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Sacrificing to be a stay at home mum

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#26 livinglife

Posted 28 March 2009 - 08:38 AM

I have been reading the comments with interest and thought that sharing my experience and perspective would be of value.
Firstly I am a mum, my daughters are now 24 and 26, and they are now discussing their motherhood options with me. My experiences from when they were little are the same they (and you) are dealing with, and yet so diffferent from my mothers generation, that what we did or had to do was just so completely outside what my our mother had experienced.
I had no access to family support when my girls were babies and preschoolers, it was just my husband and I, so we compromised.
Comment for those women expressing concern about impact on career of being a SAHM. Initially I took maternity leave and then had to resign my position. I did go back to work full time once both were at school, 8 years out. How did this affect my career - not much really, I am now at the same point as those women who never had children or who had children later in life (I see this as very significant). Where am in regard to men in the same profession - I have hit the glass ceiling. Unfortunately that is reality.

Why did I choose to be a SAHM, the same angst that is occuring today, also occurred then, to some degree is was actually greater because there was very much the belief that women could 'have it all' career, family, success - you just had to be superwomen and of course all women were.
Well I knew that I wasn't and that I needed to be really careful as I had battled and won against depression in the past and I did not want this to impact on my parenting.
We sat down and did a family budget, all our expenses and then calculated how much it would cost me to go back to work full time. Again an important calculation, working full time when children are under 5 (especially when there is more than 1)is actually quite alot. Then we asked ourselves was the small amount of money each fortnight actually worth the effort and angst that we would all go through for me to turn up and actually function productively at work each day. The answer was obvious. We still had to balance the budget and used all of those very valid money saving strategies that have already been mentioned. And I did do some flexible part time work to provide some of the extras, such as pre school, a family holiday etc. And yes we did go through some really, really tough times, but as a result I believe we are all better people for the way we worked together. One of my sanity savers was a comment about childrens needs are actually very simple, it is often the expectations of others that add complications and pressure to provide additional material goods, often at the expense of what is most important - those intangibles that money can't buy. I tell my girls even now what you don't know you can't miss.
Where are we now, very proud parents of 2 wonderful human beings, living a very comfortable life and looking forward to growing older a little bit disgracefully (defined as: enjoying ourselves and not really caring what others think)
From Livinglife

#27 scuttlebutt

Posted 28 March 2009 - 01:16 PM

I am a SAHM, by choice cause I believe that being with my children for the first few years of life is very important for them AND me!  I love that my Husband can support us.

I guess we have made 'sacrifices' so that I can be home with the kids, we live in a small, 2 bedroom apartment, drive one car, etc.  I also feel that I have sacrificed my career to be a SAHM, but I definitely don't resent these decisions cause I feel that being a SAHM is more important than the things we don't have.  I'd prefer to be at home with my boys in our small house than be at work to pay for a bigger house that we don't spend time in IYKWIM?

#28 lexington

Posted 28 March 2009 - 01:25 PM

Well.. there is  not much choice in this one.
I earn more and husband is better with children. If one of us is to stay at home, it will be him.

#29 mumto4monkeys

Posted 28 March 2009 - 01:40 PM

why is it that its assumed that when your child is in care that someone else is raising them...

all my kids are in care- for 1 to 2 days a week!!  I work- 1 day a week!!
DH gets a more realistic perspective on raising the kids when i work, the kids get time out from me when they are in care.  

But as for sacrafice, where do i begin,
recycing clothing,
turning power off at the wall,
heating on a timer so its not on when we are not home or overnight,
simple cheap meals (mince and chicken mainly),
one car (Dh has a work car so not sure I can claim this)
home cooking
when we have fish and chips- i use oven fries.
menu planning
we dont go out for dinner together- we have coffee and cake.


Edited by acmtel, 28 March 2009 - 01:42 PM.

#30 2~gorgeous~boys

Posted 28 March 2009 - 01:44 PM

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

I agree with the above statement.  I feel very lucky that we are are in a position where I can be a stay at home mum.  We haven't made sacrifices, but more lifestyle changes.

#31 Literary Lemur

Posted 28 March 2009 - 09:55 PM

I am not sure I can claim to be a stay at home parent given I also work from home.  I do find it frustrating that we need to create boxes for our choices and I particularly notice this because I don't seem to fit into any of the boxes (or is it all of the boxes?) and this helps me see the situation from all sides.

Choices (and even sacrifices) are made by people in each of the boxes.  I agree that we should stop feeling superior in the choices that we have made.  For every choice there is something else we are not choosing.  Personally we chose to live simply for the years prior to having children, and delayed having children which means we now live comfortably and our mortgage is less than renting.  Even after having children chose not to upgrade cars, build extensions etc because we were not prepared to put in the hours of work required.  I don’t feel superior but I also am not impressed if people who were partying, traveling and spending money faster than they were earning it in their 20’s while I was saving and investing now want to tell me how “lucky” I am.

#32 nubinski

Posted 29 March 2009 - 11:26 AM

In Australia’s society of political correctness this article and blog should come with the caveat, “For Females Only” as it only relates to 'sacrificing' SAHM & working mothers. With the exception of ‘Katemumto1’ & ‘Lexington’ comments and my own experience as a SAHP one would think that only mothers have to deal with these issues. As a new father I hated going to work after my first child was born, I guess you could say I was sacrificing parenting experience for income. When my wife went back to work I was able to swing a deal so I could work from home for six months. It’s now nearly three years later and I’m still at home, not working anymore as typical office hours and my kids ‘schedules’ don’t match.

As for the ‘sacrificing’ bloggers have been mentioning I think that should be the norm for citizen of the world. Yes consume less, drive less & use public transport when possible, hand-me-downs and shopping at discount store just make good economical sense, earth hour’s concepts of a ‘greener’ lifestyle as an everyday activity is not a sacrifice but a life choice, just like becoming a parent.

I acknowledge this article & blog are under the ‘The Money Mummy blog’ however this is my little jab at ‘Essential Baby’ being for mother centric and not parent centric in the modern society where more fathers are taking on a greater parenting role including being the primary stay at home carer.

#33 lexington

Posted 29 March 2009 - 02:59 PM

nubinski - I agree, mothers are not the only ones who can be stay at home parents now. I think it is great that in my company paternity leave is PATERNITY leave and not maternity leave. Both mothers and fathers have a choice of taking the 3 months paid leave if they are the primary carer of the child. If mum returns to work after 6 months with her company's paid leave, dad can choose to have paternity leave (3 months paid over 6 months) provided he becomes the primary carer and it is within the first year of having the child.

#34 Bam1

Posted 30 March 2009 - 09:02 AM

My husband and I make all the same sacrifices as Sonia does rent, 1 car, only buy at sales etc etc but we still both have to work. Whether you work or are a SAHM you do whatever works for your family. This isn't the problem, its the constant need we all have for validation from each other. To somehow prove ourselves to outsiders that we are doing our best. I know I am doing my best because I have a happy family and their validation is the only one that matters

#35 mum4lilnfin

Posted 30 March 2009 - 11:41 AM

I have two kids, 8 and 4. I've always worked part time, 3 or 4 days a week since Lily came along.  After my son Fin was born, I went back to work when he was about 10 months old.  I have to say, he never took to day care the way my daughter did.  We have struggled with his behaviour  since he was 2.  So a few months ago, we made the huge decision for me to stay at home with the kids, after yet another failed attempt at a daycare for him.  A few weeks ago we discovered I was expecting our third.

I don't know, maybe because my mum always worked, and hers did too, but I always figured I would and should work. Making the decision to stay home was really difficult.  It wasn't just weighing up the money versus my son and his needs, it was about redefining who I saw myself as.

I have so much respect for mothers, fullstop.  I've always believed that pitting mum against mum in the childcare vs stay at home, serves noone.  

Sacrifices are made on both sides for mums and kids.  One thing I think has changed since my mum had me, and that is the attitude towards stay at home mums from society in general.  It used to be seen as a great thing to be a home mum, nowadays its like society seems to think you've had a lobotomy.

I have a degree, I value my space and I will miss the things that having two incomes brings.  But my son has just thrived having me at home.  My daughter has struggled, she misses the out of school care and vacation care activities.  I think it has now given me the opportunity to teach her about the value of family and also given me my happy son back.

Once our new baby is well and truly settled in primary school, I'll go back to structured work.  But in the mean time, I'm looking forward to the journey that this takes me on with my husband and kids.

#36 dogsbody

Posted 30 March 2009 - 01:00 PM

mum4lilnfin - you hit the nail on the head I think with this
It wasn't just weighing up the money versus my son and his needs, it was about redefining who I saw myself as.
For me the big sacrifice was the redefining who I saw myself as - I still struggle with this after 3.5 years of being a SAHM of 2. I fortunately do not have financial pressures to return to work. I loved my career and put a lot into it, and due to my particular career, there is no going back to the old career probably ever - sure, I can do something that still uses my previous experience, but it won't be the same. I still grieve a bit for that lost bit of myself.
But I hasten to add that I always wanted to be a SAHM as I personally believe that is the best for my children and also for me. It is the choice I made and I did make personal sacrifices for it that my husband has never had to make (including sleep deprivation that makes me think half my mind is lost). I know that I am not capable of juggling parenthood with work - I have tried some part-time work from home but it truly almost cost my sanity and was simply not worth the angst (not when compared to the amount of money earned). I truly marvel that other parents seem to be able to do both. But then I have never been good at doing 2 things at once - this is my excuse for not managing the parenting AND household chores successfully too!! No time for myself (eg. go to the toilet or shower even on my own) is also a bit of a sacrifice I think!!

#37 wabbitsw

Posted 30 March 2009 - 02:49 PM

I agree with Sonia wholeheartedly and also with other's debating the use of 'sacrifice'. Having children is a choice, not a right but a previlige and I certainly did not see staying at home was a sacrifice. I work as a speech pathologist, so given my 'career' options in metro areas is limited and we are poorly paid in the public sector and not employed in education in NSW (unlike other states), this field is already 'undervalued'...but I studied it and work in it because of the emotional and qualitative rewards I get seeing a child and parent happy with an end result. And that's why I'm staying at home with my 2 and a half 1/2 yr old DD.I look after her much better than the best childcare out there because I love her. I made the choice to be a mum, even though I never aspired to having lots of kids and staying home to be a housewife. But maybe thanks to my 'career' deicision to be a speechie, (poorly paid and undervalued especially in public health) there was no sacrifice in staying at home. I may feel more resentful if I had a high flying law or corporate career. And yes, I can afford to stay at home but I stay at home anyway cos my income against the love and care I give my DD is far less valuable and doesnt help much with the cost of our daily living. Having the latest and greatest things, gym membership,a ridiculous mortgage, new car, new clothes etc versus a stable, well adjusted, happy, loved child/children? I know what I'd choose any day. My girlfriend raised 4 happy well adjusted children living in an appartment in Sydney's south whilst her husband brought in less than $75,000 (gross) a year (he was also studying at the time) and she needed to work but didn't. They couldn't afford a car. Her discipline in saving money, budgeting and raising her kids meant 5 years later, they moved into a 3 bedroom house in Sydney's NorthWest , bought a brand new station wagon and more importantly, her kids are beautiful, well mannered, obedient, happy children. Her decision most definitely paid off. Did she ever feel she was sacrificing? Yes, but not a career, sacrificing for a later gain for the whole family. Has she ever felt undervalued as a Stay Home Mum- yes, always by society, never by her children. She inspires me.

#38 alphamum

Posted 31 March 2009 - 06:07 AM

I don't feel that I am sacrificing anything except perhaps experience, but given that I don't particularly want to return to my prior industry (insurance) even that would be a stretch.  I intend to return to study next year so that I can change my career by the time the kids are at school.

I would now be on approx $60,000 if I was still at work.  By the time you deduct HECS and Financial Supplement Loan payments my bring home pay would be $799 per week.  This would also be the approx cost of having 2 kids in care in my area.  I assume I would get CCR although I am not too sure how it works, but most of this would surely be eaten up by the other costs of working like train travel, lunches, corporate wardrobe etc.  I can't really see that I would be much financially better off working.

#39 TheFirstNoel

Posted 31 March 2009 - 06:53 AM

Honestly, I don't think I've sacrificed anything to be a SAHM.

Like others have said - having a parent stay home full time with our children was very important to us.  It was logical that that be me - the mother - for many reasons.  We were still able to buy a house and car.  We don't feel monetarily stressed even though we are on one average wage.  I suppose objectively we do have a lot of second hand things and help from family - but we had that anyway.

Sanity wise - I don't think I've sacrificed anything.  My job was ok, I worked with nice people, there were aspects that did provide personal fulfillment but those pale in comparison to the fulfillment of staying home.  I'm not just talking about 'spending time with my kids' fulfillment, I mean mental stimulation, personal challenges etc.  I have been able to take up again loves that were put on hold during working hours and share them with my children, music for example.  I have taken on, learned and excelled at other pursuits I always loved but never had time for, like sewing, cooking, writing, studying.  There is no need for a SAHP to give up their brain and dissolve into an intellectual toddler.  They are still the same person.

I agree with mum4lilfin and NinkyNonk - it's about how you define yourself.  But I think it has to be more than that, it's about how your family defines itself, how the dynamics work and what is needed to thrive.

#40 vegiepatch

Posted 31 March 2009 - 07:03 AM

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

Ditto. It's like people are turning it into a badge of honour.

I also agree with another poster who commented that everyone seems to busy trying to justify their choices.

Everyone will have a different choice, choose a different path.

We should spend less time justifying our choices and more time just enjoying what we have decided.

#41 AlbertsMummy

Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:07 AM

I am a SAHM to my 3 year old son and I agree with Sonia that most people's assumption is that I am lucky that I can "afford" to stay home, rather than I am doing what I feel is right for me and my family. Everyone makes a choice and they have to live with, and believe in, their choice. I think that SAHM's are in the minority and that we are definitely undervalued. Even today, someone asked me if I have time off work for the school holidays and I replied "I don't work, I am a SAHM". I realised later the implication of my own statement!  

It was interesting that a friend of mine who has recently returned to work 4 days a week told me that staying at home with the children is undoubtably harder than being at work. It is so difficult for women to find the right home/work balance and we are still behind men in this regard. I remember reading an article about this topic which stated that if women leave work early to go to something like their children's Sports Day, she is seen as letting the team down and bunking off, whereas if a man does the same thing, he is seen as a wonderful, involved father. I think this is very true - I remember when I was working, the mothers who leave to pick up children are seen as not working as hard as those who stay late.

Having said that, I am happy with my choice to be a SAHM and I confound others when I say I am going to be a SAHM indefinitely.

#42 net75

Posted 03 April 2009 - 03:07 AM

I have been a SAHM since my kids arrived.  I have never embraced it, though, until now.

We recently moved to the US - I no longer have the option of sending the kids to grandma's or outsourcing my motherly duties, so I think I've finally been able to put in more effort and think about the kids a lot more, rather than just take the "easy" option of fulfilling their basic feed, clothe, love needs.  

This is a great gig!  Spend all day doing crafts, reading stories, having cuddles, using our imaginations, and learning together.  I love watching them play together, learning those interactions.

People sacrifice to stay at home.  People sacrifice to work.  People sacrifice to sacrifice.  Whatever.  Was it a sacrifice for us?  No, I would call it a LIFESTYLE choice.  

We "saved up" to have our kids before they were born, knowing that it would be best to start with as little debt as possible - bought a house in an area where we could afford to pay it off quickly (ie. could afford double the mortgage repayments required per month), limited things that others considered vital (cable TV, mobile phones, new gadgets, takeaway meals).  I don't miss mobile phones or cable TV, cutting out takeaway meals also cuts out gym membership needs (although I have always been an advocate of a good walk around the block).  

I know others can't afford this or have vitals on my list of expendables - but I also know that you need to "cut the cloth to fit".  What works for me doesn't work for my friends, and that's OK.  I have full time working friends, whatever.  I don't really think that is relevant, and it's none of my business how others run their lives - some families function better with parents at home fulltime, others function better with parents working.

Do what makes you happy, and your kids will be happy too.


#43 winnifred

Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:38 AM

I always knew i would be a SAHM.  

I work with children professionally and know first-hand that what any child under 3 wants more than anything in the world is time with their parents.   I simply would not have had children if i couldn't stay home (at least 6 days a week - everyone deserves a break!).  

BUT i did not expect it to be so lonely, boring and relentless.  I would vastly prefer to be working.  But i guess i am not a big believer in the whole "if mummy is happy, the kids are happy".  I think the adults who made the decision to bring a little person into the world should show up and do the work, regardless of whether or not it is the job of their dreams.  

So i have sacrificed fun, fulfillment and professional prestige -  but i do feel a deep sense of meaning in my life.  I am doing what i think is the right thing to do.

#44 Gangnam Style

Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:54 AM

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.

Why do you think the above so-called "sacrifices" are unique to families where one parent stays home with the children? Plenty of families with two parents want or have to make the same sort of financial savings!

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.

Obviously not the whole next generation, don't forget the poor neglected, un-nurtured children of us BMW-driving, plasma tv-watching wicked working mothers.

I don't understand what you're expecting by way of acknowledgement? Full page ads from the government saying thank you for not working?

And can someone please spell-check the OP.

#45 MsDemeanor

Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:55 AM

Completely agree with Contumely. We both work and have had to "sacrifice" the majority of the things on your list. Just because both parents work doesn't mean you are pulling mega bucks.

#46 archyandmehitabel

Posted 06 April 2009 - 09:15 AM

I'm a SAHM with 2 young teens.  Our income has always been good, but I did give up a career as a business analyst and can't go back to it.   I wanted to go back part-time but my employer - a state govt authority - would only allow full-time - so much for govt support for mothers.   The main sacrifice for me was my brain.  I love my kids, but felt the need for more adult interaction than I could get at home with 2 young children.   I have nothing but admiration those who do find being with children fulltime is their forte, SAHMs, child care workers, kinder teachers and primary school teachers.   But that isn't what I needed.

But being a SAHM gives me and my partner one luxury over working mothers and fathers - time - and that is worth a lot of money.   My partner has to leave for work at about 7.45 am and doesn't return until until about 7 pm so the reality is that with the best will in the world he simply isn't there a lot of the time.   Because I, as the SAHM, am there, I can take the kids to school and pick them up, get them to do/help with their homework, take them to sports training several nights a week, be there for all the small things that happen.   If we both worked fulltime all that would have to be fitted in around work hours, in addition to all of the housework.

I dips me lid to those who do juggle everything.

#47 lucy2961

Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:19 AM

Our decision that I would be a SAHM was taken early as we believe it is best for the development of the children.  My profession is/was child development.  My children are now 31,29 and 27.  Originally I planned to go back to work when the children were all in high school. I did further training for several years while the children were in school and did the study mostly while they were away from the house.  I worked part-time as a Family day Care provider for some years taking some special needs children, so that I could be home for our children.

When the time came, we realised that children really did need a parent at home when they were in high school also, so I did not go back to work full time.  I worked part time during some school days and Sat mornings while my husband was with the kids.

When our youngest was in Yr 11 I contracted a severe illness, which 12 yrs later I am still rehabilitating from, and I never did and never will get back to work. So at 47 I was forcibly retired from the workforce for medical reasons.  That illness cost us 10-15yrs of my proposed fulltime wage, and affected our retirement plans - particularly since I had only worked part time during some of the years of our children's growing up.  We learnt again the moral of "Don't count your chickens before they've hatched."

So being  SAHM has had a large financial affect on us. Would I do it again?  Absolutely. The sacrifice I made?  Mental stimulation, adult company, any recognition from the public at large that I was more than a faceless servant and had a brain,loss of identity. Financially we had a lower standard of living than other professionals, one car bought second hand, and most importantly, we moved from Sydney to a country regional centre town when I was pregnant with No1. Cheaper housing, the need for only 1 car, being 5 or 10 minutes from everything made a huge difference. We also believe the children benefited from a non-major city upbringing, of being part of a community.

Major life events came along causing huge stress and we believe that we coped better for having 1 SAHparent.

I sincerely believe that you don't get quality parenting time without quantity parenting time - because you can't plan most of the quality times - many just happen.  And I believe children need the quantity time as well, and the stability of knowing you are there, even if they are 15, come home and grunt and growl at you and disappear into their bedroom.

Looking back, would I do somethings differently? Of course.  But basically I would not change our decision.  We saw the benefits in our children and now they are adults we still see the benefits.

I agree the things done by some to cope financially with 1 wage are the things many have to do with 2 wages.  I feel very much for the mum's who must work and would dearly love to be at home with their children. I grew up in a very poor home - those "sacrifices" would have been riches in my parents home.

#48 Overtherainbow

Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:31 AM

I think being a parent often means sacrificing.  I've been a SAHM and a part time mum with a special needs child.

I've returned to work to help pay for all the extra costs associated with our childs special needs.  Financially we have no more money avail. now then we did with me as a SAHM, it's all gone into therapy, medical appointments, resources that will help our child.

The thing we've found the most interesting in our journey was we became better off financially when I became a SAHM.  Initially we were going backwards, then we started utilising my time at home.  Reading every financial book the library had on budgeting and doing things cheap.

We no longer had to pay fuel for me to get to work, my work wardrobe or resources for school.  I went from working 60 hours, to not working so I learnt to use that extra time to cook everything from scratch and shop better for deals.  We started meal planning and our budget to start with was super strict. WE also recieved FTB.

After the first year we had regained the ground lost initially and ended up infront.  

Now I'm working again but we are still using that knowledge and experience to help us.

Being a parent is a sacrifice financially.  My chn are a huge cost, but the time and money we put into them will show far greater long term rewards than if we spent the money on consumer items.

#49 goneanon

Posted 06 April 2009 - 07:04 PM

How lovely to read this!

I have sacrificed:
- career
- we bought an old unrenovated house in an unpopular suburb
- we have one car
- i rarely buy clothes
- we rarely buy anthing unless it is a necessity!
- i have cheap infrequent haircuts
- we can't afford babysitters & our grocery bill is a lot lower than it used to be

It is WELL WORTH it though. I used to work  a challenging job part time & this is so much better for everyone.

I feel sorry for my friends who say they would like to be a SAHM but feel they can't afford it. In reality their financial positions would be just as strong if not stronger than ours. They just won't even contemplate making the lifestyle sacrifices or living in an untrendy suburb.

#50 mumandboys

Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:06 PM

I personally resent the assumption that working mothers "don't care enough" to stay at home with their children, or that they are not making sacrifices for the good of their families.

I also resent the assumption that SAHMs don't work, or that their contribution to society is not valuable.

I work from home, and juggle work and my family.  I guess I fall into neither or both of these categories.
People work or stay at home for many different reasons, and their "choices" are always more complicated than they seem.
Some working mothers don't have a choice - they must work in order to provide for their families.  Some SAHMs don't have a choice - they cannot afford cc or can't find a school-hours job.

The people who make sacrifices are those that don't have a choice, in either category.

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