Well, I did it.
I’ve officially taken the plunge.
My husband and I have talked things over, and I have decided to stay home with Ayden. I think this is something I’ve always wanted to do, however I wasn’t sure of the feasibility and honestly I had to take a hard look at how different life would be for me. I am excited, anxious, nervous–literally all the feelings!
A lot went into this decision, so here’s a little bit of the back story.
Returning to Work
Returning to work after my maternity leave was extremely difficult. For most new moms, the first daycare dropoff is the hardest, however that wasn’t the case for me. My gym has a daycare session for certain bootcamps so I had been using those services since Ayden was just over 10 weeks old. For me, mentally getting back into the work game was nearly impossible. I was there physically but mentally I was completely focused on Ayden. What was he doing right now? Was he taking a nap? What milestones is he hitting? Am I missing out on anything? Is he feeling ok? Will he get sick? The constant list of questions goes on….and repeats.
Pre-baby, the slightest issue at work seemed like the most important thing in the world to solve and I loved to be the one to come up with the solution, and quickly. Now, I accept that issues arise however my care level is at about a 3 out of 10. Mentally, I’m like “this sucks, and it for sure is not supposed to happen this way, however there are more important things to worry about.” Clearly my point-of-view, and sense of urgency, changed dramatically. In addition to this lovely shift, I also made the decision to stick to a very strict set of hours. I arrived at work at 8 am and would leave precisely at 4 pm. I’m pretty sure my boss was not a fan of this schedule (particularly because it never failed that he would give me some sort of project to do literally at 4 pm and would say he needed it tomorrow morning), but I pretended not to notice…and quite honestly just didn’t care.
I would like to preface that I absolutely loved our daycare. The teachers were amazing, the facility was clean and had a very functional layout, and they also had awesome perks
(like an onsite chef) and security measures. I had two main issues–the price and the germs.
The cost for our daycare was about half of my monthly salary (pre-tax)–so definitely expensive, but was doable as long as I made smart decisions with my money. This massive expense meant a drastic decrease in my disposable income–like in the $200 range for the entire month. Talk about cutting it close! We made do, but there obviously wasn’t very much room for error or any unexpected fees that may arise–definitely stressful with a little one.
I could’ve handled being strict with my funds, but what I couldn’t handle was the never ending bouts of sickness. He was perfectly fine the first month or two, but as soon as November hit it was like he literally caught anything and everything that was going around the school.
Hand foot mouth.
The stomach bug.
And then freakin’ pink eye again–seriously!
I kid you not when I say I was home from work with Ayden for the majority of December. The illnesses listed above were all caught back to back. If we had a break anywhere it was tops a week and a half. He would be out recuperating for a week, and then the following week he’d pick up something new.
Now, I know it’s totally normal–and expected–that kids are going to pick up illnesses once they start daycare. They are literally petri dishes of germs. What I wasn’t ready for, was how different something as small as a cold is when an infant picks it up. A cold in a toddler can mean RSV for an infant (I’m not a doctor so if you’re curious what that is, Google is your best friend). The drastic difference between the illness level of a toddler cold and an infant with RSV shook my world. RSV can easily turn into more serious things like ear infections and pneumonia. A stomach bug for you and I absolutely sucks, but a stomach bug in an infant can mean a dangerous level of dehydration and a trip to the ER.
After over a month of constantly staying home to take care of a sick infant, and attempting (key word here is attempt) to balance a full time job, I had had enough.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
On the third round of pink eye, my husband finally asked if I’d be open to staying home with Ayden full time. I can’t even tell you the sense of relief that came over me at that moment. We had discussed the topic casually a few times, but this time I knew he was serious. I quickly whole-heartedly agreed and started to set the plan in motion.
Giving My Notice
Giving my notice of resignation was both cathartic and terrifying. I was so excited for this next step, but also completely anxious about how new and different the coming days would be. Instead of slapping my resignation notice on the desk and peacing out (my original plan), I decided to be a bit more diplomatic and take the “team player” approach to ease the transition. I’m a member of a three-person team and needless to say, we each play a vital role to keeping our department afloat on a day-to-day basis. I didn’t want to leave the team in a pickle, so I did propose to stay on part time for a bit while they find a replacement. This part time agreement came with a few non-negotiable requirements:
- I would be completely remote and could no longer come into the office.
- I would work an absolute maximum of 20 hours per week.
- I would work a maximum of 4 hours a day, and those hours would be whatever worked best for me based on Ayden’s sleep and nap schedule.
We’re still working out the kinks on this one (I think the flexibility aspect is throwing them for a loop), but the whole point of me staying home is to be with Ayden and I don’t want to be stressed about being online at a specific time or working a lot of hours during the day. We all know how infant nap schedules can be…
All in all, it went way better than expected and I think we’ll have a good system moving forward to ease both my company, and myself, into this new phase.
A Little Extra Change, A Little Structure, and People-Interaction on the Side
Now as happy as I am to become a stay-at-home-mom, what I’m not as excited about is the lack of money coming in that is specifically “mine.” The thought of losing that financial freedom is daunting, so when I made the decision to stay home I immediately put a few contingencies in place.
My gym had a new location open up in my neighborhood and I instantly took advantage of the posted openings. The gym is catered to moms and I could bring Ayden with me to work. Event better? This would kill two birds with one stone–well really three. I could make a little extra money that would be “mine” (I’m using mine loosely y’all as this will obviously be for the household), I would have a set-in-stone reason to get ready in the mornings and leave the house, and finally I would be able to meet more moms in my neighborhood. At this point in time, my mom friend pool is rather limited and many of those are my coworkers.
Additionally, I am working on creating my own at home schedule and “curriculum” for Ayden and I’s days together. My one worry is that him being home with me is going to stunt his development in some way, so this is my own personal way of combating that. This schedule has not been set in stone yet, but I’m working on it. More to come on this topic!
A New Era
As I’m writing this, I have four more days in the office as a full time employee. While bitter sweet, I truly believe this will be great for our little family and I’m so excited to see where this future takes us.