Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

To Work or Not to Work? That is the Question...

I have been struggling with this question for a few months now. I think most moms, whether stay at home or working, have this question cross their mind at some point in their parenting career. Stay at home moms might like the idea of some "personal" time at work and a sense of personal and professional accomplishment. On the other hand, working moms are constantly trying to keep a balance between work and career, often battling guilt from not being with their kids.

I don't mean for this to be a debate of any kind. In fact, I could debate both sides damn well. There are such benefits to working AND staying at home. Because I am in the midst of making some decisions about my career and family, I just wanted this to be a place where I could candidly document what I am going through. My hope is that in this process, I will somehow come to some sort of peace with my decision...whatever that may be.

When I was pregnant and went out on maternity leave, the question of not coming back to my job was well, not even a question! I love my school and it's a pretty good gig. Additionally, all I could think about was how I was going to survive handling TWO kids at home for FIVE MONTHS without jumping out my bedroom window. But if you have read my previous blogs, I have changed my tune a little since my son arrived. Having this time together with them both has made me appreciate them immensely. I love seeing Brooke interact with Will and I have loved seeing her grow and mature this summer. Likewise, Little Buddy is changing everyday---getting cuter and doing all of those cute baby things. I was also able to put him on a schedule and stabilize his sleeping and eating habits--something I didn't really didn't get a chance to do with Brooke. Staying at home has definitely made me more in control of every aspect of my kids lives (what they eat, their activities, etc). Which I like since I am mildly control freak'ish.

As I end my last week before I technically plan to go back to work, I find myself questioning my decision to go back. One of the feelings that I have trouble with is guilt. In Brooke's first year, I remember every time she got sick and I couldn't go to work, I was overcome by horrible guilt. Guilt for not being able do my job 100%. Guilt about being a "slacker," not being there for my team of coworkers. Seems silly, I know! In the last couple of years I have gotten MUCH, MUCH better at letting go of these feelings and just concentrating on where I needed to be, which was be with my sick kids, of course! Work can wait! In fact, I had a parent get fairly annoyed with me for not attending a meeting a week and a half after Will's birth. He was still in the NICU but she wondered if I could just escape for a couple of hours to attend. Two years ago I probably would have gone to the meeting!! But my years have made me wiser and I didn't even feel one ounce of guilt for being with Will instead of that meeting!

I think my biggest fear about juggling a "day" job and my job as a parent is not being able to be successful at both. If I work, am I compromising the precious quality time with my kids? If I stay home, I am somehow depriving my kids of other social and intellectual opportunities I can't give them at home? Some people try to debate one side or the other claiming there are certain universal benefits to either working or staying at home. These people somehow claim they know what's best based on a few "case studies" they know about. "Well, I know little Sally Jane down the street goes to daycare and look at her..she is a hellion. That is why I stay home to teach her manners." Or, "Little Jimmy Smith...look at him! He stays home and he's shy and has no social skills. That's why kids need to go to daycare." You honestly can't use your limited range of "case studies" to determine what is right or wrong for YOUR child. Personality and temperament of both the kids AND the parents play a large part on which situation will work. Not to mention the quality of childcare and the quality of your parenting skills! It is a very personal decision and it needs to be treated as such. What's right for Cindy Lou down the street may not be right for your family.

After being quite frustrated and upset at the possibility of having to go back to work full time as opposed to part time (decision my position could not be shared), I actually calmed down and thought about it. Why did I want to stay at home so much? I finally came to the realization that it was purely a selfish decision. I wanted to spend more time with my kids. Plain and simple. That's it. I love being with them. But Brooke is SO excited for preschool and can't wait to see her friends. Plus, I know she will thrive in the super structured environment offered at her school. As for Buddy--well, he could benefit from cuddles from mom, but his daycare is excellent too. He'll be cuddled and talked to and played with there just as much--if not more--than he would be at home. Plus, he'll be able to observe and learn from other older kids at his "school." Brooke truly thrived at this daycare from age 0-3 and I have no doubt he will too. We are fortunate to have quality childcare...another consideration to take into account when making any decisions. So the kids will be fine. It's selfish Mom that wants them all to herself! But as my boss said as I discussed this with her, "It is really the QUALITY of time you spend with you kids." And that is right. Whether you stay at home or work, quality of time is everything. And I will have plenty of QT with my kids...especially during the summers, Spring Break, Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break and every holiday known to mankind...Columbus Day, Labor Day, Caesar Chavez Day....ok, I think they cut Caesar Chavez Day because of the budget crisis....

It will all work out. I'm determined to find the balance, somehow. Stay tuned.


  1. It's so interesting to hear the other side. I was a teacher and now I stay at home with my son. I love it and honestly wouldn't see a dime of my paycheck if I did choose to teach anyway. But then the other day I was walking around Target and I saw the school supplies, ahh! It instantly brought back all the excitement of setting up my classroom, preparing for the year ahead. Then my sister called to tell me she (a history major who never wanted to teach) has a teaching job offer at a wonderful prviate Catholic school! I'm not gonna lie, I spent the rest of the day crying. But then, I can't imagine being away from my son and I know that as a pretty laid-back introvert I could not handle the demands of a full-time job and my obligations to my family. I hope to homeschool my son too so I know I just need to wait for him to be old enough, then I can channel my teaching abilities into teaching my own children.

    But in the meantime, this is a much harder choice than I had anticipated!

  2. Casey ... ahh, so they wouldn't let you go part-time? Bummer. But you are right -- you'll make whatever decision you go with, work for you and your family. And, it's so true, you can argue the hell out of both sides of the scenario and really, neither is ideal. Even working part-time isn't ideal (which is what I do, as you know). In sum, everyone has to make sacrifices and ultimately nothing is FOREVER. It's all about balance and the time (quality) you spend with your children. I suppose, in a truly ideal world, I wish I married a multi-billionaire so I could stay at home with my children, hire a part-time nanny, work on my philanthropy, get weekly massages, hire a personal chef and jet to the Hamptons every weekend to unwind from my stressful week. The grass is always greener on the other side -- but you make do with the good fortune you do have (ability to hold down a job given this economy or the ability to stay at home and make the finances work or straddle both like I do and constantly feel like you are drowning ....) hee hee hee

    Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!