Career and Family - can we have it all? Is being a stay-at-home mom a sacrifice?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Can we have it all?

What exactly “having it all” means?

Is it a sacrifice to be a stay-at-home mom?

Last month, in an interview with, I was asked, “What is your biggest personal sacrifice when you decided to be a stay-at-home mom?  Did you regret not having it all?”

What exactly “having it all” means?

My “all” is definitely not the same as another person’s “all”.

Maybe mine sounds simple because my “all” is making sure that my family is together, happy, healthy and loved.

So is it possible to have it all?

Maybe you can eventually have all that you sought out to have – in the course of your lifetime, but to have it all in every moment of the day?

There are only 24 hours in a day. If you’re fortunate, 7 hours are spent sleeping, which leaves 17 hours of awake time.

Let’s say it takes about 1 hour to get yourself ready in the morning, and another hour to get ready for bed.

So you’re left with 15 hours.

15 hours seem a lot but if you log the things you do every day, 15 hours aren’t enough to do everything you want to accomplish for that day.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost 2 decades, and unlike the misconceptions people have of stay-at-home moms, my days aren’t spent sitting watching television, attending yoga classes or lounging. There's actually a very short window for "me" time.

Before becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom, I used to work in New York City. I was the manager of Programming at a multimillion dollar discount retail store, and there were 3 years in my life as mother, when I was a "technically" a single mom – and it was exhausting. ( I highlighted "technically" because my parents and siblings were always around to help me raise my kids.)

(one of my four precious gifts of being a mom)

Life as a working mom

My weekdays consisted of waking up early to get my 2 young children ready for school, driving 30 minutes at the Garden State Parkway to get them in time for school but because of poor planning (and poor driving skills), my children were always late. I would park my car at the NJ Transit Train station. The hour ride to NY Penn Station was the time for me to catch up on sleep. Luckily, back then, in the early 90’s there were no smart phones.

I was blessed to have my parents and brothers to care for my 2 young children (and their cousins) while I worked in the city. They made sure they were around when the school bus dropped my children to my parents’ home, got them fed and helped with homework. Another plus of having my family around, my children got to play with their cousins - I didn’t have to schedule any after school programs or playdates.

Most of the times, I ended up coming home after dinner time – luckily, my parents had already made dinner for the kids.

After work, I’d pick-up my 2 exhausted and sleepy children from my parents’ home and drove 30 minutes back to our apartment.

Once we’re at the apartment, I got the kids ready for bed and tried to squeeze in a conversation on how their days were. And while they’re asleep, I’d go over the paperwork in their backpacks – double checking their homework and school notices.

 Weekends were spent doing chores (laundry mostly),  a day at the park, and a visit to my parents’.

Luckily, I fell in love the second time around, got married and had my third child.

With the blessings of my husband, we mutually decided that I’d stay at home – and would only accept consulting jobs were I could work from home.

Is it a sacrifice to be a stay-at-home mom?

The decision to be a stay-at-home mom was not a decision merely for my children. It was a decision I made because I wanted it for myself.  Aside from being exhausted going back and forth to the city, I felt like it was time that I be home with my four children. They were growing fast and I wanted to be there as we explore different aspects of life. And during that time, my parents and brothers who had helped raise my children, had to move far away from me.
It was a big financial decision but I wanted to be with the children, to witness them grow – to be there when they’re happy, sad, excited, frustrated, challenged, enthusiastic – or when they reply “Nothing” to my question, “what did you learn in school today?”
It’s been 20 years since and at times I look back.

Did I sometimes wish I was working ?

Yes, I did. I would have had more money saved in the bank.

I would have been a Vice President or a Regional Director.

So is it a sacrifice being a stay-at-home mom?

For me, being a stay-at-home mom is more of a gift than a sacrifice. I was presented with a precious gift.

When do you decide to give up work, to stay home and not have the second income?

Giving up a career and a second income is a big decision.

You have to make a list. What is it that makes YOU happy? Don’t do it for the kids because if you do, you might resent being home all the time. Think of it as a gift and not a sacrifice.  Talk it over with your partner/husband because you are going to need his support.

Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you lose who you are.
And lastly, schedule a “me” time.

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