I can only speak for my own experience as a SAHmom, I did it for 10 years. I am currently re entering the workplace since my kids are now FT in school and I really want to be back at work again after 10 years away. My experience though is as a white, educated, in my30s, living in suburbia mom who left a good paying job to do what I always wanted to do. My dh always made enough money to support me being home all these years. We live pretty simply and drive older cars but again, if I wanted something, I could buy it within reason. There were some leaner months, but there was always a paycheck enough to always cover our expenses mortgages etc. There are others where this is not only impossible but out of the question. There could be student loans, a career that is not as forgiving to leave it for a long stretch, medical benefits that need to be paid for and their job does. The list goes on and on. Plus sometimes Moms will be happier working outside the home than at home.
-Being with your child all the time. You can never get that back
-seeing my children are raised the way we wanted it to be.
-setting you own schedule to work around you and your family
-allowing you spouse that space to go further in their career because you're in charge of the kids
-bonding time with your kids and getting to know their friends, parents etc
-learning about how to do time management, doo things more simple or even frugal which is what I always did before I had the kids
-if your child is sick, you do not have to go to a work place and worry about them or take off time. This is your job.
being with your child 24/7 in most cases, you do not get a lunch break, time off, sick time, or pay raises! LOL
realizing the days with kids are long but the years are short!
If your spouse is the one income earner, he/she has to give to that job a lot of times first and could be absent a lot such as weekends working or late nights.
there are many more, but it depends on the family. One thing I noticed, if I was also working all these years, I would have been contributing more to our retirement accts, but then again in 08 we lost a ton of money from that crash. Its all back as it would be over time but until then I was hating I wasnt contributing to that. Also, DH moved up in his job and made a lot more money. If I was working he would have had to split the daycare duty etc which requires stopping at a certain time and going to get the child. He sometimes needed to stay at work. Many times.
Also, expenses come up- you need a new roof on your house, a new transmission on your car, the water heater died, whatever. On one income you have to expect to have something such as this happen at least once a year or all at once! Makes for some leaner months.
Having a stay at home parent cuts down on some expenses. Such as clothing for work, daycare costs, meals out, anything. Also income taxes are smaller with only one person working.
Some people talk about sacrifices. To us, the sacrifice would have been to miss seeing my kids all these years and miss out. Money can be earned and stuff can always be bought and sold and destroyed but I would never get my time back with my kids.