Revisiting - and Rethinking - the Mommy Wars - Kimberly Thompson


It’s hard for me to believe that “the mommy wars” continue to rage. By mommy wars I mean women taking hard-and-fast sides over whether a woman should stay home full-time with her children or go to work. Everybody has their own opinions about what is best, and too many of us think that there is a “one size fits all” answer.

I really don’t think one size fits all. Actually, I have been on both sides of the equation at different times in my mom career. I think that I did the right thing by making different choices at different times.

Here are some of the pros and cons of stay-at-home versus career. It’s all from my perspective and it really doesn’t take into account issues such as being the only breadwinner in the family (you don’t really have a choice but to work), or having a special-needs child (you might not be able to find specialized childcare services), or other things that limit your choices. It’s just for those that have a choice and are not sure which one is right for you.

1. When you stay at home, you have less money and more time. The extra time available can make up for the lack of cash. Learning to do things that are cheap or even free (because you have flexibility in your schedule) can more than make up for the loss of income. If your partner makes a good income, then using your brain power to cut expenses can mean that you feel very little economic pinch from staying at home full time.

2. Work connects you to the grown-up world and to your own skills and talents. You won’t have small children at home forever. Continuing to work outside your home will help keep you fresh and skilled for the day when your kids are older and less needy. For those with partners who also have good incomes, working gives you a better cash flow and allows you to pay for things like housekeeping services.

3. Some people really enjoy having their lives revolve around the home, and some do not. If you have a lot of things (besides child care) that really interest you around the home, then you might do well spending several years at home full-time. Some women even go on to form home businesses that capitalize on their cooking, baking, sewing, quilting, crafting, and other skills acquired during their years at home. If you have little interest in any aspect of homekeeping besides direct care of your child, you are likely to find yourself quickly bored and out of sorts with the stay-at-home lifestyle.

4. Some people really enjoy using their job skills and career interests.  If you want to work once the kids come along, listen to your gut. Your family doesn’t have to actually need a double income for it to be a good choice for you. The need for grown-up feedback and career fulfillment is important for a lot of people. If both parents have the energy to put in the long days and weeks that a double-income family requires, it’s all good. However, it really does take a lot out of you because there is a lot more juggling of roles and responsibilities, and you are going to feel stretched very thin at times.



After thinking about the pros and cons, also consider if a short-term commitment to something would work better for you. Taking a lot of things into account including the job market, your personal field, and your family’s income, you could decide to stay at home for a year or so right after a child is born. Jobs with flextime or a work-at-home option can work. More and more dads are also choosing to cut back on work or become the stay-at-home parent.

Personally, I think that the hardest part of navigating these decisions is just learning to view yourself differently. If you are moving from a high-energy career into part-time work or full-time parenting, you can feel as if you have lost a part of yourself. Similarly, if you get a lot of satisfaction from homekeeping and always being available to your children, taking even a part-time job can be a hard adjustment.  In light of this, I would like to ask: What kind of life do you really want to build? Where do you want to be, personally, by the time your children leave home? What memories do you want most for them to carry with them? What memories do YOU want to carry with you of these years? Let the answers to these questions be your guide.


     I am Dr. Kimberly Thompson, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Lubbock, Texas. I work with mothers and their children to help them heal, grow, and live their most vibrant lives. My particular expertise is pregnant and postpartum women, and moms of “littles.” My book, Perfect Mothers Get Depressed, is available on Amazon and from Praeclarus Press. If you live within driving distance of Lubbock, you can work with me face-to-face; if you live anywhere else in the state of Texas, you can work with me via online therapy. Send me a message if you need more information, or call my office at (806) 224-0200 if you’re ready to book an appointment.