This post was originally published on November 25, 2008. ~Nicki
Everywhere I look I see a new poll, a new quiz or a new survey asking if you can afford to stay home with your children. Can you afford not to work? The question is plastered all over every parenting magazine and website I encounter. I’ve experienced being both a work-away-from-home mom and a stay-at-home mom, so this topic interests me.
I worked (frequently long hours) from the time my daughter was 2 months old until she was 19 months old. It wasn’t for me at all. I was miserable. My husband was miserable. My daughter was so cranky every night. We wanted out. We tried all of those calculators that tell you if you can afford to stay home and they all said absolutely not. We were devestated.
However, we could not have been more convinced that we needed the change. So, in faith, we went for it. It’s been over a year and a half now. We’re still here and we are unbelievably happier. My marriage is stronger than ever and my daughter is so much happier. For us, the change was radical and marked. Our family life improved at least 3-fold. All of our needs are better met, and that makes happier people.
This nice, long intro is to say this. The cost for me to go back to work and make more money for us to have more stuff is FAR greater than the cost for me to stay home. We’ve made a choice to invest in what is lasting.
If you are a working mom/parent, this is not a scolding for you at all. We need women in the workforce. Some are meant to do it and some are not. I was not. I’d like to give you some questions to think about if you are considering the switch. By “the switch” I am speaking of switching from stay-at-home to working OR from working to stay-at-home. I have no equations or calculators adding your income and expenses. If you are reading this then you posses at least some intelligence. You can do that yourself.
1. Is our current family situation starving the needs of any family member or relationship? Would making “the switch” change that? I don’t mean starving for food. I mean starving for attention and quality time. When I was working, my husband and I would fight about trivial things and we had so little time to invest in our relationship that instead of being supportive it was tense. My daughter would cry for me during the day and was so cranky when I got home that my quality time with her was frequently stressed. Being at my job was not worth the sacrifice of these relationships to me.
2. Does the thought of staying home feel like a dead end or like entrapment or is the thought of it freeing? If you are staying home or you are thinking about it and you have a sinking feeling like you are losing your dreams and your indentity, then it is probably not for you. You should not stay home at the cost of your own self-fulfillment. It’s true … if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. However, if you have that aching longing to be home within your heart that no career is satisfying then your time in the workplace is probably coming to a close or at least a pause.
3. Do you posses the motivation to be productive at home? This is a tough one. If you answer no, but you are really dying to stay home this can be learned, but it’s going to take a lot of self will. The reason to stay home is to better care for your home and family, not to watch tv in your pj’s all day. I believe that the key to feeling satisfied as a stay-at-home mom is having attainable goals and then meeting them. It’s like you’re self-employed.
4. Is there something you can do as a Side Hustle to boost your income? Frugal Dad has some good ideas for this one. The basic idea is that you make some money on the side doing something that you initiate, as opposed to getting a part-time job. Currently my side hustles include babysitting, a homemade bread business, and most recently blogging (not really making me any money … yet). Also consider opening a shop on Etsy.
5. What would going back to work do to the quality of life for your family? If your kids are all in school it may not make that big of a difference for you, but in some cases it’s going to turn your family life upside down.
6. Will the trade-off of a tighter income for a better home life create more stress in your home/marriage? Many marriages end as a result of money fights. It’s not worth it. Don’t do it. For my marriage staying home brought us closer together. If you don’t think this will happen, then think hard about your decision. You have to be in it to win it … together.
These are some tough and touchy topics and questions. I feel like our society is so geared toward the dual-income and affording everything we could possibly want that we’re missing out on what a lot of us really want. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and you are down because money is tight and you don’t feel like you are contributing enough then ask yourself, “Can I afford to work?” There are so many ways to cut back and so many ways to get by that it would be tragic to give up something you love out of guilt. Scaling back our already-modest lifestyle so that I could stay home with our family is one of the best decisions we ever made.
Why I do what I do ~ I’ve been teaching my daughter to identify whether people are boys or girls lately (which is humorous in and of itself). Yesterday I said , “Chloe are you happy?” And she replied, “No I’m not happy, I’m a girl.” I know, I know … every man is smirking right now.Have you liked Domestic Cents on Facebook yet?