Sunday, November 3, 2013

5 Ways Working Outside of the Home Has Made Me a Better Mom

Disclaimer: My intention is not at all to say that you need to work outside of the home for these things to be achieved. I am a firm believer that the most important work a person can do is within the walls of their own home. I work outside of the home so little that I still consider myself a stay-at-home mom. And stay-at-home mom's? They rock. Working feels like a break to me because being responsible for another human being's every need 24/7 is hard.  My only intention in writing this was to point out some of the less obvious benefits of working outside of the home and how it has changed me personally.

I adore staying at home with Noah, but a few months ago I started to get a little itch to re-enter the workforce. I wanted more adult interaction (especially since our move to a new town where we don't know anyone), to contribute to our family's finances, and to keep myself in the game, so to speak, for the sake of my future educational and career goals.  I was so lucky to find a job that I love, that allows me to use my degree, and that only requires me to work 10-15 hours a week. I work afternoons and evenings, so Noah spends a few hours at our house with a babysitter he loves, and then spends the other few hours with Josh. I love that I'm still home with him 90% of the time and that I also get to work. I have the best of both worlds and, although it's always hard to leave Noah, this setup has been beneficial for our family in a few ways:

1) I use my time more wisely. Knowing that my time with Noah is limited motivates me to really utilize our time together well. We're doing more reading, playing, singing, park time, and finger painting together. Having more restrictions on my time has also made me more productive/efficient in terms of my household responsibilities.

2) The additional income will allow us to pay off our student loans and save for a down payment on a house more quickly. There are so many things a child needs to function optimally and quality time is at the top of the list. I also want to provide my children with opportunities to play sports, visit museums, and take family vacations. I  want them to live in a comfortable home in a safe area, and I'd love to help them pay for college. All of these things will be more easily achieved with additional income.

3) My time at work is teaching me how to more effectively interact with and teach children. I'm learning about how to reinforce and shape behavior. I'm learning how to teach children about emotions, social skills, responsibility, family dynamics, problem solving and so much more and I think that this experience is preparing me to be a better mother to Noah as he grows.

4) I want Noah to see me as someone who works hard, treats people well, and helps those who are less fortunate. I work with underserved, low-income children with mental illnesses. I'm helping them. I'm teaching them. My time with them requires a significant amount of patience and empathy and I like the example that I'm setting for Noah by doing this job, even though he's not yet old enough to understand it.

5) The division of household responsibilities is more equal than it was prior to me working. I felt resentment at how much of the house work I did, and although it was totally fair because I was the one staying at home, I still hated it. Since I've started working, Josh has had to take on more around the house, and it's been beneficial to our marriage and family because that resentment has been totally eliminated.

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