How Would You Spend The Next Year if You Knew It Was Your Last?

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I have been struggling with the decision to become a stay-at-home parent.

If I stay out of the work force for the next few years I will certainly struggle to return to my prior career as a software developer. Technology moves quickly and to maintain marketability I would definitely need to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in software. I kind of ‘fell into’ the profession and I certainly don’t enjoy it enough to read up on it while I’m not employed.

So part of me thinks I should seek employment so that I can maintain marketability. Part of me thinks I should find work so that I can continue to be intellectually stimulated. Another piece fears I’ll become so wrapped up in my child’s life that I’ll be unable to think, focus or talk about anything other than my son and of course, there’s also the fact that I’m giving up a six figure salary to stay-at-home.

I’ve asked just about everyone what they think of my options. I’ve asked every parent I know if they stayed home or went to work and then I ask if they were happy with their decision. I listen to the pros and cons and then gauge how I feel after hearing their thoughts and listening to their suggestions.

I’m amazed at how LARGE this decision feels to me. Although I know it’s not set in stone and that I can always change my mind six months, a year, or longer from now it still weighs heavily in my heart and mind.

Well today I was asked a question that helped me find at least a small sense of clarity. A friend told me she was going to ask a question and that I didn’t have five minutes to analyze my answer. (Something she knew I would do.) She said I had to answer as soon as she asked it.

Her question was simple, “how would you spend the next year if you knew it was your last?” Without hesitation I knew the answer was staying home with my son. I have to admit I was surprised by how quickly my heart pulled me in that direction.

I’m not one to move forward in life without a plan. In fact, I hate to admit it but I think the lack of a plan is the thing I’m struggling with the most in making this decision. If I choose to stay home I have no idea what type of job I will have to take in the future. Will I make less money? Will it be difficult to find work? Will these things make me regret my decision?

Sometimes in life I think I need to step back and pause. I need to listen to my heart and believe that life will work out and that so far it always has. If this was my last year on earth I would not want to spend it sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer. I would want to spend every single moment with my son.

Does that mean I’ve finally made a decision? Not exactly, but today’s question definitely got me one step closer to figuring it out.

How about you? Do you have any words of wisdom for my dilemma or do you know how you would spend this year or next year if you knew it were your last?

9 thoughts on “How Would You Spend The Next Year if You Knew It Was Your Last?”

  1. As a mom on the other end of the spectrum (mine are 16 and 20), I’ll never regret the years I spent home with my kids. I make less than I would have if I hadn’t stayed home for 9 years, but we have everything we need. It sounds cliche’, but you’ll never get these years back.

    • That’s exactly what I think! The more I watch my son grow the more I realize that he’ll be grown in no time. I don’t want to miss a minute of it right now!

  2. It depends on what you value most, I suppose, which is what that question was getting at. Maybe it is time to take a step away from the rat race, spend some time with your family, and explore what career would make your heart sing, if that is something that you are looking for in your life. I found mine and even though I’ve recently been laid off, I’ll never regret these years when I had the job that I felt helped me fulfill my purpose in life. If you are the type (like me) that needs intellectual stimulation, would this be an option for you? Have you any idea what you would do other than software development? Any hobbies that you could turn into something else? A fascination with a certain subject?

  3. And yes, barring spending more time with my family (that’s a duh, but we gotta pay for food somehow!!), I would have chosen to do my job for the past year. Maybe with more travel to other places where I could study the subject that my job is based on, though! 🙂 I think better questions would be: When you’re 70, do you think you’ll look back and regret staying home with your kid? What WOULD you be willing to spend your free time reading up on while away from the work force??

    • Oh Sense I love your question. I love looking at it in reverse and wondering what my 70 year old self would think. It’s like looking back on my 20s. I have so much advice for myself. I love the idea of flashing forward to think what advice I would give myself in my 70s! Thanks for commenting.

  4. I love that you write about this topic on your blog because even though I’m still about 2 years away from even thinking about having a baby, staying at home is something I think about often. I would LOVE to stay at home, but at the same time I don’t know if it’s a financial decision I can afford. I also would love to have some intellectual stimulation. And the other thing I think about is how tired I would be ALL the time if I had to work full time AND raise a child. I mean, how do women DO that?! I work 7:30 to 5, and what about working out? ANd how am I supposed to fit a child into my schedule? It’s just nuts…
    It’s just so so hard. I would love to consider a part time opportunity, but I don’t even know if my company would allow that…I doubt it : (

    • Thanks Erika. I feel like I keep repeating myself over and over again, but it’s been an extremely difficult decision to make. I never would’ve guessed it would be so hard for me to decide. My head takes me in one direction and my heart in another!

  5. I have a 7.5 month old baby girl and I must admit I’ve had these same conversations in my head – stay home or work? Right now, I’ve chosen to continue to work but I am extremely lucky to have a few things working in my favor: a) the daycare my daughter goes to is at my work. I can enjoy lunch and breaks with her as often as I can get away from my desk. b) my boss is also a mother (of teenagers) and understands the challenges of being a working parent. If I slip in the door at 8:30 instead of 8 because my baby blew out her diaper and needed an outfit change, she looks the other way; and c) I absolutely LOVE my job and find immense satisfaction in what I do.

    HOWEVER, my husband and I have discussed me reducing my hours to part-time when my little one starts kindergarten because I don’t want her to go to an after school program, I’d rather be there to pick her up and take her home to help with homework. So, that’s my goal – be able to reduce my hours in half in 4ish years.

    I truly think that this is such a personal decision – often charged with feelings of guilt on both sides of the equation – it’s not easy. But you will make the right decison for you!

  6. Having grown up with a working mum I would never stay home. I am also a big fan of kindergarten and day-care, because I think these can give my child better opportunities in dealing with today’s society. They have experience to exploid my child’s intellectual and social needs that I simply do not have. It is also important for any child to deal with not only adults but also other children for long periods of time to be prepared for school. Staying at home sure has advantages for children, but it also has a lot of social and intellectual disadvantages. All these posts talk about what staying at home has meant to the mothers, not what going to kindergarden and day-care means for the children. I would not want to switch these experiences I had for the world. I am sure it has helped me deal better with others and explore my talents. Through the talks with the teachers my mother definitely also learnt of my needs (intellectually) more than she would have otherwise.
    The other question is: When you are 70 you might struggle financially due to staying away from the job-market for some years and then you will be a burden to your child – emotionally for sure. Is this worth staying at home now?


Leave a Comment