In this era of high-powered women who run countries and businesses, a new breed of stay-at-home moms is rising. Gone are the days when they are are financially dependent on their partners; they, too, earn a living while spending a great deal more time with their children. Today's stay-at-home moms are launching small-scale enterprises, blogging, and even running virtual offices as efficiently as they run the household. This is probably why more and more women are starting to choose life at home rather than to leave it to go to work. After all, work schedules can be adjusted, but lost time with children can never be taken back.
We interviewed two stay-at-home moms who have once toiled the nine-to-five before completely doing a lifestyle shift. April Ty used to be a PR Specialist for a huge telecommunications company and a reporter for an IT trade publication. Wendi Garcia was a Product Planner for a greeting card company. Both may have had different reasons for becoming stay-at-home moms, but they have one thing in common: they never regretted it.
Why did you choose to become a stay-at-home mom?
April: Even though I had a blast working in PR, the work was really taxing. I always knew that I wanted to write and while that job allowed me to write, it was not the type of writing I wanted to do. When I left [my company], I didn’t really plan on being a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to take a few months off and then go job-hunting again, but I was hired as a full-time home-based writer for a Hong Kong-based company a week after I resigned.
Wendi: My mom was also a stay-at-home mom, and when I was a kid, I would always think that my brothers and I were lucky because our mom was always there for us. She was hands-on in everything and I wanted to do the same thing for my kid. I had only one kid that time (my first-born, Mikkel) when I made this decision.
How did the first few months of being a stay-at-home mom go?
April: I loved staying home and spending time with my son. I loved my new routine! I loved not having to wake up early and I loved not being stuck in traffic—things I didn’t really realize I disliked until I didn’t have to do it anymore. I guess in a nutshell, the first few months were really liberating.
I made up for the first year of being out the whole day by taking my son out to places where we could play and have fun. With my work from home set-up, I could enjoy family time and still meet story deadlines.
Wendi: It was fun but a little difficult. I was still quite young back then (only 23 when I had my first child) and it was my first time to care for a baby so it was challenging. But I enjoyed every minute of it.
How did you and your spouse adjust to the new situation? Were there any financial changes you needed to adapt to?
April: My husband likes the fact that I didn’t have to sacrifice a career to stay at home with our son. I have a significantly higher pay with my current job so it actually gave us greater financial freedom.
Wendi: Not really. My husband and I have always lived within our means. We make do with what we have. It's more of an automatic response than adjustment
What are the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom?
April: I like that I don’t miss any of my children’s milestones anymore. I get to take my children out and go on dates with my husband without waiting for weekends. I can work in my pajamas.
Wendi: Not having to worry if your babysitter is going to show up or not. Not having to worry if the babysitter is taking good care of your baby or is doing crazy things behind your back. Being able to give hands-on care and full attention to your baby. Being able to breastfeed for one whole year or more.
How do you manage your time between taking care of the kids and doing work-from-home?
April: Most people think that it’s easy to work from home. It has many advantages, but if you don’t know how to manage your time, it can get really difficult. What I do is I spend time with my kids in the morning and I take advantage of their nap times in the afternoon to get work done. I also stay up late at night to finish my stories.
Even if I have a work-from-home setup, my job requires me to stick to really tight deadlines so I can’t afford to slack off. Luckily, I write fast so I don’t get buried under too much work. It can get hectic but the online arrangement is still a lot better for me than a nine to five desk job.
Wendi: I started online writing when my firstborn was 10 months old. I worked in the morning and took care of him in the afternoon. I had a baby-sitter back then. With my second and third babies, I didn't, so what I'd do is I'll work whenever they're taking naps or when they're just hanging out. I talk to them while I write so they wouldn't think I'm ignoring them.
Have you ever regretted your decision?
April: No. When I get overwhelmed with work, there are times that I think about going corporate again but I’ve never really acted upon those impulses. I’ve been with the company for almost six years and I think I’m gonna stay there for many years to come.
Wendi: No. In fact, there have been many times I could have gotten back to working outside home. But I chose to be a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom. The first reason is of course to be with my kids, they're growing up too fast and I don't want to miss any part of their childhood, but there are other reasons too like I earn more working from home, I have a more flexible schedule, and I have more time for myself.
What are the life lessons that being a stay-at-home mom has taught you?
April: When I was working in an office, all I wanted to do was go home to spend time with my son. But when I started working from home, I found out that I can’t devote all my time to my child because it can get suffocating for him. I realized that it’s all about balance.
Wendi: God knows what's best for you and gives you that. When I was younger, I never imagined myself being a stay-at-home mom. Having a family was the least of my priorities. My goal back then was to be on top of my game, to have a successful career, but when I had my kids, I realized (cheesy as it may sound), they're the best thing that ever happened to me.