This month marks a momentous milestone in my life – I have retired. No, not to vacation or lounge around, but to full-time mommyhood. Before you think the baby has come, she hasn’t. She is still snuggly hanging out in my tummy and wiggling like an active little fish as I write. However, this month I have started transitioning to being a stay-at-home mom.
For some people, this news may elicit a quizzical “Why???” or a “that-doesn’t-sound-very-fun” expression, especially when you factor in the significant blow it makes on our income – a loss of nearly 50%! Ouch! Now that should make any Crumb Saver reanalyze their finances and wonder if this really is the best idea. (If you’ve read our previous blog post on paying off our house in 2 years, you’ll see that it was indeed part of our plan to being financially prepared for my retirement to mommyhood.)
However, even with the knowledge of a painful income cut, staying at home with our children has always been the natural step that Al and I assumed would come with family life. It was so in line with the other values we shared, I don’t think we even discussed it before we got married! If we had, the conversation probably would have gone something like this:
Is the husband going to financially support the family? Excuse me, does he have any other choice?
Are we going to pay off our credit card bill every month? Was NOT paying it off ever an option??
Is the wife going to stay home with the kids? Do YOU plan on breastfeeding the baby???
Now that we’re writing this blog, we’ve actually received questions from readers as to WHY I’m choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. So now, 5 years into marriage, Al and I decided it would be a good idea to discuss our reasons and share some of them with you.
So here are 9 reasons why Mrs. Crumb Saver is staying home with Little Miss Crumb Saver once she makes her appearance:
1. It’s My Job
I was created with the machinery to feed my babies, the natural mother’s instinct and intuitiveness, and the nurturing nature of a woman. Call it traditional, but I believe being a mother is my job and role in our family. Al feels he is being the man of the house when he can bring home the paycheck, be the spiritual leader, fix the leaks in the toilet, and protect me from bug invasions. We believe we have certain roles in the family that we are best suited for and are happiest when we can fulfill them. And for me right now, that’s being a full-time mommy.
2. “NO” to Babysitters/Daycare
Of course, we understand that childcare might be the necessary option for some families, but Al and I have chosen to avoid babysitters as much as practicality will allow. I’m sure there will be times when we need an evening off or want to go on a trip and will be relieved for someone to watch our wee one for a bit. However, we plan for this to be the exception, and babysitters will likely be family or close friends. Dropping a child off at a daycare while I go off to work is non-negotiable for us. Here are just a few of our reasons why:
- Sickness – It’s undeniable that daycares breed all sorts of plagues. And it’s actually quite unpleasant to think about: Runny noses, copious drool, unwashed hands, fingers in all sorts of orifices, and toys shared and sucked on by multiple children numerous times a day. Even my coworkers who had children or grandchildren in daycare would be sick much more than others (and consequently pass it on to us in the workplace).
- Habits – Children are extremely impressionable, and it seems like bad habits are oh, so much easier to pick up than good ones. The discipline, respect, good manners and language, etc, that we try so hard to teach our children at home can be undone very quickly if children are exposed (especially on a consistent basis) to others who do not hold similar values. We believe that a consistent environment and influence is best achieved at home with a full-time parent.
- Stimulation – As you’ve probably already gathered from this blog, Al and I value simplicity, and this also applies to raising our children. While we respect other parents’ choices of toys and entertainment, we are a bit old-fashioned and hope to teach our daughter to find contentment in simple things such as:
- Nature instead of Disneyland
- Spoons and Tupperware instead of bouncing, flashing, singing toys
- Helping around the house and playing outside instead of being entertained by a screen
Sending a child to daycare pretty much ensures that they will be exposed to a lot more stimulation than we would like.
3. To Be There for Her
We want to be around when our little girl learns how to crawl, says her first words, takes her first tottering steps, or proudly accomplishes a task and looks for our approval. We want to have time to teach her how to cook, dig in the garden and harvest peppers, and be home when she wakes up to a new day and falls to sleep at its end. We realize that it is only if I stay home that we will be able to witness all her life events, provide consistent leadership, catch those teachable moments, and give guidance in the big and day-to-day activities of life.
4. Minimize Divided Attentions
Before having children, Al and I focused our priorities on things like work, financial goals, and ministry. Now that we are becoming parents, we realize that raising a child has become one of our primary responsibilities in life. (This is also what keeps us up at night wondering whether we are able and ready for such a task!) Although the other areas of life are still important, we want Mommy to be able to focus her attention on this responsibility without the distraction of a demanding job or career.
5. I Can Still Be Useful/Involved
Some people may ask, “What about your career? Won’t your education be wasted?” Everyone has to answer this question for themselves based on their personal goals and also their personality. But for me specifically, my education and training as a nurse is never wasted as a mother (this is one reason I picked this profession). In fact, I believe that every mother should have some knowledge in health, the human body, and be able to respond to basic medical needs.
In addition, a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you can never step outside the door. There are lots of ways to be involved in ministry, the community, and make a difference in the world without being a full-time, paid doctor, teacher, or whatever else. Get involved with your church, reach out to other mothers, or find how you can use your gifts/expertise in a part-time, volunteer basis. Besides, being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t mean I’m swearing off all types of paying work entirely. As I’m able and as opportunities present themselves, I can always consider doing some work from home that won’t detract from my priority of raising my kids.
6. That’s How I Was Raised
I was raised in a family where my mother was a full-time mom as long as I was living at home. I can’t remember a time when I repeatedly came home to an empty house (instead mom was there waiting with a popsicle), had to fix my own supper (mom always cooked from scratch and the family always ate together), or was on my own to entertain myself after school (mom was always there to crack the whip to make sure I practiced my instruments). I am so thankful to my mother who never thought it a sacrifice to put aside her life to make sure she were there for mine.
7. I Enjoy It (I Think!)
Well, I guess I can’t say for sure how much I enjoy it yet since Baby Crumb Saver hasn’t arrived, but perhaps you can ask me after she starts sleeping through the night! But regardless, being a mother at home is something I have always envisioned myself doing, and I am quite sure that once she arrives, I won’t be able to imagine doing anything else!
Although cutting our income in half to become a stay-at-home mom has made us a little frightened sometimes, it always helps to remember that there are costs to NOT being a stay-at-home mom: Babysitters/daycare, gas commuting to/from work, formula and resulting accoutrements if unable to breastfeed or pump enough for when at work, and medical costs for all those daycare sicknesses. Whew, all those add up! So that extra paycheck from me going to work isn’t as lucrative after all!
We crunched some rough numbers and figured that after taking out all these additional expenses, the equivalent pay that I would be getting would be somewhere around $5.25 an hour before taxes. Ouch! We feel that being able to prioritize and focus on our child is worth far more than that.
9. We Can’t Outsource Parenting
Perhaps the most important reason of all is that Al and I both believe that parenting cannot be outsourced. In choosing to have children, we have taken on the immense responsibility of raising them to be godly children and we will be held solely accountable for what we have or have not done to train them properly. We cannot transfer this responsibility to babysitters, daycares, teachers, trusted friends, close relatives, or even grandparents.
Though being a stay-at-home mom may not be the most glamorous and definitely not the most appreciated job in this world, a quote we read recently puts it in perspective:
Though the results of her work are not apparent, angels of God are watching the careworn mother, noting the burdens she carries from day to day. Her name may never appear upon the records of history, or receive the honor and applause of the world, as may that of the husband and father; but it is immortalized in the book of God. She is doing what she can, and her position in God’s sight is more exalted than that of a king upon his throne; for she is dealing with character, she is fashioning minds.
We couldn’t agree more.
What about you? Whether you choose to stay at home with your children or not, what are your reasons?