Working moms or stay at home moms???

Mommy??  How come you have to go to work???

As we prepare to leave the house for yet another work day, my daughter asks me a question that’s been ruminating in my head since I first became a mother.  The automatic response is something like “I work because I have to earn money to take care of you.”  But somehow that doesn’t seem like the best response.

Thankfully she gets distracted so I’m off the hook, at least to her.  I still need to know the answer. If only for myself.

I’ll bet you know what I’m talking about.  Once you have children, work definitely provides necessary financial rewards, but there are also hard costs to consider.  For instance, paying for quality child care while you work can consume more than half of your after tax income.

Yet, working isn’t all about the money.  Your career also provides a sense of personal fulfillment and contributions, which for many moms is an important factor in the work/don’t work debate.

What did or are you doing and why?

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13 Responses to Working moms or stay at home moms???

  1. Amber says:

    Lisa, you know there was a study done that showed the true income of a working mom. By the time you take away all of her expenses that she incurs by working how much is actually added to the income of the household. Its surprisingly low. I was astounded. The cost of childcare etc.

    Fulfillment is a whole other issue. I have to say that there are alot of women who really need that stimulation that employment brings.

    Im not out to judge anyone for their decision. I was an executive in life. But had I been able to have children I would have stayed home as a personal choice. I would want to raise my own children. For me that makes sense.

  2. SKL says:

    I have a career. I don’t need the money, so that’s not the reason. I do need a higher level of participation in the “outside world” than I would get if I didn’t have a career. I was home with my kids for three months, and honestly, I felt I was going a little crazy, because it is unnatural for me to be all caught up in things like how often my kids had bowel movements or whether they could match shapes. I had such a need to be “making something happen” that there was a lot of stress over each milestone my kids were supposed to be meeting and whether or not they were responding to discipline. I needed some other problems to solve. My friend would give me a spreadsheet or legal document to review, and I’d feel like I was in Heaven. I needed a job.

    I have always wanted children, and spending time with mine is extremely important to me. I love every aspect of it. Yet I am not convinced that having me as the only person caring for them is necessarly best for them. I am a single mom. I feel it’s good for kids to experience different caregivers’ styles and viewpoints. Our nanny brings a lot to the table that I could not bring. In addition to being an experienced early childhood teacher, she is an artist, loves cooking, has meaningful ties to the Hispanic community, and comes from the Latin American region where my kids were born. I am a great teacher and caregiver to my kids, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t better off having both me and the nanny in their lives. Nanny also provides a little escape valve when things get crazy and I really just want to go back to bed in the morning. This makes me a better mom at times.

    I work mostly from home, because I am a control freak when it comes to my kids, plus they’ve had special needs regarding attachment after their adoption. I spend a lot of quality time with my kids. We do things daily that many stay-at-home moms may not do. I really don’t feel a shred of guilt for having a career. The only time I feel bad is when I have a big deadline that forces me to work during a time that I normally dedicate to my kids. I try to keep these events to a minimum.

    I feel that my having a career is good for my daughters, too. They see a woman negotiating with all kinds of people “out there” to make big things happen, solve problems, help others, etc. Yes, they would see this at some level even if I didn’t have a career. But the thing is, eventually, they are going to have careers of their own, and I feel I’m modeling skills that will help them to be successful in their careers. And I’m modeling the attitude that work is a positive thing.

    I guess it goes without saying that my career is also good for my nanny and a few other people who would have less income if I did every domestic chore myself. I am contributing to my field of expertise and to the economy, while utilizing specially-trained people to provide for certain of my family’s needs. It may not be right for everyone, but I feel good about it.

    My mom was a part-time work-at-home mom, running my dad’s repair business. I remember her having her times when she needed to sit at the desk and do her work, and it was just the way things were. It wasn’t a bad thing or a good thing, not any more than seeing her cook dinner or wash the kitchen floor.

  3. holeycheese says:

    I’m staying home.. and the economy sucks.. But it would propably suck even more if I was working. Having three kids in kindergarten/day care is very expensive.

    Though I do bring a little income to the family from my studies.. but that is really not much.

    I hope to be able to work as an online teacher in the future. Then I can both stay home – and bring in a reasonable income… But that’s still a few years ahead.. have to finish studying first.

  4. thegoddessanna says:

    I’m home with the kids, not be choice, but by circumstance. Three and a half years ago, I stayed home by choice, and it almost killed me – literally, as I had unchecked depression that raged for over a year before I even got treatment, and I tried to smash my head in our tile shower on several occasions. I decided to go back to work, and things were dandy, as my husband and I took turns with the kids at home to keep daycare costs low. Then he got transfered away, and we couldn’t afford full-time care… so I’m home. And I hate it. Hate. It.

    I love my kids – don’t get me wrong – and I even want another. But I was born to work – I’m a workaholic. I don’t need the socialization, it’s not really the money, it’s the work itself – the challenge. When I was military, I had an important job that was mentally challenged. As a massage therapist, I have a (potential) physically challenging job – especially because I will be building my own business. Being home with my kids doesn’t challenge me in the same way, and all it does is prove that some people (me) are not born with a lot of patience.

    When I had my daughter, I felt guilt about dropping her off at daycare every day. That’s why I made the decision to stay at home. I’ve come to learn though that my kids have benefitted by having other adults in their life – the teachers at preschool that inspired my daughter to draw, the women that worked with my boys to catch them up to age-level when it came to socialization with other children, the time spent with grandparents goofing off. Heck, my kids even got to spend time with Daddy at home during the day (he worked a brutal rotating shift to get a few days at home during the week, as I went to school M-Th). I don’t feel that guilt anymore.

    So for this woman, in short, working kept me alive, helped me find my will to live again. I’m struggling now to keep going at home right now, as I’m sitting on my education and certifications and paying student loans for schooling I’m not using. I personally feel there is nothing wrong with being a mother and a worker – and there’s nothing wrong with mothers that choose to stay at home with their children. We each do what’s best for our own families, you know?

    Sorry if this was long and personal, but it’s something that affects me greatly.

  5. nikki says:

    I am a stay at home mom. I always have been. I also have some money coming in from daycare, not a lot but enough. That’s only been the last 3 years too. It’s important to Jason and I that I always be home when Bailey is home and he NEVER be in daycare. It is a sacrifice I make I guess not having a career. But a sacrifice that is worth it. I worked outside the home once, ended up being gone a lot during the night and missed out on all the things I love to do, having dinner with my family, doing homework with my son, reading him bed time stories, tucking him in at night. No amount of money is worth that to me. And I moved around a lot growing up so I enjoy being home now. My Mom worked a lot, retail, so she was always gone. I always wanted my Mom to be home. Maybe that’s why it’s so important for me now.

  6. Just a Mom says:

    I worked when my first daughter was little because I had to being that I was a single mom at the time. I worked 70 hours a week as a manager of a restaurant. When I got remarried and we had daughter #2 the company I worked for found me a job in their main office and they allowed me to work part of my time in the office and part of my time at home. Once daughter #2 entered school I worked around school hours.
    The owners of that company retired last year and I became unemployed. For the last year I have been helping out at both of my girls schools, helping them with their homework and pretty much just plain enjoying them. I have to say it is great to be able to stay at home, to me that is a full time job in itself!

  7. Jane says:

    I feel this is strictly up to the individuals. I can see both sides of this. Unfortunately, most of us need two incomes to survive now. My mom didn’t work outside the home but she’s like I am and a farmer so we work at home and have to take care of our families at the same time. If I had to work outside the home, I’m not sure I’d like it. I enjoy the everyday milestones that I get to see and take part in but also know that need of the monetary things that one needs to survive. I am very money conscious and am very watchful of how and where we spend our money but I think if we weren’t more than making it, I would go to work outside the home.

    I also feel this is something you need to talk about before you get married and decide to have children. I know far to many people who have just “assumed” that either one would stay home after children or both would work. I think you both need to be on the same page so there are no surprises. I know a couple right now that just had a baby and she doesn’t want to go back to work and he thinks she has to and I’m not sure they will make it because they both feel so strongly but are on opposite sides.

  8. Joy says:

    I was raised in a different time. For me, and I’m not saying it’s the right thing, I don’t feel there is a right or wrong here but I wanted to be home with my kids. However, once they started school I did need more to do. I just got depressed being alone all the time. I got the perfect job for me. I worked in their school district so I was only gone when they were gone.

    I know all women are different. Men also are different. Some men want their wives to work while others like them taking care of things at home. I really agree with the point Jane brought up, you should know what each other think before it happens. I’ve also seen couples go through this where one wanted or thought one thing while the other thought completely the opposite. It can really break you.

  9. Lisa says:

    I guess this is one of those things that’s up to each person and each situation. For now I’m a working mom but things can change.

  10. mssc54 says:

    I didn’t read all the posts…

    Did you get away with saying: “Working moms or stay at home moms???”

    At least mom’s who work outside the home get scheduled breaks and lunch! 😉

  11. Sue says:

    I am a full time mom who works part time outside the home. I love my job. I love my children. I stayed home after I got laid off a few years ago. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I felt like there was something more that I needed. I went back to school and had to put my daughter in “real” daycare for the first time. That was hard b/c I didn’t have to go to daycare, my mom stayed home and I loved that. I was always rushing home to pick her up and I felt very guilty for the time she was there. Now, with 2 kids in daycare I feel just as guilty, but there’s no way we could survive on one income. So, I work part time and that’s a good balance for me. I think it’s a very personal choice and I think the stay at home mom’s are lucky, but that’s just me.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I work outside the home. There are a lot of days that I wish I could stay home with my kids. They go to full time daycare now and yes, it does cost about $15,000 a year to keep them in daycare (and I know there are areas in the US with much higher prices. We’re still pretty rural) Sometimes we’re shocked because that’s as much as our entire income when we were first married.

    I agree with Jane 100%. Your plans for childcare should be discussed immediately in your marriage. With that said, I also know many friends who got married AFTER the kids, or while expecting, or became pregnant so soon after the wedding that it seemed they hardly had a chance to be married. Unfortunately I think the reality is there are too many alternate scenarios that just don’t allow that conversation to occur. We had always felt strongly about having one of us home with the kids. We didn’t have a strong preference which one of us it was. When my husband was having trouble maintaining his employment he gladly volunteered to be a stay at home dad. Unfortunately mother nature had other plans and we had three miscarriages in that time frame before having my daughter. By the time she was born five years had passed and both of us were working full time. I was the bigger breadwinner and returned to work, but as someone above mentioned, things change. I hadn’t counted on the fact that my husband would have fallen in love with his job and being able to finally successfully work outside of the home after his past difficulties. He wasn’t ready to give that up just yet and we still did need a 2nd income of some kind so into daycare the kiddos went.

    Currently my job is in jeopardy and to be honest? I’m not as upset as I should be. I’m almost relieved. If I can’t work then I’ll stay home with the kids so there won’t be a daycare bill in the first place. It removes the decision from me and with it all guilt.

    I honestly don’t think I’d have the patience to be a GOOD stay at home mom. I could do it if I had to, but I’m not sure I’d be GOOD at it.

    I do wonder though…all of us keep talking about stay at home moms and the desire to stay home with our kids etc. What about dads? To look at Amber’s comment, how come a Dad’s income doesn’t count when looking at whether daycare is too expense? Or how come people don’t seem to wonder whether a Dad is feeling fulfilled at work and whether he’d rather be home with his kids? I still think my husband would be a fabulous stay at home dad. Just wondering 😉 Our conversation seems very one sided…I know we have some men on this board and they’ve been pretty quiet…

  13. thegoddessanna says:

    Jennifer – I know how you feel. And I know my husband would be a good stay at home Dad – the only reason he can’t is he’s in the middle of his second enlistment. He is seriously thinking of getting out, going reserves (Navy), and then letting me pursue my career… unfortunately, we’ve still got 2 years left.

    I’m not very good at being a stay at home mom. I’ve made my peace with that, if only to not go crazy. : )

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