Often the choice to stay home or work doesn’t feel like a decision at all. Sometimes we’re faced with finances that mean we must work or we don’t have access to childcare so must stay home. Whatever the reasons behind the decision to stay home or work, one thing remains constant: Mothers don’t feel confident about the choices they make. We often question if we’re making the wrong one. I’m here to help you recognize the benefits to the choice you make and give you back your confidence as a woman and a mother.
Confidence in the choices we make allows us to have greater happiness in our lives and lessens the over all stress we feel. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel committed to your choice and confident that the decision you made was not only the best choice for your family, but the best choice for you too?
Many people give advice on how to decide whether to stay home, work, work from home, or any combination of the above. It’s easy to find advice on managing your time so you can make your decision work. But what isn’t talked about as often is the way we feel about our decisions. Even a mom who is excited about her career and wants to work can feel very torn when leaving for work each morning. A mom that wants to stay home may still find herself bored and questioning her decision.
That’s normal. Re-evaluating our lives is normal. Checking in to be sure the decision still fits is a great idea, however, if we find ourselves double checking our choices too often, it can interfere with our success and happiness.
Put it in the Calendar
The easiest way to take away the self doubt, is to decide how often you’ll reevaluate your decision. Give yourself at least 4 months before you evaluate how it’s going. but give yourself at least another 4 months after that to decide to change course. Once you’ve decided on how long you’ll give yourself before your evaluation, put it in the calendar. Choose a day when you and your partner have time together, higher a baby-sitter if your children are small – or think of some other way to allow your and your partner uninterrupted time to talk together.
Acknowledge Potential Problems
Right from the start, look for potential problems that may come up. If you made a pros/cons list, those cons are your potential problems. Consider how they might affect your family then think of ways you might either prevent the problem from occurring, or dealing with it once it happens.
It may also be helpful to write down ways you can tell if your concerns are happening. For instance let’s say you’re concerned about being able to balance everyone’s needs, what are some signs that it’s not working? Having a clear idea of what a problem might look like allows us to notice the problem faster, but more importantly it prevents us from questioning whether every situation is the start of a problem or merely a bad day.
When we know we’ve thought of potential problems and also have a plan for those problems, we feel more confident with our choices. That confidence allows us to feel more relaxed and happy on a day to day basis.
What if it’s not working?
Even when we’ve made the best decision possible, with all the information available to us, it’s still possible that something will come up that we didn’t consider as a possibility. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean we’ve made the wrong decision.
Instead of changing course right away, ask yourself, “What are some of the ways I can make this better?”
When we focus on our own ability to direct our lives, we allow ourselves to see opportunities and solutions. When we feel like we have control in our lives, we are more likely to feel content at the end of the day. Even bad days.
Focus on the Good
After acknowledging potential problems, let them go. If an actual problem occurs, that’s different. Certainly deal with actual problems. In this section I’m only talking about the potential problems you listed earlier. Trust yourself that you’ll be able to cope with them if they happen so you don’t need to worry about them in the meantime. You’ve already defined the problems and what they look like, so you don’t need to focus on them anymore.
This gives you the energy and space to focus on what is working. If you’re working, you may miss your toddler during the day, but you enjoy the time at work doing something you find interesting. You also look forward to the special time you and your toddler have together after work.
Just like your decisions and concerns are unique to you, so are the good parts. What do you really love about your life?
If a particular day or week is difficult, take the time to think about at least three things that happened that you liked. It may be as simple as the way your little one joyfully ran to you when you picked her up from daycare. The specifics aren’t important, it’s how you feel about it and how you notice it.
Time to Reevaluate
When several months have passed and it’s time to reevaluate your decision, involve the adults, and only the adults, in the conversation until you’re clear on what you want to do. Some parents may want to include older children in the discussion, but often children don’t have the ability to understand the complexity of the situation. Instead of asking for their opinion, let them know you’re making a decision, and you’d like their input. But be clear that the decision is yours to make.
In every situation, it’s possible to find both good and bad. When it’s time to reassess whether your decision to be a stay at home mom or a working mom is the best fit, it’s a good idea to think of the decision as an entity you’re giving feedback to.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first. Let’s start by defining what you want. Do you want a certain amount of connection or peace within your home, specific opportunities, a certain income, something else? Whatever you want, write it down. Now decide which is most important to you. Keep that most important goal in mind, you’ll use it to answer the next question.
Picture your whole situation, either being at work or at home, as a whole entity, your goal is the head. The rest of the body is made up of the different aspects of your life. This may be children, partner, friends, health. Break it down into enough parts that it allows you to have a good visual of your life without being too focused on minute details.
Now think about the last month, with all the different parts of your whole life entity working toward the goal, ask yourself the question, “What’s working well?”
Write down answers for each system within the whole. Be sure to pull out as many good things as possible. It’ll show you where your strengths are and help you create an even better life as you move forward.
Writing it down allows your brain to connect to it deeper. You want to connect to the good parts of your life. Even if you change directions, it’s important to see what was already working well because it’ll provide you with more confidence and a greater sense of fulfillment as you move forward.
Now that you can see what was working well, ask yourself, “What could be even better?”
As you answer this question look for possibilities. How can you make these even better moments happen? Would shifting back to work or home allow you to create those ‘even better if’ moments easier?
There are pros and cons to any situation, but you can change the cons and turn them into pros. That’s what you’re looking for right now. If you weren’t finding enough connection with your partner while staying home, what are some of the many ways you could increase your connection while still staying home? If you found yourself too worn down at the end of the day, what are some of the ways you could give yourself a boost when you need it most?
Now that you have a plan, have defined what it looks like when things are going well, and how to tell if things aren’t working well, you’ve created a timeline for evaluating and reevaluating, and you’ve thought of possible ways to make things better, how do you feel about your decision?
I’d love to hear what value you’ve gotten from this post, let me know in the comments below. I hope you have a great day!