt that my husband and I would make the sacrifices needed for me to be the stay-at-home mommy to the children. Easy decision.
Another easy decision was finding part-time work when our family's financial situation required additional income. Since my first child I was born, I have had 4 part-time jobs. When my children were all small and home with me during the day, I opted to work evenings and weekends. My husband was able to stay home with the children while I worked. It wasn't the best situation for our marriage, but it was the best for our children. As the kids started going to school (preschool and kindergarten) I changed my employment to only weekends because I just couldn't stand having the kids at school all day and me at work all evening.
Currently, I work only Saturday mornings at our community college. It's an easy job, the pay is decent and it's QUIET there (I treat myself to a cup of Dunkin Donuts decaf and think of my shift as my weekly quiet time!). There are times I feel like I miss out on the "fun" of being a parent - like when the children played soccer and I missed every one of their games.
I also do childcare in my home. I thought this would be the PERFECT job for me. I am able to stay home with my children and make a rather substantial income. However, I seem to find more and more reasons to want to quit this job every day. My house is a mess all the time, my own children dislike having to share both their toys and their mother with other children for 80% of the week, and I find that my patience for my own children is nearly gone by the end of the day because I do nothing but deal with kids all day long.
Essentially - doing childcare has made me a different type of Mommy than I have ever wanted to be. I don't like it. I hate when I snap at my children after dinner just because I am exhausted. I dislike that I spend my evenings cleaning my entire house because I can't get it done during the day.
Needless to say, the "job thing" has been on my mind A LOT lately. In fact, I've lost quite a bit of sleep over it in the past two months.
I am committed to my childcare position until the end of the school year. However, I have been giving a lot of thought to next school year. In September, my daughter will be going to 3rd grade and my middle child will be going to full-day school for the first time (1st grade!). My "baby" will turn 3 this spring and is already registered (at his insistance) for 3-year-old preschool in the fall.
Is this the time for me to look into going back to work full-time? My resume is current. In fact, I actually sent it out after seeing a position in the Sunday paper last week (I haven't heard a thing from that employer, so I guess it's not an option to consider at this point). Mommy-guilt-wise, I feel okay about it. My older two will be off in school all day anyway - if they need childcare it would be for about 70 minutes after school. Not too bad. My little guy has been home with me for 3 years. He LONGS to go to school like his brother and sister. He's already enrolled in preschool for next year. Would it be *that bad* to send him to a preschool/day care combo instead?
Or I could continue to do childcare. I don't love it, but it brings in enough money and keeps me home with the kids. I know it would be temporary - another 3 years at the most - but it's not my favorite option. The clients I currently have would only need part-time care next year. I would make half as much money as I do now, but I would have the kids much less time during the day. It's something to consider, but my least favorite option.
Some days I long to be a full-time SAHM again. My husband's salary is much higher than it was 5 years ago. We could do it. It would require a lot of budget-tweeking and diving back into our more frugal practices, but we could do it. It's just a scary thing to let go of any job - especially with our current economy troubles.
This is my big decision. Should I listen to my heart and stay home with my own children? Listen to my head and look for a full-time job which will help support our family's budget more? should I continue with childcare and earn "grocery money" while still being home with the children?
Can I be a Mommy for another few years, or do I need to become a Working Mom? This is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make. I don't know what is the right thing to do.
I am hoping that the right answer will come to me in time. I am trying to be patient and let prayer and God help guide me and my family to the right solution for us.
Stay tuned - we'll be talking about this a lot....