Motherhood series: to work or to stay at home? Pt 1

I had it all worked out. I was going to have 12 months maternity leave after Baby 1 and then go back to work full time for a year or two, have Baby 2 and then quit my job and become a stay at home mum. That would work best for Stu and I in terms of practicality and also financially.

And then I became a mum.
can't bear to be apart from his sweet face
The minute I saw Alexander, I felt such a strong sense of love for him, I knew that my decision wouldn't be so clear cut and easy. Now, with less than six months of leave left, I find myself (reluctantly) having to think about my options for going back to work.

Never in my life have I felt more conflicted. The thought of leaving Alexander even for a day makes me feel sick. Yet at the same time, I find myself fantasizing about witty adult banter and engaging my brain in ways that I can't while I'm in babyland. The thought of losing my financial independence scares the hell out of me and I wonder what would happen if Stu (touch wood) loses his job?

So I thought I would speak to other mums who have had to make the decision to work or stay home, in order to learn about how they came to that decision and find out just how they make it work. Today, I start this series with Julie, who has done it all; she has been a full time working mum, a stay at home mum and is now working part time. Here is her story...

***

I have done a lot of options when it comes to Motherhood. I was a younger single Mum, and now I am an older partnered Mum. I have even had one 'natural' birth and one emergency caesarean birth. Two children nineteen years and four days apart, who would have thought I would have had "that much" age gap between my children?
Julie and Tamika
Julie and Jarvis
With Tamika I pretty much returned to work straight away, I hated leaving Tamika with a passion, it broke my heart having to be apart from her. I would start work around five pm, so I would drop Teak off at my Mum's. I normally finished between midnight and one am, so I would pick up my sleeping child and go home and try to get as much sleep as possible. Which was normally only four or five hours a night.

I worked evenings so I could spend my days with Tamika. This was the best option available to me, plus I was lucky with Tamika I got a baby who would sleep well at night. Mum would put her down around 6 pm, with a bottle of milk I had expressed for her, and she would sleep through until I picked her up. We would go home and I would give her another feed and she would normally sleep until 5am or 6am. Pretty much from the start Tamika would sleep in good four to five hour chunks during the night. Even now as a 21 year old she is a good sleeper.

With Tamika I was constantly exhausted and racked with guilt that I was working and apart from her. When she turned four, I started uni, so I was able to get Austudy and spend as much time with her as possible. It was amazing. So we balanced primary school years with me working part time and studying part time.

I always wanted dozens of children, so when Justin and I got together in my late 30s I knew I had a small chance at having more children. Fours years of trying, coupled with fertility treatments I became pregnant.

I worked up until 37 weeks full time, during this I put half my income away every week. I figured if I could live off half my income for a year while pregnant I could live off the other half after Jarvis was born. Because I also got the baby bonus I was able to live off my savings for over 18 months.

Then, even though I am a very frugal spender, I began to use my credit card. So with mounting debts, when Jarvis was 22 months, I went back to work part time. I was more comfortable with the choice this time, as at the same time my partner quit working full time and began to work on his own photography business from home.

I only accept shifts at work when Justin is not shooting. We both agreed one of us would always be with him. Last week I worked almost full time, this week I am only doing one shift as Justin is pretty much booked day and night every day this week.

Interestingly Justin claimed last week he got nothing done when I was at work, that Jarvis is so full on with his energy he needs constant attention. Which is a change from when he worked full time and would always ask "but what do you do all day?" I also struggle when I work as the days I do I come home to a clingy child who will not go to sleep unless he is holding me.

I try to balance my week with Jarvis. One day at home, then one day out. We have chickens and a veggie patch, so days at home are spent with big chunks in the yard. Unlike Tamika, Jarvis is not a great sleeper, so I find the more activities we do during the day, the better he sleeps at night. I even try to take him for an hour walk at night after dinner to try to burn off some of his energy. During his nap I squeeze in 'me' time and sew or I blog over at Iliska Dreams 

In an ideal world I would not work and be a full time Stay at Home Mum, or at the very least work from home, I adore both my children and love being with them.

Motherhood is... the best, the hardest, and the most important thing I have ever done.

***

Thank you Julie for sharing your motherhood journey. It just continues to amaze me what mums are prepared to sacrifice for their children and you are truly an inspiration to me.

30 Responses to Motherhood series: to work or to stay at home? Pt 1

OtherMix said...

I wish you luck with this decision. I can't really help you out, as I am in my twenties, still a student/single. Sorry 'bout that!

Anouka said...

Although I have never been near such a situation, I can understand that it must be a difficult choice. But does it have to be one or the other. Maybe you will find a way to stay with your son AND continue to work. I'm sure that there are possibilities to work from home or part-time. Good luck with finding the arrangement that suits you best so you don't have to make sacrifices.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome post.

Never an easy decision. Sounds like she's found a great balance.

Erika Lee @ A Tiny Rocket said...

It is a tough decision because there is no right answer. Before I had my daughter I thought that it would be an easy choice working full time but for me I wanted to stay at home with my daughter but I think sometimes its good for mom's to have their time to be an independent self. All I know is that you can't replace time and attention, but you also have to work with the hand your dealt. :)

Briseidy said...

thanks for sharing this! I know it's not an easy decision but I'm sure you'll figure it out ;)

Rose said...

Beautiful story from a great mother! Well done, Julie.

Thanks for sharing Trishie. I knowit is hard to make decision when it comes to baby. I was also in dilemma but after all the considerationI quit my job and become a full time mother last January. It has been more than a year and every day is a challenging day. Not a single dull day.

rooth said...

It's always wonderful to hear these stories and how people make one decision or the other and how they make it work for them and their families - thank you both for sharing yours

Beauty Box said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Having children really tests your physical and mental capabilities. I don't think there will ever be a perfect decision....only a right one for you and your family.

My Garden Diaries said...

Oh this is such a hard one...because everyone's situation is so different. I really enjoyed reading her journey because it was real and she shared those raw emotions that come along with all of this. I was a teacher for many years and was just going to take a bit of time off but I got Pregnant with G when Josephine was only 4 months old and paying for daycare for 2 babies was almost my whole salary. Then we had our 3rd and at home I am. I have watched other peoples kiddos out of my home to make extra money for our family and am currently watching my brothers girls which works out great. I know these days are numbered and I am trying very hard to soak it all in! Best of luck to you friend with whatever you decide! Nicole xoxo

burntfeather said...

gosh what a hard decision, I don't envy you but I'm sure you'll end up making the best choice for you and your family :)

Czarina Mae said...

This post made me think of my Mom and all the sacrifices she had to go through to raise 3 children who came a year after another. I should really ask her how she and my Dad make things work then. Some mother-daughter bonding time, I guess :)

And I can totally see your dilemma. Alexander is such a cute little nugget!

Claire said...

Don't envy you having to make the decision Trishie - I had it made for me as I found out I was pregnant the day before I started my new job, so no maternity leave for me! I'm now in the process of trying to find work after 8 years of being a SAHM and it's not easy. I think working part-time is probably the ideal but I don't regret staying at home for one minute.

trishie said...

Czarina, you really should find out from your mum how she did it. It will be. Great bonding experience for sure! I never fully appreciate my mums efforts until I became a mum myself

trishie said...

Claire, thanks for sharing. You've brought out an important point here in terms of going back to work after being a SAHM. It would be nice still to have a foot in the door. Hope you find some work soon! x

Tammy Lawrence-Cymbalisty said...

Good luck with your decision.

Carmen ShuGar said...

Oh, gosh. I can already sense I am going to struggle with this and ShuGar Boy is not even born. Living in L.A., we don't really have an option of one of us not working. We simply can't afford it since Mr. ShuGar is filmmaker and work is inconsistent. I am the stable income earner. Yet, I know the moment I see our baby I know I will not want to leave him and it will break my heart. I don't really know what to do about this. I feel like in some weird way, not having a choice is almost easier. If I had the choice, I think I would choose my heart which would be my baby, but for some time. I do think there is value in a woman working to maintain her independence and sanity. Thank you for talking about something so important.

Sam said...

Such a difficult decision hun, I think if you could work part time or from home that would be pretty ideal. It would be so hard to leave this little darling.

Jane said...

oh i love this series trishie! so many women i know have gone through this. many thought they would always have a career while being a mom but you just never know.. some women decided they wanted to be a stay at home mom. they never thought they wanted to but as soon as they became a mom, they just knew. others kept their job - some for financial reasons but others because they loved their job just as much as they loved their baby. motherhood is such a wonderful thing. i hope to experience it one day!

Jessica said...

This post was so sweet. I love how it shows how much you both love your children. Not being a mom, I can't say what I would do when it comes to work or staying at home. I sure things will work out no matter what you choose.

Jessica @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

Our Neck of the Woods said...

This has to be such a hard decision! I've heard many moms say they had an idea in mind of what they would do, but when it actually came down to it found it so much harder than they originally thought. It seems that you can never know how you'll truly feel until you do have a baby and experience it firsthand.

Midnight Cowgirl said...

What an insightful post!

Tina Bradley said...

To work or stay at home: It's always a difficult decision. I had the privilege of staying home with both my boys until they were several years old. I say it's a personal decision. What works well for one person may not for another one. Whatever you do, I know it will be from the heart and that's where the best decisions are made. :)

akiko hiramatsu said...

Hi! such a sweet faces!He is very very lovely!!!

akiko

Alla said...

Ahh Trishi... sounds to me that you already made your decision. You already decided that you want to be a stay at home mom. Now the remaining question is weather or not to do it EARLIER. Well that's simple, if you can financially swing it, then why not!? :) I'm just making an observation... and being an obnoxious aries.

Joyce Olson said...

Would you consider a Nanny for the 2 or 3 days while you were at work?
Wishing you well in your decision-
Jemma

M @ onthesamepage.com said...

Hi Trishie, no matter what decision you make the right answer is as unique as you are. You'll make the decision you need to and won't even look back...

London Loafers said...

Wow, this was such an inspiring post.
I hope you'll find a way and make the best decision for you an your family :) I was reading through the comments above and someone mentioned going part-time? Perhaps that would be a good compromise?

Lots of love, and good luck with your decision!

Hayfa
www.londonloafers.com

Vanisha @ A Life Un-Styled said...

Julie inspires me to no end. There isn't a right answer and only what works best for you and your family. My family situation is quite different. My husband and I (both academics with PhDs and busy research careers) have no kids, but now have a 9 yr old living with us full time. And while a child at that age isn't as demanding as an infant we had similar decisions to make. In our case the decisions were very easily made and I've been able to have a lifestyle that works beautifully for my husband, our 9 yr old and me. People say you can't have it all, but I feel like I do, I have it all in the sense that the 'all' encompasses what is right for our family. Good luck Trish xoxox

Erica Louise said...

This is wonderful, Julie is great. I think you just have to go with whatever is right for you and your family, and shrug off irresponsible judgements x

Amy @ Elephant Eats said...

It's been a while since I've been onto my favorite blogs to read, so i have a lot of catching up to do it seems. Alexander has grown up so much and I can't get over how cute he is!!! Gosh, you're so lucky to get 12 months of maternity leave over there...here in the US we barely get 3, if we're lucky. Some companies don't give any if you can belive it. I know the choice to stay at home or not must be a hard one...but whatever decision you make will be the right one for both you and baby, I promise. And you can always change your mind!