The Realities of Staying Home vs Going Back to Work

stay at home mom

My newest addition

I got the call. A position I couldn’t refuse. So back to work I go… part-time anyways.

I’ll admit it. There are times when I feel like I’m two different people. Not in the psych-ward-kind-of-way, but in the being-a-Mama-kind-of-way. You guys feel me, right? I mean, I love being home with my newest little bundle for the last ten months, truly. I’m so blessed I didn’t have to go back to work right away. Let me start by saying I don’t take that for granted for a single second.

Bu then there’s another part of me that feels like I’ve got to get out there and be creative again! And there was a time where I’d totally get down on myself about that.

Sometimes I feel like I’m caught between being a stay at home mama (SAHM) and being a bada** business woman kicking butt and taking names. I sincerely struggle with this on a daily basis since I first became a Mama seven years ago. An example of some thoughts I have throughout my day: 

-Baby is clingy and won’t stop whining or let me put her down. “Wow, I can’t wait to be on set again and be creative. And appreciated. And do something I know I’m GOOD AT.”

-Also me ten minutes later: “You’re only going to be little once! I’m going to miss you SO much. How am I going to survive without you?”

-“Why can’t I just be happy raising the girls at home. It is after all, the most important job I’ll ever have” (insert shame and guilt here).

I’ve spoken to a few women who feel the same way, but mostly, women who are not yet Mama’s but really want to be. And are completely frightened by the choices they will be forced to make. What part of themselves will they have to give up? Who will they be? It’s a legitimate fear and something that is/was a struggle for almost every Mama out there.

As a woman who works in film, I’m surrounded by a lot of women who don’t have kids (or have kids yet). Our extremely long hours and travel don’t make it very conducive for family life (often times I’ll work my butt off for part of the year and take a few months off). But when it’s part of your passion, why go to a 9-5 that we will more than likely hate? Getting paid (well) to be in a creative atmosphere is rare. It’s more than a conundrum.

stay at home mom

Working in Costumes, I have to ‘paint’ blood on people sometimes :)

I wish there was a clear-cut answer. A formula you could follow to make sure everyone’s happiness would be in perfect harmony and balance. But there is no such thing. And while that may sound depressing, I can offer some solid advice for the two times I went through it. And not just went through it, but seven years apart and thus being at completely different times in my life.

The first thing no one can prepare you for is that you will be different after becoming a Mama. And that’s OK. It’s actually great. You will grow and change and perspectives will shift. Many times throughout your journey, actually. Do yourself a favor and don’t resist it. It’s supposed to happen this way. Instead of focusing on the things you will lose, focus more on what you’ll gain. It can be amazing if you can let go and accept it.

Secondly, you will find your new self. Don’t rush it. Please. Your mind and body goes through so much so be easy on yourself. There will be self-image issues physically and emotionally but the dust will settle. Wait for it.

how to be a stay at home mom


Stay home for a long as you are able, financially or otherwise. If that’s six weeks or six months, whatever you do, make the most of it.

Lay groundwork ahead of time. If you know you don’t want to return to your job, start a side hustle as soon as you can. There are lots of positions listed on this site. I know a few people who have had some success with multi level marketing and even blog writing. So many things can be done remotely so the choices are endless. I chose to do this when I finished my first full-length novel. I do my marketing from home and have found some relative success but it’s a daily job (perhaps that’s a blog post in itself!).

Know that whatever path you choose, the kids will be alright. Truly. Whether you stay at home, or go back full-time, it’s going to be fine (and remember that, especially when you’re scrolling through people’s social media highlight reels). Do whatever is best for your family and as long as they know you love them, you’re doing it right.

One thing I can guarantee is that you’ll be no good to anyone if you walk around feeling guilty or ashamed for your choices. It’ll just be bad. I know from experience when I stayed home with my first one when she was a toddler. I was massively unhappy and didn’t know where our new life was headed. I knew I couldn’t stay at home forever (mostly for my sanity) and I beat myself up for not loving being home full-time with my child. If I could go back and take away some of the negative feelings I had and enjoyed her in the moment, I would 1,000%.

This time around I’m wiser in that I know this time flies by way too fast. So I’m soaking it all up. And I’m trusting God for the plan. Trust is important. Maybe that’s the biggest piece of wisdom I can give but probably the hardest: trust and just be.

As I go back to set in a few weeks, I will be struggling with all kinds of feelings! What are your struggles with working vs staying home? Drop me a comment below and tell me! But also, a word of encouragement would be appreciated as I make the adjustment to full-time Mama to workin’ Mama! Here goes nothin!


About Rana Mancini Cavanaugh

Rana is a Chic Mama dedicated to helping other Mama's live a fuller, happier, healthier life through this blog. She is proud to announce she just finished an eBook on how to travel with kids and is finishing up her first novel. She is a happy wife to her sweetheart since the fourth grade and Mama to a lovely little girl. Happy Travels! xo

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