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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not sure if this is the right board for this question, but I wanted to ask -- Has anyone decided to stay home with db even though you were the primary breadwinner? I so much want to stay home with my daughter, at least for a while, but DH makes only a fraction of what I make. (He doesn't want to be a SAHD, so that's not really an option right now.) If I work, we're living comfortably and can save for my daughter's future. If I don't, we're basically living hand-to-mouth. (We have student loans, etc.)

I so much want to do this that I keep coming up with all sorts of rationalizations. E.g., I could stay home just for her first year, and then go back to work. I'd have the rest of my life to earn money, but this time with my daugher is time I'll never get back. Also, she's not taking the bottle and is having a difficult adjustment to daycare (I just returned to work after a 5 month leave), so I keep thinking I should be with her rather than in an office.

But then I wonder if that's just selfishness on my part. Maybe the best thing for her would be if I continue to work, leaving her with a nice, loving nanny, so that we can save money for her future?

I know this is a decision DH and I have to make for ourselves, but I'd love to hear how other people came to their decisions.
 

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when she is older she won't care about the stuff you bought her, she'll cherish the memories of spending time with you. is there work you can do from home or part time if you're not comfortable totally SAH?
 

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Well, I am a sahm, and I have very strong opinions on the subject, so keep that in mind when reading my reply. No one, I mean NO ONE is going to love and care for your daughter like you. I am a nanny, so I can say that. And saving for college can happen at any time. There is no way to get back the first few years of your kids lives. You can't go back in time. She wont remember how many toys she had, or how many rooms your house has, or what brand of clothing she had. She will however remember the times you spent together, and likewise, you will have some beautiful memories. YOU will be the one to witness her first steps and her first words, YOU will be there when she takes a tumble and gets a boo-boo. We also made some huge sacrifices when deciding I would stay home with dd. We (dh and I) made about the same, so we were cutting our income in half. We live in a modest home, have done lots of home improvements on our own insetead of hiring a company, and forego alot of luxeries. Has it always been easy, no way, but it has ALWAYS been worth it. I also found a way to add to the income by being a nanny for another baby. I make $200 a week, and I keep M from 9-3 M-F. It doesn't stop us (dd and I) from any of the things we like to do, we just bring M along. It's not much, but it's something. Could you work from home? Or work part time, alternating with your dh? If your heart is telling you to stay with your baby, do it. You will not be sorry, and you wont miss the material things you are sacrificing. HTH
 

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I agree that you'll get different answers here than you will in the WOHM forum.

I made the same amount as my dh, so me not working cut our income in half. It was hard. It is hard. I wish that we could be paying off debt at a rapid clip (we have huge student loan bills). BUT...I think that being here for my son is more important than paying off debt quickly. We are paying it off, just at a slower pace. For me, it came down to the fact that no one would love my son like I love him. I wanted him surrounded by mama love all day long, not the nice/caring stranger love of a daycare provider.
 

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I only have a few minutes but I wanted to throw out there that in my experience there is a world of difference in working part-time and full-time. Is part-time a possibility?

Also, as a counterpoint to a few of the posters above, as a child who experienced serious financial stress in the family, I would not discount the finances. By caring for your child's financial health, you are caring for a very important part of your child's life.

I lived hand-to-mouth as a child for periods of time and it was hugely, terribly stressful. If I have the option, I don't want to put my own child through that level of financial stress, even if it means sacrifice on my part by working. Thankfully my parents were really good parents so shepherded us through the lean times, but still, if I can avoid that for my own kids, I'll do it.

Finally, one suggestion is that if you could plan a distinct return to the job market, is there a way you could take off for your baby's first year and then return? Or would you lose the ability to work completely by stepping out? There is a lot of difference between taking a set amount of time off and taking an unbounded period of time. Would your employer be amenable if you said that you wanted unpaid leave? I think employers tend to be a lot more comfortable with employees who come with a set plan: e.g., I want to stay home with my baby for the first year, but I want to return to work, and here is the date that I want to return, and I have childcare lined up for that period, here is what I think my salary should be, etc.

That's what I did, and it worked out really well. It turned out the best for all of us. Now we're a happy two-income family, but I was glad for the opportunity to experience SAH too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I just want to say how much I appreciate these responses -- they're so thoughtful and really helpful. I have been incredibly stressed about this decision and feel like the stakes are so important.

It may be that I'm obsessing about this more than I should. I have a lot of nervousness about finances -- what Azuralea said in her post really resonated with me because my family had very tough financial problems when I was growing up, and I always promised myself that I wouldn't put my own children through that.

As long as I tell myself it's only until my daughter is a year old, it doesn't seem so unmanageable financially. (Though I'm sure it's not any easier to go back to work when your child is 1 year old than it is when she's 5 months ...)

I would love to figure out a way to work part time -- it would go such a long way toward easing some of the guilt I'd feel for giving up my current income. For various reasons, part time wouldn't be possible at my current job (nor would another several months of leave). But I would be okay with leaving this job, as long as I knew I could figure something else out.
 

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I struggled with trying to decide if I wanted to go back to work, too. I ended staying home completely for 15 months. Now I am back to work very part-time, about 8-10 hours a week. It gives us an extra $500-$600 after taxes a month, and keeps me up to date in my nursing skills. Its a perfect balance for us. Is working part-time an option for you?
 

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I was the primary breadwinner and stopped working to sah (though I still make some money doing freelance work) In the time since I stopped working dh has really had things take off at work and makes much more than I did when I stopped.

I think that living on the financial edge is a very difficult decision to make and am not sure what my children will or won't remember or want when they are older - I decided to sah for selfish reasons - I couldn't STAND going to work and being away from home. Doing so would have left ME bitter and angry and been bad for my marriage, I became very resentful of dh while I was working. OTH the time that I spent working when my first ds was little has provided us with some longterm financial stability that has made it possible for me to have two more children and spend the last 4.5 years at home. In the end it worked, but I found it very emotionally difficult to be a working mom (though my son seemed perfectly happy - in the end I did it for me)

BJ
Barney, Ben & Patrick
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LilyHall View Post
But then I wonder if that's just selfishness on my part. Maybe the best thing for her would be if I continue to work, leaving her with a nice, loving nanny, so that we can save money for her future?
This part of your post struck me. I don't see how staying at home with your babe is a selfish thing. I grew up with a SAHM and I so value how much she gave of herself to us. As a SAHM myself, I feel that my kids benefit more from me being at home than I ever could myself. Sure it's satisfying being with them, but from their point of view I'm helping them to develop and establish views of what the world is.
 

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I'm in a similar spot and struggling with the same thoughts. I really want to stay home, but I'm not married, so the financial well-being of my family is very much on my shoulders. I've started to brainstorm some ideas, which DP hasn't been too supportive of (and are leading to some serious doubts about our relationship, unfortunately
: ).

I have mental money issues that I think lead back to the near poverty I grew up in and I don't want my kids to be subjected to that. I want to be able to save for their college, help with down payments on their first houses, plan for my own retirement so they don't have to worry about me in my old age, etc. I think these are valid concerns. At the same time, though, I want to be with them more than I am now, so I'm willing to scarifice some financial contributions that I *could* make in order to put some extra face time in now.

As for the "years you can never get back"....... that's true at any age, ime. My oldest DS is 9 and THESE are "years I'll never get back" with him as much as DS2's toddler years are - different, but no less important. The same will be true when they're 17 and 10, so I look at it from that perspective.

I'm interested in what other moms in similar spots have decided. I'm not opposed to living "hand to mouth" for a time, but I also put a great importance on the long-term picture.
 

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We made many big changes to make it possible for me to stay home 4 years ago, including downsizing our house. DH made more money than me, but not a lot more. I decided to stay home indefinately and it has worked out well. We lived on the edge of financial ruin for many months, including when DH started his own business that ended up not being successful. Now though, DH has a great job making more money than ever and we are quite comfy money-wise. I just want to suggest that your DHs situation can change over the next years to relieve any financial stress you would have to deal with initially.

I think your mindset about financial issues is the most important as far as your kids suffering from teh stress caused by being tight money-wise. We went to lots of garage sales and never went out to eat, etc but DS had no understanding of not having money for going out or buying new clothes. As long as you can pay your basic bills I say go for it!
 

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Have you talked to your dh about things he could do to improve his income? Is he willing to look for a higher paying job or pursue further training?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LilyHall View Post
I'm not sure if this is the right board for this question, but I wanted to ask -- Has anyone decided to stay home with db even though you were the primary breadwinner? I so much want to stay home with my daughter, at least for a while, but DH makes only a fraction of what I make. (He doesn't want to be a SAHD, so that's not really an option right now.) If I work, we're living comfortably and can save for my daughter's future. If I don't, we're basically living hand-to-mouth. (We have student loans, etc.)

I so much want to do this that I keep coming up with all sorts of rationalizations. E.g., I could stay home just for her first year, and then go back to work. I'd have the rest of my life to earn money, but this time with my daugher is time I'll never get back. Also, she's not taking the bottle and is having a difficult adjustment to daycare (I just returned to work after a 5 month leave), so I keep thinking I should be with her rather than in an office.

But then I wonder if that's just selfishness on my part. Maybe the best thing for her would be if I continue to work, leaving her with a nice, loving nanny, so that we can save money for her future?

I know this is a decision DH and I have to make for ourselves, but I'd love to hear how other people came to their decisions.
Is your boss willing to let you work at home? Could you do flex hours (meaning as long as you get your job done it doesn't matter how your hours are structered?What does your husband think about you being a SAHM, because if he's not on board since you're the primary breadwinner then there may be some issues...Also is the insurance through you as well?

To me there is a difference in having to work to pay bills, provide food etc and working just because you need a luxury car, boat etc...
 

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Some ideas (coming someone who straddles the SAH world and the WAH/ WOH world and therefor the SAHM forum & working moms forum):

You already got great feedback about considering working part-time. If you can find the right balance for your family this can give you the best (and worst) of both worlds.

Also, you can reduce the need for daycare if you and your husband can work complementary hours.

If you decide you need to work - work hard at coming up with childcare that you feel great about. I am NEVER happy working unless I am excited about my kids' childcare situation. It may take several tries to get it right.

If I were to take one year off to SAH it would be from age 1-2 rather than 0-1 (unless you are have insurmountable trouble with pumping/ bottle feeding while you are gone). Others may feel very differently, but I connect more with an interactive toddler than a cuddly baby - I think it is a personality type thing.

In my experience the transition from working to staying at home can be very difficult. It sounds like you really want to stay home though, which should ease the transition for you.

Good luck.
 

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Thinking about it, for me what made the difference in being able to enjoy the time I was SAH was having a clear plan to getting back to work. Even if you can't go part-time, could you plot out a way to return to work? You said that extended leave wasn't an option, but do you know what other companies in your field think about hiring former SAHMs? Do you have contacts in other companies who could refer you? Could you contact them, tell them you want to SAH for a period of time, but you'd like to return at X date and would they possibly be interested?

Also, in terms of financial stress, at this age your daughter won't remember financial stress and it won't really affect her, unless it strains your marital relationship and causes high stress levels around the home, or it means you don't have health insurance. So if you could manage hand-to-mouth for a period, this might be a good time to do it.

I do think for older kids, they can pick up on hand-to-mouth living even with parents who have a good attitude. My parents had a very good attitude about it, but still, it was something I picked up on and was nervous about. I remember wearing a pair of shoes that gave me bleeding blisters for a year (sixth grade) because I knew my parents didn't have the money to buy a new pair. So I hid my bleeding heels from them for a year. That's the sort of thing I really don't want my son to experience.

It probably depends on the kid, though. I was a pretty sensitive kid.
 

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I feel for you! I was a full time student and manager at a salon when I found out I was pregnant. I knew that I just couldn't do all that the first year.

I took the majority of my classes online and quit my job. My DH was still in school and playing baseball at the college so it was incredibly tight, but so worth it! I enjoyed the baby stage because it always kept me busy.

My DD, is now 16mo. I am gone a half-day 3 days a week and I have a part time nanny ( A SAHM) who I LOVE. She loves it because it allows her to STAY at home. (She was the primary breadwinner also) It's a good fit for us, I need to get out, and she loves playing with her friend (nanny's DD).

For me, that first year was ESSENTIAL. They are so demanding (especially mine) and it took a toll on me, I couldn't imagine her not being my own child and having to deal with it... it would be hard.

I'm looking to go back to work ( maybe not completely FT)when she is three since I will have my degree. Of course, thats dependant on how she handles it. I am not into forcing a situation on her if it isn't working and I can help it.

I just think the early years they are so important- they learn about the world, love, relationships, empathy, and trust- the basis of the rest of their life... I want to be the one to teach her those things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you again, all of you, for these replies. I really didn't expect to get such well-considered, thoughtful responses and so many suggestions for how to make this work. I also appreciate that people have taken seriously the concerns about finances -- i.e., that it's not a decision between Prada shoes and no Prada shoes, but rather a decision between (a) being able to save a little for my daughter's future without constant financial stress and (b) putting us in a position where we might barely break even. Because of my family background (and I know many people can relate to this), I have spent a lot of my life obsessed with having some kind of financial stability. So I'm pretty risk-averse.

Right now, although I'm a little scared about it, I'm leaning pretty strongly toward staying home with her at least for now. (I'm operating on the assumption that I wouldn't be able to afford to take off much more time than that -- my husband probably won't start earning significantly more anytime soon.)

When I do go back to work, I am sure that I'll go through the same anxiety about leaving my daughter as I'm going through now. So that brings me to a related question. One of you mentioned that, if you could have just a year off, you'd choose to do it when your child is 1-2 rather than 0-1. Do most of you feel this way? I really keep going back and forth on this issue -- when is it most important for a child to have his/her mother at home FT, if it can only be for a year.

(For me, the trump card may be the fact that my daughter is having serious difficulty taking the bottle. She'll take a little bit of rice cereal at daycare, eats when I get down there for lunch to nurse her, and then spends much of the night nursing. Everyone says this she'll eventually take the bottle, but until then it's obviously not a good situation.)
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LilyHall View Post
(For me, the trump card may be the fact that my daughter is having serious difficulty taking the bottle. She'll take a little bit of rice cereal at daycare, eats when I get down there for lunch to nurse her, and then spends much of the night nursing. Everyone says this she'll eventually take the bottle, but until then it's obviously not a good situation.)

Hi - I'm actually a WOHM (hopefully SAHM in the future when DH graduates college) but I just wanted to comment on this. My DS had a lot of trouble adjusting to the bottle, too. He eventually took it and he's doing fine, but even so he has always taken very little milk while I'm gone. He is 18 months old and STILL reverse cycles. It's doable, but you might both get more sleep if you do SAHM.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LilyHall View Post
She'll take a little bit of rice cereal at daycare, eats when I get down there for lunch to nurse her, and then spends much of the night nursing. Everyone says this she'll eventually take the bottle, but until then it's obviously not a good situation
DS did this until he weaned - never really took a bottle at all. I nursed at drop-off time, 1-2 times during the day, and at pick-up. He took maybe 2 or 3 bottles a week from dcp. He just nursed all night long to make up for it. Are you co-sleeping? In our case, it kept us well-rested AND nursing for well over a year, despite my wohm'ing after he was 7 months. I would look at total feedings in a 24 hour period, rather than just how much she's eating between 9 & 5.
 

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OP, I don't know what your financial situation is, but:

-if you are broke, student loans can be deferred almost indefinately, and

-if you have not saved anything for your child's college, you can always try to get a job at a college/university when your DC is a teenager. Free tution for dependents is usually a benefit of working at a college.

I would reccomend a book called The Two Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren. She is an economist who details how most two income families with children have less discretionary income than single income families- after the increased tax bite, childcare, transportation, and all the little extras that you need when you both work (wardrobe, eating out, etc.) frequently the person who could be staying home is working for nothing, or very low pay.

In all honesty, I would get tough with DH. Tell him he either needs to be a SAHD or get trained to get a more profitable job.
 
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