Working to be a stay-at-home mom

stay-at-home mom

Working to be a stay-at-home mom

Something about this whole stay-at-home mom deal rubbed me the wrong way recently.  What could possibly be a problem with being a SAHM?  After all, it must be so easy.  Well, that is just it.  It is the number of times this comment is made:  “Must be nice, but I have to work.  Wish we could do that.”

You can.  Yes, everyone is in their unique situation, but more than likely, you can.  The big house, the new car, multiple vacations are not the key to happiness.  Staying home is about sacrifice.  We have sacrificed more than meets the eye so that I can simply BE THERE.  How did we make it happen?  Blood, sweat, and tears.  This is how we did it:

Living on one income
Ten years ago, we began putting away my paycheck, which was the bulk of our income.  For several months, my pay went solely to chipping away at our debt and to an emergency fund.

Accepting help
In the very beginning, we did accept my grandmother’s offer to pay off one of our smaller loans.  It meant a lot to her to help us in this worthy endeavor and we were so grateful.  We have also had plenty of toys, clothing, shoes, and more given to our children by their grandparents….we have asked for less, but we are appreciative.

Working hard
Many days have been spent hanging out laundry, thawing out portions of our “cow”, collecting eggs, hoeing weeds, blanching veggies, baking bread, organizing for consignment and yard sales, hunting down freebies and rock-bottom prices, working on ebay, content writing, and all the while parenting.  It is not glamorous or easy street.  It is also not for everyone.  But there is a sense of accomplishment working with children in tow- not to mention getting to sleep like a rock!

Being weird
Yeah, we are “that” family at times.  Grow food, shovel chicken mess, make gifts, bring homemade sandwiches and coupons everywhere….and there is even a giant antenna on the roof for TV.  We have not gone to one car or driving a clunker- yet- but I am not opposed to it.  It was tough, but I gave up a fashion industry career for this.  It is OK to live the simple life, in fact this is our preference.

Resisting temptation
There is no denying it:  social media envy exists.  Drooling over big open floor plans in magazines?  Guilty.  And we have often talked ourselves out of restaurant food, seeing as how I could make dinner for five for less than $5, easy.  But we are only human, and we pray and life goes on.  After years of working like mad on debt and savings, there is a little spending money- you just have to hang on.

Loving it
I am there for my children.  And so are working mothers, of course.  But I haven’t missed a special event for a child while sitting on a plane, as I know would have happened had I stayed in my career.  We are glad we chose to take this path.  We did not get to do it.  We did it.

An inspirational resource I read, not once, but twice before leaving my career was Women Leaving the Workplace by Larry Burkett.  And this book, The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples has practical financial advice for living on one income.

And please do tell in the comments your thoughts on choosing the SAHM lifestyle.

Linked to Thrifty Thursday

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12 Replies to “Working to be a stay-at-home mom”

  1. I LOVE this post! I’ve gone on the same exact rant so many times (mostly to my husband, venting about hearing that kind of stuff)…I get so, so frustrated when I hear that “must be nice” phrase because most of the people who say that COULD be stay-at-home-mom’s, if they made the sacrifices that we do, but they choose not to. They want their nice house, nice cars, extravagant toys that their kids “need,” 25 extra-curriculars per child, nice vacations, etc.

    Instead of all that, we choose for me to stay at home, and it IS a sacrifice, on many levels, but we choose it.

    Yes there are some people who really couldn’t be a SAHM, because of unique situations, but most of them COULD do it if they WOULD.

    I actually touched on this a bit in my recent post, about is frugality worth it? Yes it is, and being a SAHM is one of the big reasons why.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Love this!

    Being at home has been wonderful for my relationship with my husband. We have never fought a lot but there was a lot of resentment when it came to dinner and chores. We also spend less money because we don’t eat out or buy prepared foods like we did when I was working 60hrs a week. I have time to shop sales, and make more from scratch, It’s great!

  3. I’m a SAHM too, and it is a sacrifice. While the money is one thing (yup, we miss it), what I’m finding tough is the lack of personal space and time that I had as a career minded mama. It’s an up and down ride, and I’m thankful for the health of our family and the gift that we have to stay together while my kiddos are so young.

  4. Nice article! I’m a mom employed outside the home, but I would never say, “Must be nice.” I had a SAHM until 6th grade, and I’m quite aware that she worked hard and that most SAHMs do too. I also know that my personality is not well suited to being a SAHM; even in just 12 weeks of maternity leave, I became very restless, missed my work, began to feel worried about money because I personally wasn’t earning even though my partner was getting a good salary at that time, and felt resentful about doing more housework than he was. Of course I did enjoy being with my baby, but when I went back to work I found that I enjoyed him even more after a few hours apart.

    Frugality is worthwhile even when you have two incomes, though! Why waste money, when you could give to those in need or save for college or retirement? Frugality also enables us to do work we enjoy that makes good use of our individual skills, instead of having to take jobs with high salaries. Right now, we are living on my income while my partner learns a new programming language and starts his own business. We wouldn’t be able to do that if we had the kind of lifestyle Crystal describes. Not all employed mothers are working for that reason–but I certainly can understand feeling frustrated when people like that say they “have to work”!

  5. I came home and then we started paying off debts, it was hard. I do not regret it at all. Right now we have decided to downsize our mortgage. We live out in the country in Texas on 5 acres in a house we had built. The Lord has blessed us as we decided to move into town to save money in a myriad of ways as well as being closer to our activities by providing a bigger house. The yard of course is smaller :/ but the house is great and we are right where we wanted to be. I also wanted to encourage you to plan to “indulge” (not too much) and go to dinner as a family a a couple times per year or out do dinner as a couple. I also learned to make some of our favorite foods like Chik-fil-a! Great post!! Kyle

    1. I have joked about us moving into a really tiny home to get rid of the mortgage, but it is interesting that you scored a bigger one, albeit less land. We are out in the country, so the fuel usage does factor into activity selections.

      Our indulgence is a bit large: an annual beach trip with a dinner and a couple lunches out. And our daughter won us two $25 gift certificates to a nice local restaurant!

  6. Great article. It too rubs me wrong when people, “it must be nice”. Almost as if they are hinting at how easy it must be. Good for you for making the sacrifice, it is so worth it!!

    1. I have always said we would probably have a lot more children if we used a house cleaning service and ate out often!

  7. We all make our choices. It’s too bad people have to say things to you that imply that you have a nicer or easier life than they do. Being a SAHM is also very hard work, and you do have to sacrifice quite a lot in order to do it these days, unless your husband happens to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. 😉

    I have been in both places, and am currently a working mom. My husband is a low-paid professor, and we’re still trying to pay off the debt we incurred while putting him through his doctorate degree. My children are all in school now, so I go to work while they are gone and make sure I’m finished by the time the bus arrives each afternoon. I’m bound and determined to get us out of debt as quickly as possible. While I would love to stay home, if we are going to get rid of the school debt for once and for all, then I will make the sacrifice to work. This is the choice I have made, and I’m still making the same kinds of financial sacrifices that I would if I were staying at home, because the bulk of my salary goes to our debts.

    1. Good for you. I have always told my husband I would work for him to finish school if he ever wanted to do that. I now have more time to work from home and I plan to do so (for actual money!) to build up the emergency fund and pay off debt. And yes, the financial sacrifices will need to stay in place, but this also will include analyzing time invested in frugal efforts versus hourly pay.

  8. Mairi Cheesman says:

    Great post. I am a SAHM and wouldn’t change it. It’s a life decision that my husband and I made before we even began having children as we see it as so important. I do find myself almost defending my decision sometimes to other working mums and dads who just don’t understand. But you are right – anyone can choose to do it. My husband doesn’t have a large wage but we just make it work. It’s about priorities and sacrifices. I can always go back to work when my daughter is at school, but for now, she is growing up fast and I’m enjoying every moment with her.

  9. I loved your comment. I am a single mom. I always wanted to be the stay at home mom. But I had to be the responsible one in the home, and make sure the bills got paid. So I worked. But when I got divorced. I prayed to go that things were different. I prayed that I could be a stay at home mom until my children where teenagers and could be alone by themselves for a few hours. While God in His great wisdom, answered my prayer, in a way I didn’t expect. I got sick and was unable to work for almost 8 years. During that time, I got to be with my kids and watch them grow. I would not have ask to get sick. But I would never have given up that time with my children. I am doing better now. But I learned to life on less and love it. Me and my children learned together, how to live with less. We cut coupons together, and made stuff from scratch instead of buying things. I have so many great memories that over shadow the bad days when I was sick.

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