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The stay-at-home secret: I stay at home + I earn an income, too

These days, small talk when I'm out with my young child typically quickly turns to the question of whether I work or am a stay-at-home mom. The answer is actually Option C: I work from home.

That option wasn't offered in a 2014 Pew Research Center poll of mothers. What the survey did find, however, was the number of women who identified as “stay-at-home mothers" was on the rise for the first time in years. I suspect that if “work-at-home" was a choice, it would have accounted for the shift — because, yes, if I was forced to choose, I would have to say I look more like the traditional version of a stay-at-home mom. I am the sole caregiver for my son during the day, which is broken up with errands or playdates. But as soon as he goes down for a nap or my husband returns from work, my second shift begins.

In this, I find I'm not alone.

One friend wakes up early to complete an HR shift for a company in another state. One was able to convince her company to let her work from home after her first was born. Many more I know are like me, freelancing for a variety of places. And that's not to mention the moms who send you Facebook invitations to like their Mary Kay or Etsy business pages.

At least for me, working from home is out of double necessity. The “work" part is essential because, even though my husband makes six figures, a mortgage, hefty student loans and other immovable living expenses mean we wouldn't have much left over for savings without my contribution. The “from home" part is all but mandatory because childcare costs would take too big of a chunk from any part-time income I could earn.

As it is, I make better profits from squeezing in four hours of work per day without childcare than I likely would from working eight a few days per week with my son in daycare.

Although I didn't do an exhaustive search, the one part-time nanny service I considered charged $17 per hour, while my reliable gigs range from $15 to $50 per hour. When averaged out, the profit margin didn't make sense to me, especially when I considered what I would be sacrificing with that time away from my son.

I am very aware that in past years, I wouldn't be able to be a hybrid worker.

My mom was also in the news business, but without a computer in our house until I was approaching kindergarten or anything that resembles the online opportunities I have, she had to pick between the newsroom and home. After settling on home, she continued to write a newspaper column, although even that required weekly trips to the paper to file her next story and pick up a check.

Fast-forward 20 years and, pre-baby, I was able to work full-time for a website for two years before ever meeting my bosses. Better yet, as a new mom, I continued to make a handful of phone interviews while nursing a baby without missing a beat.

I am so thankful that I came into motherhood now.

I don't know what I would have done if I had to commit fully to option A or option B. The rise of remote work and contract gigs enables me to contribute to my family, and also to avoid any resume gap and maintain an identity outside of Mom.

Still, as every parent is sure to understand, there are days when I wish I wasn't pulled in so many different directions. It would be nice to take a few moments to breathe when my son goes down for a nap instead of rushing to do as much work as possible. There are also times I envy my husband's ability to go focus entirely on work without anticipating the baby's waking cry over the monitor.

I am appreciative of the work-life balance my relatively flexible job affords me.

But, in other ways, the line was blurred from the very beginning—when my son arrived two weeks early, I had to finish up stories that were on deadline during his first week of life. Even now, without clear boundaries between work and home, both seem to spill over. As my son gets older, naptime gets shorter and bedtime gets later. I imagine this will only make my efforts to fit in some work more challenging.

From the outside looking in, it may appear I'm mostly finding a way to have it all. When people tell me I'm lucky to work and stay at home, I generally agree. But even my way of making money comes at a price.

This article was originally published on The Billfold.


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This 'mama' necklace is a bestseller for a powerful reason

There's a lot going on in the world right now, but one thing that's certain? You're still mama.

There's a lot going on in the world right now, but one thing that's certain? You're still mama. No matter what is going on at work, what decision you make about heading back to school, or how you're caring for your family right now, we know you're the best mama for your family.

So in case you need a little reminder of just how incredible you are, we love this sweet necklace from Tiny Tags. And other mamas do, too, because it's been one of our top sellers for weeks.

Whether you're coveting it for yourself or want to gift it to your favorite mama, it's one of those gifts that'll keep on giving years later. It's dainty enough to easily layer with just about anything you have in your jewelry collection, but is just as beautiful as a standalone piece to wear daily. And in these tough seasons, it's honestly a gentle, much-needed reminder that you were made for this. You can do hard things. You are doing the best you can even when it feels like you can't make one more decision.

Tiny Tags script 'mama' necklace

tiny tags mama necklace

The charm is 1/2" long and the chain is 16", falling just above most mama's collarbones. All Tiny Tags personalized jewelry is laser engraved by highly skilled artisans to make the most elegant pieces.

$105

And, don't worry, it's totally low-maintenance. Simply polish with a polishing cloth every now and then for extra shine. Now to decide: gold or silver?

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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