career

Would You Quit Your Job To Be A Stay-At-Home Parent?

a life in balance

In the sake of keeping some sort of mystery in my life, I’m not going to give you an exact timeline of when my husband and I plan to have kids (and trust me, there’s a timeline – I’m a planner!), but I will tell you that it could happen tomorrow or it could happen in 3 years.  (And, of course, I’m banking on the fact that we’ll be able to have kids easily, which is a whole other issue in and of itself.)

When I think of this kids timeline, one question seems to pop up in my head:

Would you take time off from your career to stay home with children?

As we prepare to buy a house, we’re loosely basing our future budget (that includes a mortgage) on one income.  Partly for emergency matters (if one of us were to lose our job) and partly for parenting matters (it’d be nice to have the option for one of us to stay home with our kids).

Staying home seems like it would be a nice experience, and I definitely have the possibility of doing that now that I’m generating a reasonable amount of side income (although, it’s inconsistent, which is another factor to consider).

But I am terrified of leaving my comfortable, steady job to raise a family and make inconsistent income on the side.  Here’s why:

  • Re-entering the workforce might be difficult.  I will no doubt return to full-time work after our kids are grown.  Who knows if that will be when they’re in elementary school or high school.  Either way, I’ll be behind by the times when I re-enter the workforce.  There will be new generations of hungry 20-somethings who will probably be smarter and more tech-savvy than I will be.  Who knows if I could even get a job at the same level.
  • I might take a pay cut.  If I do leave the workforce for an undetermined amount of time, I’m guessing I’ll take a pay cut (unless I can get my old job back again).  Honestly, this doesn’t bother me much, but it would if it were a severe pay cut.
  • My husband could lose his job.  What if I quit my job and we were relying on my husband’s income and then he loses his job?  Sure, we’d have emergency savings, but it’d still be terrifying.  What if he couldn’t find work again?
  • My kids might not appreciate me.  I was lucky enough to have my mom stay home with my siblings and myself.  But I didn’t appreciate that until just recently.  My mom worked so hard to live frugally, cook good meals three times a day, create fun activities for us during the summer, encouraged us, kept the house clean, planned vacations and more.  That’s a lot of work.  Probably more than I do at my full-time job.  I was always told to tell her thank you, but I just said it because I had to.  Now I realize the full extent of her sacrifices and hard work.  Can I handle being under-appreciated for all my work?  (Insert jab to my current job here … haha.)
  • I might start to hate freelancing/writing.  Right now, writing and freelancing are all fun for me.  When I become dependent on them, will I start to detest them?
  • My freelance income could dry up.  I’m grateful for the freelance opportunities I have, but freelance is just that: not a guaranteed job.

On the plus side of things:

  • Family and love are all that matter.  This is the tipping point for me.  This is what really sways me in the direction of wanting to stay home.  When it comes down to it, nothing in life really matters except for love, especially family love.  Don’t believe me?  Try creating a movie in your mind of all the happy memories from you life.  These memories probably don’t include a designer purse or a new car.  They probably include experiences you’ve had with your loved ones.  Love is all that matters.  If love is the most important thing, shouldn’t I sacrifice to put it at the center of my life?
  • I won’t miss T-ball games or dance recitals.  I’ll be able to cart my children around to all their activities without worrying about getting off of work early.  I’m not a parent, but this gives me an inckling of hope that I might have more time to clean the house or cook good dinners.  Most parents will probably tell me to stop dreaming. 😉
  • There will be no more Mondays.  I feel like I can’t get excited about this because, 1) my husband would still have them, and, 2) there will be more Monday’s when I re-enter the workforce.  So, I guess this isn’t even a perk at all.
  • Maybe I can cook and clean?  If there are any mom’s reading this, they’re probably shaking their head and laughing.  But, in my fantasy world, I could cook great meals and have a clean house on top of staying home with my kids AND freelancing.  That’s possible … right?

Another option that I haven’t looked into yet would be part-time work (my current job probably won’t allow that) or securing a more stable writing job (any takers?).  I think tackling these two options is next on my to-do list before we even start thinking about having kids.

Like I said earlier, I’m not quitting my job any time soon. I love my current position and love my stable job. I love having somewhere to go every day. But, as the season of motherhood approaches, I can’t help but wonder if I’d be willing to give it up for the sake of my family.

What are your thoughts?  Would you quit your job to stay at home with your children?

UPDATES:

  • I should have mentioned that I’ll LIKELY have at least 2 days per week where either my mom or my husband’s mom will watch our child(ren) so I can work that day.  And by work, I mean freelance/blogging.  So, I’ll still have at least 2 days where I can feel like I have a job outside of staying home with the kids.
  • Little Miss Moneybags made this excellent point: When your cost of daycare starts to creep up towards your income levels (or even HALF of your income levels), is there really a point to even working?  Not sure we’ll have that problem with living in the Midwest (where daycare is cheap), but I could see it being a problem for other areas/careers.

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We cover all sorts of topics here at B&B: health, career, happiness, improvement & goals, order & productivity, and of course personal finance. Thanks for reading!

43 Comments

  • I really, really wish I could be home with my 9-month-old daughter full time, but it’s not feasible at the moment. Here in the NYC metro area, you need 2 incomes to swing a mortgage and a child. I’m lucky that I work a condensed 4-day week (full time) and have some freelance opportunities that I take advantage off after she’s asleep. But it’s rough out there for a full-time freelancer in writing/editing, and if I don’t have guaranteed income, we’d be in trouble! But I compromised by staying home nearly 6.5 months after our baby was born, and that really helped. It also opened my eyes to how being a stay-at-home mom would be — and it might have driven me nuts to be so “idle”!

    • I think if I do decide to stay home, I’ll have at least 2 days where I can get away to work/freelance on my own and leave our baby with my mom or my husband’s mom. So, those two days will help me feel like I’m still a career woman. 🙂

  • This is one of the questions that my husband and I struggle with. At this point, it looks like I will stay working once we have kids, but I know we are giving up a lot either way. I also have friends who have stayed home and ones who have stayed working. I think both the moms and the children of the ones who work are a little more sane and well-rounded.

    The balance between the number of hours you have to work to be successful and the time it takes to be a good mother is something that is often missed when people tell you “you can be anything you want to be.” Unfortunately the most limited resource we often have is time. We will see what happens when we are lucky enough to have to make the decision.

    • Yeah, it seems like it would be hard to be really successful as both mom and employee. You have to sacrifice one. My kids will mean so much more to me than my work, though, so that is definitely a factor in my decision.

  • I personally don’t plan on having kids until I’m in my late 20’s (I’m turning 20 at the end of this month). Since I already have my foot in the industry I want to be in, and am determined, I know I could get a solid career within the next few years. I haven’t ever had a steady boyfriend yet, so marriage is something far off for me, but I honestly would consider staying home full-time, until my kids are old enough to go to school at least and provided that whoever my husband will be has a pretty good income. It would save a ton on daycare / babysitting expenses during that time anyways. Once the kids are in school, I wouldn’t mind going back to work during the times that they are in school, especially because I know there are so many good before-and-after school programs out there nowadays that aren’t that expensive. As long as work would never have to interfere, I would be a-ok with it. I don’t think I could be a stay-at-home Mom until the kids actually move out though, but for the first 5 years of their lives is something I’d greatly consider. Thanks for this post!

  • This is a great topic to think about when your just starting out. I too am a huge planner so I think it’s important to have some guidelines and things to attain when starting a family.

    I’ve always been the type of person that needs to do something, be productive and feel like I’m earning my keep (so to speak). So for me I couldn’t handle just being the house wife and stay at home mom. I would try to strike the best balance between kids and part time work.

    • I hear ya — I like to have some type of work, whatever that may be. Staying home wouldn’t be an option for me if I didn’t have freelance work … I would go crazy.

  • Wow, this really hits home with me since I just made the BIG decision to quit my job so I could have more time with my kids! I thought about all of these same issues. I, too, LOVE my current position and was afraid to leave because I knew I would never find another job like it. I worry about the adult interaction that I will no longer have (except for with my hubby). Will I get bored of baby talk all day? I have my MBA and I started thinking, “did I get my MBA to be a SAHM?” But juggling a full time job and 3 little kids is MORE than I can handle. I have had to miss my sons pre-k parties already because of work and it just killed me! I want to be able to attend their sporting events or to volunteer in their classrooms. I will be working for Jeff part time from home (on blog stuff) so I feel like that will keep somewhat involved in the work world. I really don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way. I know tons of working moms and tons of SAHM’s and I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. What I did was pray about it….and pray about it….and pray some more! 🙂 I felt like God told me it was okay to “let go” of the idea that I had to be a working woman. That it wasn’t a permanent decision and I could always change my mind. Yes, my current job may not be available, but there are always other things I could find. One thing that I made sure we did was have 12 months of “emergency funds” in our savings account. This puts my mind at ease a little bit knowing that it would take a full year before we would be having to dip into retirement or other avenues if something went wrong with J’s business. If I were you, I would start focusing on the blog as a priority. Yes, like you said, that income is inconsistent, but it is definitely a good side income that will A. keep you involved in the work world B. give you some type of income and C. is something you can do WHILE you stay at home with you kids! You know what people tell me, “your kids are only young once”! I don’t want to miss sharing this time with them because your right….LOVE and FAMILY (and GOD) are my main priorities – maybe not in that order! Ha!

    • Mandy, you are awesome! Thank you for this wonderful comment!! I will definitely be putting this issue at the top of my prayer list when the time comes to see what God says. I might be e-mailing you when I get closer to the time when we plan to have kids! We’ve still got awhile based on my timeline, though. 🙂

  • Oh my goodness. I could write a novel on this subject! I quit my job to stay home with my daughter, and I will say this: staying home is awesome because you get to spend all day with your kids. And then I will say this: staying home is hard because you spend all day with your kids! Staying home is not easy, especially if you are a person who likes to get a lot done and feel productive, like I do. I had to reduce my expectations drastically on what I could accomplish.
    But I also say this: it gets easier. And you will hit a stride that works.
    Definitely think about the part time work. I struggled staying home with Kate. And then I found a flexible part time job. Now I feel much happier. I have an outlet for my skills and talents AND get to take my daughter to play group and toddler class. The best of both worlds.
    Feel free to email me on this – the one thing all moms need is support!

    • Thank you for your awesome comment! I agree that having SOME sort of work is almost essential for your sanity. 🙂

      That’s another point — I think I’ll work harder when I stay home because being a Mommy is already HARD work. Maintaining a happy/clean household, cooking, AND freelancing on top of that will be tons of work. But I already think that it will be work that I enjoy much more. 🙂

  • Peanut and I are planning on a mortgage based on one income for the same reason. I also like my work and would like to continue working after we have kids, but the minute the cost of daycare exceeds the lowest income in our home is the day one of us stays home for a few years. It doesn’t make any sense to pay to have a job!

    • Obviously this is a very personal decision and not based entirely on finances but I had to chime in. Everytime I see a cost discussion with daycare vs. salary, people forget about the long term. Even if you make $5,000 more per year (over daycare), you can invest that money (power of compounding interest, investing) or build a safety net which is very important also. When you quit, you usually miss out on your prime earning years (late 20s – 30s). See Penelope Trunk’s website for this discussion. When you return, you will not earn much and may also encounter ageism. At least that’s what I’ve seen with my SAH-mom friends. Finally even if you only make a little over daycare costs, why is the woman always factoring her ENTIRE income against daycare costs? What about the husband’s income? As a woman in her 40s, I just want to caution younger woman about the real costs of staying home. Please make that big decision with open eyes.

      Lastly, you can be a great mom even if you work. My mom worked and she was a great one. Don’t think you are automatically a good mom if you stay home and “bad” if you work. It’s tough to miss out on certain events and milestones but kids understand and hey, dads have traditionally “missed” out. Another thing I think about is that because I work, my husband has more time with the kids, too. Many SAHmoms enjoy that time w/ kids but the husband always misses out (and some I know even work o/t or 2 jobs to support the family).

  • To answer Little Miss Moneybags’s question: yes, there is a point to continue working even when daycare eats up a large portion of your income. Many of the reasons (you’ll take a paycut, you’ll be far behind when you go back, etc.) are mentioned in your post. Sometimes you have to spend money in the short-term to be better off in the long-term.

    Another reason is: IF YOU LOVE YOUR JOB AND DERIVE PLEASURE FROM IT. Who cares if daycare eats up a large chunk of your paycheck if you love it? As long as your kids are happy and you are putting in quality time with them I think a happy and fulfilled woman makes a happy and great mom. So many times I see women who teach or have another profession that our society doesn’t pay enough for decide to stay home because of this reason even though they really enjoy teaching.

    Just something to think about.

    • I agree 100%! As I wrote below, my mom would have been a horrible stay-at-home parent. I think a lot of women force themselves into thinking that it is the right thing to be there for their child and be the one that actually raises them. My brother, mom and I can all talk today though about how happy we all are that she didn’t stay at home with us. You have to look at what’s actually the best situation for all people involved, no what society says it should be.

    • I agree with the need to be a well-rounded person, but I’m not talking about the cost of daycare being a large percentage of the second income – I’m talking about the cost of daycare EXCEEDING the second income. Where we live, a third child in daycare would cost us more than I earn in a year at my job that I like very much. That means we would effectively be living on less than one salary, just so I could go to work every day, and I think that isn’t justifiable.

      I don’t plan to stay at home with one kid or even two kids. I’m one of those people who probably should be at work instead of being home with the kids, but I just can’t see any sense in paying more in daycare than I could earn in a year. Forty, fifty, sixty percent of my salary, sure – there are benefits other than cash in the bank for it. 110%? No, thank you. That’s where the line is drawn for me. (Although if I had three kids young enough to be in daycare and not in school, I’d probably be way too sleep-deprived to go to work anyway!)

      • Really what I was assuming was that even in the case where daycare exceeded your income in the short term that it is still worth it in the long run because (a) if you are in the workforce longer you will be entitled to pay increases and/or (b) you would have to take a pay cut when you go back to work/you wouldn’t be able to return to the workforce. I don’t disagree that it is different for everyone based on career path/area of work, but just something to consider that paying, for example, an extra $5K on top of your salary for daycare for 3-5 years may be worth it when you are making $20-30K more per year for the rest of your working life.

  • My mom would never have wanted to stay home with us when we were kids, and I’m glad she didn’t. Being with kids 24/7 is not for everyone and it would have been a nightmare for all 3 of us.

    But my dad stayed home with us starting when I was 7. He worked in biochemistry, and by the time he was ready to re-enter the workforce the industry had changed so much (like the genome being decoded) that going back into the same field wasn’t an option. His years of education was essentially useless.

    He’s very happy today working at a garden center, which is one of his big passions, but he has taken a massive paycut. He is also doing very physical work, so I’m not sure if he will have to make a big change again as he gets older.

  • Would I give up work to be a stay at home mom? At this point in my life, yes. I grew up with a stay at home mom, so I really see the value in it. That being said, I’m not married yet, I’m not actually certain whether or not my boyfriend is ready for kids yet, and I would want to make sure we were financially able to stand on one income. As we both currently own our own homes on single incomes, I can see this being very doable right now if we were to sell one and move in together. As for how long I would stay at home for, I don’t know. I love my current job, and I worked very hard for my degree, so I wouldn’t want to completely abandon it. I may inquire about telecommuting when that time comes, but it’s not here yet.

  • I think it’s be impossible to answer this question without having experienced parenthood, as I know SO many women who never dreamed they’d want to be stay at home moms, who had a change of heart once they gave birth.

    That said, I don’t think it’s a choice I would make for myself given Dude and I’s current circumstances. Financially, it’d be incredibly difficult because neither of us makes a truly great salary, but on the same token, we both make significantly more than the monthly cost of daycare for a single child. If we had 2 or 3 it might be a different story, but I’m still not sure. Someone asked ‘what’s the point of working’ if you’re spending most or all of your salary on child care, which is a valid point, but I’d also argue that the point is a: having something that is intellectually stimulating (ie. a career) for yourself, and b: consistently growing it, rather than putting it on hold for several years (for all the reasons you outlined, Amber).

    Also, if I’m being completely honest, there’s a message in stay at home motherhood that I’m just not sure I want to convey to my children. Something that feels just a little too ‘the woman’s place is in the home’ for my blood. That’s not to say that stay at home motherhood is not an enormous amount of work – it quite obviously is – but it’s something very different from “career” work. I’m also not convinced that having a stay at home parent really is the right choice in terms of the child’s emotional and intellectual development because I think there is a lot to be gained from children (even young ones) experiencing life outside the safety and comfort of their home and/or family.

    Ideally, working part-time sounds wonderful, but for me, the math doesn’t add up. Giving up half of my salary in order to save half the cost of child care just doesn’t make sense because I’d be giving up A LOT more than I’d be saving.

    So…..I dunno. Like I said, tough to say how I’ll feel if and when we actually DO have children, but I’m just not sure that parenthood alone could ever completely fulfill me. I think I need a life and identity outside of my home, and for me, that means a career.

  • Agree with Lettuce. I would certainly like to have the option – but would I be cut out for full time parenting? I really don’t know. I don’t think I’ll have any real idea of what it’s like until I’m actually DOING it and learning firsthand.

  • I recently left the “traditional” workforce with the birth of our first child. Was it planned? Absolutely not. However, I had no idea how head over heels I would be at Baby’s arrival. I had 8 weeks of Maternity Leave, then my mother gave us another 7 weeks of her care at our home while I went back to work. When the time came for daycare, I honestly couldn’t do it. I left my job to stay home with Baby, but luckily found a very family-friendly position that allows me to work from home and when I do go in the office, I take Baby with me (probably helps they are a parent magazine)! Is there a change in income? Yes, of course. But I’ll never look back and think “I really regretted staying home with him.” even if it means not going out to eat as much or not picking up that cute dress I saw…..

  • I don’t want kids but if I later change my mind, I would find another way to make money. It doesn’t always have to be a choice of working for a company or choosing your family. That is an outdated idea. My mother did both. My mom eventually started her own business. I also think that women these days need to be prepared. A lot of women start home-based businesses because they want to do both.

    Whether the wife or the husband gets ill, or the child has a disability, or in the event of a divorce, women need to have their own assets and ability to make money. I’ve heard too many cautionary stories from women who ended up with nothing because of some devastating life event. Life is beautiful but life can be unpredictable and cold, women these days need to be prepared.

    Actually I agree with Mandy on taking your writing/blog towards a more business-like approach. Personally, I don’t plan on working for my company forever, I have this desire to go freelance eventually. My plan is to keep money coming in regardless whether or not I end up choosing to have kids.

  • This is something I feel strongly about because of how it has affected my family. My mom left her job when I was born and in my opinion was the worst decision she ever made. Of course its not like she could of seen it coming so I don’t blame her. She didnt try to get another job for like 10 years. After not working for 10 years you are never going to get the same type of job you had before. She had a retail-minimum wage job, which has been the only job she has had since. While she was gone, computers became super popular and of course we didnt have one because we couldnt afford it. She doesnt know how to use word-processor, spreadsheet. etc Things like that which could increase her job prospects. If she had stayed at her job which was with an insurance company, she would of got the training she needed on computers and would probably make a really good salary right now. My dad works in the automotive industry which we all know went to s**t. I am now 25 and my parents are in the worst shape financiall they have ever been, at a time when they should be thinking about retiring. I am prettty sure they have no savings whatsoever which puts a lot of stress on me because I am the only responsible child so I’m going to have to take care of them. This is why I will never quit my job if I have kids. Sure I’ll take the mat leave and maybe even work part time for a bit after, but I will never stop altogether. In this day of age you really need to keep current in your industry or someone could replace you in 2 seconds.

  • I would definitely not stop working. Although, I say that now with no plans of having kids for another few years, but I’m pretty adamant on that.

    I have been working so hard to get through college so I can have a steady job, steady income, something that challenges me, and a lifestyle that doesn’t force me to pinch pennies. I couldn’t imagine giving that up for 10 years, and then nobody wanting to hire me because I have no recent experience.

    My boyfriends mom became a “stay at home mom” when they were kids, and now her kids are in their late 20’s and she still calls herself a stay at home mom. Neither of them live with her and they have both been out of the house for years and years. She tried to re-enter the workforce and she was scoffed at. I would see that as a major waste of my degree and time in college educating myself.

    However, I would rally for part time or a flex schedule, where I could work 4 ten hour days instead of 5 eights. That would give me a day with the rugrats, and I would get future husband to do the same -he has a flexible job where he might be able to even work one weekend day instead and then there are 3 weekdays we can have with the kids. Daycare is expensive, but it’s also a great way for kids to interact with other kids!

    But I could change my mind about all of this when I have my kids!

    • My mother had a very hard time re-entering the workforce after I was born…and it was teaching! She could only get jobs as a substitute or assistant. Eventually my father’s business took off and he needed someone he trusted to keep the books. But she always regretted it – I never felt guilty, but it was a lesson. Now that I’m pregnant, and the primary breadwinner (lawyer), I’ve spent too much on my education to stay home, and know I would regret it. Also, being raised in the ’80s and thus during a skyrocketing divorce rate, my mother made it very clear that a woman needs current skills/income in case her husband left her – she had friends, and my piano teacher, who were left in the lurch. I know no one gets married or has children while thinking about divorce, but the stats are out there. Finally, I like having money for the extra things – I don’t shop much, but when I need a sweater, I’d hate to budget for 3 months just to afford it.

      My husband did ask how much of a pay cut he could take in securing a purely telecommuting job, and I replied “the annual cost of daycare ($12k around here)” since that’s what we’d save.

  • Probably not. Financially, daycare will always cost less than I’m able to make. Of course, that really isn’t the main thing to consider.

    Particularly, once the kids are school aged, I would want my career, both for purely selfish reasons and also to set an example of a working woman. The fact that I would want that when they are school aged (and older) means I would also want to keep at my career when they are younger (though i imagine this will be hard). Part time and flex scheduling? Maybe, maybe not. It is really one of those questions I have a hard time with, because I am unsure how i will feel when the time comes. But I’ll tell you this much – I’m not planning an exit strategy. I want my career to be compelling enough that it is worth coming back to after I have a baby – even if I choose not to. i cannnot envision myself as a SAHM, but you really just never know.

    I think it helps that I had two great role models as parents. They both worked, but I never felt like they weren’t there for me or didn’t have time for me.

  • I am sure my comment will be the least popular, but I had to speak up and voice my opinion. I do agree that it is very important for (all) women to be educated, skilled and employable, because some life circumstances or events create a need for a Mother to be the breadwinner. Here is what I don’t get, when did we become so selfish as women? How did it become okay that we sacrifice our children because “we want to feel like a valued member of society, and fulfilled by having a career”. It is my strong opinion that you will do no greater contribution to society than to love and teach your children, and not pay anybody else to do it. How do we justify the mindset that “if I can afford daycare, then I would rather pay someone to watch them so I can go to work”. Your kids will eventually catch on to the fact that the expense of you paying somebody to take care of them is a luxury you can afford, similar to the luxury of being able to afford dry-cleaning. I know that not all women work out of choice, and many women arrange their work schedules so that they can spend the most time with their children as possible. Props to you. But, when did the role of MOTHER become so embarrassing? Why do so many women feel that they are not fulfilled unless they get a paycheck? I am very proud that I am a mother of three. I am not the best mom, and I don’t raise super-geniuses on an organic diet, but one thing is for sure, my kids know that I like them so much that I would rather be the one taking care of them then drive an expensive car.

    So yes, my strong recommendation is; plan what you can now so that YOU can be there for every boo-boo, tear and picture colored. It’s worth more than all the paychecks in the world and you’ll never regret it.

    plus, you can ALWAYS go back to work when you’re kids are a little older and independently in school.

    • I believe women can do it all, and it doesn’t make you a bad person to stay at home or to choose to work. You see feminism is supposed to be about women having the opportunity to choose for themselves. It doesn’t help when women criticize each other for their choices. My mom worked because she had to because my dad was a lazy jerk who never could hold down a job, but I never thought badly of her just because I was in school for half the day and she was at work.

      It didn’t make her less of a mother or a woman. Stephenie Meyer, the best-selling writer of the “Twilight” novels wanted to be a writer, she worked as a receptionist while she tried to make it as a writer, and once she had children she said she wanted to stay home with them, that motivated her to keep writing.

      Eventually a publisher bought her novel. She found a way to utilize her talents and to be a mom. I don’t think anyone here says being a mother is embarrassing. Anyway, becoming a mother doesn’t mean you need to abandon your talents and your education or that you stop being a whole person. Many women want to do it all and there’s nothing wrong with trying to do that.

    • It takes a village to raise a child. it always has. If you look at histories of motherhood, it’s only been in the post WWII period in America that motherhood has been privatized (as it is now). Before that point, it was never the mother’s sole responsibility to care for children; rather the nurturing and development of children was a broader based community affair.

  • I’m not sure what I would choose. I used to be certain being a stay at home mom was what I wanted, but now that I work at a job I love obsessively, the thought of leaving it makes me sad. Luckily this is a decision I get to shelve for the next few years, but ultimately I would hope to maybe work part-time (2 days per week) and then be at home the rest of the time. I would hire a nanny part-time for childcare — I was a part-time nanny during my undergrad and it was fantastic.
    I think even if I’m a stay at home mom I would hire a part-time nanny just to get a break lol

    Hopefully I have a family with someone who at least matches my income, which means we could survive just fine on a single income but it also means it will always make the most financial sense for both of us to work. My income is much greater than the cost of putting kids in daycare, so I will always have incentive to work.

  • It sounds like no matter what you decide, you’ve entered into this very thoughtfully. It sounds like you are considering your children, yourself, and your husband in this. Will be curious what you end up deciding when the time comes!

  • TWow, things have gotten a little heated up in here. 🙂 I don’t think there’s any need for some of the attacking on both sides. I am not yet a parent, but ideally I feel that I would like to freelance at home or work part-time, although it probably won’t be an option financially for me and BF so I have come to terms with that and have even found quite a few positives in my particular situation. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and she loved it and so did we, but I know plenty of women at work who would be miserable (as would their children) if they didn’t work full-time. I also know many career-driven women who happily gave it up once the children came. You never know how you will feel and what is best for your family until the time comes, and we shouldn’t be judging anyone. I will say that as some of the comments above mentioned, when my mom tried to re-enter the workforce after 20 years away it was next to impossible. She did finally find a job working for a distant relative. So I do have to disagree with the comments that say ‘You can easily find a job once the kids are grown.’ Not true. It might be a bit easier if you freelance the whole time but many of my friends with babies are finding it hard to freelance at home, unless you have a babysitter come in two or three days a week. Obviously you might have more time/quiet once the kids start school. Point being–the grass has green and brown patches on both sides. 🙂

  • I definitely want to stay at home. That’s always been on my future list, as my mom stayed home with my brother and I – and I wouldn’t trade that for the WORLD! She cooked us 3 meals a day, made us our lunches for school all the way thru high school, did all the laundry, decorated the house, did all the grocery/regular shopping, took us to all our activities and did all the family budgeting/bill-paying! (Dad handles the investments – love that split!) I want to be a FT SAHM…but we’ll see where life takes me! 🙂

    • Well, these things are possible even as “working” parents. It may mean that you divvy up tasks differently, but in our household (both parents working and/or studying full time): all meals cooked from scratch; lunches packed at home; budgets planned and prepared; grocery based on natural and fresh foods; activities for kids (several each); planned and budgeted family vacations.

      there’s nothing that says that these things can’t happen with both parents working; it may just be that it’s not just mom who does them but that these responsibilities flow between parents.

  • HA – ‘There will be no more Mondays’ – as someone who works from home (no kids, just works from home as a freelancer), the truth is actually ‘no more weekends’. Weekends completely lose their special edge when you work from home. And Mondays still feel the same as ever. Sorry to burst that bubble!

  • OhI already commented in response to someone earlier but I also do want to add that this is a heated topic in the U.S. due to lack of maternity leave. Believe me, I was really unhappy about going back to work a few months after giving birth. I was still sleep deprived and could NOT imagine juggling work and home. However, around the 6-8 month mark, it started getting better and became do-able. If women had more time to make that decision, I think the outcome would be different. It’s just really hard to leave behind a tiny infant and would be much better if we had 1-year leave like in Europe. Yes, they are still needy at 1year old but it’s a huge difference!

  • Gosh, this is such a personal and difficult decision, and who knows if you would even make the same decision for each child?!

    In addition to my concerns about employability and re-entering the workforce, a huge consideration for me will be if living on one income will allow us to save for two pensions. From everything I’ve read, SAHM tend to be the poorest women in their retirement years and can fare really badly in the case of divorce or separation which in turn places serious pressure on your children later on. In truth though in our household we will be more likely to end up with a SAHD than SAHM. My partner loves ‘home’ stuff much more than me and gets excellent parental leave allowances from his employer.

    I was brought up with both workings parents, and my mom was the only full-time working mom that I knew (everyone else’s mom’s were part-time or sahm) and I was incredibly proud of her and still can’t believe how she juggled everything because I never felt like she wasn’t there when we needed her. My dreams for my own life would get fired up every time I visited her workplace. She was an amazing role model and I would love to have as succesful a career as her. My mom tells a funny story about being determined to stay-at-home and soon realising that the true highlight of her day was when my dad came home which was exactly when he wanted a bit of peace and quiet. She soon decided that this was bad for both us the kids and their marriage!

    That said, work sucks at the moment, so I feel like it would be good to use my time better by raising children (if I have any).

  • This is a very interesting post, and my favorite part has been reading the comments from other bloggers and commenters I follow to see how they feel about this issue.

    How’s this for radical? Work is so important to me that not only will I *not* give up working to stay home with my children, work is actually the reason I do not want to have children in the first place. I love kids, and I hope to be an involved aunt to my brother’s children and surrogate aunt or whatever to my friends’ children. However, it would be irresponsible of me to have my own children when I know I want to be the type who works 60-80 hours a week, and that I am attracted to the same quality in a partner.

    I want to make it clear I do not think my decision is the only answer on this issue, but I wanted to share my story as another option that women can take in today’s world if they want to.

  • I was just married a month ago and my new husband has a promotion in another location which will leave me without a job ( at least temporarily) so this topic has come up sooner than we expected. Right now I make about 30% more than he does but we both hope that will change based on his potential career path. Question: do you or others worry about the additional stress it may put on your hubby if you do not generate any revenue?
    Thanks for your blog. I love reading it as I am going through the same stage of life.

  • Amber- When the time comes, we’ll have to meet for a drink or better yet have you come over and hang out. I can say as a mom of 4 and a SAHM for 8 years, it is the hardest job you’ll ever love. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I don’t do it for myself. Once you’re a parent you don’t just think about what’s best for you, but you put your children first in a million ways. Starting with the day you find out your pregnant and forgo a glass of wine. There are a million sacrifices, but they are worth it! 🙂 You’ll never regret bringing a new life into the world!

  • I’m a mother to two boys, now 6 and 10. I can’t imagine not combining my “work for pay” with my “family work”. The two flow through each other. I would be a terrible stay at home parent, and I am a better parent for being a ‘working mother’ (stupid term, as all mothers work, whether they do it for pay or not). I am the main breadwinner in the family, but even if I wasn’t, I would work. I love my job. why on earth would I quit? (I might feel very different if I hated my job). Also, I don’t buy the mantra that working outside the home is somehow ‘selfish’ and means that you’re ‘putting the kids second’. Seriously? Way too simplistic.
    There are so many ways to mother and each of us will do the best job we can with wahtever we have in us to do. And we’ll make choices that may not resonate with others, even though they may be perfect for us. Whenever you get to your decision to have kids, trust your intuition and don’t let anyone tell you that you’ve done it ‘the wrong way’. there’s a huge whack of judgement out there towards moms. Breathe through it and trust your decisions, whatever they may be.

  • I love this post! This is something I am contending with as well as I am not sure that I want to miss so much of my children’s lives working. But as you mentioned there are the “what ifs…”. To that end I am working to put certain things in place so that we’ll be OK financially.

    I am in the DC Metro area and the daycare in our neighborhood starts at $1600 per month for newborns.

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