I’m a Working Mom by Choice

I could be a stay-at-home mom. But I’m not. I’m not a monster. I’m just a mom, who chooses to go to work instead of being at home with my kids. But, this wasn’t always the case. I didn’t always have this option. In fact, for a long time, I made as much money as my husband and I carried our health insurance. It was a necessity that I was a working mom. I was partially responsible for keeping a roof over our head so I couldn’t stay home, even if I wanted to. 

I got a taste of being a stay-at-home mom during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was great for a few weeks but after a few months, I was depressed and overwhelmed. It was painful to be home for so long and I was climbing the walls to go back to work.

Since 2008, I have worked in public education. First as a teacher, now as a school counselor. I crave being around people. I need routine, structure, and a reason to get out of my leggings and slippers for the day. The lack of schedule and interaction with people other than those I was related to really started to affect my mental health. 

Game Changer

I never really thought too much about being a stay-at-home mom because it was never an option. Then, almost four years ago, our lives changed forever. In the fall of 2020 I got home from running errands and I saw my husband unpacking his work van that he had driven for the past seven years. He gleefully told me he quit his job (his really stable, well-paying job) and was starting his own business.

This didn’t come out of left field. It was something we had talked about and mulled over, but I wasn’t really expecting him to pull the trigger. Well, he did. He also took a 30% pay cut and drastically increased his hours which caused a lot of emotional and financial stress on our family. But that is a whole other story. 

Fast forward to 2024: after countless late nights, missed engagements, and lots of arguments over money, time, and priorities, my income which we always relied on is now used mainly for entertainment purposes (traveling, kids’ sports, etc.). My husband’s hard work has paid off and we are very fortunate. I never really thought I would have the choice to stay home, and now that I do, I have decided I am going to keep working. 

Before you judge me, there are lots of reasons why I have made this choice:

Ages + Stages

My children are almost school-aged. My kids are five and seven. They will both be in school full time next year. What would I do with myself all day if I wasn’t a working mom? There is only so much cleaning, organizing, and volunteering at school you can do. And eventually, your children get to an age where they don’t want you at school all the time.

If we would have been in this situation a few years ago when they were younger, I probably would have jumped at the opportunity to stay home with them while they were little. Fortunately, while we are at work, my children have been able to spend lots of time with grandparents and our amazing nanny who has become a huge part of their lives.

Girl Power

I am the mom to two daughters. When they are grown, most likely they are going to have to enter the workforce. Most families are dual income partners with kids. The cost of living is too high to have one parent stay home. I think it is important for them to see mom has a career and works just as hard as dad. I want them to be able to provide for their families if they need to. 

Having a Financial Voice

While I pay all of the bills (physically) in our house, most of the money that pays those bills is made by my husband. While he has never made me feel less than for not being on an equal playing field monetarily, I feel that because I am contributing to our family financially, I have a voice when it comes to money. I never have to ask for money or get an “allowance” like some wives do because I make money too. There is never “your money” or “my money”; it is all “our money.” 

More Financial Stability

While my husband’s income alone can cover our bills and then some, by me being a working mom, this has allowed us to travel more, invest in our retirement, and contribute to our kids’ college accounts on a more consistent basis.

Several years ago, we were the definition of paycheck to paycheck. Making it, but barely. All of our bills were always paid, we lived in a nice house, and drove reliable cars, but there was never anything left over. If we wanted to treat ourselves to a nice dinner or a vacation, it was usually put on a credit card. This led to bad habits when it came to credit card usage.   

Working Makes Me a Better Parent

While I might see my children less than if I was a stay-at-home mom, the time we spend together is quality time. I also really enjoy my job. It gives me fulfillment and purpose that I wouldn’t get if I wasn’t a working mom. Because I work for a local school district, I am always home in the evenings, on weekends, and during holiday breaks from school. It truly is the best of both worlds. 

And . . . a Back-Up Plan

Finally, the final reason I am going to continue to work is because you never know what the future holds. Our world is full of uncertainty and I realize our situation could change over night. My husband is self-employed. With being self-employed, there is a always an air of unpredictability. If I continue to work, I know that no matter what happens, there will always be money coming in. Also, while retirement seems so far away, it’s really not. The longer I continue to work in public education, the greater my pension will be. 

While I think being a stay-at-home parent is the hardest job on the planet, I have realized that it is not for me. I am a much better person, wife, and parent if I am working outside the home. While I may not be with my children every moment, the moments we are together truly matter. I never miss the big stuff and I can contribute to my family in a way that improves all of our lives for the better, and to me, this is the best of both worlds. 

It can be tough to maintain a work/life balance while parenting. Fotini shares a look at what being a working mom is like for her!


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