While a new report from the Pew Research Center finds that more moms are staying at home full time with their kids, the revelation was not a surprise to the many SAHMs (stay at home moms) who are part of the TODAY Moms Facebook community.
We asked those moms to share the path they took to becoming SAHMs and describe both the joys and challenges that come with it. (And some working moms also weighed in.) In their stories, they reflect much of what the report found: that the increase in SAHMs is driven by a mix of demographic, economic and societal factors; that some moms, especially married SAHMs, are home by choice, while a growing number (6 percent in 2012, compared with 1 percent in 2000) say they are home because they can’t find a job. And that others cite issues such as the crazy cost of childcare or the need to stay home because of their own or their child’s disability.
Here, 10 SAHMs tell their stories via TODAY Moms on Facebook:
Sometime jobs don’t work out; fortunately, being a SAHM has worked
Christina Probeyahn: "Being laid off from a flexible job and not being able to find a comparable replacement, plus having triplets, plus the cost of daycare for said triplets led me to be a SAHM. Financially challenging sometimes but I love being home with my boys!"
Jamie Hermesch: "I was working as a paraprofessional at our small-town elementary school. And last year when the school was forced with the decision to either give all of the para's health insurance or cut our hours — I decided to stay home with our newborn son. Best decision of our lives."
Catie Kelley: "I became a stay at home mom involuntarily. I was in labor when I received a call from HR saying that there was a job loss situation affecting my department… I immediately texted coworkers and found out that our department was being closed in 90 days. I returned to work after maternity leave for 2 business days and was sent home with the rest of my department. I have learned to live on less and don't regret a thing..."
Giving up a career but gaining so much in the process
Katrina Thomas: "The days are long but the years are short." It's a mantra that's shared in mothering circles time and time again. It's relevant to all mothers and is the reason I'm a SAHM to my three children: 6, 3-1/2 and 1. I left a corporate career in public relations following the birth of my oldest because I thought it was important for *me* to raise my children. Full-time mom became my new career. My networking dinners and vacation days have turned into play dates and summer days at the beach. My benefits come in smiles and giggles, and extra hugs and kisses at bedtime. Some days my patience runs thin and other days I feel on top of my game. I don't have sick days and my working day stretches well into the night. But when I see them look out for each other, give each other hugs, push another on the swing and tell a stranger please or thank you, my heart feels full and I thank my husband for giving our family the gift of spending those long days at home."
Kim Timer: "I was an attorney making the bigger income when I had kids. But after two difficult pregnancies, I just wanted to be home so bad that I quit. I was practicing 9 years and I think I committed career suicide walking away. I’ve been home two years. It has certainly been a challenge professionally, financially, and socially but I wouldn't change it at all! It was the best decision I ever made."
When childcare becomes too expensive, sometimes staying home is the answer
Casey Shuler Tidwell: "I worked until my third son was born, because it was cheaper to stay home than pay for three in daycare/school. I now have four sons (ages 7, 5, 3, and 3 months). Almost every person I meet says "you've got your hands full!" And some days are harder than others, but I wouldn't have it any other way."
A traveling husband means someone has to hold down the fort
Kaylynn Casper: "My husband is active duty US Army and while there are many companies that proclaim their desire to hire veterans or military spouses, the truth is they actually discriminate against spouses because we can't provide the longevity in position that they're looking for. Never mind that we, more often than not, possess an education, a sense of determination that comes from our military affiliation, and unique work/life experiences. Seeking new employment every two to three years makes one increasingly aware of the state of our nation's economy, in many different areas in the country. So, by default, even though I possess 2 college degrees and solid work experience in both the private and public sector, I become a SAHM."
Transition from working mom to SAHM isn’t easy, but you figure it out
Lyz Lenz: "I quit freelancing full time to become a SAHM. I still work contract jobs at night and during the times my 3 year old is at school. But it's hard. The transition from working to SAHM knocked me for a loop. When I started taking my daughter places people thought I was the babysitter and she cried because she wanted to go to daycare. I also felt like my whole identity was this mom thing and I've struggled with that. I think that's partly why I still work a little, just to keep myself in the game and have something to talk about besides all the times I was pooped on during the day. I do love this time I have with my kids. It's such a short time before they are in school full time. Or that's what people tell me."
When a child’s disability needs you to be at home
Lauren Ochalek: "Though I hold a masters degree in nursing (and I truly love my career), my greatest joy in life has been the opportunity to stay at home and mother my children. When my husband and I decided to start a family five years ago, our plans were for me to work very part-time so that I could stay current in my practice and bring in a little extra income. All of our plans changed when our daughter Ellie (now 2 years old) was born with Down syndrome. I threw my career to the wind to stay at home and nurture her unique needs. Fast forward two years to the adoption of our son Cameron, who joined our family when he was 14 months old. Given Cameron's great need for a structured routine, predictable schedule, and consistent caregiver (namely myself, as we are encouraging bonding and attachment at this point), it is ideal that I be at home to nurture his needs. Someday when our children are a bit older, more independent, and in school for the day, I dream of returning to my nursing career. Until then, I plan to enjoy every, single minute with my sweet children."
Husband’s support makes it possible, but it’s still a challenge
Tisha Klingensmith: "My husband provides an incredible life for us and affords me the privilege of raising our three kids — 3.5, 1.5 and 6 months. I am aware that not everyone is as fortunate as we are and have to send their children to daycare. Before we were expecting our first in 2010, I never thought I would be a SAHM. I remember thinking of some of my friends who already had kids and stayed home and I wondered "what do they DO all day!?" Oh my, what DON'T SAHM's do? I do plan to rejoin the workforce as soon as my youngest is in school as I would like to contribute to our future financially and set an example for our kids that I can work AND help with school projects. I'm so happy to be home to see every memorable moment during these first crucial years, but I am also looking forward to the "next chapter" of my life when I'm not covered in spit up and wiping butts 60 percent of my day!"