To Work. . . Or Not To Work
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I recently came across a 2014 study in the Journal of Labor Economics which concluded that there were long term (well into high school) positive effects on children’s educational outcomes in families where the mother stayed home with her children. Top that with two studies from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute of Child Development of the University of Minnesota which clearly conclude that placing children in full-time daycare leads to higher levels of stress and aggression in these children. My heart came to a screeching halt while my brain raced. I quickly searched for studies to show the positive benefits of working moms on children and breathed a sigh of relief to find the 2015 Harvard study which found, “Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time.“ Additionally, it seems men whose mothers worked also participated in more household duties and had a better division of labor at home as adults.
And so, typical of all parenting questions of the ages, the answer it seems is: There is no right answer. I was a full-time stay at home mom for 11 years until I started Verima so the internal war rages on in me. On the one hand, I have to believe that the years I spent at Gymboree, MyGym, music classes, the executive board of the PTA, the school library and serving as room parent had to have SOME benefit to my older children. . . . and yet paradoxically on the other hand, I have to also believe that my NOT doing it for my youngest does not detract from his well-being or education either.
I struggle daily with the balance of working on Verima and what I see as my duties towards my children and family. When it’s your own company, there is always an endless amount of work to be done, and let’s not even start with the guilt regarding the endless amounts of work I *could* be doing to grow more/faster/better. And all moms know the same holds absolutely true with children. We are constantly left wondering should we be doing more? I could always cook more nutritious/balanced meals, get out and exercise with the kids more often or sit-down and catch-up/reinforce/get ahead in their school work.
The thing is, no one else is telling me I’m not doing enough. There are no emails/phone calls coming from teachers to discuss behavioral issues or failing grades. There are no angry vendors chasing me down for unpaid invoices and there are no angry customer complaints. At least that’s the case for today. Trust me there have been days where my time is spent putting fires out all around me because kiddo didn’t hand in an assignment (or two), I didn’t print out the worksheets in time for Zoom math and Verima shipments didn’t make it to their destinations. And I am keenly aware that my son’s autoimmune PANS/PANDAS can flare and take everything off the table in a blink. But I take each week as it comes, and sometimes it’s each day or each hour as it comes, and thankfully only rarely is it each minute. So really, the harshest critics are my own voices in my head questioning if I am making the right choices and if I am doing enough. I suspect this is the case for the vast majority of us moms.
So for today, I will hush the critical voices in my head and remind myself that regardless of which set of advantages (stay at home mom or working mom) my children benefit from, they will benefit from a mom who loves them and is doing all she can to be her best self for them.
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