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Sacrificing to be a stay at home mum


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#1 smtm

Posted 10 October 2008 - 10:42 AM

This week I had the pleasure of being invited to appear on a debate that aired on the SBS program ‘Insight’, the debate focused on childcare. I was invited to appear on the show, as a parent who made the deliberate decision not to use childcare. However it soon turned into a mish mash between the experts as to whether children under the age of two should be in full time childcare, the quality of childcare in Australia and who should foot the bill.

For me the only relevant point to arise from the debate came from author Karen Miles; she made a fabulous point, one that was unfortunately quickly glossed over… Karen stated, ‘stay at home mums are not valued by society, the sacrifices we make to be able to stay at home are hardly recognised and worse yet not even celebrated’. The mums who opt to sacrifice it all to stay at home and raise their family were hardly given a mention during this debate. Whilst the debate rages over childcare, the mums who give it all up to nurture the next generation are swept aside.

The general public fails to recognise the financial sacrifices stay at home mums make – instead assuming we can afford to stay at home, because our partners earn ‘enough’. Sadly in most cases just to stay at home requires huge financial sacrifices – many stay at home mums go with out. I have nothing against mums who return to work, more power to you, with todays costs of living I appreciate some mums are forced to return to work.

But today’s rant is about learning from the stay at home mums, giving their efforts the recognition they deserve and acknowledging the sacrifices they have made to be able to stay at home.

My husband and I made a commitment one of us would stay at home to raise the family, this was well before we even had children. My fathers sudden passing, when I was aged 24 taught me I had to value every minute of life and for me that meant staying at home with the kids. To achieve this goal my family has had to make BIG sacrifices.

Today I want to hear about the sacrifices other mums have made so they could stay at home.
What have you done? Lets celebrate the achievements of the SAHM, and give the due recognition to the mums who have made mother hood their career at all costs.

Heres a peak into what we have done so I could stay at home for the past four years.

The big-ticket items
• We rent, we sacrificed buying our first home.
• We own and operate one car and use public transport – (Our bit for the environment).
• Sacrificed a career as a corporate accountant

Baby stuff
• We brought our nursery furniture on sale, as ‘shop floor display’ - with scuffmarks too boot. We received a further discount for these.
• We only brought the bare essentials for raising the kids. No change table, we changed bubs on the floor ... on the bed… on the couch …and our backs are fine! We never purchased a nappy bag we used a cheap backpack and learnt to pack the necessities –  we survived.
• We used cloth nappies and disposables when out and about.

Day to day
• Buy clothes only at the sales, we limit our brand purchases. We stock up for next season with classics that won’t date.
• Sell the toys and equipment as the kids grow out of them and use the money to replenish the toy box.
• We buy and sell on eBay.
• We use shopper dockets for dinning out.
• I forgo the monthly beauticians visit – All primp and preening is in house.
• Annually we shop around for better deals on our utilities – phone, electricity, insurance, Internet. This saves a couple of hundred each year.

#2 Marsbars

Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:17 PM

I just wanted to reply and say I watched the program with my husband and we found it very interesting.  You spoke very well and confidently and I agree with your comments 100%.  Karen Miles made a very good point and I agree it was glossed over which was a shame.  It seems that in today's society those who "choose" to stay at home are disregarded compared to those who have seemingly "no choice" but to return to work.

#3 ~*~Jacqui~*~

Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:19 PM

I actually don't feel as if I've sacrificed anything to be a SAHM.

To be honest, if someone said they "sacrificed" this that & the other to be SAHM, I see that as the person resenting the decision.

It's just not a positive feeling.

LOL...I just reread what I wrote and realised it doesn't make much sense but I know what I mean, sorry!


Edited by ~*~Jacqui~*~, 10 October 2008 - 12:20 PM.


#4 city*reader

Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:31 PM

We rent - no chance of buying a home on one income.
We have one 10 year old car and also use public transport (bus, rail)
We buy most things when on special or on sale.  
We avoid boutiques and brand names; our clothes come from discount department stores and we only buy clothes come change of season and then only to replace worn out/outgrown clothing.
Our entertainment consists of watching DVDs, surfing the internet, going for walks to the beach -  we never go to restaurants, movies or go on holidays away.
We can't afford gym membership.
Definitely no visits to the hairdresser or beauty salon - ever - all haircuts, waxing etc is done at home.


*****

I have to say though, even prior to our DD being born, when I was working too, we didn't have a very flash lifestyle.  We'd go out clubbing and to restaurants and wore more up-to-date fashionable clothes and I spent more money on makeup.  I guess thats not much but it DOES ADD UP!  I think by now we would have bought a new car in addition to the one we have.  

I guess life isn't that bad really - when you think about it, being in the working world COSTS money - transport, child care, business clothes, work lunches - THAT costs probably more than what I lose by being at home!

#5 Sentient Puddle

Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:33 PM

I have to agree with Jackie that I don't feel like I sacrificed anything either.  If I did feel that way then I would suggest there would be an element of resentment tied up in my feelings.  I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to be able to stay at home and look after my children until they go to school.  

I have to add that I mostly don't feel undervalued for doing it.  I don't look to others to measure my self esteem or self worht.  When the odd person has commented on my status as a stay at home parent I have found that thier comment has said far more about thier issues than my choice to look after my children the way my partner and I have chosen.

#6 AuntyC

Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:33 PM

I understand what you mean, Jacqui. I don't feel like I sacrificed anything to be a SAHM. Sacrifice is such a strong word. I chose to be a SAHM. In much the same way that you choose to have cheesecake or fruit salad when at a barbecue. You don't sacrifice the cheesecake for the fruit salad, you choose the fruit salad.

I have to admit, I do go without many things. No big screen TV here, but big smiles from my kids instead. No new shoes for me, but I get to see my little boy running around and wearing his out everyday.

I know which I would choose...

#7 cinnabubble

Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:38 PM

Welcome to EB.

The "sacrifices" associated with being a SAHM are celebrated (at least) weekly here. We also do a good line in how women who work and families who structure their finances different than the norm are the work of the devil.

And *** many of us who work outside the home don't have a big screen TV, four-wheel drive or McMansion. Maybe we can devote a column to exploding those particular myths one day.

#8 coopersmummy06

Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:48 PM

I think SAHM's and working mums should both be celebrated. My DF and I both work however we only have one car and no big screen TV. We certainly wont be buying a house in the next few years, we save money to pay bills and the rest goes away. DS has everything he needs and a little bit more.

Its a personal choice, we choose that we want to stay at home or that we want to work, even if i wanted to we couldnt afford to have me not working and because of this i miss out on spending a good 50 hours a week with my DS.

Dont u think I would prefer to be at home with then slaving away every day worrying about him???

#9 Chazee

Posted 10 October 2008 - 01:31 PM

My first thought was that we have not sacrificed anything to be a SAHM, that this is just where life has led us.

However, upon further thought, i think we have sacrificed 3 things.

Firstly, we sold our home 2 years ago (that we had planned/built over a few years), so i could be a SAHM. We rent, which sucks, but DP has a better job now which means we will be able to purchase a home again soon. We won't be able to buy in our 'ideal' area, or buy a large home (or medium home laughing2.gif), but that's another sacrifice we're willing to make for me to be a SAHM.

Neither of us hold any resentment towards me being a SAHM, just because we believe they're sacrifices. A sacrifice isn't always a bad thing.

Secondly, we never drove a nice car. We owned 1 car, old and small (but reliable), and made do. We were lucky to buy a nicer, bigger car when we sold our house, so we now have the main car, and the bomb for the work car.  tongue.gif

Thirdly, i think my mental health would benefit from me returning to work part time. However, as much as i think it at times, i can not bring myself to put my kids in daycare for my personal benefit. We've chosen to stop after this pregnancy, at 3 kids, so that we can 'move on' from the SAHM time of our lives, which i find hard at times.

Being a SAHM is not easy!

Everything else mentioned, such as buying things on sale etc, is just something we've always done, way before having kids. We've never wasted money on alcohol, beauty treatments, fancy clothes or shoes etc. But that's just who we've always been, so no sacrificing in those departments. original.gif

#10 Katemumof2

Posted 10 October 2008 - 01:35 PM

I just watched the program and have to agree with those who have written that they don't feel like they've made a sacrifice to be a SAHP.

The woman who had to go back to work full time after her son was born at 25 weeks, now she has made sacrifices.

I feel fortunate to be a SAHM and I am sure there are many women who would gladly be in my shoes

#11 -Amanda-

Posted 10 October 2008 - 01:54 PM

Having been both a working mum and stay at home mum I feel that the sacrifices that I made when I had to return to work with my older two far outweigh the sacrifies of a big tv or new car that I have made to stay at home with my younger children.

#12 bethanygifted

Posted 15 October 2008 - 07:59 PM

I agree, I dont feel I have sacrificed anything at all! I feel lucky to be able to be a SAHM I know people who have to work but would much rather be at home with their kids.

love Beth

[Edited by moderator because advertising is not permitted in the forums]

Edited by Jupiter, 15 October 2008 - 09:17 PM.


#13 aesthetica

Posted 15 October 2008 - 08:20 PM

I do think I have sacrificed things to be at home with my daughter, although it is my choice and one I made happily - there is nowhere else in the world I'd rather be than with her.  It is frustrating though, because my partner didn't have to make that choice, nor many other men I see around.

I spent 7 years at uni; there was a time when I would have described myself as ambitious.  However, I have also always really wanted to have a family, and have had ideas of how I want that to happen.  I want to space my kids out (3-4 years between them, ideally) and I would love to have three.  I don't want to work full-time until the youngest is in school.  With those conditions, it is only just now starting to dawn on me that I will be out of the workforce for probably more than a decade, and might actually be giving up my chance to have a great career.

I am happy where I am but I do feel a pang on regret, not even so much on a personal level, but because I feel like I've been cheated, that I was told there was such a thing as equality and that women could 'have it all', when in fact that is simply not possible.  At some point, and on some level, we have to make a choice.

I do intend to work part-time; once my daughter stops breastfeeding so regularly (probably not for a year or two yet rolleyes.gif) my partner and I will both work part-time, but I dont want to miss 5 days a week of her life.  

As PP's have mentioned, yes, being at home with her has also meant the dream of owning our own home is much further away, and our disposable income is much smaller, but I don't think you can put a price on those moments together when they're young, because they go by so fast and I just don't want to miss any of it. wub.gif

#14 charlise

Posted 15 October 2008 - 09:43 PM

edited

Edited by charlise, 05 December 2008 - 11:30 PM.


#15 patricks_ma

Posted 15 October 2008 - 09:58 PM

The things things I chose to give up are obvious, the lifestyle that two incomes would allow us is certainly much more "fun" than having only one income (especially considering I earn as much as DH so our income is halved) Money can be accumulated or spent any time though and my children will only be young once.

My "career" although not particularly glamorous is taking a fairly big blow.  The last group of people I trained before I left, will be my managers when I return.  Some of them already are. If I had returned to work straight away, I would have gained the management position sooner and then could have had extended leave as a manager rather than the "employee" but I couldn't bear the thought of leaving my babies. I also couldn't put my life on hold waiting for that promotion.

I agree with a pp in that I think I give up a little of my sanity too!  Conversations with a two year old day in day out are not very interesting laughing2.gif

I don't expect a reward of recognition for this. It is my choice just as going back to work is another persons choice. The value a working mother brings to society has its merits too, and I don't think that is recognized either.

#16 pinkbubbles

Posted 15 October 2008 - 10:23 PM

Here here Patricks -Ma I feel the same.

I worked quite a lot with my first born in and out of the home but with my second we made a concious choice to wait till she is at school before I persue career opps.

I feel that I will be able in some capacity return to a good job an in the mean time while working from home spend quality time with my little girl.

If you ask her what she wants she says she wants "mumma all day at home" so we give her that with one day at daycare so I can Ebay and make some extra cash.

It all goes so quick as my first born in prep would'nt mind if I worked all day so I am going to wait this time for my last baby to go to school then I can do what I want during the day and they dont care a long as I can pick them up!

#17 Red_Sparkles

Posted 16 October 2008 - 06:39 AM

i didnt watch the program but would have been a good thing to watch. ive been a SAHM and working mum. and weve done it tough both while working and not.
but what OP has said
QUOTE
Heres a peak into what we have done so I could stay at home for the past four years.

The big-ticket items
€ We rent, we sacrificed buying our first home.
€ We own and operate one car and use public transport €“ (Our bit for the environment).
€ Sacrificed a career as a corporate accountant

Baby stuff
€ We brought our nursery furniture on sale, as €˜shop floor display€™ - with scuffmarks too boot. We received a further discount for these.
€ We only brought the bare essentials for raising the kids. No change table, we changed bubs on the floor ... on the bed€ on the couch €and our backs are fine! We never purchased a nappy bag we used a cheap backpack and learnt to pack the necessities €“ we survived.
€ We used cloth nappies and disposables when out and about.

Day to day
€ Buy clothes only at the sales, we limit our brand purchases. We stock up for next season with classics that won€™t date.
€ Sell the toys and equipment as the kids grow out of them and use the money to replenish the toy box.
€ We buy and sell on eBay.
€ We use shopper dockets for dinning out.
€ I forgo the monthly beauticians visit €“ All primp and preening is in house.
€ Annually we shop around for better deals on our utilities €“ phone, electricity, insurance, Internet. This saves a couple of hundred each year.


pretty much what we do dont alway go for the big name brands but if we are we save and make sure we can get what we need for the kdis and ourselves not what we want

plus once all the kids are at shool going back to work is what im doing so that way i have something to do while theyre learning and ill b at home when they finish.

Edited by **tanya**, 16 October 2008 - 06:41 AM.


#18 !!!

Posted 16 October 2008 - 08:12 AM

QUOTE
I actually don't feel as if I've sacrificed anything to be a SAHM.

Ditto. If I didn't want to be a stay at home parent then I wouldn't be, simple as that. I have missed out on nothing in the long run by staying at home for the first couple of years of my child's life. In fact I've gained two years where I've spent everyday with my child.

I am so sick of (some) women trying to create some sort of hero-worship around being a mother, whether it be because they work, don't work, have twenty-three children, one child, did IVF, fell pregnant first cycle...the list goes on. How about we stop worrying about what others think of us and just get on with the job of raising children. It really is not that hard.

#19 binxcat1

Posted 06 February 2009 - 02:21 PM

QUOTE
Ditto. If I didn't want to be a stay at home parent then I wouldn't be, simple as that. I have missed out on nothing in the long run by staying at home for the first couple of years of my child's life. In fact I've gained two years where I've spent everyday with my child.

I am so sick of (some) women trying to create some sort of hero-worship around being a mother, whether it be because they work, don't work, have twenty-three children, one child, did IVF, fell pregnant first cycle...the list goes on. How about we stop worrying about what others think of us and just get on with the job of raising children. It really is not that hard.


Ditto... well to most of it... I think it IS hard... but then again I think I am legend (if only in my own little world) who makes it look easy!!!!  LOL

Seriously though, I think it's sad that we live in a society where we can't commit at least the first 2 years of a child's life to staying at home to look after them... jeez, you have to sign a two year contract to get a mobile phone for Pete's sake!  

The "can't afford it" argument wears a bit thin I reckon... sure you can... others do it... if you REALLY can't then why have them in the first place?

Just my opinion... and yes, I agree I AM opinionated... but hey, this is a forum and that's the whole point!

#20 Charmzy

Posted 06 February 2009 - 03:57 PM

I have been a SAHM since day one.  

I dont feel I sacrifice for this but we definitely have made many decisions differently to how they would have been made if we had a double income.

Honestly though with the ages of our children if I was a working mum I could not possibly earn enough to make up the difference for: Loss of FTB A/ B, Childcare fees, travel costs    

And most of all I personally couldnt live with the fact someone else is raising my children.  Honestly I wouldnt have had them if I could not be a SAHM.

I have friends who by choice work 6 - 6 5 days a week and then weekends there children go stay with other people (either father in seperated relationships or grandparents ahve them EVERY weekend)  

I often think to myself 'why did they have them?;

Hubby and I have talked this over numerous times. Our number one priority is to keep me home raising our children as long as we can. That means not just until the youngest is school age but IDEALLY I'd be a SAHM until the youngest is WELL into secondary college or finished school. Whether or not we can achieve this only time will tell but that is our priority.

This means we do not own a house, we are endeavouring to buy in the next year or two but it will not be easy.  We dont have new cars, we have upgrgaded when our family size has needed. We budget and budget well.  

We do not have money to take the kids on lots of holidays, do lots of weekend things that cost money. We give the kids experiences that dont cost money instead. Bush walks, beaches, parks, time with family and friends etc    The circus was here recently and the boys really wanted to go but as much as I would love to have taken them, we cannot afford it.

It is so very much about choices. If I did work and COULD earn enough to cover all the costs I mentioned earlier, I would not have time to do all the things I'd want to with the kids anyway. We wouldnt be having family holidays or outings because of work commitments.

#21 pinkbubbles

Posted 06 February 2009 - 04:53 PM

So true the first two years are important and I really didn't want to return to part time work until they both hit the 3 year mark! Its like when they hit this age they were more independent and I felt ready to have a time apart. Yes in some people's eyes I have sacrificed a big career for my kids but I would rather have them than a big career!

#22 maerska

Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:32 PM

Thankfully we are not impacted by our choice for me to stay at home.
I intend to work again when our children are older to busy myself but thankfully we are in an excellent position financially, especially thanks to my husband.

#23 Chillax

Posted 27 March 2009 - 03:03 PM

What a fantastic article!! You're right, right, right about so many things and i applaud you for bringing this to people's attention.

While i also am reticent to use the word sacrifice when talking about being a stay at home mum, i do know what you mean. Two incomes would buy us a lot more in a material sense. We wouldn't live fortnight to fortnight with each pay. We wouldn't have just one 20 year-old car. We could have a bigger house in a better suburb. I would have made leaps and bounds in my career, instead of putting it on hold indefinitely.

But for my husband and I, there was never any question of whether i would stay at home. Yes, we made the choice and that's our choice and i am so so glad i made it.
What i constantly resent is people's attitudes to stay at home mothers. Working mothers are put up on this pedestal of being "super mums" for doing it all. And while i applaud working mums as well, i think the stay at homers do not get nearly enough credit for what they do.

Too often stay at home mums are assumed to be:
a) too dumb to be at work
b) spoilt, rich and "looked after" by their husbands
c) boring women who don't need any other mental stimulation

I encounter these sorts of attitudes from men and women on a weekly basis and it infuriates me no end.
I love that this article addresses this and recognises that stay at home mums do not get the credit they deserve. Yes, women in the workforce are wonderful, but so are the women at home.  tthumbs.gif

#24 michie0moo

Posted 27 March 2009 - 03:35 PM

QUOTE
Yes, women in the workforce are wonderful, but so are the women at home


Can we see more of this please? If women stopped making judgements about each other's choices and simply accepted that what works for them may not apply in another case, we could probably actually get somewhere on childcare, maternity leave and a range of other children's services. Maybe we'd even get somewhere with birth services. Everyone is so busy justifying their own decisions by denigrating everyone else's (at least from where I'm sitting) that discussions go nowhere and the government doesn't have to do anything because there isn't any clarity about what the public want. AND it is women who are preventing this, not men.

Yep, SAHMs do make sacrifices to be at home. Working Mum's also make sacrifices. Whose sacrifices are most important is an unanswerable question. And it's incredibly presumptuous to attempt to answer it except on an individual case by case basis.

Comments like this
QUOTE
And most of all I personally couldnt live with the fact someone else is raising my children.
makes SAHMs sound like complete jerks. About as much of a jerk as any working mum saying
QUOTE
Too often stay at home mums are assumed to be:
a) too dumb to be at work
b) spoilt, rich and "looked after" by their husbands
c) boring women who don't need any other mental stimulation


A little less judgement from both sides of the discussion would be really helpful for everyone.

Edited by michie0moo, 27 March 2009 - 03:38 PM.


#25 katiehg1

Posted 27 March 2009 - 04:14 PM

Although it's delightful to hear people discussing love over money, I want to beg you, please, to refer to stay at home parents. Once breastfeeding is over, there is no demonstrable benefit from the stay at home parent being male or female. Your insistance on referring to SAHMs, as though men are not in the equation demeans both women and men. I'm astonished that in 2009 this still has to be said. Men and women are capable of caring for children. Male and female children benefit from having male carers. Ideally, of course, both would be possible (although of course, there is no ideal - my husband and I both cared for our children and both worked three days a week when they were young, so the children saw us both, and we both had work satisfaction. This was great in many ways - and I would make the same choice - but often translated to "I thought you were the one doing the laundry/sorting out playgroup snacks/paying the bills..."). Work culture needs to change - which will happen when men insist on it changing - as well as home culture. Meantime, please do remember that there are many men who choose to be the one at home caring for the child. And, however you may defend it, "mother' is not a gender-inclusive term.




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