Author Topic: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option  (Read 14931 times)

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #50 on: December 17, 2016, 07:18:51 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.

You have to do the math before you start worrying about whether or not she's rational.  Just a guess here, but if your tax rate isn't going down by much, that must mean her income is not much?  Really add it up!

But also, glad to hear the results of the last chat with her.  I'd vote for 3 more months unpaid. 

And to everyone talking about what's "rational"......  if it's so hard for everyone to leave their babies, it could be because it's not rational.  Is it rational to go against your biology?  Would it be more rational for gay people to marry straight, since societal acceptance has so many implications for your long-term earning power?  Unless you're Pence, no one is going to recommend that.

The reason it's hard for moms to leave their babies is because there's a rational biological reason for moms to be with their babies. 
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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #51 on: December 17, 2016, 08:05:23 AM »
Lots of good advice here. My "kids" are now 28 and 25. At two months, it would have been very difficult for me to go back to work emotionally and physically. At two months, I was still getting up at night to nurse. Even bottle feeding, there are still going to be night wakings at this age. With #1, I quit because my employer would not let me work part time. At 15 months, I got a 24 hour a week job which was perfect. #2, I went back part time at 5 months. I would have like more, but it worked out.
We had always been frugal, so even though my leaves were mostly unpaid, we did okay. I went back to full time when #2 was a sophomore in high school.

Also, even though daycare was expensive, we did not think of it as coming from my salary- it came from our combined incomes. These are our children and our responsibility- not just Mom's.

One more think about leaves. I am in a leadership development program- I will be gone from my position for FIVE months on a developmental assignment- because the training I will get will be valuable for my employer. People are on military leave for years- because it is valuable to society. Raising children is valuable to society.


Milizard

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #52 on: December 17, 2016, 10:30:11 AM »
Interesting comments about how this is about how she feels and how it is her decision.  I was going off of the assumption that they are partners in this, meaning both of the parents feelings matter and that they both make this decision together.

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #53 on: December 17, 2016, 02:51:09 PM »


Interesting comments about how this is about how she feels and how it is her decision.  I was going off of the assumption that they are partners in this, meaning both of the parents feelings matter and that they both make this decision together.

I'm assuming this is addressing my reply (bottom of the previous page). Does what he's said match your impression?  Am I just reading it wrong?  Because it sure didn't seem to me that his approach was one of equal partnership where both people's feelings matter.

But I'm curious of a third party reading.
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Milizard

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #54 on: December 17, 2016, 03:51:58 PM »


Interesting comments about how this is about how she feels and how it is her decision.  I was going off of the assumption that they are partners in this, meaning both of the parents feelings matter and that they both make this decision together.

I'm assuming this is addressing my reply (bottom of the previous page). Does what he's said match your impression?  Am I just reading it wrong?  Because it sure didn't seem to me that his approach was one of equal partnership where both people's feelings matter.

But I'm curious of a third party reading.

Not just yours.  Several posts here.  It's not what I would have expected from this forum.  Another financial forum of which I am a member (which includes a large % of working mothers) is much more equality-minded.

cats

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #55 on: December 17, 2016, 04:24:10 PM »


Interesting comments about how this is about how she feels and how it is her decision.  I was going off of the assumption that they are partners in this, meaning both of the parents feelings matter and that they both make this decision together.

I'm assuming this is addressing my reply (bottom of the previous page). Does what he's said match your impression?  Am I just reading it wrong?  Because it sure didn't seem to me that his approach was one of equal partnership where both people's feelings matter.

But I'm curious of a third party reading.

Looking at just the first post, I can see how OP comes off as just wanting to bring his wife around to his way of thinking, but his subsequent posts suggested to me that he was open to alternatives (exploring unpaid time off or wife looking in PT work opportunities), and making an effort to ease his wife's concerns about childcare by discussing being firm with his parents about how they care for the baby. He also mentioned having done at least some rough calculations on how a SAHP would impact their tax rate, which to me conveyed that he's at least a little open to his wife becoming a SAHM if that's really what she wants.


To be fair to OP, I imagine it's a pretty big deal to process your wife suddenly going from planning to go back to work and FIRE with you in the next few years to being distraught at the idea. There are tons of threads on here about "converting" your spouse to a frugal lifestyle and FIRE and the advice is always to be patient, not expect too much at once, realize you can't force people to change, etc. In some ways OP's wife was doing the opposite of that, by experiencing a rapid change in the kind of life she wanted.

mm1970

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #56 on: December 17, 2016, 06:07:43 PM »
Interesting comments about how this is about how she feels and how it is her decision.  I was going off of the assumption that they are partners in this, meaning both of the parents feelings matter and that they both make this decision together.

We must be reading different comments?  Most of the comments that I read appear to come from mothers, who have been there and given birth, and totally understand the emotional state that you are in because: hormones.  Those are some crazy hormones.

Each one that I read laid out ways to try and understand the hormones, let her cry, and then try and approach the discussion rationally - with the idea that likely there's going to be a "middle ground" - in other words - I don't recall getting the impression that anyone was saying "let her quit" (excepting the people who think there should always be a parent at home - but that's more a philosophical thing), or "make her go back to work". 

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #57 on: December 18, 2016, 01:42:22 AM »
Looking at just the first post, I can see how OP comes off as just wanting to bring his wife around to his way of thinking, but his subsequent posts suggested to me that he was open to alternatives (exploring unpaid time off or wife looking in PT work opportunities), and making an effort to ease his wife's concerns about childcare by discussing being firm with his parents about how they care for the baby. He also mentioned having done at least some rough calculations on how a SAHP would impact their tax rate, which to me conveyed that he's at least a little open to his wife becoming a SAHM if that's really what she wants.

To be fair to OP, I imagine it's a pretty big deal to process your wife suddenly going from planning to go back to work and FIRE with you in the next few years to being distraught at the idea. There are tons of threads on here about "converting" your spouse to a frugal lifestyle and FIRE and the advice is always to be patient, not expect too much at once, realize you can't force people to change, etc. In some ways OP's wife was doing the opposite of that, by experiencing a rapid change in the kind of life she wanted.

This is my read also, I was concerned that the first post sounded like OP thought mom was being irrational and that he was trying to find logical arguments to overrule her feelings. The later posts sounded much more like part of a team trying to find a solution that works for them both.

JustTrying

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #58 on: December 18, 2016, 08:29:16 PM »
I don't know how you as the spouse can approach this, but if I (a new mom) were speaking to your wife, I would encourage her to hold off on making a decision until she at least tries to go back to work. Why? I was hysterical about the thought of going back to work (which I did when my baby was 3-months-old). For the two weeks leading up to going back to work I cried several times per day just imagining how difficult it would be. When I finally went back to work, I found that it was not nearly as difficult as what I imagined in my head. In fact, it was kind of...nice. So if I met your wife, I'd encourage her to hold off on a decision until she's been back for a few weeks. But again, I'm not sure how you as the spouse can convey that to her!

kobo1d

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #59 on: December 19, 2016, 05:21:23 PM »
For us, it was almost a "no brainer." My wife was a pre-school teacher, and the delta between her salary and day care costs was pretty close to zero, after taxes. After removing her salary from the income portion of our spreadsheet, our FI year was pushed out a little under two years. I don't mind working an extra two years to provide the very best childcare for my children and my wife couldn't be happier doing so. She might go back to working when all kids are in school, but I like to think any future income she earns is like social security: pure gravy.

mrs sideways

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #60 on: January 03, 2017, 11:07:19 PM »
One thing I didn't expect with kids is just how damn often they get sick. We're taking at least every other week, every winter, for YEARS. Then there's doctor visits, days off, and all sorts of events that mean one of you has to stay home that day. If you have kids in daycare and both of you are working, one of you will have to take a serious career hit, no getting around it.

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).

Heh. Grass is always greener, I guess. I'm the SAHM just because, as in your situation, I was the one making a fraction of the income. And I resent my husband for being able to work.

Partially, I resent him for being around adults all day when I'm stuck with kids, but mostly, I resent that he gets to accomplish things, and make things, and above all else, he gets to be important. I sure don't feel important when I spend all day cleaning up messes that will be back within 48 hours! The work he does (and I'm sure the work you do) matters to tons and tons of people, while all my work goes completely unnoticed by the only other humans around: my kids. And I only have two of them! I think three would break me! I miss the office, I miss challenges, I miss being the resident expert and being congratulated, thanked, and compensated for doing things right.

My point is, staying at home might be a good choice for your family, but I don't think it's the easier or more rewarding option for everyone.

AmberTheCat

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #61 on: January 05, 2017, 03:34:11 PM »
I just know that for us, staying home hurt us financially in the long run.

worked with kid #1; saved my income minus childcare costs for two years.
Then quit after kid #2.  Then had #3, bought a different house, had to buy a bigger vehicle. Then was surprised with #4 several years later.  blessing, but a surprise.   

going back to work all these years later is sort of a joke. i've had no retirement funds, my college skill set is so outdated, and i have the "old" factor working against me. I've found a part-time job at a school that feels likes its almost volunteer position.   

However, i would not trade those years for anything. I have had so many years of being involved in my kids lives and running our household and family. We've given our kids so many opportunities to develop their talents and interests . . . all at a co$t, of course, but it's worth it to us. We've received joy from watching our kids participate in their activities, playing music, participating in summer swim team, camping out, etc. etc. We've put our finances into our family with experiences, frugal trips, lessons and time.

But, again, our retirement and college savings took a huge hit.  If i could do it over, i'd have my kids closer together instead of 4 in 9 years. I'd take a few classes at the local community college to stay updated. I'd force ourselves to save more for college.  I'd look for work a few years earlier than waiting till my youngest was 9. But I'd never trade those years being at home. (Ok, well unless i had worked a lucrative job before hand! my earning potential was definitely not as high as my spouse's.)

good luck making decisions. support her!
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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #62 on: January 05, 2017, 09:24:27 PM »


But, again, our retirement and college savings took a huge hit.  If i could do it over, i'd have my kids closer together instead of 4 in 9 years.


Amber but don't you feel like you were able to recoup at least a little sleep/sanity by spacing them out as you did?  I've had so many friends do the 18-20 months apart spacing and it seems to be incredibly tough on the couple because they're never really able to get recovered from baby #1 by the time baby #2 comes along. 

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #63 on: January 05, 2017, 10:04:31 PM »
I had 3 kids in 7 years and the spacing was nice, I stayed home until the youngest went to school f.t. and then I started college and went on to have a great career.  I have never regretted staying home with my kids.  It is time you can never get back.  WE made it work by being frugal. There are more important things then $ and yes it needs to be a joint decision and not one person bullying the other. In addition, when my Mom watched my kids I did not tell her how to do everything. I trusted her to have my kids best interests at heart.      if I was watching grandkids and the parents were trying to micromanage me I would pass.

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #64 on: January 06, 2017, 06:19:59 PM »
Closer to Free -- about the spacing of kids --- yes, there was time to "regroup" and truly enjoy the baby-hood of each kid. It's TOUGH to have kids close together!!  Just financially - with surprise #4, we had already moved on to that no-baby supplies stage, and had to start all over. With supplies, staying home longer, suites at hotels, and going slightly crazy juggling so many activities, schools & ages.  It's all good though. :) truly.

my neighbor has her PhD and is a professor now after staying home for several years. She told me how growing up and through college she really believed she could "have it all and do it all and be a superwoman."  Once she started working full time with her 3 kids, she said she had no idea how hard it would be; and superwoman is a myth.
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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #65 on: January 09, 2017, 08:51:42 AM »
Closer to Free -- about the spacing of kids --- yes, there was time to "regroup" and truly enjoy the baby-hood of each kid. It's TOUGH to have kids close together!!  Just financially - with surprise #4, we had already moved on to that no-baby supplies stage, and had to start all over. With supplies, staying home longer, suites at hotels, and going slightly crazy juggling so many activities, schools & ages.  It's all good though. :) truly.

my neighbor has her PhD and is a professor now after staying home for several years. She told me how growing up and through college she really believed she could "have it all and do it all and be a superwoman."  Once she started working full time with her 3 kids, she said she had no idea how hard it would be; and superwoman is a myth.

Superwoman is less of a myth when there is a superdad too.  No one can do it all.  If to partners parent equally though, each take time off from work when a kid is sick, each grocery shop and each cook dinners for example, it is a lot easier.

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #66 on: January 10, 2017, 01:24:01 PM »
Superwoman is less of a myth when there is a superdad too.  No one can do it all.  If to partners parent equally though, each take time off from work when a kid is sick, each grocery shop and each cook dinners for example, it is a lot easier.

Truth.  I'm so glad my husband is a (more than equal) co-parent and honestly don't know how I'd make it through parenthood with any other arrangement.  Huge props to all the single parents out there especially.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #67 on: January 12, 2017, 11:31:21 AM »
My wife and I went through exactly the OP's scenario just over 2 years ago. She went back to work after many tears, discussions, etc. Here's one possible view from your future!

We got pregnant during her first year of a master's degree program, which was required for her new, high-paying job. It was absolute hell, but we earned that damn degree (cost ~25k)  and she finished 6 months after giving birth.

At that point, with MS in hand and a rare high paying job in pocket, she desperately wanted to be a SAHM. I did the math; we would be cashflow negative. A one-year sabbatical that would burn some savings was unacceptable to her; she wanted to SAHM for many years or not at all. Downsizing and drastic budget cutting were also unacceptable. Eventually, pointing at the math. I said "this is the option" and she accused me of crushing her dreams.

Work and life went on, and she kept working, accepting the math - at least on the surface.

However, long term outcomes were a mix of good and bad:

-Financially, we thrived. On course to FIRE in a few years. Maxing all retirement contributions. Rocking our careers.

-Our 2.5 year old daughter, who has been in preschool for all but the first 3 mos of her life, is hitting verbal, social, and emotional milestones of a 3-4 year old. This is consistent with  research on the benefits of early childhood education. No unusual behavioral or attachment issues.

-Our marriage is... rocky. The stress of parenthood and my wife's dysfunctional work environment are certainly factors, but I suspect some resentment lingers because I "wouldn't let her" SAHM (not true, I only did the math and made a plan, which she rejected). We're in counseling. We also cannot discuss FIRE any longer.

I'm not sure how we could have executed the past couple years better. But if I could send advice back 3 years, I'd say to remain agnostic on the topic until a SAHM plan has been fully crafted. Her perception that I was putting money ahead of our daughter emerged when I expressed an opinion during the early exploratory discussions.

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #68 on: January 12, 2017, 11:58:30 AM »
Being a working mom vs SAHM is such a personal decision. What may seem rational to one person may be completely irrational to another person. Some women can't imaging going back to work, while others can't imagine not working. I think if she is willing it would be reasonable and desirable to eventually go back for a while and see how it feels. Part time work or additional unpaid leave also seem like great options.

From personal experience I can tell you our lives improved significantly when my wife made the decision to retire change jobs and become a SAHM. After taxes, child care, commuting costs, money saved on less outsourcing, having more time to maximize efficiency, etc. it really was not a big financial hit - and she was making pretty decent money (physician). I gave her my opinion on what I thought she should do, but at the end of the day it was her call, and I would be 100% supportive of her decision. It sounds like you guys will figure something out that works for you. Good luck!
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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #69 on: January 12, 2017, 08:12:49 PM »
My wife and I went through exactly the OP's scenario just over 2 years ago. She went back to work after many tears, discussions, etc. Here's one possible view from your future!

We got pregnant during her first year of a master's degree program, which was required for her new, high-paying job. It was absolute hell, but we earned that damn degree (cost ~25k)  and she finished 6 months after giving birth.

At that point, with MS in hand and a rare high paying job in pocket, she desperately wanted to be a SAHM. I did the math; we would be cashflow negative. A one-year sabbatical that would burn some savings was unacceptable to her; she wanted to SAHM for many years or not at all. Downsizing and drastic budget cutting were also unacceptable. Eventually, pointing at the math. I said "this is the option" and she accused me of crushing her dreams.

Work and life went on, and she kept working, accepting the math - at least on the surface.

However, long term outcomes were a mix of good and bad:

-Financially, we thrived. On course to FIRE in a few years. Maxing all retirement contributions. Rocking our careers.

-Our 2.5 year old daughter, who has been in preschool for all but the first 3 mos of her life, is hitting verbal, social, and emotional milestones of a 3-4 year old. This is consistent with  research on the benefits of early childhood education. No unusual behavioral or attachment issues.

-Our marriage is... rocky. The stress of parenthood and my wife's dysfunctional work environment are certainly factors, but I suspect some resentment lingers because I "wouldn't let her" SAHM (not true, I only did the math and made a plan, which she rejected). We're in counseling. We also cannot discuss FIRE any longer.

I'm not sure how we could have executed the past couple years better. But if I could send advice back 3 years, I'd say to remain agnostic on the topic until a SAHM plan has been fully crafted. Her perception that I was putting money ahead of our daughter emerged when I expressed an opinion during the early exploratory discussions.

From my perspective, I sort of side with your wife, just due to the bolded part.  I don't see how you couldn't make a plan work for he to SAH if her just working the past 2.5 years now puts you "a few years" from FIRE.

Those are such disparate outcomes, I have a hard time believing there was no middle ground.

And why can't she become SAH now?  If her job is still dysfunctional, and she still dislikes it, what is forcing her to stay, besides your idea of "FIRE ASAP"?
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ChpBstrd

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #70 on: January 13, 2017, 07:42:51 AM »
My wife and I went through exactly the OP's scenario just over 2 years ago. She went back to work after many tears, discussions, etc. Here's one possible view from your future!

We got pregnant during her first year of a master's degree program, which was required for her new, high-paying job. It was absolute hell, but we earned that damn degree (cost ~25k)  and she finished 6 months after giving birth.

At that point, with MS in hand and a rare high paying job in pocket, she desperately wanted to be a SAHM. I did the math; we would be cashflow negative. A one-year sabbatical that would burn some savings was unacceptable to her; she wanted to SAHM for many years or not at all. Downsizing and drastic budget cutting were also unacceptable. Eventually, pointing at the math. I said "this is the option" and she accused me of crushing her dreams.

Work and life went on, and she kept working, accepting the math - at least on the surface.

However, long term outcomes were a mix of good and bad:

-Financially, we thrived. On course to FIRE in a few years. Maxing all retirement contributions. Rocking our careers.

-Our 2.5 year old daughter, who has been in preschool for all but the first 3 mos of her life, is hitting verbal, social, and emotional milestones of a 3-4 year old. This is consistent with  research on the benefits of early childhood education. No unusual behavioral or attachment issues.

-Our marriage is... rocky. The stress of parenthood and my wife's dysfunctional work environment are certainly factors, but I suspect some resentment lingers because I "wouldn't let her" SAHM (not true, I only did the math and made a plan, which she rejected). We're in counseling. We also cannot discuss FIRE any longer.

I'm not sure how we could have executed the past couple years better. But if I could send advice back 3 years, I'd say to remain agnostic on the topic until a SAHM plan has been fully crafted. Her perception that I was putting money ahead of our daughter emerged when I expressed an opinion during the early exploratory discussions.

From my perspective, I sort of side with your wife, just due to the bolded part.  I don't see how you couldn't make a plan work for he to SAH if her just working the past 2.5 years now puts you "a few years" from FIRE.

Those are such disparate outcomes, I have a hard time believing there was no middle ground.

And why can't she become SAH now?  If her job is still dysfunctional, and she still dislikes it, what is forcing her to stay, besides your idea of "FIRE ASAP"?

The math said the SAHM would put us significantly cash flow negative at our current rates of spending. She makes more than I do. I offered the following solutions:

-SAHM for one year. We burn some savings and get back on board later. Unacceptablr because she did not want to leave her baby in a year either.

-Dramatic spending changes for permanent SAHM. Sell the 2700sf house and buy something half the cost. Consider going down to one car. Stop eating at restaurants all together. Drop annual spending from the 60k's to the 30-40k's. Unacceptable, and I'm not sure why.

Neither option was acceptable in her opinion, and actually planning to slowly go broke (SAHM with current spending) was a no-go in my opinion. So, after making it binary, she decided working was inevitable.

Also, I've begged her to start looking for another job, even with a pay cut. She seems to think the job itself is inevitable.

Yep, we belong in counseling! :)

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #71 on: January 13, 2017, 10:02:02 AM »

The math said the SAHM would put us significantly cash flow negative at our current rates of spending. She makes more than I do. I offered the following solutions:

-SAHM for one year. We burn some savings and get back on board later. Unacceptablr because she did not want to leave her baby in a year either.

-Dramatic spending changes for permanent SAHM. Sell the 2700sf house and buy something half the cost. Consider going down to one car. Stop eating at restaurants all together. Drop annual spending from the 60k's to the 30-40k's. Unacceptable, and I'm not sure why.

Neither option was acceptable in her opinion, and actually planning to slowly go broke (SAHM with current spending) was a no-go in my opinion. So, after making it binary, she decided working was inevitable.

Also, I've begged her to start looking for another job, even with a pay cut. She seems to think the job itself is inevitable.

Yep, we belong in counseling! :)

Quite a few similarities to my situation. We are also in about the same housing, vehicle and spending situation as you are. You presented several options with math to back them up, but it seems that often times emotion trumps logic. This strong emotional power is also why people bury themselves in debt and don't stop wasting money. Unfortunately, emotions can't stop you from "slowly going broke" as you describe.

According to my calculations, every year my wife continues working full-time it cuts 2.5 years off my working career. I'm not exactly working my "dream job" so is it selfish of me to not want to make that trade?
Every single decision you make with money either shortens or lengthens your working career.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #72 on: January 13, 2017, 12:06:24 PM »
3 kids here. With kids 1 and 2, my job gave me 6 months of leave (only 6 weeks paid). There was no way I could have returned to work at 3 months, at least not happily, and especially without ruining nursing.

Is your wife breastfeeding? If so, you need to understand that returning to work and pumping 3 times/day at work to keep up her supply is seriously hard. And many women lose their supply when they return to work.

By 6 mo, it's not quite so hard. The baby is starting solids and starting to wean. It's easier to keep your supply up and baby will be more open to bottles, especially from other people. I was lucky that my workplace had a hospital grade pump and a pumping room for many of us moms. I have probably spent 18 months of my life pumping in a closet at work.

I do not remember months 6-~18 with my youngest two. I was working full-time and trying to keep up everything else. My kids were shit sleepers and when they went into daycare, they were always sick and got us sick. One year when the youngest was ~9 mo, between Labor Day and Memorial day (Sept to next May) there was not a single day, not one, that at least one of us was sick. There were many times I was so sleep deprived that I nearly had an accident.

So, when your wife says she's having trouble wanting to go back to work at 3 mo postpartum, I TOTALLY get it. Continue investigating other possibilities. See if you can extend her leave another 3 mo, not just 1. And when she returns, look into hiring a maid and anything else you can afford to make it so her time at home with your baby is spent with the baby rather than doing stupid chores.

With #3, I had quit my job to work full-time for our business. I gave birth on Sunday and was back to work the next day. Even so, because it was our business, I was able to sleep in every day and never got sleep deprived and sick like I did with the first two. By the time the baby was walking, I was ready for her to go to daycare. We couldn't afford it for another 2 years but, nonetheless, I was ready for it.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #73 on: January 13, 2017, 12:08:35 PM »

The math said the SAHM would put us significantly cash flow negative at our current rates of spending. She makes more than I do. I offered the following solutions:

-SAHM for one year. We burn some savings and get back on board later. Unacceptablr because she did not want to leave her baby in a year either.

-Dramatic spending changes for permanent SAHM. Sell the 2700sf house and buy something half the cost. Consider going down to one car. Stop eating at restaurants all together. Drop annual spending from the 60k's to the 30-40k's. Unacceptable, and I'm not sure why.

Neither option was acceptable in her opinion, and actually planning to slowly go broke (SAHM with current spending) was a no-go in my opinion. So, after making it binary, she decided working was inevitable.

Also, I've begged her to start looking for another job, even with a pay cut. She seems to think the job itself is inevitable.

Yep, we belong in counseling! :)

Quite a few similarities to my situation. We are also in about the same housing, vehicle and spending situation as you are. You presented several options with math to back them up, but it seems that often times emotion trumps logic. This strong emotional power is also why people bury themselves in debt and don't stop wasting money. Unfortunately, emotions can't stop you from "slowly going broke" as you describe.

According to my calculations, every year my wife continues working full-time it cuts 2.5 years off my working career. I'm not exactly working my "dream job" so is it selfish of me to not want to make that trade?

There are 2 main landmines you must not step on.

One is referring to emotions or hormones, or any contrast between these urges and rationality. If you even touch that subject, you will be labeled an uncaring bully.

The second is referring to options as a win for one of you and a loss for the other. Then, if she does go back to work, it will be because you "won" what you wanted at the expense of her life purpose, meaning, and dream. This is why my wife and I can no longer even discuss financial goals; it brings up the loss she feels about that first year.

As you can see, these emotions (of which you cannot speak) change the rules of direct communication, and now you have to be subtle as the only one who can guide the family in a financially responsible direction.

The most effective approach, I say in hindsight and after committing all the damage I did, was to build the budgets, put the radical options on the table in writing, and describing which choices you are and are not in favor of (e.g. I drew the line at burning savings for more than 1 year, and built 2 options around that which still involved SAHMing).

Don't mention early retirement dreams, or those dreams get the blame for all the dissatisfaction and then you might never be on the same page again.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #74 on: January 13, 2017, 12:16:14 PM »
One more note... breastfeeding rocks, but it's harder than a dude like me would think. Consider getting a lactaction consultant at the first sign of trouble, or before. Yes, that's a real profession, and yes they can solve problems you aren't even aware of.

Also, order some Lecitin (derived from soy, sunflower, etc) in bulk. It prevents mastitis and works wonders. This from a guy who considers the supplement industry to be one step above the tobacco industry in terms of legitimacy.

Poundwise

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #75 on: January 13, 2017, 12:42:30 PM »
Quote
One is referring to emotions or hormones, or any contrast between these urges and rationality. If you even touch that subject, you will be labeled an uncaring bully.

I hate to stick my oar into a productive and valuable conversation, but I'd like to suggest the possibility that the desire to retire early is no more rational than the desire to stop working outside of the home in order to care for a dependent.  I mean, it is a conflict between desires.  Why should your desire to spend 2.5 years fishing (or whatever) be more rational than wife's desire to spend 1 year changing diapers?

Furthermore, the reason why some parents choose to stay at home with their kids can't all be dismissed as "hormones". It's generally agreed that babies do best with a stable primary caregiver (do a search on "attachment theory" and "attachment disorder"). Now OP's situation is better than most since he has extended family ready and willing to care for the baby, but still, his wife's take is probably that she wants to stay home for the baby's sake, not her own sake. 
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 12:45:00 PM by Poundwise »

mm1970

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #76 on: January 13, 2017, 01:17:41 PM »

The math said the SAHM would put us significantly cash flow negative at our current rates of spending. She makes more than I do. I offered the following solutions:

-SAHM for one year. We burn some savings and get back on board later. Unacceptablr because she did not want to leave her baby in a year either.

-Dramatic spending changes for permanent SAHM. Sell the 2700sf house and buy something half the cost. Consider going down to one car. Stop eating at restaurants all together. Drop annual spending from the 60k's to the 30-40k's. Unacceptable, and I'm not sure why.

Neither option was acceptable in her opinion, and actually planning to slowly go broke (SAHM with current spending) was a no-go in my opinion. So, after making it binary, she decided working was inevitable.

Also, I've begged her to start looking for another job, even with a pay cut. She seems to think the job itself is inevitable.

Yep, we belong in counseling! :)

Quite a few similarities to my situation. We are also in about the same housing, vehicle and spending situation as you are. You presented several options with math to back them up, but it seems that often times emotion trumps logic. This strong emotional power is also why people bury themselves in debt and don't stop wasting money. Unfortunately, emotions can't stop you from "slowly going broke" as you describe.

According to my calculations, every year my wife continues working full-time it cuts 2.5 years off my working career. I'm not exactly working my "dream job" so is it selfish of me to not want to make that trade?
Emotions and math and analysis and calculations.  It hits everyone, and baby hormones are no joke. I always recommend that people don't make rash decisions.  My girlfriends who have babies...I always recommend they go back to work.  Because in my industry, it's easier to go back to work and quit later, than it is to quit and go back.  A couple of friends who quit are now trying to figure out how to go back...but to go back part time. 

The only people I know who have managed part time are either self-employed OR they worked full time and "cut back" to part time.  They didn't get a new job at part time.  There's the tricky part.

I'm a big fan of baby steps in some situations and for some people (rather than facepunches), because it just depends.  Example: we are pretty frugal but I got all into it right around 2001 and I tried to get my spouse to cancel cable TV.  It was a no go for him.  He liked TV.  He didn't agree to drop TV until 2012 (right before my mat leave on baby #2). 

The thing with "binary" is that it's EASY.  Yes or no.  Black or white.  True success, to me, is in the shades of gray.  But it's HARD.  If you present your wife with all the ways you can cut back to stay at home, it's overwhelming.  Not only is she starting new life as a mom, but you are "taking away" all of these other things.  And often marriages don't survive a bunch of big changes.

But you know, baby steps.  Have that baby.  Get comfortable being a parent.  Slowly cut back on your eating out, because I tell you, eating out with a toddler sucks anyway.  Realize that your house is too big, start looking for a smaller one.  I know MMM and a lot of others like the "big sweeping changes" but they don't necessarily work for everyone.

arebelspy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #77 on: January 13, 2017, 08:44:36 PM »

The math said the SAHM would put us significantly cash flow negative at our current rates of spending. She makes more than I do. I offered the following solutions:

-SAHM for one year. We burn some savings and get back on board later. Unacceptablr because she did not want to leave her baby in a year either.

-Dramatic spending changes for permanent SAHM. Sell the 2700sf house and buy something half the cost. Consider going down to one car. Stop eating at restaurants all together. Drop annual spending from the 60k's to the 30-40k's. Unacceptable, and I'm not sure why.

Neither option was acceptable in her opinion, and actually planning to slowly go broke (SAHM with current spending) was a no-go in my opinion. So, after making it binary, she decided working was inevitable.

Also, I've begged her to start looking for another job, even with a pay cut. She seems to think the job itself is inevitable.

Yep, we belong in counseling! :)

Quite a few similarities to my situation. We are also in about the same housing, vehicle and spending situation as you are. You presented several options with math to back them up, but it seems that often times emotion trumps logic. This strong emotional power is also why people bury themselves in debt and don't stop wasting money. Unfortunately, emotions can't stop you from "slowly going broke" as you describe.

According to my calculations, every year my wife continues working full-time it cuts 2.5 years off my working career. I'm not exactly working my "dream job" so is it selfish of me to not want to make that trade?

There are 2 main landmines you must not step on.

One is referring to emotions or hormones, or any contrast between these urges and rationality. If you even touch that subject, you will be labeled an uncaring bully.

The second is referring to options as a win for one of you and a loss for the other. Then, if she does go back to work, it will be because you "won" what you wanted at the expense of her life purpose, meaning, and dream. This is why my wife and I can no longer even discuss financial goals; it brings up the loss she feels about that first year.

As you can see, these emotions (of which you cannot speak) change the rules of direct communication, and now you have to be subtle as the only one who can guide the family in a financially responsible direction.

The most effective approach, I say in hindsight and after committing all the damage I did, was to build the budgets, put the radical options on the table in writing, and describing which choices you are and are not in favor of (e.g. I drew the line at burning savings for more than 1 year, and built 2 options around that which still involved SAHMing).

Don't mention early retirement dreams, or those dreams get the blame for all the dissatisfaction and then you might never be on the same page again.

You may want to reevaluate your attitude towards your wife, and women in general.  There seems to be a lack of respect there, in previous posts, and especially this one.

Open and honest communication is the best path to a healthy relationship, IMO.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

chaskavitch

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #78 on: January 13, 2017, 08:51:08 PM »
One more note... breastfeeding rocks, but it's harder than a dude like me would think. Consider getting a lactaction consultant at the first sign of trouble, or before. Yes, that's a real profession, and yes they can solve problems you aren't even aware of.

Also, order some Lecitin (derived from soy, sunflower, etc) in bulk. It prevents mastitis and works wonders. This from a guy who considers the supplement industry to be one step above the tobacco industry in terms of legitimacy.

Yes yes yes yes.  Soy lecithin is a lifesaver with plugged ducts and mastitis.  I'm a microbiologist who works in the pharmaceutical industry, and I'm not about supplements at all either, and this stuff saved me from a trip to the hospital for IV antibiotics for mastitis (after other antibiotics and crazy remedies didn't work).  I have zero idea what the mechanism of action is, and idgaf, because it works.

I went back to work at 32 hours a week 12 weeks after my baby was born, and it was really hard.  I think it was good for me, eventually, but even knowing in advance that this was the plan and that I'm the one with the health insurance, it sucked so hard.  If she does end up going back to work, it really helps to get updates/pictures of the baby throughout the day, so you know what is going on.  Not braggy "We're doing so many fun things without you!" updates, if possible, but knowing that they're eating enough and napping a lot and being entertained eases your mind a little bit.

NUF

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #79 on: January 14, 2017, 12:46:22 PM »
OP, I suggest you not present your wife options and limitations. The problem with doing so is that it isn't a collaborative process between equals. Your priority should be to support her emotionally rather than managing her decision making process to ensure that she reaches an outcome that works for you.

Your math and logic and reasons sound impeccable but in marriage right and happy are not the same. To clarify, I'm not saying that she should get to quit her job and stay home in a way that's financially irresponsible. I'm saying that it's her life and her career and that you should let her drive the planning and decision making process and possibly get couples counselling now to confirm shared values and goals.

It might be helpful to imagine how you would hope she react if you had an opportunity to go play for the Yankees or be an astronaut or whatever but for no pay. What would be possible for your non remunerative once in a lifetime opportunity? How would you want her to support you in deciding what to do?

Good Luck with everything!

Trifele

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #80 on: January 15, 2017, 05:04:58 AM »
OP -- These decisions are intensely personal, and only you and your wife can decide how to move forward.  I have friends who have been SAHMs since day one, friends who are working long hours in full time jobs, and many things in between. There are as many solutions as there are families.  However, here are my two cents and our story, FWIW.

IMO your wife's opportunity to work from home two days a week is great. I think such an opportunity deserves a good try at it to see if it could work for your family.  I also agree 100% with the other posters that it is MUCH easier to go from full time to part time, than to quit and then try to get back into the job market.  It's usually easier to "lose career altitude" than to gain it.  Many times an employer will let you pare back your position rather than lose you.

After our daughter was born my employer let me drop down to a 32 hour/4 day schedule.  I went back to work when she was 8 weeks old, and leaving her at day care that first week was haaard.  But it got easier.  I knew she was well cared for, and I got to look forward to my day off with her each week.  We went on to have baby #2 and I continued working 4 days a week.  It was not easy, but I have no regrets.  I would not have wanted to stop working entirely, and I was grateful for the part time schedule.

Then we moved and I took a new job that allowed me to work from home full time.  Working from home is not all wine and roses.  It has tremendous benefits, but it comes with its own challenges.   You are isolated from the office, and may have to work harder to keep up on all the goings-on so as not to be left behind.  You still need child care, because you will NOT be able to adequately focus on projects, do telephone calls, Skypes, etc. and care for a child at the same time.  Will the child care be at another location?  You'll have to do the drop offs and pick ups.  Will the child care be in your home?  You will need to set aside a separate quiet work area, close the door, and resist the urge to go see your child every few minutes.  Working with children in the house requires discipline.  You and the person caring for your child may get in each other's hair from time to time.  Just some things to think about.

We are now at a point where DH is a SAHD.  He left a well-paying but stressful job last year after I was offered a high-paying position.  I agree with the other posters that having a SAHP is even more important when the kids are older than when they are little.  And --I would not have been in a position to take that great job offer if I had taken years off to SAH . . . So us biting the bullet when the kids were little (both of us continuing to work) worked out for us. 

Kind of a rambling comment, but the point is that having kids is damned hard.  Something always has to give.  Female perspective:  I am grateful that DH never pushed me toward any one solution, and was always supportive.  Also so grateful that he was willing to think outside the box for a solution.  We always figured it out together.

   

 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 05:14:34 AM by Trifele »

Plugging Along

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #81 on: January 15, 2017, 10:41:10 AM »
To work or to stay at home is more than just a numbers calculation or a 'rational' decision.  There are many factors including the values that one holds. 

The numbers may show working provides FIRE faster, but what are the trade offs.  kids do cost money, and sacrifices, and should require a shift in priorities.  It doesn't mean that you abandon your goals, but one needs to reevaluate.

Before kids, I was on a fast promoting careers track that I loved.  I knew I couldn't keep the same pace as before kids, and figure each child would set back my career aspirations by about 5 years.  I have found that my kids have had a bigger impact than I first estimated.   It's all good, but I had to recognized my priorities and values have changed.

Instead of just looking at options, maybe look at priorities and find out what is important to both of you.  If your wife feels that raising the kids is more important than FIRE, then it' even more important to have a open conversation of how to balance conflicting priorities. 

Gal2016

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #82 on: January 17, 2017, 03:38:21 PM »
I am a little shocked at all the answers that lean to "just let her do her thing and not worry how that's going to affect you" ... What!? That's pretty callous and simply turns you into a workhorse who's primary job in life is to be a paycheck so that your wife can fulfill her newly formed dream of being a SAHM.  I call foul! Has anyone mentioned that, perhaps, you'd like to spend time with your children and not be a worker drone? -- but that you're willing to do it to benefit your family and the plans you've made with your wife up until now.

I completely agree and understand your frustrations and concerns with your wife trying to change course, mid-stream. I think you've been really compassionate about this and have addressed it very appropriately!

Kudos!

Secret Agent Mom

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #83 on: January 17, 2017, 09:56:56 PM »
I have been a work at home mom, and IMO if you can have one parent free to take care of baby, it creates much less stress for the entire family- that can take many forms.  Mom staying home, dad staying home, a sort of hybrid where mom works 4 days, dad works 4 days, and baby goes to grandmas the other 3 days.  There is no right or wrong way, but adding a baby changes a household.  Just having that extra day to chill out, play with baby, do household stuff, catch up on sleep helps the family flow easier.  How much value do you place on less stress?  I guess that's a value judgement that you will have to make.  I have friends and family doing it all sorts of ways, but I have to say that I *love* seeing my cousin's husbands working from home or taking shorter weeks to care for their babies!  I think you should value your wife's opinion, talk through options and see what makes the most sense.  She is having strong mommy urges to care for and bond with her baby, I think you should respect that.  I've never felt like 6 or 8 weeks was enough to really recover from childbirth, and think 4-6 months is much more reasonable.  At 8 weeks, if nursing, your milk is just starting to even out and you are getting into the hang of the mothering, juggling the house, dinner, but nights are long and none of my babies slept through the night.  Your body is pretty much recovered from the delivery, but still not back to normal.  Just the thought of having to be at work at a set time would have made me really stressed out.   By 4 months, I am in my groove, I feel great, baby sleeps longer and I'm not feeling the need to be there 24/7.  I love to leave them with grandma- and baby has bonded with grandma ;)  If it's possible with her employer, and feasible $$-wise, I think putting FI off for even a year is absolutely worth having a longer maternity leave or going part-time.

What's in it for you?  I'd say less stress and a wife who knows you acknowledge and respect her feelings.  The main con is of course money.  If you can afford it, I think it's worth it.  Remember there are other options than just SAHM or FTWM. 

liberteEgalite

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #84 on: January 22, 2017, 09:08:42 AM »
I have done SAHM, WFH, and full-time work. The deal where your wife may be allowed to work from home two days per week sounds like it has potential... I wish you well.

Just want to throw this out: what's the point of FIRE if your marriage ends up in real trouble? Which is the real priority: retiring early, or maintaining the relationship that's essential to quality of life for both of you?

I don't think anyone has said this: take care of your sex life.

Working moms sometimes feel too stressed to feel sexy. Also, when we get home, we're automatically drawn to spend time with the kids. With kids, it can take conscious effort to carve out time and energy for being a lover.

On the other hand, SAHMs can suffer from getting "touched out" - feeling like they've been touching another human being ALL DAY.  Husbands should be sensitive to that, and wives have gotta understand the very real needs of husbands. There's also the problem of feeling frumpy as a SAHM.  For me it was always important to find time to exercise, not wear sweatpants all day, etc.

Part time can be a sweet spot.

As a final note, I don't think sex is necessarily the glue that bonds the marriage together. Orgasm is a big neurochemical high, and many people actually go into a trough afterward. There's a theory that this subsequent "low" (attended by irritability, anxiety, depression...) can make a person subconsciously feel negative toward his or her partner and explains why men tend to tune out just when women get clingy. 

Lots of generous, non-sexual touch can help with this by stimulating oxytocin, a bonding chemical. This may mean literally rubbing shoulders, massages with no strings attached, holding hands, making a point of touching while sitting on the couch together, holding each other in bed at night/morning. Even smiles, eye contact, and doing little favors for each other help maintain a strong bond and good feelings toward each other. (You hard-core savers should appreciate that: bonding behaviors are the "money" in your relationship "bank"!)

Milizard

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #85 on: January 22, 2017, 11:03:16 AM »
I am a little shocked at all the answers that lean to "just let her do her thing and not worry how that's going to affect you" ... What!? That's pretty callous and simply turns you into a workhorse who's primary job in life is to be a paycheck so that your wife can fulfill her newly formed dream of being a SAHM.  I call foul! Has anyone mentioned that, perhaps, you'd like to spend time with your children and not be a worker drone? -- but that you're willing to do it to benefit your family and the plans you've made with your wife up until now.

I completely agree and understand your frustrations and concerns with your wife trying to change course, mid-stream. I think you've been really compassionate about this and have addressed it very appropriately!

Kudos!

+1

arebelspy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #86 on: January 22, 2017, 11:56:02 AM »
I am a little shocked at all the answers that lean to "just let her do her thing and not worry how that's going to affect you

I wouldn't put that spin on it.

I think it's more "ultimately, we hope you [OP] support her in what she wants."

That includes not automatically presuming she's being "irrational" (e.g. title of the thread) in her desires.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
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ChpBstrd

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #87 on: January 22, 2017, 07:31:13 PM »
I am a little shocked at all the answers that lean to "just let her do her thing and not worry how that's going to affect you

I wouldn't put that spin on it.

I think it's more "ultimately, we hope you [OP] support her in what she wants."

That includes not automatically presuming she's being "irrational" (e.g. title of the thread) in her desires.

(Don't kill me, I'm just the messenger. ) :))

As someone who's been there, and as other posters pointed out, this isn't a rationality-driven conversation. It's driven by instinct and hormones - the same instincts and hormones that have prevented parents from abandoning their offspring in the days before early childhood education. Modern life contradicts instinct, which evolved in an era when losing contact with an infant - even momentarily - meant the infant often died. We're the decendents of moms who refused to ever leave their infants behind to go do something else for 8 hours. Doing this is insane, biologically speaking. Nature has its own logic.

And it's a fact that women have these urges in a stronger/different way than men, and so disagreements erupt that weren't even anticipated a few months before, when two rational, level-headed individuals arrived at consensus family and financial goals. This isn't a dig against women - we all owe our lives to these instincts.

For many (but not all) of us, having a SAH parent is a decision with a financial impact equal to going out to the car lot and buying three luxury SUVs - just to have a spare SUV on hand - with an early 401(k) withdraw. We may be talking hundreds of thousands of dollars over time. To satisfy an urge.

For the working parent, it can mean years of extra work and less flexibility to change jobs if the job sucks. Overtime may now be required. Then when you get home from the latest worst day of your life at work, you get to hear how hard it is to SAH. It changes their "deal" a lot, and resentment can ensue.

All this said, there is no simple rule to decision making, like "do what he/she/you want". Sometimes, all the options suck in different ways - which is often the case when it comes to parenting BTW. Attempts to find the optimal choice can drive parents to fight over imaginary better outcomes.

The 2-working parents position has all the facts on its side. Financially, it's obvious. Developmentally, research shows the early socialization and curriculum are beneficial for kids. However, the SAH option is what one parent really wants, and all this rational talk sounds like an argument for working 18h days 7 days a week while living in an old car because the numbers say you'll retire 10 months earlier.

My caution is to not get frustrated and beat the other person over the head with the facts and math until they resent you. Similarly, the instincts and hormones will gladly drive you to financial ruin, which is why they sell $200 comforter sets for cribs (actually not a safe sleep practice either). Some deal must be made, and it will suck in some way for somebody.

Just don't go in like a sucker thinking this is a routine rational decision. I assure you, it's not. It helps to keep in mind you owe your life to this fact too.

arebelspy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #88 on: January 22, 2017, 07:40:21 PM »
Emotion and reason are not mutually exclusive.

In other words, just because emotion plays into a decision doesn't make it irrational.
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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #89 on: January 22, 2017, 09:01:59 PM »
If being 'rational' is decided by only the financial calculation, then the most rational decision is to not have kids.   Kids cost money, even if in a mustachian way.   If it's only about getting enough money to FIRE then one shouldn't have had kids.

If you choose to have kids, then you must also determine what is Best which is subjective.   

LouLou

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #90 on: January 22, 2017, 09:44:46 PM »
DH and I have a six month old.  We both work full time  (I'm an attorney, DH runs a company), and my mom watches the baby.  IT. IS. AWESOME.

My thoughts, in no particular order:
  • You mentioned that your mom might provide childcare.  Have your mom start watching baby one day a week now so your wife can adjust.  My daughter started to spend the night at my in laws once a week around 6 weeks postpartum and it was great.  I got used to being separated, pumping breastmilk, and enjoying time away from baby long before I went back to work at 12 weeks.  I can't imagine trying to juggle all that at once - childcare, breast pumps, pick ups and drop offs, meals, etc.
  • Don't make any hasty changes.  She might realized that she loves working once she gets used to it. You might realize that you value spending time at home more than you thought, and you would rather work part time than FIRE ASAP.  Neither one of you knows.
  • Optimize your spending so you have more options.  If you spend a ton on groceries, say to your wife "I want to optimize our grocery spending.  Can I take over the shopping for a month to see what I can do?"

Poundwise

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #91 on: January 23, 2017, 09:32:29 AM »
If being 'rational' is decided by only the financial calculation, then the most rational decision is to not have kids.   Kids cost money, even if in a mustachian way.   If it's only about getting enough money to FIRE then one shouldn't have had kids.

If you choose to have kids, then you must also determine what is Best which is subjective.

I agree.  Furthermore, if being 'rational' is decided by only the financial calculation, then it's not rational to want to FIRE. Rationally speaking, you should want to save maximally AND work till you drop dead of old age, if accumulation of money is the measurement.

If lifetime total of free time is the metric, ChpBstrd and OP are more rational than their wives.

If happiness of the child is the metric, the SAHM wives may be more rational.  ChpBstrd says, "Developmentally, research shows the early socialization and curriculum are beneficial for kids."  But, that applies to your older baby or toddler.   Young babies don't need much socialization with other children; developmentally they just need to form a strong bond with a loving, constant, and responsive caregiver.  A baby can get this from a parent or other relative, an excellent daycare, or  an excellent nanny.  I personally stayed at home because I know that I'm an excellent caregiver, better than any we could hire, I generally enjoy it, and my husband loves his job anyway. I also calculated that it would take a minimum $60K salary to replace all the home work I do, such as the accounting, cooking, DIY fixing and renovations, etc.

One thing that is bad for children of any age, is to be cared for by stressed or unhappy people, or to be subjected to too much change in personnel.  So, a depressed SAHM who never gets a break is a bad idea, so is a pair of stressed-out WOHPs who are running around while the baby is in a daycare that sees a lot of staff turnover, or parked with a series of inexperienced au pairs.  Even under these conditions,  it's not the end of the world: babies are usually tough creatures. Though some children are more resilient than others (see this article from the Atlantic for a popular review of the fascinating plasticity hypothesis.)

Anyway, Cheapass and ChpBstrd's desires to retire early thus go head-to-head with their wives' desires to spend time with their infants while they are tiny. The rationality of these desires depends on the metric used. The part which was probably offensive to ChpBstrd's wife is his assumption that his metric is superior.

My impression of the MMM way is frugality, not cheapness: decide what is important to you in life (obviously an irrational process) and give up things that are unimportant in order to afford the important. Usually this means, give up your credit card addiction in order to retire early and spend time the way you like.  But equally, it could mean give up your credit card addiction in order for a parent to stay at home.

TBH, I think that OP's situation (negotiated since they began the conversation) is great...  extra time at home, loving family ready to help, plus a part-week work option for his wife. 

ChpBstrd

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #92 on: January 23, 2017, 09:35:18 AM »
Emotion and reason are not mutually exclusive.

In other words, just because emotion plays into a decision doesn't make it irrational.

I agree, and there's probably a lot more to be said about the nexus of rationality, emotion, and Mustachianism.

The lifestyle is supported by a basic understanding of math, economics, psychology, and health - the rational side. Yet, emotion is the basis of human motivation. The expectation of being satisfied/happy is what makes FIRE more appealing than working until death. An emotionless robot might not care either way. Emotion assigns value to different outcomes. Our definition of "rational" is something like "will make me happier."

Yet, emotion is also driving the lifestyle mistakes we shake our heads about. The fake work truck, McMansion, and cosmetics satisfy social and sexual insecurities. The five-figure checking accounts and selling at the bottom are driven by fear. The hoarding of merchandise and/or animals is driven by misplaced love. The people who try not to look at their credit card balances are avoiding anxiety. The name-brand fancy clothes are supposed to relieve our fears of rejection. My kid has too many toys because the grandparents think this is how you express love!

In a nutshell, we're all trying to use rationality to make decisions that will yield the best emotional outcomes. It's always awkward to tell another person what actions will result in their happiness, whether we're talking kids or SUVs.

mm1970

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #93 on: January 23, 2017, 10:48:55 AM »
Emotion and reason are not mutually exclusive.

In other words, just because emotion plays into a decision doesn't make it irrational.

+1000

It's not black or white.

Quote
The 2-working parents position has all the facts on its side. Financially, it's obvious. Developmentally, research shows the early socialization and curriculum are beneficial for kids. However, the SAH option is what one parent really wants, and all this rational talk sounds like an argument for working 18h days 7 days a week while living in an old car because the numbers say you'll retire 10 months earlier.

It may, perhaps, only have numbers on its side.  It will depend quite a bit on the people involved.

I am a working mother.  I enjoy it, mostly, but it can be MIND-NUMBINGLY EXHAUSTING.

YES I make more money than daycare.
YES my kids are well adjusted.

NO my career isn't "awesome".  My husband makes more money, *I* end up doing more of the kid-related duties when they are sick or whatever, my CAREER and my SALARY suck ROCKS because of that.

So...there are times when we are all, frankly, exhausted.  Cranky.  Angry with each other.  Because nobody gets as much attention as they want, and still somebody has to cook 21 fucking meals every week and keep the laundry washed and the dishes clean.

I'm telling you man, you are vastly  underestimating the exhaustion that can come with having 2 working parents.  When my older child was a baby?  I was sick for 5 straight months that winter (November through March).  When my second kid was 1?  I got a cold.  That turned into bronchitis.  I was sick for a MONTH.  Could barely get out of bed.  My husband can still tell you all about how he worked full time and did ALL of the kid stuff and household chores for a month.  And it was 3 years ago.

hell just last week kid #1 had a runny nose, which turned into a 2-day fever for kid #2 (bye bye 2 days of PTO).  Lucky for me, he loves to snuggle daddy.  So my husband came down with it next and he was so sick he literally was awake for 4 hours on Thursday.  Bye bye 2 extra sick days for him, and hello doing all of the kid stuff, cooking, full time job, dishes for mommy ALL while sleeping on the couch.

Sanity man. 

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #94 on: January 24, 2017, 04:46:07 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.

This made me laugh and is totally true. Plus, throw in 2 hour delays after holidays...I dont know how working parents do it.

Gal2016

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #95 on: January 25, 2017, 11:55:53 AM »
I am a little shocked at all the answers that lean to "just let her do her thing and not worry how that's going to affect you

I wouldn't put that spin on it.

I think it's more "ultimately, we hope you [OP] support her in what she wants."

That includes not automatically presuming she's being "irrational" (e.g. title of the thread) in her desires.

Except, why aren't you also advocating that she should support him in what he wants? I'm not sure how (or why) her "wants" override his?  -- That's my point.

arebelspy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #96 on: January 25, 2017, 01:46:55 PM »
I am a little shocked at all the answers that lean to "just let her do her thing and not worry how that's going to affect you

I wouldn't put that spin on it.

I think it's more "ultimately, we hope you [OP] support her in what she wants."

That includes not automatically presuming she's being "irrational" (e.g. title of the thread) in her desires.

Except, why aren't you also advocating that she should support him in what he wants? I'm not sure how (or why) her "wants" override his?  -- That's my point.

I am.

I said it should be a relationship "of equal partnership where both people's feelings matter."

I mentioned a middle ground.

And I said "Open and honest communication is the best path to a healthy relationship, IMO."

Neither partner's override each others, because you should be a team.

Those were all from subsequent clarification/response posts I made.

Here was my original post.  Adding bolding to relevant parts to your accusation, but the underlined part was in original:
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.

The bottom line is they should each approach the conversation as "how can we make our lives better" (not "how can I make my life better") where "our" is defined as both of them and their child(ren).

They should try and understand what each other wants, and needs, and support that person, and work towards everyone getting what they want, as much as possible.

An antagonism of "she's irrational, help me convince her" isn't helpful.  A "she should just support what he wants" (or vice-versa) isn't helpful.

Open, honest communication, and love and support, on all sides.

That's the goal.
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caracarn

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #97 on: January 25, 2017, 03:00:37 PM »
To the two Cheaps (OP and ChpBstd), my two cents are to realize, which you seem to to a degree, that you are causing havoc on your relationships by placing FIRE or "rational" money decisions above all else.  There is a reason many, if not most, divorces occur over financial reasons.  As someone who has gone through a divorce (not for financial reasons), I will tell you THAT course of events will almost ensure you NEVER FIRE.  Not only the cost of the act, but the ongoing excess costs of life after divorce will drain tens if not hundreds of thousands of your savings away.  Only you can decide how hard you push, but I'd say in both cases you've gone past any safe zone.

I'm a little late to the FIRE game but being now remarried and with six kids in total, FIRE is not really on the table for us, so we are simply trying to maximize the savings to provide for other things we've deemed important.  My wife used to work in a career (before we met) that made near six figures.  She hated the environment and has since changed careers and become a teacher for a third of what she made before.  Our lifestyle is sized to our current income but we have had conversations at times about if she should go back to the corporate world because anything more could go direct to savings.  The "rational" decision would seem to make this the right choice.  I certainly would like to spend fewer years at work and possibly retire 3-5 years earlier than common retirement age, but my response is always if the work she does makes her happy (and I know it does), no amount of money is worth the trade for that.  Your wife seems to be telling you she wants a new job, being a SAHM (the hardest job in the world by the way), and you seem to be saying her dream does not matter and is subservient to yours because it is not "rational".  I'm not sure why you cannot not understand why she takes offense at that.

frugalfinancehippy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #98 on: January 25, 2017, 09:51:31 PM »
Just to play devils advocate- this time with your young child is time you won't be able to get back later - it sound like you come up with some creative solutions to help though. Just remember they're only little once and that time may be more important than retiring a year earlier etc. I don't think anyone said I wished I spent less time with my baby when they're suddenly ten or so years old. They may say it in the moment though in the thick of Diapers and sleepless nights!

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #99 on: January 26, 2017, 04:51:45 AM »
This thread contains some great advice. I'm due to have my first child soon, and I am cutting and pasting some of this advice for later when I'm sleep deprived and an emotional wreck- Especially the advice about having the dad hand off the baby when mom leaves, and the inlaw stuff. I haven't had the baby yet and already I'm in a panic at the idea of leaving them with a stranger- and I am going the nanny route because my coworkers kids come home from daycare infested with lice and I do not want my child fed junk food, exposed to bad behavior, or my sleep structure training ruined. All my life I thought I'd want to be at work ASAP after having a child, but definitely pregnancy has changed that.

The nanny is so expensive, especially with taxes etc, that it is almost a wash with my take home pay from a 6 figure salary! Still, I know that if I look at myself externally as a stranger would, the "rational" decision for me is to suck it up and work for 2 years in a career I hate, because the health insurance for 3 people savings are huge and I can pay off my remaining debt to where I no longer need to earn anywhere near as much (plus keep the employer contributions to my 401K). But I already have that powerful, visceral urge not to leave my child, so I anticipate having strong urges like the wife in this thread during the post partum period. Also, I would have very short tenure at my current job, which paired with short tenure at the previous job would impair my ability to find a good work-from-home job. In the longer run, if I stick it out, my education and experience should translate to a decent work from home or part time job.

Initially I too had fights with my spouse. He hates that I have debt from before we were married (school, house, etc), and initially refused to pay any of those items because he disapproves of them (they are old and at low rates on fixed payment plans). What has been difficult for me is that if he helped me with those payments while I stayed home, they would be far less than what he is willing to pay some total stranger nanny off Craigslist to stay home with OUR child in OUR home all day long while OUR child gets the end-of-the-day scraps of my time and what's left of me after a long miserable day at a stressful job. To me, this is just paying someone else's (a stranger's) school loans and mortgage for them instead, and these people are an inferior choice in child care. I understand my debt is not his responsibility, but it still hurt my feelings deeply, because I'm having this child now on his timetable- not what's best for my career and financial situation. I already have fallout and pressure at work because they are openly put out and disapproving that I'll be out on 6-8 weeks of (unpaid) maternity leave and I feel like it will  cost me a potential promotion. It already cost me one at my last job- the promotion my boss discussed with me was given to someone else as soon as word got out we were planning to have a family.

As my pregnancy has progressed and we started really looking for child care, and my husband can see and feel our baby moving and the baby has a name, we have gotten closer as a couple and started working together more and he is much more willing to help and try to figure out a way for me to stay home. Just that willingness has transformed my willingness to stick it out at work and try to take the rational route and get through another couple of years at work, which allows me to freelance from home without pressure and with no debt.

I'm being pressured now to commit to coming back as soon as I can medically (6 weeks or less), and I really want 10-12 weeks so the baby is sleeping more and I'm not falling asleep at the wheel on my commute or in long meetings. So what I have done is started compiling a list of work projects that only I know how to do that can be done remotely from home. When the time comes, I'll act really willing to come back, but try to negotiate a 2-4 week transition of working from home. My supervisor is supportive, but the execs are already complaining before I've gone out on maternity leave, and I've never missed a day of work during this entire pregnancy or before!

Anyway, this thread has given me the opportunity to write advice to my future sleep deprived new mother self to help with these same struggles when they inevitably come up soon.