Dear Working Mom,
I see you nearly every time I'm out with my children. Sometimes you are very young, sometimes you look older. You might look happy one day and tired or stressed the next. You are different every time I meet you, but you say the same thing to me nearly every time: "You're so lucky. I wish I could stay home with my children but I just can't afford it."
Usually I smile and agree that I am blessed, but quite honestly I'd like to challenge you. You say you can't afford to stay home. Maybe you can if you're willing to make some changes.
* Will you trade in your 2 year old car for a 13 year old mini van? The side door might not work very well. Yes, it will break down occasionally on your way to the kids' dental checkups, but that's ok. Your dentist will understand. Do plan to change a flat every now and then, since you might be driving on older tires.
* Will you buy your clothes at thrift stores from now on? I know your clothes aren't terribly expensive now, but even inexpensive clothes add up when you buy them new. No, you won't always be able to wear exactly what you want, but you might find that it's not such a big deal if you're spending most of your time at home. Your kids won't make fun of your fashion sense. Well, not unless they're teens. Then I can't vouch for them.
* You might have to reconsider cable TV. Anyway, the last thing you need is to watch the average 5 hours/day of TV. Too much of it is about working moms driving late model cars and wearing all those clothes you won't be buying.
* Something as simple as grabbing pizza on Friday night might become a financial decision, carefully weighed out.
* Your children should expect some changes too. Ballet lessons, karate lessons, and sports might go on the chopping block. They might be among the sad minority that does not possess a laptop or cell phone. They might never visit Disneyland. Summer camp might even be crossed off the calendar. Don't let the guilt get to you. Just like adults, children are not entitled to all the best in life. Children need to understand that these things are extras. They are wants, not needs. The sooner your children know this, the happier they will be.
* Would you be willing to sell your house? If you're serious about wanting to stay home with your children, this might be what it takes. Are you willing to live in a smaller, older home, in a lower priced neighborhood?
To sum it up, are you willing to give up a middle class lifestyle? I know you're not rich now, but you could get by on less if you really had to. Is staying home with your children worth that much to you?
I realize that not every situation is the same. You might be a single mom, struggling just to keep the electric on. Some churches would help you, but you might not be in that sort of church.
You might be willing to make all the lifestyle changes that would enable you to stay home but your husband insists that you work.
Maybe your husband is disabled, and truly can't support the family.
Or maybe you didn't really mean that you'd love to do it. Maybe you just meant it might be kinda nice, if you didn't have to give up any of your current creature comforts.
But maybe, just maybe you really never thought of it this way and now you realize that you can afford to stay home. Will you do it?