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By Cheryl Gochnauer
[email protected]
Copyright 2003

Like many prospective at-home parents, I figured I'd drop out of the office for a while, then when my baby was old enough to go to school, I'd get right back to work.

But a funny thing happened once I left my cubicle behind.

I discovered how good this new lifestyle was for both me and my family. When the predetermined time came, I found myself resisting the notion that kindergarten automatically signaled the end of life as I'd come to love it.

It was one thing to re-enter the workforce because I wanted to, or because finances demanded it. Those would have been valid reasons for jumping back into pantyhose. But if I was happy and secure as an at-home parent, why should I let the district calendar shake up my stable routine?

As it turned out, I didn't take a full-time job until my youngest child was in fourth grade, several years later than I originally planned. There are lots of reasons why I didn't board up my stay-at-home dream house at the first honk of the school bus:

(1) I had learned to manage our finances and adjust priorities so we could live on my husband's salary alone. Since we were paying our bills, had food on the table and clothes on our backs, there was no pressing need for me to return to work.

(2) I still wanted to provide a haven for and be available to my family, even if they had responsibilities (school, work) that took them away from home for a large portion of the day. I liked having the flexibility to take my kids to appointments or accompany them on fieldtrips, and to greet them with a snack and listening ear when they burst through the door.

(3) I realized that during the hours they were away (barring a phone call from the school nurse, teacher or head room mother), I was able to do whatever I wanted - take classes, start a home business, cultivate friendships, or simply relax.

Free time for Mom? Isn't there a rule against that? Not at all. Some mothers might feel guilty about having school days to themselves, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I loved it! The quiet; the relaxed pace; the freedom to take a nap or see a matinee - WOW. I'm all for rewarding women who get the chance to pamper themselves after years of caring for others, 24/7.

So regardless of the calendar, enjoy being a stay-at-home mom and take your breaks when they present themselves. You've earned them. And if somebody tells you it's time to get back to work, tell them you never left.

Comments? Email [email protected] or visit to read more articles relating to at-home parenting. Copyright 2003 Cheryl Gochnauer.

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