I was recently put on the spot with a question that I've been thinking about ever since: "Do you regret your decision to stay-at-home?" It was asked by someone who knew I was on the fence for a long time before I made a decision and was advising a mom who was obviously also on the fence. I'm not sure I gave a satisfactory on-the-spot answer to fully describe my "absolutely not and here's why" response. Since I can't stop thinking about it, I thought I'd write about it. I figure it's on my brain for a reason. So here's ten things to think about if you're on the fence and can't decide whether or not to stay home (I've also included statements I hear all the time as women debate themselves on whether or not to stay home); perhaps they'll push you over the edge like they did me...
By the way, much of this is written from a biblical standpoint. If you're not interested in hearing what the Bible states about your job as a wife and mother, I suggest you stop reading.
1. As a wife and mother your first priorities are your husband, children, and your home. Read Titus 2:3 where Paul is explaining to Titus what women are to teach younger women in their discipleship relationships. Among the things listed is to work at home and love your husband and children. Whether you have a job or not, your priorities should look like this: God, husband, children, home, job. As a teacher I was pouring my whole self into those kids and neglecting my relationship with my husband; and God was most definitely put in my back pocket, pulled out only in times of need and convenience. I realized, once we found out we were expecting an addition to our little family, that I could not juggle my job, relationships, and caring for my children effectively. Knowing myself, I had to drop one. Reluctantly I temporarily dropped my job as teacher. (Read more about that in my About Me page.) I have not regretted it. Sure I have moments that I miss it, but for the most part, I am beyond thankful I have the time I have with my little girls, because the time goes too quickly.
2. Soak it up, it goes by fast. The Bible calls our life a mist, "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14) You do not know what tomorrow may bring and I'm going to spend every day with the ones God gave me to raise in the knowledge of Him. The first 3 years of my first daughters life have gone by so incredibly quickly that I have no doubt the next 3 will be just as quick. I don't want to miss out on anything for the sake of a career. What eternal value does a paycheck have?
3. What eternal value does a paycheck have? Um, none. Even if you have a job, you could wake up tomorrow losing everything. Read Job as one example of a rich man who had everything taken from him and then read this one incredible statement Job made just after he lost it all, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Recognize that the earth and everything in it belongs to God ("Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." Job 41:11) and that He provides what you need. (Read Matthew 6:25-34.) If Jesus tells you not to worry about what you'll eat, drink or wear because He promises to give you what you need (even if it isn't what you think it should be), why should you worry about a paycheck? If a paycheck is driving your decision on whether or not you should stay home, rethink it. If you can make the payments necessary to live on one paycheck (i.e. house/rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) I encourage you to stay home. Have faith that God will take care of the rest. I promise you, promise, promise, promise that staying at home - even on a limited budget - is worth every faith building moment you'll have hence forth. By trusting in His promises your faith will increase in a God who is sovereign all the time, and you'll be able to praise Him more for every prayer answered.
3. In fact, it might be more financially reasonable to stay at home. Day care is expensive. Is it more efficient to use half a paycheck (or more) on day care or lose that half a paycheck to stay-at-home? I don't know your finances, so this is a decision you and your spouse must make.
4. You won't be bored. You have a relationship to focus on, a Bible to read, children to feed, clothe and play with, laundry, house clean up, etc. etc. There's a plethora of things to do and not enough time to do it. If you're bored, it's your own fault. Sure you have things that need to be done, but there's lots of options (even for small towner people like myself) on things for SAHM's to do. Here's a few ideas:
- Find a discipleship relationship.
- Ask your pastor how you can serve in your church.
- Visit someone in the nursing home each week (they LOVE seeing those kiddos).
- Plan one day a week to go to the library (most libraries also have a children's story hour).
- Find other mom's and plan a play date once a week or once a month. It gives you and your children social time, which is extremely important for both of you.
Jani Ortlund, in her book, "Fearlessly Feminine" had another quote that was quite influential,
"... will you pay the price of mothering? In Where Have All the Mothers Gone? Brenda Hunter cites numerous studies showing that every child needs someone to make an "irrational" commitment to him; someone who will be there when she is needed; someone who will not pack up and go home at 6:00 p.m. Additionally, this someone must love the child more than other people's children. Who can do this better than a child's own mother? Yet we hear the chorus swelling around us, "The care of children and home are inferior occupations. The marketplace is more rewarding. Find your worth there.
And so we face a decision. Don't let me heap guilt on your head if you must work outside your home will your children are young. I have been there, and I know how hard it is. I am writing about a decision that a working mom makes who has a choice to cut back and stay home with her children. Are we willing to give up the pluses of the working world for diapers, doctor appointments, feeding schedules, and hurried showers? We enjoy the affirmations of working outside the home - a paycheck, pats on the back, exciting challenges, and new relationships - and yet we know that our home life suffers all the while. We begin to realize that all the tangible successes in the marketplace can never mask the potent pull of mother love. But are we women enough to yield to this powerful force?" (summary of p.113-126, bolded mine)If you want more from this book and what Jani Ortlund has to say about the Price and Privilege of Motherhood, read this.
6. Mother's are irreplaceable. There is no one who can comfort like mommy, cuddle like mommy, give "healing" kisses for owies like mommy, teach like mommy, play like mommy, or even discipline like mommy. They will receive these things at a typical day provider, but it will not be like mommy.
7. Mother's are valuable. One father recognized this and wrote about it, Fathers, you can't afford a Stay-At-Home Mom. His explanation of our value is pretty uplifting.
(Side Note: All mother's are irreplaceable and valuable, whether you stay at home or not, which is why #6 and 7 are on this list... no one can replace you... not even a wonderful, loving day care provider. My point in writing those points is to reiterate a mother's worth and not devalue our job as mothers, because that would/should come before our career any day. See #1.)
8. Discipline will be different. (Relating to #5.) Day care providers are pretty stuck on what they can or cannot do about discipline issues and the world will continue to go farther and farther away from what the Bible teaches. It will be different at home than it is at day care, if you want results, you need consistency. I encourage you to read Tedd Tripp's book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" if you want a guide as to what the Bible says about biblical discipline and I can promise you, your day care provider cannot accomplish what mommy can accomplish (and the first few years are vitally important).
9. Less stress. I cannot imagine how different my life would be had I decided to juggle being a wife, mother, and teacher. I know I'd be extremely stressed out. The thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I only have to "worry" about my children and my relationship with my husband. I do not have to add the stress of a boss, students, grading papers, meetings, coaching responsibilities, late nights, no sleep, and trying to be good at it all.
10. You won't regret it. I'm 110% positive that you will never hear someone say on their death bed, I should've earned more money. They'll say things like, I wish I would've spent more time with my family, or I wish I would've taken the time to do _____ with my daughter/son, or I wish I would've enjoyed my husband more..."
I hope these reasons push you over the edge one way or the other. Not knowing your specific situation, I encourage you to seriously consider staying home if you have the support of your husband and you can financially afford it. You will have to make sacrifices (like using one vehicle for a year, or driving an old $1,000 grandma car for awhile, or giving up eating out, etc.etc.) but it.is.worth.it.
If you want to read 10 things society tells stay-at-home mom's and my arguments to combat them, I encourage you to do so. It might help your decision.