The decision to continue working or stay home after having children is different for everyone. Both choices are correct – it’s the answer that varies by family. What doesn’t differ is how hard the choice is to make, regardless of where you land.
My Initial Ideals
For me, I always imagined I’d return to work after 12 weeks. I held onto this idea until I was pregnant with Wildman. At the time, I worked for a small, tech PR agency. It was mentally stimulating, I loved my co-workers and we had some really cool clients. Plus, my boss was cool with the idea of me taking six months to a year off to settle into motherhood before returning to work – major bonus!
Fast forward to our first few months with Wildman… I struggled with my transition to motherhood amid the sleep deprivation and time by ourselves. While I felt isolated at times and we had our share of terrible days, I really did love staying home with him.
Between late-night feedings, I began thinking of the high-stress, busy months with 60-70 hour work weeks, trade show travel schedules and the ways in which I handled work-related stress in the past. It became astoundingly clear that I wouldn’t be happy continuing this and parenting. With support from my husband (morally and financially – ha), we decided I’d stay home.
The Mom Guilt
I was surprised to find that stepping away from my career was harder on me than I thought it’d be. After working since I was 15, suddenly, I wasn’t bringing in any income or contributing to things like our retirement or mortgage payments. I felt like I needed to ask permission to purchase new clothes for my changing body and growing child. (My husband NEVER made an issue out of this and thought it was silly I asked).
It took several supportive conversations with my husband, who continuously explained the value I was providing by caring for our child in our home and “maintaining” the house. (I use quotes, because cleaning with a newborn did not come easy for me). While I really enjoyed staying with Wildman and experiencing all his firsts, it honestly took me seven or eight months to accept the fact that I didn’t have a paycheck.
From Freelancing to Launching KP Communications
When Wildman’s sleep schedule became more consistent and our ever-changing routine was established (thanks to dreaded sleep regressions), I was lucky enough to start contract PR work for a friend’s company. The opportunity kind of fell into my lap, and it was just the kick I needed to start thinking about my career again.
Working on an as-needed basis easily fit into my schedule with our little guy and was flexible enough that I wasn’t stressed about deadlines. Sure, there were some late nights and weekend work, but I didn’t mind.
This showed me that I was capable of working AND being a mother. Interested in more hours, I began looking into ways I could connect with businesses to help them meet their public relations goals. After a few months of networking and thanks to a freelancing website called Upwork, I landed my first clients. To separate my personal life with business, I set up an EIN, website and business cloud to continue business under KP Communications.
I haven’t looked back since. Setting my own schedule and working on my own terms is what I never knew I wanted. Yet, it fits perfectly into our lifestyle. It hasn’t always been easy. Given the nature of PR, projects pop up with tight deadlines, which sometimes seem impossible with a toddler. However, the pros heavily outweigh any cons, and I’ve always been able to meet my goals.
Yes, it was scary to start out on my own, but I’m so glad that I did. I’m also grateful for the clients and relationships I’ve built.
One Last Thing…
My one piece of advice to all moms and moms-to-be out there who are struggling with the decision to work or stay home: don’t limit yourself. When you’re ready, take a step back to really think about what you want. There is no shame in leaving your job to stay home or continuing to work and setting up daycare for your little one, or cutting hours at your job. Do what’s right for you.
You’re capable of anything and stronger than you know (even if you don’t feel like it some days). You probably have more support through family, friends and fellow moms than you even realize.