I can't speak about the dad issue, but I can offer a perspective on the other questions. I took an 18-month break from work with my oldest two, and our budget was much as you described yours. We managed but it was very tight, and after a while the family austerity program grew very tiresome. So I went back to work, where I've been for over three years. But what they say about the extra expenses of working has proven very true for us. Though I make a very decent salary, the take-home after all the new spending (daycare, driving, clothing, convenience foods, etc.) is very small. There are certainly other considerations beyond the immediate paycheck, like long-term earnings and career trajectory, which may be of consequence for some. But for us, the tradeoff has not been worth it. So we looked again, more carefully, at the budget and really cut. (And I've resigned; only a few days to go.) One good thing about cultivating frugality in connection with raising children is that, for us at least, it's allowing us to practice what we want to preach to our kids -- things about conservation, the concept of "enough," greener living, the family as priority, etc. So it feeds on itself, fuels itself. This sense of alignment is an extremely powerful motivator. I know I will work again eventually, but I doubt it will ever be office-based, full-time work. If you have skills that allow for earning money through consulting -- and it sounds like you do -- being able to create your own work/life reality is an enormous treat. (Oh, and check out the "Have you read Radical Homemakers" thread. If it sounds like your cup of tea, I'd highly recommend the book for anyone considering this kind of transition.) Good luck!