Years ago I was living my dream of teaching and learning along with my children. It was a life of discovery, play, books, and adventure. We were cooking, cleaning, and doing arts and crafts together. Busy learning to give and volunteer. Then life showed up. In the form of being and adult and something I couldn’t change.
It was time to return to the workforce. For this homeschool mom, I must admit it was one of the hardest things I have had to do.
I am not the first one that has had to return to work from being a stay at home mom for many years. However, for each of us, our journey is different, unique to us.
Today I am sharing my personal story of battling the guilt as a homeschool mom returning to the workforce.
Warning: It’s not pretty. But it is real.
Life vs. The Plan
When I had children I planned on being there every step of the way. My husband and I always said that we had kids so we could raise them. We did everything we could to make sure I could be a stay at home mom.
But life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. Bills need to be paid. Children need to be fed and clothed. Houses take upkeep, repairs, and renovations. Cars, oh don’t get me started. As much as we cut costs, budgeted, and watched our spending eventually we were unable to continue to live on one paycheck. Trust me, we tried. Mistakes made when younger catch up to you.
After much consideration and coming to the point of we either sink further debt or I needed to find a job, I began my search. I wanted to help and it was unfair to expect my husband to carry the burden alone. We were a team. But oh my heart was heavy.
The Mom Guilt Begins
The day came and I left my kids with a family member. As I drove away I cried buckets, even though they were in really good hands. The guilt was killing me.
I was the Mom!
I wanted to be there!
I never missed a thing in their lives, every first step, every first fall, every discovery of wonder. I knew kids didn’t stay small long and there was no going back. Once that moment was gone, it was gone for good.
Dramatic? Yes. I am not saying I was reasonable, but really what part of mom guilt is?
So I drove away and cried.
As each day passed, I wallowed in my own self-pity and guilt. I felt like I was abandoning the kids. I came home exhausted, tired and stressed. My patience was thin and I didn’t have the energy to keep up. The hours were low, the pay was minimum and we were scraping by. I kept thinking, “I am giving up my children for this?”
Instead of being thankful my children were safe, that we were no longer going in debt, that we were actually paying our bills AND paying off the debt, I was beating myself up for not being there, for being tired out, for not being able to work and do it all like all the other mothers.
It all came to a head one day last summer.things we can’t change end up changing us #ihsnet #momguilt Click To Tweet
The Wake Up Call
There is a zoo a few hours away. It is a lovely zoo and we had been planning on take the children since they were young. Call it my “dream road trip”. We discussed it, counted the cost, planned and yet we could never quite swing it year by year. As life is, something always came up that needed to be paid for.
A family member decided to take the kids last summer and they were so excited. They were going for the day, they were going to have ice cream, eat out, and see animals and wasn’t that great mom?
I was devastated. I wanted to say no! What kind of mother does that?? I wanted to, but I didn’t.
That was a turning point for me, I knew I need to get a grip and get over myself. I was turning into an old bag, to be honest, and I didn’t want to be that type of mom. The bitter ones. The cranky ones all.the.time. I knew if I kept it up, I would be a hateful old woman.
Setting Myself Straight (again)
I decided that night to go for a walk and really give myself a good talking to. If you know me, this is a quite common occurrence this talking to myself. (I seem to be a rather slow learner and hard headed person.) Anyhoo…
That night I did an evaluation of sorts, reassessing if we were reaching the goals we set out when I returned to work.
The kids were happy, fed and clothed. They were safe.
In fact, they were enjoying their time away from mom and dad. They were exploring new things. This is really important to me as a mom and I felt great after I realized this. The kids were FINE!
We were not only making ends meet but were reaching our targets of paying off the debt incurred by me staying home. This is exactly what we wanted. Bills were being paid, basics covered, and debt being chipped away.
Another thing I noticed once I reflected on the change was my kids appreciate me more. Ever notice if you are a stay at home mom that your children sometimes don’t notice you? Mine acted like I was chopped liver! When Dad came home there was much excitement, when something new happened they couldn’t wait to tell him.
That was great but what about me? I spent all day with them, reading to them, picking up after them, cooking, cleaning, teaching. Hello??
After I returned to work it was like they realized that I was alive. Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic again…Returning to work means I no longer have to chase my kids for hugs. They come to me, every morning, every night. They willingly tell me about events that happen throughout the day I missed.
Sometimes 450 times but that is okay.
Returning to the Workforce as a Homeschool Mom
As a mom I have come to realize I expect way too much from myself, things I would never expect others to do, I expect from myself. I can’t do everything, I am not superwoman. No one expects me to be, all I can do is my best.
I also learned that I can continue to have my dream of teaching and learning along with my children, it just looks a little different now. If you are a homeschool mom that is returning to the workforce, don’t give up your dreams! You CAN do this!
Maybe returning to work wasn’t in the original plan but life is not always about our plans. Learning to adjust, be realistic, and consider others besides myself has really helped me keep the mom guilt at bay.
Also, realizing that sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us, for the better.