Friday, June 17, 2011

Unpopular Opinion #2: Staying At Home With Kids Is Easier Than Going to Work

Let's just get the usual disclaimers out of the way: This is MY unpopular opinion, based on my own experiences as a SAHM / WAHM and a mom who works outside of the house. And my thoughts on this matter may be colored by the fact that I have what some people call an "easy baby." After we got over that initial months-long bump in the road that was breastfeeding, things have pretty much been smooth sailing. The Babby is not difficult to entertain, is generally happy now that all her teeth are in place, and has an affinity for the outdoors, just like her mama.

So why do I think staying at home with kids is easier, not to mention more fun, than going to work? (For ME, that is. I do in fact know people whose opinion would point strongly in the other direction, and that's cool.) And why am I blabbering on about it? My point in writing this post is not to get involved in the whole 'who has it worse debate' that floods the intertubes every few months, with mamas on both sides trying to win a competition in which everyone actually loses. I just wanted to share why I I I think staying at home is easier, and I'll happily accept your comments describing whatever you think is easier with plenty of affection and acceptance.

With good feelings and the spirit of sharing in mind, here's a short list I put together that outlines some of the reasons why I think staying home with kids is easier than going to work:

Not Having to Conform to a Schedule
I like to do my own thing. But when my alarm goes off in the morning, it means that not only do I have to get myself dressed and made up, I also have to help the BabbyDaddy get the Babby up and ready. Barring pediatrician appointments and playdates, getting up with the Babby in the past, even if she woke up at some terrible hour, meant a leisurely breakfast for both her and I that gave me plenty of time to think about how I was going to structure my day. Coffee and Nutella on toast, some discussion with Babby about the events of the day, a quick e-mail check, etc. And if we don't make it to the store that day? Oh, well! Which brings me to...

Most Household Duties Don't Come With Deadlines
Let's say nothing major is in need of repair and no one has thrown up on the floor. Everything else? Can wait. And that held true even in the context of my life as a freelance writer and editor. Once upon a time, the Babby skipping naptime was stressful, but not the end of the world. Sure, it meant having to work in the evening, but she and I could find something interesting to fill those extra hours.

Fun Things Happen at Home With the Babby
At home with the Babby, there are sometimes tears and sighs, but also lots of laughter and running around and dinosaurs and learning about words that start with the letter H and trips to the zoo and looking at worms and going to the park and splashing water, etc. At work, there are tasks to be done and also sometimes sighs and filtered air and windows that don't open and people you don't want to be with. Work is just, for me, less fun. It's educationally enriching, for sure, and I can't complain about us being in the black again. But dragging my tush to an office every weekday? Not fun.

There's Little Spontaneity In the Workplace
My workplace is definitely filled with characters and the boss is a charmer, but the workaday culture still looks down on things like deciding on the spur of the moment to walk over to the Cupcake Cafe. Which is not within walking distance of my workplace - another downside. Point being, once upon a time, if I decided to do something or the Babby requested some activity, I could just do it without a lot of advanced planning or thinking about how I was going to fit it in. At home with the Babby, I can say: Let's go to the beach, by bike, right now! And then we go.

Household Chores Are Easier Than Work
There. I said it. Maybe there are some people for whom homemaking, from tidying up to whipping up a Baked Alaska to installing molding to putting together a wheelbarrow, is really hard and taxing. But I've done a lot of things in my time, and household chores are for the most part, easy and relaxing. For me. I know we all have different aptitudes and thresholds of frustration. As I mentioned previously, I like keeping things clean and nice looking. YMMV.

Being at Home With the Kids Means Being Surrounded by People Who Love You
No one at work loves me. That's cool. I would like to keep it that way. No one at work even cares about me, and that's fine, too. Status quo in this area is GOOD. I personally would rather be somewhere with someone, like the Babby, who adores me and wants to share all of her enthusiasm about a world that is still relatively new to her with me. What an honor! What a privilege! And such a short-lived one!

And so on and so on...

Just in case it wasn't absolutely clear, my opinions only apply to me and I am not saying I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG since my opinions are mine alone. I liked being home, with and without working, even before I had the Babby, so my particular temperament is obviously suited to it. Maybe easier isn't even the right word... maybe "better for me" or "more natural for me." I am one of those people who has no problem amusing myself and keeping myself gainfully occupied without outside pressure. I know that some people find the structure of work outside the home soothing or the interaction stimulating. Some people find parenting a much bigger challenge than any professional goal. I'm not trying to get political or sway anyone to my side.

I just like to talk about myself and what I'm thinking and feeling. But you already knew that, didn't you? *wink*


  1. No argument: you're absolutely right (all IMHO). There are things I miss about work (and you know how hard it can be to try to work when you're at home with Babby) but the fact remains, it's more fun and a lot easier than appeasing clients/boss/courts. And there are cupcakes.

    I think the reason people keep fighting the (absurdly named) Mommy Wars is that there is no ONE right answer, just one right answer for each family!

  2. Right? I know a few people who will absolutely argue that being home with kids is harder, but they're also quick to say FOR THEM. Not for everyone. I feel like there's this whole set of people who spend crazy amounts of time trying to convince others that what they do is SOOOOO DIFFICULT and STRESSFUL etc. I want to shake those people. Like your life isn't fun? Then work to change it. I'm doing it right now, trying to manage things so that in a year or whatever, I am back at home, possibly pregnant. I'm not JUST sitting here complaining (though I guess it might sound like I am...)

  3. I love being my own boss and watching the children grow. I think there are great benefits for the children and parents.

  4. Absolutely! There are definitely benefits all over the map for having a parent at home (even one working from home)! That's why I'm a huge fan of flex time. The BabbyDaddy and I were discussing how awesome it could be if we both had 4-day weeks, me M-Th. and him Tu.-Fri., with longer days (or not). Then we'd both get more time with the Babby and more time to focus on homemaking duties in the process.

  5. I was able to be home for the first 6 months then had to go back to work. I was able again to come home and finish raising him from 11 to 17. All in all, while it wasn't easy to be home (mentally and the reaction of people around you to this job), it is the #1 best job on earth. It is what you make it and I also found it MUCH easier to enjoy my at-home job because the rewards were so worth it. Meeting him at the bus stop? So much nicer than corporate business meetings!

  6. I've always wanted a baby and your blog makes me want one even more :) She's sooo cute!! I'd definitely prefer to stay at home with the baby!

  7. I couldn't agree more! I'm a teacher and this past week of being home with my boy have been heaven. We haven't rushed once, we've stuck to a small schedule but nothing that is too serious and we've had so much fun!
    I love being at home with my guy and I guess what makes it easy is that I truly truly love it with a passion. Saying that doesn't mean that I don't love my job (most days) but it means that there is a big difference between loving your family and loving your work. Work will never win.

  8. All of your points are so true, especially when it comes to schedules. Although I will be opening my practice up soon, I still feel like I will be a mostly Stay at Home Mom. And honestly, we rarely stay at home. Of course, there are benefits to working. Money and adult conversations being the only two I can think of, but they are nothing compared to the ability to bond all day and night with your progeny. This was a great post. Thanks Christa.

  9. I don't have a baby, but this sounds like I would agree. I feel like you with a lot of the self motivation... and I could get to like someone digging me so much!

  10. I love all your disclaimers! It's like you are ready for any opposing view points. :-)


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