Back before I got married and had kids, I couldn’t even imagine being a stay at home mom. Then I went and had a baby during medical school, and my life and priorities got turned upside down. At first, I was able to take our daughter with me to class, where there was always someone ready to use a fussing baby as an excuse to step into the hallway and take a break for a few minutes.
Then that adorable little bundle started to grow up, and I needed to find daycare for her.
I cried every day after I dropped her off,and it was only about two days before I got the first call to pick her up becauseshe had a fever. That began the downward spiral that eventually led to my husband quitting his job to become a work-at-home parent.
Since that point, we have started five different businesses. I’ve graduated from medical school, and we’ve endured our younger daughter’s grueling seven week stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. We currently run three companies, and have our third baby on the way. Since we made the conscious decision to put them first, neither of our kids has spent longer than half a day at time at drop in daycare, and they’ve never been there morethan twice in the same month. So, how do we do it?
- Prioritize – If putting your kids first is truly important to you, you have to make them your family’s number one priority every day. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend every waking minute with them baking gingerbread cookies. It simply means that you have to work with your other half to make sure that taking care of the kids is pretty much always covered.
- Be flexible – Keeping your kids at home with you means being flexible about your work week and your relationships. Make appointments outside of normal business hours, do your accounting or catching up on email after your kids go to bed and take your kids with you to less formal meetings. You may find that some customers or client are put off by your approach, but you’ll probably find just as many who find your family centered lifestyle refreshing and appealing. My husband has won contracts over lower priced competitors more than once because his customers appreciated and admired the way we run our lives and his business (and no, we don’t sell religious paraphernalia – it’s a flooring company).
- Stop worrying about me time – This may be an unpopular statement, but when you made the decision to become a parent, you opted out of the right to put yourself first. That doesn’t mean you should be a slave to your kids, husband or anyone else, but it does mean that “me time” drops way down on your list of priorities. You have to take what you can get, even if it amounts to grocery shopping at midnight so you can do it without the kids in tow.
- Taking one for the team – Sometimes scheduling conflicts come up that you have no control over. When that’s the case, and grandma and grandpa aren’t available, one of you needs to be able to make the decision to stay home. Perhaps one business accounts for the majority of your income and so events for that business take precedence, or perhaps you rotate, agreeing that when the next conflict arises, your gig will win out. Either way your kids win by having a parent at home with them.