Staying At Home, It’s Your Choice



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I was down on my hands and knees for the third time that day wiping up the trail of mud the kids and dog had left on my white kitchen floor. With each swipe of the rag my grumbling got worse until finally in a fit of self pity I threw down the rag and started whining “Dear God why does so and so have a nice concrete driveway and I don’t?” In a gentle quiet voice He answered, “The choice is yours. Do you want to stay at home and clean up muddy footprints from your kids or work long hours in an office all day to earn money for a new concrete driveway?”

I learned a very important principle that day. Almost everything that happens in my life is because of the choices I make. Nothing was more important to me than staying at home with my children. Because of that choice, it meant we couldn’t have a lot of extras that we wanted. I had no right to be envious of my friend who had a new home, car and a closet full of designer clothes. She worked long hard hours, but missed out on a lot of special things with her children in order to help pay for it all. In the same way she had no right to envy me because I had chosen to stay home with my children and to clean muddy floors all day. We both had made our choices and our own sacrifices.

We get many e-mails saying “I wish I could stay at home but we can’t live on one paycheck alone”. Yes you can. The choice is yours and, as I said, every choice has its sacrifices. It is just a matter of deciding what sacrifices you are willing to make. I lived in Idaho. I had a job I liked, a home I liked and it was less expensive for me to live there. But my family (especially my grand kids) lived in Kansas. I had a choice to make. I chose Kansas. I gave up a nice home, a great climate, and a better financial situation but I gained what I really wanted and needed — to be with my family.

Our choices aren’t always major life changing ones. My son-in-law drives “The White Car”. The white car is slowly being overtaken by rust. There are no springs left in the drivers seat so you are basically sitting on the floor while you are driving. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I looked up one day and saw him driving down the street with nothing more then a steering wheel, 4 tires, and an engine left.

My daughter asked him the other day, ” If you had the choice to buy a brand new car (which costs the same as a years salary of his) or to take off work for a year which would you choose? He chose taking the time off. He said that even though it is not the newest car and that everything didn’t work the way it would in a new car, it is still a car that gets him from one place to another. You see either way he had to make a sacrifice. It was just a matter of what he wanted to sacrifice. Eventually, it will not be practical to keep “The White Car”, but I know that when that time comes, he will not buy a brand new car, but a low price used car that will not require him to go into debt.

So the next time you pull that credit card out to pay for something you want or need, think about what sacrifices you will be making for your choice. Are you sacrificing you and your spouse’s peace of mind because of the stress and burden you place yourself under trying to pay for it? Are you sacrificing curling up with a good book, having dinner with your family or spending a romantic evening with your spouse? Is the cost worth it?

 

From Dig Out Of Debt

PLEASE NOTE BEFORE COMMENTING: This is not a story about if you should or should not stay at home.  It is to let those who want to stay home know that it can be done by making different choices.

photo by: monkeysox

Comments

  1. misty says

    that is a very good article. i bookmarked it due to the fact that i sometimes lose the way i want things to be. i am young and have made some dumb money mistakes, “keeping up with the Jones” kind of things, well now in my life i would LOVE to stay home with my children but can not do it right now. i am trying my hardest to get to that point and i should be there by jan 2011 at the latest.

  2. Alicia Webster says

    I agree with everything in the article and it was well said. It is funny to me, because I am the only one in my circle of friends who stays at home with the kids. And they always pity me because I don’t have nice things or the latest clothes/gadgets. But I laugh, because I worked 19 years out in the big, wide world, and I know that I am not missing a darn thing. I’ll take generic cheerios with my three little ragamuffins any time. And I knew early in life, that even though I was a career gal of sorts, that I would not have kids until and unless I could stay at home with them. Why? Because my mom didn’t spend one minute of her time (or so it seemed) with me when I was a kid, and I vowed that my kids would feel valued and wanted MORE than I valued or wanted the latest gizmo.

    • says

      Alicia, it is interesting you should say that because more times then not most adult children deep in their hearts wished their moms had been with them more. Not just working moms but some stay at home moms who sometimes were too busy with church and social activities.

      I know, my mom stayed at home until I went to high school, thinking like many do that now I was older and in school it was okay to work but I hated it. There was nothing worse then coming home each day to a locked up dark house with shades drawn, no one to talk too about my day and scrounging to find a snack. Even though my brother and I got along better then most we still fought when mom wasn’t around, I had no one to ask questions about if I worked on my home work etc. To this day I say teens need mom home almost more then toddlers or at least equally the same.

    • says

      I also have to say this goes for WAHM’s too. You can get so wrapped up in your work that you just ignore the kids even though you’re ” staying home”. I would say as a WAHM you need to only work when they are in bed or away for the most part. Not always but if you are sitting on the computer 4-8 hours a day while they are home you might as well not be there for them. Believe me, I have been there!

      This is one reason why even though most may not know it I’ve cut way back the last two years from working on the website. Mom and Mike have been doing most of it. I don’t do a lot in the summer either when the kids are home from school.

  3. Bea says

    I’m a working woman, no kids, and I see where the money goes with the women I work with WHO do HAVE KIDS. Make-up, cell phones, new clothes constantly, new cars, Nightclubs, lunches delivered everyday, fancy coffees, new high-heels, jewerly, etc. And these are only the things I can see. I have no idea what they do when they are home and on the weekends. They call their children on the cell phones all day. Their children want and need them home, but my co-workers think they can’t afford to be home? DUH!

    • says

      What’s funny is after my dad left even though mom had to work she always had jobs where she was at home with us. Not always work at home either. It wasn’t always easy for her but we only for a short while had to come home with no one there. If I remember right it was very short like a couple of weeks.

  4. says

    here is what my two grown sons have told me about my staying at home.
    they sometimes felt jealous of their friends who’s moms worked. They got treats for lunch when the moms would drop off fast food boxes.
    Then they heard why the mom brought them lunch. She forgot to make a lunch for them.

    They heard of all the eating out others did.
    Then they heard their mom forgot to buy groceries and there was nothing in the house.

    They heard of the trips to wonderland, niagara falls, disney world with the whole family.
    Then they heard how much this vacation was costing and how the kids had better appreciate all that was being spent on them.

    The boys told me that they really appreciated the creative lunches I came up with and the meals I cooked every night and reading books or making up stories with them instead of trying to talk with so many others around.

    They said they loved the camping vacations we took, with me cooking by lantern light after a day on the boat fishing. Or eating by firelight telling ghost stories and roasting bannock or weiners on sticks and feeding chipmunks the entire camping trip with the peanuts that were always in the car.

    They told me they loved the excuse that “my mom might be out walking so I can’t skip school today or can’t do something they knew they shouldn’t do without wimping out.” Their friends all knew it was a legitimate excuse because I caught them a lot of times and sent them back to school. Had about 15 boys and girls call me mom when they would see me.

    Parents couldn’t figure out why 15 teenagers would want to spend so much time in our tiny 2 bedroom apt when they had lots of toys and gadgets at home.
    Reason was I set rules that were reasonable. They didn’t follow the rules and the others would send them home for a day or two. I never had to enforce the rules the teens did it themselves.
    I would listen to them and come up with solutions their parents either didn’t listen or didn’t care and it showed.
    My sons are now 29 and 33 and their friends when they come home still come up and say hello to my husband and I.

    Work if you want to but don’t use the excuse I can’t afford to stay at home with my children.
    Children are an investment. you can either do it right or blow it. The choice is yours.
    Make time for your children they deserve it.

    • says

      We seemed to have had teens in and out all the time too and some even literally living with us. Through it all I must admit I had to get real creative to work not only full time but often 60 hours a week and yet be there for my kids. A couple of things I did was I took in ironing and in the room I ironed I kept comfortable chairs across from the ironing board. The kids would come in plop on the chairs and yak away, get up go do something come back and yak some more.

      I had to do a lot of hand work and assemble small pieces for my business so I would keep a lap full of things to work on and yet I could watch TV with the kids or talk to them. Why I think both of these worked was the ironing was a type of thing which was mindless so the kids knew I was really listening to them plus they liked talking this way because we weren’t eyeball to eyeball which can make some teens uncomfortable.

      Since we worked together doing “house” chores also I think they felt I was spending time with them too in doing those things. Where there is a will there is a way. It took quite a bit of work on my part but I really felt they needed me there even more so when their dad left.

  5. says

    A trick my mother taught us was that while doing dishes it was a great time to chat. One child at a time because mom would wash and one of us would dry. The other 2 disappeared so it was mom and me time. The one who mom figured needed the time was the one designated dish drier.

    I had a dish washer but would use the excuse that my hands hurt and needed the hot dish water to help limber them up. It worked every time to solve a problem or just hear the problem that was going on. Nobody interrupts when dishes are being done since no body really likes the job. So nice quiet talk.

    To this day the boys come home and if they want to talk they fill the sink with hot water and they grab a towel. There wives are told to go relax that this is moms job.
    It is still more a talk time than a work time but they know that mom is still there for them even they now tower over me by a head and shoulder. The shoulder is still available just like it always was.

  6. Gina says

    Grandma: I say “Kudos!” to you. You (now) know that you really did it “right” with your sons. I can only hope to do so well with my daughter (who is only 5) but I know that being home for her was the only way to go (for me AND my family). Thanks for being an inspiration.

    I, too, figured out a way to work from home so that I didn’t miss our daughter’s first years and I can be home for her when she gets home from school this fall. It was a great financial sacrifice (we lost about 60% of our income) when I left my career, but my husband and I decided to make our daughter our biggest priority. We don’t have new cars (10 and 21 yrs old), fancy clothes or expensive vacations, but we are a close-knit, loving family and that makes it all worthwhile. I don’t regret our decision and I wouldn’t change it for all the world.

  7. says

    I’ve noticed that many women will work very hard the entire time they have children only to retire about the time the kids graduate from college! And they are maybe only 52! I went back to college when my daughter was in graduate school [yeah, for a second master's degree; I didn't get it right the first time]. My husband had retired and I only had me to get ready in the morning! I had all the time in the world to do my homework, loved the whole experience, and graduated at 54. I am now almost 68 and thoroughly enjoy my work as a therapist; it was what I was created for! What a wonderful opportunity to get into a career later in life1 My training was valuable; so was my maturity and life experience. Plus I had plenty of time to devote to my family, do crafts, church work, PTA, and recuperate from various illnesses [mono, Lyme Disease, Hepatitis A]. I highly recommend planning a later career. There is usually enough time to develop a decent retirement income also.

    • says

      Anne what a great idea and advice. That makes so much sense to me. I didn’t have a problem with it but I know many women do, which is empty nest syd. and that certainly would solve that problem for them. Plus by the time you have raised your children you have so many other things you have learned. Besides life skills, patience, understanding, what you are good at, interested in, control and so many other things all of which would really help you in school and learning a new career.
      To me this is the best idea yet of having the best of both worlds with much less stress.

    • Holly says

      That is exactly my plan. I have my Masters but would like to do something totally different. I will plan to enjoy my kiddos for more years and go for it. You are an inspiration.

  8. coco says

    i’ve been home with my kids since day 1. it always bugs me when people say that i am “lucky”. we planned it all along by our actions. we live in a very small “starter” home and drive old cars, almost never eat out and buy clothes on sale. i wouldn’t have it any other way thogh, if i had material things and never saw my kids i would be miserable.

  9. Julie says

    I am a single mom with 6 kids and have been home ever since the first child(by God’s grace and provision). We have been on our own for 10 years. God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. I hope I will always be home. I babysit for 2 full-time children and 4 part-time(afterschool children). I am very thrifty, garden, hang out clothes, etc. I read a book from the La Leche League when I had my first child called “The Heart has its own Reasons” (or something similar). I have always been home and hope to always be. I have homeschooled the children all the way through, 4 graduated homeschool and in or graduated from college and 2 still under my wing. God is FAITHFUL………I think it is His heart to nurture and be with your children growing up. “He tenderly leads those with young…” A scripture in the Bible that I have clung to. He is a husband to me and a father to my children. Praise God.

    • says

      Julie that is one of my favorite scripture too I clung to it like crazy. It gave me a special comfort. For you moms out there who are having an especially rough and uncertain day that scripture is found in Isaiah 40:11. If you can read it. I think it will encourage you.

  10. Reva says

    I love the SAHM stuff… I ‘had’ to work outside our home for 13 of our 20 years of having children. I am home since August 2009 now and LOVE it… wish I could’ve done it much sooner. Our daughter is now married and expecting their first child – she wants to be a SAHM!! I was home with her the most :) Our boys are 13 and 16 – they love my being home. I will always be here.

  11. Amanda says

    I love being a SAHM with my son (3years) and daughter (22 months). I have been home since day one and would not change a thing. Sometimes they can get to you, but I always remember that God gives me opportunities to teach them when they do wrong. So I try not to get mad or upset, but take them gently and try to point them in the right direction (God’s direction). Thanks for all the posts, what a wonderful subject!

  12. Sharon says

    I have been a stay at home mom for 15 out of 18 yrs. I have an 18 yo., 16 yo., and a 10 yo. My husband drives semi and sacrifices being home everyday so I can be with my kids 24/7. I sacrifice my husband being home, while taking the dad role on while he is gone, to be home with the kids. My mom always worked and was NEVER there for us when we needed her most and my dad was always in trouble with the law. I stay home for my kids. Even though I know I get on my kids’ last nerve wanting to be part of their lives right now…they will someday thank me for being there for them when they needed me.

  13. Jade says

    anything can be done. Anything you want in life is within your reach if you’re willing to work hard enough for it. Dont think about the problem, spend time thinking of the solution.

    I found myself pregnant, alone, no job, no child support or support of any kind. I felt so alone and desperate in my despair, that I just broke down crying one day so badly I couldn’t leave the house. I thought of my daughter and wondered what life lied ahead for her and myself.

    I didn’t want to be a number on the welfare system, and after being homeless for a few months at one point, I made a vow never to step in that direction. Well, I had my defining moment. I looked at what I had saved, saw a house for sale, handyman special, and bought.

    I fixed it up myself, with the help of a worker from Home Depot (he asked for a homecooked meal for a month in exchange for the work, God bless him). It’s almost 2 years later and I own my own company, have a few side business that make me a nice profit and I tell people I’m retired and get to spend my time at home with my daughter.

    Anything can be done, Really YOU CAN DO IT. DONT GIVE UP. Look for all the help you can get, don’t try to be too proud. Look for anything you can do. I typed papers, babysat, did house cleaning, dog walking, recycling, collected cans, made doll clothes, lived very frugally, cooked from scratch, didn’t eat out, house sat for friends, did laundry, research papers, essays, made books and crafts to sell, picked wild berries, oh goodness! Lmao!

    YOu get the point. What I’m trying to say is that it can be done and still be well off financially. Look for a side business you can start from home: find a way to make it better, cheaper, faster. or find what people are missing, or complaining about and see if you can find a way to make it work for you.

  14. Sandra says

    I am not a Stay at Home Mom. I am on Social Security but I find many of the things you discuss here work so well for me too. Trying to adapt your lifestyle to a limited income is the name of the game regardless of the source of that income.

    • says

      Sandra, you are one of those people I love hearing from. We often get people who say these ideas don’t work where I live or in my circumstances or your recipes don’t work for me because I am on a special diet. But we do have many like you who pick and choose what works for you and use the ideas for your situation and you don’t make up excuses why you can’t try some things.

      I will never forget when we got an e mail from a reader very upset because she couldn’t use our recipes because her family had… and she listed 5 allergies. That very same week we received another e mail from a woman who said she loved our recipes because her family had and she listed 5 of the same allergies as the first woman’s family and our recipes were so easy to adapt.

      I guess it is all in the way you look at things.

  15. says

    I think anyone trying to decide on either staying at home to raise their children or to work and leave a large part of it to others should listen to the son The cats in the cradle.
    I think it is by cat stevens but could be wrong.
    the cats in the cradle and the silver moon.
    little boy blue and the man in the moon.
    when you coming home son
    I don’t know when but we’ll have a good time then dad I know we’ll have a good time then.

    he was always too busy for his son
    so now his son is too busy for him.

    make time for your children whether or not it is full time and you will reap the rewards.

  16. says

    One thing that has not been mentioned is that a woman who works full-time needs to make a LARGE enough salary to justify the expenses she has on an ongoing basis. If you factor in the cost of daily childcare, maintenance on a vehicle, gas, insurance, clothing, make-up, manicures, lunches, gifts, etc..etc.. often times you are working for minimum wage! I don’t think many women look at this closely enough. You also have to factor in the added taxes your family pays on that extra income. It is often enough to put you into the next tax bracket.
    One of the provisions of the new healthcare plan recently passed is that workers have to pay tax on the health benefits cost the employer contributes to your plan. Also, this Fall all workers will be sitting down with HRD to discuss health plans and there will be a big shock on everyone’s faces when they receive the information on how much more their insurance will cost!
    Working now is a double-edged sword. It is true that staying out of the workplace is a bit risky but just working and thinking that you are keeping all your hard-earned money is becoming a cruel joke.

  17. Rebecca says

    I married for the first time in April and became a step-mom to three great kids (11,7 and 6)and got laid off in June. I have worked all my life and have been a teacher for 9 years. It has been hard to adjust to not working because teaching is my passion and I do hope to return to it eventually.

    However, that said, I am trying very hard to find the joy and satisfaction in being a SAHM (or step-mom anyway). I feel guilty because my husband is now working extra jobs as a college professor so we can make ends meet. He keeps telling me that it’s OK but it breaks my heart to see him tired and stressed out (mainly from all his commuting).

    On the plus side, we have really saved money (over $500 a month) because we don’t need child care before and after school. My middle child has Downs Syndrome so I get to spend extra time with her when she’s not at school and am available to take her to doctor’s appointments. Our eldest has said many times that she is so happy to have more home cooked meals and that we (the parents) seem less stressed out (even though I feel stressed because I don’t feel I’m contributing financially).

    I have found websites like yours to be very motivating to me to save money, cook better (and cheaper) meals and keep my house clean without spending a lot and that has helped me regain some of the self-worth I lost along with my job. Thank you for the encouragement your site provides!

    • says

      Rebecca, what you are feeling is soooo common. But it is what I call false guilt plus our society has taught us that as a woman you aren’t worth much if you don’t bring in a pay check and help support your family. I remember years ago when just the opposite was true. Women were made to feel guilty if they went to work and left home and during the 60′s all of that changed to what you are feeling now.

      I don’t think either extreme is right but since we are dealing with the guilt of not working I thought I might deal with it now and it might help you and some others. We have got to get it out of our heads that if we are not bringing in a pay check we aren’t contributing to anything and why we don’t reallylisten to what our family is saying sometimes I don’t know. You said yourself you get to spend time with your middle child and your eldest likes the home cooked meals and that there is less stress. That really is worth so much more then we give credit to. I think being a teacher you understand how important it is and the difference it makes when the kids in your class come from a less stressful home life. It makes a huge difference all the way around.

      I think you sell yourself short too on how much it means to a man and a husband (besides the kids) to have someone at the home helm taking care of things. He probably is more then happy to come home to a home cooked meal which he didn’t have to make, a neat and tidy home which he didn’t have to do half of the cleaning after a long day because you both worked and most of all someone to help with the kids.

      Think of it this way. If the tables were turned and you had a choice of working a couple of extra hours a day and came home to a meal all fixed for you, the laundry done, the house clean and the children taken care of when you walked in the door or only working your 8 hours and having to come home deal with dinner, laundry, cleaning, bills and the kids which would you prefer?

      If you keep finding ways to save (like the $500) and I think you will find you can the longer you stay home then maybe your husband could cut back a little eventually and you could maybe move so he doesn’t have to commute so much or many other things. One thing though don’t allow the negative feelings of false guilt get so bad it paralyzes you into not thinking of ways to improve things. I don’t think you have from the sound of it and it sounds like you are on the right track. It is just a bit of a shock to the system to go from working so long to something totally different. Any change seems really strange at first and often hard to adjust too but that doesn’t mean it is bad, wrong and doesn’t have many good points.

      I say enjoy the fact you have a husband who is willing to have you stay at home and enjoy you being there. After you adjust you will find many ways to use your teaching skills and as the kids get older or you find you have time you can start finding ways to use it maybe even part time just because you enjoy it so much. I live across from the juvenile detention center and I know they would love to have someone come in once in awhile to teach the kids things as you see there are so many things a person can do.

      It is funny too. I don’t remember women having so many problems with self worth until the 60′s when they started working. I haven’t been able either to understand why a woman’s self worth is tied up with her job. To me a man or woman’s self worth should be tied up with what type of a person they are – kind, considerate, patient, selfless, helpful, honest etc.- not with the kind of job they have or how much money they make so I have never been able to understand that.

      Anyone who is a teacher (nurse or similar jobs), someone who willingly and lovingly takes on a ready made family including a child with special needs should have lots of self worth and because whether you work or stay at home you have a very special character. People talk about how great we are to run a web site like ours and what an important thing we are doing but do you know I don’t feel what I am doing now is any more important then those nights when I was a stay at home mom and up night after night rocking my colicky baby. Each is just the job God has given me to do at the time, one is no more important then the other. The only thing which makes any difference is how well I do what I am given and do I do it the best I can and with all my heart and with a right and loving motive.

  18. says

    here is something my husband once figured out financially.
    We were getting new life insurance since we had 2 children instead of only one.
    He was figuring out how much he needed for me. I said not much since I wasn’t employed. I guess I sounded a bit down because he started listing how much it would cost him to have someone else do them if I wasn’t around.
    house keeper, chauffeur, personal shopper, tear wiper, laundress, educator, lover, mother.
    he got 100,000 for me. It made me appreciate more what I really did contribute to the family and how much money we were not spending.
    If you look at that way it is a boost.

  19. Amy says

    I really needed to read this. It meant a lot to me, as right now I am a stay at home mom who is always cleaning but I just love being around my children helping, teaching, and watching them grow up. I am learning as I am teaching them. God is so great.

  20. says

    Grandma is so right about wives/mothers carrying life insurance policies on themselves. If you were to die there is no guarantee that your husband would not fall on some hard times like losing a job etc…and he would be responsible for raising your children alone and then of course they could become ill etc…most likely these things would not happen but it is better to be prepared. Prices for everything today are unpredictable and it doesn’t look like they are dropping anytime soon!

  21. Zina says

    Thank you Jill for your comments about this touchy subject! When people used to ask what I did I would say “I’m JUST a stay at home mom.” In this statement I was putting myself down. Then I starting saying “I get to stay home with my kids.” It totally turned my perspective around. Thank the Lord that he is always working on us!

  22. Rachel says

    I really love Jades story. She is creative, determined, and goes for it. No fear, I like that! I think that loneliness, the feeling of isolation are often what drive women to go to work. i love being home, and I don’t struggle with the loneliness issue. Mine is more what I see other women my age doing. I am in my late 40′s, have two grown children, and a 17 year old at home. Most women at this place in life are working. But if you seek, you will find. Through a Bible study and a book club, I have met women of all ages, some working and some not, but I find that I enjoy their company so much. My daughter is struggling with this. She feels that she needs to work and is looking for a job. They have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr. old. Even though my son-in-law does not make a lot of money, I know there are places they could be better at saving. They really don’t want to do the work. They like to pick up fast food, the 1 yr. (almost 2 yr. old) could start potty training. Lots of places, watching the thermostat, hanging out laundry. They could sell their blazer they make payments on and buy a car for cash. I have done it all. Young people today do not want to have to sacrifice or struggle foe anything.

  23. Misty says

    I know it has been awhile since there was any post on here but I just wanted to update everyone that I didn’t have to wait till Jan 2011(read the first post). We really buckled down and paid off all of our debt (except housing and car payment) and I left work Oct 15th!!!!! Yeah!!!!! It has been almost 3 months and I LOVE every minute of it. I am just putting this out there so people know that yes it is possible to go from spending money like it grows on trees(yes that would be nice) to watching and budgeting your money. I wouldn’t trade the time I have with our girls for the world!!!!!

  24. Joyce M. says

    I worked part time some when my kids were very small. When they were in school, I got a job at school so I would have summers and vacations off with them. I continued working there even after they graduated and went off to college. I worked at school for over 20 years until my mother became ill and I had to take a family care leave to help care for her. She eventually had to be placed in a nursing home. During this time, my husband and I made the decision to move to another town. My father decided he wanted to move when we did. I really think he was scared of being alone—even though my brother lived near him. I found out later, that he had been forgetting to pay bills and had twice– almost had his electric shut off. So my father moved near us and my mother was relocated to a nursing home in the new area we were living in. I basically take care of everything for my father so he can live own his own in a small apartment just down the road from us. I found a job and was enjoying it and it paid pretty well. However, Dad was calling me a lot demanding to know where I was and telling me he was sick—when he really wasn’t. He was just scared. I finally gave the job up. I substitute teach some, but I do not like doing that too well. I want to be home all the time, but I feel like I am not contributing anything to our household. I talked to my brother about taking a small “salary” from Dad for taking care of him and he agreed that I should. When I started taking this small “salary” so I could devote more time to him instead of trying to work —then my brother got so mad and said that I should not be paid for taking care of my father (he does nothing in taking care of him). So now I am tring to see to all of Dad’s needs and trying to sub once in a while to bring in a little money. I scrimp and save to try to get all the bills paid on my husband’s salary. We need more household income to make the ends meet—but we do scape by. I do know’ without a doubt, that God is seeing us through and helping the money spread to get things paid. Sometimes the stress is more than I can handle though. We have four grandchildren and I want to buy little things for them and such, but I can hardly do that anymore. Taking care of my Dad is a blessing—but also a challange in many ways. I feel guilty for not working—but yet with my Dad–it is so hard to be away at a job. Taking care of him is a full time job in itself. Are my feelings normal? I just don’t know what to do.

    • says

      Joyce first yes your feelings are perfectly normal and there isn’t anything wrong with feeling these things. God made us with 3 different parts our spirit, body and emotions so there is nothing wrong with the feelings themselves. The thing which is wrong with emotions is when they turn into things like self pity, whining, anger and we act out on those types of things. Sadness is ok but when it turns into self pity it becomes wrong, hurt is ok but when we allow it to turn to anger and strike out it becomes wrong.

      I don’t really hear self pity or anger in your post. Mostly guilt and confusion. You have to be careful. God doesn’t give us guilt or confusion but Satan does. When he can’t get us to sin in other ways he loves to make us miserable with false guilt and confusion. I mention this because sometimes it is hard to see what the real problem is and the first step in fixing something is figuring out what the real problem is and to look at what is really happening.

      You are in a very hard situation torn between you parents, your own family (husband and you) and your grandchildren so I don’t want to make light or say there is a real easy situation but part of the burden will be lifted if you can get rid of your false guilt.

      You have to too stop worrying about making everyone angry or mad. If they become mad at you for doing what you think is best or need to help youself then – how do I say this tactfully- that’s their problem. We feel so guilty making someone angry.I once got very angry at someone for doing something that was unfair and unjust and I told them about it. I felt so guilty about it afterwards. My pastor happened to call the house right in the middle of it all and told him I felt so guilty. He gave me some very wise words. He said “Did I state anything which wasn’t a fact? No. Did I do it to be mean or malicious? No.And was what the person did truly wrong and unjust?” Yes. So he said I did nothing wrong.

      You are taking care of your father which is right. But if your father wants you to take care of him and your brother won’t help then there is absolutely nothing wrong with you taking a small salary from your dad and if neither one of them like it or get mad and won’t allow it then you will have to go to work part time and say I am available at such and such time and don’t feel guilty about it.
      I know that seems cold hearted but some people are very good at manipulating especially the people they know care about them and it is wrong on their part to do that. And by you allowing them to do that to you it is like you are helping them to sin. In the same way if they were abusing drugs you would be wrong in going to buy drugs for them to use. You would be helping them to keep doing the thing which is hurting them and their family and that is wrong. So just because it is a sin of manipulation doesn’t make it any different. By you not doing what you know in your heart is fair and right because it might make them mad then you are helping them do what is wrong.
      I don’t know if that makes any sense or not but hope it helps a little. Maybe someone out there who has been a long time caregiver can give you some more advice.

      I know your dad is older and maybe not thinking straight but that is even more reason you need to think wisely and practically for him and for yourself.

  25. says

    Joyce, having worked in a nursing home my recommendation would be for you to get your dad to a dr. some of the things you have said about him are signs of early Alzheimer.
    the getting cranky, scared and not paying bills.
    If it is Alzheimer the progress can be slowed.
    You do deserve to be paid for what you are doing.
    Tell your brother to start looking into a full time care giver or a nursing home since your life has changed and you may not be able to continue taking care of your father.
    Let him see the cost of these alternatives and I am sure he will say that it is a wonderful idea that you take over the care and get paid for it.
    Where I live a baby sitter gets $20 an hour so looking after your father is much harder than baby sitting you should get paid accordingly.
    Your brother seems to be of the mindset that you are digging into his inheritance and that just can’t be tolerated.
    So let him see the costs if you were not willing to take them on.
    But please check with a dr to find out the state of your fathers health so you know physically and mentally what he is capable of doing for himself. You might have to take over his money if he keeps forgetting to pay bills for his own safety. It will also keep him from becoming a victim of a scam artist as well.
    Just some friendly advice.

  26. says

    Tawra,

    Thanks for the comforting idea of staying home. Hoping that one day, this could be the choice that I am financially able to make. Right now, it seems impossible since I am the breadwinner in my family ( My husband works, but I make three times as much as he does.) I don’t think that we could afford to live in New Jersey ( where we currently live – He doesn’t want to move out of state) on his salary alone. With both of us working, we are struggling to make ends meet. I will continue to read for more insightful articles. Who knows what God has in store for us!

  27. rose says

    also joyce .. see if your dad’s ins will pay for a home health aide to come and keep ur dad company for a few hrs a week/day .. this way it will give you a much needed rest ..
    its really hard to take care of someone full time .. i do this and well i can certainly understand how u feel .. i love my hubby and i gladly do this but there are times i need a break ..
    and bc you really are the sole person taking care of your dad and if he can afford to pay you a small salary that is a good thing too .. you are both helping each other ..
    trust me, if he needed round the clock care, that would cost a fortune ..
    ((( hugs ))) .. it will all work out for the best .. it always does ..
    and what helps me, i pray and leave all things to GOD .. HE takes care of everything and my life is alot less stressful ..

  28. Karen says

    Perhaps there are others out there like me. I long to stay home with my precious son. And yes, my husband and I had planned on me staying home all along. We even discussed this on our first date 14 years ago! However, life happened, and 8 years ago my husband with a great job became disabled and I needed to get a job with medical benefits. Miraculously and with alot of expense, we were able to have a son 3 years ago. God certainly provided me with the job I have now and He graciously gave us the desires of our heart to have a son (after 10 years of praying), but my heart longs to stay home with him and be his mommy. I would stay home in an instant if given the “choice” but of course one of us needs to work.

    • says

      We have had several e mails after running this from gals saying well I’m a single mom or I am this or that and as much as I would like to be like the woman in the story I can’t because I have to work for what ever reason.

      I ended up being a single working mom for a good part of my life because of things out of my control but I still learned a lot from that story. It isn’t even so much about staying at home although that is part of it but it is also about attitude towards things. Having an attitude of hopelessness, self pity, discouragement etc. and how sometimes changing your attitude and looking at things differently make all the difference in the world and can sometimes lead you to find a solution or a different way of doing things.

      Even when I worked long hours I would try to make things look nice at home. A vase of flowers on the table, tablecloth or something smelling good in the crock pot when I got home. I made sure I combed my hair, did my make up and dressed in neat clean clothes. I made sure we all sat down to dinner and had dinner together each evening and would spend time talking, reading to them or helping with homework. These are all things which are doable even if you work from home.

      • Jeni says

        I was a single mom to twin 3 year old boys and I managed to basically be a SAHM. I did have them in “preschool” part time for awhile and still have serious regrets about that. Sigh. I ended up working remotely from home at night and then full time from home when they went to kindergarten. I am living proof it CAN be done. It is hard, but possible. I did not sleep much, but I was there for my babes. Now that my boys are in 1st grade – I work ONLY when they are at school. I often get comments about my dedication to working around my family’s schedule, rather than my family working around mine if I was working full time.

  29. rose says

    so true jill .. thanks for this timely post/blog ..
    i also agree that we have to make the best of the situation we are in (whether it be by choice or by circumstance) ..
    i would love to be able to work out of the house a few days and get some health benefits but since i do work out of the house with no benefits i am making plans on working solely at home .. and after spending a good amt of money to have my car fixed (we need a car, esp with hubby going to the dr’s all of the time) i need to be able to work at home and save my car for as long as possible ..
    my biggest expense is our housing and electric .. well i know we have to live somewhere and sometime this yr we are moving . not sure where but it will be cheaper (even if its in one of those senior mobile home communities)… and the electric bill? well that is just an exp that has to be paid .. we need electric and that is that .. but its our choice to conserve as much as possible ..
    its very stressful out there if ur a single parent (male or female), care giver of a loved one (child, parent spouse, relative) or if ur a 1 or 2 income family ..
    like u said jill … in ur 2nd paragraph, its how u look at things .. those are very powerful words …
    just like my mom .. for yrs she has wanted a 1 bedroom apt but instead she has a large efficiency .. and yes i would love for her to have a 1 bdrm apt but in the end, its actually more cost effective/affective for her to have the efficiency . they are senior housing and well the 1 bdrm is more money and they normally give these to the married couples … i told her she should be thankful she has a nice apt (no matter the size) and its a really nice one in a nice area .. the one near me i wouldnt let my blind dog live there (that should tell you something) .. she is right on the bus line, near all the stores, near my sister and near her dr’s . when she saw things thru another person’s eyes it actually opened her eyes and yes she is thankful to have that little apt now .. (the old saying: is ur glass half empty or half full) ..
    and yes jill u r right on this one point too … can something be changed (maybe work longer hrs but less days or maybe take some of the work home with you) ..
    i was a single mother when i had my daughter . she is 28 yrs old now and can still remember me working .. and the time i spent with her wasnt alot bc i had to work but it was quality time and that is what she remembered .. not how much i bought her or spent on her but the little things we did and strangely enuff some of our conversations ..
    like you said jill, you were a single mom but you had to work around ur children and you made it work (by the grace of GOD on some things.. we have talked about how we experienced alot of the same things) ..
    and thank goodness for this website so we can help and encourage one another .. this is truly a wonderful place with wonderful people ..

  30. me... says

    Thank you so much for this! When my daughter was born about a year ago, I left a job where I was doing very well. My husband does well as well, although I was making slightly more than him.

    I’ve struggled at times over the past year because I don’t know if my character was “made” for staying at home. Some days, I miss working. Some days, it feels like work was easier. Some days, I struggle with remembering that what I’m doing now is more important, even if it’s just changing diapers and giving hugs.

    Thank you!

  31. Jill in KY says

    I so appreciate this thread. It is helping me process the change we are making. After staying home with my family for many years, I went back to work, teaching 3 days/week, almost 3 years ago. Part time turned into 30 hrs+/week with all the extras involved in the work. Honestly, I just wanted to be able to afford ‘sports and a few extras.’ Now I struggle with not having emotional energy for my own husband & children at the end of the school day (more important than expensive activities & stuff for them, I know, but I thought I could do it all). I find that we spend more on food, and waste a little more food, with both of us hitting the grocery at different times. We find ourselves rushed and spend money for the ‘easy way’. Also, a creeping lie has started entering my thoughts as I work… I’m working, I need just a few extra ‘work-appropriate’ clothes, and of course they work for church too, so it’s okay… but I spent just a little extra here and there on whatever seems to be a need, and suddenly what I am earning is not paying for what it’s earmarked for. It’s going for the working lifestyle & mentality I am developing as I go. Our schedule is more disciplined/rigid; our spending is less so now.
    This past fall I had a sudden urge to stay home, like a calling. It ‘hit’ me that our 4 precious children (8-16) are growing up quickly, and that life is passing me by while I struggle to get it all done.
    It took a while to process this and work out the details, but finally today I gave notice to the principal I work for, and will work through May and be done.
    I am encouraged by person who talked about having a ‘later in life career.’ I plan on returning to the classroom someday, unless God opens up a different way! I like working outside the home, I like teaching, but I love my dh and children more, and my actions need to reflect what I say my priorities are!

    • says

      Jill (nice name by the way :):) I am so glad for you. Making a major decision in any area is hard so you should be proud of yourself. All of what you said is so often true. I am glad you at least saw what was happening and changed things. What is scary is when people get caught up in all of what you mentioned without realizing what is happening let alone know what to do to get out of it.

      I to like the comment about having a late life career too. We really don’t have to do it all and all at the same time. There really is a season for everything.

  32. Sheri says

    Staying home ended up being an easy decision for us when our first babies were born. It didn’t make sense for me to work. Since we started with twins, all my pay would have gone to infant care for two! I would have missed the best moments of their day. It just wasn’t worth it. From there, we homeschooled.

    I picked up a part time job last year to help pay the bills. Now that my husband is out of work, I have increased my hours. We still have children at home and home school. Once my husband gets a job, I can decrease my hours again and just keep my foot in the door in case. While I work, my husband and adult daughter are available to keep things going at home. Do I like this? Not much, although I do love my job!

    I really like what I think is the main point, you always have a choice! Not always are the choices wonderful, but they are still choices.

    Thank you for your treatment of the subject!

  33. rose says

    yes there are choices .. and i think that is what is so great about some of the freedoms we do have …
    examples of what i am trying to say (sometimes i can be long winded about things trying to get my point across, as some who have read my posts) …
    me: i am a stay at home wife who takes care of her hubby (who is disabled and an amputee battling leukemia and possibly stomach cancer) .. and i work at home online ..
    my niece: she is a stay at home mom who is pregnant with her 3rd baby .. her hubby is a professor and she works a few days a week at a day care but brings her 2nd child to work with her …
    my sister (the one who is in remission of breast cancer): she is a stay at home wife too.. she takes care of her husband (who is also disabled and can barely walk (he has a walker and one of those motorized scooters but is on oxygen and well lots of meds) and now she has taken in her sis in law (his sister) and between the 3 of them they help take care of each other and survive (not alot of money on disability but between the 3 of them they are surviving) ..
    so i guess what i am trying to state (just like a bunch of stated in their posts too) .. we all have choices and well we will do what we have to do in order to survive …
    (sharing again.. when hubby and i were first married we ran paper routes in order to stay home with our kids in the day time and not worry about sitters and etc.. was it easy? no but then again, we made that work for us too.. did i like it, working 7 days/week including holidays? no but we survived and well kept our family intact… ) ..
    again, sorry so long .. just making a point and sharing that even tho we did jobs we didnt like we did it bc at the time it was the best choice for us in order to make it and survive ..
    off my soap box now ..
    hope everyone’s day is going well today :D

  34. Tosha says

    Let me start off by saying, I love this website! I know financially I could be a SAHM if we budgeted and were a little more responsible with our spending. My question is, what about health insurance? My husbands job does not provide it, and with 3 boys and a daughter, we definitely need it. We have tried purchasing outside health insurance, but we started receiving bills in the mail after doctor appointments for mass amounts that the insurance apparently did not cover. I work full time for insurance for my family. Any suggestions would be great.

    • says

      If your family has chronic health issues then yes, you may have to work to pay for it. We have our own insurance. We pay $25 a visit for up to 15 visits a year. We pay the first $5000 max, ($2500 each person up to 2 people) in lab tests, etc and then they pay over that. We spend about $430 a month to have Mike and the kids covered. So it’s not cheap but we wouldn’t have insurance otherwise. It sounds like you had a high deductible if the problem was always getting bills.
      The thing is I look at medical insurance right up there after food and shelter. It really is a need. If you have insurance through your work more than likely you are paying for it anyway, you just don’t realize it because you don’t see the money to begin with since it’s already taken out.
      A couple of options:
      could you work part time and use that money to pay insurance?
      can you cut in other areas to cover the cost?
      can your husband find a job that has insurance?

      You may have to do some figuring and cutting back but it is possible in a lot of cases.

  35. Fay says

    Just found this post–3/23/13. Yet–all the points still ring true.
    Growing up my Mom stayed at home. But she really had no clue what she was doing (I picked up on that at an early age). Thinking back I am not really sure what she did all day. Sure the house was clean- but we were never allowed to dirty it. Anyway–for as long as I can remember no one woke me for school, no one got me dressed or made sure I showered. I learned how/why to brush my teeth in 1 st grade. No one ever asked to see my report card–she would sign without looking. My brother taught me how to wash my clothes. I had run of the neighborhood, no curfew, no bedtime.
    Then it came time for me to have kids. I never even considered going to work. I read nearly every parenting book in the library. My boys turned out great–exceeded all my expectations.
    Funny though, when my niece was born my sister was stay at home too. She was overwhelmed & didn’t know what to so she found day care for my niece at 6 mos. old. She told me she didn’t want to mess up like Mom did. My niece is a very nice young lady and has turned out fine. However, there is a distance between them. They don’t know each other well. The relationship I have with my sons is solid. We can talk about anything. We have a mutual respect value each of our opinions, wisdom and forgive & forget. My husband and I were far from perfect–but we did all we could and our boys know that.
    I had a friend that said–she didn’t believe in quality time; she believed in quantity time because sooner or later you’ll get it right.
    Regardless if you are stay at home or not– Do your best & leave the rest; Will all come right some day or night

  36. Natalie says

    I have just read through all the comments from this post not initially realizing it was an older post but since it was linked today on Facebook, it drew me in. I have been a SAHM for the past 18 years and have one in college and two still home (12 & 16) and while it certainly hasn’t always been easy, financially or mentally, I keep going back to the notion that my kids are benefiting from having me at home. Sometimes I feel guilty about still being home since they are both in school all day (I am a freelance writer but that doesn’t really pay the bills) but then I think about how important it is for teenagers to have that presence of a parent at home with them after school…despite the looks I get from people who think I am just lazy for not working. I love what some of the other commenters said about later in life career and have been laying some groundwork for work outside the home in the next few years when my youngest graduates high school. We don’t have any debt outside of our home and one car (which will be paid off in about a year) but no consumer debt – but sometimes just living gets expensive with a kid in college, etc. but we definitely don’t live extravagantly and I cook every meal from scratch and we rarely go out to eat (unless grandma comes to visit!). I will admit there are times when I miss the interaction with adults in a working environment but I keep praying and telling myself that my kids are great – even the “teen years” and maybe that has something to do with me being at home with them all these years. It was a decision we made when we were first married and sometimes I have to pull myself back to reality when I watch friends or family take lavish trips or buy brand new cars or go out to eat every night and I am at home stretching a free Thanksgiving turkey into sixteen different meals! I have loved this website and your books for many, many years now and am in tears reading all these comments. What an amazing community.

  37. Al says

    Thank you for this. After the birth of my 2nd baby last week, I joined the Stay At Home Mom Club! :) My first born had been going to work with me since he was born, a great privilege, but I found out a month ago that he wasn’t going to be able to come back to work after maternity leave and my baby could only come for three months. We had three options: 1) get government assistance to pay for daycare, 2) pay daycare out of pocket, or 3) stay home. We already receive some assistance from the government but are trying to rely on ourselves (and not the government) as much as possible. If we pay daycare out of pocket I might as well not work because it would eat up at least half my paycheck for one child and the other half would be ate up by fuel getting to and from work. It is very important to us that we raise our children and not somebody else. I told my husband that I am willing to give up a lot, not that I have much of “extras,” so that we can make this work. It’s been my dream to stay home with my babies, even if that means doing something out of my home to earn a little extra income. I pinned this as a reminder to myself because at some point I am sure that I will need it.

  38. Lea says

    I really enjoyed this article and Thank you for writing it. I have been home for almost 15 yrs now and it certainly has had it’s challenges. While our family has been incredibly supportive, we have had some friends who were not. In the beginning we met with a lot opposition as to how can you do that to your husband, all the way to your kids are not socialized. Then after my oldest was in the public school system for 2 yrs my husband and I decided to home school both of our kids. Again, with the peanut gallery-”your children will never be able to survive in the world”. My 14yo is now in an Early College Program with 94GPA as well as many friends.
    Now, we did have some friends, both stay home parents and 2 income households, who were supportive. Unfortunately, we have also had “friends” who are negative from the word go. I don’t understand why they are negative, is it because they want to be home too, I am not jealous of the new car setting in your drive way. After posted this article, I received a stern comment from a friends mother “NOT all people work for a bigger house, new car, or expensive vacations”. While I understand sometimes one income is not enough-this particular friend (and her mother) is under the impression that we are just LUCKY-their words, not mine. While the real fact is it has not one thing to do with luck-it has to do with a mutual decision my husband and I made together for our family and a whole lot of hard work. The reality is that while this has been the most rewarding 15 yrs of my life, it has been filled with hardships and ups and downs. It truly is a rewarding journey that you take as a family. So if you are thinking about the idea of staying home , be cautious, but more importantly follow your heart-they will NEVER be this age again.

  39. Emma says

    I have four children, b/t ages of 9 and 17 y/o as a single mother it has been very hard to get back to work and leave my younger ones in daycare. When I was still married I stayed home and did everything in the home, take care of my babies plus babysit other kids to help my ex-husband. When we got divorced I HAD to get back into the work force and I endured hunger for a couple days every month when things were so tight that I didn’t have a cell or a land line. Thats how hard it was. even though I worked, I did cleaning homes, and then became a sub at the schools. But I still missed time with tow of my youngest because of the divorce. I think that time flies to quickly that its super important to measure what we really need, instead of what we think we need. Then truly after we have search in our souls, we can make a decision we can live with. If I could choose to stay home, I would. At this time I have two jobs. Two days out of the week I come home at 3 as I sub in schools. But the other 3 days I work in a medical office and come out so late that I drag my feel home. I resent my ex for putting us in this situation. Saturdays I have to work. but hte plus side of this is that in the summer I can still work and make some money those 3 days and stay home the other 2 days as school closes. This has recenlty began so its a sore spot for me.

  40. Working towards being a SAHM says

    Just saw this post on Facebook today which is timely since my hubby and I were discussing last night. We both currently work full time and have a 4 year old. However we are talking about having another child and I would love to be able to homeschool. I’ve been crunching numbers but it seems my hubby is unwilling to give up some of the extras (big cable package, living in a more expensive part of town) that seem like a waste to me, especially compared to being home with my family. He just continually says we can’t afford it, although he actually makes more than the national average with just his income. I have debt of my own that I brought into the relationship that needs to be dealt with, but those of you who have experienced the transition, how did you help your other half recognize some of the benefits of sacrificing some of the extras?

  41. Alice says

    A really good book on the subject is, “Sequencing: having it all but not all at once” by Arlene Rossen Cardoza. She encourages women to get their education, then stay home with the kids, then focus on their careers after the kids are grown. Now that my kids are in college, I have gotten my Enrolled Agent license and am working on building my career. My kids are my biggest cheerleaders.

  42. Mary Jane says

    Thanks again for this timely article. I have been a stay at home mom/wife our whole married life, and have always known that it was important to be here. What really spoke to me was the part about grumbling and remembering that I had a choice. This time of the year (Aug. to Oct.) is the busiest most taxing time for me as my large garden (that we depend on for winter groceries), rabbits we raise for meat, and gathering of firewood for heat, all need attention and daily tasks. With the harvest and winter preparations, I get tired and cranky. I have found myself complaining quite a bit about it all the last couple of years. I was reminded that I do have a choice. My scripture readings of late have indicated how seriously God sees complaining, and how He actually takes it personally, (Malachi). I have often thought, and told others, that every body pays for what they have in their life, it is just a matter of what kind of currency you are willing to use. I heard a preacher say this week, that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, if it is pleasing to God (and work pleases God) then we are “anointed” by Him to do it, as long as He asks us to do it. I never thought of it that way. Whether you work outside of the home or stay at home, we choose what currency we will use, and if God keeps us there, then He will enable us to do it, and to do it without complaining. Thank you for this word fitly spoken.

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