My mother sent me the book “Women Leaving the Workplace” by Larry Burkett, as we are considering what to do about my working once Baby #2 is born. I found this book helpful from a financial standpoint as well as some practical points. You do have to realize before starting the book that, while the author does address some cases in which women “have” to work outside the home, he doesn’t accept most of them as true necessities, and he is writing this book from the perspective that the reader is looking for a way to stay home full time.
I liked the chapters on bartering, budgeting, and mothering types. Unfortunately, although the personality type “conscientious” was addressed (which – surprise! – is what I am), it was never mentioned what the pros and cons of this type of mother would be in regard to working or not working, as the other personality types were discussed. He mentioned that some of the other types make good SAHM and some just do not enjoy staying at home with small kids. Which would I be? Since my personality type was not addressed, I have no idea.
One thing that does bother me regarding books about moms staying at home is that they assume the only option for the working mom is putting a child in a daycare center, where care is impersonal and sometimes questionable. This argument is presented as the basis for moms choosing to stay home – because the child needs full time one-on-one care, not group care. Since that is not our situation, and currently Little Sir does receive the full one-on-one attention of only one person all day long while I am working, I can’t say that the difference in care he would receive from me would be much different than what he gets from the nanny. In some ways, he benefits more from the nanny because she is young and much more energetic than me. Plus, when he stays up all night crying (as he did on Sunday night), she hasn’t had to deal with it, so she comes to work and isn’t already tired, as I would be!
Last weekend, Christian and I also attended a short seminar at our church “The Truth about the Working Parent” where the speakers provided some very good and practical tips on how to manage working and caring for older children. Unfortunately, babies were not discussed, and I had trouble trying to apply some of the things to children who can’t walk or talk and aren’t potty trained yet.
A second book my mother sent me on the topic of a working mom was “The Dual-Earner Marriage” by Jack O. Balswick and Judith K. Balswick. There were similarities between what this book said and what the speaker at our church had to say. The main point is: a working mother must be super organized and plan ahead constantly, because there is little leeway for things to go wrong. I have definitely found this to be true. It is true that I am a naturally very organized person who enjoys planning things out. It’s nerdy, I know. But you can’t just come home from work and not know what you are making for dinner when you have 30 minutes to put everything together before bath time and bed time for the baby. There is not time to run to the store and chop things up, etc. Eating at restaurants is expensive. The solution is meal planning and pre-preparation (I often cut up things for dinner or go grocery shopping over my lunch break).
However, I think the point that “The Dual-Earner Marriage” makes is that it is easy to neglect your marriage in the rush of working, childcare, and constant planning. I totally agree with that. I have definitely felt it. In fact, if I choose to stay at home after Baby #2, it will not be because I don’t necessarily want to work. I don’t mind working, and I don’t mind leaving Little Sir and the new baby with our nanny. If I choose to stay home, the choice will be for my marriage. I feel like the constant balancing act and trying to keep ahead of the next scheduling snafu really sucks the energy out of me. Sometimes I can’t get to the store on the right day and we do get take-out. At the end of the day, I have little left by way of relationship. But, I’ve heard the same complaints from stay-at-home moms. On weekends, when I do provide full-time care for Little Sir, it is also exhausting. So what is the difference?
Any thoughts from other stay-at-home or working moms?
I will most likely continue to explore these questions over the next months.