After eight years as a stay at home mom, I made the decision to return to work. I used to joke that when I got pregnant with my first baby I may have accidentally retired. I recently “came out of retirement”. Returning back to work was a big decision for our family and I’m here to share how I made the choice to return to work.
A Season For Changing
Motherhood, it seems, is full of transitions and seasons. It’s a strange paradox of wanting to be with your children at all times while also craving to just be left alone. It’s feeling incomplete when you aren’t together, but also feeling like a part of your identity is lost in this role as mom.
When my daughter was born I was a first time, full-time single mom while my husband was deployed with the United States Army. I was largely clueless, but slowly carved out a community of moms made up of military spouses and Stroller Strides buddies. I found fulfillment in crafting, blogging and studying for my Group Fitness Certification.
At the time there was no question that I would stay home even though I had a college degree and had left a job in public relations. My husband was gone often for training or deployments, and military life required our family to move every couple of years.
When I graduated with a degree in journalism I saw myself working in an agency, climbing the ladder to an executive position in public relations or advertising. I didn’t anticipate that having a baby would change my career goals so drastically, but it did.
As she grew into a toddler I considered going back to work. Right around the time that I found out I was pregnant with my son. We were thrilled, and again I decided that staying home with my babies was the best option for our family. Two years later we were expecting baby # 3, and I was still at home in the role of mom/chaos coordinator.
Can Mom Really Have It All?
I never remember “choosing” to be a stay-at-home mom, but that’s what I’ve been for the last 7+ years to my three children. It just made sense. We moved a lot for the military and my husband’s career.
Until recently we didn’t live near family and we very rarely had babysitters or trusted child care options. Every time I considered going back to work I was met with doubt, fear and hefty daycare tuitions.
I was left to wonder how people did it? How did they find affordable childcare and leave their babies without feeling like they were chasing their tails to pay for it all and make ends meet?
It just felt like too much, and luckily my husband and I agreed that logistically and financially it made the most sense for me to stay home. I loved it most of the time. Some days were magical as I enjoyed fun outings, trips to the park with a picnic in tow. I loved having the ability to travel and see family on a whim. Other days were long, lonely and admittedly boring.
I love being with my kids. I also feel like the days start to feel like Groundhog Day. We do the same things, pick up the same toys, make the same lunch (half a peanut butter sandwich, no crust, with sliced apples and goldfish), and drive around dropping off and picking up kids dictated by the school bells.
Moms Make It Work
I have friends who went back to work immediately following the birth of their babies. Some took an extended maternity leave and then went back to work. Some gradually went from part time to full time. Many of my friends found a way to work from home while their babies are young. There is obviously no “right answer.” It truly is a decision that involves so many ever-changing factors.
At some point, I knew that I wanted to return to work and my career, but I could never figure out the perfect timing. How did I submit my resignation letter as a stay-at-home mom? Do I have to give 2 weeks notice? (haha) I think the answer is, “there is never a perfect time.”
Taking the Leap
Even in the same breath as I accepted my first full-time position in 8 years, I was still planning and organizing my children’s next steps. I’m coordinating daycare schedules, finalizing after school care and rearranging extracurricular activities.
Heading back to work meant I’d be playing fewer board games and attending more board meetings. I will always be the one who is orchestrating my babies’ futures. Accepting that I need to relinquish some control and trust that my children will be cared for and safe.
I have to understand that I can’t be everywhere, go to every event or sign on as a volunteer for every fundraiser. It takes a village, so thankful ill have help.
Nevertheless, I am so excited about this step in my life. It feels like a monumental change, but for the first time in many years, I feel like I am taking action on my life. I am hopeful that I will find a way to strike a balance between working and being a mom. I know the mornings will be hectic and life as we know it will never be the same. I’m ready… I think.
Allison Anderson lives in Sparks,
NV where she and her husband of 15 years are raising 3 kids- Grace, Braxton, and Leif. She considers herself an expert in friend-making and resiliency after 18 coast to coast moves as a military spouse. Allison graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in journalism, but has worked in a slew of positions including public relations for veterinary hospitals, Stroller Strides instructor and online ESL teacher to students in China. To date, motherhood is the best job she’s ever had. She loathes making dinner and vacuuming but encourages splashing during bathtime. She enjoys family camping trips in the RV, cheering for the Buffalo Bills and shopping on Amazon. You can follow her in real life on Instagram @allisonevada.