By Katie T. Kennedy, Crosswalk.com
When you have children and your family grows, so do your responsibilities. Parenting involves many tough choices. One of them is childcare and whether to become a stay-at-home mom.
Along my parenting journey, I have held all the possible positions a mom can have regarding working. I went back to work full time after having our first child. Then my husband and I decided I was going to quit my job and stay at home. Later, I re-engaged the workforce on a part-time basis.
Here are some things to consider and keep in mind as you face this decision.
Nothing Is Written in Stone
It might feel like a massive decision as you decide whether to stay at home, especially if you enjoy your current job. Try looking at this decision as a season. Seasons come and pass, and you can always change course if necessary.
Take it one year at a time. I know this is hard to do for some of you planners out there (myself included). I would much appreciate it if God would hand me the document with all my life planned out. All I must do is glance at it to see the path I am supposed to take when life decisions arise. As you know, it doesn’t work like that. We must struggle through these decisions; it’s part of the journey and our sanctification process.
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said, “change is the only constant in life.” Just when you have it all figured out, life will throw you a curveball. The point is to try to remain flexible and willing to pivot if necessary. You can’t plan for what might happen in the future. You can only make the best choice with the information you currently have. If staying at home is the Lord’s plan for your family, He will guide you along. Take one step at a time, and slowly the pieces will fall into place. Be ready for a new season for you and your family. It will look different than the previous one, but that is part of the beauty.
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What to Expect
Staying at home is one of the greatest blessings of my life; it’s also the hardest job I’ve ever done. I think knowing some of the difficulties can help set the right expectation as you transition.
When I first quit my job to stay at home full time, the first couple weeks, I took strolls with my sweet daughter in the middle of the day, thinking this was the greatest gig in the world. I enjoyed afternoons outside, not staring at an office wall. After about two months, the grind set in, and the little things lost their novelty.
One of the shifts you will have to make is getting less affirmation. At work, associates and managers will tell you, “you are doing a great job.” At home, it will be the opposite. You will get yelled at by a tired baby or toddler. Hopefully, your husband will be affirmative when he gets home, but he might forget to thank you for your efforts. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate you; he’s also tired from a long day. Your affirmation will have to come from the Lord. You will need to constantly remind yourself you are doing important work caring for the souls of God’s kingdom.
You will need to build a new community of other stay-at-home moms. There are no more co-workers in the break room to banter with, just the baby who needs his diaper changed. You need friends on the same schedule. You can still maintain friendships with your previous work friends, but it’s time to expand your network. Join a playgroup, sign your child up for an activity, or reach out to other moms you know are also at home.
Expect a period of transition as you make this move. Things will slowly fall into place. Take one day at a time and keep evaluating as you go. This is a significant life change, so give yourself time to adjust.
The Long-Term Reward
Staying at home comes with huge rewards. The reward is not of this world. You will not receive a paycheck at the end of a twelve-hour day. You won’t get a bonus when the client throws something upon you. You probably won’t get affirmation when you have cooked and cleaned the kitchen for the fifth time that day. The hours are long, the pay is poor, and the to-do list never ends.
Staying at home teaches dependence on God. He is the only one seeing all the little things you are doing, day in and day out. He is cheering you on when you sit and read to your child. He is there to direct you when you come across a parenting choice that is over your head, and you need help. He is there to comfort you when tears from exhaustion are pouring down your face.
The quality time you will spend with your child is priceless. You will connect with them at a deep level. Just like God is there for us no matter what we need, we are there for our children in that same way. It is what provides security to a child. You get to mold the hearts of your children as you praise and discipline them throughout each day. You get to watch their milestones, be there for every fall, and hug them through each day’s emotional roller coaster ride.
You have an opportunity to see every sin pattern your child is developing and lovingly correct it before it grows. This has a long-term impact on the development of your child’s character. Don’t undervalue the importance of your consistent, loving presence.
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Before you turn in your resignation notice, it’s time to sit down with your spouse and look over your finances. How will this change impact your financial responsibilities? Are there sacrifices you can make to allow for mom to stay at home? Or, if you can’t make the switch now, can you start saving for this transition at a later time? Take time to look at the numbers, but ultimately those figures are a factor in a larger conversation.
It wasn’t the best timing for me to quit work when we decided I was going to stay at home in 2009. It will never be great timing to lose that second paycheck. We decided me being home with our kids was the best decision for our family, and the rest fell into place. My husband had just started a new company. If you recall, 2009 was also a recession, not ideal timing to start a financial business. We had some savings for the transition phase while he got the business up and running. It wasn’t all peaches and cream. There were times I thought about getting my resume ready in case I needed to go back to work, but it never came to that. The Lord took care of all our needs.
I’m sure there are millions of stories out there like that where somehow it all worked out. While finances play a role, don’t leave out the bigger picture. If staying at home is your goal, start praying for the Lord to show you the way.
His Will, Not Ours
One of the most critical steps when considering this change is prayer. Ultimately, your decision should follow the Lord’s plan for your family. If you and your spouse have been praying for this decision and you think the Lord’s plan is for you to be at home, then our job is to be obedient, and God will work out the rest. He will take care of the finances; He will provide you with the patience and love you need for those little ones. If our goal on this earth is to glorify God, then your decision is made. It might be scary and uncomfortable, especially if you’re not one hundred percent sure you want to do this. Here is the great part, the Lord can change your heart and equip you with everything you will need. It will still be hard, no doubt. You are going to have hard days in any job you do.
Here’s a message counterintuitive to what the world is telling you. It’s not about me, and it’s not about you. I know this is hard to hear, but it’s the message we must listen to daily. The Bible is very clear about this; it’s about God, not us. We get to be a part of His larger story. We must push away our selfish desires and figure out where God wants us.
What is God calling you to do? What is best for your family? These are the questions you must ask. Yes, your desires play a role, but ultimately our job is to submit to the Lord’s will, not our own.
Whatever you decide about staying at home, try to take the guilt and fear out of the picture. If you have been prayerful about your decision and you are where the Lord wants you, have confidence in that position and remove guilt from the picture. God did not give us a spirit of fear. Don’t be afraid to stay at home. God will take care of the details. He will equip you. He doesn’t promise an easy road, but there is much joy in doing His will. Stay-at-home moms are a huge blessing! I cannot stress that enough. Providing support for your family is invaluable and impactful for future generations.
Related: Listen to Our FREE New Parenting Podcast! Christian Parent/Crazy World with Catherine Segars is now available on LifeAudio.com. You can listen to the first episode by clicking the play button below:
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Katie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream. She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.