To the Mom Wondering Whether to Stay Home with Her Littles

Jessica Kastner
Published Jun 28, 2024
To the Mom Wondering Whether to Stay Home with Her Littles

It wasn't magical. But it was worth it. Isn't that the way seasons of life flow, though? Things of value are often worth fighting and sacrificing for, like a working towards a good marriage and making it through the teenage years. For moms who truly love their jobs and have lofty career goals, staying home with your kids is an unsexy, humbling hard choice no one ever talks about.

A colleague of mine recently resigned from an awesome job. Unlike most smart, ambitious, educated elder millennials, she didn't level up the ladder and accept a better position elsewhere. She didn't have to quit for anything serious like a health crisis, and she didn't decide to become a full-time influencer after watching one too many online master classes (I've seen it happen to a few!).

This friend made the riotous counter-cultural decision to stay home with her littles instead of juggling runs to the daycare, working late/early hours to compensate for lost work time, and all of the ludicrous multi-tasking any working mom knows too well. Quite simply, she'd had enough.

Of course, there was expected work gossip. "WOW. A stay-at-home mom. Would she ever come back to work? So sad she couldn't just push through these few hard years, right? Maybe she can start a consulting business on the side." But all I could think of during our team's sappy farewell Zoom call was: GOOD. FOR. HER.

For more than a year, I'd been witnessing this friend stretch herself to the absolute limit, somehow managing to perpetually wipe noses, juggle kid activities, and strategize nap times between work calls with the deftness of a Navy Seal. She was an amazing teammate, but I felt nothing but relief and bittersweet joy to see her choose her sanity and family over all else.

She later opened up about some of the fears and doubts she faced before resigning, like being reduced to one income, and it got me wondering how many other working women were dying to stay home with their kids but never take the plunge for financial reasons. According to this poll, one in four women say they'd stay home with their kids if they were ableAside from the obvious impact on income, many are also afraid if they take three, five or even ten years off from work, they'll be too rusty or irrelevant when re-entering the workforce. Others say they'd feel too guilty for "not working" and placing all the pressure on their spouse.

Honestly these are all valid fears. There are no guarantees that staying home with our kids won't reap real consequences on our retirement funds, family budgets, future earning potential, and lifestyles. I faced it all and felt some big losses after quitting my job to stay home after marrying and having two babies 18 months apart.

It wasn't a decision my then-husband and I could financially afford to make. But we did anyways, because our hearts couldn't afford the alternative. Again, zero judgment toward those who choose otherwise. Some of my closest friends went back to work when their infants were six weeks old. But for me, I just couldn't see a stranger, even my sister or mom for that matter, spending more time with my babies than me. The world and everyone around me seemed to be doing and saying just the opposite. " It's just the way life is. Who can afford not to work these days?" But something in me just kept churning: this doesn't seem right.

I get that not every mama can stay home with her baby. I was a single mom after getting pregnant my senior year in college (pre-salvation…dark times!), and I had no choice but to go work before my son was school-aged. My heart will be forever trauma-bonded with the single mom driving to work in tears, missing her kid.

But after marriage, I do feel many of us living in Westernized culture have a choice. Sadly, I think the desire or pressure to live in 2000 + square foot houses, drive three-seat SUVs over cheap minivans, and take frequent vacays clouds our ability to even consider life on one income. I've lived all my life in the most picturesque of Connecticut towns where elementary-aged kids sip their Stanleys at lunch and above-ground pools are nearly boycotted, so I understand the urge to chase the Joneses. It's a vapid and wearisome adventure. And so many of us cave, either consciously or subconsciously, choosing designer lifestyles over full-time motherhood.

I've already prepped my spirit for the pushback I'll likely receive after this goes live. It can almost appear anti-feminist to lobby for more moms to stay home with their kids. Is this high-horsed conservative seriously telling women to kick off the pumps and get back barefoot in the kitchen? Absolutely not, but I think the bigger question is if we want careers and want to have kids, which one's going to pay the price? Culture tells us we can and should "have it all." We should have the career of our dreams and hustle our brains out while somehow managing to enjoy the beauty of our growing babies. Hmmm.

Per usual when wrestling with any moral or cultural dilemma, the Word always shines light on the truth. I find this modern-day façade of "having it all" exactly zero times in the Bible. What I do see from the example of Jesus' life, is the ability to be wholeheartedly committed, and excellent in what we're called to do. I see abundant living, peacefulness, and a healthy balance between work and rest, but not a single scripture where Jesus is rushed, frenetic, manic, or stretched too thin.

Comparing this to the normalized insanity of a working mom's life something clearly doesn't add up. I've rarely met a friend who feels she's able to be present enough, energetic enough, patient enough, giving enough, or even kind enough for what her 0 to 4-year-old kids require while pulling in 40 hours plus a week. In reality, we're often left with shells of ourselves with zero self-care, marriages often hanging on by a nano-thread, and merciless mom guilt over not doing enough. Is this really having it all? Is this really the abundant life Jesus came to offer us? Sure, we're able to afford the bimonthly mani/peds, new patio furniture, and Instagram-worthy Disney trips, but at what cost? Is this really working?

Again, not everyone makes the conscious decision to become a parent. There are so many women with unplanned pregnancies who heroically choose life and then rarely have the privilege of not working when single. I believe God's grace is sufficient an ever circumstance and I know from experience (and MANY a bad life choice!) the Lord sends extra help, provision and even a miracle or too when living unselfishly and making choices that align with His will.

But for the married ones out there, wondering or praying whether staying home is doable, I'm here to say it is.

Aside from choosing life after starring at those two dreaded red lines on a stick in my college dorm room, the best decision I've ever made was to stay home until my kids hit Kindergarten. I also can't think of a harder time in life. I was lonely, isolated, exhausted, bored with no extra money for anything fun…for years. It wasn't magical. But it was worth it. Isn't that the way seasons of life flow, though? Things of value are often worth fighting and sacrificing for, like a working towards a good marriage and making it through the teenage years. For moms who truly love their jobs and have lofty career goals, staying home with your kids is an un-sexy, humbling hard choice no one ever talks about.

I get that life circumstances are nuanced for every family. Dropping your kid off at daycare is not the unpardonable sin and we can raise, happy healthy kids with God on our side. These words aren't meant to lay on more mom guilt. Lord knows we bear enough. Hopefully, this is a dose of freedom and permission to those either on the fence about staying home with their kids or newly knee-deep in the stay-at-home trenches, wondering if they've just imploded their life.

Congratulation if you're the latter. I'm not sure I'll ever meet a mom regretting all the years spent making memories raising her own children. I admittedly shutter watching moms wrangling toddlers through the grocery store, but I'd give anything to have my babies back, even for just a moment. Facebook Time Hops practically break me these days. What I wouldn't give for a toothless kiss from my little ones. Kids grow up so painfully fast. There will be time to make money. There will be a time to reap the harvest of your pain and sacrifice and a time for your personal dreams and ambitions to flourish. Through God's never-failing provision and grace, I've somehow worked my way back to an absolute dream job despite taking five years off from work in my thirties, and I honestly believe God miraculously makes up for lost time when invested in Him.

If staying home for a while is something you wantor feel led towards, pray about it friends. Ask God to open your eyes to possibilities and perspectives that you may never have been open to. I've lived long enough to see God make a way when our eyes see nothing but dead ends. He provides and moves in the most unexpected, surprising ways when we really trustand follow in faith. It can be scaryat first. But he'll never let you down.

This article originally appeared on Jessica Kastner's blog. Find it here!

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Fly View Productions

Jessica Kastner is an award-winning writer and author of Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer ClosetShe leads Bible studies within juvenile detention centers with Straight Ahead Ministries and offers unapologetically real encouragement for women at