Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Back to Work?

One of the questions I was asked recently had to do with whether I intended to go back to work, what kind of work I might do, and when I thought that might happen.

My views on this have changed drastically since I've had children. I used to think I would always be a stay at home mom. I'm not necessarily proud of this, but I used to believe that any family could have one parent stay at home, if they were willing to make sacrifices to make it happen. I used to think that the best thing for any family was to have one stay at home parent. This is one of many things I've changed my mind about since actually having my own kids. I think that different things work for different families, that stay at home parenting is not the right thing for every mother (or father), and that the cost of living these days makes it pretty darn difficult for every family to have a stay at home parent, no matter how badly they might want to.

For now it makes sense for us to have me stay at home. I know how fortunate we are to be able to swing it on Matt's salary alone. At the same time, it doesn't feel like we'll be able to manage this way forever. Like many families I wouldn't say we are struggling to put food on the table, we have plenty of things we could live without (although where do you draw the line - I can't imagine downgrading or eliminating our internet service, though it certainly isn't required for us to survive), but my returning to work would afford us some breathing room in the future.

When I started working on my master's degree, back in the summer of 2006, it was with the intent that I would return to work someday. During the summer of 2007 I even interviewed for a teaching position. I fully intend to return to work, and it will likely be before both children are in school all day.

In a perfect world I might start working part-time as early as next school year. I would LOVE for my children to attend the private school I taught at before becoming a stay at home mom, but the tuition is s-t-e-e-p and they will only be able to attend if I return to work at that school. To me it would be worth the changes we'd have to make in our family life for me to return to work and the children to attend school in that environment. If that scenario doesn't play out (and it's likely not to, because we all know life doesn't always go the way you wish) it may be a little longer before I return to work. We don't know yet whether Michael will have the food allergy issues Harper has - that really complicates any childcare/school situation for her.

Also in a perfect world, when I go back to work, I will work in a school library - which is what I got my master's degree for. But I am not entirely ruling out a return to classroom teaching, especially in the right environment.

Some things which will completely upend these plans:

1) We win the lottery and neither of us needs to work.

2) Matt gets a job in another city - we would only move away if Matt's new job would mean that I truly didn't have to go back to work for our financial stability, for a long time - we could not both work without the family support we have here.

3) The unknown - if some circumstance dictated that one of us HAD to be home full time, we would find a way to make it work as long as we needed to.

So I suppose that sort of answers the question about my return to work - though there is much, much more which could be said on the subject. Including asking the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Which I think we'll save for another time.


Mommy Daisy said...

It can't just be easy now, can it?!! I feel the same way...very conflicted about what to do/if anything.

Anonymous said...

What timing for this post. My husband and I just finished a conversation about this exact subject. I recently returned to school full time to finish the nursing degree I started so many years ago. After being able to stay home with the girls full time for the past 6 years it's been rather difficult for our family. The children miss me, I miss the children...sometimes it's hard to weigh the benefits of the situation.
These really are tough decisions.
I wish you the best of luck in finding that perfect balance that works for your family:)

bluedaisy said...

This is a very timely post- especially for me. I just finished day#2 of a return to full time work and wow, it's an adjustment for me. It's interesting to read your perspective because on my end- this job is pretty much a necessity right now and if I had my way, I'd postpone working full time for a couple more years. I wish you the best with figuring out the timing/situation that works for your family. It isn't the easiest one to figure out!

Lil Mouse said...

we arent' currently feeling the crunch but we dont have a mortgage either. or a car payment. knock on wood. one day i'll get back to school or work, but i have no idea when. i tried getting into grad school twice, once was screwed over because i had a migraine and couldnt 'pass' an interview-try being your most charming when the whole world is spinning, and the second time i was told i'd have no trouble getting in, and then i was put onto a 'seconds' list due to my 'lower ability to complete the homework' --the gpa requirement was a 2.5 and i had nearly a 4.0 graduating from college in a very similar subject, and had taken college classes recently along with a full time job and gotten As in them. basically, i was married and the program frowns on it, so they said i wasnt 'good enough' educationally to get in. maybe one day it wont matter that i'm married and i'll get to do what i want to do, until then, i'm going to stay home with my baby

CARRIE said...

I have no desire to go back to work (mostly because I know I would then have 2 full-time jobs, since my hubby is definitely not a hands-on kinda guy--he has to be told, and told and told to do the obvious).

But I do wonder how we will be able to handle orthodontic bills and other expenses as the kids get older.

Of course, by that time, when they are more self-sufficient, it might be more manageable. But then I think that might be the time they really need mom at home...to be there when they come home and keep them on the straight-n-narrow, as much as possible.

I agree with 1st comment: it is so complicated.

Emily said...

I keep meaning to do a post on this very topic. I will probably do one soon.

I've changed my mind, too, but it's funny, it's kind of in the opposite direction. Like I always assumed I would be a working mom and now I just can't imagine how I would handle both. But I'll save it for my own blog. :)

Thanks for the laptop ideas, too. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the whole computer topic if you have a spare moment to re-type them. :) But as for this Christmas, my mom bought the v-tech one for her before she read my post, so I think we'll go that route!