Guest post from Leah from As We Walk Along the Road
I grew up with my mom as a teacher. She was always home when I was home as far back as I can remember. Although she technically wasn’t a “stay at home mom” I had the benefit of having her with me. And she taught where I went to school, so I always felt like she was right there.
My plan was always to have a similar situation with my children. And when I met my husband, and we were serious about marriage, we made sure we were on the same page there by discussing all kinds of things- money, how we would live, where I would teach, homeschooling, etc.
The plan was that we would have all of the kids we were going to have, and during those years, I would homeschool. Then when all of our children were school aged, I would go back to teaching, and they would go to school with me.
I went to a small Christian school in our town, and that’s where I intended to teach again and take the kids.
Things seemed to go according to our plan, but it’s funny how we see, looking back, that God was working us toward His plan all along; and we see that we aren’t actually in control at all.
I taught in the Christian school for four years after we were married. Then I got pregnant. My first child was due in July. So the plan was for me to stay home until the end of September with her, and then I was going to teach part time (special ed), and my mom was going to keep the baby.
That seemed like a great plan…until she was born.
All of sudden I couldn’t imagine leaving her at all- even with my mom. When she was a couple months old, my husband and I went to dinner, leaving her with my parents for the first time. At dinner, I started to cry. I told him I didn’t know how I was going to leave her and go back to work. He said these words that I’ll always remember. And, to me, this made him the greatest husband ever. He said, “Who told you you had to go back to work?”
That night we ironed out details. We knew it would mean sacrifice and being tight with money, but we also knew this is what God wanted us to do. I called and let my school know and let the parents of my special ed kids know. I did still take some of them for tutoring in my home to help them out and to have a little extra money.
Things went along well. We were tight with money, and my parents were helping, providing a house that we could rent very inexpensively. They also helped out with things like “extras” so that we could enjoy some fun things on our tight budget. They’ve always been extremely supportive of my staying at home, so that it is a blessing.
We had another child, and things were great. And then my husband lost his job- just a few weeks before Christmas and our son’s second birthday.
He was looking but couldn’t find anything that would support us. I went to the school district and applied as a sub. All the time I was praying, “Please don’t make me teach in public school, Lord. You will have to drop a job in my lap if you want me to teach there.” And, sure enough, He dropped the job in my lap.
The very day I went for substitute teacher training, a principal from a local high school came and got me out of training to offer me a job as a special ed teacher for the rest of the year. They had a teacher deployed in the military. So my husband stayed home, and I went to work at a public high school.
Teaching there was very eye opening to this conservative girl who had grown up in a Christian home, graduated from a Christian school, and taught at a Christian school. Yes, I went to a secular college, but I didn’t live on campus and wasn’t involved in anything except a campus Bible study.
The semester was tough. I learned lots about trusting God. My husband was home with the kids for a month or so. Then he did finally get a full time job. My mom kept the kids as I finished out the semester. It was so hard to be away from them.
The principal at the school offered me a full time job at the end of the semester. But, even though I had grown to love the kids I worked with, I needed to be home with mine.
We had a miscarriage and then two more kids. All the while I was homeschooling and planning to go back to teach when the youngest was in school. But I was loving homeschooling more and more, and God was showing me the benefits of having my kids at home and being home with them.
As it turned out, the Christian school closed the year before the youngest could go. We didn’t go to school, and I’ve continued to be at home with my kids. I would never change this privilege that I’ve had to stay at home with my kids. I think we are a closer family, and I think there have been so many academic and spiritual benefits from homeschooling.
Financially we’ve struggled. If I had it to do over, I wish we had made a better plan for living within our means before we had kids. We’ve had debt – not because we go out and buy extravagant things- but because we didn’t have money for day to day and charged them. I think if we had had a better plan going into it, we would have been better off those earlier years.
Thankfully, God has been teaching us, and continues to teach us. So we are better off now and do a better job planning and scraping between paychecks. Is it easy financially? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
If you’re considering staying at home, I would tell you- there are so many blessings. I’ve never heard anyone say about their kids when they are grown- “Wow! We just spent too much time together.” I have very often heard people say, “I wish we just had more time when they were younger.” It’s not always sunshine and roses. There are days I just wish I could go to a job and talk to grownups and not kids all day. But, as I look back- especially since I have teens now- I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. She was a school teacher in her former life and now loves homeschooling her children. Recently she began the adventure of homeschooling a high schooler. She loves reading and reviewing and blogging about life and homeschooling. You can visit her at As We Walk Along the Road.