There comes a time in every mom’s life when she has to make a choice: she will become either a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), a work-outside-the-home mom (WOHM), or a work-at-home mom (WAHM).

Whether you become a WAHM, WOHM or a SAHM, the decision carries enormous commitment, sacrifice, sometimes guilt and, hopefully, bliss. This is more than a professional choice. It is deeply personal, impacting your family for the rest of your lives.

Fortunately, there’s no right or wrong choice. And thanks to a growing flexibility in the workforce, many moms get to try out two or three arrangements before deciding.

Whether you choose to stay at home, work at home, or work outside the home depends on many factors.

Your family situation: Do you have a husband or partner who can carry the family financially, even with the additional burden of new family members? Is the dad open to staying home, if the mom is the breadwinner? Do you have a strong support network of family members close by? Does one parent travel a lot, or are the parents divorced and sharing responsibilities, for example?

Your personality: Do you need to be around other adults most of the day? Do you crave the affirmation that a job can bring? Or are you happy to spend much of your day at home?

Your lifestyle: Can you cut back on your spending habits enough to live off one income? Does your profession entail long working hours? Can you see yourself cooking and cleaning, or is outsourcing your forte?

Your opportunities: Are you able to telecommute? Do you have the resources to start a business? Can your resume survive a few years out of the workforce? Do you live near good daycare/preschool opportunities? Are you confident in your ability to teach your child many things yourself?

At the end of the day, though you can do up a list of pros and cons and consider everything logically, it really comes down to this:

How do you feel about being a SAHM, a WAHM or a WOHM?

It comes down to what’s in your heart.

Plenty of women start out at home with their little ones but decide as maternity leave ends that they need to continue with their outside work. Others feel they’ve found their calling at home and switch gears to stay home for a few years. Those who want to stay home but can’t swing it financially often look for a way to work from home, whether it’s starting their own business or working a job that involves telecommuting.

And while sometimes it feels like we’ve been conditioned to believe that we should all want to be an SAHM, the reality is that whether you’re a WOHM, WAHM or a SAHM, you can still be a wonderful, loving mom to your kids.

Be kind to yourself
The SAHM dilemma

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