Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stay-at-Home Mom of School-Agers?

Most of my fellow stay-at-home mom friends and I talk about "going back to work"--whatever that means to each of us--once our youngest is in all-day school. Some of us want to, some of us don't but feel we should do it anyway, and some of us are totally undecided. But there seems to be an expectation that once the children are old enough to be gone during the day, at-home moms re-enter the working world.

But Nataly over at Work it, Mom! has an interesting column up right now, with many VERY interesting reader comments, about the exact opposite idea: that perhaps it's even more important/necessary to be home when children are in school than when they're babies and toddlers. I found the comments most fascinating of all, because almost all of them are from moms of school-agers--some working moms, some at-home moms--who confirm this notion from direct experience. The working moms universally lament how much more they feel needed at home now that their children are in school and household life and scheduling has become even more complicated. Click here and check it out.

Food for thought. What do you think?


CuriousK said...

I'm actually a college student in the middle of a blogging project to discuss ideas of women and work. Very interesting to run across this post on your wall. A lot of my research has focused on working mothers, although I hadn't thought much about how busy scheduling and other activities might make staying home a better option for the family. If you have time, I would really appreciate any comments you have on things I've posted!

DKGP said...

Shan, I have often thought about this. When my SIL's kids both got into school, my MIL was mentioning how how they were deciding if she would go back to work. My mom has always worked, always, and I have never felt slighted. I wondered out loud what on earth she would do all day if she were not working while the kids were in school. Now that I am getting close to that situation, I still wonder about that a little for myself. I mean, staying home all day seems luxurious, so much "free" TIME! But then there is guilt to have so much time to yourself while your SO works so hard. And then there is the feeling of "wasting" those degrees that cost so much monetarily and emotionally. I do know that when we get to that point I want to volunteer at school and so on, and with my husband's schedule, a full-time position for me is out of the question. So we are back to... What do we want to do with those expensive, advanced degrees when we grow up? Sigh...

Shan said...


You're not kidding. I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to advanced degrees, as you know. Ugh--I sort of wish I had not gotten it. I feel great worry and guilt about potentially not going back to work as a psychologist.

As for what at-home parents do all day when the kids are in school, for me I can imagine volunteering on a regular basis at school (i.e., Julia's classroom this year asks for parents who can volunteer a morning a week, the same day each week, all year long, something I can't do yet), as well as using the time to write (either freelance or continuing my dream to get a full book published). Also, I think I'd do a lot more SERIOUS cooking and baking, which is important to me (feeding my family local, healthy, home-cooked food). And I've heard that you'd be surprised how "busy" one can still be when home with school-agers. But, who knows? I can't really imagine it yet!

I have considered starting up a very part-time private wellness-coaching practice once the girls are in full-day school. I have a business plan and have experience with this since I had a solo private therapy practice in Minneapolis. This could be a way to use my education/degree/expertise but also have a super flexible schedule and control certain aspects of career life.

Mary S. said...

A really interesting question. My sister-in-law worked full and then part-time (as a CPA) until her kids were in middle school. Then she decided it was important for her to be around more because of all the challenges of the teen years, and she quit working. Her youngest graduates from high school next year, but I'm not sure whether she will go back to work.

I've been a freelancer for more than 20 years -- a part time gig, both when my kids were little and now that they are almost grown. All in all, it has been very good for our family for me to have a flexible schedule and make some money. I'm glad I was able to be around when the girls wanted to talk, to know their friends a bit, and to volunteer at school when they were younger. I also liked being able to put in a load of laundry (a task that goes really well with writing) or work in the yard before working at my desk, if I felt like it.

That said, when your friends all go back to work, it is harder to get together and loneliness can be a real challenge for both stay-at-home moms and stay-at-home workers.

Mnmom said...

I was a SAHM for many years, and am now working out of economic necessity. I love my job, and really enjoy making a difference and using my education.

Yet . . . . . .
My family suffers if I'm not at home much. The house gets messy, the laundry piles up, the dinners become slap-dash affairs, appointments don't get made, etc. Also, Middle Schoolers and teens need just as much adult supervision as toddlers. They don't THINK they do, but trust me they do.

As your kids grow older, it becomes easier to return to work. Your kids are so very little right now. But when G is in 3rd grade, your perspective will begin to change.

I think the perfect world for school age kids is one parent who works only part-time and is there when school gets out, or very soon after. Mom or Dad.

But none of us lives in that perfect world do we? So you just try to work out the best solutions for your family's particular issues and forge ahead.

And never forget to support all the other Moms who's choices have to be otherwise.

Anne said...

thank you for alerting me to this post and the discussion there and here! I know with the economy we're in, it's hard to "fight the system." But I really think we all need to fight for more flexible work hours. I really want to be present for my daughter. I don't want her to be in daycare. When she turns three in another year, I'd like her to start pre-school. That'll give me some hours a week, but what kind of employer would hire me to work around my child's pre-school hours?

I realize we need to make choices till we have change, but we can't just wait for change, we need to do something to get there.

Awareness building is one place to start. So thank you for blogging about this!

Lannie said...

I just resigned from my position because my kids are so busy in middle school. When my DH was a teacher, he could handle the afternoon, but now he owns a business and is not available. I've worked part time, full time and now am back to no time, but I find that I have more than enough to do, and I am never caught up on laundry! I enjoyed your blog post and the comments.

Anonymous said...

I found a great company that focuses on living a natural and healthy lifestyle. While being able to earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at http://miw.momsprovide.com