Author Topic: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?  (Read 16120 times)

enpower

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Did you or your significant other take time off work to raise your kids?

I'm not talking about 3 months and then putting them into nanny/pre school straight after and you go back to work. I'm talking about having 2-3 children and not working until they were all at school at 5 years old. So in essence taking 6-7+ years off work in your 20's or 30's whilst your significant other is the sole income earner.

Is it common that this happens? Or is it becoming less often as living expenses are getting more expensive in daily life and a sole income earner can't support a full family of 4 or 5.

Thoughts? Experiences?

Do tell.

Cassie

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2015, 04:17:31 PM »
Yes I & most of my friends did. It was the 1980's but not that much was really different. Many people had 2 incomes, put kids in daycare & had lots of fancy things.  You would hear people say that they could not make it on 1 income. Well you could if you  drove old cars, took a driving vacation, lived in an older home & were frugal.  I think some people think that it is a new thing to think you need 2 incomes but it is not. It has been around for awhile.

Zamboni

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2015, 04:27:34 PM »
I cut my hours to half time until my children were 5 years old.  That way they could stay with their grandma while I worked.  We paid her for the time and she turned around and put it all in college funds.  It also helped that I only work ~8 months of the year.

I took more than a 50% pay cut to do that, and undoubtedly it has permanently impacted my salary, but it was worth it for my family.  The fact that I kept working some hours kept me from having a gap in employment on my resume, which means that there has never been a "re-enter" the workforce moment.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2015, 04:35:04 PM »
I worked part-time when my three kids were young.  Eventually I got down to just 4 12-hour shifts/month. It allowed me to keep my skills, pay for a nanny, and frankly, the time at work seemed like a mini-vacation compared to staying home - only one person at a time talking to me!

Later I became ill and had to stop - then my daughter became ill and I needed to be home with her.  Once we were both better, with my 3 kids in their teens, I began slowly reconstructing a new career for myself. Just in the nick of time as my husband of 24 years decided to have a midlife crisis and bail.

I'm glad I kept my skills current and was able to return to my field. As a divorced woman in her 50's, my income is half what it would have been if my career had had equal priority with my husband's though.  Nevertheless, I don't regret the time home with my kids - they needed it.  But my experience brought home to me how vulnerable stay-at-home parents make themselves financially. At least I was in a community property state - I'd think twice about doing this if you don't reside in a community property state - maybe get a post-nup?

lizzzi

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2015, 04:59:34 PM »
Yes--stayed at home from 1975 until 1982 when the youngest of the two kids started kindergarten. I was a nurse, and re-entered the workforce with no trouble whatsoever. I wouldn't trade those years with the kids, especially that my oldest became seriously disabled later on as a teen-ager. It made the happy years all the more precious. They were seven very good years, although I did without a lot--didn't have my own car, sewed all my own clothes…very frugal. Now that I'm almost social security age, I have to say that I wince every time I see those seven years of zero income on my SS projections. (But I have earned income for 35 years, so no zeroes are averaged in to whatever my SS will be later.) For me it was worth it, looking at my life over-all. But as frugal drummer said upthread, a stay-at-home parent is very vulnerable financially. One thing you should do is create some kind of retirement account and make sure something is going into it, funded by the paycheck of the working spouse.

caliq

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2015, 05:13:14 PM »
Can you guys post your industry if you don't mind?  For personal research purposes ;) 

AllieVaulter

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2015, 05:22:22 PM »
My sister is a stay at home mom.  She's been at home for 7 years I think.  Her youngest is almost old enough to start kindergarten.  They're not quite in the MMM crowd, but they're also not making completely irresponsible decisions.  Her husband is an IT guy, she was designing webpages. 

I'm planning on staying home when we end up having kids.  I teach at a university and my husband is just finishing up his PhD in physics.  We've already been living on one salary, so it's not like it will be a huge shock. 

MMM's got some posts with ways to keep down the cost of raising a kid.  I think the biggest one would be to get your kids used to not getting every toy they want.  :)  It's definitely possible, even without making boatloads of money.  Especially if you set yourself up in a good starting position (no debt, good saving habits, etc.). 

Juslookin

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2015, 05:26:51 PM »
I stayed home about three years in early 2000s until my oldest was in kindergarden and my youngest was in half day preschool. I worked at home and worked after bed time so I was able to juggle it all. 

I didn't get much sleep until both were in school all day.  Even with that short time out I did have to play catch up with my career.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 05:28:58 PM by Juslookin »

Michread

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2015, 05:31:07 PM »
Yes, I stayed home to raise my sons. 18+ yrs so far - 11 yrs homeschooling them; the last 5 working very part-time as a substitute teacher. 

DecD

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2015, 06:10:40 PM »
Not sure if this counts.  I didn't want to give up my career, so I quit my full-time job and went back to grad school.  6 years later, I had 2 kids and a PhD.  So- I had a very flexible schedule for quite awhile.  Child #1 was able to stay at home with us for 1.5 years.  I graduated 3 weeks after the birth of child #2, and intended to stay home with him for a year, but the speeding-locomotive-into-brick-wall syndrome was too tough, and I got a quarter-time job about 5 months in, went back full time when he was 1- so he stayed home with us for a year as well.

I'm now full time, have been for 2.5 years, and it's darn hard to have two working parents.   

I'm an engineer for the poster who was curious.

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2015, 06:19:41 PM »
My Mom did this. My wife is doing the same. At this point, there is no guarantee that she will go back to work. We have a 3 year old and a 20-month old. We plan for one more, so that's at least six years before the kids are all in school. We will be pretty close to FI by then (we hope). If we are farther off than we planned we should both be able to work for a couple years and finish off our stash before ER.

ltt

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2015, 06:29:34 PM »
Yes, for 16 years and am still home and complaining about $4,000 car insurance bill!!  Seriously, though, my income went away, however, my husband's income climbed.  Some days I think I should go back to work, but honestly there are not enough hours in the day with four children, even though 3 are teens.  And am trying to declutter and get projects done around the home that I haven't had time for in years.   

I absolutely find it amazing that people say they will go back to work once the kids start kindergarten.  I cannot begin to tell you how much busier it gets once they get in school. 

GizmoTX

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2015, 06:43:21 PM »
I had a fulfilling career for 20+ years in computer software, programming, running my own software applications business, & sales. We became FI around age 35. I retired at age 42, to become pregnant at 45 & stay at home with our son, who is now 21. I've greatly enjoyed both worlds.

caliq

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2015, 07:47:41 PM »
Not sure if this counts.  I didn't want to give up my career, so I quit my full-time job and went back to grad school.  6 years later, I had 2 kids and a PhD.  So- I had a very flexible schedule for quite awhile.  Child #1 was able to stay at home with us for 1.5 years.  I graduated 3 weeks after the birth of child #2, and intended to stay home with him for a year, but the speeding-locomotive-into-brick-wall syndrome was too tough, and I got a quarter-time job about 5 months in, went back full time when he was 1- so he stayed home with us for a year as well.

I'm now full time, have been for 2.5 years, and it's darn hard to have two working parents.   

I'm an engineer for the poster who was curious.

Ahhh yay! Was being pregnant/having kids in grad school really tough?  I don't know how engineering PhD's work but I'm assuming you did lab research?  I'm probably excessively overthinking/overplanning my life but....INTJ :/  Sorry if I'm prying too much, feel free to tell me to f off!

DecD

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2015, 08:20:03 PM »
Not sure if this counts.  I didn't want to give up my career, so I quit my full-time job and went back to grad school.  6 years later, I had 2 kids and a PhD.  So- I had a very flexible schedule for quite awhile.  Child #1 was able to stay at home with us for 1.5 years.  I graduated 3 weeks after the birth of child #2, and intended to stay home with him for a year, but the speeding-locomotive-into-brick-wall syndrome was too tough, and I got a quarter-time job about 5 months in, went back full time when he was 1- so he stayed home with us for a year as well.

I'm now full time, have been for 2.5 years, and it's darn hard to have two working parents.   

I'm an engineer for the poster who was curious.

Ahhh yay! Was being pregnant/having kids in grad school really tough?  I don't know how engineering PhD's work but I'm assuming you did lab research?  I'm probably excessively overthinking/overplanning my life but....INTJ :/  Sorry if I'm prying too much, feel free to tell me to f off!

Well, I mean, yeah.  Being pregnant is kinda tough, and grad school is kinda tough...but so is working full time, and to be honest, staying home with an infant isn't exactly a walk in the park :)  So- I guess having a baby at all is tough on the parents.  I like sleep.  I'm a big fan of sleep.  This is an incompatible concept with a small baby.  (disclaimer: some folks probably find it really easy.  I'm not one of those folks.) 

So- some history I guess.  When I was working on my masters (pre-marriage, not even dating seriously, and certainly miles and miles from ready-for-kids), a new prof mentioned how his wife had worked full time, and he'd stayed home with the baby while getting his PhD.  I thought that sounded like a pretty great setup, and a good way for my own INTJ-esque planning brain to figure out how to do career/family without going insane.  Stored that idea in my back pocket. Fastforward 6 years, and now I was married and working full time and realizing that it's tough to take care of the cat properly while working fulltime, much less children.  So- my husband and I ditched jobs, moved across the country, and started school again.  I finished almost all of my coursework and (most importantly) my qualifying exams before trying for kids.

That's my one recommendation- finish the quals first, if your degree program requires them. 

So- finished quals, got pregnant, had a baby.  Didn't really take any maternity leave- kept going with my research.  (Computer-based simulations, so could work from home or in the lab, just needed my brain and my computer.)  Was very challenging trying to be a good mother and a good researcher at the same time.  But, again, for me the new-baby phase is pretty darn challenging no matter what, and I think that was about as good a balance as I could have found. 

Realized about 1.5 years in that I was starting to stall out, as my husband and I were trying to juggle childcare and a pair of degree programs between us, so we put him in a really excellent daycare and life smoothed right out.  Husband finished his degree first, we moved across the country again, I finished up my last year (writing the thesis, mainly) remotely.  Flew back for my defense at I dunno 35 or 36 weeks pregnant and felt very conspicuous.  He was born 2 weeks after I submitted my thesis (yikes!) and 3 weeks before graduation.  Whew.  Then stopped cold to take a "real maternity leave" and stay home for a year.  That transition was too tough- I hadn't prepared for it at all, being too busy trying to finish the thesis before the kid arrived.  But the part time job solved the problem and was pretty blissful actually. 

I'm back to full time now, like I mentioned, and currently trying to decide if it's best to keep my nose down for another 3-5 years until we're truly FI, or cut back hours & salary now to try to find some sanity or what.  Starting to consider options.

So-- if FI had been my goal, that wasn't the most efficient/fast way to get there.  But it was a fantastic way to achieve flexibility and freedom while still indulging my career/education/personal goals. 

nvmama

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2015, 08:20:46 PM »
When I first got pregnant, 7 years ago, My husband and I didn't have the opportunity for me to leave work altogether as I carried our health care benefits and we couldn't completely swing it on one budget.  I could have, my husband didn't want to give up a few things (he's not as MMM as I am.) Anyways, I worked for a private non profit human service agency,still do.  At the time I worked the typical 9-5 and had a middle management position, not huge money but enough, but not enough for me to justify paying for full time child care.  So I stepped down and worked in a group home, taking a significant pay cut, but this enabled me to not have to pay for childcare and my schedule at the group home was two long shifts (14 hours and 24 hours) and a staff meeting each week.  This made it able for me to basically be a full time mom during the days and also get a bit of a break by going into work.  I am still doing this schedule now, and we have just found out that I am pregnant, so I will continue to do this type of schedule for another 7 years or so.  I want my youngest to be in school full day (1st grade) before stepping back up to a more typical day job.  By my working it as enabled us to start saving extra money for retirement, where if we just had my husbands salary we wouldn't be able to do. 

On another point I noticed briefly mentioned.  I am currently in graduate school, A Masters of Education in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis.  I have two kids (7 and 4) and pregnant with the 3rd.  I am only taking one class a semester and it is mostly online with one face to face class a month.  I do most of my work when the kids go to bed and try to fit in all the reading in any way I can.  So days I sit on an exercise and bike while I read, or if the  kids are in the back yard I will walk laps around the yard while reading and watching them.  Even though it is only one class getting in the work is tough, but it can be done.  This semester has been a bit tricky as I'm exhausted from the pregnancy, but it will still be easier I bet then when I have a new born and attempting to still get work done.  I'm not looking forward to that class. 

caliq

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2015, 08:32:54 PM »
Not sure if this counts.  I didn't want to give up my career, so I quit my full-time job and went back to grad school.  6 years later, I had 2 kids and a PhD.  So- I had a very flexible schedule for quite awhile.  Child #1 was able to stay at home with us for 1.5 years.  I graduated 3 weeks after the birth of child #2, and intended to stay home with him for a year, but the speeding-locomotive-into-brick-wall syndrome was too tough, and I got a quarter-time job about 5 months in, went back full time when he was 1- so he stayed home with us for a year as well.

I'm now full time, have been for 2.5 years, and it's darn hard to have two working parents.   

I'm an engineer for the poster who was curious.

Ahhh yay! Was being pregnant/having kids in grad school really tough?  I don't know how engineering PhD's work but I'm assuming you did lab research?  I'm probably excessively overthinking/overplanning my life but....INTJ :/  Sorry if I'm prying too much, feel free to tell me to f off!

Well, I mean, yeah.  Being pregnant is kinda tough, and grad school is kinda tough...but so is working full time, and to be honest, staying home with an infant isn't exactly a walk in the park :)  So- I guess having a baby at all is tough on the parents.  I like sleep.  I'm a big fan of sleep.  This is an incompatible concept with a small baby.  (disclaimer: some folks probably find it really easy.  I'm not one of those folks.) 

So- some history I guess.  When I was working on my masters (pre-marriage, not even dating seriously, and certainly miles and miles from ready-for-kids), a new prof mentioned how his wife had worked full time, and he'd stayed home with the baby while getting his PhD.  I thought that sounded like a pretty great setup, and a good way for my own INTJ-esque planning brain to figure out how to do career/family without going insane.  Stored that idea in my back pocket. Fastforward 6 years, and now I was married and working full time and realizing that it's tough to take care of the cat properly while working fulltime, much less children.  So- my husband and I ditched jobs, moved across the country, and started school again.  I finished almost all of my coursework and (most importantly) my qualifying exams before trying for kids.

That's my one recommendation- finish the quals first, if your degree program requires them. 

So- finished quals, got pregnant, had a baby.  Didn't really take any maternity leave- kept going with my research.  (Computer-based simulations, so could work from home or in the lab, just needed my brain and my computer.)  Was very challenging trying to be a good mother and a good researcher at the same time.  But, again, for me the new-baby phase is pretty darn challenging no matter what, and I think that was about as good a balance as I could have found. 

Realized about 1.5 years in that I was starting to stall out, as my husband and I were trying to juggle childcare and a pair of degree programs between us, so we put him in a really excellent daycare and life smoothed right out.  Husband finished his degree first, we moved across the country again, I finished up my last year (writing the thesis, mainly) remotely.  Flew back for my defense at I dunno 35 or 36 weeks pregnant and felt very conspicuous.  He was born 2 weeks after I submitted my thesis (yikes!) and 3 weeks before graduation.  Whew.  Then stopped cold to take a "real maternity leave" and stay home for a year.  That transition was too tough- I hadn't prepared for it at all, being too busy trying to finish the thesis before the kid arrived.  But the part time job solved the problem and was pretty blissful actually. 

I'm back to full time now, like I mentioned, and currently trying to decide if it's best to keep my nose down for another 3-5 years until we're truly FI, or cut back hours & salary now to try to find some sanity or what.  Starting to consider options.

So-- if FI had been my goal, that wasn't the most efficient/fast way to get there.  But it was a fantastic way to achieve flexibility and freedom while still indulging my career/education/personal goals.

Thanks so much for going into detail!  Especially for the tip about waiting until after quals -- although I'm definitely going to be tethered to the actual lab (molecular/cellular neurobio, hopefully) :/  Given that ER might not be my real goal (as long as I can direct my career path into researching what I really want to!) and my unique husband situation (he's disabled and home full time for the foreseeable future), you've given me a good bit of confidence that my plans are actually achievable :) So thanks again!  And sorry for derailing a bit, OP/others

teen persuasion

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2015, 10:15:32 PM »
Yes, for 16 years and am still home and complaining about $4,000 car insurance bill!!  Seriously, though, my income went away, however, my husband's income climbed.  Some days I think I should go back to work, but honestly there are not enough hours in the day with four children, even though 3 are teens.  And am trying to declutter and get projects done around the home that I haven't had time for in years.   

I absolutely find it amazing that people say they will go back to work once the kids start kindergarten.  I cannot begin to tell you how much busier it gets once they get in school.

I've done things a little bit differently than most on these boards.  I was SAHM for nearly 20 years with our five kids, and have only gone back to work since DS5 began school.  I'm only working part-time.  Kids school activities just seem to grow every year, even in the HS years - band, chorus, orchestra, musical, sports, youth group, gifted programs, all county and all state, jobs, etc.

One thing I wish I'd done differently would be to fund a spousal IRA for me while I was a SAHM.  We were focused on paying down the mortgage early at the time, and student loans.  We've only really gotten serious about retirement savings in the last 8 or 9 years, and I had to convince DH to gradually increase his 401k contributions as we paid off the student loans and then start Roth IRAs when the mortgage was gone.  I don't have access to a 401k, so our retirement accounts are lopsided.

We've always lived frugally, by necessity.  Our household income was below $35k until I began working.

greaper007

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2015, 10:40:09 PM »
I'm 34 and I've been a stay at home dad for almost 6 years now.    I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old.    It's been great and I'm not sure I'll ever go back to work full time.    I was an airline pilot so once I quit that job it was kind of over for career progression.   I'd have to start over at the beginning if I went back to the airlines.

I'd encourage anyone that can swing it financially to go for it.    You'll never get these years back with your kids and I really think have a close loving family makes children into much more balanced adults.

Financially, it really hasn't been that hard.   Between commuting and paying for full time daycare I think I was only bringing in about $1200 a month when I was working.    I was really able to bridge the gap on that by doing things like cooking all of our meals, fixing things on our homes and cars, building things, landscaping, sewing, making kombucha, brewing beer, etc.     It also allowed my wife to have the flexibility to start her own business.    We never have to worry about who's going to watch the kids if she has to take a business trip or come home from work a few hours late.   I'm always there.    So now she's making about $40k more than she was when I quit with a much more flexible schedule.     We're doing a month in Europe this summer, I never could have done that when both of us were working.

Go for it!

thepokercab

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2015, 10:57:01 PM »
My wife and I are both 30, and my wife stays home with our 2 year old and 5 year old.  About when our first child turned 1, my wife went back to work; she's works in early childhood education so when she did work we were able to get much of our day care covered by the place she worked.  She worked close to full time pretty much right up until our second child was born, but since then she has been a full time SAHM, which has been 2 years now.  I don't think she'll be going back to work anytime soon, and that works great for us.   We're lucky enough that my income is high enough for us to be just fine, and she gets to spend quality time with the kids everyday.  She enjoys it more than working as well.  So, win/win for us. 
 

1967mama

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2015, 10:57:45 PM »
I was a school teacher for 3 years, and have been a stay at home parent since the birth of my first child in 1991. No wish to go back - I'm plenty busy and feel like I've become quite good at my new job, being a keeper of the home! I read "The Tightwad Gazette" quite early on in my mothering years, and most of it has stuck with me. I continue to strive to learn new things and find new ways to save a dollar.

greaper007

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2015, 11:01:55 PM »
Am I the only dad on this thread????   

Reepekg

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2015, 11:32:32 PM »
Am I the only dad on this thread????   

You may be the only one so far, but I am a guy planning to do this. My wife and I make equal salaries, but I'm a homebody who likes to experiment in the garage while she craves the  social interaction of working downtown.

I'm setting us up to be sort of FI by the time we have our first. The whole reason my wife got on board with the MMM retire early thing was the allure of avoiding daycare.

gooki

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2015, 11:48:49 PM »
My wife has been at home raising the kids for the last 4.5 years.  I doubt we would have had this option had we not been on the path to a debt free life.

michaelrecycles

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2015, 12:05:01 AM »
I'm 34 and I've been a stay at home dad for almost 6 years now.    I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old.    It's been great and I'm not sure I'll ever go back to work full time.    I was an airline pilot so once I quit that job it was kind of over for career progression.   I'd have to start over at the beginning if I went back to the airlines.

I'd encourage anyone that can swing it financially to go for it.    You'll never get these years back with your kids and I really think have a close loving family makes children into much more balanced adults.

Financially, it really hasn't been that hard.   Between commuting and paying for full time daycare I think I was only bringing in about $1200 a month when I was working.    I was really able to bridge the gap on that by doing things like cooking all of our meals, fixing things on our homes and cars, building things, landscaping, sewing, making kombucha, brewing beer, etc.     It also allowed my wife to have the flexibility to start her own business.    We never have to worry about who's going to watch the kids if she has to take a business trip or come home from work a few hours late.   I'm always there.    So now she's making about $40k more than she was when I quit with a much more flexible schedule.     We're doing a month in Europe this summer, I never could have done that when both of us were working.

Go for it!

You are my hero. Mrs. Greaper sounds badass too.

11ducks

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2015, 12:13:57 AM »
Nope - single 20 yr old with no child/fam support- went back to work part-time after 6 weeks (2 x days a week) and studied full/time (jammed into 1day/1 night) at the same time - so was home 4 days and 3 days of day-care. Wish I'd had more time at home with him but needed the money to support us. 

Graduated with double degree when he was in first grade and began f/t work in Education. 
Chose my job so that I could drop him to school and pick him up each day, so we get a lot of time together.

kander

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2015, 12:21:50 AM »
I am a stay at home mom at this moment. We have one son of 16 months old.

theonethatgotaway

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2015, 03:07:48 AM »
Yep! I don't know why people think sahp is not normal anymore?? I know many many sahp (dads too!).

I don't even agree with 'home till 5, then I'm headed to work!', um that's so young! I'll be home till they move out most likely and we live in the pricey NYC.


JLR

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2015, 03:49:41 AM »
I've been a SAHM since 2002.

kander

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2015, 05:17:32 AM »
Yep! I don't know why people think sahp is not normal anymore?? I know many many sahp (dads too!).

I don't even agree with 'home till 5, then I'm headed to work!', um that's so young! I'll be home till they move out most likely and we live in the pricey NYC.

I'm not sure when I'll start working again. Depends on how my son develops, I guess :)

lizzie

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2015, 05:51:15 AM »
I had my first baby in the fall of my last year of law school. I worked fulltime starting the following summer and started a judicial clerkship when she was about one. I was so sad about leaving her each day that I really wanted to stay home once I completed the clerkship. So we had our second when I was leaving the clerkship and I was a SAHM until she was 5.

I completely lucked out at that point because a new judge had just been appointed and was looking for an experienced clerk. Someone gave him my name so he contacted me directly. He hired me and a few months in asked me to be his career clerk. I've been working for him for almost nine years. It's a federal position so there are some nice retirement savings options and benefits.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2015, 06:58:33 AM »
Yep! I don't know why people think sahp is not normal anymore?? I know many many sahp (dads too!).

I don't even agree with 'home till 5, then I'm headed to work!', um that's so young! I'll be home till they move out most likely and we live in the pricey NYC.

My Mom went back to work when I was 16 and my sister 18 (but still in high school). I remember my sister saying something about being a latch key child, and our neighbor saying "You can vote- I don't think you are latch key".

But she waited until we were old enough to drive ourselves places.  My mother was a major chauffeur when we were growing up. (I do know she did a lot of political volunteering while we were at school. I remember going and watching The Price is Right at campaign offices when we were home sick from school.)

DecD

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2015, 07:04:06 AM »
My sister was a stay-at-home-mom for 14 years.  She got bored and went back to school for a masters when her kids were 10/14, and now that they're 12/16 she works full time.  I think she's planning to transition to part time once she's worked enough hours to secure her license (therapist). 

There are a ton of stay-at-home parents in our neighborhood.  A lot of 2-career families too.  A nice mix, really.

lizzzi

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2015, 07:13:55 AM »
Forgot to say that while I was a SAHM for seven years I got a bachelor's degree in nursing and wrote a book. (Unpublished historical romance.)  And not to belabor the point, but as someone said upthread, make sure that you have a spousal IRA or some kind of retirement account going on.

KD

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2015, 08:17:24 AM »
I was retired at 26 - two years before we adopted two children at ages 2 & 4 - later home-schooled them. IOW, even if something had happened to him, I would still be retired w/o his income. 

Although I had already retired I still started a spousal IRA for my passion/joyful side hustle money (antique booths) as soon as that option became available. Some of us Mustachians were around before those investments even became options.  I have always been a saver and had done that long before I married - I may even still have half of that first dime I earned shining my Dad's shoes for him WAYYYYYYYYYYY back in the dark ages. 

With Hubs employment (he loved his job) I saved & invested his money for him too.  I always had a savings account & invested in the stock market long before all the 401Ks, Traditional Roths, etc came along.  I was debt free and about a year away from retirement and living in a mortgage-free efficiency unit condo at the time of our marriage so had we lived in it we could have been even more Mustachian, but alas he wanted larger living quarters.  We kept the majority of our money separate.  However, I have always budgeted and even then I pinched the pennies, and always saved half of the grocery allotment.  (I know a mind game, but whatever, it worked then and continues to work now.  Were I not playing this game w/myself and someone had had to get real with no one saving part of it the real shock of inflation would be biting me in the arse about now 30+mufflemum years into retirement.)  I'm in a May-December marriage - younger than my Hubs by a good deal and still have a number of years left of life expectancy to go...yes, I'm one of those who likes looking at the actuary tables.

One thing I would suggest to many who may think they'll start a family & buy a home (I won't get into the starter vs. forever home argument) is to only buy what can be carried on the lesser of the two incomes if both are currently working or what level of education the one who's staying at home would be able to reasonably carry on their income potential if something were to happen to the other spouse, either disability or death.  UNLESS, one can also afford a good life insurance policy +/or disability insurance policy as well as the house or you just have an insanely large stash already.  We wanted to give the remaining spouse TIME to grieve if needed, then decide how to proceed financially whether that meant selling the home, going back to school, re-marrying, etc.  Risk has it's price tag is all I'm saying!  Just take it into consideration.

We bought a starter home based on the money I would be able to draw from my retirement stash & his savings & our joint savings w/o having to return to work unless I just wanted to.  It was a few years later that hubs could afford to pay for good insurance policies which negated that need - he was seriously recovering from a divorce a few years before and paying child support when I met him so his financial situation was not the best when I came along.  So while everyone else was buying McMansions back in those days we did not.  We only moved later when the neighborhood was starting to decline as my Hubs had seen his parents get financially stuck in one of those neighborhoods when the value plummeted.  My husband wanted me to be able to continue staying home with the kids if something were to happen to him.  Yes, I loved him dearly then and still do now, but I've always been about covering my own arse.

Caretakers are historically seriously in jeopardy if they don't look after their own financial well-being!  Women caretaker's especially as they typically have the longer life span. 

Before I retired I worked in Credit/Collections and owned my own restaurant.

Emilyngh

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2015, 08:37:10 AM »
My Dh is a SAHD with our 3.5 yr old.   I was home with her for 3 mos when she was born, but he then quit completely (was in IT) when I went back to work and has been home with her every day since.

I absolutely love it and highly recommend it to anyone, not just because I think it's been good for her, but because it has made our family life much more relaxed and do-able (eg., he does most of the chores and errands on weekdays, so our time together is very free).  He also does frugal things like make homemade bread, hang our laundry, we cloth diapered, etc, that we might not do if both working.

Financially, it has certainly cost us, but I wouldn't have it any other way.   And although my income is not huge, it really hasn't been hard to get by on (esp considering that it's much easier to optimize our taxes on just my income).   Our saving rate did fall from 60%+ to more like 25% during this period, but again, I think it's worth it.

We are currently trying to find DD a preschool for next year (probably half day) and then since the year after that she'll be in all day kindergarten, DH is beginning to think about what he wants to do to bring in some income when she's in school all day.   He probably will on do something PT, even though I have very flexible hours and lots of time at home myself; after getting a taste of a relaxed life, I don't think we want to leave it.   The equivalent of any income DH brings in will go basically right into my 401k, so even with just a PT job our savings rate should shoot right back up here soon.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 08:40:05 AM by Emilyngh »

MsPeacock

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2015, 09:12:56 AM »
I stayed home for 6 years with my kids. Some of this decision was because my ex-husband was in the military and we moved every 2-3 years. It was difficult for me to find regular work with moving so often (I work in a specialized professional area that requires state licensing - expensive and time consuming to get licensed, then find a job, then move again 12 months later). I also wanted to be home with my kids. Went back to work part time when the youngest was about 2 1/2 because I was reaching the point where I wasn't sure if I was going to expire professionally (too long out of the field), because we were scheduled to stay put, and because I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with being finanically dependent on someone who couldn't be counted on.

I loved being home w/ my kids. Other than the "lost" income during the years I was home, I did not take a financial hit in terms of my ability to return to work at a salary equal to what I would have made w/o taking the years off. I had kept my professional connections over the years and they paid off in terms of finding new employment.

TN_Steve

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2015, 09:18:23 AM »
Am I the only dad on this thread????   

Nope.

I stayed home 15 years, came back when youngest got his license and the eldest two were just starting college; life was nuts with nanny, work travel, and wife's middle of night call-outs, and there was no way she was going to stay home.  Worked well for us, DW was able to concentrate 100% on her job, while I did the kids, the volunteering, the cooking, the shopping, the finances, and a plurality of the construction work on two major gut rehabs/additions of our homes.  Also nominally worked half-time as an adjunct to keep the resume on life support.

Practiced law for 9 years before, then switched states with DW, took new bar exam, and will practice a total of 9 more years in this second phase before we retire.  HUGE financial hit on the surface, as I gave up BigLaw partnership, but the tax laws and cost of dual-workaholic careers would have undercut that apparent advantage.  Both of us are glad we did it, even though it pushed DW's retirement back a couple or three years (I figure I've already enjoyed 15 years of early, interrupted retirement).


coppertop

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2015, 09:31:23 AM »
I worked part-time when my three kids were young.  Eventually I got down to just 4 12-hour shifts/month. It allowed me to keep my skills, pay for a nanny, and frankly, the time at work seemed like a mini-vacation compared to staying home - only one person at a time talking to me!

Later I became ill and had to stop - then my daughter became ill and I needed to be home with her.  Once we were both better, with my 3 kids in their teens, I began slowly reconstructing a new career for myself. Just in the nick of time as my husband of 24 years decided to have a midlife crisis and bail.

I'm glad I kept my skills current and was able to return to my field. As a divorced woman in her 50's, my income is half what it would have been if my career had had equal priority with my husband's though.  Nevertheless, I don't regret the time home with my kids - they needed it.  But my experience brought home to me how vulnerable stay-at-home parents make themselves financially. At least I was in a community property state - I'd think twice about doing this if you don't reside in a community property state - maybe get a post-nup?

Wow, frugaldrummer! Your story and mine are so much the same!  I still have a hard time dealing with the fact that it was so easy for my children's father to just wash his hands of all of us and expect me to just step up to the plate... particularly since he had an MBA and I had a community college education and was a SAHM.  I am very proud of the fact that I was able to finish raising my children with little help from him, but I do have a problem with his playing father of the year now that the kids are grown and married and we have grandchildren.  It was hard to find an employer who would give me a chance, but I was lucky and have had some nice promotions and increases in salary to match. 

MayDay

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2015, 09:34:37 AM »
My kids are 7 and 4, and I've been home since the 2nd was born. Going back to work after one kid was fairly doable, but with 2+ it is freaking hard. Plus daycare =$$$$$ with more than 1.

But now I'm bored of being home, and I think it's a bit unfair for H to keep working while I have a life of leisure (lolz notreally, but I do have way more free time than he does).  So I'm working a bit, and trying to figure out how to work 20-30 hours a week at a flexible job making more than 10$ an hour. We'll see how it pans out, I may end up working full time again, although probably only for 3-5 years because at that point we'll have a lot more money saved.


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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2015, 10:00:04 AM »
My wife stays home with our 4 and 2 year old. Money's a little tight, but we are making it work.  Even with a mortgage, and all other bills, I'm aiming to be able to save 25% into my 401K and hopefully max the Roth contribution if not this year, then by next year.
I'd rather make a little less and have my wife stay home with the kids than have them put in daycare 5 days a week.  It's a crazy life, but it's working out pretty good at the moment.

sugarsnap

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #41 on: February 09, 2015, 10:20:21 AM »
I went back to work 4 days a week after my first kid, then quit when she was 1 and then went back part time in a related field when my second was 18 months. This was in 2007 and lucky timing because it was easier to keep that part time job rather than a full time one in my industry (A specialized IT related field) through the downturn. We always had free grandparent child care.

I've been trying to get back to full time for the last few years but the opportunities are few and the candidates over educated and over skilled, it's been really hard to break back into full time work.

My earning potential has been permanently diminished for sure.


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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2015, 12:18:24 PM »
I'm pregnant right now, but the plan has evolved so that we're currently intending for my husband to stay at home with our baby for a while. Coincidentally, he was a casualty of lay-offs at his company the same week I found out I was pregnant 5 months ago. At first, we were both stressed and upset as is natural for a major life change to happen that was unexpected and not by our own choice. Now that we've had an opportunity to assess things a bit more calmly, we realize that this is probably the best possible situation for us. Going down to 1 income reduces our savings ratio, but we haven't had to make any other major sacrifices. Plus, he can focus on finishing his degree, while our baby has the benefit of having a parent at home. For me, it's been great to have him taking care of more of the household responsibilities while I'm pregnant and exhausted and working a full-time job.

It will probably take hubby 3 or so more years to finish his degree, and then we'll reassess how to balance things again. He does have a few moments where he's in conflict with the traditional gender roles he grew up with. Overall, I think that he's looking forward to this unique opportunity. In my eyes, we very much still have an equal partnership with equal contribution from both of us, and I try to communicate that to him. However, I think he sometimes views his role as being "lesser". On top of that, it seems like so much of the support structure for new parents are for new *moms*. I worry about him not having the outlet for interacting with other adults without a job or without a "mom group" type of network. For the stay at home dads out there, do you have any suggestions for resources we could look into or just general advice?

mm1970

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #43 on: February 09, 2015, 01:11:48 PM »
Well, no.

I don't think it's so much of a "new" thing.  It's been done for awhile, but I think it ebbs and flows.

My mother SAH in the 70's and 80's when I was a kid.  Only really went back to work when my Dad got laid off 2x and his final salary was <1/2 it was prior.  Even with a paid-off house, they couldn't make it work.

When I had my first son in 2006, I was one of 3 women in my mom's group of about 50 to go back full time at 3 months.  And boy did I feel the judgment.  But I was in an industry and a company that wouldn't work with me otherwise.  I *wanted* to work but felt maybe part time was better.

Interestingly, when my boss left to start a new company, my new boss was fine with part time. I was right.  For me, it was better.  My son was 17 months when I switched to 30 hours a week.  2 extra hours a day was awesome for going to the park, grocery shopping, cooking, playing, etc.
At that point in time, there were two women at the company of 30 who worked part time.  Our boys were the same age.
When my son was 2, we had some management changes. 
-My new boss said "I don't believe in part time, it doesn't work". 
-Me: Well, it does for me.
-Him: "Sorry". 
-Me: But she does it too.
-Him: "Well, she's not in a technical position." 
-Me: She has a PhD in Materials Science, how is that not technical??

So I quit, and ironically got a job for my old boss at the new company, working part time. I worked PT until my son was 3, then they pressured me to go FT.

At the old company, another woman had a baby, and they allowed her to work 25 hours a week after she went back.  Step in the right direction huh?  But then they pressured her to go to 30.  And then they pressured the PhD to go full time, and kept piling on the work.  So, the PhD left to do consulting, and the other woman quit to SAH.
Fast forward a few more years and ANOTHER woman had a baby, and just went back to work (it's been so long now that she started after I left).  They are allowing her to work 20 hours a week. My friend the non-PhD and I were having lunch and said "hey, finally some progress!"

-Anyway, I had a surprise 2nd baby at the new company 2.5 years ago, at the ripe old age of 42.  I went back at 25 hours a week for a month or two.  I learned my lesson, right?  Then I went to 32 hours a week (30 is what you need to keep your benefits).  At one year after my son was born, I was getting pressure to go back to full time.  I was managing a group, and felt that I was needed.  I worked with my awesome boss to transition to it.  Literally a week after I went full time, they laid off my entire group and the President said "you can give 120% now right?"  I just about smacked him.

Needless to say, I regret going full time.  I now am 2 bosses later (I've had 7 in 6 years), and he won't let me go part time again. Blech.

I'm all about equality, empowerment, women getting ahead.  I think there are still a lot of problems with equality, and I've experienced it myself (that glass ceiling HURTS I'll just tell you that).  But for me, right now, since I'm now allowed to move "up", I'd like to just do my job, get paid less, and get a little more time off.  As it is, I use ALL of my paid time off on school holidays, sick kids, school functions, etc.  I rarely actually get to go on vacation.

I like working.  I like having a back-up plan.  I really don't want to be a SAHM.  So for me, PT is pretty much where it's at.  But I've got plenty of SAHM friends and it works for them.

catccc

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #44 on: February 09, 2015, 01:39:06 PM »
We both did.
 
Before our first kid was born in 2008, DH was earning ~20-25K/yr, and I was earning 80K/yr.
After our first kid was born, we dropped my 80K/yr job and I stayed home for about a year and a half.
In 2010 I went back to work and DH started staying home.  He's been primarily a SAHP since then.  He picked up some work when our 2nd kid was born in 2011 and I had a slightly extended maternity leave, and since the kids have gotten older he has picked up some part time work.

I would say about 1/2 the families I know have SAHPs.  Most of them that don't are in situations where both parents are making equal and relatively larger sums of money.  Like two lawyers, as opposed to an admin office worker and a blue collar worker.  It makes sense to have a SAHP when you are earning less because good childcare costs so much.

For SAHDs that are looking for support, reach out to a mom's group.  I know my moms group has some dads in it.  And DH was in a completely different moms' group where he was the dad.  Parents are parents regardless of gender.  Sure, he can't talk first hand about nursing with the other moms, but he knows what it is like because he saw me do it, and all of my struggles and accomplishments were also his since our parenting is such a partnership.

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #45 on: February 09, 2015, 01:49:05 PM »
I did a bit of everything. I stayed home 1.5 years after the first...then back to work 0.5 until baby number 2 arrived, stayed home 1.5 years again and am now back at work 0.8.  But with the cost of daycare right now, it is not particularly sustainable.  After all the money goes out and we add in the cost of working (parking, commuting etc.), we only next about 1000 dollars.  So to be working this hard, scrambling all over the place for 1000$ sometimes doesn't seem worth it...but then we have 'built' a life that needs that 1000$ to keep on track...and those costs won't last forever and I want to keep my foot in the job market.  I think most people patch together a system to maximizes family time, career goals and finances...but it isn't always easy!   I also think a huge factor in having a parent stay home is if they are suited for it. I loved my time at home with my kids...but my personality is not suited to be a full time stay at home mom.    It is a gift to spend time with your kids, but it can be very tiring as well. 

totesmahgoats

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #46 on: February 09, 2015, 02:19:43 PM »
I do, sort of. I left fulltime employment in 2010 when we moved/were expecting our third. It just didn't make sense, from a fiscal point of view, to pay for daycare for three.

Four and a half years later I'm working part time and I'm not sure I'll ever try to go back into my former field. I do have to note that in the time I've been out of the workforce our household income has nearly tripled. I won't take all the credit, but I hardly think it's coincidental.

P.S. Whoever posted earlier about life getting busier when they're in school is so incredibly right. With two in school I feel like the demands are even greater.

gaja

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #47 on: February 09, 2015, 03:25:58 PM »
Well, don't know if it counts, but this is our story:

Paid parent leave here is roughly a year. It can be divided between the parents. The right to paid leave is a given number of days, so if you work part time, you can stay at home longer. We had pseudotwins (born within 18 months), I got really bad pelvic pains and paid sick leave for that, and we both worked on and off, so in total we had almost three years where neither of us work 100 %.

I'm not made for staying at home full time, so I spent some of that time studying (getting my teacher's certificate), some of it producing stock photos to get a nice passive income stream, tried a lot of WAH ideas (translating, Lionbridge...), and worked on and of as a substitute teacher. The kids started kindergarten between 8 and 12 months old, because we believe that it is better for children to learn to socially interact with other kids as early as possible. Almost 100 % of kids go to kindergarten here, so there is nobody at the playgrounds during the day. The kindergartens are generally good quality, heavily subsidized ($330/month), and because we both worked PT and partly from home, they had really short days until they were 2-3 years old. For the youngest, I often walked her to the kindergarten in time for her nap, let them wake her and feed her, and then she had a second nap before I picked her up again. Since the kindergarten was a five minute stroll from home, it gave me just enough time to shoot a bunch of photos, edit and upload, before picking her up again.

DH hit the wall mentally when he went back to full time work, and has been on and off sick leave for a long time. He has also had a really bad headache for almost two years now. The welfare state pays one year 100 %, and up to four years at 60 %. This has given us breathing space to get him back on track, and to take care of our kids. He is working his way to good health now, I'm starting to get optimistic. Simplifying our life and moving to a (relatively) warmer climate seems to have a good effect. When he gets well, we will see if he should stay at home as a SAHD, or if he wants to go back to working. If he is healthy and chooses to stay at home, there will of course not be any more welfare payments.

The laws are very protective of parents, and especially mothers. It is illegal to discriminate pregnant persons in job interview situations, you can't get fired for being pregnant, both parents are certain to keep their jobs during parental leave, and you can choose to work PT if the kids are under 10 year old. Can't say I've noticed any difference between my career track, and that of people with no children. But then, companies who are not family friendly have big problems recruiting here. Even the crown prince took parental leave for a few months.
 
I say I work full time, but it is not the American full time:
-37.5 hours a week (1/2 hour/day paid lunch break)
-5 weeks paid vacation leave
-20 days/year paid leave for sick children (normal is 10 days, we have double because of handicapped children. A friend of mine is a single mother to handicapped kids, and has more than two children. She can take up to 50 days/year.)
-Up to one year 100 % paid sick leave. Up to three days at a time without doctors notice.
-2-4 weeks/year of paid leave to learn sign language and how to take care of deaf children.
-When the kids were small, I got 1 hour/day paid leave to breastfeed.

Because of all these laws and regulations, almost all women are part of the workforce to some degree. Also, we work quite efficiently the few days and hours we are there, so the GDP still looks nice. I can see myself changing career, maybe getting a PhD or going into politics, but I like working so I doubt I'll RE.

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #48 on: February 09, 2015, 04:07:56 PM »
We did a mix.  I sold a business two months before she was born and took a monthly payout for two years rather than a lump sum.  I helped DH with his business during those two years, but it was working out of our house maybe 6 months out of the year.  I took a bit of extra work here and there, best was my ten hours a week at a jewelry store and she came with me.  She also came with me to the realtors office when I was a realtor and to the attorney's office when I was a part time paralegal (resort town, very very relaxed).  She went to preschool two days a week at 2, then three days a week at 3 and then five day kindergarten.  What has made it work for me is that I either worked for myself from home, or very flexible work, or mommy hours.  I didn't work a full time regular job until three years ago and that has been from home so I'm here when she gets home from school, but I'm quite sure I work more than 40 hours a week.  Some years DH made more and some years I did, I think it has ended up pretty equal for the last 20 years.  I do have to say that writing me notes and holding them up while I'm on the phone gets old!

mm1970

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Re: Did You Or Your Significant Other Take Time Off Work To Raise Your Kids?
« Reply #49 on: February 09, 2015, 04:10:58 PM »
Well, don't know if it counts, but this is our story:

Paid parent leave here is roughly a year. It can be divided between the parents. The right to paid leave is a given number of days, so if you work part time, you can stay at home longer. We had pseudotwins (born within 18 months), I got really bad pelvic pains and paid sick leave for that, and we both worked on and off, so in total we had almost three years where neither of us work 100 %.

I'm not made for staying at home full time, so I spent some of that time studying (getting my teacher's certificate), some of it producing stock photos to get a nice passive income stream, tried a lot of WAH ideas (translating, Lionbridge...), and worked on and of as a substitute teacher. The kids started kindergarten between 8 and 12 months old, because we believe that it is better for children to learn to socially interact with other kids as early as possible. Almost 100 % of kids go to kindergarten here, so there is nobody at the playgrounds during the day. The kindergartens are generally good quality, heavily subsidized ($330/month), and because we both worked PT and partly from home, they had really short days until they were 2-3 years old. For the youngest, I often walked her to the kindergarten in time for her nap, let them wake her and feed her, and then she had a second nap before I picked her up again. Since the kindergarten was a five minute stroll from home, it gave me just enough time to shoot a bunch of photos, edit and upload, before picking her up again.

DH hit the wall mentally when he went back to full time work, and has been on and off sick leave for a long time. He has also had a really bad headache for almost two years now. The welfare state pays one year 100 %, and up to four years at 60 %. This has given us breathing space to get him back on track, and to take care of our kids. He is working his way to good health now, I'm starting to get optimistic. Simplifying our life and moving to a (relatively) warmer climate seems to have a good effect. When he gets well, we will see if he should stay at home as a SAHD, or if he wants to go back to working. If he is healthy and chooses to stay at home, there will of course not be any more welfare payments.

The laws are very protective of parents, and especially mothers. It is illegal to discriminate pregnant persons in job interview situations, you can't get fired for being pregnant, both parents are certain to keep their jobs during parental leave, and you can choose to work PT if the kids are under 10 year old. Can't say I've noticed any difference between my career track, and that of people with no children. But then, companies who are not family friendly have big problems recruiting here. Even the crown prince took parental leave for a few months.
 
I say I work full time, but it is not the American full time:
-37.5 hours a week (1/2 hour/day paid lunch break)
-5 weeks paid vacation leave
-20 days/year paid leave for sick children (normal is 10 days, we have double because of handicapped children. A friend of mine is a single mother to handicapped kids, and has more than two children. She can take up to 50 days/year.)
-Up to one year 100 % paid sick leave. Up to three days at a time without doctors notice.
-2-4 weeks/year of paid leave to learn sign language and how to take care of deaf children.
-When the kids were small, I got 1 hour/day paid leave to breastfeed.

Because of all these laws and regulations, almost all women are part of the workforce to some degree. Also, we work quite efficiently the few days and hours we are there, so the GDP still looks nice. I can see myself changing career, maybe getting a PhD or going into politics, but I like working so I doubt I'll RE.
Boy this sounds like heaven!!