A girlfriend from my old team at work just posted that she has decided to resign from Microsoft to stay home with her two young kids. We would walk for our morning coffee together and most days we discussed the challenges of working full time and having babies at home and how much we wished we could stay home with them. I never would have thought a year later we would both be home and now as I was sitting down to send her an email it made me think about what the biggest adjustments have been. My experience is obviously different given the move and all of the adjustments of living in a new country but some of the basics I’m sure would have been the same had we stayed in Duvall.
I think there is undoubtedly less daily stress staying home with the kids. Jamie was in an offsite back in Redmond last week and was telling me about hearing co-workers mention needing to leave by a set time to pick kids up from day care or the rush of dropping them off before work. I don’t envy the daily tension of home and work and it is a luxury that Jamie and I can now coordinate home and work so that neither feels neglected. That being said there are different stresses I didn’t anticipate. I do find myself overanalysing my parenting much more now than I did before, I no longer have the security of my daily chats with Patsy. Since she was with Kellen all day we could compare notes and I could draw on her years of experience on how to respond.
One of the biggest adjustments is obvious in retrospect but I honestly didn’t anticipate in advance. No long being in the work environment is a huge adjustment, but I don’t mean actually doing the work because staying home is hard work. But just being in an environment like the Microsoft offices where everything is geared for your convenience. The onsite shopping, salon, campus wide wifi and endless drinks everywhere you turn. The difference is you go from spending a large portion of your time in an environment that is catered to you and suddenly you are the one who is creating the environment catering to your kids and husband. At first this didn’t really bother me, we also went through a move and an adjustment to a new house, but over the last few months especially I’ve found myself doing small things that I would have considered indulgent but now are part of my routine.
In our family I am the more frugal one and hate to feel like I’ve wasted money and if I can just get a cheap top at Target I’m happy with that. Recently though I’ve started going to the “nicer” grocery store as my regular store. At first I just went to check it out but the shopping experience was so much nicer, the produce and selection were better and it was actually and enjoyable errand that I haven’t been able to stop myself from going back. Now that we are on one income we are a lot more thoughtful about if and when we eat out so we rarely do. That means that I am feeding a family of 5 everyday out of a kitchen half the size of my old one, this requires at least 2 grocery trips a week. Our fridge and cupboards just don’t hold more than 4 days’ worth of food at a time so I spend a lot of time at the grocery store. I’ve decided it’s worth it to spend a bit more and actually enjoy the experience.
My other indulgence has become flowers. This I’m sure sounds like a piece of advice from a 50’s edition of Good Housekeeping but when you spend most of your time at home I’ve realized it is worth it to make your home somewhere you want to be. I’ve started buying fresh flowers for the house each week. I never before would have actually done this, not only am I buying flowers but I don’t buy the ready bouquet I buy bunches from Costco then arrange them in a couple different vases. Again I know this probably sounds silly but this is a really small house and having bright fresh flowers in a room makes it feel nice in here and makes me smile when I see them. Right now our dining room smells like lilies and that makes my day.
So the thoughts I would share with a friend about to make the transition to staying at home would be that yes you do have to cut back on spending, you no longer get daily lattes but that’s not only due to price but also the fact that you are home and to pack the kids up just to get a coffee isn’t worth it. You will do endless loads of laundry and dishes, chores that you would have split with your husband before are all now yours. You won’t miss a moment with the kids, you will get to experience everything with them and that is so special. What I’m learning is that if it is only about function you’ll start to go crazy. There are things about work that spoil you each day that you don’t realize until you’ve left, not to mention interaction with adults. So while you do need to cut back on most things make sure you do a few little things for yourself. Make the house feel nice you’re going to be spending a lot of time there. But it’s worth it.