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Should I stay at home after having my baby?

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Should I be a stay at home mom? Can I go to work after having your baby? Won’t I miss them way too much? Could I still be a good mom and leave the house every day? Is staying at home boring?
Chances are if you ever had a child, or even if you look like a person who might have a child one day, you asked yourself these questions or been asked by others. You either know somebody who is a stay at home parent, or know somebody who is a working parent. You start to wonder if you could live through the life that person chose, and if you would like it. Stop right there.
When considering if you should be a stay at home mom, you cannot compare yourself to the next person. The decision needs to come from you, because only you have to live with it. So, here is a completely non-scientific way to help you make the best choice for you and your family.

1. Can you afford to stay at home?

If you can, move ahead to the next question. If you can’t, that does not automatically mean you can’t stay at home. Are there other options, such as telecommuting from home with your current company, or starting a business? Keep in mind, these two options are not easy-but they may be worth it if you feel strongly about being a stay at home mom.

2. Do you have the support of family and friends?

Please read this answer…then read it again…then read it one more time very, very slowly. Staying at home does not mean you have it easy by any means. In fact, it can be overwhelming at times-especially when you consider possibly working from home, taking care of other children, maintaining a healthy romantic relationship, cleaning (constantly), and other personal responsibilities. Make sure you have the support you need as staying at home will be a little bit easier.

3. Do you understand you will be doing the same thing every day?

Babies eat, play, sleep, and use the bathroom (or diaper). Older children may also go to school, unless you are homeschooling. There may be some TV in there, or a sport or activity. Maybe you will have a playdate or visit a friend. Your significant other might not go to work one day, or your mom can stop by to help you clean your carpet. At any rate, the same things happen daily, just with a little variation thrown in there. Most stay at home moms at some point will miss adult conversation. So, be prepared for this, and if you choose to be a stay at home mom-embrace it!

4. You will not be doing the same thing every day.

Yes, I know this is contradictory to number 3, but please understand- no two days will ever be exactly the same. Yes, chances are your child will have play time every day. What you didn’t account for is that your two year old son will more than likely be a superhero one day and attempt to fly from the dining room table. The next day he might decide to only walk on his tippy toes and say “no”. You will also have days where all they want to do is cuddle, or read books to you, or sign you songs. It might prevent you from taking care of your other responsibilities, but in the end those days are probably why you chose to stay at home. Enjoy it.

5. Does staying at home make you happy?

This is a tough one many moms interpret negatively. We know you love your family regardless of it you stay home or not. But do you wake up every day wanting to work? If so, go out and do it. Do you wake up every day wanting to stay at home? If you can find a way, make it happen. A happy mommy makes a happy child.

So, if all of the answers and reflections point towards you staying home, it is worth a shot. Like anything, it is not going to be the easiest thing you will ever do-after all you are raising children. But, it is something that can be fulfilling and enjoyable.

If you are staying at home with a young child and in the Chicago area, there are plenty things for you guys to check out. Here are a few favorites:

Oak Lawn Children’s Museum
Lincoln Park Zoo
Brookfield Zoo
Shedd Aquarium
Pickles Playroom
Snackville Junction
Beverly Arts Center
City Farm
Navy Pier
Muntu Dance Theater
Planet Esme

Do you guys have any Chicago favorites you want us to know about?

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