More moms staying home, after decades of decline, study finds

The thought of leaving work and staying home with children has probably crossed the minds of many mothers.

Now it looks like more women, like Heidi Hernandez, are taking action to do that.

"I feel like I am not just a stay at home mom, but I am CEO of the house," Hernandez said.

Hernandez has a master’s and law degree, but when she held her daughter, Regan, for the first time, she gave up her aspirations for a career. Andrew came along 11 months later, reaffirming her decision.

"One hundred percent no regrets," Hernandez said.

A new Pew Research found that after decades of decline, there is a rise in the number of moms staying home. The study found 29 percent of mothers with children younger than 18 are home with their children.

A better economy means Hernandez can afford to spend more time with her children.

"It's all the payment I need," said Hernandez.

Hernandez spends a lot of her time volunteering at her children's school, The Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa. She said it's a partnership with her husband, Martin, a local attorney.

"I don't think he would be as successful or as happy if I was not there to provide everything at home,” Hernandez said.

The study found the vast majority of married mothers – 85 percent -- are staying home by choice to take care of their families. But not everyone is so lucky. On the flip side, the study also found years of recession are forcing some mothers to stay home because they can't find a job or afford childcare.

Then there's the growth of immigrant families, in which it’s more common for mothers to stay at home.

But local experts, like psychologist Dr. Sheila Katt-Beck, point to another trend.

"So many women can now work out of the home and that's because of everything that is available online," said Katt-Beck. "Even if you have a hobby, like making baskets, you can sell them over the Internet. You may not be bringing in a full-time salary, but it's enough to stay at home."

Ashley Parkinson can attest to that. Both of her sister-in-laws work out of the house. Like Hernandez, Parkinson chose to stay home. She is a lawyer and has one son, Cole, a first-grader.

"The law will always be there and he will only be little for a short time," Parkinson said. "This is definitely the right choice for me."

Whether it's out of choice or necessity, the study found most Americans feel children are better off if a parent is at home. Hernandez' daughter, Regan, saw the report on the news as she readied for school. Her reaction was another reinforcement.

"I said ‘Look mommy, more moms are staying home.’ It makes me happy so other children can hang out with their moms and have fun with them," said Regan, a second-grader.

To read the full study, visit http://www.pewresearch.org/ .

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