I have always worked full time but when I became pregnant I gave some serious thought to becoming a full time stay at home mum (SAHM). I didn't and still don't consider myself to be a doting mother, but I had an overwhelming feeling that I just wanted to stay home and raise my child. Despite how I felt, I knew that there were pros and cons to each side that needed to be weighed up carefully.
I did consider child care. My friend Lydia, who has a high powered career, had employed a qualified full time nanny for her two children. This suited her family's needs very well. I knew that on the pro side, hiring a nanny or childminder would mean I could continue with my career, I could take a promotion and increase my earnings, all of which would be beneficial to my family.
Although I would sometimes work long hours, I would still be home everyday to see my daughter. My own mother worked full time and it certainly had no detrimental effect on me. Oddly enough, another pro that I considered was that being away from my daughter would be a good thing for both of us. The last thing I wanted to be was a "smother" or overly-doting mother.
However, even though I had a good profession with prospects, the benefits of raising my child far outweighed any reason I could think of to stay on at work. I also felt happy to stay at home and look after my daughter even when Lydia joked that I could lose my identity and risk ending up living in elastic waist sweat pants.
Jokes aside, I knew right from the start that not much would sway me from staying at home, not even finances. Like most double wage families my salary did count when it came to paying the bills but on the flip side I also had to consider child care fees if I did return to work.
To ease some of the financial worries, during my pregnancy, I was able to work extra hours for pay. I worked right up until my due date so that I could put some savings aside. It was tough but well worth it. The reason I made the decision to stay home and possibly risk becoming a member of the sweat pant brigade, (as Lydia put it) was because I simply didn't want to miss a single part of my daughters' first stages in life.
I wanted to be able to put my daughter down for a nap, change her nappies, watch her take her first step. I wanted to be as much a part of her life as I possibly could. I wanted to be able to take her to fun places. Even watching countless episodes of the Teletubbies couldn't deter me. I didn't believe that I could do any of these things better than a professional nanny or childminder, but I did believe that I could fulfil the role with far more passion. It felt like such a privilege. To me it was the best decision that I ever made.
I have always known that staying at home has been the right choice for me, but if I ever need any confirmation then I just think about those nappy changes, yes, those first steps, all the school plays, sports day, that ever so long recital last week and even the simple school run which I sometimes make in my sweat pants. Staying at home is not for everyone but it suits me fine.
My daughter often has play dates with Lydia's daughter who is mostly accompanied by her nanny, and I realise that as much as I enjoy my role as a stay at home mum, Lydia enjoys her high powered career. I believe that even if her job was not so demanding she would still have gone back to work full time. The simple reason being, is that it would not suit her to stay at home.
Like me, she is doing the very best that she can for her children. Her daughter like mine is a happy little bundle from a happy home.
Whether you stay at home or work full time is really a personal thing which depends on your circumstance. At the end of the day, if both you and your children are happy then it's safe to say that you've made the right choice.