Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why I am a Stay at Home Mom


I was in a store the other day, and the lady behind the counter commented on how happy Logan was and I said, "She is such a happy girl. I don't think she'd be as happy if I weren't at home with her." This started a whole mess of thoughts in my scattered mama brain about how I want to raise her, how I want to be close to her, and how I truly believe she would be very different if she were in child care.

This subject is somewhat controversial. People have a lot of opinions when it comes to child care, and I am definitely one of them. I am a (slightly jaded) former preschool teacher who has seen a lot of lows in the industry. I have worked for what I believe to be one of the best preschools and I have worked for the absolute worst of the worst. I originally became a preschool teacher because it was the closest career to being a mom and who doesn't want to do art and be silly with kids all day long? 

From the start of my teaching days, I knew that as soon as I became a mother, I would stop working to be a stay at home mom. At least, that's what I hoped would happen. Instead, I was layed off before Logan's arrival, but I guess it's all the same. For many years I watched working parents drop their children off as early at 6:30am and pick them up as late as 6pm. Some of these kids are as young as eight weeks old and it's just not fair. I understand some families have no choice, they need two incomes.. but honestly, Rory and I need two incomes and we have had to learn to live on one so I can stay at home. We do not have cable, we do not have health insurance, we don't go out much, everyone gets a homemade present, we have one family car; we have sacrificed a lot for Logan's overall happiness and well being. I believe that it is worth it.

If you don't work in child care, then you probably are not familiar with child to teacher ratios and laws. For an infant class, it is one teacher to four infants (eight weeks old to eighteen months). A toddler class (eighteen months to twenty seven months) is one teacher to six children. For Preschool and Pre-K (twenty eight months to five years) it is one teacher to twelve children.
*these ratios can vary by state*
I have worked in all of these age groups, and I have to say that I would never put my young child in a preschool setting with these ratios. Children do not get the attention that they crave and need. Preschool and Pre-K is a bit different.. that age is much more self sufficient and one teacher to twelve kids is not that difficult. But, there are times when it is dangerous. Imagine a child gets hurt.. or two children get hurt. Depending on your school and your director, someone is not always within reach for help. That is very unnerving. Also, if you have to go to the bathroom, or a child has to go to the bathroom. By law, a child cannot be in the bathroom unattended. It's just ridiculous that these ratios are seen as safe and realistic.
The most horrible teaching experience I had was working for a huge and very well known corporate preschool as an infant/toddler teacher. I was constantly by myself with four infants. This particular corporation does a combination class where you can have a two year old running around bored in a non age appropriate classroom while three other babies are eight weeks old to a few months old.. it is impossible to keep everyone fed, clean, and safe in that situation by yourself.

Looking back on all of my child care experience, I am grateful that I am able to be at home with Logan. You just never know what is going on behind closed doors in a preschool and that terrifies me. Though I have worked for a really amazing preschool that always had an extra teacher in the classroom, was hands on, and caring.. I witnessed some teachers hit their breaking point and were not nice to the children. No one can care for your child as well as you can. I'm sure some readers will highly disagree with me, and that's fine.. I'm just sharing my experience and opinions.

In my short time as a mom, I have been met with much criticism already. "You have to leave her" "You have to put her in school" "She needs the socialization". I understand that leaving your child for a few hours a week works for some people.. I understand that some women are very career oriented and they like to be at work.. I understand that school can be a great setting for learning social skills, but right now, none of that is for us. Why do people want me to allow others to raise my kid? It's so demented to me that sometimes I'd like to blow up, but know that I can't. Damn politeness. I love being with Logan so much. She is the happiest little thing and she makes my day better. There are days where I wish I could go get a pedicure, but
I'd rather play with Logan and have ugly toes. She is much more interactive so we will start going to the park soon. There we can meet other moms and kids.. socialization for mom and baby, check!

I am already prepared for when the next one comes along. We may not be able to live here anymore.. we may have to find a smaller rental back in the valley where rent is cheaper and the neighborhoods aren't as safe. Or I can just keep building my freelance portfolio and hope I land a job that I can do from home. For my kids happiness I will continue to sacrifice. I will sell what I need to, not do as much grocery shopping for Rory and I, say goodbye to our Netflix subscription.. whatever it takes to be able to raise my own children.

Here is an interesting article about how it is cost effective to be a stay at home parent. Though it seems like two incomes means more money, the cost of child care can be outrageous. The non profit school that I used to work for charged $2,000 a month for full time care of a toddler. The money you can save as a stay at home parent, along with being able to bond full time with your child seems to be reason enough to do so.

This is also a really interesting article that states how a recent study found that children who have parents that work outside of the home are more likely to have health problems.

Being responsible for a human life is a big deal and I want to make sure that we give her the best life possible. For me, that's what being a stay at home mom means. I can protect her, I can teach her, I can nurture her all of the time without having to put my trust and money in someone else to do so.

*If you'd like to share your experience of being a working mama, I'd love to hear. I was raised by a single mom who worked several jobs at a time, put us through Catholic school, and somehow managed to raise two level headed, civilized, "normal" girls. Props to all of the single mamas that make it happen. Again, these are only my experiences and opinions that are instilled in me because of the way I was raised; a latchkey kid who missed her mommy.*


xo
-Ali

6 comments :

  1. Loved this post so much Ali!

    So related to this: "
    Being responsible for a human life is a big deal and I want to make sure that we give her the best life possible. For me, that's what being a stay at home mom means. I can protect her, I can teach her, I can nurture her all of the time without having to put my trust and money in someone else to do so."

    And oh my word...your little one is SO cute!

    Lots of love. :)

    xo
    Dani

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    1. Thank you Dani!
      I know you are a former teacher too.. you definitely see and learn a lot in the field(no matter the age).

      She is such a little baby doll <3 Love her so much!

      xo

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  2. I have been a stay at home mom for 25 plus years. It is worth the sacrifice. I wish more women had the same attitude you do! What you gain is far greater than what you are giving up! One time years ago when I was taking my children to school one morning, they were talking on the radio about what they were thankful for that day. I turned and asked my children to say one thing they were thankful for. My son (who is now 18)and was about 11 or 12 at the time said "I'm thankful that you are home during the day, even when I am at school." I sensed that it gave him a secure feeling to know that if he needed me, I was available for him. Yes, there are times when you might be bored or lonely but there are ways to overcome that...like you said join a mommy group, etc. It is so worth it!

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    1. Thank you for reading Capri!
      Sometimes it's hard.. financially, emotionally.. but you're right, it's very worth it. To be there for your child is the most important job in a parents life.

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  3. Hi, Alison. I just found your blog. Great post-it was like reading the exact way I've felt for years(i even worked in a nursery school 20 years ago). We have 4 kids and my husband and I have sacrificed sooo much over the years, but we would do it all again. Well, maybe we would have all 4 at once so we wouldn't have to do the teenager/toddler thing again...ha, just kidding.kind of:o)
    Anyway, never feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone. Keep up the great work, mommy.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words Barbara ;)

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