I HAVE been a stay at home parent now for over four years, I can still barely believe it’s been that long because it has quite literally flown, but they do say time flies when you are having fun.
I often get asked how we came to the decision that I would become a stay at home parent from other parents who are toying with the idea, but were worried about it or were unsure for a variety of reasons.
I will preface everything I write from here on in with this — I absolutely adore being a stay at home parent. I love the freedom of it, I love the pace of life that comes with it, I love the social side of it that I have come to build up around me and I love the simplicity of just being there to watch my children become individuals. But like anything in life it is not always easy, so if you are considering staying at home to mind your children here are a few other aspects that may provide some food for thought.
First and foremost, for me deciding to stay at home with the girls was, like many things in parenting, a gut feeling. I knew going back to work after my second lady that being at home with them when they were small was all I wanted to do.
My husband and I are equally qualified, we both have degrees, doctorates and post docs under our belts but there came a point (and a child!) where our career priorities changed, I wanted to stay at home and he drove on with his career. For the most part, I listen to him talk of board meetings and reports and I literally shudder. However, there are the occasional days when I think through the what if’s of my career trajectory — what if I had stayed on in my job and progressed, would I feel a bigger sense of achievement compared with life at home?
Those thoughts do not last long but there is no denying they can exist so it is worth considering how you will feel yourself when the moment strikes.
You need to make sure it is not something that can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction because it is one thing being dissatisfied with an employer, it is another when it’s your partner.
Aside from a gut feeling there is one other equally important question to ask yourself and that is ‘can we afford it?’. Realistically, you need to sit down and look at the figures for as long as you endeavour to stay at home, budgeting for the short term and making a decision based on that isn’t wise. You should factor in how much it will cost you if you have more children if that’s in your overall plan, factor in expenses that come when they start school – books, uniforms and extracurricular activities on top of all the usual bills and an increased heating and electricity bill.
If you were used to earning your own money and enjoyed a trip to Zara from time to time without having to run it past anyone else then there is no doubt you will miss your financial freedom, my husband doesn’t always understand how I could ‘need’ yet another dress!
I know it may go without saying, but having only one breadwinner in the family places a weight of responsibility on that person. For those that love their jobs that isn’t a worry but it can become stressful if that person were to, for some reason, really start to dislike their job.
When they have mouths to feed, to a certain degree they may feel stuck. In light of what has happened over the past few months with Covid-19, it has probably made many of us nervous about how certain we can be about any of our jobs so making sure you have a back up plan in terms of financials is important.
My husband asked me recently what I would like to do about a return to work when the girls are all at school and at first I didn’t have any answers. It’s not that I bury my head in the sand with regards to the future, it is simply that I am so contented with my current position in life I haven’t been looking to the future yet.
I also do not have the time for forward thinking when the present is so demanding! That said, it is a consideration that has begun to play on my mind more as my youngest moves ever closer to preschool going age.
My background is in research and engineering and I find it hard to imagine going back into that area as things will have changed so much. I could of course spend some time catching up on what I’ve missed or I could completely reinvent myself, those are the two options, but for now I’m happy just being Mum!
Trying to decide if being a stay-at-home mum is for you? Here, Eimear Hutchinson who has relished the role for the past four years, shares her advice
I love the freedom of it, I love the pace of life that comes with it, I love the social side of it that I have come to build up around me, and I love the simplicity of just being there to watch my children become individuals.