Author Topic: Seriously considering the SAHM thing (Update - 2 years later)  (Read 17951 times)

cloudsail

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Seriously considering the SAHM thing (Update - 2 years later)
« on: September 14, 2015, 06:35:02 PM »
For the first time in my life, I'm seriously considering becoming a SAHM.

I'm 30, DH is 32, we have a 5-yr-old boy and a 2.5-year-old girl.

We live in the Bay Area and both work in tech. I make $130,000, DH makes significantly more than that (but not double). Our three biggest monthly expenses are mortgage, childcare and estimated taxes. Nanny and taxes account for more than half of my take-home pay.

Our son is autistic, and trying to juggle all his therapies and appointments while working full time has been difficult since the day he was diagnosed. However we've managed to do it, and he has continued to improve. But recent changes in his personality and behavior that probably have to do with starting kindergarten is making us more and more concerned, and it's beginning to feel like he may require more attention that I am able to give him. I worry that holding down a job is coming at the cost of his development.

I'm not a particularly career-minded person. I don't hate my job, but I don't really like it either. DH on the other hand is very career-driven, to the exclusion of almost everything else.

And this is what is holding me back.

DH is very devoted to me and to our children, but he really isn't a family guy. He just doesn't derive the same sort of satisfaction from being a father that he does from climbing the corporate ladder. I've been trying for the past five years to push him toward being a better parent and I've recently come to realize that it just isn't going to happen. He is not domestic or handy, does not have any hobbies beyond sports, and is probably one of those people who would be miserable in ER. He does enjoy taking the children on outings on the weekends, but that's about it.

Right now our nanny does most of the chores during the weekdays, and I think it's safe to assume that if I didn't work, I would be doing all of it. I might be able to get a little help from DH during the weekends, but probably should not count on it.

I really don't want to become the type of family where the mom does all the housework and childcare and the dad just brings home the bacon. I've always been very against this kind of family model, and I'm pretty sure that if I were to quit my job, this is what we will be.

But then again, this is pretty much what we are now, except the nanny is doing all the housework. I take care of all the logistics of running a household - the taxes, the finances, the medical claims, my son's school, insurance, rentals, etc.  Anything that specifically requires my husband (like calling in to rollover his old 401k's) needs a lot of nagging and generally takes months to get done. So a part of me feels like I should just come to terms with it and try to arrive at the best scenario for us and our children. I'm also starting to feel overwhelmed, as my job is getting more demanding and I also seem to have increasingly pressing demands at home.

DH has started to bring up the SAHM option more and more. I fear that he is at least partly motivated by wanting to get me off his case about not helping with the children.

The thought of not having a manager and a team expecting results from me is pretty tantalizing. I would very much like to not feel like I'm being torn in two all the time.

In terms of finances, this would obviously have an impact on our FIRE plans, but probably not too badly. We have a sizable stash and if we weren't living in the Bay Area we would be FI or very close already. Unfortunately because of DH's career moving isn't an option right now.

What do you all think?  Any SAHM's that can chime in?
« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 12:13:43 AM by cloudsail »

wordnerd

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2015, 06:56:24 PM »
Not a SAHM, but it sounds like it makes sense for your situation. You sound overwhelmed. You don't love your job. It sounds like it would be helpful for your son. The finances don't seem to be a big concern (a lot of your pay is already going to taxes and the nanny, and your husband isn't interested in ER).

I think you should be prepared that being a SAHM could be more challenging in a lot of ways than working, since it'll be new to you and you have a child with special needs. But, I think you know that.

If wanting to avoid traditional gender roles is the only thing holding you back, I'd let it go. There are a lot of ways you can model gender equality for your kids, and I know some kickass feminist SAHMs. Just do what's right for you and your family.

Best of luck to you.

Argyle

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2015, 07:07:36 PM »
I'm going to be forthright.  I think in your situation it makes sense for you to stay home.  As you say, your husband's choices have effectively already divided up the household responsibilities by gender.  Your staying home doesn't alter that.  What it does is that it keeps you from having your own personal income and stash.  That, however, is a significat effect, and furthermore it is an effect of a situation you haven't wholly chosen — that your husband has stepped back from the majority of domestic and child responsibilities.  Because of his stepping back, you're what they call now the childcare "leader," and your being the only one willing to take that on shouldn't come with a financial penalty.  I know this sounds unromantic and will undoubtedly call firepower down upon my head, but I'd get a post-nup (a post-nuptial agreement) in place before you took the step of quitting.  I know no one plans to get divorced, but if it should happen, you'd want protection against poverty.  Especially with an autistic child who will need more expensive care than normal.  I know that child support "should" take care of that, if the worst were to happen, but I'm sure we can all name situations where it didn't work out like that.

I was the breadwinner in our marriage and my husband chose to stay at home to take care of our child.  I gladly offered him a pre-nup because I was the larger earner and I wanted to make sure that, if at some point we were both angry and disaffected, he wouldn't lose out because of his choice.  I would hope your husband would want to see that you were protected too. 

Those are my thoughts.

GizmoTX

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2015, 07:41:03 PM »
We were DINKs for 25 years when I finally became pregnant & delivered our only child. DH was the CEO of a NYSE computer company & by that time I was successful in computer sales after being a systems analyst & running my own software house. For all of our married life, we cooked many of our meals together at home but for the previous 15 years had some cleaning help since we were FI. We agreed that I would be a SAHM rather than have a nanny, & we kept the weekly cleaning so I could focus on childcare. DH was actively involved with DS & me on weekends & evenings. I ran the household finances & still do, 22 years later.  It worked for us. I am so glad I was there for all of DS' events. We're both retired now but have plenty of activities & interests.

In a community property state, i.e. CA & TX, it is assumed that income is jointly earned regardless of the source. DH & I never were concerned who earned more than the other, & we each assumed that role at some point in our lives.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2015, 07:54:18 PM »
I can't tell you if being a SAHP is right or wrong for you and your family. It works for us for my wife to stay home but we aren't you.

You should make the decision that you believe is best for your children. Choosing the path you think is worse for your family based on politics would be immoral.

Krnten

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2015, 08:00:45 PM »
I'd be abut worried honestly.  I get that your household will run more smoothly with you at home full time, but I don't like the reasons you're doing it- DH's lack of willingness to be involved.  Of course he wants a SAHM- his life will be a lot easier without you trying to make him do things he doesn't want to do.  But will you be happier in that role full time?  Or do you think you might become resentful?

Someone (was it here?) suggested writing an official job description together when one partner becomes a SAHP.  With quarterly reviews and everything.  So it's clear who's responsible for what, and that you get the time off you'll need. 

And if I were in your shoes and made the jump, I'd still have a house cleaner and a regular babysitter at least once a week for a few hours. 

okits

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2015, 08:06:03 PM »
What do you all think?  Any SAHM's that can chime in?

I think your spouse sounds like he would be happy running his life heavily using the services of a nanny, housekeeper, personal assistant/accountant.  Those things do not have to fall entirely on you just because he isn't interested in doing any of them.  Forget the "cheaper to in-source argument" for a moment and ask yourself if the situation you described (SAHM and husband sole-earner) is the life you want for yourself and your family. 

Can the ways your husband being "very devoted" to you and your children be translated into efforts that get him more involved?  Is the devotion primarily financial (in which case, why not spend some of that financial devotion to making life run a little easier?)

What sticks out is your son needing more parental involvement.  I think that is an inarguable reason for more attention to him and less to work.  Assuming you are the one who will give that attention, can you get a flexible work arrangement, reduced hours, part-time job, or sabbatical?

(I guess I am echoing what Krnten said.  Are you quitting your job mainly because your husband wants you to do almost everything, except earn income?  If so, is that what you want?)

muckety_muck

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2015, 08:07:59 PM »
While it may affect your FIRE plans, it may bring you an amazing feeling of freedom that can't be purchased or saved for, at this stage of life. You are in a very busy season with a 5 and 2 yr old. Your son has special needs, that quite honestly you might be the only one who can fulfill those needs. IF you have the option and desire (which it sounds like you do) - make that leap. Run the numbers. Make some sacrifices (cancel cable, eat out once a week instead of 4, etc).

Shop consignment sales for kids stuff, shop the sales for groceries, use your bike, etc. Be sure to have a monthly date night to keep your sanity. Good luck with your decision!

Krnten

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2015, 08:14:37 PM »
I will also add that I have gotten the exact same pressure from my husband since our kid was born two years ago and I feel for you and what you're wrestling with now.  The most I can give is that I've gone part time.  I enjoy working and am not willing to give that up entirely.  We are not MMM at all in this respect.  We outsource childcare and housekeeping.  DH is also not domestic or handy or a cook.  He does do evening childcare when he gets home but I'm also careful to go away sometimes for weekends so he can keep his skills up. 

It would make me horribly resentful if I were a full time SAHM just because my DH doesn't like doing household stuff. 

ltt

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2015, 08:52:10 PM »
SAHM here, 4 children total (2 with special needs--one has autism).  Could you please tell us where your son falls on the spectrum.  Are his behaviors more mild, or are they more severe?  Does he have language?  Does he currently require the majority of your time when he is home from school?

I left the work force many years ago, never (as of yet) to return, with no plans to.  We're traditional, and it has worked out really well over the years.  Eventually the majority of our son's therapies were done in-school, so we weren't running to appointments.  But again, we don't know where your son is on the spectrum or what types of therapies he attends.

My guess is that your husband is building his career for the betterment of the family--nothing wrong with that.   

Do you have the option of going part-time or working from home? Would it be worth it to you or not?


Noodle

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2015, 09:23:07 PM »
When these "life decision" posts come up, I have occasionally made the comment that while it may seem you are signing up for a whole different life, most choices can be undone. In this case particularly, I might consider the "try it for a year" option. While having you at home could be the solution to a lot of problems, there are some possibly worrying dynamics here (not the idea of modeling a traditional home scenario--I wouldn't worry about that since these days kids have all kinds of models in their friends and family--but between you and your husband). If your husband shows you appreciation and gratitude for your contributions (as I hope you do his) and doesn't take you for granted, great. If not, then that's not a great dynamic to be modeling for the kids either. And a year might resolve enough of your son's acute issues as he settles into school that you could re-evaluate. With a special needs kid and a toddler, I think I would also put some of the household resources into help--cleaning or part-time child care...you say you're near FIRE anyway, and your husband has no interest in retiring so there will be income coming in for the foreseeable future...so the FI part is pretty much taken care of anyway, right?

meandmyfamily

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2015, 09:47:30 PM »
I am a SAHM to 4 kids.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Time goes by so quickly.  I also agree that you could give it a year and then reassess.  It will be a big change but I would bet it will be a positive thing overall.

KCM5

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2015, 09:02:47 AM »
I'd try finding flexible part time work and keep some of the childcare. Does your job lend itself to this?

I think what is interesting is that you say you don't want to have the traditional stay a home wife with working husband life, but you married a man that, while maybe not explicitly wanting this, doesn't give you a lot of options outside of this.

Also, trying it for a bit and then reassessing, depending on how your son is doing is a great plan.

FLBiker

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2015, 09:29:44 AM »
It would make me horribly resentful if I were a full time SAHM just because my DH doesn't like doing household stuff.

This seems to be worth thinking about.  To me (I work, wife currently SAHM) it's less being a SAHP that is good / bad and more the context in which it happens.  We've got a 5 month old, and my wife is going to SAH until she's ~ 20 months.  My wife was very concerned beforehand that she wouldn't feel good -- like she'd feel that she wasn't contributing enough or whatever.  I think it's worked out really well, though.

At the same time (at the risk of horn tooting) I think I'm pretty supportive.  My orientation to our money hasn't changed (in terms of it being ours and trusting her spending) and I do a bunch of babycare stuff: evening / weekend childcare, washing / boiling bottles / pump components, washing diapers, etc.  Most importantly (I think) I really try to come home w/out expectations re: dinner being ready, laundry being done, etc.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.  For us, this works, but I like all the advise about making expectations explicit beforehand.

When we left the hospital, one of the nurses told me: "Remember dad, for now it's the baby's watch, the baby's calendar and the baby's wallet."  That's been helpful to remember when my expectations get out of whack (especially the wallet part).

pk_aeryn

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2015, 09:44:27 AM »
What will your earning ability be in your industry if you take a few years off?  Will you be behind in experience in new things and have difficulty finding a new job?

Can you afford a nanny without your salary?  With a special needs child, trying to do all the housework, cooking and childcare will probably be too much and make you even more disappointed in your husband.

I worry about you, that if you want to split from your husband when you're tired of him prioritizing work over you and your children, that you won't be able to financially.

catccc

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2015, 10:06:52 AM »
If you decided to do this, I think it is very important for you and your partner to understand expectations.  I was a SAHM for a little over a year, and then DH and I switched, and he's been at home for most of the time since then.  (after our 2nd was born we were both home half time for maybe 6 months, and more recently he has taken seasonal full time work, and we've utilized a day care in order for him to do that.)

Anyway, my point is, being a SAHM is a lot of work and getting all those chores done could be challenging.  Most of my SAHM mom friends would agree, and none of them has a special needs child.  I do think that if your child needs you more and your presence will aid his development, then stay at home.  But make sure your husband knows what will and wont get done.  Even the basic household management can be hard to do with a 2.5 year old around.   Your nanny can handle it because she selected that profession because she is good at it.  I'm not saying you won't, I'm just saying not everyone can, and that's okay.  I get way more done at home when I'm with the kids, DH, not so much.  We are different people and I have a lot more energy than he does, and I'm just more organized and able to prioritize tasks. I also out earn him by about 3x, so obviously I should be the one going to work.  (That first year was a fluke, I hated my job at the time, so being a SAHM was an enticing option that we decided to take.)

We basically ignore gender roles in our family.  Everyone does what they can for the family based on their strengths and our situation at the time.

AlwaysLearningToSave

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2015, 10:07:53 AM »

I really don't want to become the type of family where the mom does all the housework and childcare and the dad just brings home the bacon. I've always been very against this kind of family model, and I'm pretty sure that if I were to quit my job, this is what we will be.


My wife was a stay-at-home mom for the first year after our baby was born.  She is back to work part time now.  Our child also has special needs, so I have something of an understanding of the stress that causes a family.  You know your child's needs best and it is often easier for you to do it yourself than try to ensure special needs are met by others.

I, too, was somewhat concerned about gender roles and what my SAHM wife would be modeling for our daughter.  But the more I think about it, the more I think peoples' concerns about that are overblown.  The stay-at-home-parent decision for us was completely economic.  I have greater earning power than her, so I worked and she stayed home.  If earning potential were reversed, I would be at home.  I know a handful of couples where the wife works and husband stays home with the kids. 

To me the danger comes when the stay-at-home parent does not participate in management of the household and is therefore susceptible to learned dependence and an unhealthy power differential.  But you have a lot of control in that.  Don't let the power dynamic of your relationship change.  Just because DH brings home the bacon doesn't mean you don't have a say.  Manage your household like a business and treat it like your job.  Get up in the morning with your husband and kick butt all day until he comes home.  Ensure that you and your husband are both actively involved in family decisions (to the extent he will participate).  Perhaps stay open to a side-gig that brings in money.  Impress upon your children the importance of being able to provide for themselves even if someday they choose to be a SAHP. 

It seems like SAHM could be a good choice for you your family.  I bet you will find you can be significantly more frugal as a SAHM. 

Axecleaver

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2015, 10:24:09 AM »
The situation is much more complex than a typical SAHM scenario because of your child with autism. You feel pulled in too many directions at once. Depending on where he is on the spectrum, he likely has needs that could consume every minute of every day, plus you have another child you don't want to feel ignored, plus a full time job. No wonder you want to simplify your life!

You also need to schedule time for yourself and your marriage in there, somewhere. I think the biggest danger for folks in this situation is prioritizing your time without losing your own identity. It's very easy for the higher functioning child to feel ignored because her brother needs more help, and nothing could make you feel worse than having to choose between your children. Many marriages with high caregiver needs experience trouble - and it sounds like you're a bit annoyed at the lack of support you're getting.

Would it help to bring in a third party (priest, marriage counselor) to help you talk through this with your husband? I sense that this problem will put a lot of pressure on your marriage and lead to resentment if this isn't handled well. Your husband may be worried about this, too. Good luck OP!

cloudsail

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2015, 11:26:59 AM »
Thanks so much for all the thoughtful responses.  This is what I love about this forum, nowhere else on the internet can I expect to find such a group of intelligent and rational strangers.

To the ones concerned that I'm going to be resentful: I'm actually already resentful :P  I've recently come to realize how negative I'm becoming and feel like I need a mindset change, so I'm actively working towards that now. My previous mode of operations has been to push and push at my husband to help out in areas that I felt I couldn't handle on my own, like putting both kids to bed on weeknights. And I've tried lots of different methods (it's been five years since the birth of our son, after all), but none of them have really worked. It's not like he disagrees that he should be more involved in the home, he just..... can't do it. His work consumes him. He's completely unable to multitask in this way.

So I've decided to look on the bright side. He doesn't usually work on the weekends, and is always up for taking the children on outings. When we're on vacation he never checks email. He's obsessed with making a lot of money but it's not so that he can drink or party or buy expensive things. He honestly just wants a better life for our family. While I disagree with how he seems to be equating wads of money with happiness, it could be a lot worse.

I'm trying to work out ways now where we can still function without his help. We mostly do anyway, just some things can be tricky with two small kids, and previously my solution has been to nag at my husband to pitch in. Now I think I've got things figured out such that if he comes home at 9pm it doesn't really disrupt our lives. It's mostly working, but of course it puts a bigger burden on me.

About the part-time/work from home thing: I do already work from home about half the time. I live in the peninsula and my job is in the city, so commute one way is over an hour (by train and bus). But working from home basically just means locking myself into a room with my laptop or going to the library. I can't get work done and hang out with the children at same time. The advantage is it saves me the commute and I'm available to take my kids to doctor's appointments or my son to speech therapy, etc. I did look into part-time work shortly after the birth of my daughter and again when I was laid off last year, but most paid too little to really be worth my time (in terms of $/hr). The majority were entry-level "trial" positions with the goal to move to full time. This isn't my situation and the ones I applied to felt I was over-qualified and not a fit. I also looked into contracting work, but that's basically just full time work in short spurts. There's no way I would have time to look after the children while I'm working on a project. So I went with the next best thing and found a job with a very flexible WFH policy.

About looking out for myself in case of the worst: I'm not too concerned about this, mostly because DH is woefully ignorant about finances and to this day isn't entirely clear about how much money we have and where it all lives. It's not like I haven't tried to tell him, it just all goes in one ear and straight out the other. If I were to walk out tomorrow he would have little clue how to access the vast majority of our money. The other aspects of his life that don't have to do with work would also come to grinding halt. I'm also pretty confident about being able to provide for myself and the kids if necessary. Unless the tech industry suffers a horrible crash, in which case we'd all be out of jobs anyway. My earning power may not be high, but even low salaries in our line of work are very generous.

About traditional family models: My dislike actually has nothing to do with politics or feminism or anything ideological. It's just because I feel that in this kind of family it's too easy for the woman's contributions to get ignored or be downplayed. I don't want to work my ass off and then for my husband to think that I'm having an easy time because I don't have to go to work. This would be disastrous for our marriage. This is why 5 years ago I would never have considered quitting my job. But 5 years of effort haven't entirely been in vain. I'm reasonably certain that my husband now is aware of the amount of work that goes into childcare and household maintenance, that he wouldn't brush off my contributions as a SAHM. Of course I can't be entirely certain of this, but I do like the one-year trial suggestions. It's quite true that if things don't work out, I can always find another job.

About my son's special needs: He's relatively high-functioning and has some language. His expressive and receptive speech are very delayed. No major sensory issues and he doesn't need OT. We haven't had severe behavior issues until very recently. He tends to play by himself when at home and not need our attention. This is actually not good, as we want him to engage with us and not live in his own little world.

About why I married DH in the first place :D We met when we were teenagers and got married straight out of college. I was very young and didn't think things through (this is why they say "young and foolish"). All things considered, it could've been a lot worse.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2015, 11:34:07 AM »
About traditional family models: My dislike actually has nothing to do with politics or feminism or anything ideological. It's just because I feel that in this kind of family it's too easy for the woman's contributions to get ignored or be downplayed. I don't want to work my ass off and then for my husband to think that I'm having an easy time because I don't have to go to work. This would be disastrous for our marriage. This is why 5 years ago I would never have considered quitting my job. But 5 years of effort haven't entirely been in vain. I'm reasonably certain that my husband now is aware of the amount of work that goes into childcare and household maintenance, that he wouldn't brush off my contributions as a SAHM. Of course I can't be entirely certain of this, but I do like the one-year trial suggestions. It's quite true that if things don't work out, I can always find another job.

Sounds like a very valid concern based on your other posts in this thread.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2015, 11:42:37 AM »
"About my son's special needs: He's relatively high-functioning and has some language. His expressive and receptive speech are very delayed. No major sensory issues and he doesn't need OT. We haven't had severe behavior issues until very recently. He tends to play by himself when at home and not need our attention. This is actually not good, as we want him to engage with us and not live in his own little world."

I volunteer for a health agency that services a lot of families with children with special needs.  One thing I would advise is to meet with the professionals and specialists before you make your decision to see what would be best for your son's future development.  For example, you mention that you want him interacting with people and not just living in his own world.  There are some families that decide to home school their special needs kids.  They find it greatly reduces the child's behavioral issues.  However, the child never learns how to function outside the home and will be very dependent on the family for life.  Other kids the parents decide to "make" them work through the issues they present with in school.  The kids have a rougher time with day to day life but eventually learn some very important life skills and become more independent.  Maybe they will be able to live in a supervised group living situation as an adult while the former child probably couldn't handle that.  I'm speaking entirely in generalities and don't know the specifics of your child's situation.  My takeaway is to just talk with the "experts" about long term goals and what is best for your child long term and short term.  Mom at home all the time might be better or it might be worse.  Maybe there is middle ground like he stays in school but you are SAH so you can drive to more appointments.  Just things to consider.

cloudsail

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2015, 11:51:33 AM »
"About my son's special needs: He's relatively high-functioning and has some language. His expressive and receptive speech are very delayed. No major sensory issues and he doesn't need OT. We haven't had severe behavior issues until very recently. He tends to play by himself when at home and not need our attention. This is actually not good, as we want him to engage with us and not live in his own little world."

I volunteer for a health agency that services a lot of families with children with special needs.  One thing I would advise is to meet with the professionals and specialists before you make your decision to see what would be best for your son's future development.  For example, you mention that you want him interacting with people and not just living in his own world.  There are some families that decide to home school their special needs kids.  They find it greatly reduces the child's behavioral issues.  However, the child never learns how to function outside the home and will be very dependent on the family for life.  Other kids the parents decide to "make" them work through the issues they present with in school.  The kids have a rougher time with day to day life but eventually learn some very important life skills and become more independent.  Maybe they will be able to live in a supervised group living situation as an adult while the former child probably couldn't handle that.  I'm speaking entirely in generalities and don't know the specifics of your child's situation.  My takeaway is to just talk with the "experts" about long term goals and what is best for your child long term and short term.  Mom at home all the time might be better or it might be worse.  Maybe there is middle ground like he stays in school but you are SAH so you can drive to more appointments.  Just things to consider.

I don't intend to home school him, at least not right now. Our school district has a decent special needs program, and I really like his current teacher. If I was SAH I would volunteer more at his school so I have opportunities to observe how he is in the classroom, and also be able to do things like social groups and in-home therapies that I just am not able to make time for right now. He gets ABA and speech, but the rest of the time home from school if I'm working he's just left to his own devices. (Our nanny is an older lady, and watching the children + housework is all she knows how to do.)

cloudsail

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2015, 12:01:01 PM »
Also, this isn't a plan I would implement, say, tomorrow.  I do believe in seeing things through (and not burning bridges) and we're at a critical point in our product release cycle right now.  I would also like to vest some of my options in January, and I'm super close to 40 points in Social Security.  Meanwhile I'm trying to fit in volunteer opportunities at my son's school, and hoping that he'll get past the initial adjustment period.  So if I do take the plunge it'll be about 4 to 5 months down the road.

1967mama

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2015, 12:04:22 PM »
I left my career in 1991 with the birth of my first child. We had a large family so I am still actually at home. I have zero regrets about staying home to raise our children. I feel that I contribute greatly to the family financially through frugality. I like to think of us as pulling in the same direction for the good of the family rather than a "what did I do" vs "what did you do" mentality. I have felt privileged to be a SAHM and have very close relationships with all of my children (some of whom are adults now). Good luck with your decision and keep us posted!

Spork

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2015, 12:18:55 PM »
What do you all think?  Any SAHM's that can chime in?

First off, not a parent... or a woman... so ignore me if needed.

Reading your situation, it really sounds like SAHM is what you actually want.  If it's fulfilling and makes you happy, there's nothing at all wrong with that.

I really don't want to become the type of family where the mom does all the housework and childcare and the dad just brings home the bacon. I've always been very against this kind of family model, and I'm pretty sure that if I were to quit my job, this is what we will be.

Is it possible that the Leave It To Beaver idea that "this is the only way things can happen" is what you don't like, but not the actual model when everyone has a choice and you chose SAHM?  To me, that's actually what's potentially offensive.  I don't see anything wrong with the model -- as long as both sides agree that is what they want to do.  (I was also raised by June Cleaver, during the time of June Cleaver ... and it wasn't an awful place to be as a kid.  And I'm pretty sure Mom actually enjoyed it most of the time.)

CanuckExpat

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2015, 12:20:40 PM »
Nobody has mentioned this, but what about the possibility of you becoming a SAHM and keeping the nanny?

Your son gets the extra attention and get out of the job you don't like.
You have a nanny so you aren't stuck doing all the child rearing and household chores and becoming resentful.
Your husband has extra motivation to keep earning as much money as possible if that is as important to him as you say it is.

A win-win-win situation? Just thinking outside the box people...

justajane

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #26 on: September 15, 2015, 12:33:04 PM »
Nobody has mentioned this, but what about the possibility of you becoming a SAHM and keeping the nanny?

Your son gets the extra attention and get out of the job you don't like.
You have a nanny so you aren't stuck doing all the child rearing and household chores and becoming resentful.
Your husband has extra motivation to keep earning as much money as possible if that is as important to him as you say it is.

A win-win-win situation? Just thinking outside the box people...

Maybe not the full-time nanny you have currently, but I would still have some part-time care. I am a mostly SAHM, and my toddler still goes to a Parent's Day Out program. Just because you stay home doesn't mean you can't use childcare. That's somewhat anathema around here, but I don't know why. And your husband's income is high enough for you to be able to afford it. I also know a SAHM who has a mother's helper to come in the early evenings, since her husband works 60-80 hours a week. That way she can help with one child's homework while the other two are entertained by the helper. In our house, this is done by my husband, but he works a strictly 40 hour a week job.

You do have my sympathies, though. I can't imagine if my husband wouldn't be willing to do his share of the bedtime routine and other tasks. Just because one spouse stays at home and the other works, doesn't mean that the one who works outside the home is entirely let off the hook. At least I don't think that's how it should be.

LizzyBee

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2015, 01:01:17 PM »
Such a tough decision! I'll share my two cents based on my situation.

I know you say you are already resentful, but it could get worse once you become a SAHM. My husband and I split childcare and household chores pretty evenly, according to our strengths. He is actually much better getting on the floor with our son and playing than I am so I tend to do more of the cooking to compensate. However, we just had our second so I'm on maternity leave, and I am doing almost 90% of the indoor home maintenance, and also taking care of a newborn and toddler. I find myself being super resentful that he isn't helping out at as much in the home and he also doesn't pick up after himself. Now, this is coming from a situation where he comes home, plays with the kids, mows the lawn, does laundry, etc., it's just slightly off balance right now. It seems as if me staying home and getting stuff done during the day is actually encouraging him to do less, which could happen with your husband. Couple that with me being home and getting more annoyed with the messes around the house than i would if I were working most of the day and that is where the resentment comes in.

That being said, I do think it makes sense for you to SAH. I just wanted to offer my experience staying home for you to consider. I also agree with the other posters about keeping a nanny or a house cleaner for a day or two a week so that you don't get overburdened with 100% of the household and childcare duties. Make sure to discuss and agree with your husband first or he may resent you for not bringing any money to the household and also not being able to do it all at home.

Another aspect to consider is staying home may lead you to crave and need more support from your husband. You will be caring for your kids and home, almost alone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Balancing work and home is hard, but it provides a break from the two. 

One more thing, if you really are on the fence, you may consider waiting another month or two. Starting school is very stressful for any child, let alone one with special needs. He may really thrive in his situation once his teachers and special providers get to know him better as the year progresses.

Good luck to you! Let us know what you decide.

mm1970

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2015, 01:16:10 PM »
When these "life decision" posts come up, I have occasionally made the comment that while it may seem you are signing up for a whole different life, most choices can be undone. In this case particularly, I might consider the "try it for a year" option. While having you at home could be the solution to a lot of problems, there are some possibly worrying dynamics here (not the idea of modeling a traditional home scenario--I wouldn't worry about that since these days kids have all kinds of models in their friends and family--but between you and your husband). If your husband shows you appreciation and gratitude for your contributions (as I hope you do his) and doesn't take you for granted, great. If not, then that's not a great dynamic to be modeling for the kids either. And a year might resolve enough of your son's acute issues as he settles into school that you could re-evaluate. With a special needs kid and a toddler, I think I would also put some of the household resources into help--cleaning or part-time child care...you say you're near FIRE anyway, and your husband has no interest in retiring so there will be income coming in for the foreseeable future...so the FI part is pretty much taken care of anyway, right?
Pretty much this nails it.  You can always change your mind.

I'm not a fan of the traditional model - I work and I prefer it that way.  But I feel overwhelmed a lot.  And if I had your situation?  I'd definitely strongly consider SAHM'ing it for my own sanity.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2015, 04:12:23 PM »
Two huge red flags:

1 – hubby is not a family oriented guy

2 – you are “strongly against” the most common division of labor found in families with a sahp – the one where the sahp does the majority of domestic duties

honestly, while it sounds great to spend more time with the kids and not have to deal with work, i think these two things will ultimately be major stumbling blocks. i agree with a previous poster - you already sound like you sort of resent your husband prioritizing career over family and this will probably only get worse once you are forced to take on more house work which essentially comes with the territory of being the domestically assigned spouse. unless your husband makes enough to maintain a housekeeper as well so you don't need to do a lot of cleaning, this might not work out. what about a part time work schedule? would that be feasible?

i should also mention that in my experience, families with a sahp who only focuses on parenting and outsources most other domestic duties and hobbies tend to struggle with boredom/depression, aka: "housewives syndrome". most of the truly successful and happy sahps seem to have 2 things: 1) spouses who really support and value their contributions and the sahp model, and 2) their own domestic interests and hobbies outside of the kids. for these families its more about having a sahp as part of the lifestyle they prefer, as opposed to a decision made primarily for parenting purposes.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 04:26:24 PM by little_brown_dog »

Gray Matter

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #30 on: September 15, 2015, 04:26:24 PM »
I so get your situation (wish I didn't!).  I have three kids, two of them with some special needs (learning disabilities, neurodevelopmental disorder).  Three dogs.  Old high-upkeep house.  I always wanted (and was clear about this!) a partnership that shared everything equally--financial responsibilities, child care, house and yard work, etc.  I think it's possible to have an equal partnership when you have domains, but it comes with its own challenges, and more importantly, it's not what I wanted.  I wanted us both working, both responsible for the kids, home, etc.

But DH has a job that requires travel, lots and lots of international travel (sometimes weeks on end).  And no matter what I've done, or what I've said, or how hard I've tried to get him to understand how this impacts me and the kids, how much I've told him this isn't what we agreed to, it isn't what I want, it falls on deaf ears.  (He claims to understand and promises he'll manage his travel, but we both know that's not possible in his line of work--he would need to find a different job and that never seems to happen).

So, I spent years and years seething with resentment and the injustice of it all (during 2/3s of our marriage, I was also outearning him substantially, so it felt really unfair, because I was doing more of EVERYTHING).  DH is wonderful in so many ways, and he actually is really engaged in housework and childcare when he's home (but not at all when he's not).  But I am always the "default" parent, and the one who has to manage everything, and keep track of everything, and step in and make sure everything gets done while he comes and goes, and quite frankly, it's exhausting.  So a number of months ago, I decided to give up trying to change him (doh!) and do whatever I needed to do in order to make the rest of my life fit and do make sure the kids are thriving and that we're all happy.

Now, I wouldn't say I've succeeded in that, as I left my demanding job to take another demanding job, but I have gone down to 80% time and I'm clear that if this isn't working, it's on me to make further changes.  And honestly, there is much less friction in our marriage as a consequence.  At the end of the day, he contributes enough, even if it's not in the ways I thought he would.  The way I look at it, his high-paying demanding job and his insistence on keeping it frees me up to make whatever decisions I need to to make things work for our family (and he is supportive of this).

So...for you, I like the idea of a one-year trial (my next move to reduce stress is to try to arrange a lower-level and even more part-time position, and barring that, leave my job for a one-year "sabbatical," which wouldn't technically be a sabbatical because it would require my quitting my job with no expectation of being rehired).  But I'm not ready to make a decision to permanently leave the workforce and have SAHM be my new primary identity, though that very well could end up happening--I just feel like I would need to keep a foot in both worlds for awhile (psychologically) in order to gain comfort that I could handle being a SAHM and that it wouldn't change the dynamics in our marriage in a negative way.

I would also be clear with your DH that you are pausing your career in order take on the job of ensuring your DS's special needs are attended to, and I would retain the right to hire a housekeeper, part-time child care, etc.  If you resent being responsible for all the household stuff, 24/7, one option is to get DH to step up (which doesn't really seem like an option) and another option is for you to oursource some of it until things feel balanced to you.  There are things more important than RE and keeping marriages intact and meeting our kids' needs are two of those things.

Good luck with this--this is hard stuff and you're not the only one going through this.


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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2015, 07:03:55 PM »
Being a guy who's a SAHP it's hard to comment on the gender stereotypes, division of labor, etc. It strikes no chords with me. I stay home - managing the home is (of course) my job.

A book that may (or may not) help you work through the mental aspects is "Radical Homemakers". It's a post second-wave feminism book.

On the job/logistics side, does your employer offer a leave of absence or sabbatical? Your situation screams (at minimum) "gap year".

http://livingafi.com/2015/08/04/taking-a-gap-year/

1967mama

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2015, 07:31:03 PM »
I stay home - managing the home is (of course) my job.

+1

This is the way I feel too. Once my husband comes home from work, we pretty much divide up the labor for the rest of the evening. I work as hard as I can while he is working also, and then we share the load when we are at home together. I'm not sitting home eating bonbons and reading the forums watching soap operas all day <wink>.

daymare

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2015, 08:00:13 PM »
What I'm getting from your posts is that your son's special needs are necessitating a lot of time/work on the part of your household, which is hard to balance with both of you working.  And that because your husband is unwilling to take on that work himself, it is falling on you, and as such you are especially stressed dealing with your job and caring for your children, and so you are wondering if removing the job will make life better for you and your family.  You don't talk much about having a strong desire to spend more time with the kids, or what activities you're envisioning doing with them that you can't while working.  It sounds less like you would find the role of SAHM fulfilling, and more that you're trying to do the best you can given the constraints of your husband not doing more with the kids.  I don't think that means it's not a valid option to consider, but I think there is a lot you'll want to think through and discuss with your husband beforehand.

1) As Argyle mentioned, an extended period of time without employment and income of your own will likely put you in a worse position autonomy-wise, than if you were employed and earned money.  So I think it would be important to have some amount, say 50K, in a savings account in just your name.  Just in case you need it to get on your feet if anything happens with your husband.  The two of you should discuss this - I'm sure he'll want to make you comfortable about leaving your job.

2) As you say, you already somewhat resent your husband because his refusal to do household and childcare work means it falls on your shoulders.  I think you're right to worry that once you're no longer bringing in income, and childcare because fully your job, you will continue to feel unsupported by your husband, and that your contribution to the household will be undervalued.  Perhaps you can figure out what you need in order to not feel unappreciated - is it words of affirmation from your husband about what a great mother you are, is it him taking on the childcare fully a few times a week in the evening (so he doesn't forget how much work it is), is it having part-time paid childcare so you can devote time to your hobbies, interests, community, friends?

3) As some other posters reminded, your decision to work doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, or permanent.  It sounds like what you want is breathing room, not necessarily to spend vastly more time with your kids than you do now.  In that case, consider a sabbatical, or working part-time, or as a contractor on specific projects.  And consider what other jobs you might enjoy that are in fields more suited for a flexible schedule.  Or decide to quit and re-evaluate in a specific amount of time (ie, 6 months or 1 year) and go from there.

Good luck!

MayDay

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #34 on: September 16, 2015, 05:54:20 AM »
I read about half the replies, I'll go back and read the rest shortly.

My son, almost 8, has high functioning ASD.  I stay at home.  Former engineer. 

It sucks sometimes to be doing 100% of the household work, which, lets face it, is mostly menial.  Cleaning a toilet does not thrill me.  Cooking all the food gets really old.  Etc.  But, my kid(s) (we also have a younger daughter) get a lot more time and attention than if I worked, and I didn't love my job, and now that they are in full day school I actually get a lot of leisure time.

The feminist in me is angry I ended up staying home and keeping house while my H works (although he is involved, he works full time so most of it rightly falls on me).  The realist in me knows that two full time working parents is HARD and I am super glad I can have this awesome privileged life where I stay at home and eat bon-bons. 

My youngest transitioned to K this year and it was hard.  And she is neurotypical!  So I get it.  One thing to consider might be if you can take off some time (either 12 weeks of FMLA, or a LOA, or just quit and you can always find another job in 6 months or a year).  It doesn't have to be forever.  It also might be able to be part time- definitely ask for that!  That is what I really want- PT so I can get some mental stimulation, but still have plenty of time off to deal with doctors and therapy and snow days. 

cloudsail

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #35 on: September 16, 2015, 10:10:43 AM »

Gray Matter, thanks for the commiseration :). It really does help sometimes to know the I'm not alone.  And you have three kids!  I feel like two is my limit.  I have no clue how you do it with three.  (And dogs!)

The mindset change that you described is exactly what I'm trying to achieve right now.  Stop trying to change my husband.  Find ways to make things work for all of us.  And I need to do this before I actually quit my job, or I will just end up resentful and bitter like some posters fear.

Good luck to you too!
« Last Edit: September 16, 2015, 10:12:29 AM by cloudsail »

FatCat

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #36 on: September 16, 2015, 10:24:20 AM »
A lot of the problems with the traditional 'man goes to work, woman is SAHM' dynamic had to do with the SAHP being fully dependent upon the working parent for all their money. The SAHMs I know have only high school diplomas and very low skill sets in anything other than homemaking. The husbands have college degrees and are relatively high income earners. If the SAHM tried to get a job at this point she would be making minimum wage because she doesn't have any real work history, so she's feels like she's stuck with putting up with her husband's crap if she doesn't want to be broke. This doesn't seem like an appealing position to be in to say the least. However, it sounds like you don't have to worry about ending up in this position at all because you have already proven you are capable of getting a good job so you aren't absolutely reliant on your husband for income. You always have the option to go back to work if things don't work out. It helps the dynamic tremendously. A lot of the issues you might have with the "traditional family model" probably won't apply to your own family.

cloudsail

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #37 on: September 16, 2015, 10:39:03 AM »
I had 20 weeks maternity leave with both of my babies, so I actually have a decent idea of what it's like to stay home with the kids.  And both of those times we did not yet have the full time nanny.  Of course, a finite time off is very different from quitting altogether.

I work in mobile app development, so I wouldn't lack in mental stimulation should I so desire.  I can always work on my own pet project, and hey, I might even make some money.  In the periods of time when I wasn't working, I liked to attend hackathons for fun and to network.  The option to continue to do so purely for fun is definitely something I would bring up with my husband.

We get 24 hours per month of respite care provided by the government, that we have to use (or we lose the Medi-Cal).  I'm currently using it to supplement the nanny's salary.  It is only for my son, so if we want them to watch my daughter too we have to pay $13/hr.  But I can also imagine getting them to come, say, during my daughter's nap time and entertain my son so I can get some time to myself.

I'm still not entirely sure that I want to do this, but it's not a decision I have to make right at this moment.  I really do like the company I work for and most of the people there.  I have confidence in its future (hence wanting to vest the options).  But at a startup everyone has a lot of responsibilities and is expected to take on many roles.  Days like yesterday when I was up at 12am trying to get something to work that I've been stuck on for two days (I did finally get it working), I think "God I wish I could just go to bed!"

Argyle

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #38 on: September 16, 2015, 10:47:01 AM »
I think one danger is that it may look as if it will be easy to get back into the workforce later, but it may not be.  There have been a number of studies  on this problem — women typically think they have a better chance of regaining their careers than they do.  Leslie Bennett's book The Feminine Mistake addresses this problem.  And here are some statistics from Sheryl Sandberg:

"Women who take time out of the workforce,” she warns, “pay a big career penalty. Only 74 percent of professional women will rejoin the workforce in any capacity, and only 40 percent will return to full-time jobs. Those who do rejoin will often see their earnings decrease dramatically.”  And "Even minor career breaks have dire economic consequences. Over a lifetime, women lose 18 percent of their earning power by leaving the workforce for only two years. A 2011 Harvard study revealed that female MBAs who took “a job interruption equivalent to 18 months” earned 41 percent less than male MBAs."  (This last from the Nation article below.)

From the Jezebel article: ""Opting out," heralded as revolutionary only a decade ago, looks downright foolish in retrospect. First, because quitting your job to take care of the kids because you wanna relies on two completely unreliable entities — a high-earning spouse and the economy — in order to be anything but a risky venture at best, and a spectacular failure at worst. If, say, the money earning spouse dies or runs away with a 19-year-old French au pair, the opter is forced to replace the earnings or pursue spousal alimony, thus remaining dependent on the earning spouse. The one with the money isn't similarly screwed by losing the opting out spouse; they can simply use the money they're continuing to earn to hire a person to perform many of the duties that the stay-at-home spouse performed. (Sure, a nanny isn't the same as a mom, but plenty of kids who had nannies grow up to refrain from pleasuring themselves in their neighbors' gardens or serial killing; it's much easier to raise children with the aid of the nanny than it is to live comfortably without the aid of income.)"

Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/quitting-your-job-to-be-a-full-time-mom-is-probably-a-b-1054423380

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/confessions-stay-home-mom/

This is why I advise the post-nup — to preserve your power to support yourself should the worst happen.  Quitting your job is a gamble, for sure.  I know women who have done it and everything has gone great: they found taking care of their children invaluable, they found non-career avocations that became really important to them, their husbands were fully cooperative and engaged, their children grew up and did well, and they have enviable lives.  Sadly, I also know some couples were the arrangement went badly.  In one case the husband became disabled and the wife now now cannot find a job above menial-level wages and they're in a bad financial struggle.  In another, the husband took off, hired an expensive lawyer to avoid most child support, and left the wife to look after a difficult child with, again, a very low-level income because she couldn't get a job at the old level.

You're considering this path because it seems to make sense financially, but my reading is that your heart isn't totally in it.  (You can guess that mine wouldn't be either — I wasn't cut out to be a stay-at-home mom without my own income.)  And part of this seems to be your effort to work around your husband's limitations.  I wonder if some marriage counseling wouldn't be a good choice.  I would hope your husband would be open to trying to solve some of the problems you're having in making things work, even if he's unrelenting on the career front. If he's not open to working with you to solve the problems, that's a danger — and one that maybe giving up your income will increase rather than otherwise.

Sibley

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2015, 11:02:31 AM »
OP, you say you feel resentment towards your husband. From what you describe, I completely understand. I'd feel the same way if I were in your place. But that resentment will, over time, damage your relationship with him. One way or another you need to work through that.

A curiosity question - how was your husband raised? What did his parent's relationship and role division look like? You may find that he's doing exactly what his father did.

CanuckExpat

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #40 on: September 16, 2015, 11:05:42 AM »
I think one danger is that it may look as if it will be easy to get back into the workforce later, but it may not be...
...
Over a lifetime, women lose 18 percent of their earning power by leaving the workforce for only two years. A 2011 Harvard study revealed that female MBAs who took “a job interruption equivalent to 18 months” earned 41 percent less than male MBAs." 
...

I agree with you that there might be a lot of problems with the opting out model if you attempt to later rejoin the workforce in your original capacity (and for some others there may not be). However, is that a problem in the OPs case or for someone else pursuing FIRE?

OP said "impact on our FIRE plans, but probably not too badly".

Once you have sufficient FU money, a lot of those concerns seem to go away don't they?

RetiredAt63

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #41 on: September 16, 2015, 01:07:02 PM »
OP, I know someone who could have written this post many years ago (she had twins instead of a child with needs, and then a third baby).  She had an interesting, responsible well-paying job and her husband had a job that was a major career, with the time demands and amazingly good salary to go with it.  Her husband was not a "family guy" type.  She went with a full time live-in nanny until all the kids were in school, and then day-time nanny for several more years.  She figured it worked out well, everyone got looked after, no-one was too stressed.  Because the nanny fed the kids their dinner when they were little she actually got to eat dinner with her husband most evenings (about 2-3 hours after the kids ate).  Now the kids are all grown up, well-rounded adults, and she and her husband are still happy together and enjoying their retirement.

From the financial viewpoint, a good chunk of her child-care costs were tax-deductible, she had a good salary and a solid work history with all the promotions and raises that entails, and a good pension and other retirement savings.  And, more important, she didn't resent her husband for dumping all the work on her.  And yes, she still had most of the family organizing to do, but the grunt-work was looked after.

Stockmom

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #42 on: September 16, 2015, 01:25:04 PM »
I am a SAHM, 2 kids, high-earning, work-a-ton husband.  From what I've seen, having one parent stay home just makes life so much easier on the whole family.  I enjoy it AND it's tedious.  I do have an appreciative and helpful husband though.  He would love to be the stay at home parent and I wish I had the same earning power so we could make that a reality for him. But, I think in your case trying to get beyond resentment and just deal with your husband as he is is preferable for everyone.

As far as not liking the traditional SAHM family model, I hear what you're saying, but I also think that you're the one undervaluing a stay at home parent's contribution.  I think a good model for all children is to have two parents that value the domestic work, regardless of who's staying home to do it.  My kids would never think of me as the weak or marginalized one in the family.  Probably because neither myself, nor my husband, sees me that way.

I would strongly recommend finding SAHM neighbors to befriend so you get much-needed social interaction and you have other people to confide in.  I think moms need mom friends, and I also think female friendships get even more important as you age.

Stockmom

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2015, 02:02:23 PM »
Also, we have friends who have an autistic son (one of 3 children).  My husband was discussing retiring with the husband and he said, "I don't just have my own retirement to think about, I need to plan for [autistic son's name] retirement."  That could be why your husband feels so much pressure to earn.

TealBlue

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2015, 03:44:25 PM »
Best of luck with your decision :)  I am not a SAHM, but I am so glad you are thinking through all the different elements of this decision and it sounds like you are getting some great advice. 

I will tell you that we made a household change about a year ago so that my husband went back to school while working full time.   I struggle still with the whole resentment thing since I am now doing 95% of the household work and 75% of the child rearing.  Like others have mentioned, I certainly think that if you make this decision a plan needs to be in place on exactly what each others roles will be.  I know that at first my resentment turned into a pretty serious nagging anger at my husband that wouldn't go away.  Every time he sat on the couch watching TV while I did the dishes or walked by something that needed to be fixed to go golf or whatever I would really be fuming mad and over a year or so it was really affecting us.  After we discussed expectations it got quite a bit better.  Best of luck :)

Cassie

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #45 on: September 16, 2015, 05:15:32 PM »
My kids are long grown but I was a SAHP until my youngest went to f.t. kindergarten.  WE had 3 kids. I then went to college & then into my professional career. My hubby did the outside work & home maintenance but never anything inside or helping with the kids. Eventually I gave up trying to change him.  LIfe went much smoother with me at home.  My life was actually easier. I never doubt that I paid a financial price for staying home for a significant amount of time but I don't regret it one bit. My hubby never put the kids to bed, played with them, etc.  I think he now regrets it but I have no regrets.  I think you should do what feels right to you.  Hugs:))

couponvan

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #46 on: September 16, 2015, 10:49:01 PM »
I'm kind of surprised not more people have suggested you try to go PT. I am very similar to Gray Matter except I currently work less than she does and I was PT after my second and then a SAHM for 5-6 years after my 3rd.  I went back to work PT when my 3rd was in Kindergarten.

Here's why I work....  1) 401k ($18,000 me, $4,500 employer) 2) A bit of identity besides "mom" (priceless), 3) HSA account ($5,600), 4) Dependent Care Spending Account ($5,000), 5) FIRE house (a second house we can retire to paid off in 6 years when our youngest goes to school), 6) My neighbor's husband up and left her for a nurse in another state, cutting off her income and cleaning out the accounts.  She lived in our basement for awhile and I gave her gift cards to the grocery store because her ex literally took everything at it takes a long time to get wages garnished....

All the items 1, 3 and 4 are pre-tax and protected from AMT.  Item 5) has pre-tax interest, but is almost paid off after 4 years ($25K left).  Item 6 was a total wake up call.

Every dollar I earn in excess of  what I can put in pre-tax is taxed highly because of my husband's earnings.  It's almost not worth it to work more than that (I only see 1/2 of every dollar), so I'm really trying to cut some of my PT hours now as my salary has gone up.  I work the minimum for health benefits (my company is significantly cheaper than his company). Also, with most of the childcare DCS account I hire my mom to watch the kids - then she goes and puts the money I pay her in the kids' education IRAs as her gift to them. Win win.

I will tell you that a gap in employment is hard to explain, and you lose some skills and credibility.  It's taken me 4 years to feel extra confident, and I know I am underpaid for my level. Honestly, most recruiters never even think to ask whether you work full time or part time.  If they don't ask, I don't tell.  You'll keep your name in the game at work, and can still be available to your children.

Each of my kids has different challenges, and they need me.  However, I also didn't want to be postponing retirement to 65.  My goal is 54 or 55.  Every year I work and save that $28,0000 of pretax is a year we should be able to retire earlier with a paid off FIRE house.


Gray Matter

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #47 on: September 17, 2015, 05:30:34 AM »
Couponvan is right about part-time professional work being as good on a resume as full-time work (I've never had anyone--recruiter, HR, hiring manager--ask me if it was full- or part-time, either).  It can be hard to manage part-time work, though.  The company has to value you and also value balance and not try to get full-time work out of you.  Years ago, I read some research that showed that women with part-time jobs were actually more stressed out than SAHM or women who worked full-time.  I don't remember the details, but the suspected reason is that they take on the expectations of both worlds and constantly feel like they're falling short, so it's REALLY important to manage your and everyone else's expectations if you go that route.  For example, taking on 100% of the childcare and household management while working part-time isn't realistic in your situation (in my opinion). 

Like Couponvan, I essentially work for retirement savings and college savings for the kids (his benefits are cheaper).  By the time you take out those, plus taxes and childcare, I contribute about $10 an hour to our monthly budget--not significant in the here and now, but the additional savings shortens our time to FIRE and being employed is insurance in case something happens to DH.  We're in pretty good shape if he dies (life insurance, social security) or becomes disabled, but if he walks out on me...

I'd forgotten about that possibility in my recent calculations and considering a "sabbatical" (that may be permanent)--this thread caused me to do some scenario planning yesterday.  What would I do if I weren't working and DH hit a midlife crisis and decided he wanted a different life and a different wife?  With only half our assets, and no guarantee I could earn more than 30-40K if I tried to re-enter the workforce, our life would be significantly different.  We'd have to sell the house (which I'm fine with) and leave the neighborhood (which I'm not fine with) and I'm not sure we could keep the dogs (which I'm also not fine with--would break my and the kids hearts).  So I've got some additional thinking to do about how much risk I'm willing to assume (I don't think DH will leave me, but I don't think anyone ever does).

Some people are very comfortable approaching life with a "I'll work it out" philosophy, which I can see the value of.  There are so many variables, and you can't predict the circumstances, so a resilient, optimistic, and flexible approach is smart.  But I'm not one of those people.  I need to have a plan (even as I admit things never go according to plan) and a backup plan and a backup plan to the backup plan.  So what kind of person are you?  Are you confident that you'll sort it out if something happens to DH or he leaves you?  Or do you want to know what you would do if that happens and do what you can to mitigate risk?  If it's the latter, I recommend doing some scenario planning and making sure you're comfortable with the outcomes before making any big moves.

Good luck!

cloudsail

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #48 on: September 17, 2015, 12:23:58 PM »
If it's the latter, I recommend doing some scenario planning and making sure you're comfortable with the outcomes before making any big moves.

Good luck!

I think I'm about half and half, and it depends on the situation.

The way I look at it is like this.  The longer I'm out of the workforce, the harder it will be for me to find a job.  I'm reasonably certain that under five years I would be able to return to the workforce in some capacity, and in my area of work even the lowest paying job would be around 80k.  At least at the very beginning, I would probably move in with my parents for the childcare (in such a situation they would probably even insist on it), thus eliminating housing and childcare costs.  (My parents right now are in their mid 50s, retired and financially stable.)  If our marriage disintegrates further down the road, by that time our stash should have grown such that even half of it would provide enough passive income to support me and the children.  I also have enough skills that I can probably bring in some income (outside of coding, I'm also fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and have been hit up for translation and teaching roles in the past, which I've turned down due to lack of time).

As I mentioned before, DH has no clue about anything related to our finances and this definitely isn't going to change if I stop working.  I have all his accounts and remember his passwords better than he does.  I know every purchase that he makes, while he doesn't know and doesn't care to know about mine, though this is, of course, based on the fact that I never make large purchases without telling him.  In a divorce I think I'm in a much better position to screw him over than the other way around.  This kind of highlights an aspect of my husband's personality, his incredibly romantic and idealistic view of marriage.  He doesn't ever entertain the idea that we might not be together one day.  This is why it would be very difficult to get him to accept the idea of something like a post-nup.

I actually put some really concentrated effort into figuring out the whole part-time thing when I was laid off last year.  The results of that search don't really make me want to pursue that route (pay, benefits if any, etc.).  Also, as Gray Matter mentioned, there's no way I would be able to do it without outside childcare, and with Bay Area childcare prices there's a good chance I wouldn't even break even.  If I want to keep up my professional skills, writing my own app and publishing it to the app store looks just as good to employers (provided the app doesn't suck, of course :).

I think I want to run some more numbers to figure out exactly how much me not working would affect our savings amount each month, as this directly impacts the growth rate of our stash.  Right now I have a broad picture but I should get into more details, including things like transportation savings and increased activity costs.  I should also load up our taxes from previous years.  I know that we wouldn't have to pay the additional estimated tax anymore, but I also seem to recall that with just my husband's salary and his current rate of withholding, we would get a small refund. 

cloudsail

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Re: Seriously considering the SAHM thing
« Reply #49 on: September 17, 2015, 12:34:53 PM »
A curiosity question - how was your husband raised? What did his parent's relationship and role division look like? You may find that he's doing exactly what his father did.

This probably does play a big part, my in-laws were very much the traditional family model.  But the difference is my MIL doesn't speak English and doesn't know how to drive, so by default my FIL had to be heavily involved in things like household management and kids activities and school.  Even driving to the grocery store.  I don't think I've ever seen my MIL go 100 feet out of the house without her husband (in North America, in her own country she can go everywhere on her own).  But I don't think my husband sees this, and just sees that his mom did all the cooking and housework, etc.  He also doesn't realize that his dad's willingness to take charge of these things is what enabled his mom to not have to learn English or to drive, otherwise she would have eventually been forced to learn those things out of sheer necessity.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2015, 12:36:48 PM by cloudsail »