Have you ever wondered what life is really like on the other side? Perhaps you dream about it? Walks with friends, cooking for fun, crafting, more time with the kids, lots of sleep… (sigh…)
Recently I was the casualty of a corporate downsizing and had the opportunity to live the life as a stay-at-home for 4 months. The life I dreamed of for 10-years became a reality. Here’s what I learned about life as a stay-at-home:
- Finances Need More Oversight – It’s hard to explain until you live it, but without the additional income, you feel more constrained due to the missing prospect of a second income. No matter how much money your partner makes, there’s a finite feeling when you look at money. Staying within budget becomes critical, and you take more oversight when it comes to recurring expenses. You also forgo the 401(k) savings and other benefits.
- You See Fewer People – At work, I would regularly interact with over 20 people each day, sometimes even more. At home, you interact with less than a dozen different people, sometimes less. I was fortunate to build some amazing close friendships with other stay-at-home moms, who were only available during the day. However, I missed having work friends, both male and female.
- Days Fly By. At home time flies fast – you can spend an entire days doing things, and never really pinpoint what you did and what took all the time. There’s no putting your feet up and eating bonbons.
- Your Accomplishments are Different – So what gets done? Laundry, volunteer work, cooking, tidying, errands, shopping, budgeting, and watching the kids. As a stay-at-home, you are the CEO, CFO, and CIO of the house, so you’re faced with challenges, opportunities, and politics; it’s just in a different environment.
- You Have More Time With Your Children. As a stay-at-home, you have more time to be involved in school activities, homework, etc. My kids loved seeing me more often, having more play dates, etc. Yet I also started to notice that they would see my availability as a way to try to shift chores and responsibilities to me. As a working mom the boundaries were set more naturally, simply due to a lack of time.
So if you ever dream of achieving a stress-free life by becoming a stay-a-home, please know: it’s a hard job. There are pros and cons, no matter which path you choose.