Author Topic: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option  (Read 15835 times)

cheapass

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Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« on: December 14, 2016, 08:26:08 AM »
My wife and I had a baby 2 months ago which means she is approaching the end of her 12 week maternity leave. Prior to the child, we were all set with our FIRE plan which consisted of both of us working for another 7-8 years and calling it quits at age 40 so we could be free to do whatever we want. My parents live 10 minutes away and my Mom is very interested in babysitting during the day. That put our minds at ease to have someone who actually gives a shit taking care of our kid.

Well..... I believe the mommy instinct has kicked in to some degree. She has started talking about how nobody will take care of our kid like she will, how hard it will be to leave our daughter, how stressful her job is, all the things she doesn't like about my parents, etc.

Has anyone experienced something similar? I'm trying to respect her emotions but redirect the conversation to the more "rational" sense (i.e. we shouldn't sacrifice long-term security for short-term comfort, her and I were both raised by people other than our moms, we have the unique opportunity to become wealthy at a young age, etc.)
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englishteacheralex

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2016, 08:37:03 AM »
Listen to her and validate her feelings. Hormones are crazy in the first several months post-partum. Spending 24/7 with an infant, nursing, being the child's primary caregiver, having no sleep--very, very intense. The child is the center of your universe, and rational thinking is very difficult.

I LOVE being a working mom, but it was still incredibly hard to hand off my baby to someone else in the beginning. We spent $1500/month on a daycare run by the hospital where I gave birth--one of the most expensive options possible--because it was the only one that was up to my extremely high standards. Everything got a lot easier and less scary over time.

Nothing is set in stone. Listen to her fears and concerns and console her. Just let her cry. Going back to work is really hard the first time. Go through with the plan and set a deadline on it--make a contingency plan for if going back to work just doesn't turn out to be worth it. Put a date on reevaluating the situation in a few months' time, and make a concrete plan B: hey, if it just isn't worth it to be a working mom, here's what we can do financially to make it with me being a SAHM. Might have to put off the ER thing for a while, but we decided it was worth it based on the evidence. Maybe over time she can find a part-time option that'll work, or some kind of work-from-home arrangement.

But for the third time: let her cry. Don't try to talk her out of her anxiety.
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Milizard

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 08:49:24 AM »
This probably isn't the same for everyone, but I felt like dealing with daycare when my kids were babies was a 1000x easier than it is for now school-aged children (the youngest currently in preschool 2x/week).   School schedules are crap.  They just are.  At least with infant daycare, there was just one place/person/other schedule to deal with.  The school called a snow day on Monday for no good fucking reason.  The roads were bad on Sunday.  They were completely fine by Monday morning.  The public school doesn't offer any daycare for the year after 12/21.  Add in extra-curriculars, and it gets very challenging to work full-time.  I need to get back to work for financial reasons, but I don't know how I'm possibly going to juggle everything when I do.  I say, shoot for the ER and try to suck it up for a few more years--at least until school starts.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 10:10:56 AM »
First off, there is no rational vs emotional argument when it comes to mothers leaving their kids when they aren’t comfortable doing so. To a mother who feels strongly that she needs to be with her baby, it is perfectly rational and logical to stay with said baby. In fact, many evolutionary psychologists and scientists will tell you the overwhelming desire to stay attached at the hip to your young infant is the height of rationality. The newfound behavior of leaving a 12 week old baby for 8 hours a day with no contact during that time is what is unusual in the grand scheme of mammalian behavior and reproduction. So I think you need to switch your understandings if you are going to have even a chance at a supportive, intelligent discussion with her about this. These feelings she is experiencing are not just mere preferences or emotions, in some ways they are actual hardwired instincts. There is a reason even moms who love their jobs and genuinely want to return to work often feel alot of stress and anxiety when they do first go back.

Explore different options with her – can she negotiate going back part time at first, or extend her maternity leave at her employer for an additional month? A slow transition back to full time might allay her fears and give you some much needed time to adjust to juggling 2 jobs and a baby. If she really is adamant about not returning at all, the conversation will be harder.

I chose to be a SAHM after having my daughter. I felt and still feel strongly that parents should be given every opportunity to spend as much time as they want with their infants in their first year for everyone's sakes. Until the government steps in and mandates generous paid maternity leaves, it will fall to individual families to do their best with what they have and make sacrifices to ensure this happens. A few months ago I was able to land some part time consulting work from home, and now I make a little money on the side while baby naps. Depending on your wife's field, she might be able to do something similar. Thankfully for some of us it doesn't have to be completely either/or.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 10:23:04 AM by little_brown_dog »

hoping2retire35

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2016, 10:11:58 AM »
kids change things.

in my premustachian days (and being a little crazy myself) after the twins were born I bought a new crewcab pickup for saftey, reliablity, etc. somewhat on the premise she would soon have a job. Now we have a PhD SAHM.

Got some sense in me a little later and sold the pickup. But faced up that we would be going on a much reduced income for quite a while.

If yall can really optimize your spending and maybe upyour personal income and by the time you factor in (lack of) childcare/ carpooling/soccer/errand/tax burden/credits costs, being a one income household is not that much of a disadvantage(as you would think). Kids were probably going to delay your FIRing more than you realized, and if not then you can find savings in places you did not expect.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 10:17:41 AM by hoping2retire35 »

mskyle

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2016, 10:12:33 AM »
First off, you need to approach this in a really accepting and listening way. People's priorities change, and if she was kind of going along with the ER idea but not madly in love with it, having a baby may very well have changed the way she thinks about it. But you shouldn't backburner your own needs: you don't want to work at *your* job forever, either, and if your wife stays home that is going to require sacrifice on your part (and pressure on you, as well, since you will be the sole financial support of the family).

You need to discuss more options than "Mrs. cheapass goes back to work immediately at end of maternity leave and works continuously for the next eight years until we both retire" and "Mrs. cheapass stays home indefinitely and cheapass works an extra X years before retiring."

Some ideas for discussion/consideration:

If your wife did become a SAHP right now and never went back to work, how would that affect your retirement numbers? Is she the higher earner/lower earner/equal earner? If you guys had to live on only your salary indefinitely, how far would that push out your retirement? (Don't forget to consider your tax situation here, you'll keep a lot more of your money if your income is lower.)

How long does your wife think she would want to stay home with your kid? A couple of years? Until s/he's in school? How big of a hit will her career/earnings path take if she is out for that number of years (this varies wildly with different careers/industries)?

Is part-time work an option for your wife, and would she feel better about that than she would about full-time work?

Are there ways you could trim your lifestyle/expenses in other areas that would help offset some of the loss of her income?

Conversely, what can you do to help make being a working parent as easy as possible for your wife? (I'm sure you're great and helpful, but it sounds like your wife is very much the primary parent.)

Do you have parental leave available to you and how would you and your wife feel about *you* staying home with your baby for the first couple of months while she went back to work? Would it make more sense for you to stay home long-term and for your wife to work?

Does your wife value the idea of retiring at 40 as much as you do? How many more years of work is your wife willing to add on to her working life in order to be able to stay home with your kid now?

Can your wife *try* going back to work for, say, a month, and then you can re-evaluate?

Poundwise

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2016, 10:36:12 AM »
Does your wife have any leeway at work to take unpaid maternity leave, say 6 months? 

I've been an at-home parent for almost 13 years, although I did end up working (paid) from home for about 7 years. I found it very hard to leave a tiny baby... all they really want at that age is to be with their mom, and it's hard to deny them that.  Personally though, by the time my babies were 6-8 months old I was dying for a break and I think it would have been fine to leave the baby with family (though I never had that option.) By age 2.5 years, tots are usually ready and willing to attend preschool part time, and I wouldn't feel too bad about putting them in preschool full time after about age 4... in terms of what I think is what is most comfortable for babies and young children.  No judgement implied on those who had to put babies in day care sooner... have seen children raised in many ways and they all turn out fine.

Maybe your wife will follow a similar trajectory, if you want to get an idea about how much time it might take for her to separate.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 10:38:06 AM by Poundwise »

cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2016, 10:41:12 AM »
First off, you need to approach this in a really accepting and listening way. People's priorities change, and if she was kind of going along with the ER idea but not madly in love with it, having a baby may very well have changed the way she thinks about it. But you shouldn't backburner your own needs: you don't want to work at *your* job forever, either, and if your wife stays home that is going to require sacrifice on your part (and pressure on you, as well, since you will be the sole financial support of the family).

You need to discuss more options than "Mrs. cheapass goes back to work immediately at end of maternity leave and works continuously for the next eight years until we both retire" and "Mrs. cheapass stays home indefinitely and cheapass works an extra X years before retiring."

Some ideas for discussion/consideration:

If your wife did become a SAHP right now and never went back to work, how would that affect your retirement numbers? Is she the higher earner/lower earner/equal earner? If you guys had to live on only your salary indefinitely, how far would that push out your retirement? (Don't forget to consider your tax situation here, you'll keep a lot more of your money if your income is lower.)

How long does your wife think she would want to stay home with your kid? A couple of years? Until s/he's in school? How big of a hit will her career/earnings path take if she is out for that number of years (this varies wildly with different careers/industries)?

Is part-time work an option for your wife, and would she feel better about that than she would about full-time work?

Are there ways you could trim your lifestyle/expenses in other areas that would help offset some of the loss of her income?

Conversely, what can you do to help make being a working parent as easy as possible for your wife? (I'm sure you're great and helpful, but it sounds like your wife is very much the primary parent.)

Do you have parental leave available to you and how would you and your wife feel about *you* staying home with your baby for the first couple of months while she went back to work? Would it make more sense for you to stay home long-term and for your wife to work?

Does your wife value the idea of retiring at 40 as much as you do? How many more years of work is your wife willing to add on to her working life in order to be able to stay home with your kid now?

Can your wife *try* going back to work for, say, a month, and then you can re-evaluate?

Thank you for the very thoughtful response and reminding me that there are many, many options on the spectrum between the two extremes.

If your wife did become a SAHP right now and never went back to work, how would that affect your retirement numbers? Is she the higher earner/lower earner/equal earner? If you guys had to live on only your salary indefinitely, how far would that push out your retirement? (Don't forget to consider your tax situation here, you'll keep a lot more of your money if your income is lower.)
I haven't plugged that scenario into my spreadsheet yet, but based on the mental math and the impact on our monthly investment rate I think it would double my working career. And I really don't like wasting 5 days a week sitting in a cubicle. As far as the tax brackets go, we would drop from the 28% to 25% so I think our "savings" would be minimal.

How long does your wife think she would want to stay home with your kid? A couple of years? Until s/he's in school? How big of a hit will her career/earnings path take if she is out for that number of years (this varies wildly with different careers/industries)?
I believe it would be until the kid(s) go to school. Her earning potential would take a significant hit. The thing that really concerns me is the timing - we're at that "sweet spot" in our careers where we both earn a lot but we don't manage people. Considering the time-value of money and building our stash, the next 3-5 years are absolutely critical (will be at $1MM NW in 5 years). If she retired 5 years from now it would have a very negligible effect on our long-term wealth.

Is part-time work an option for your wife, and would she feel better about that than she would about full-time work?
I don't think it is possible with her current employer but perhaps another company or a consulting firm would offer part-time. Sounds like a good option to evaluate!

Are there ways you could trim your lifestyle/expenses in other areas that would help offset some of the loss of her income?
We could reduce our travel budget significantly, and forget about buying the midsize SUV we were considering in a couple of years when kid #2 comes around. I think both of these cutbacks would be very disappointing to Mrs. Cheapass.

Conversely, what can you do to help make being a working parent as easy as possible for your wife? (I'm sure you're great and helpful, but it sounds like your wife is very much the primary parent.)

Obviously I'm biased, but I do a pretty bang-up job. Come home from work exhausted and cook, do chores, play with the baby, etc. until bedtime. I rarely sit on the couch and veg out.


Do you have parental leave available to you and how would you and your wife feel about *you* staying home with your baby for the first couple of months while she went back to work? Would it make more sense for you to stay home long-term and for your wife to work?
I have no option for parental leave and I make approx. 20K more in total compensation. That's a maxed 401K.

Does your wife value the idea of retiring at 40 as much as you do? How many more years of work is your wife willing to add on to her working life in order to be able to stay home with your kid now?

She sounds on board and excited when we talk about it but I'm just not sure she's willing to go through the short-term sacrifice to achieve the long term goal. She has been really great about setting reasonable budgets for things and reducing spending in order to increase our savings/investment rate.

Can your wife *try* going back to work for, say, a month, and then you can re-evaluate?
This is probably our best avenue.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 10:45:46 AM by cheapass »
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NicoleO

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2016, 10:59:33 AM »
I am another working mom and will agree with englishteacheralex, let her cry and then logically discuss all of the options and what they will mean for both of you.  Her staying at home with the kid is great for her but it requires you to have to spend more time way from the kid because you will have to work longer. Or her staying at home will reduce her opportunities to have relationships that are not focused on kids.

I also heard really good advice when I was a new mom that I feel applies to many different things in life and it was to not quite on a bad day.  In life that includes relationships, jobs, exercise, etc.  For a new mom that might include things like breastfeeding (if you are), cloth diapering (if you are), sending the kiddo to daycare, etc.

We recently pulled our 2.5 year old out of daycare for dad to be a stay at home dad and I can tell you that was a really hard decision for us, mostly because you could see how much she was learning, growing, and enjoying daycare.  She has fun with dad too but it is not the same as how she was growing at "school". 

Another piece of advise I was given as a new mom was to not make any life changing decision in the first 1 if you don't have to.  It will take several months for her hormones to adjust to the new normal so making a decision like staying at home when you still have a newborn and are not getting very much sleep could end up being a purely emotional one that you may or may not regret.

Other tips/advice, my husband did all the daycare drop-offs (after the 1st one) and that helped me tremendously.  When she had her really clingy stage I did not have to leave her while she was crying because when I left she still had Daddy and for some reason did not not cry very often when he dropped her off.

Milizard

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2016, 11:08:42 AM »
IMO, you might try to shoot for her staying home with both after the 2nd LO comes along.  In my experience, 2 parents working full-time + taking care of 2 babies at the same time was hell on earth. (What I can remember of it, anyway.)

As far as the hormones are concerned, I can totally attest to that.  After my last and final kid, I adamently wanted to have, like, 8 more.  Some weird hormonal shit, there.

mskyle

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2016, 11:42:26 AM »
I don't actual

Thank you for the very thoughtful response and reminding me that there are many, many options on the spectrum between the two extremes.


It was nice of you to reply to all my questions but I don't actually care... I was more saying you need to talk about these things with your wife!

ysette9

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2016, 11:47:01 AM »
Lots of good replies. I'll reiterate to just stay open-minded, do a lot of listening, and don't make any permanent decisions for the next several months. I knew I never wanted to be a stay at home parent, and yet going back to my rewarding, high-paying, job with good work/life balance was really, really tough. It is crazy hard to leave your precious baby for the first time but it does get easier. Try different things out and stay supportive so you aren't adding additional stress onto your poor wife who is already feeling awful about leaving your baby.
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Millennialworkerbee

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2016, 12:21:48 PM »
I just had my first in June and went back to work in September, so it's all fresh for me. I'll chime in on the MIL watching the baby part, because that is our situation too.

Financially, we couldn't afford for me to stay at home (thanks student loans) so I knew it wasn't an option. And before my son was born I was totally okay with that! And now that he is 6 months old I'm okay with it! But between ages 2-4 months I was NOT okay. I was hypercritical of my MIL (we are quite different but had a great relationship before the baby) and I was convinced that she was undermining me at every turn. The last week of my Maternity leave had more tears than the first week back at work (there were still tears, but less).

It's HARD having someone so close to you watch your baby all day. I'm not saying it's harder than putting them in daycare, but you hear many more stories about what the baby is doing during the day which reminds you even more that you are missing out.

My advice to you and your wife is this:
- Try go get her to go back for 12 weeks(same length as maternity leave). The first two weeks were terrible. But it got better and better. There are lots of hormones flying around and at 6 months post partum I'm starting to feel better but not completely out of the woods. See if you can get her to agree to go back to work until the baby is 6 months old and then you can reevaluate.
- Start setting boundaries and rules with your mom now (you need to have these conversations not your wife). The big issue we are having right now is that my MIL makes decisions about how to care for my son without asking me (change of formula/nap schedule/whatever). I feel disrespected because she didn't consult with me first. She thinks "what's the big deal I raised two boys of my own". You need to be okay with feeling like a middleman between two emotional women ;)
- if at all possible you need to do the drop offs in the morning. It will be way easier for her to pass the baby off o you in the morning than to the MIL who is grinning from ear to ear because she gets to play with HER baby all day.

Some of this sounds dramatic I know ;) I'm just trying to help complete the picture for you as a woman which just had a baby and whose MIL is watching the baby. Having family watch the baby is a tremendous blessing, but it takes lots of conversations and expectation setting.

Gin1984

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2016, 12:46:41 PM »
How is your budget if you have to pay for daycare?

cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2016, 01:03:02 PM »
It was nice of you to reply to all my questions but I don't actually care... I was more saying you need to talk about these things with your wife!

Sorry for the confusion, I did not mean to imply that you actually care. Was addressing each point mainly for clarity in case other posters can use that information for further suggestions.
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starbuck

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2016, 01:48:17 PM »
- if at all possible you need to do the drop offs in the morning. It will be way easier for her to pass the baby off o you in the morning than to the MIL who is grinning from ear to ear because she gets to play with HER baby all day.

Oh man, this! My MIL also watched our son for the first 9 months and I *know* she was so generous to be our nanny and even come to our house to do it, but that almost possessive zeal she had really really got under my skin, and I'm one of the most laid-back moms out there. It took me by surprise - and she did everything exactly how I asked, so it really was just about my emotional reaction to it. My husband, if he hadn't been away for work, probably wouldn't have had the same reaction I did. So yea, take over the morning tradeoff if at all possible, at least in the beginning.

Also, I think you need to have the discussion about what this decision means for you and the time you get to spend with your children a few years from now once you hit FIRE. Doubling your remaining working career is no small sacrifice on your part. Personally I think a good compromise would be her staying at home after the next kid comes along (assuming you want +1.)

Does she have the opportunity to work from home at all?

mskyle

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2016, 02:11:51 PM »
It was nice of you to reply to all my questions but I don't actually care... I was more saying you need to talk about these things with your wife!

Sorry for the confusion, I did not mean to imply that you actually care. Was addressing each point mainly for clarity in case other posters can use that information for further suggestions.

Sorry, that was too mean of a way to put it - I was trying to say is that the details don't matter to anyone but you and your wife. You can't figure this out without your wife's input and buy-in. All that matters what you and she think and feel about the various options, and sometimes it can be counterproductive to spend a lot of time thinking through a two-person problem on your own (this is totally a "do as I do, not as I say", I am terrible about this). Finding a solution that works for *both of you* is the only important thing, so you're going to need to actually talk about it openly and honestly (which I'm sure is incredibly hard when you're both exhausted from living with a newborn, but I guess there's really no other option).

cats

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2016, 02:24:08 PM »
I went through this earlier this year.  We were having a very hard time finding childcare and I was just generally freaking out, in tears daily, etc.  I didn't know how I would deal with leaving my kid with someone else.  We eventually found a nannyshare and I did a dry run leaving our kid there a couple of mornings before I actually went back to the office.  I was amazingly "out of sight, out of mind".  Like, as soon as he was at the nannyshare, I was "myself" (normal adult with no baby) again.  I was totally not expecting it, and it really changed my feelings on going back to work (I still wasn't thrilled with it, but I was considerably less OMGTHEWORLDISENDING about it).  Maybe the same for your wife?  Perhaps you could set up a few mornings for grandma to babysit while your wife gets out for a walk, coffee, or something else fun and baby-free for herself?  She may start to feel a lot differently then.

cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2016, 02:34:51 PM »
Great ideas everyone, I really appreciate the input. Just trying to get as much information as possible (especially from the female perspective) before we have the discussion again.
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Poundwise

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2016, 02:51:28 PM »
I'm surprised I'm the only SAHM posting in this thread, but I want to point out one thing: For some people,
staying with your baby is what life is for.  Does that make sense? Snuggling with the baby is the goal.  One of the high points of life.

So if your wife is one of those folks (like me),  it doesn't make sense to give it up for something like early retirement.  What would be the point of early retirement if she looks back and says, "It's nice to be able to stay at home now, but I wish I hadn't missed my time with my tiny baby."  Because the time does go really fast, and before you know it you'll be looking at those miniscule socks and wondering how they ever fit on your kid. 

That's why I proposed that your wife consider an unpaid break for a few months.  In just a few months it might feel a lot easier to go back to work.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 02:53:03 PM by Poundwise »

Gin1984

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2016, 02:52:50 PM »
Great ideas everyone, I really appreciate the input. Just trying to get as much information as possible (especially from the female perspective) before we have the discussion again.
Still curious on how daycare would effect your budget.

cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2016, 03:12:27 PM »
Great ideas everyone, I really appreciate the input. Just trying to get as much information as possible (especially from the female perspective) before we have the discussion again.
Still curious on how daycare would effect your budget.

We'd be looking at ~$800/mo which is 40% of our taxable investment or 15% of our total investment incl. 401k's

I know there are tax deductible options but Grandma is not going to have a business ID # with the IRS so it will be after tax money.
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TrMama

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2016, 03:41:47 PM »
Great ideas everyone, I really appreciate the input. Just trying to get as much information as possible (especially from the female perspective) before we have the discussion again.
Still curious on how daycare would effect your budget.

We'd be looking at ~$800/mo which is 40% of our taxable investment or 15% of our total investment incl. 401k's

I know there are tax deductible options but Grandma is not going to have a business ID # with the IRS so it will be after tax money.

But there will be less emotional fallout if the baby went to daycare instead of to grandma's everyday. A nice way to keep everyone happy is often for the baby to go to daycare, but grandma watches baby when he/she is sick, or daycare is closed for some reason, or every Friday, or whatever.

I have no advice for you other than what PPs have mentioned about being really gentle and understanding with your wife. The desire to be with her baby is a primal reaction. Asking her to leave the baby is akin to asking you to never look at or be attracted to another women ever again. Probably pretty unrealistic.

Leaving my first to go back to work was one of the hardest things I've ever done; and I live in Canada and had a 6.5 month leave. My DH took the other 5.5 months and stayed home with the baby. She was with her own father, the man I loved and trusted enough to procreate with in the first place, and it was still awful and I wanted to quit everyday.

Milizard

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2016, 04:14:44 PM »
I'm surprised I'm the only SAHM posting in this thread, but I want to point out one thing: For some people,
staying with your baby is what life is for.  Does that make sense? Snuggling with the baby is the goal.  One of the high points of life.

So if your wife is one of those folks (like me),  it doesn't make sense to give it up for something like early retirement.  What would be the point of early retirement if she looks back and says, "It's nice to be able to stay at home now, but I wish I hadn't missed my time with my tiny baby."  Because the time does go really fast, and before you know it you'll be looking at those miniscule socks and wondering how they ever fit on your kid. 

That's why I proposed that your wife consider an unpaid break for a few months.  In just a few months it might feel a lot easier to go back to work.

You're not, but the reason I'm SAH right now has more to do with caring for my elderly mother than anything else.

AliEli

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2016, 05:55:15 PM »
How outrageous that there are only 12 weeks of maternity leave available for your wife.  It's awful that she is being put in a position where this is even an issue.  I feel for your wife (and for you too!).  12 weeks is nowhere near long enough to recover from pregnancy / birth, let alone establish the routines needed for bubs.  I'm sorry to hear that this is even an issue, and it feels like a really unfair scenario for new parents.  If I were your wife, I'd be crying and tearful at the situation.  Her employer has set an irrational expectation, and then she is expected to deal with the fallout - it's perfectly rational that she (and you) shouldn't want to leave your infant just to go to work only 3 months after bubs arrived.

Maybe work out how to deal with an irrational employer instead of pondering a "rational" conversation with your wife?

Maya

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2016, 08:17:00 PM »
I'm in Canada so enjoyed 2 year long mat leaves and went back to work afterwards. How are the job prospects in your wife's field? Could she take a year to 18 months off and then look for a new job, perhaps re-apply at current job? Why does the SAHM option have to be until school starts? It was hard to leave my 12 month old,  it a lot easier than a 3 month old.

Sean Og

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2016, 08:42:16 PM »
Maybe work out how to deal with an irrational employer instead of pondering a "rational" conversation with your wife?

Welcome to the USA....12 weeks unpaid leave is pretty standard as its the minimum per federal law and not without its T&C's (only required for 50+ employee companies, 12 months tenure at company and dependent on hours worked in those 12 months) Certain states expand upon these though, and California is the only state with paternity leave that I know.

Sometimes I wish we were living at home in Ireland again with our impending arrival in March.

cats

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2016, 09:06:45 PM »
One other thought...to me, it was always important to have a SAHP for kindergarten onwards.  While a lot is going on with babies, I think it is fair to say that any qualified childcare provider can take good care of a baby.  Personally, I actually think our daycare does a better job with our baby than I would as a SAHM--they read and sing songs all day, their space is set up 100% for childcare, and the staff all get to go home and sleep through the night each night, so they are more "on" with the babies than a sleep deprived parent is.  However, once you start getting older, your kid is learning more than just how to move, talk, read, count, etc.  S/he is also learning ethics, values, making friends who will influence him or her.  In my opinion, it's much better for the parent to be around at those times because it's highly unlikely a child is going to learn the values YOU value from teachers or after school carers.  So the more you can be around then, the better.  So perhaps, in framing the issue to your wife, you can talk a bit about whether it's better to be a SAHP now vs. in 5 years or so.  She might be more enthused about FIRE if it's in the context of "I can be a full-time parent like I want to be."

Also, it sounds like you are planning to pay grandma with post-tax money, but I am fairly certain a dependent care FSA can be used to pay family members who provide care for your child, so that might bear some looking into once you get past the emotional aspects and are working on costs.

MayDay

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2016, 06:31:31 AM »
I wanted to go back to work, and my amazing employer allowed me to work only 3 days a week and gave me 18 weeks off (which I good for the USA).

It was still insanely hard.

That said, I'm absolutely glad I did it. But for the first month, I wanted to quit every day, frequently cried in the daycare parking lot, etc.

I'd look at it like this:
1. It's way easier for her to go back with 1 kud, then lTer on when there is a toddler and a newborn.
2. She needs to give it until baby is 6 months before quitting.
3. Agree that if she still wants to quit after 6 months, the budget for travel will be cut to X, the car budget will be cut to y, etc, and she has to be ok with that.
4. Really try to think about how in the grand scheme, your kids will probably want to be at preschool/daycare around 2.5-3, and once they are in regular school, childcare is a nightmare. It's truly better to work now if she can stand it.

I would suggest that you do anything and everything to help once she starts back. Make her life as easy as possible, including throwing money at housecleaning, meals, dry cleaning, etc. Make sure you or your mom is washing the bottles and pump parts at night, etc. Make sure you have a serious conversation with your mom about how hard this is for your wife, and how she needs to be the bigger person even if your wife is acting unreasonable. Maybe your mom would agree to bring the baby to your wife's office once a day or something like that.

I will echo the PP's who said that it gets much harder with the second. If she can power through 2-3 more years until #2 arrives, it will be worth it.

I personally quit after #2, and am now back to work half time as an engineer, with a pay cut. I stayed home until my youngest was in full day school. I job hunyed for over a year before getting an offer. It sucked. I'm glad to be working again, and the pay cut was worth stay home for 6 years, but I definitely knew I might never be able to go back.
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Poundwise

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2016, 08:38:06 AM »
I'm surprised I'm the only SAHM posting in this thread, but I want to point out one thing: For some people,
staying with your baby is what life is for.  Does that make sense? Snuggling with the baby is the goal.  One of the high points of life.

So if your wife is one of those folks (like me),  it doesn't make sense to give it up for something like early retirement.  What would be the point of early retirement if she looks back and says, "It's nice to be able to stay at home now, but I wish I hadn't missed my time with my tiny baby."  Because the time does go really fast, and before you know it you'll be looking at those miniscule socks and wondering how they ever fit on your kid. 

That's why I proposed that your wife consider an unpaid break for a few months.  In just a few months it might feel a lot easier to go back to work.

You're not, but the reason I'm SAH right now has more to do with caring for my elderly mother than anything else.

Sorry, it wasn't clear from your post that you were SAH,  and I also see that little_brown_dog is or was SAH. 

Anyway, I felt that the OP could do with more understanding of reasons to NOT do as he wishes. A majority of posts here support his wish for his wife to go back to work so they can retire early on schedule.  Indeed, he asked for a "rational" discussion, and rationally speaking they will be financially better off and will have more time to spend with children later if she waits a few years to quit work.

However, how rational is having children at all, in terms of a FIRE goal? Not very. So I won't speak rationally, but will draw an emotional analogy: would you give up the first few months of falling in love with your spouse in order to retire 5 years early? No? Then how about just a few key dates or good times that you had in that first year?  How many would you give up? What if ER could give you more good times later, with your older spouse?

I think that the better understanding that OP has of what his wife is feeling, the better he can help her make the best decision for both of them.  This is all new to her, she's not sure of herself, and she could probably be persuaded to go against her heart, by being persuaded that her heart is merely hormones. Once OP really feels what a sacrifice this is, then he can weigh the costs correctly.

If it turns out that OP's wife can take a few months of unpaid leave without losing her job, I would definitely recommend that she do it. Because a few months make such a big difference in a baby's life, relative to the difference in getting FIRED a few months earlier vs. later. But if she will really have to lose her job to stay home with the baby now, then it seems like work 5 years then SAH for second child would be best. 

Having a SAHP and delaying FIRE is not the end of the world, if you don't hate your job. Our way of life is frugal, but slower and less stressful than the alternative.   



« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 08:43:09 AM by Poundwise »

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #30 on: December 15, 2016, 09:07:01 AM »
How outrageous that there are only 12 weeks of maternity leave available for your wife.  It's awful that she is being put in a position where this is even an issue.  I feel for your wife (and for you too!).  12 weeks is nowhere near long enough to recover from pregnancy / birth, let alone establish the routines needed for bubs.  I'm sorry to hear that this is even an issue, and it feels like a really unfair scenario for new parents.  If I were your wife, I'd be crying and tearful at the situation.  Her employer has set an irrational expectation, and then she is expected to deal with the fallout - it's perfectly rational that she (and you) shouldn't want to leave your infant just to go to work only 3 months after bubs arrived.

Maybe work out how to deal with an irrational employer instead of pondering a "rational" conversation with your wife?

Sadly, 12 weeks is a lot in the U.S.  Some states offer ZERO.  My state requires you to be given the time for the physical disability of pregnancy/birth.  That amounts to about 6 weeks for a vaginal birth.

Cathy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #31 on: December 15, 2016, 10:06:35 AM »
How outrageous that there are only 12 weeks of maternity leave available for your wife.
Sadly, 12 weeks is a lot in the U.S.  Some states offer ZERO.

In the United States, parents are free to negotiate as much maternity leave as they want from work -- it could be 12 weeks, or it could be 5 years. Or, if they can't reach an agreement, they are free to just leave anyway, since employees are generally free to leave their employers at any time, for any or no reason, in the United States. If a person can't afford a protracted break from work, then maybe they shouldn't create, adopt, or raise children until they can afford to do so. The choice to create, adopt, or raise children is generally purely voluntary and within the control of the employee.

(Note: I express no view on the specific circumstances of the original poster.)
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 10:20:26 AM by Cathy »
This post contains only general information on the issues raised by this topic. This post does not provide help tailored to your specific situation. There are many facts that could be relevant to your specific situation and I am not in possession of those facts. If you need help tailored to your specific situation, you should retain an appropriate professional and not rely on this post.

DWW

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #32 on: December 15, 2016, 10:17:44 AM »
We have three children all under the age of 5. The decision to have children doesn't fit well in the FIRE math, but I don't think people have children based upon financial equations. We decided that my wife would stay with our children until they reached school age. I am a high-earner so it still works for our FIRE goals. She also has been creative in producing an income from home and finding other areas to save. Staying-at-home vs going back to work is more than just a financial decision it is also a lifestyle decision and I think most of us have the goal of FIRE in order to have a certain lifestyle. If you wife is convinced delaying retirement for a few years is worth it, then that is a lifestyle choice that she is made and is perfectly rational.

hoping2retire35

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #33 on: December 15, 2016, 10:27:44 AM »
How outrageous that there are only 12 weeks of maternity leave available for your wife.  It's awful that she is being put in a position where this is even an issue.  I feel for your wife (and for you too!).  12 weeks is nowhere near long enough to recover from pregnancy / birth, let alone establish the routines needed for bubs.  I'm sorry to hear that this is even an issue, and it feels like a really unfair scenario for new parents.  If I were your wife, I'd be crying and tearful at the situation.  Her employer has set an irrational expectation, and then she is expected to deal with the fallout - it's perfectly rational that she (and you) shouldn't want to leave your infant just to go to work only 3 months after bubs arrived.

Maybe work out how to deal with an irrational employer instead of pondering a "rational" conversation with your wife?

What is this rant?

its 3 months! figure out if you are going back to work or a SAHP.  Someone else is having to cover your tail this whole time, but I guess if you are just some cog that can be easily replaced then this doesn't really matter.

NicoleO

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #34 on: December 15, 2016, 11:18:00 AM »
...  Perhaps you could set up a few mornings for grandma to babysit while your wife gets out for a walk, coffee, or something else fun and baby-free for herself?  She may start to feel a lot differently then.

I think something similar to this has been mentioned a couple times but I really, really agree with this.  Even if your wife just leaves the baby with you for a couple hours to get out and be herself again before returning to work.  This was huge for me.  I was only gone for about 1 hour to go get my hair cut, DH and baby hung out and took a small nap at home, I stressed most of the time (what if they need this or that) but by the time I made it home I was so much closer to my more independent self that I was before the baby.

Maybe you could get her a manicure/pedicure/haircut/movie ticket/whatever for her to go enjoy by herself or with a friend.  Tell her you want to have a little baby bonding time. Or ask her to leave the baby with grandma so she can meet you for lunch some weekday. 

startbyservingothers

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #35 on: December 15, 2016, 01:11:10 PM »
As a guy:

1.  I think the idea of having at least 1 stay at home parent is much preferable to day care.  Perhaps preferable to having grand parents watch them.  (If you aren't paying grand-parents you are taking advantage of them.  Regardless of money: there is likely to be boundary issues.  Seeing how possessive MIL is around other Grand-Children is enough for this realization.  We haven't had ours yet.)

2.  Expenses:   This might be a 'silly' question to pose to someone that frequents the MMM forum but:   How much 'fat' is in your budget?  Is there any way you could reduce expenses?   House?  Car?  Money being spent on baby? Etc?   Can she provide value by being thrifty, etc with her time?  **
It sounds like you make a fair income.  By reducing expenses you should still be able to hit your target.   As we know from MMM:  Years to retirement is based on ~ percentage of savings,  not income.   

3.  Income:   Could she do consulting or part-time work in her occupation?

4.  Parental Balance:  If she is spending 100% of her time with the child, then she needs some breaks.   See the advice above.  Those breaks can begin with you, and transfer to your parents.   (regardless of whether she is a stay at home mom, or going back to work).

5.  Curious.  How much did spouse enjoy work prior to having baby?  Did she Love her job, or did she feel so-so / dislike her job and perhaps not working (+ having a new 'mission' in life) has confirmed/ increased those feelings?**

6.  A lot of good advice in this thread.  You may really want her to go back to work, and she may truly not want to or it may be her hormones.   Regardless you really need to have some discussions about what you both want.  Perhaps it's only fair that you both take some time off?***

*** Most people can't consider this,  but spouse and I can pull this off even without a huge amount of savings:  Combine a small amount of savings with very low cash outlays (I was raised thrifty and we are in a low cost of living area.)   Assuming we had 1 years income saved up, that could provide 4-8 years living expenses (If saving 75-85% of income like some people here.)

**  These are real questions posed to Op.  He may choose to answer them here, or ignore them if not applicable.

Thanks for reading.  I think the thread needed at least 1 good "face-punch" response, whether deserving/applicable or not.   
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mm1970

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2016, 05:02:27 PM »
Lots of good advice here.  I'll mention the points that spoke to me:

1.  There's a spectrum.  I'm a working mother and I *always* recommend to my friends "on the fence" that they go back to work.  Because, it's easier to go back, and then quit - than it is to quit, and then go back.  Right now with my friends I'd say we are at 50/50 who kept working and didn't.

2.  Part time if you can swing it was GLORIOUS for me.  It's not for everyone (some people feel like they are short-changing everyone).  I had enough time at work to get stuff done (you have to be uber efficient at 30 hours a week), and plenty of time to take the kiddo to the park.  Not all companies will go for this but *many* will agree to it if the option is to lose a good employee.

3.  Someone mentioned how much harder it is with 2 kids.  True that.
4.  Someone else mentioned the school schedule with school aged kid.  Yep, that blows too.
5.  IS there an option to work from home?  In my experience, you can't do that with a kid at home unless you have care also, but it's certainly less distracting for me to do that on occasion.
6.  Definitely you need to do kid dropoff.

Anyway, I agree that it sucks that US only gets 12 weeks off, and often not paid.  Yeah, "everyone is free to negotiate", oh except the people who are desperate and can't.  But anyway, the outcomes for families and babies and finances when families get paid leave are better than when they don't.  Especially when you are nursing - working and pumping SUCKS! (ha) 

Not sure if this was helpful it all, but you kind of have to wing it.  I get that you want to retire early, but you are probably underestimating how hard it is to have two full time working parents and a baby, then a toddler, then another kid.  It is absolutely exhausting.  No breaks, like ever. (I don't have family in town.)  I see that you help a lot at home from when you get home until bed, but imagine that EVERYONE gets home at the same time, and all those chores have to be crammed into a few hours.  It's not for the faint of heart.

hunniebun

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #37 on: December 16, 2016, 08:02:44 AM »
You have had lots of good responses and suggestions on finding a path forward for discussions and considerations with your wife. I am Canadian and had a year long mat leave (with fully pay) and for me, even the prospect of leaving a one year old in someone else's care made is sick and anxious.  With both my children, I took an extra 6 months unpaid (because I have the best employeer ever) and then went back on a part time schedule for a year.  For my own mental health, it was really the only option.  It depends so much on your personality and feelings, I still cry in the car in the way to work sometimes because my kids are so awesome and I wish I could just hang out with them while they still think I am the sun. There is no amount of money for me that could ever compensate for rocking my kids to sleep at each nap, to watching them roll over or clap or stack a block for the first time.  Babyhood is so short that i wanted to soak up as much of it as possible, even if it means I'll be working longer and our bank balance isn't where I would hope it would be.    I hope that you can find a compromise that will allow both of you to get what you want/need.   

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #38 on: December 16, 2016, 08:57:31 AM »
How outrageous that there are only 12 weeks of maternity leave available for your wife.  It's awful that she is being put in a position where this is even an issue.  I feel for your wife (and for you too!).  12 weeks is nowhere near long enough to recover from pregnancy / birth, let alone establish the routines needed for bubs.  I'm sorry to hear that this is even an issue, and it feels like a really unfair scenario for new parents.  If I were your wife, I'd be crying and tearful at the situation.  Her employer has set an irrational expectation, and then she is expected to deal with the fallout - it's perfectly rational that she (and you) shouldn't want to leave your infant just to go to work only 3 months after bubs arrived.

Maybe work out how to deal with an irrational employer instead of pondering a "rational" conversation with your wife?

What is this rant?

its 3 months! figure out if you are going back to work or a SAHP.  Someone else is having to cover your tail this whole time, but I guess if you are just some cog that can be easily replaced then this doesn't really matter.

This is broadly the difference between attitudes to parental leave in the US and many other countries.

It is not unusual in the UK for new parents to take a year off, so to me then the US policies of 6 or 12 weeks seem really brutal (it's the same when I read about how little vacation time you get compared to me).

SomedayStache

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #39 on: December 16, 2016, 09:14:27 AM »
I think this is a topic that it is hard to be rational about for some folks.  Reading a few rational (or heartless depending on your perspective) responses on this thread got my heartrate up and I wanted to go to battle. 

I am the working spouse in my family.  I have 3 kiddos and a stay-at-home husband. I'm a planner.  We meticulously planned our pregnancies and planned for the very short maternity leave allowed by our finances and my company (6 weeks with baby #1, 12 weeks with babies #2 & #3.)   We planned that my husband would be the stay at home parent.  I planned exactly how and when I would pump milk upon returning to work.  And everything has gone EXACTLY as planned every time.  Perfect pregnancies, births, healthy babies, no problems exclusively breastfeeding, no problems with milk output.  Looking back its rather amazing that things have gone so smoothly.

But you know what I didn't and couldn't plan for?  My own emotional response. 

My husband has about 1/5 the earning power that I do.  There is no reasonable way that he could be the working parent without a major upheaval in our lives (selling our house and learning to navigate government assistance programs).  I knew this before we got pregnant and I knew this after we had our children.  Even so I still struggle with resentment.  The resentment that I have because leaving my babies was far harder than I could have know and it blindsided me.  I always found that by the time each child was 1 year of age it became emotionally easier for me to go to work.  Now that our youngest is 3 years old I no longer hate the fact that I am working.  But still the old anger and resentment sneak up on me and cause strife in our marriage.  We've been to marriage counseling and we have a solid, loving relationship.  Still, I sometimes find myself getting angry at him because it's HIS fault that I couldn't stay home with the kids.  (I rationally know that it is not his fault, but I struggle keeping my emotions in check).

So be rational.  But people aren't rational beings and keep that in mind.  Don't let this poison your relationship if there is a possibility that it could.  Only you and your wife can know that.  And it might not be something you know until after the fact.  Don't let it be your fault that she is working.  She has to be fully onboard with whatever plan you both decide on.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #40 on: December 16, 2016, 09:25:34 AM »
I think this is a topic that it is hard to be rational about for some folks.  Reading a few rational (or heartless depending on your perspective) responses on this thread got my heartrate up and I wanted to go to battle. 

I am the working spouse in my family.  I have 3 kiddos and a stay-at-home husband. I'm a planner.  We meticulously planned our pregnancies and planned for the very short maternity leave allowed by our finances and my company (6 weeks with baby #1, 12 weeks with babies #2 & #3.)   We planned that my husband would be the stay at home parent.  I planned exactly how and when I would pump milk upon returning to work.  And everything has gone EXACTLY as planned every time.  Perfect pregnancies, births, healthy babies, no problems exclusively breastfeeding, no problems with milk output.  Looking back its rather amazing that things have gone so smoothly.

But you know what I didn't and couldn't plan for?  My own emotional response. 

My husband has about 1/5 the earning power that I do.  There is no reasonable way that he could be the working parent without a major upheaval in our lives (selling our house and learning to navigate government assistance programs).  I knew this before we got pregnant and I knew this after we had our children.  Even so I still struggle with resentment.  The resentment that I have because leaving my babies was far harder than I could have know and it blindsided me.  I always found that by the time each child was 1 year of age it became emotionally easier for me to go to work.  Now that our youngest is 3 years old I no longer hate the fact that I am working.  But still the old anger and resentment sneak up on me and cause strife in our marriage.  We've been to marriage counseling and we have a solid, loving relationship.  Still, I sometimes find myself getting angry at him because it's HIS fault that I couldn't stay home with the kids.  (I rationally know that it is not his fault, but I struggle keeping my emotions in check).

So be rational.  But people aren't rational beings and keep that in mind.  Don't let this poison your relationship if there is a possibility that it could.  Only you and your wife can know that.  And it might not be something you know until after the fact.  Don't let it be your fault that she is working.  She has to be fully onboard with whatever plan you both decide on.

Thanks SomedayStache, this is an incredibly valuable insight!

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #41 on: December 16, 2016, 01:57:10 PM »
Working mom (lawyer) here who was lucky enough to have 6 months of mostly paid maternity leave with our son.  I agree with the person who said months 2-4 were the hardest to consider leaving baby.  I absolutely NEEDED months 3-6 to truly enjoy the time at home with my son.  The first three months were so hard, what with childbirth recovery, the demands of breastfeeding, dealing with newborn fussiness/unpredictability, and figuring out parenting in general.  Months 3-6 were a completely different ballgame, at least for me/us - got to really enjoy being with my son, getting out and about together, meeting other new moms, etc.  By month 6, I was excited to go back to work (mostly to have adult/cerebral activity to do) but still very much missed being with my son.  But after the first week or so back at work, I was pretty happy and then by months 7-8 and later, I was really glad to not be at home all day with my son (fully understanding that some moms do love this - I just found the older baby phase pretty exhausting, especially once crawling/mobility hits).  Right now (son is 2) I feel 100% satisfied with the amount of time I spent with him, between weekends and weekday evenings, and am really glad I went back to work when I did.

My own two cents would be for your wife to try to negotiate additional time off - at least one more month, and unpaid if necessary (but may be worth asking for paid depending on the context - worst that can happen is they say no, right?).  And then ask to start back again at a reduced time arrangement, hopefully including at least one day a week of working from home (if her work is amenable to that).  I suspect that the additional time may go a long way toward making her comfortable with leaving the baby and will take the edge off the idea of going back to work.  Also fully agree that you guys should figure out a way for her to get "me time" away from baby starting ASAP.

I hear you on the cold hard numbers/tradeoffs associated with deciding to stay home longer -- but in the grand scheme of things this is a blip on the radar, and your wife feeling good about her decision about when to go back to work and how much time to spend with baby is far more important than the marginal income she'd give up by taking a little more time off (at least I think so!).  Good luck and keep us posted!

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #42 on: December 16, 2016, 07:51:10 PM »
Thank you all for the insightful responses. We've made some progress and I think I talked her "off the ledge". We discussed balancing long-term goals with short-term preferences and how we BOTH (not just her) want to maximize our time with our kid(s) and not wasting away in a cubicle 5 days a week. We want to set ourselves up for long-term success and freedom to take long trips, pay for college, have great experiences that sometimes take money and/or time, etc.

We agreed that if we could both work another 3 years while trimming the fat from our budget (literally spending as little as possible), then we can be in a much better place with our investments at that time. Hopefully by then I would be making more and we can continue to save money so it will not be as much of a disaster to our finances as it would be if she quit tomorrow.

I brought up the possibility of extending her leave by a month, unpaid, to make the transition slightly easier. She immediately thought this was a great idea. We also talked about how her boss is okay with her working from home 2 days a week, and if she crams all of her work into the 3 days she has to work at the office then it can almost be like she is working part time which is pretty ideal.

We came to an understanding that although my parents aren't perfect humans and there will undoubtedly be some conflict here and there, they are coming from a good place and they genuinely love our granddaughter. They also understand that it's our way or the highway so they have to be okay with raising and disciplining her as we instruct.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2016, 07:57:25 PM by cheapass »
Every single decision you make with money either shortens or lengthens your working career.

Maverick1

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #43 on: December 16, 2016, 08:19:28 PM »
It feels like I'm on a different website reading some of the responses in this thread.  It should be easy to raise a family on one person's salary when living a mustachian lifestyle.  It's ultimately a personal choice, but I'd rather work a few extra years if it means my kids can have a parent at home with them before they are school aged.

We have a 2 year old daughter who will be joined by a baby brother in 3 months.  We planned this out years in advance. We lived frugally, built up our savings and got the major purchases out of the way before having kids (forever house, vehicles to last for several years, wedding etc.). My wife went back to work after her first mat leave so that she'd get mat leave benefits for the second child (we're in Canada where mat leaves are 12 months with the government providing weekly benefits of ~$520/week for 50 weeks). After the 2nd baby she'll stay at home until our youngest is school aged when we'll re-evaluate where we're at. Goal is to be financially independent at 40 which I think is achievable.

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #44 on: December 17, 2016, 01:08:01 AM »
I brought up the possibility of extending her leave by a month, unpaid, to make the transition slightly easier. She immediately thought this was a great idea. We also talked about how her boss is okay with her working from home 2 days a week, and if she crams all of her work into the 3 days she has to work at the office then it can almost be like she is working part time which is pretty ideal.

This sounds really positive.

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #45 on: December 17, 2016, 01:09:37 AM »
We came to an understanding that although my parents aren't perfect humans and there will undoubtedly be some conflict here and there, they are coming from a good place and they genuinely love our granddaughter. They also understand that it's our way or the highway so they have to be okay with raising and disciplining her as we instruct.

Careful here. You need them more than they need you. They are doing you the favour with providing childcare.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #46 on: December 17, 2016, 05:51:35 AM »
I brought up the possibility of extending her leave by a month, unpaid, to make the transition slightly easier. She immediately thought this was a great idea. We also talked about how her boss is okay with her working from home 2 days a week, and if she crams all of her work into the 3 days she has to work at the office then it can almost be like she is working part time which is pretty ideal.

This sounds really positive.

I agree, this sounds like a great middle-ground solution. As a new mom myself, I know she must have felt great relief when you brought this up. Hopefully she can get the extra time off!

ender

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #47 on: December 17, 2016, 06:19:01 AM »
I haven't plugged that scenario into my spreadsheet yet, but based on the mental math and the impact on our monthly investment rate I think it would double my working career. And I really don't like wasting 5 days a week sitting in a cubicle. As far as the tax brackets go, we would drop from the 28% to 25% so I think our "savings" would be minimal.

Minimal? I'd be curious to see the numbers based on your respective incomes. This really isn't the right approach to analyzing the financials of this.

Your wife's income is mostly taxed at least at 35% (25-28% federal, FICA, and this doesn't include whatever state or even city income taxes you pay, so probably closer to 40-45%). This might be effectively higher depending on what your tax credits are (for example, the child tax credit starts phasing out at 110k AGI). Or what her commuting costs are.

I don't know what her income is, her work related costs are, or what daycare will cost, but it would be wise to really think through the full impact. It's not as simple as saying "well our marginal rate goes from 28 to 25 so not really a big deal."

Your marginal tax rate is not the impact you should be considering. You should be considering the overall financial implication that this decision would have.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #48 on: December 17, 2016, 06:45:50 AM »
I don't know what her income is, her work related costs are, or what daycare will cost, but it would be wise to really think through the full impact. It's not as simple as saying "well our marginal rate goes from 28 to 25 so not really a big deal."

Your marginal tax rate is not the impact you should be considering. You should be considering the overall financial implication that this decision would have.

I've seen several couples who have found substantial savings when one parent stayed home. There is less available for MMM folk (fewer cleaning and nanny services or second cars to cut), but still worth doing the calculations. Our tax works differently as we don't file as couples, I'd have thought that your MFJ and MFS tax thing means you'd have more available.

arebelspy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #49 on: December 17, 2016, 06:54:28 AM »
You are her partner.

It is not your job to tell her how to feel, or to determine by yourself the best plan for your future, and then "rationally" explain it to her.

It is your job to support her as an equal, and a partner.

"Talking her off the ledge" is a warped way to put what appears to me to be substituting your wants (her to keep working so you can retire early) for hers (raising the child).

Definitely communicate. All the time, non-stop.

But that doesn't mean you just explaining things to her. It means listening, and problem solving together.

Throughout this thread your responses have all been why you need to get her back to work, and how you can do that.

I would suggest that your whole approach to this is not conductive to a healthy relationship.

There are more important things then FIRE. If you to decide together that the best thing is for her to keep working, okay. But you going into that conversation with the goal of convincing her of that is not fair to her (or your relationship, or possibly your child).

Don't misinterpret me: I'm not saying I think she should stay home. I don't know nearly enough to have a thought on that.

What I'm saying is that your deciding on your own that she should go back, that her wanting to stay is just "emotional" whereas you are being "rational," that you have to "talk her off a ledge," etc. is all quite (many terms could go here.. arrogant, selfish, egotistical, short-sighted, disrespectful, etc.). It's the wrong way to approach the situation.

I don't think you're a bad person, I just don't think you're considering what your wife wants... you are just thinking about how to convince her off what YOU want.

As evidenced by your questions here. Not asking other moms how they've felt in similar circumstances to understand your wife better, but asking how you can convince her.

I know my post will raise immediate hackles/defenses.

You don't need to respond, or defend yourself. I'm just a stranger on the internet.  Better not to reply to me.

But I hope you pause your immediate reaction, take a break, and revisit some of these ideas, maybe in a few days. Think: How can you support your wife?

That's the goal, much more than quickest FIRE.

Good luck!

Quote
I brought up the possibility of extending her leave by a month, unpaid, to make the transition slightly easier. She immediately thought this was a great idea. We also talked about how her boss is okay with her working from home 2 days a week, and if she crams all of her work into the 3 days she has to work at the office then it can almost be like she is working part time which is pretty ideal.

This is great!  Nice that her company is so supportive.

Might be a good way to help work something you both are happy with.
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