Ah, the endless question. At 2:00 today I'm meeting with a friend that is looking to sign a year contract to go back to work but is in a state of panic over it. She has the same dilemma that filters through so many of our heads. She said she went back into her old office last week to pick up a few things and felt so energized by the office that she said she had a really hard time not signing the contract on the spot. She sent me an email requesting advice, and I really didn't feel that an email was going to give her what she wants. I did admit though, that my advice about working or staying at home changes from day to day.
I remember bumping into a woman that I new stayed at home and mentioned to her that I was going to be staying at home in a few weeks and wanted to know if she had any advice to offer. Her number one tip was to treat your stay at home life like a job. Get up before the kids, shower, make coffee and have a few minutes to yourself. She said she can't stress enough about the shower, and she also said she puts on make up to make herself feel like she's working. Oh wait, she is endlessly working! But I think this is where my friend is having such a hard time. She's at home with a newborn, so she doesn't even have someone to negotiate with, or talk to at all. She also said she is busy, or at least has no problem filling up her days, she is running errands all day long, cooking and cleaning, so she hasn't made any time for her social life. She doesn't have any friends who stay at home! I think every mom that is new to staying at home has found this to be the case. Stay at home mom's don't just appear on your doorstep.
I remember being in the same spot which is why it's so crucial to get out to the park, gym, playgroups, story time, just to be around other moms. How can you meet other people that stay at home if you are only making it out to the grocery stores? I realize it's very had when it's just a newborn, since they don't need to go to the zoo or children's museum, but adults do!
Never cancel your plans as a stay at home mom. It's so easy to have an excuse to cancel plans, but nothing makes yourself and the other friend feel worse than a last minute cancellation. I did call my friend to make sure we were still on for today and she said... "well maybe, my kindergarten er is home sick" so I immediately invited myself over to her house and told her to shower before I arrive. I know, tough love.
It's such a hard decision since we do get so much out of working. One really has to look a lot harder to see the hidden benefits of staying at home. No one is there to thank you for a job well done, you just have to look at your kids to see that you are making an impact.