6/10/2008

The great dilemma: To stay or not to stay (at home)..

The questions of whether or not to stay home to look after the kids have, I'm sure, popped up in almost all mother's mind. Having that thought crossed my mind, many times throughout my 12 years of motherhood, I then have to make a decision: which in part is due to maintaining a certain standard of living and in part, driven by compulsion. It was never an easy choise to make - which is why it occurred many times in my course of being a mother. I tried a temporary arrangment of that sort but reverted back to work after realising that the reson to put good food on the table forced my decision to seek alternative arrangment to my ideal of staying home.

What did I give up staying at home? The one thing that immediately leaps to mind is that the family will have to do its best to live on a single income. This is true in most cases, although sometimes a stay at home mom or dad can earn enough from home to make the difference minimal... or even improve matters.Financial matters can be tough. It is possible for a family to live on a single income in many cases, but it almost always requires significant sacrifice. No grand vacations. No keeping up with the latest tech toys. No shopping on a whim.

But stay at home moms and dads also have to deal with tremendous social isolation. It is incredibly difficult to find friends when you're at home. No more casual office gossip. Lunch out with friends becomes a rarity. It's tough.Expectations must also be managed. Is a perfectly kept home expected? What will the balance of responsibilities be when both parents are at home? What about time off for each?All of these factors are things which must be considered and discussed beforehand. Disagreeing about responsibilities once things get going can only add to the tensions.

I suppose, bearing all tese factors in mind, my conclusion would be:
Being a stay at home mom or dad is not for everyone or every family. Quite a bit depends on family dynamics and family income. But for those who can do it and enjoy it, few experiences are quite so rewarding on so many levels.


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