Monday, November 11, 2013

The Stay At Home Mom Decision: Social

Women (and men!) who are facing the decision of whether to return to work or stay at home with their new child agonize over many aspects of this life-altering choice. Can we afford it? Will I be bored? Am I cut out for all day care of a child? What will my days be like? Will I miss my work connections and interests? In this multi-article series I will discuss the many sides of this big decision and help new moms feel good about their choice. Today's subject: the social impact of the stay-at-home mom decision.

Social Impact Of Staying At Home

For many parents, this is a huge, huge worry when deciding whether to stay at home with young children. For others, it's hardly a consideration. Are you a social butterfly? Do you define yourself by your friends, connections and social life? Or, are you more of a homebody, comfortable doing your own thing and checking in with contacts once in a while? Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to become a stay at home mom or dad:

  • People with highly social work lives will find the adjustment jarring. With very few families able to swing a single-income budget, you'll find very few of your friends or connections are home during the day time hours. 
  • Individuals with more solo work environments or who have many friends outside of work, might find the adjustment easier.
  • There are many parents' groups during the day where you can go with your child to make new friends and socialize both for you and your child. Sorry Dads, there are not many men at these gatherings, but don't let that stop you!
  • If you drop down to a single income, this might also make it harder to afford an occasional babysitter. Do you have a large network of family members who would be willing to babysit so you can catch a date-night once in a while with your spouse, or get some me-time?
  • Running errands and popping in and out of the house is much, much harder when you have a young child in tow. Plan to gather errands together into a single trip, and work around nap and feeding times. Have a pre-packed diaper bag ready to grab and go.
  • Today there are many new ways to keep in touch with your friends. Smartphones with a good texting or data plan are a boon, as is social media like Facebook, Google+ and more.
  • You can always arrange evening gatherings with friends who don't mind children tagging along, or you and your spouse can take turns holding down the fort while the other goes out to socialize.
  • As fun as children are, in the early years many stay at home parents find them less than stimulating company. Especially before language skills start to develop. Keep in mind that as your children grow, they will be able to engage with you in more elaborate activities: crafts, outdoor adventures, sports, dancing, making forts and more. An older toddler will keep you much busier and interested than a baby or infant.
  • Some day-cares or children's centres allow you to hire them only once or a couple times a week. Some stay-at-home parents prefer to give themselves a break each week. This might also be a good idea for 3 year olds to prepare them for school.
For myself, I thought it would be an easier transition than it turned out to be. I've managed to keep myself busy and connect to help keep away loneliness. Overall it has been totally worth it!

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