Being a full time stay at home parent has never really been something I have ever really considered. I’ve always known I would want to have a career alongside raising the children. (Apart from a crazy, hormone-fuelled couple of weeks when Grace was a newborn where I was convinced I was never going to go back to work).
It’s not primarily about making money. At the moment the nursery fees for both of the children are almost my entire take home salary anyway, so had I chosen to stay at home with them both and not pay out childcare – the end result on our current finances would be the same.
The decision is based on a longer term vision, beyond when the children are both in school and nursery fees are a distant memory. It’s about laying the foundations for a life after nappy changing and bum wiping and chopping meals into bitesize pieces. Even after only five years out of the marketing industry I already feel like I need to bring myself back up to date with the current trends and cutting edge tools available in the industry. If I stopped working for 15 or 20 years I’d be consigning myself to a non-skilled low paid job at best.
On a more immediate level, I get so much value from working. To my sanity and self-esteem. Every morning I dress, put makeup on, pack my bag and off I strut into the adult world to make my mark. I think. I write. I discuss. I contribute. It recharges my confidence and makes me feel like I have a place in the world as a whole, not just a place in my own household.
After returning from maternity leave this time in particular, I had a real surge of motivation to push myself to learn some new skills, to start to build something that could turn into a flexible career that would work around the school holidays and in the longer term future, be scaled up into a full time career again.
At nursery the children eat three healthy square meals, play with an armada of toys, sing, read, run around the garden, go on excursions to museums and parks, all different types of messy play, craft, baking…and more. In fact, so much more than I could ever offer them at home.
I don’t feel the dreaded “Mum-guilt”. As far as I’m concerned it’s win-win situation for us all. My children are my whole world but I’m also my own person and feeling happy and fulfilled in life is an example I want to set them for their own futures.
I respect stay at home parents and their choices. It’s certainly not the easy option! This post is not intended to pitch one choice as the definitive best choice for everyone. I know that I’m privileged in the sense that I’m not forced to work evenings or weekends just to bring in enough money to make ends meet. I’m essentially working more or less for free now as an investment for the future. I realise not everyone has that luxury and for that I feel extremely grateful and humble.
I can only speak for myself, my feelings, my situation. I worked bloody hard to put myself through University and took over a decade to pay off my student loan. Having a career has always been something I’ve placed in very high regard and I continue to strive for it alongside Motherhood.