Friday, April 20, 2012

Exciting Change

I had mentioned in my Two Months in No Time Flat post that there were some very exciting new changes going on in our lives.

My husband has made the solid request that I stay at home.

In the course of our 11 year marriage, I have worked or gone to school nearly the whole time, minus end of pregnancy times. Sometimes, I had a "real" out of the home job, sometimes I had an out of the home job, but it was more of a self-employment kind of thing (CNA doing private duty, doing childcare in someone else's home, etc). Other times, it was an in-home job doing self-employment (marketing, sales, home childcare, etc) and then of course, some of it was spent in college. Most of the time, it was a combination of all of the above.

Late last year, I had switched from regular hours at my job as a private duty home health aide to a PRN schedule. But my PRN shifts were not very frequent. Then I got called on to do PRN for another family that I have been with for years and so then I was PRN at two different places. The only problem with this is that either they were both fine and didn't need me, or they both needed me at the same time. It was a real balancing act that was rather stressful for awhile there.

Meanwhile, Hubby had started a new job and was being cross-trained because the store manager (known as the general manager) wants Hubby to be an assistant manager in a certain area. So Hubby was working and getting more and more hours.

We worked hard to try to balance our schedules so that we were the ones home taking care of the children. There were times (some more frequent than others) where the kids would end up needing to spend time over at Hubby's parent's house. Which is fine. We love having them spend time with their grandparents but we also didn't want to rely so much on his parents for childcare.

Then, there came a slow spot in the PRN hours and during this time that I was home more, the children's behaviors and schedules improved, their grades and performance in school improved, the overall care of the house improved, I was able to focus much more on taking care of my home, my husband, my children and make them feel like they were really important, and not just something that I have to check off before rushing off to work. I know it may sound horrible, but sometimes, that's exactly what it felt like, and I'm sure that is what it felt like to them too.

Cephas began reading at or above grade level for the first time in four years, Koren began reading at or above grade level for the first time ever, Jeriah made such improvement that he was released from Special Education. Oralee, well, Oralee hasn't had much marked change but even still, with all of the other changes with the boys, we determined that it was due in large part to the time I was at home, able to focus on them and really help them to succeed.

We also determined that by making a few changes, we would be able to make ends meet on just Hubby's income. Now, there isn't a WHOLE lot of wiggle room, but we have enough for all of our bills and needs, savings, tithing as well as some leftover for fun stuff or to just simply take our family out for dinner (which isn't always cheap when you have a family of six!)

There was still the question, though, of should I continue with some minor part-time PRN hours, just to give us a little bit more wiggle room or savings or whatever. I wanted to make sure that I was also contributing to our household.

And then I got the call. One of the families wanted me to come back to regular hours. So Hubby and I sat down and discussed it. His answer? "No. I don't want you to go back. We don't need the extra money." First of all, NEVER before in our marriage have we been able to say that. We probably could have said that before, but I think our perspective has changed quite a bit recently.

I questioned him, wanting to make sure and listed out the benefits of having the extra money, to which he replied, "Yes, that is all true. But. The extra money won't volunteer in the kids' school. The extra money won't help our children to improve in their grades. The extra money won't give our household that added stability that having you home has had. The extra money won't make coming home each day to you feel quite as good as having you there to greet me does."

And so, the decision was made. I am now a stay-at-home mom. It has been quite the adjustment and I am still working hard to master the whole "stay-at-home" part of the term. :) But it has been wonderful. The best part? To know that what I am doing here has made THAT kind of a difference in not only my children and their schooling and overall demeanor but also in the way my husband now views our home. I think he actually considers it to be more of a sanctuary than he ever has before. It's not always perfect (actually, it never is) and quite often, there are still dishes needing to be done, laundry needing to be done, folded, put away or whatever. There are toys and messes here and there, but it's not about that to him (at least, not right now - it is something that I'm working on getting more attentive to), it's about the feeling of home. I think I'm doing something right at this point though!