Though I went back to work full-time right after having my now 4.5-year-old son, I transitioned into a stay-at-home mom a few months before my twin daughters were born three years later. And while I absolutely, unequivocally love my children, I’ll admit that I don’t always love being a stay-at-home mom.
Like all parents, I have days where the hours are just filled with crying and tantrums galore. Then there’s the whole personal space factor, or lack thereof. My girls like to use me as their personal climbing gym, and while my son isn’t quite as interested in tugging on my hair and tackling me to the ground, he does have a tendency to follow me everywhere—including the bathroom, where we’ve had more uncomfortable anatomy discussions in recent weeks than I’d like to recount.
Still, when I contemplate being a stay-at-home mom for the long haul (and by that, I’m talking five to 10 years, or even longer), it’s not just the daily frustrations I think about. There are other implications of doing this long-term that seriously give me pause.
1. The financial impact
When I told my friends and family members that I was planning to study creative writing back in college, their initial response was something along the lines of “good luck getting a job.” But these days, I work as a writer and occasional editor—a job that can more easily be done remotely than most. Currently, I put in anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of work every week, and I do it all from the comfort of my home.
While I’m extremely grateful for this arrangement, as a freelance contractor, I realize my income steam is by no means guaranteed. All it would take is one major client to pull the plug to have me go from steadily employed to desperately searching. On the other hand, if I were to go back to a full-time position outside the home, I’d conceivably have a little more protection in this regard. Of course, no job is ever guaranteed, but there is still a clear difference between freelancing and being a salaried employee.
2. The career-related impact
Even though I do actually work a fair amount, I’m aware that the term “freelance writer” can be rather ambiguous in the eyes of potential employers. It could mean working multiple hours a week like I do, or it could mean writing a single article every other month. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the latter. But I don’t want my stint as a freelancer to look like a glaring gap on my resume. Since I would like to go back to work full-time one day, I’m afraid that the longer I stay out of the mainstream workforce, the less employable I’ll appear in the long run.
3. The emotional impact
You know that feeling of returning from vacation and dreading going back to the daily grind? That’s another thing I’m concerned about. Though raising young children is by no means a picnic, I’m worried that the longer I avoid the routine of commuting and going into an office every day, the harder it’s going to be to re-adjust to it when the time comes. Right now I work hard, but I also don’t have to worry about things like taking time off to schedule doctor visits or finding time to go grocery shopping during the week. Working full-time outside the home, though not necessarily more difficult than being home with kids, does put certain constraints on your schedule—and at this point, I’m honestly just not used to dealing with that anymore. And the longer I keep up my current routine, the harder it’s going to be to break it.
While I definitely have some concerns about being a long-term stay-at-home mom, I’m trying to do my best to enjoy my current status—and there are so many aspects of it to enjoy. Right now, I get to watch my children laugh, explore, and interact all day long. It’s not always easy, and it’s definitely not always fun and games. But right now, it’s what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.