Author Topic: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?  (Read 2394 times)

TabbyCat

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Looking for stories/experiences from other primary parents on how you made the choice to work or to take a few years off with your kids Ė what questions you asked yourself, how you knew it was right, how you planned for/address having a resume gap.

Iíve asked similar questions on here before, but now that Iím in a real position to jump ship Iím finding myself on the fence instead. I very deeply want to stay home with my toddler, but I have a fear of ruining a good career with a resume gap and never getting back where I am, and my career is also important to me.

Basic stats: we can afford it without cutting back on anything but reducing the savings rate (wouldnít be living large, but hey we donít anyway) and have a decent emergency fund ($10k for a car if needed, money for everything anticipated for the house for the next 5-10 years, 3 months living expenses) and enough saved for retirement to scale back for a while. Husband has no interest in early retirement and is very supportive of anything I choose to do.  My job does not allow part time or flex schedule, and we have to leave the current daycare due to location which is going to be a big hit both for the expense and kiddoís emotions as she is shy and doesnít adjust well to new situations at this stage.

In an ideal world where a resume gap isnít a big deal, I would quit, take a few months totally off, then start volunteering and applying for part time contract work to stay current.

sjc0816

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2017, 05:50:23 AM »
Our decision was based on several factors.

1. DH and I both were working high-stress jobs. I was in sales...traveling sometimes 2 hours away from home to see clients. Our baby would have been in daycare from 7am-7pm every day of the week.

2. There were not part-time or work-from-home options for either of us.

3. We do not have family around to help bridge the daycare gap if our kids were sick, etc.

We discussed these factors before trying to get pregnant and made sure we were both on the same page. We knew that the rat-race lifestyle was not for us and we were either going to go full-force with careers and not have kids....or I was going to basically give up my career to raise kids.

It was an easy decision for us because I although I was making good money, I was not fulfilled in my career what-so-ever. DH has always been very happy with his career....so it was the obvious choice for me to stay home.

It's not a decision to take lightly, however. I have been out of the workforce for almost 11 years now....and no desire to get back. I do part-time freelance work....but mainly to keep skills fresh. I'm not making a lot of money. Now that my kids are in school, I volunteer a LOT of my time to school and the community and I honestly feel more fulfilled doing this than I ever did back in my career. It's a lifestyle shift, though, and luckily the simple life suits us  well. We've never been happier. Kids are thriving. DH works......I take care of everything else during the day....and our evenings and weekends are purely family time rather than rushing to get everything done that wasn't done during the week.

One more point. I definitely believe that now with 11 and 8 year olds.....it's even more important for me to stay home than when they were little. I can't imagine juggling all of the school stuff, sick days, activities, snow days, etc with two full-time working parents unless you have a good support system or super flexible job situations.

Laura33

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2017, 08:31:47 AM »
Looking for stories/experiences from other primary parents on how you made the choice to work or to take a few years off with your kids Ė what questions you asked yourself, how you knew it was right, how you planned for/address having a resume gap.

Iíve asked similar questions on here before, but now that Iím in a real position to jump ship Iím finding myself on the fence instead. I very deeply want to stay home with my toddler, but I have a fear of ruining a good career with a resume gap and never getting back where I am, and my career is also important to me.

Basic stats: we can afford it without cutting back on anything but reducing the savings rate (wouldnít be living large, but hey we donít anyway) and have a decent emergency fund ($10k for a car if needed, money for everything anticipated for the house for the next 5-10 years, 3 months living expenses) and enough saved for retirement to scale back for a while. Husband has no interest in early retirement and is very supportive of anything I choose to do.  My job does not allow part time or flex schedule, and we have to leave the current daycare due to location which is going to be a big hit both for the expense and kiddoís emotions as she is shy and doesnít adjust well to new situations at this stage.

In an ideal world where a resume gap isnít a big deal, I would quit, take a few months totally off, then start volunteering and applying for part time contract work to stay current.

Based on the bolded parts:  you're done.  Decision made.  Stop second-guessing yourself about what might happen if you quit.  If you quit, you might not get what you want in 5-10 years; if you don't quit, you are guaranteed to lose what you "very deeply" want right now.

That is how I made my decision, btw.  What I really wanted was to keep working; I did worry sometimes about whether either my kid or I was missing out on something important, but in the end I went with my gut.  And the good news is that if the first decision doesn't work out, you can always change your mind and try something else.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2017, 09:21:27 AM »
If you want to be at home, then quit and be at home! It seems like you can easily afford it without a big impact to your day to day finances.

I knew going back to work was the right choice for me because I was going crazy on maternity leave. I love my son dearly but I've learned that I need a break from him in order to be the best mom to him. But I know that some mommies want to be there for every moment, and there isn't anything wrong with that!

As far as the gap on a resume, what about going back to school or getting an additional certification? Could you volunteer for a local chapter of a professional organization? (I'm a project manager so thinking I'm thinking about my local chapter of PMI).

One of the big issues I hear my former-professional-now-SAHM friends is finding a space that you can challenge your brain and mental capacity. Being proactive about that might be beneficial for you.

Gin1984

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2017, 09:35:46 AM »
I enjoyed my job and I feel safer with two streams of income so I kept working.

scantee

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2017, 09:43:12 AM »
I never considered being a SAHM when my children were infants/toddlers because I just knew it would not be a good fit for my temperament and long-term mental health. However, I also knew it would be hard for me to be away from my kids five days a week. Luckily, I was able to negotiate a .6 FTE/3-day a week schedule at the job I had (a professional career in the line of work I received my Masters in), which was the perfect solution for me. I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation and adult interaction of my job without an interruption in my work history, was able to continue to save for retire and live a comfortable lifestyle, and be at home to enjoy the the young years of my children's lives. No regrets about any of those choices.

But it doesn't really matter what worked for me. Maybe negotiating a three or four day workweek would be a good compromise for you, but, it also seems like you really want to be home full-time. If that is the case, and you can afford it, I say go for it.

One word of caution: I think a lot of people think they'll stay home just until their kids start formal schooling and then it will be "easier" to go back to work. Maybe I'm an outlier here, but my life is actually way more hectic now that I have two school-aged kids. I actually can imagine being at home full-time now! So if you do cut back to contract work, or no work at all, I think you should plan that you won't be able or want to go back to any sort of full-time work until your kids are middle or high-school age. Even then, if you've made it that long, it is sort of like, why bother. And once the kids are out of the house hopefully you'll be financially ready so that your spouse can early retire with you!

mm1970

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 09:58:29 AM »
Looking for stories/experiences from other primary parents on how you made the choice to work or to take a few years off with your kids Ė what questions you asked yourself, how you knew it was right, how you planned for/address having a resume gap.

Iíve asked similar questions on here before, but now that Iím in a real position to jump ship Iím finding myself on the fence instead. I very deeply want to stay home with my toddler, but I have a fear of ruining a good career with a resume gap and never getting back where I am, and my career is also important to me.

Basic stats: we can afford it without cutting back on anything but reducing the savings rate (wouldnít be living large, but hey we donít anyway) and have a decent emergency fund ($10k for a car if needed, money for everything anticipated for the house for the next 5-10 years, 3 months living expenses) and enough saved for retirement to scale back for a while. Husband has no interest in early retirement and is very supportive of anything I choose to do.  My job does not allow part time or flex schedule, and we have to leave the current daycare due to location which is going to be a big hit both for the expense and kiddoís emotions as she is shy and doesnít adjust well to new situations at this stage.

In an ideal world where a resume gap isnít a big deal, I would quit, take a few months totally off, then start volunteering and applying for part time contract work to stay current.
I've never really wanted to stay at home, but I always have wanted flexibility.  So I've always suggested to my friends that it's easier to work and then quit later than quit and try to go back.  That's mostly the case for right after having a baby.

I've noticed that in my group of friends, for those who actually did quit eventually (as opposed to right away), it was kid #2 or kid #3.  The schedule just got to be too hard to have 2 full time jobs and 2 kids.  Also in many cases, the cost of childcare for 2 made it not worth it to keep working.

So I ask myself, pretty regularly "would I be better off right now if I quit?" and "where do I see myself in 5 years?"

If I quit, can I get a job in 5 years?  Probably.  Will it be at a much lower pay than my already 78% of the median?  Yes. 

There was a period of time when I was in a HSSJ, and I came *really* close to quitting.  I got past that.  I have a better boss, and flex time - though they won't really let me go part time again. So the people I know who are still working, have mostly worked out a part-time job (30 hours) or switched to consulting (set their own hours).

I have another friend with 3 kids - one in school. She would like to start work again when the last 2 hit kindergarten, but wants a part time job.  It is VERY hard to get hired part time.  Esp in engineering.  It's easier to negotiate part time from where you are currently.  Often jobs "don't allow it" until you quit, then they do.  But only you would know that based on whether other people have done the same.

merula

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2017, 10:24:55 AM »
My family's decision was easy: my husband hadn't been able to find a job in his field for years, and it didn't seem likely he would ever find one without us moving and sacrificing my (much higher earning potential) job.

Have you ever heard of Ask A Manager? It's an advice column blog written by a former chief of staff of a medium-sized company who now does consulting on workplace-related issues. It's amazing; one of my favorite blogs. Her advice is spot-on and the commentariat are wonderful. Some relevant posts:

http://www.askamanager.org/2013/02/job-searching-after-being-a-stay-at-home-mom.html
http://www.askamanager.org/2011/12/how-can-i-manage-an-impending-gap-in-my-resume-due-to-caring-for-my-kids.html
http://www.askamanager.org/2016/01/8-tips-for-parents-returning-to-the-workforce.html

I think you should go for it. Our lives are so much smoother than the two-income families I know. I think your plan of part-time contract work would basically erase any potential resume gap, too. I mean, if you think about it, your resume in 5-10 years would show XX years of work, a few months gap, and then years of freelance. That's hardly a meaningful gap that's likely to raise red flags. And with your daughter's emotions/daycare situation, you could easily explain it as "I focused on addressing a family issue for a few months, and when that resolved I went into contracting", which would be completely acceptable for any reasonable hiring manager.

K-ice

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2017, 11:58:31 PM »
I trained too hard for my career. Lucky I'm in Canada so I took 10 months off then went back to work.

It was a bit hard to get back to work & I lost some promotion momentum.

However, going back to work was worth it.

My SO actually quit his travel heavy job after my mat leave to do local consulting work with super flexible hours.

I really don't know how parents with rigid 8-6:00 schedules do it.

TabbyCat

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2017, 02:17:56 PM »
Thank you, MMM community, for reminding me my head is just debating something I really already decided.

Typhoid Mary

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2017, 02:29:39 PM »
When I was at work I was always sad I wasn't at home. Two kids in daycare was costing a fortune, so boom. Was a SAHM for 7 years. Recently returned to the workforce and it was like I never left. Landed my dream job working at my kids school district, am off with them for all days off and the whole summer. It's possible to love snow days as an adult now too!
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Pigeon

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2017, 12:46:17 PM »
Being a SAHM would be my worst nightmare.  I love my kids, but am not cut out to be home with children all day long. I also like my job very much, don't have geographic mobility and live in a place without many employment options for what I do.  I did not want to quit my very nice job, knowing it would be extremely difficult to get back into the workforce.

It was tough juggling everything, but it was better than the alternative.  We had an awesome childcare provider.

ForeignServiceWife

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2017, 01:33:03 PM »
Our decision was made by a few different things, but primarily it came down to this:

1) I knew before we even got married that I wanted to stay home with my kids.

2) I am the type of person who does one thing with an intensity to make your head spin, two things extremely well, and three things poorly. The three things in my life were be a wife, be a mother, or have a career. I chose the two former.

3) Economics: childcare in our area is OUTRAGEOUS. More than 50% of my take home pay would have gone to childcare, so why bother? Effectively I would have been working for less than minimum wage.

4) Husband's career means we move around a lot (every two years) and we spend a lot of time overseas, so I really didn't have great career prospects anyway.

We decided to forego the stress of trying to find a career that could move with us every two years that paid enough to warrant paying for childcare that also gave me the flexibility to be a mother. Such careers don't even really exist! I've devoted my life to being a housewife and raising my family and I have never looked back. Some people may look down on me for being a 50s housewife, but it is honestly the best decision I ever made. I am happier now than I have ever been. I don't plan on ever returning to work.

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2017, 06:29:23 AM »
As a classroom teacher, I have an incredibly family friendly schedule. That's not to say that there aren't evening commitments and grading (because there certainly are those responsibilities), but overall, I have a lot of scheduled time off.

I love being at home with my son during the summer and on weeklong breaks. However, I am a better mom going to work each day. The summer is a respite for our family, where having me at home allows us to recover from the stress of 2 full time work schedules during the year.

Once we reach half of our FI amount, I may opt to work .5 or even .8 time. My spouse and I both realize how fortunate we are that my school district allows this option.

Milizard

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2017, 07:49:15 AM »
I never planned on being a SAHM, since I made slightly > 50% of the household income, which was already pretty modest for 2 college graduates.  Then, my dad died and my elderly mother's health was failing while I was pregnant with my second.  It was too much taking care of her, 2 babies, and working FT.  Quit to go back to school for a year while family life stabilized.  This was made possible for a while due to an inheritance.  Now, just 3.5 years later, and I'm​ already getting crap for the modest gap in my resume, and daycare options are not as good with slightly older kids.  A little bitter with how this all went down.  Well, a lot bitter with mom and sibling, but happy to be with kids more, grateful for DH putting up with everything.  This is not what we planned.  DH would make a better SAHS, if I am ever able to fulfill my potential in the work world.

firelight

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2017, 08:45:45 AM »
I'd suggest going back to work and giving it a shot for six/eight months before you quit. As with everything, once you have a routine in place, it's a lot easier to manage both work and kids. However if you quit, the kid related work would expand to fill in the time available. And it would be harder to get back into your job/career.

I wanted to stay home with kid#1 but got this advice and decided to give the job and kids lifestyle a try. The first few weeks were the hardest, then the next few months became easier since I knew how to prioritize and my kid was growing and by the end of six months I was comfortable with the life I had. I feel my kid has gained a lot socially by going to daycare since we don't have family close by. Also, in the brief stints I've tried staying home (2 months once, 1month once at different ages of kiddo ) I've always waited for the time my husband comes home so I can have some time for myself and some adult interaction. Even though my kid is awesome, I can't handle 24*7 of that awesomeness.

Trying out the SAHM again with two kids now (first one would continue preschool) and I'm already sure I'm going back to work since I realize my mental sharpness goes down way faster if I stay home all day and don't have adult interaction.

Also, the usual perks like having a second income stream, having adult interaction, having a cup of coffee without being interrupted, more retirement savings for me, increased promotions/bonus for staying in job, etc are useful too.

To add, I'm surprised people think of daycare as a percentage of mom's salary. It should come out of the household expenses and not be part of just the mom's salary - this would mean the mom would be giving up salary increases for all the time she is out of workforce.

MrsDinero

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2017, 08:48:16 AM »
Following because I am in the same situation.  Mr. Dinero isn't too keen on it but seems to be warming up to the idea.

mm1970

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2017, 10:58:40 AM »
Quote
To add, I'm surprised people think of daycare as a percentage of mom's salary. It should come out of the household expenses and not be part of just the mom's salary - this would mean the mom would be giving up salary increases for all the time she is out of workforce.

I think they probably look at it as a percentage of the lower income's salary.  I'd wager that the majority of companies/ jobs aren't conducive to part time work, so when considering the cost of working and the cost of daycare, most people end up considering having one person quit.  So if you considering quitting for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years (whatever), the math is easier to just calculate how much the lower income person would be taking home "per hour" if X amount goes to child care.

I prefer to consider the whole package (both incomes).  Then again, I've had exactly one raise since my 2nd kid was born 5 years ago.  On the other hand, my health insurance coverage was better when that kid had a $20-25k surgery, and my company covers insurance for dental and vision, husband's does not.

Pigeon

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2017, 11:33:19 AM »
Quote
To add, I'm surprised people think of daycare as a percentage of mom's salary. It should come out of the household expenses and not be part of just the mom's salary - this would mean the mom would be giving up salary increases for all the time she is out of workforce.

I think they probably look at it as a percentage of the lower income's salary.  I'd wager that the majority of companies/ jobs aren't conducive to part time work, so when considering the cost of working and the cost of daycare, most people end up considering having one person quit.  So if you considering quitting for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years (whatever), the math is easier to just calculate how much the lower income person would be taking home "per hour" if X amount goes to child care.

I prefer to consider the whole package (both incomes).  Then again, I've had exactly one raise since my 2nd kid was born 5 years ago.  On the other hand, my health insurance coverage was better when that kid had a $20-25k surgery, and my company covers insurance for dental and vision, husband's does not.

I've almost always heard this expressed as a percentage of the woman's salary, but since the overwhelming majority of SAHPs are women, I guess that's not surprising.  Further, it is generally discussed as if take home pay is the only cost.  People seldom discuss the impact on the (typically) woman's career, future earnings, social security or retirement.

But I totally agree it should be looked at as a cost to the family for having children. 

Cassie

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2017, 12:13:46 PM »
I had my 3 kids young and choose to stay home. When the youngest entered kindergarten I started college and eventually went to grad school. When asked about the gap in my resume I was honest and it did not seem to matter but that was 30 years ago too. I feel like I had the best of both worlds with getting to stay home during the important years and then also having a career.  My 3 kids were all in activities and I did all the driving them because my DH worked nights. When people say it is more work when they get bigger I totally do not get it. Yes you might be on the go more but it is not so physically tiring like when they are little.  Do what your heart tells you is right. If you later change your mind you can go back to work.

doublethinkmoney

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Re: How did you make the decision to work or stay home with kids?
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2017, 12:19:39 PM »
Looking for stories/experiences from other primary parents on how you made the choice to work or to take a few years off with your kids – what questions you asked yourself, how you knew it was right, how you planned for/address having a resume gap.

I’ve asked similar questions on here before, but now that I’m in a real position to jump ship I’m finding myself on the fence instead. I very deeply want to stay home with my toddler, but I have a fear of ruining a good career with a resume gap and never getting back where I am, and my career is also important to me.

Basic stats: we can afford it without cutting back on anything but reducing the savings rate (wouldn’t be living large, but hey we don’t anyway) and have a decent emergency fund ($10k for a car if needed, money for everything anticipated for the house for the next 5-10 years, 3 months living expenses) and enough saved for retirement to scale back for a while. Husband has no interest in early retirement and is very supportive of anything I choose to do.  My job does not allow part time or flex schedule, and we have to leave the current daycare due to location which is going to be a big hit both for the expense and kiddo’s emotions as she is shy and doesn’t adjust well to new situations at this stage.

In an ideal world where a resume gap isn’t a big deal, I would quit, take a few months totally off, then start volunteering and applying for part time contract work to stay current.
I grappled with this myself. It's hard to go back after having time off to spend with your LO. I ended up going back and so far it's been a very easy transition for me mostly bc the company has been very accommodating with a temporary duties so I can use lactation room. I've been back a year and still has it "easy".

Factors in my decision:

1) I have a union job with excellent pay and benefits. Pension, 401k 6% match, 4wks 2days vacation time, pay $80 a month for really good health insurance. It would be hard to find a job equivalent to this and when I leave I cannot get my job back. It does not happen. (If I could have taken a few years off and guaranteed to come back I probably would have)

2) I want to retire early. Not working several years and most likely getting a lower paying job will significantly impact that.

3) staying at home is hard too. You can only take so much screaming and neediness sometimes. Being a parent is tough period.

4) we love to travel and wouldn't be able to afford it for several or more years

5) I believe the right daycare is a good thing for a child (downer is during the week my DD spends more time there than with me awake at home).


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