You could say I was “forced” into being a stay-at-home mom, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve been laid off twice now, and I’ve become a full-time, stay-at-home mom. The first time was two months before I gave birth, and the second time was during COVID.
The first time I was laid off, it was extremely stressful.
I hadn’t even given birth yet, and my husband and I were both on my insurance through my work. I felt like I had a million things to figure out regarding health insurance, my hospital, doctors, and the pediatrician. Also, I was concerned about my work experience. Since I had only worked for about four years in the client success industry, I felt that I should line up a job quickly to keep my experience and skillset relevant.
I applied and interviewed like crazy in the last few days before my induction. But once I gave birth, I didn’t give anything job-related a second thought. I had a much more important job to do. Once my son was three months old, which would have been the end of my maternity leave through my old employer, I thought to myself, “How could I have gone back to work?” I was only recently sleeping thanks to my son starting to sleep through the night. But he was also crying and fussing because of hunger/dirty diaper/gas/anything would happen randomly throughout the day. And I thought to myself, maybe being laid off was meant to be. Maybe it isn’t bad that I take an “extended maternity leave” like this.
Making It Work
I got to watch my son grow, and I was there for every milestone. I saw the first time he sat up, his first smile, and his first laugh. Snuggling with a cute baby was a great way to pass the time! During the time that would normally be taken up by calls, emails and work, we went to music class, took walks with our dog, went to the grocery store, and went to storytime at the library.
But as my son started sleeping through the night, I started to think about working from home. As someone who had worked from home full time before giving birth, I couldn’t help but think that I could probably still work from home, even with a baby. Maybe I had a relatively easy former job, but my son was also able to play by himself and entertain himself in his playpen. He took naps like a champ and was pretty easy-going. I felt like I should take advantage of that and try to work again.
A chance to work again.
As luck would have it, my former boss had left our old company and started at a new company. She reached out about a remote position on her team. I was upfront about how I’d have a baby at home and limited childcare. But my boss was confident I could do the job. When I accepted the offer, and I was able to prove her right. I scheduled client calls during his two naps for the day. I answered work emails from my phone, whether we were at music class or on a walk, or at the grocery store. During nap time, I called people back. I took internal calls with my son around. If he wasn’t quiet, my boss and colleagues were understanding. I made it work, successfully.
But then the pandemic happened. I was laid off. My husband was fortunate enough to have a job. I know how privileged we are for me to not have to rush to get another job (plus, the CARES act helped a lot). Given the pandemic’s gravity, along with all of its consequences, if I choose to return to work one day, this gap on my resume hopefully won’t be held against me.
My toddler is my new boss.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. My son, who was fast-approaching age two last year, was so bossy and strong-willed. It felt like I worked for him all day. It still feels like that sometimes, actually. He’d yell a lot. He needed me to get him this, help him with that, he’s done with mealtime, he wants to take a bath, let’s go outside, let’s go on a car ride, lights on, lights off (he’s obsessed with lights), and then there were those tantrums when I said no. Weren’t those supposed to happen during the “terrible twos?”
But that isn’t anything abnormal for a toddler.
I take it day by day. And so does my husband, who desperately misses his office, where he tells me he could hear a pin drop. It’s quite the opposite at home.
I’m not sure when (or if) I will return to work.
I have been approached by recruiters and my old boss again about potential jobs that I would love to take on. But I know that right now, it would be too much. I can’t imagine caring for my toddler and balancing a full-time job. I just don’t think one of those dream positions would be worth my sanity and the sacrifice of being a two-in-one working mom and childcare right now. Even a part-time job would probably be too much for me. Major props to moms who are able to work and care for their kids!
Plus, being forced into a stay-at-home mom role has also been quite lucky. I get to be with my son and really focus on him again, and help him grow and learn. I can enjoy everything, from simple activities like drawing together or reading to him, to more advanced science experiments we’d do outside over the summer. He still yells at me or gets mad when I tell him not to do something. He is a toddler after all. But since I’m not distracted, I can focus on diffusing the tantrum and really comforting him through it. He now has my undivided attention. When I worked before, he had part of it. It sounds like I was “forced” into being a stay-at-home mom, and that’s true, I was. But right now, it’s the best choice for me.