Staying at home full time is something I have desired for a very long time, even prior to having children. I really love being a mom and it’s one of my truest passions. It started young — I remember reading family and parenting magazines as a kid and making mental notes for the future. I also loved all the developmental classes I took in college. I don’t know why I’ve always been drawn to it, but I think I was just hardwired to be a mom.
With this story there are two key pieces. First there were all the tangible financial action steps we took to make this possible, and then there’s the emotional competent to all of it. Kevin spoke to all the actions we took to achieve this in a recent article (HOW WE TOOK ACTION SO MY WIFE COULD STAY AT HOME) and I’m going to now focus on the emotional part of that story.
If being a stay at home mom was everything I wanted, why did quitting my job hit me so hard? I once heard that it’s not change itself that’s hard, it’s the transition of getting there that’s hard. Sure we’d all love the change from losing 10 pounds, we just don’t want to go through the transition of losing those 10 pounds! The weeks leading up to quitting, and the first few weeks since, have been a time of transition.
What I Gained from Working
In economics there’s an important concept known as opportunity cost. By making one decision you reap the benefits from that decision, but you also give up the benefits of the other decision you passed up. As we weighed the benefits of working versus staying at home, we chose the latter. This is obviously a very personal decision. Insisting that being a stay-at-home mom is better than being a working mom (or vise versa) is complete arrogance.
Leaving was of course very difficult. I had grown so much and built many important relationships. Quitting my job also made me feel the full weight of the opportunity cost. You don’t just kind of quit your job, when you quit, you QUIT. It was also a huge significant financial leap. We lost the security that comes with earning two incomes and reduced our income in half! I had worked my way up and increased my salary by more than 55% during those past five years. My salary played a significant role in us paying off our debt. We had previously paid off more than 107K and we had positioned ourselves to live off a drastically reduced income now. It was absolutely the best option for our family, but a significant emotional and financial decision to say the least.
Life After Quitting
Being a Stay at Home Mom has been everything I’ve hoped for. I’ve had some minor hurdles, but it’s been overwhelmingly positive. I now have the unique perspective to understand firsthand the experience of being both a working mom and a stay at home mom. In all fairness, I’ve only been a stay-at-home mom for three weeks. I know I have much more to learn and experience before I can consider myself a true “expert”. Nonetheless, I’m glad I’ve experienced both because it’s given both Kevin and I much more appreciation for this new way of life as well as each other. There are three key reasons I love being a stay-at-home Mom.
Reason # 1 – Quality Time with my Son
This is the biggest and most obvious reason I chose to quit my job. Quality is the most important thing that matters with your children, but it has truly been a pleasure to increase the quantity piece. I love that I can spend even more time with him. “The days are long, but the years are short” (Gretchen Rubin). I’ve heard from so many parents that you can never get that time back. It’s awesome being able to see him grow and learn every day, and get to love on him that much more. I’m really going to treasure the next few months that I have with him one-on-one before our next baby is born. When our second son arrives, the quality time I spend with both of them will continue to have a lasting impact.
Reason #2 – Different Pace of Life
The new pace of life has been a huge contrast. I know Kevin and my little one are feeling the difference as well. Juggling work and life when you’re raising a young family is a challenge. I remember it requiring a small act of God to make an 8:00 meeting (and God forbid a 7:30 meeting!). I’d have to make sure the baby was put to bed before 7:00 so he could get plenty of sleep. I’d wake up the next morning by 4:45 so I could get myself ready. At 6:00 I’d wake up the baby, make sure he doesn’t dawdle with his breakfast, and then rush out before 7:00 to handle the commute. Leaving by 7:00 would allow enough time for drop-off at daycare and a then a very quick window to check my email before my first meeting. When my son would hand me a book to read in the morning it would break my heart having to say, “no, not now buddy”. This rushed lifestyle was my way of being. It was like the constant stream inside my head way saying, “go, go, GO!” At the end of the day, I was so tired by the time I got home. The stress and strain also didn’t always bring out my best self. Also, the thought of doing house work or making a thoughtful dinner was often the last thing from my mind. This added to the overall sense of chaos because it felt like our home was always in disarray. I simply didn’t have the energy.
The three weeks since I’ve quit have been a complete 180. I wake up around 6:30, and have a much more calming routine. I’m a much happier person. I love that I can make our bed every single day. It’s truly the simple things in life! For once, I also enjoy doing housework because I have the motivation and energy to do it. I have more mental energy to think about all the other things in life that need to be handled — the budget, meal planning, blogging, preparing for the new baby, etc. And let me tell you, I fully leverage the two to three hour afternoon nap time! I’m certainly not bored now, and wonder how I had managed all the different demands at once. I also love that I’m taking a direct role in being my son’s teacher. We’ve been very focused on his language skills and it’s awesome to see the progress. I love this new way of being.
Reason #3 – Fewer Hats and Less Stretched
Related to the idea of a different pace, I love being less stretched. We all have different hats we have to wear — mom, wife, employee, friend, etc. Working moms have two very distinct hats they have to wear, their work hat and their family hat. As much as my job energized me, it also drained me. I constantly had deadlines to meet, difficult employees to manage, presentations to give, situations I had to influence, and overall just a lot of pressure I put on myself. I worked for a great company, but leadership is typically all consuming. My responsibilities were not something I could just shut-off after 5:00 PM. By the time I’d get home, I was mentally done and tired. I often would feel guilty for not being as great as Mom or wife as I could be. And yes, I know I was way too hard on myself! Now that I don’t have the competing balance of work versus life, I can focus all my energy on home and family. Who needs work life balance when you can just shift everything to life?! It’s been such a privilege and I am so grateful.
Congratulations on making the move that’s right for you! Choosing to be an at-home parent is a personal choice; it’s not right for everyone, but there are some upsides for sure. 🙂 I think this is what paying off debt quickly is all about–you have the freedom to make life choices that were previously unavailable because of debt. Congrats again!
Erin @ DebtFreeHappens
Thank you! It really is about having the freedom to choose that’s the most important part. If we still had all the debt this wouldn’t be an option. That’s why I like calling it financial freedom because that’s exactly what it’s all about — freedom to live the way you want to live. Options in life are a beautiful thing!