I’m Quitting My Job And Moving Into My MIL’s Basement To Be A SAHM

quitting my job

I’m quitting my job.

I have always assumed I wouldn’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom.  A friend says to me at some point, “I LOVE my kids, but I don’t want to hang out with them all freaking day.”

This seems totally right to me, totally reasonable.  I’ve heard stories about people who go weeks without having an adult conversation, grown-ass women describing their 1-year-olds as “my best friend.” Seriously? I like work.  I like productivity. I will love my baby, but surely I will want to keep the rest of my life the same as before, right? Mm hmm.

I work for the federal government, so I am allotted three months of FMLA after the baby. They have to let me take the time, but they don’t have to pay me for it.  I can use up all my leave, and my unit gives me an additional two weeks off, paid.  This seems, to a person who has always worked, like an eternity.  NEVER have I not worked for three months, not even right out of college.  This should be plenty of time to get the hang of breastfeeding and not sleeping and being responsible for a helpless human life.  Hooray!

I take on some side gigs to save up for the time when I won’t be getting paid.  We don’t make a lot of money by DC standards, so we take some steps to prepare for a one-salary life. We have local family — we’re extremely lucky that way– so we cobble together a post-maternity leave childcare plan.  My mother-in-law will take him Mondays, her day off.  My husband will work from home on Tuesdays.  I will work from home Wednesdays and Thursdays, and my mother will take him Fridays, her day off.  Complicated, but free.  We know we’ll eventually need to get a nanny/sitter/helper to be here during the work-from-home times, but in the beginning, at least, he’ll sleep most of the day, so we’ll be fine.

During those first hormonal weeks, I am a weepy mess, swearing that I will never remove him from my arms, let alone leave his side for even one second, ever. A little later, postpartum depressed, I can’t stand to be away from him but I don’t feel qualified to care for him myself.  From now on, I will watch my mother watching the baby.  She’ll just have to quit HER job.  After proper chemical calibration I think, sure, I can go back to work in three weeks.  I can totally go back to work in two weeks.  Work in a week?  Um…yeah!  Work tomorrow? OH. HELL. NO.

I extend my leave twice.  I am generously allowed to change the arrangement so that I go back half days at first.  This is the benefit of working in a woman-dominated business; they’ve mostly all been there. They all understand.   I am lucky (for the U.S. anyway. I’m totally moving to Sweden before my next baby), and for a while it’s going OK.  Eventually, though, he starts to get more active and require more interaction. I really do try to find childcare.  I research nanny shares and daycare centers and print out checklists of what to look for in a care provider.

And I can’t do it.

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    • meah

      Congratulations on deciding what was right for you, and doing it!

      On a side note, three months is a good deal?! Good God. If I had only three months, I would have been inconsolable (and so would have my son). My husband and I split up the ONE YEAR of parental leave we get in Canada, and that was still hard at first, but much much more sane.

      • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

        My wife got 6 weeks, unpaid. :(

      • meah

        Wow. It must be very difficult for you both. It’s just incredible to me that the government doesn’t see how the economy and general health of a country could be positively affected by an increased paid parental leave! Here, we are able to draw on employment insurance for the entire 52 weeks, which isn’t full pay, but it’s very helpful, and many employers offer a “top-up” for at least some amount of time. I’m pretty sure the Canadian federal government gives a full top-ip for the entire year! I feel very lucky.

      • Ordinaryperson

        My husband’s in the military, so I think he falls under federal pay. They get topped up to like 90%, which is essentially a full top up. We didn’t miss the 10% anyways, so yea, I’ll echo your very lucky feeling.

      • Eileen

        I don’t know, most of my family lives in Canada, and even though their/their coworkers’ jobs are held for two years (meaning temps have to be hired or everyone else has to do more work and it’s generally a PITA for your coworkers), anyone who took more than 3-6 months didn’t come back, or if she did decide to enter the workforce again, she waited until her youngest kid was in kindergarten full-time. Six weeks probably isn’t long enough for most people, but if you’re not back in six months, you probably don’t really want the job back.

      • bumbler

        as the poster said, she SPLIT the 1 year with her husband, so she was gone 6 months max, just like all the people you know. I could list 5 parents off the top of my head who took the full 12 months themselves and still went back to the same job, same hours when the time was up. I also know a few (though less) who decided to change careers/go back to school/have another/stay home after the 6-12 months.

      • Katia

        Yep! I gave my husband a few months the first mat leave. I’m taking the whole year this time though. I work for a huge company and they don’t change my hours or anything. A small company wouldnt like it much but they would not lay you off due to inconvenience. fear of lawsuits would be one reason
        They actually (the govt) go overboard in Canada for a while they were going to pay self employed female lawyers while they were on mat leave so that the lawyers wouldn’t leave the industry . Lawyers make a lot here so I thought that was maybe not the best use of govt funds…

      • meah

        Actually, the government of Canada does pay EI benefits to lawyers (and other self-employed people) for the full 12 months. But I don’t think it’s a waste. In order to get the payout, the person has to pay in to the government’s Employment Insurance program. So, you pay in the insurance premiums, and get the insurance payout when you need it. Seems more than fair to me.

      • Amanda

        I know. It’s terrible. This country is so messed up in terms of how it cares for its families.

    • Daw16

      It sure sounds like you made the right decision! Thanks for sharing your story. Great piece, great writing!

    • Alisha Coyle

      Great read! Great story and proud as I read. Family is sacrifice. Your little guy will love you for what you did for him that much more. You are a great mom!

    • Wesley

      I appreciate the honesty with which you tell of your experience… I’m sure it will help other mothers who have had or will have the same experience but don’t know how to talk about it.

    • Lolly

      Awesome read!

    • Betsy

      I want to be at SAHM. I envy your courage to make such a change.

    • http://www.facebook.com/helen.donovan.31 Helen Donovan

      Wouldn’t be for me but it is all about doing what is right for YOUR family. BTW – I love your description of babies being “a good-looking meatloaf!” So true ! Cute yes, but interesting – not so much. :)

    • Victoria

      Keep these stories coming – well written and comes from the heart.

    • Rosie

      Hilarious and heartfelt. SUCH a good read.

    • Diana

      Well done to you. I don’t think you’ll ever regret spending time raising you kid. As for the MIL basement part? This is what my grandparents did, against all advice, and they ended up running a wonderful business from home that helped a lot of people. They were able to do this only because they weren’t struggling to pay a mortgage. Good luck. Also there are some great blogs out there on living cheap and happy.

    • Andrea K

      Loved reading your story!

    • Emily

      I love your honest voice! Keep up the writing!

    • Mimi D

      Humor and honesty….great for writing and great for living. Enjoyed your story!

    • J

      I’m a college professor so my husband and I (he’s working on his PhD and is a research assistant) split time and switch off. We’re both working outside of the house about 18 hours a week. I have a baby gate in my office. I grade and read articles one handed from home. I adore my job and our lifestyle and wouldn’t trade our wonderful 5 bedroom house with an acre of land by the woods for extra time home, but I adore my job and know my son is happier when I’m so happy, if I didn’t love my job, I’m sure I’d feel differently. Good luck! Have fun :)

    • Jenna

      That’s wonderful that you’ve figured out what’s best for your family. :) Good luck on your new adventure.

    • Meredith

      Hilarious, honest + extremely heartfelt…not to mention beautifully written. Keep ‘em coming!

    • Yves

      I’m jealous haha. I’m in the group of mom’s that can’t afford to not provide financial support for their family. HAVING to go to work stinks, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Enjoy your time with the baby!

      • Amanda

        Believe me, we could NEVER do it if we weren’t basement-crashing. It’s tough for so many moms!

    • HaydenT

      In my ideal world, I would have a job with a daycare right next to it. Hell, in the next ROOM even.

    • Mamacita74

      Loved the article! This made me smile so much. :)

      Man, if I could, I’d *love* to do this! It’s awesome that you can and takes a lot of courage to leave a great job with good bennies, but you have to do what’s right for you!

      The company I worked for when my daughter was born went out of business, so we lived with my parents for a time after my first was born, and I was fortunate to have 14 months off with her before finding a new job.

      I’m now back to work after my 3 month unpaid leave with my second and hating being away from my adorable baby boy and smart as a whip 3 year old daughter all day. Unfortunately, living with the ‘rents this time around is not an option as they are in the process of selling their house and moving a few hours away. :/

      Also, side note: it is INSANE to me how poor our parental leave is for mothers and fathers in the US. 12 weeks unpaid? What kind of craziness is that? We were lucky to have the savings to afford it!

    • Dori West

      okay, who is this writer? She’s funny. And she can write? More please.

    • Sandra

      Baby meatloaf hilarious and delicious… You have a gift, and a unique voice. Thank you for sharing it.

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