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SAHP v. WOHP- is it a choice?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Ok, got everyone's attention... smile.gif

I'm just curious, most of the moms I've met IRL seem to either work or stay home due to circumstance rather than choice. I'm wondering how many had a choice v. not.

Not sure if everyone falls into one of these categories, but probably most do:

(1.) Totally my choice, finances not an issue, followed my heart on whether or not to work or for how long.

(2.) No choice, circumstances/finances dictated I must work.

(3.) No choice, circumstances/finances dictated I must stay home.

(4.) Made a difficult choice/lifestyle sacrafices to be where I'm at.

(5.) Found another flexible solution- WAH, work part-time, work off hours.


I fall into categories 2 and 5. I have a really hard time with discussions about choice when I feel like I had very little choice with regard to this particular issue. I know quite a few moms who would like to work more or less hours, or none at all, but can't due to their particular circumstance. Curious to see where other parents fall. No debates or judgement though, we're all trying to do the best we can for our kids! smile.gif
post #2 of 25

Honestly many working mom's I know do enjoy their career and would work even if it weren't necessarily. However, I think a lot of those parents started in a place where it was a financial necessity and figured if they had to work anyway they might as well find something they love doing. I've had conversations with a lot of working women and most say that if they had the money to not work, they'd still work, but a heck of a lot less than they do.

For us we could survive on either a full time lower paying job for me, or a part time better paying job. My husbands salary alone would not pay for the necessities of life. The better paying job that I found I loved, doesn't have part time options. So I worked full time, and we enjoy a slightly higher standard of living than we would if I worked in a job I hated. I think this is a choice that is tough for some others to understand. We would have starved if I didn't work, but because I choose a relatively lucrative career we have plenty of extra when I do work. That doesn't mean that just because we spend a lot of my salary on activities and other things that we don't need my salary at all, or that staying home full time would be a viable option that still made it possible to feed, clothe, and home my family.

 

Currently I'm taking some time off of work and back in college to change careers to one that will let me spend more time with my family (teaching). I'm loving being a stay at home mom right now. But student loan money, severance I got when my job ended, and unemployment is the only thing making that possible. The only reason this year is even a option at all is because my husbands salary has dramatically increased in the past 2 years. Even with those sources of income I have to juggle like crazy to make the budget work each month and our saving is rapidly disappearing. 

 

I will admit that, now that my husbands income has increased a lot, I probably could stay home if we cut out pretty much all extras such as the kids sports and activities, sold our house and moved to a cheaper rental, ect. But at this point I'm happy working and it's not worth the sacrifices to me. This was not the situation most of my children's life while my husband and I have both had to work just to make sure week keep food on the table.

 

So I guess we are currently a 1 or 4. But up until the last year we were firmly 2s.


Edited by JollyGG - 9/30/13 at 1:11pm
post #3 of 25

Our baby was born in a situation where we had no real choice- both full time parents, and we're damn well going to graduate after all the work we've put into it- but we have the flexibility that LO has never had to be in day care and won't until well over a year old.

 

My partner wants to be a S/WAHP, my dream job works well for WAHP. Hopefully we'll be able to work it out so at least my partner can be a S/WAHP. We'll see what happens.

post #4 of 25
I'm in category one.

I planned to work but I lost my first baby... he was stillborn. I was finishing college with my next baby. When the second live baby came along, the cost of putting two kids in full time daycare was going to eat up too much of my salary. So, I stayed home and as it turned out.. my dd was diagnosed with a chronic illness that she has struggled with her whole childhood. Working her many doctor's visits and physical therapy around a full time job while also having another child to care for was just too much to consider. Being there for my kids and volunteering in the schools and the community was a gift. I am very grateful to the universe for that time. I'm fortunate that my hubby, a programmer makes scads of money. I have recently returned to work... my youngest is a senior in high school and my meager income as a preschool teacher is paying dd's college tuition.
post #5 of 25
Is it wrong if I choose 1, 4, and 5? smile.gif

I do technically work, but only one 4.5-hour shift a week, and baby comes along. Frankly, the financial impact of my work on our budget is small (I bring in about $100/month), and I don't really work for financial reasons. So that's where 5 comes in.

I don't really know if I should pick one or four, though. We have always been a one-income family, even before our son, other than during the summer. I worked while my husband was in school, then quit working when he graduated and got a job requiring a lot of travel so I could go with him. Baby came along about a year later, and I've been home with him. We live very comfortably on my husband's salary. We lived very comfortably on my salary, too. (Which was $20,000 less, though we had summer money to help.) I mean, we were/are comfortable with the way we live, not that it would meet other people's definition of comfortable.

But I can also say I've sacrificed things to stay at home. Quitting my job ended up feeling like far more of a personal sacrifice than I expected. We don't own a home (yet), we drive old cars, we wear old clothes, and don't have expensive hobbies. Certainly we could have a lot more money/possessions/fun experiences if we both worked, and it's sometimes hard to see others having things I want, but can't afford. For both my dh and I, though, having me stay home was priority #1, and we were committed to making the finances work, no matter what.
post #6 of 25
Finances have always been an issue for us, I mean, aren't they for most families?

And I will say our choice to keep me at home these past 11 years has contributed to financial hardship.

That said, we made our choice for reasons that had nothing to do with money. I guess we'd fall into category 1, but finances are a real issue. We've just made do over the years, I guess. We've had really hard times but aren't so bad off recently.
post #7 of 25

(1.) Totally my choice, finances not an issue, followed my heart on whether or not to work or for how long.

 

I quit working when we got married and it was OUR choice (I think that should be in the options, not just "MY" since this is a joint decision for most couples).  Dh's income was more than sufficient for us to do so.  We chose to start a family, immediately (I was 37), so working was an easy option to give-up and I never missed it.  The extra income was never needed.

 

Dh retired in January 2013 and, between pension and investments, I'll never have to work, nor will dh.

 

We are very fortunate.

post #8 of 25
Uh, sort of 1, 3, and 4.

Staying at home was my secret dream, which I'd been raised to believe was impossible. Nobody does that anymore, I needed a career, I needed to finish college so I could support myself, etc. When I went on maternity leave with my first, and DH asked if I was planning to go back to work or stay home -- like it was no big deal, and he was hoping I wanted to stay home! -- I was shocked. I said something like, "I can do that? Really?" And never looked back.

I suppose it was also a sacrifice, losing between 1/3 to 1/2 of our income with pretty much no plan for how we were going to manage that. (And we had three kids at the time, and were barely making it already. We didn't even own a car.) But it never felt like a sacrifice, because I hated working and I loved staying home. Since then, it has become a necessity for me to stay home, since there is no way I could ever make enough money even to cover the costs of me working (like childcare).

Still, I'd say it was completely our choice, something we did because that's how we wanted to live, and we didn't even consider the finances. We just stepped out in faith and made it work. Eleven years later, it still works just fine.
post #9 of 25
On further reflection, 3 sort of applied, too. My son was unable to take a bottle until he was 6 months old, so I couldn't have left him to go to work even if I had wanted to. It's kind of amazing that I managed to forget something that was an all-consuming problem for me less than a year ago!
post #10 of 25
Im a combination of 4 and 5 except that I wouldn't say we made huge sacrifices or difficult decisions. It was a pretty easy decision for us that I would SAH while the girls were little. We have made some lifestyle changes to accommodate that but we don't feel like we've made huge sacrifices.

When I went back to work when DD1 was about 20 months I did 1-2 shifts/week and DH and/or my parents looked after her. God willing, we will do the same next year when DD2 is old enough.
post #11 of 25

We're somewhere between 1 and 2, and a firm 5

 

I think we could technically get by on dh's income, but the sacrifices that we would have to make would make us all miserable, so I work.  I like the added security that comes from both of us having jobs, too.  Dh and I work opposite days, though, so it kind of feels like we're doing the SAHP thing, too.

post #12 of 25
Ugh, i go back to work in 1 week when dd is 16 weeks old because i HAVE to. Im dreading it, but dhs salary only covers our mortgage payment. Im truly annoyed with the scores of people who have said to me that if we really wanted to, we could "make it work." Ummm...no. if i dont work we have no food, no heat, no electric, etc. Im jealous of all the stay at home mommies greensad.gif
post #13 of 25

I would have to go back in time about 8 years and make different decisions in order for SAH to be a viable option. I would have had to: 1. not go back to school, which raised my earning power but also saddled me with a ton of loans, and 2. marry somebody more frugal than my DH (or who made more, or both). I could SAH on his income but it would be incredibly tight, and the required level of belt-tightening is more than he's willing to do. Plus we wouldn't be able to pay on our loans at all. They would be in perma-forbearance. If we had a situation where I HAD to stay home for some reason, we could do it, but it would be a real problem long-term. Alternately, I could work and he could SAH, which would financially be a piece of cake as my earning power is a lot higher than his, but he really adores his job and while I like mine okay I am not as enamored of it. 

 

Fortunately, as it turned out, I don't want to SAH anyway. Being in the house all day every day with a kid turns out to not be my thing. I enjoy work because it gives me a break from my kid, and vice versa. I am lucky enough to be able to make a substantial income and work just part-time. 

post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post
 

For us we could survive on either a full time lower paying job for me, or a part time better paying job. My husbands salary alone would not pay for the necessities of life. The better paying job that I found I loved, doesn't have part time options. So I worked full time, and we enjoy a slightly higher standard of living than we would if I worked in a job I hated. I think this is a choice that is tough for some others to understand. We would have starved if I didn't work, but because I choose a relatively lucrative career we have plenty of extra when I do work. That doesn't mean that just because we spend a lot of my salary on activities and other things that we don't need my salary at all, or that staying home full time would be a viable option that still made it possible to feed, clothe, and home my family.

 

Thanks for adding your perspective. I admit, I've been guilty of judging people who say they "have" to work - thinking, wow, you have/do tons of stuff we cannot afford because I stay home. It makes sense that maybe you can't make ends meet with just one partner working, but it's possible you could end up with a decent amount of extra money if you both work.

post #15 of 25

It seems the stereotype is that financial reasons are valid, while other reasons are less valid. I would like to point out that whether you love or hate your job has a HUGE effect on your family. A job can make you a very happy or unhappy person, which affects all those around you, including your kids. I had a job I loved, and we definitely could have lived on DHs income alone, but I chose to work. I had a job I hated, and the stress factor was not worth the money. Then I became ill, and now I can not work more than about 12 hours a week. If a job I loved came along again and I really wanted it, I would not be able to do it, due to illness. People assume all sorts of craziness about others. But really, no one outside your immediate family can know what is reasonable or realistic for your family. 

post #16 of 25

I would fall under 2.  We got pregnant right before I graduated, so we have a lot of student debt.  We also have a mortgage for our farm, that is not too horrible but forces me to work.  We are able to save a lot of money right now and put most of it towards our debt.  Once we get our debt lower and have more children, we are hoping I can stay home with them.

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post
 

It seems the stereotype is that financial reasons are valid, while other reasons are less valid. I would like to point out that whether you love or hate your job has a HUGE effect on your family. A job can make you a very happy or unhappy person, which affects all those around you, including your kids. I had a job I loved, and we definitely could have lived on DHs income alone, but I chose to work. I had a job I hated, and the stress factor was not worth the money. Then I became ill, and now I can not work more than about 12 hours a week. If a job I loved came along again and I really wanted it, I would not be able to do it, due to illness. People assume all sorts of craziness about others. But really, no one outside your immediate family can know what is reasonable or realistic for your family. 

 

This is true... and also, I think that for a lot of people it is a mix of both financial and other reasons. I think a lot of working moms (not all, but a good percentage surely) work to raise their family's standard of living from "scraping by" to "comfortable" and also because they find their jobs add happiness to their lives, and it can't be boiled down to only one of the two reasons. 

post #18 of 25

I guess we fit into category 1, 3 and 4 but are mostly in category 1 now.

 

When we were TTC we planned to both continue working after having children.  We couldn't imagine cutting our income in half especially since my half was the stable income and his varied.  By the 8th IVF try and with my job involving a lot of stress, long commute, long hours and a pending merge I decided to quit working the week prior to our last embryo transfer.  We thought I would go back eventually, but a difficult pregnancy, months on bed rest and in the hospital, twins with NICU stays and ongoing health issues, needed therapies, etc. meant I never went back.

 

I have been home ten years.  At this point it is a choice.  I could go back to work (although I am not marketable and could not get the same jobs I used to have) but I do not want to go back to work.  For us the negatives of my working outweigh the positives of the additional income.  (For me, the only positive w/b the income.  After college, I worked 18 years in my field and have no desire to go back.)   This summer I started a very PT work at home job and I sort of regret taking the job.  Sometimes my husband suggests I go back to work because the additional money would be nice.  But then something happens that reminds us why it is good that I am home.

 

 

edited to add:  I reread #4 and although we haven't had to make huge sacrifices to our lifestyle, I felt #4 fit our situation.  Our retirement funds, the kids' college funds, etc are not what they c/h/b if I would have worked.  Also, by staying home I have allowed myself to be in a vulnerable position financially if something happens to my husband or if we divorce.


Edited by dbsam - 9/30/13 at 9:19pm
post #19 of 25

I think we're pretty much a 3.  Well, it FELT like that at the time the decision was made, anyway.  I imagine I could earn some income above the extra expenses of working (childcare, appropriate clothing, gas, etc.), but it wouldn't be much due to where I'm at on my career path (um, not anywhere...), and the odds of a fulfilling job are slim to none.  Babe came along at a pretty awkward time for me, just out of grad school with NO work experience in my field, and entry level positions very hard to come by - and often residential or involving lots of camping.  We moved quite a long way for me to get an entry level job while I was pregnant, but realized a few months in that we weren't going to be able to afford it on my "salary," so we had to move all the way back up to stay with my folks and were BOTH unemployed until just after baby was born.  Then once she was born, she was so high needs that I wasn't able to think about anything again, LOL.  I've been thinking about it now, though.  I'm really missing having a career. 

post #20 of 25

I think everyone has a choice. I know one family in which neither parent works. The mother does get some disability, and at least at one point she/they were selling Avon, and this may still be the case (which I do realize is work -- by not working, I mean neither has a job with a somewhat reliable income), but it doesn't seem to go very far. In the few years that we've known them, they've had to move around a lot, staying with different friends or family members, once in a homeless shelter, and sometimes relatives were willing to take in the kids but not the parents, so the parents lived either in their car or in a tent and visited their kids.

 

I really don't see losing our home and having to stay in a homeless shelter or possibly be separated from our kids as a viable option, since I DO have the option of being able to work and bring in an income. This is choice I gladly make, and it's also a fun choice as I love my job.

 

I have a problem with the idea of having "no choices" in our lives. That simply isn't true. We always have choices; for some of us, the other options just aren't tolerable so long as we're able to bring in some money.


Edited by mammal_mama - 10/1/13 at 11:59am
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