I got a message on Instagram last week asking how I liked being a stay at home mom. The woman asking was on the fence of going back to work or not and wanted an opinion from someone who’s been there. This is a question I really hadn’t received, and so I hadn’t done any reflecting on it.
Blakely turns ONE this Saturday, December 4th, so I have almost been a stay at home mom for a whole year. After reflecting on how it’s been staying home with her, I came to a debatable conclusion. There are both pros and cons about being a stay at home mom for the first year of your baby’s life. So I wanted to share with you all what I shared with the woman who messaged me.
First off, I believe that whatever decision you choose for you and your baby is the best decision. There are challenges and rewards on both sides of the equation – whether you decide to stay home or go back to work.
This blog post is mainly for the mama given the option to be a stay at home mom or go back to work. I know not everyone has, or even wants, that option.
Let’s dive into the PROS:
Babies change so fast. I mean I feel like it was yesterday I was taking her tiny, innocent self home from the hospital, and waking up with her every 2-3 hours to feed her.
I feel like everyday she does something new whether it’s as small as making a new noise or facial expression, or as monumental as her first steps or first word.
Being home with her all day every day means I get to love on her all day every day. I get to hold her, snuggle with her, play with her, read with her, and form that parental bond that is so special. No one can love on your child like you can.
I hope we are moving away from this judgement, but for some being as stay at home mom can be looked down upon. It is often more criticized than being a working mom. I never had an experience with this until I was asked “when are you going to put your Journalism degree to use?”
I was stunned speechless at the question, and thought to myself “how could anyone not understand that my first priority right now is my daughter?”
Daycare is expensive, especially in Atlanta where we live. Another pro is that we are saving money on daycare. Casey and I are fresh out of college which means we don’t have a lot of money saved up. I’m so lucky that Casey got such an incredible job that allows me to stay home and not have to worry about the cost of daycare.
Another pro is the flexibility in your day. Blakely is my life, but I don’t let her control my life. If I need to go grocery shopping, run errands, go to the gym, go to a MOPs group, I bring her. If we want to go on a vacation, we go. I don’t let having a baby hold me back from doing things that I want or need to do. And getting her out and about so much has helped make her a go with the flow baby!!
To sum up the pros, you get to LOVE on your baby all day long, you are your child’s first teacher, you have more time to get errands done and things done around the house, you save money on daycare, you control their schedule, and you are present for all of the first year milestones.
Now let’s talk about the CONS:
I’ve gotten the question “so what do you do all day?” more times than I can count. That question is honestly a bit insulting, but it mostly comes from people who are not a mom. Babies are A LOT of work. And there are new challenges with every season.
The first con is that the days get to be quite repetitive. We live in a tiny little apartment, and I figured out that I need to get out of the house AT LEAST once everyday for both my sanity and for Blakely’s entertainment.
As she has gotten older, it’s gotten harder and harder to keep her busy and stimulated. I take her to the park, I go on lots of walks, I read her books and let her crawl around and explore with new toys and objects. But doing this all day gets to be pretty exhausting by the end of the day. Some days when Casey gets home from work I tell him I need a minute and I just need to go sit by myself and decompress.
It’s a lot of pressure trying to keep them on a good schedule and eating nutritious foods and making sure they take a good nap. And all the while entertaining an almost toddler is tiring! I think for me it got harder at around 9-10 months when she got to be more mobile. She crawls all around the apartment and puts every tiny thing straight to the mouth. In turn, I’m chasing her all around the apartment and taking the tiny thing out of her mouth. (Side note, I promise I vacuum or sweep at least once every two days- I don’t know how she finds things but she does!!!)
Another thing is socialization. The older she gets, the more I feel like I should get her involved with more things that have other babies there. Organize more playdates, take her to music classes, etc. I take her to the nursery at the church and at the gym and so she gets a little socialization there, but I can’t help but feel like it’s not enough.
The last con is personal feeling about being a stay at home mom. As grateful and as lucky as I feel to stay home with her, part of me wonders “what if.” What if I was working and had this great job that I loved? Would I miss Blakely all day? Would I feel more fufilled?
I think a part of why that person’s question about when I was going to use my degree hurt so much is because I often wonder it too. I just didn’t know others were wondering too.
If I had the choice to stay home with Blakely again for my first year or get an amazing new job, I’d choose to stay home with her again and again. It is the most rewarding job on the planet, but I don’t want to be a stay at home mom forever. It has been such a blessing for this season of change and transition, but as we are getting more settled in Atlanta and more settled in the post grad life, I am feeling more ready to find a job and start my career.
I hope you all enjoyed this blog post. I’d love to know in the comments if you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, or a stay at home working mom- and how you like it!!