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Should I Be a Stay at Home Mom? A Work at Home Mom? Or a Working Mom? Pros, Cons, Tips, & a Quiz

Should I be a stay at home mom?

Or maybe a work at home mom?

What about a traditional working mom?

Have these questions ever crossed your mind? With so many options available to the modern mother, plus a whole host of important variables, it can be one of the hardest decisions to make.

Luckily for you, I’ve experienced all three! I became a stay at home mother a few months after my daughter was born. After two years, I launched a home-based business writing, editing, and managing the social media and digital marketing of several small businesses. And finally, when my daughter turned four, I returned to the traditional workforce full-time.

And after experiencing all three roles, I can assure you with confidence that the best decision for you is going to boil down to…wait for it…you. Your needs, your personality, and your family will all combine to create the perfect storm of circumstances that will land you at the best decision for you. And just in case your storm sputters out, we also created a handy quiz to help point you in the right direction.

But first things first! Let’s start by taking a closer look at each option!

(Just here for the quiz? Scroll to the bottom of this post to find it!)

Should I be a stay at home mom?

Becoming a stay at home mom was shockingly different than I had expected. In comparison to the full-time job I was leaving, I assumed I would enjoy a wide-open schedule. I planned to exercise daily, cook, clean, run all household errands, and still have hours to spare every day.

Instead, I struggled to even shower some days. It turned out babies didn’t care if you were in the middle of shaving your legs or paying a bill or cooking dinner when they were hungry.

I resented being appreciated for my cleaning abilities instead of my sharp mind. I constantly wondered if my old coworkers still considered me relevant when we’d meet for occasional dinners.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Because I was able to share nearly every small moment of my daughter’s day with her.

I was present for her first laugh, her first word, and her first steps. I witnessed her slowly come out of her shell at the local library’s story time and watched in wonder as her interests and talents developed one by one.

Thanks to my time as a stay at home mom, I was able to build a very strong relationship with and connection to my daughter. Years later, we still often communicate without speaking and crack inside jokes together.

Staying at home also afforded our family more peace and balance. I didn’t usually have to run out the door with my daughter or rush through tasks. I had the time and bandwidth to practice patience and adjust our schedule to meet our needs.

Neither my husband nor myself had to log eight hours at the office only to run home to cooking, cleaning, and household errands. By dividing and conquering responsibilities, we were able to better avoid feelings of overwhelm and stress. While staying at home isn’t for everybody, I will never, ever regret the one-on-one time it allowed me to invest in my child.

Pros to Being a Stay at Home Mom

  • More time with your kids, experiencing all of the “firsts”
  • The ability to enjoy a slower pace of life, taking more time and practicing patience when necessary
  • Usually a more balanced household, with one spouse taking on the office, the other the home, and no one person having to be everything to everyone
  • Easily able to attend and play an active role in school activities
  • Available to participate in extracurricular activities, like music class and story time
  • Save money, stress, and germs by avoiding traditional childcare options

Cons to Being a Stay at Home Mom

  • Thankless job
  • Difficult to “clock out,” often on childcare and household chore duty 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Often brings about identity loss – Who am I outside of “mom” and “maid”?
  • Can feel lonely, devoid of regular adult interactions
  • …while also suffocating, challenging to do anything without a shadow
  • One-income household, may experience financial stress

Tips For Being a Stay at Home Mom

  • Plan for this role to require a lot more time and attention than you expect.
  • Remember that your value in this role isn’t dependent on how many activities you check off your list. Think quality over quantity.
  • Work hard to maintain your personal identity and hobbies. It’s easier to maintain those things than to lose them and have to find them again.
  • Don’t be afraid to renegotiate roles with your spouse. You might believe you can do everything, then find out you were wrong. Be honest with them about what you can do and what you can’t, and exactly when/where you need their help. Lack of communication here can quickly lead to resentment.
  • Pick up more tips for transitioning into a stay at home mom role here!

(Just here for the quiz? Scroll to the bottom of this post to find it!)

Should I be a work at home mom?

Working from home felt like a breath of fresh air after focusing all of my efforts on being a stay at home mom for two years. I felt excited and empowered as I challenged myself to learn new skills and mastered them one by one. And it felt fantastic to churn out meaningful work that was focused not on my child or family, but on me.

The struggle in this role was actually finding time to work from home. My daughter wouldn’t allow me to sit for longer than five minutes before she needed a snack or help on the potty or to show me her latest drawing or magic trick or dance move. And my husband viewed any free time away from parenting her as our time together, rather than my time to work.

One approach that worked for me was to leave the house whenever possible. So after I’d drop my daughter off at preschool, I’d walk to the coffee shop just down the street and set up shop with my laptop and coffee for those few hours.

Being physically away from home not only signaled to my husband (and myself) that I was working, but also removed the temptation to pick up those few dishes or fold a load of laundry and simply focus on the task at hand.

Whatever you do for work, one consideration you’ll need to make in this role is if your working from home is actually benefitting you and your family. There are a lot of work from home jobs or even MLM “opportunities” (like LuLaRoe or Rodan + Fields) that mostly promise potential income.

Be smart. Ask questions like, “What’s the minimum I’ll make if I don’t make a sale on every call?” or “I understand the potential, but what does the average consultant make?”

Add up the hours you’re working, divide them by the actual income you’ll make, and make sure you’re not taking time from your family and yourself to earn two bucks an hour.

(Want a list of tried and true actually profitable side jobs for moms? Check them out here.)

Pros to Being a Work at Home Mom

  • Additional income
  • Provides an outlet to flex your creativity and critical thinking skills in a new way
  • Provides a refreshing change of pace from day-to-day parenting duties
  • Easier to attend and play an active role in school activities, due to a (usually) more flexible schedule
  • Connects you socially with other adults
  • Easier to transition back into traditional full-time workforce when your children are older

Cons to Being a Work at Home Mom

  • Difficult to find time to work when you’re still viewed primarily as a stay at home parent
  • Difficult for kids to understand when/why they must leave you alone to work, constant struggle
  • Every moment of downtime is filled with parenting or work, with no real rest between
  • May feel your job isn’t a priority to your spouse or children, or isn’t taken seriously

Tips For Being a Work at Home Mom

  • Be incredibly mindful of how you utilize downtime. Be aware of when it’s coming and plan exactly what you’ll do with it.
  • Include your spouse in creating that plan! Nothing is more frustrating than preparing yourself to knock out several hours of work only to learn your spouse made plans of their own for or with you during that time.
  • Consider waking up earlier or staying up later to find the time you need. It’s easier (and much less frustrating) to work when your children are sleeping.

(Just here for the quiz? Scroll to the bottom of this post to find it!)

Should I be a traditional working mom?

I was excited to return to full-time work when my daughter turned four, but also sad to see our long days together come to an end. While I was initially bummed that my new job wouldn’t allow me to work from home, I quickly learned it was a blessing in disguise, at least as far as work went.

I could drive to the office and focus my full attention on work. And I didn’t have to pause a project to open a snack for my daughter or retrieve my husband’s glasses for him or help them find the thing that was right in front of their faces. I found I was more productive and much less stressed when I was allowed to single-task instead of the multitasking to which I had grown so accustomed.

A traditional job also allowed my husband to bond with our daughter in a new way. Previously I had always been there, almost like a translator or assistant between the two. My absence forced them to communicate and work together and become more independent of their wife and mother.

And my gosh, if it didn’t cause my husband to realize all of the things he had taken for granted and now had to do for himself! It turns out mom’s job wasn’t so easy after all!

But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard. Because working 40 hours a week and then rushing home to cook, clean, run household errands, give baths and hugs and bedtime stories, and more…well, it’s exhausting.

Your time is much more limited and your family will feel that limit. I found I had to be more mindful of how I spent every moment, as well as of actually being present in each moment.

I’ve had to learn when to multitask and when to single-task, when to work harder and when to rest, when to turn my attention to my to-do list and when to set it aside for my family. In this role, you’ll feel you’re constantly chasing balance and will have to work hard to find and maintain it.

Pros to Being a Working Mom

  • Additional, significant income
  • Helps provide identity outside of being a wife and mother
  • Allows you to flex your creativity and critical thinking skills in a different arena
  • Provides built-in breaks, like lunches and commutes
  • Provides a natural medium for meeting people and building friendships

Cons to Being a Working Mom

  • Hard
  • So hard
  • Move from office work to family/household work and back again, with few breaks in between
  • Weekends spent catching up at home, and so usually jam-packed
  • Much more rushed and stressful pace of life
  • Difficult to attend, let alone play an active role in, school and extracurricular activities

Tips For Being a Working Mom

  • Be mindful of how you spend your time. When your time is so limited, you can’t afford to lose yourself on social media for two hours. Ask yourself what each activity is accomplishing, and if it’s benefiting or hurting you, and act accordingly.
  • Don’t neglect finding time for yourself. You may believe you don’t have the time for that, but without refreshing and recharging your own battery, you won’t be able to effectively serve others.
  • Remember that families shouldn’t be carried entirely by one person. Your family is likely able to chip in with both small and large tasks. In fact, you might be impressed with what your kids and spouse can accomplish if you put them up to the challenge.

Wrap It Up

So…should I be a stay at home mom? A work at home mom? A traditional working mom? I think you’ll find the answer is a very personal one, and quite possibly an ever-changing one.

But if you consider your personality, your parenting style, and your family’s needs…and if you can add that to the pros and cons of each role…I believe you can find your perfect fit! And just in case you’re struggling…here’s a quiz to help you narrow it down.

Disclosure: While all opinions are our own, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs, designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites, at no additional cost to you.