This is my first year without out-of-our-home work and I am loving it. I love the changes that have had to occur in my accomplishment-addicted mind and in my definition of “worth.” I love that all of my time and energy flows into one man and two little children. And I love these people; I enjoy their company; one of my greatest goals is that they enjoy mine as well. I love that I can confidently enjoy the restful fact that one of my biggest responsibilities is loving these few people well. It just feels so deeply good.
I was thinking about how I could ever encourage other young women that taking care of our homes really can be a source of joy and contentment. I was thinking about how most women in my generation don’t even consider this option for various reasons.
As new studies reveal that day-care programs (and even preschools) can be, in fact, socially and educationally detrimental to children, I hope that increasingly more families choose for mothers to care for children at home (don’t worry, I’ll link up to the studies ASAP). One of the most pressing reasons for day-care is a lifestyle that demands two incomes per family. Sometimes, there aren’t many other options for a family. Most times though, there are many ways to rearrange our lifestyles in order to survive on one income. But it’s very difficult to make drastic changes once one is 30-something; by then, we already have the career path, the mindset, the habits, the goals, and all the stuff to go with it.
How helpful it would be to think through these things years ahead of time when one is just beginning to establish her own lifestyle. Sadly, placing our children in day-care can happen as early as accepting a steep college (or other type of) loan. Although an 18 year-old student might not even imagine having children, she might be making decisions that affect them. A college loan can turn into a demanding – and necessary, – job in order to justify/ pay off the loan, which can turn into a materialistic lifestyle, which can turn into bigger things (“debt”), which can turn into maintenance, insurance, addictions, and stress… all by the age of 30! By the time a little one comes along, day-care seems necessary. Even though it is not. Freedom from “we have no other choice” might just be a smaller house, a used car, 15-fewer outfits, and a modified monthly budget away. Hard, but praise-worthy, work. Most young people could choose this freedom from the beginning, with a little encouragement and counter-cultural living.
One of the most helpful resources for our family regarding financial freedom – which results in my opportunity to care for our family at home – has been Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Through this course, we learned how to get out of debt, save for the immediate and distant future, invest, and give generously. The information and action steps are simple enough for a non-financially-passionate mind like mine to understand and do (and even enjoy!).
Of course, another amazing God-given gift has been my husband’s divine (I’m not kidding) understanding of money… from generosity to debt-free living, this guy just seems to have a chunk of God’s heart on the matter. Things really changed in our home when I finally surrendered my unwieldy financial perceptions to simply follow Ryan’s financial wisdom “to the T.” (After a few years of wanting God to give Ryan a “godly passion” like working in an orphanage or leading Jr. High church retreats, I finally saw that God had given him a very godly passion… in stewarding money wisely. I realized that if I dragged my heels to follow him, we’d both miss out!)