I've had the opportunity to be a WAHM (a work at home mom) and I've also seen all three of my kids go to a day care as infants. I've done the tough commute into the city, leaving super early, and coming home as soon as possible to spend time with them.
I've also had the opportunity to work from home or work remotely and also I've worked for myself from home as well.
Having run the gamut of experiences I can give my personal experience and advice to you. First of all, when I had my first child, it was after 5 yrs of deliberate thought and consideration of what I was going to lose out on by having children. I was incredibly selfish and had to work that out of my system before having children. In hindsight, now that I'm completely broken down and mommified (lol) I wish I had kids earlier. That is easy to say but we also as a couple didn't really have it all together to actually pull that off. We live in the bay area where many people are in the situation of having to have two incomes to be able to survive and we have developed that lifestyle that requires it. Although we have cut back a lot, it in a way is a comfort to have two incomes.
I would say, if money was no object, I would hands down stay at home. I would still work and focus on my online business and blogging but I really love being at home with kids who are developing their motor skills, the communication skills, and being there to experience and witness it all is just a priceless experience. That is my honest advice. Now, if you throw into the mix a lot of other considerations you may still find that you have to work and you can figure out a way to pull it off.
"That being said", working from home is REALLY REALLY HARD. And so is working outside of the home. Let me start with working outside of the home as it's the freshest. I just went back to work and I have a 4 month old. I loved every minute of the time I had at home with him and I reluctantly interviewed for a job while I was recovering from birth and also trying to blog and build up my online business. I found that I wasn't quite ready to go all in with my online biz and I found that I was too stressed with the unknown of not having a paycheck etc. I was blessed with a teaching job that came up where I have no commute. On one hand, I am productive while the kids are at school so I can wind down when they are out of school. On the other hand, my instagram has slowed down, my blogging has slowed down, my business has slowed down. And...I'm incredibly tired being on this very strict and regimented schedule that when I get home I can't get myself to a computer or look at my phone to catch up on my Instagram. I am hoping that this will change soon but as of now I'm just accepting that this might be my new reality.
Now, going back to being a work at home mom, there is the type where you work full time but remotely and then the type where you work for yourself...or both. I've done both. I would say the latter is my preference but it is tough to do because as a new business you're probably not able to pay yourself if you have to reinvest in the business and as such it can be challenging to keep your family going on one income. I had been doing a lot of freelance to supplement when I was WAHMing, basically saving for a rainy day in case I didn't find work and I had trouble focusing. I find doing social media very time consuming. It seems like on one hand the easiest thing to do but on the other hand it simply takes time. To do well at social media you really need a good chunk of hours a day to devote to it and that can be hard if you have a client you need to work for or a deliverable that's due or if you have to take your daughter to a birthday party.
The other aspect of being a WAHM is when you are working remotely for a full-time job. Let's face it, if you are at home and if your kids are at home, you're making a mess in that home. You're cooking and eating and changing...your home gets more use when you are there. And if you are home you will feel compelled to keep it in order. You may find that instead of finishing up that report for work that's due, you want to finish up that sink of dishes instead. Being a WAHM basically means that you have to do twice the work in the same amount of time. "That being said", I would do that any day over sitting in a car for 2.75 hours away from my kids. You will be sleep deprived, you will be distracted, but you will get through it.
It ultimately depends on the situation that you are in and what you are able to do. Even if you do end up a SAHM, it's always a good call to ensure that you have marketable skills in case of emergency if you need to suddenly work because your spouse is out of work or unable to work. There is one thing that having a job in an office is able to give you that a home office can not and that is a predictable and regimented schedule. Some people who work from home are self motivated and able to keep a schedule like they would if they worked in an office. Moms tend to struggle with this as their day is broken up by school drop offs and the like. But if you can find the balance in the chaotic life of a WAHM, I feel that the rewards of being present in your kids lives (even if you're not always present when you are with them) outweighs all of the negatives of working from home. One thing I've learned about myself is that what I really need in any work situation is a routine. If I can get into a routine then I am able to accomplish a lot more even if I have to multitask. Now that we are in the working mom routine I'm actually quite enjoying it and I really don't feel regret with respect to being away from my baby. You moms going back to work from having babies, how are you feeling about or what was your experience?