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If you don't *have* to work for financial reasons

  1. gingerbebe

    cantaloupe / 6131 posts

    I'm an attorney as well and took a job working for the state that I knew was family friendly even though the pay was low because I knew that at some point I wanted children and that I didn't want the craziness of firm life. We have great perks like a right of return for up to a year (so I took a full year of absence for my maternity leave and DS is 8 months now), the ability to work part-time, and inexpensive healthcare coverage that is really great as long as you work half time. Plus everyone I work with is a working parent, so every covers for each other and its not the end of the world if a parent calls in sick or late because their child is sick. Further, our agency is one of those "career" agencies - people tend to stick around for a long time, sometimes their entire working life. As a result, the agency has a sort of long view when it comes to working parents - they understand that it will be hectic for a few years but once the childbearing years are over and the kids are in school, you get to be that really skilled attorney in your 40s who's management material.

    DH can support us on his income and he works crazy hours, so he actually really likes me being at home. He says knowing I'm with DS and not worrying about whether he is getting sick at daycare or whatever is a big load off him mentally and it makes him super productive at work. But I feel like I should go back, at least until our law school loans are paid off. We are almost done with mine, but we'll probably need another year of focused budgeting and aggressive payments to be done with DH's loans.

    My plan now is to return to work half time (T, W, Th at 7 hours a day) and continue to pay my mother to nanny DS at home. (We bring her in 3 days a week now to be a mommy's helper for me to supplement her retirement income and to get familiar with DS and his routine before I go back to work). What I make should cover what we pay my mom, our healthcare, and groceries or something. DS will be 1 by the time I return to work and we can handle that arrangement until he turns 2 and then we'll think about sending him to nursery school 3 days a week. I think around that time we'll probably be looking to have our second child and then we'll have to have the discussion about work again. I think if my mom were to become too old to take care of both kids, I'd probably stop working, at least for a while. Plus, we want to preserve the option of homeschooling if we feel like it would be a better fit for one or both of our kids.

    Of course, if it turns out our kids are doing just fine in a regular school setting and my mom can handle continuing to watch the kids, I'd try to keep working half-time until they are both in school and then switch to full time with my mom or a nanny staying with them after school. Aside from 3 busy periods of about a month each, my job generally allows me to go home at 5pm, so I feel like it would be a good balance as the kids grow older.

  2. Ginabean3

    pomegranate / 3401 posts

    I don't "have" to work d/t financial reasons and I quit my job also due to circumstance (moved to a different city at the tail end of my maternity leave with #1). I've always thought I would be a WOHM and now I'm a SAHM. It works for our family. DH makes enough for us to live comfortably and now that I'm preggo with #2 it just makes sense (and is fun! and less stressful!) for me to be at home. Also, if I was working (worked in marketing/advertising) I think a large chunk of my pay would be going towards childcare (especially for two). I do feel a loss of identity sometimes but I am grateful everyday that we can do what we do. Additionally, there is a lot of freelancing in our industry so I can see myself maybe going back after the kiddos are in school. I currently have a 2 year old and will have a newborn in July.

  3. Andrea

    GOLD / wonderful coffee bean / 18478 posts

    I'm similar to you in that there's not much in the way of part time work in my former field (finance) and my husband works very long hours so it's quite difficult for me to continue working in finance (no help around us). We are fine without my income so I can continue to SAH or find work when I chose. I'm lucky to have a choice! Right now I'm really enjoying being a SAHM and my kids are thriving. If this ever changes, I won't hesitate to rejoin the work force though.

  4. BabyTsMom

    clementine / 856 posts

    I work 2 days a week and wish I could work 3-4 days a week (but don't due to lack of childcare). I have a post-graduate degree and I feel like it would almost be a waste to not use it (although if I hated what I do, I'd probably think otherwise!)... But other than that, I feel that working part-time gives me the best of both worlds. I get to spend time with LO on my days off, but I look forward to the days I go to work and be an adult and a professional.
    We don't need the money that I bring home, but both my husband and I agree that I'd be miserable if I stayed home full-time.

  5. mrsjyw

    GOLD / wonderful apricot / 22646 posts

    @Madison43: different career but feel the same sentiments!

    I'm a better mom because I work. I think I might be more apt to SAH now that DS is a toddler, but especially with infants, I was not cut out for SAH. I also have a job that is really flexible and family-friendly (I WFH 3+ days a week and project manage my time - i.e. I can work when DS is sleeping and spend more time with him when he's awake). And my mom is our primary care provider. So I feel like I get the best of both worlds as well!

  6. Torchwood

    pomelo / 5607 posts

    Also, just to be a bit more clear on my response, I LOVE my volunteer work, and have never, ever had a job I truly loved. I plan to continue doing it, with a break when LO is very small. So, basically, I will be working, just not a ton and not for money. I'll still be primarily a SAHM. But if this were a paid job that I felt this way about, I would continue to work at least part time.

  7. Anagram

    eggplant / 11716 posts

    For me, being a working mother is kind of a crapshoot. But my job is different from a lot of posters I guess, because when I am working, I have very little flexibility, since I work in education and need a substitute if I'm gone (and that requires a certain amount of pre-planning and extra work). There's no showing up slightly late or leaving slightly early or working from home.

    Plus, LO commutes with me an hour each way, so I don't get "me time" without her--when I leave home, she leaves. When I come home, she's with me.

    My husband is rarely home before 7:30 pm and often later, so I am always responsible for all the nighttime stuff--dinner, feeding LO, packing her daycare lunch, etc. If errands have to be run, I have to be the one running them. We clean our own house. We really don't outsource anything. DH doesn't even dry clean his work shirts--he washes and irons them himself.

    I don't get sick days, because daycare is so far away. So for me personally, it's actually much easier to be a "SAHM" during my summers off because I have SO MUCH MORE TIME to do the same things I do after work now--grocery shopping, cooking, playing with LO and entertaining her.

    I'm sure it will be way harder once this second baby is born, but this past summer with just LO was downright relaxing for me. I didn't have to wake up at 5:40, I could occasionally nap while she was napping, I had time to clean the house! It was nice.

    Having said that, there are some benefits to me working--one, even though I work with kids all day and they are not the most grateful at the middle school age, I do really like my job. I'm also just 1 year from being tenured, so it's a bad time for me to SAH for a couple of years. Also, my DH is really egalitarian about household stuff when I'm working--whereas during summers when I'm off work, he kind of expects to come home and kick up his feet. In that way, it's way better for my marriage for me to work. And we are able to save a lot more money without DH's salary paying for everything. Plus, as a state employee, my health insurance is so good.

    But I definitely have days where I look at a friend of mine who lives in my area, is a SAHM and making it work on 1 income (less than what my husband makes) and having more time on her hands for taking her LO to the park and fun classes. I definitely have my envious days where I kind of wish my DH weren't so focused on saving money, so I could stay home, haha.

    So...definitely a crapshoot for me. I have days where I go back and forth about which scenario would be better in my situation, and I never find an easy answer.

  8. Mrs. High Heels

    blogger / eggplant / 11551 posts

    A lot of pp said what I wanted to say about being a WOHM - mental and social stimulation, I'm a better mom because I work, I get a sense of fulfillment, extra income for a more comfortable life, etc.

    But another reason why I work is because my career woman of a mom always ingrained it in me that I should never rely on anyone else for income. The idea of just having DH's income scares me a little because if anything were to ever happen to him (I know, morbid thoughts - but my dad passed away in his 40's and looking back, I'm amazed at how comfortable of a life my mom was able to provide us on her income alone)... I do not want to feel like I have nothing to fall back on, and I like feeling self-sufficient in this department. This goes for death, disability, divorce, etc. I need a backup plan. Anyway... I'm just thankful I get a choice.

  9. Tidybee

    nectarine / 2834 posts

    @winniebee: Just chiming in to say that I'm way proud of my mom for being a SAHM (and I never give her credit for anything). As a WOHM turned SAHM, I know what it takes and means now to truly sacrifice your career and "your day" and social interaction to be at home with kids.

    As of right now, I SAHM by choice and circumstances. Sure I'd love the extra money, the sense of accomplishment, adult interaction, and the time to myself. I actually think I'm a better mom because I'm home, not working and my focus is on DD and soon LO #2 and just being a mom. I'm the one that gets to console her when she gets pushed off the balance beam at gymnastics (today), when she's sick or just being down. And I'm truly really happy doing that.
    I did a bit of consulting and WAH for a while, and I had to plant DD in front of the TV to take calls and work, had to check emails on my phone constantly, and I knew my head was more in my work than my daughter sometimes. I have a degree in a field that isn't going away anytime soon, so for right now, I'm just going to be grateful that this is what feels right for me and DH at this time in my life and in our kids' lives. Maybe I'll go back to work and maybe I won't, but I think I'll just make the decision at the time to do what is right for our family because you never know what life is going to throw at you.

  10. Mamasig

    pomegranate / 3565 posts

    @Mrs. High Heels: I feel the same way about your last paragraph. Coming from divorced parents, I knew early on that I did not want to rely solely on my husband. I always think worst case - death or divorce. I saw what my mom went through after the divorce and vowed I wouldn't be like that.

  11. sarac

    pomelo / 5093 posts

    I don't work, with a 3 year old and one on the way. My husband makes enough money for us to have a comfortable life, for which I am just enormously grateful. He is a very career oriented person, and I am not, so we work very well together.

    I don't plan to be a SAHM forever, though, I'm planning to go back to work when my second daughter is a few years older. I'd ideally like to work a nice but fairly low stress/low hours job until my children are about 10, then I'm considering going back to school and hopefully going back to work full time at that point. But I feel really, really lucky to be able to devote so many of my resources to our family and home at this time in my life.

  12. hilsy85

    squash / 13764 posts

    @Tidybee: Totally agree with everything you wrote!!

  13. Maysprout

    grapefruit / 4800 posts

    @winniebee: my lo tells me she's proud of me regularly Mommy's the one who fixes things and makes things pretty and runs really fast and cooks delicious food. I think its against most feminist thinking for articles to imply that kids will be embarrassed or not proud of sahp later. You're an accomplished woman and and will continue to be so whatever you decide to do. I worked as an adjunct for awhile. It was crappy pay for a lot of work and made our lives difficult and both of us had less time with the kids then. I felt like I was giving up precious time for peanuts, if they're embarrassed because I gave up adjuncting for a bit to help our family then I have enough self confidance to be ok with that.

  14. sunny

    coconut / 8430 posts

    @Mrs. High Heels: Love what you wrote. My Mom ingrained the same thing in me too.

  15. Baby Boy Mom

    pomegranate / 3983 posts

    I'm in a similar situation with DH working very long hours. Lately I've been thinking a lot about going back to work and we could certainly use my income but covering the cost of childcare for two kids is no joke, and then on top of that I suspect I would still be the one doing all the home stuff because DH just doesn't have the time. So I might be feeling more fulfilled on a personal level (because staying home is so often thankless) but would also be gaining many layers of stress in my life. Anyway that probably wasn't helpful since I'm just thinking out loud but I do get where you're coming from.

  16. Mrs. Jacks

    blogger / pineapple / 12381 posts

    We could survive on one income. The problem is that it is mine that we need! But to be frank, I'm a much better mom when I go to work and come back. I get listless and depressed at home and while I enjoy spending time with my kids, I'm much more "present" when I have mental mind space during the day.

    I actually have anxiety feelings when I stay home because all the undone chores overwhelm me.

    Being a working mom definitely makes me a better mom, but kudos to those who can do the at home thing. Mad respect!

  17. Bluebonnet

    persimmon / 1427 posts

    We could certainly live without my income but I work for a bunch of reasons:
    - I am able to do interesting work, get paid well, have great benefits, and have the flexibility our family needs.
    - 2 incomes allows us to aggressively save while living very comfortably, which in turn builds the financial flexibility to have more options down the road (working part time or living on one income by circumstance or choice).
    - I am a better parent when I have accomplishments that are independent of my husband, kids, or home.
    - I am more present with my kids when I'm able to spend time away from them.

  18. BKCaribBaby

    pear / 1672 posts

    @Mrs. High Heels' last paragraph is one of the main reasons I continue to work. Also we live in one of the most expensive parts of the country (with no intentions to move), if anything should happen to DH's job, at least we have some income (and good benefits as I work in government currently). I've made certain decisions about career, but quite frankly at this point, I'm where I would have wanted to be if I didn't have a child. I also like the idea that I am keeping my options open in a significant way for the future. Whatever that future may be.

  19. daniellemybelle

    cantaloupe / 6669 posts

    @Tidybee: Agreed. My mom was a SAHM and it was the best. She's so awesome.

    I haven't chimed in because I work because I have to. If I didn't have to, I probably wouldn't. But, I'd be interested to give the SAHM thing a try and see if I miss working in my field. I enjoy my work, and the grass is always greener.

  20. BandDmommy

    pomelo / 5660 posts

    My mom was a career woman and I used to wish she was a SAHM. I don't begrudge my mom for working but I also don't hold her on some high acclaim because she worked. I love my mom because she is my mom, not because she worked or choose to stay home.

  21. BandDmommy

    pomelo / 5660 posts

    @Maysprout: agree

  22. daniellemybelle

    cantaloupe / 6669 posts

    @BandDmommy: Good point. I think we usually tend to love our mom for who they are! DH admires his mom for working and earning her doctorate while raising him. He has never been very oriented toward me staying home for that reason, though he would support it if I wanted to and it worked out financially. And on the same token, I have always wanted to SAH in large part because of my great childhood with a SAH mom.

  23. bushelandapeck

    pomelo / 5720 posts

    I don't have to work and did stay home with DS for his first 9mo. I am a social worker and DH is in finance so were able to make that work until I found something part time that I would enjoy. I found a wonderful part time job (2 days/week) at my old company and I really do love it. I feel like I'm able to contribute to things like retirement, childcare, etc and still be home with our LO's the majority of the week. I wasn't cut out to be home full time so this scenario has been perfect for us.

  24. Andrea

    GOLD / wonderful coffee bean / 18478 posts

    I would like to add that you don't have to work out of the home for your kids to feel pride in you (if that's what you're going for). My 5 year old always comments about how hard I work at home and how she wants to be just like me when she grows up. She sees me on the go 24/7 and always doing something for them or our home. Being a SAHM is a lot more transparent for kids at this young age. If I was working in an office, she would only have a vague idea of what I did all day.

  25. Anya

    nectarine / 2784 posts

    @BandDmommy: thank you for saying this so succinctly. I completely agree.

  26. sweetooth

    nectarine / 2705 posts

    I usually don't think morbid thoughts like, "What would I do if I lost my husband and we were surviving on his income" but recently I lost a high school friend of mine. She was 36 years old. Just like that, cancer took away her chance to do what she wanted with her life. So if it's morbid to think that life could end when you least expect it, then I guess I'm thinking morbidly that if I were to be given a limited amount of time on this earth - would I want to spent it looking at a computer screen like I do all day? Or would I trade it for the crazy, exhausting, laughter-filled days of spending my time with my kids during these early years?

    There are so many reasons why people make the decision to work or stay at home. It's a very personal decision. I actually never gave it much thought before I had my son. But once he arrived my feelings about staying at home because much stronger. We live in an expensive area though and it's hard to survive on one income. So I work right now - but I want that to change. And my husband wants to support that. I love him so much for that.

    But now that we have #2 on the way, and the cost of 2 in daycare would be so high, and I really have the desire to be home with my sons, we are going to see what we can do so I can stay at home. And if that means we have to move, we're doing that. Because when I think of my good friend who never even had the chance to have kids - and I think about looking back on my life when I am hopefully old and gray - I think that for me, I'll be happier that I poured some of my creativity into my kids for a few years instead of into this silly machine that I'm staring at all day long.

  27. sweetooth

    nectarine / 2705 posts

    I find that it's hard to find articles that support staying at home - it's a hard decision to make and one that I do still go back and forth on since I've been so career-focused for most of my adult life. And everything I google and read really supports staying in the workforce. So when I found this article the other day it made me stop and smile. Thought I'd share it for those of you that do SAH and who are weighing your options.


  28. oliviaoblivia

    pineapple / 12793 posts

    I go back and forth.
    I'm lucky to have long maternity leaves so I've gotten a taste of SAHM without having to walk away from my career.
    I enjoy my work, but would prefer fewer hours but my boss really doesn't support that. It's just not done in my field. I'm lucky to only work 40 hours.
    With one kid I felt really lonely but now with two I'm really enjoying my leave and am debating not going back. I do funnel some of my clients to DH so being there does help his business. I could take on some free lance stuff through his company which is what I'm thinking about. Work a few hours a week to keep my license but really be at home.
    I don't know.
    My mom worked and I can't figure out how she was able to do everything while managing an extremely successful career.

  29. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    @sweetooth: well, I think one also has to consider what they would do if they suddenly lost their spouse, the sole wage earner. What then? It's not so easy to find just any job when you haven't worked in a long time, even the ones that don't require any skills. Insurance policies might cover the mortgage, but then what? Someone's got to pay to keep the lights on and pay the property taxes.

  30. sweetooth

    nectarine / 2705 posts

    @looch: I totally agree with you. There are so many things to consider when you entertain the idea of not working in order to stay home with your kids. I only added that there's also the perspective that life is short. It's just where my mind has been lately.

  31. MrsADS

    nectarine / 2262 posts

    I'm pregnant with #1 but plan to keep working. We could live on just DH's income, but it would become harder to save, cutting out extras, etc. I feel like long-term, I need to work to contribute to savings, retirement, my Social Security earnings, college for kid(s), etc. We could definitely get by but I'm not sure about getting ahead.

    I am also in a fairly family-friendly job for my industry (law). If I give it up and take a few years off, (as other lawyers know) I would basically be starting over, probably in private practice where I'd have to work a ton of hours, etc. I feel like if I stop working and stay home, I am really hurting my career long-term. If I was in an extremely demanding job with a ton of hours, I'd probably quit in an instant. I work for a nonprofit, so I don't make a ton of money, but my job is flexible with me and I have a lot of time off.

  32. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    @sweetooth: I agree that there are always two sides to every decision, I think that's what makes it so challenging to actually decide and then to be happy with the decision.

  33. BandDmommy

    pomelo / 5660 posts

    @looch: my husband just set up a life insurance policy which would allow us to maintain our lifestyle if he was to pass. Morbid to think about, but DH wants me to stay home with the kids. I could easily go back to work, not at same pay but it wouldn't take me long to get back to the manager level.

  34. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    @BandDmommy: I think most people don't think about life insurance though, when they're making the decision to stay at home or not. It would be great if everyone had the ability to afford it, but it's not always the case on one income, especially for the lower wage earning folks.

  35. BandDmommy

    pomelo / 5660 posts

    @looch: agree. My DH is finance guy so money is always on his mind.

  36. Madison43

    persimmon / 1483 posts

    @looch: agree. And we're not just talking about death - divorce, disability and illness are all depressing things I consider when debating whether to stay home or continue working.

  37. coopsmama

    cantaloupe / 6059 posts

    @BandDmommy: Thank you for saying that.

    There is no reason for a child to be more proud of their mom because they chose to work or they chose not to so they could SAH. Honestly, I don't really care if my children are "proud" of me. That's just a weird word choice. I want them to know I love them, will always be there for them, and I want to have a relationship with them such that they love me. Circumstances (working vs not) can change in a heartbeat so I'd hope their pride and respect for me would not be determined by whether or not I have a job.

    I SAH in this season of our lives. Both DH and I had SAH moms and so I don't think we ever considered otherwise. If I hated it, DH would be totally fine with me getting a job, but I don't hate it. I don't always loooove it either. But I do get a ton of wonderful moments with my children I wouldn't otherwise and we fill our days with activity both in and out of the house so at this time it's working well. It's really nice to have someone on the homefront to keep life and our house organized so that we can enjoy every moment of the weekend and evenings. I'd like to get a job when our youngest hits school age because I don't think I could keep myself fully occupied at home without children around but I know it will definitely add another busy dimension to our lives - working moms have all my respect because they have so much to do at all times!

  38. TheSwissWifeStyle

    nectarine / 2600 posts

    I am totally fine not working. I really have no desire to. I'm lazy. I ran my own pet care business for a while, but now that I'm expecting in July, I just stopped when May started to focus on the end of my pregnancy, getting everything done, etc.

    I have a theater degree that is just collecting dust. If we lived in the US, or any English speaking country, things might be different.

    After LO arrives I might try to make spending money again selling vegan cupcakes or something. I don't like using "DH's money" for stuff like clothes shopping for myself, etc.

  39. sandy

    cantaloupe / 6687 posts

    I wrote out a long post and it disappeared

    Basically I'm a SAHM bc I love it. I worked at firms the two summers in law school and went to work for a firm right out of law school for another 8 years. It was stressful and I never want to have billable hours ever again in my life. I hustle every day as a SAHM and do what I would expect a full time nanny to do if I was paying them. I enjoy having mostly free weekends with my family bc I can take care of stuff during the week.

    I keep my license active in case I want to return to work or if I have to return to work. We'll see what options there are for me when I decide to go back to work.

    I do have fears that my LO will think being a SAHM was a waste of my life. But DH says she will be proud of my career before kids and proud that I hustle every day whether it's at a job or at home. that she'll learn to work hard and choose what makes her happy in life whether society thinks it's worthy of her time and effort. It's all about choosing what makes you happy - that can be working out of the home or choosing to stay at home. You can be a miserable unbalanced WOHM or SAHM - or you can be amazing and happy and be respected as a WOHM and SAHM

  40. daniellemybelle

    cantaloupe / 6669 posts

    @sandy: <<But DH says ... she'll learn to work hard and choose what makes her happy in life whether society thinks it's worthy of her time and effort. It's all about choosing what makes you happy - that can be working out of the home or choosing to stay at home. You can be a miserable unbalanced WOHM or SAHM - or you can be amazing and happy and be respected as a WOHM and SAHM>>

    WORD. Preach, mama. This is SO important.

    More than anything I want to teach my daughter that she CAN and SHOULD do what what SHE wants to do because SHE wants to do it. I will be so proud of her no matter what as long as she is her own person. I pray that I can be a good example of that.

    Edit to add: I work right now because I have to. I like my work and I am fortunate to have a great, flexible, part-time job - but if I could I would probably SAH. So I struggle with this but ultimately I still want my daughter to know she does have choices - and even if she doesn't have the luxury to be a SAHM one day - she should still prioritize her happiness and health, whether that means working a high-powered job, staying at home or something in between. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

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