26 answers

For Those Moms Who Gave up a Career to Stay Home... or Thought About It

So so torn... IF it were possible to give up my job - which I love, which pays over 100K per year.. which is flexible with my schedule (other than occaional overnight travel) to stay home with my 4 and 2 year old, should I? For those of you who have given up the career and financial upside to such a job, what did you experience if you stayed home? For those who stayed working - any insight? So torn and feeling there is no "right"answer. Thanks!!!

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

WOW - what insightful and SUPPORTIVE responses. Thanks for sharing your stories and experiences and reminding me there is no "right" answer. I will explore the flexibility in my job and make the most of that. I also will focus on saving some money so that maybe when they are a bit older, I can have a schedule that allows me to be "home when they get home" from school.... I truly appreciate all of the comments. Thank you!

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i gave up a really good career.my area of expertize is not broad and i cannot just get back to it. i have to be living in certain cities to be able to do that: NYC, DC etc.
I worked full time from home for years before my kids were born and then another 4 after they were born. when my daughter started having health issues, i found myself not be able to be as productive as before. my brain was gone while working, or my brain was worrying about work while i was spending time with my kids.
it's been 2 years now since i became a stay at home mom, and truly i don't know if i made the right decision. i struggle with it a lot. mind this, i had no choice, i had to quit so that my daughter can have me help her with whatever: doctor visits, school (she needs extra help). that part i love. i love and truly appreciate being here for my kids all the time.
the other part is that i have completely lost myself. i am scared to think what will happen when i am able to go back to work. what will i do, and will i ever find a satisfying job.
it is a very personal decision. very personal, and very difficult. i hope you are ok with whatever you decide. i am still not. i am not there yet.

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By saying "giving up career", it sounds like you really don't want to do it. What if you put your career ON HOLD instead~~ for a time, that would be the better way to reckon with it. If it's totally flexible tho, and your kids arent lacking in love and quality time with you, you should just keep working since you enjoy it so much. Happy kids have happy moms. If you arent happy staying home it wont be worth it.

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If you love your job, keep working. Your kids will see a mom who does something that makes her happy AND still thinks that the sun rises and sets on them.

And, honestly, that money's nothing to sneeze at either. I can't imagine giving up that kind of job in an economy where, if I changed my mind, I just might not be able to get it back.

You're right - there isn't a "right" answer. But there is a "right for your family" answer. My suspicion is that you already have it.

4 moms found this helpful

I stayed home had a blast.......but now the kids are just about grown and where am I. Most of my friends were to busy with their careers good bye. Nothing toward SS,no pension, no retirement and the boredom while everyones at school. I mean you can only clean the house so much and shopping gets old. I say stay with your job the way you describe it you may not ever find something like it again. Just enjoy every moment and make the most out of them as possible with your kids. The longer your out of the working field the harder it will be to get back in.

3 moms found this helpful

I did leave my job, but here is the thing........I did not "love" my job. You do! Instead of quitting why not figure out a compromise. For example, less hours, or working 4 days, etc.... Or don't compromise if you what you are doing now works! You say your schedule is flexible. Working with a family is not perfect, but guess what..........there is no perfect. I guess what I am trying to say is........... If you are thinking of leaving your job because you feel guilty you are not at home, fight it. You can be a good Mom and have a career too. Lots of women do it.

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For me it was an easier decision. I was a legal secretary, which I loved. However, I had long hours and only made $55K. There are still days where I'll check job postings, but right now I'm happy with my decision. It's been 1 1/2 years since I quit. It's not all roses staying home, there's lots of work to be done and there are days where you long to talk to another adult. Then there are days where your kids are so wonderful to be around that you can't imagine not being there. I'd have to say that if I had your set up, I don't think I would leave. As much as I would want to, 100K would put us in a great situation and provide a college future for my kids. At $55K and with the long hours I would have to put in, at least $35K would go to a nanny. Minus taxes, commuting costs, etc, I wouldn't be making a lot of money. My plan now is to go back to work when my kids go to school all day. I always say that when the days I want to go back to work out way the days that I want to stay home, than I will go back to work, but right now the days I love staying home out way going back to work. The "right" answer would be finding out what works best for you and your family and doing it.

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I am home with my kids right now... I gave up a very nice paying job 3 years ago. I had better benefits and better pay then my husband did at the time and a flexible work schedule. What I looked at was how much having my income really gave us - after daycare, gas, work clothes, lunches, eating out dinner more, etc. I considered that with us being in a higher tax bracket as well. I also thought about the intangibles.. leaving our kids at a daycare 7am and not seeing them until at least 4pm and possibly as late as 6pm. My kids go to bed at 8pm. After homework, dinner, baths... if I was getting home at 5 or 6 - I would get MAYBE an hour with my kids every weekday?

So I made the hard choice to stay home. I still miss working. I never longed to be a "House Frau".... I never hoped for a husband that could support me. Women told me how "lucky" I was to have a husband that could support us.. and I just felt blah. Fortunately my husband IS wonderful and he sees this as something we are BOTH doing for the best of our kids and family. He knows I miss working. I miss time with adults. I miss the satisfaction of having a paycheck. I miss the sense of accomplishment of a good review, hitting goals, getting a bonus, getting a raise, a promotion... I did finally finish my bachelors degree when I was home. (I had been going to school and working.) I am pregnant right now, but I plan on going back for a masters in the next 6 months. It's important for me to maintain who I am outside of a parent.

You really have to do what you think is best for you and your family... but BOTH need to weigh in. Some Moms are a better parent getting some time away, staying home is not for everyone. Some Moms staying home is a dream come true. Some families decide its better for everyone if Dad stays home!

If you do decide to stay home - stay in things you're interested in. Yoga class, a photography class, continuing ed through a junior college.. Stuff that lets you be an adult and explore your own interests.

Good luck, whatever you decide!

2 moms found this helpful

i gave up a really good career.my area of expertize is not broad and i cannot just get back to it. i have to be living in certain cities to be able to do that: NYC, DC etc.
I worked full time from home for years before my kids were born and then another 4 after they were born. when my daughter started having health issues, i found myself not be able to be as productive as before. my brain was gone while working, or my brain was worrying about work while i was spending time with my kids.
it's been 2 years now since i became a stay at home mom, and truly i don't know if i made the right decision. i struggle with it a lot. mind this, i had no choice, i had to quit so that my daughter can have me help her with whatever: doctor visits, school (she needs extra help). that part i love. i love and truly appreciate being here for my kids all the time.
the other part is that i have completely lost myself. i am scared to think what will happen when i am able to go back to work. what will i do, and will i ever find a satisfying job.
it is a very personal decision. very personal, and very difficult. i hope you are ok with whatever you decide. i am still not. i am not there yet.

2 moms found this helpful

As a 44 yo mom, here is my experience: I grew up from 1966 to 1988 with a mom who had a career. She was never the "stay at home" mom or "room mom." She was both internally and externally motivated and although I wanted her to be their for field trips and school "things" I learned to appreciate and really respect her as a role model, a woman, and as someone who brought so much to our household. When she came home her time was focused on us. She made a very clear break from work to be with us and we knew it.
I lost a daughter due to congenital heart defects and then had twin boys. I gave up a very lucrative multiple 6 figure job to stay home with my boys as I felt so lucky to have two healthy children. As I was starting to think about going back to work, I had a daughter 18 mos later. Three in diapers!! I did this for 3 years during which time my husband who fell in love with me as an independent woman, making her own way in the world, saw me become a resentful, stressed out, and different woman. It was a very tough three years and even though I was able to afford babysitters to go out on weekends and have a cleaning lady come in to help every two weeks, I was stressed out. My husband talked me into going back to work, not because of money, we were fine fortunately, but because of my mental state.
I have now been back in the workforce 3 year later, and let me tell you, even though it was only a 3 year lag, it was very difficult getting back to where I was. If there is anyway in the world you can keep doing what you do, maintain the adult working world in your life, I promise you it can work out and you will be a happier person for it (unless of course you've always dreamed of being a stay at home mom.)
The caveat I bring to the table is that I have help - I have a part-time nanny who picks my kids up from school in the afternoons and chaufeurs them to their activities. I have lessened my schedule so that I meet them at home with dinner started. If I had kept my job during all of this I truly believe I would have had even more flexibility and much less of a pay loss.
Best wishes to you - explore you options but remember that it's so hard to find a job/ career that you really enjoy, good people for whom to work, and a stellar pay check. Keep it if you can, and you can make it work. Your kids will benefit from your outside interests, experience, and the role model you bring to your children, either boy or girl.

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I gave up my job to stay home, and while I loved it in many ways, I ended up going back to work. I found being a SAHM very isolating and lonely. I thought I would make all kinds of other SAHM friends, and I did not. In fact, I found it harder to try to make friends with that crowd than "other" groups. I tried to fill my days with trips to playgrounds, libraries, play groups but it still was not enough to fill every day. I still felt like I spent all my time alone with my daughter and I started to miss adult conversation and that feeling of being important that comes with a job you love.

There were good things about it too...I loved spending all day with my daughter. I loved that I got to see all her milestones, I got to teach her things every day and we developed a very tight bond. But ultimately, I choose to go back to my career. And I am so happy I did! I feel like a whole new person again now that I am back in the work force. I love that I am bringing home a paycheck again. We did not NEED for me to work, so I use my paychecks for all the extra things. Vacations, new "toys", college fund etc.

This is a hard decision to make. You can't predict the future and know if you will love being a SAHM, or if you will regret it. Just think long and hard about it. While I did not regret it, it turned out to not be the thing for me. I don't think I will ever want to stay home full time ever again. I love my job, and being a working mom makes me a better mom. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck!

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I gave up my career when my second was born. I didn't make anywhere near the income that you mentioned, and they were definitely not flexible with my kids' needs! That said, it was definitely an easy decision for me. If I had continued working, more than 75% of my income was going to go towards my childcare expenses. So, in my personal situation, it just made more sense for me to stay home. I have been a SAHM now for 4 years, and I have LOVED every minute of it! I love knowing that I was the one raising my kids, going on outings with them, and just having the time with them.
BUT, if my career was better paying and more flexible, I probably would have continued working, but only at a part time basis. Is that something you have considered??
Either way, just remember that you are making a positive decision for you little one. Working full time gives a larger family income, thus making it easier for you to do things and provide a higher way of living for you child. And staying home gives you the pleasure of staying home and raising your kids. I really think in your position, it is going to be a tougher choice, but I truly think that in the same way, either decision you make will be a great choice!
Good luck!

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Yes, I gave up a potentially lucrative career . . . that was not mommy-friendly whatsoever.

I would rather live with the regret of career sabotage and lost income than the regret of missing precious, irreplaceable time with my kids (have been there and done that - don't want to return).

That's just me . . . you have to make the best decision that you can for your family. Good luck.

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Hi D.M.
There are all kinds of women in the world. Some are more suited to work outside the home and some are blessed with the patience and temperment to be SAHM. I thought for sure I was a SAHM. I quit my job shortly before my son was born and was ready to be Betty Crocker and Mrs. Cleaver. After 6 months I realized that I wanted to go back to work, not even so much for the money, but the adult socialization. So I went back part time making peanuts but feeling good about myself and my small contribution to the finances. Then my husband kept getting promoted and relocated and we kept moving and we had more money then we knew what to do with. And after every move after we settled down, I would go find a job. Didn't need to for the money, it was just who I am. Fast forward 6-7 years. I am still working, now full time, My husbands income has dropped significantly but since I always stayed in the loop so to say, we are still comfortable. You have to decide what is right for you. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself to your children and being able to be there for everything. There is also nothing wrong with being a working mother and doing it because you love your field or your coworkers. It is really up to you. :)

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I am the one that gave up my 100K+ job to stay home with my babies. I will not lie, I MISS THE FINANCIAL FREEDOM!!! I also can tell you that I have NEVER looked back. I have never EVER regretted making the choice to be with them. If I had stayed with my job, although I loved it, I would never have gotten this the time back with my children. I could not get over the fact that while I was at work, someone else was raising my children. I could not get over the fact that someone else was influencing their little brains more hours out of the day than I would be. It was just something I could not come to terms with.

Please do not get me wrong, I have never looked down on women that go back to work and make it happen. Their kids are probably even more adjusted to being away from mommy than mine and are and more independent which are all good traits. There are benefits to both sides. I just found that for me, my husband and my kids it was better for me to be home with them and I never missed a thing.

In short, I can always go back out and get a job when the kids are grown or even in school full time. If you are able to afford to stay home I say DO IT! It is the hardest but best decision I ever made. Only you know if it is right for you.

Good luck to you!

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I'm probably not the best person to answer this question, but here is my 2 cents: you LOVE your high paying, flexible job but yet wonder whether you should give it up -why? Is someone pressuring you to do the "stay at home" thing? Or do you feel its something you "should" do for some reason? I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Do you feel you can stay on top of both your job and your child-rearing duties? It doesn't sound like either is suffering at this point, so not sure why you feel torn. There is no "should" in this situation - only what works for your family. If the kids are happy and well adjusted, then leave it alone. No one else can make that decision but you. I chose to stay at home with my children who are now both almost grown. One of the other moms said they need you MORE as they get older - this is so true, although I didn't believe it when they were little. As soon as I had my first child, I felt that motherhood was my new "job". It was a "no-brainer" for me to stay at home, I never thought twice about it. Now that they are much older, I feel I am entering a new stage of my life. Along the way I faced a TON of criticism from others about how I was "wasting my education" by staying home. It wasn't always easy, but I can honestly say no job is always easy - you have good days and bad days! I have NO regrets and I think that's what we all need to be able to say at the end of the day, no matter what path we choose. Good Luck.

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I been a SAHM going on five years/part-time employment. I left my career and I had just got a promotion. I was doing well financially. When I got pregnant, I had no one to pick up the baby for a two hour window until my husband gets off. I've worked pretty hard my whole life, i've put myself through college twice and have traveled to some great places. I didn't have to think twice because my husband and I decided to do it for us.

I didn't think I would have been off this long, but it happened for a reason. I totally changed my field and now I teach college courses online. My pay has drastically changed, but I don't have to worry about who is going to pick up my child. I take him to piano lessons and other special activities. I go on his field trips and I enjoy myself also. I spend time with friends or with my mom and relax. I'm enjoying my "break" because as I stated I've worked very hard and this is just my moment. Eventually I will be teaching full-time, but for now this works for my family.

If you love your job, don't quit. Your children will understand. You have to do what best for yourself as well as your children. If momma's not happy, the whole house suffers.......

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I struggle with this question almost every day so I'm glad you asked and I get to see the answers. Of course, there was no "right" answer. But I have to say if I were you, I'd keep working for awhile longer. I really don't care for my job but at the risk of being obnoxious, I make way over $100k a year so it's a very tough job to give up because it's actually not typically that stressful, it's very stable, highly lucrative, and I'm very close to home so am able to run home for emergencies, sometimes just a school pick-up, I volunteer at school once a week, I make it to all functions etc. But the guilt eats at me. And I have NO time myself. What's different for you though is you love your job. If I loved mine, I probably wouldn't struggle as much. Most of my decision is $$ based versus any intrinsic reward. So far, this reply probably isn't helpful but I would recommend reading "The Feminine Mistake" before you do anything. It discusses how incredibly hard it is to get back in the workforce and the years of social security etc you give up. It's all debatable but worth a read to get that perspective. Finally, as some other mothers said, the kids need you more as they get older. No one believes it until they live it. My sister told me and she was right. We have a wonderful nanny since my oldest was born so I never felt that "someone else" was shaping my daughters' minds as she's honestly more patient and playful than I am. But now my oldest is 6, in first grade, and I can see how the topics to discuss are going to become more complex and important. So I plan on working one more year (as I say every year :) You do have time to wait though. As I said, my oldest just turned 6 and my youngest is 4.75yrs and so far, I really don't think they've been hurt by my working and I've saved a lot of money that I will keep to help them someday if they're not as lucky financially. They don't remember being 2... So you have time before your kids are even the same ages as mine.

1 mom found this helpful

Well, IMO you're right that there's no "right" answer because there are up sides and down sides for each option, but every mom will find that for her situation and stage in life, one answer will be more appropriate than another.

Speaking as someone who opted to stay home after my twins were born, I can say that for me, I found it worthwhile and am thankful that we were able to manage financially on one salary while I've been staying home with them, and I actually find that knowing I've been able to spend this amount of time with them and feel that it's benefited their growth and development actually feels more rewarding than the work I did before they were born. But I understand that many other moms find a great sense of satisfaction in the outside work they do, and understand that many moms work outside the home out of financial necessity, and I in no way would consider them any less of a mom just because they work outside the home.

I sincerely hope that your decision making process will not be hampered by any guilt trips that others might try to give you for choosing one way or another. And I think sometimes we moms second-guess ourselves because there are books and magazine articles that seem to say that a mom *can* combine career and family perfectly and not miss out on anything, so whenever we feel that one choice or the other leaves us feeling like we have to give up something, we think we must be doing something wrong instead of realizing that there's no "perfect" arrangement - we just make the best decision we can for ourselves and our family for the season of life that we're in.

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I think you are right there is not one right answer but hopefully you will find the best answer for you and your family. Before I had children I wanted to stay home while they were little, at least until the youngest started school (we always planned on 2 kids and that is what we have). I feel that is more of taking a break from my career than giving it up. My mom did this and I felt like it helped me be close to her and feel very secure as a child. On the other hand now that I have been home about 5 years (my oldest will be 5 this winter) sometimes being home drives me crazy and I feel like my skills and intelligence are being wasted. My younger child will be 2 in a few months so in about a year to a year and a half I want to be ready to put her in preschool/daycare part time and see what I need to do to go back to working part time. Before I had children I had a job in the social services, so even with a MS degree it was crazy hours (not just a lot of overtime, a lot of unpredictable overtime) and high stress without the good pay to go with it. It would not make financial sense for me to be working until at least one child is in school full days because of the cost of childcare. Beyond that, in a high stress job I could not necessarily make my children my top priority. So in my situation, it makes the most sense for me to be home for the next few years and then look for something part time. We do struggle to make ends meet and I don't love every minute of being home (though sometimes it is great). Many of my friends who are working mom's have only one child. One even said she would have to quit if she had another child because it would be too much to manage (she is a lawyer and one of the most capable people I can think of).

If you have tiem to read a book ever, you might want to check out The Mommy Myth. It has a lot to say about how much pressure mothers of this generation are under (different even than 20 or 30 years ago). You are far from alone feeling like there is no right answer.

1 mom found this helpful

I left my career to stay home, but I always knew that if I had a child, I would do that. This was a large factor in waiting almost 5 years of marriage to have a baby...

I don't know what your household situation is. For us, my husband has the more specialized education and higher earning potential. I was just beginning to move into middle management and higher income, so it wasn't a situation of leaving of 100k a year....which certainly has to be a factor in today's world and economy.

I am potentially in a minority by saying this, but I feel like the world would be a better place if more woman that WANTED to be mothers were encouraged to stay home and DID. I think it's a big part of the problem in our country in relation to education and health that we don't have longer maternity leave and other structures in place to encourage parents to be at home with their young children. I am an educated, driven career woman, but I also felt why become a parent if my child is going to spend 8 or more hours a day being raised by a stranger....it just wouldn't work for me. When he enters school, I will transition back into my career.

You have to ultimately decide what works for your family. But to me, no amount of money or security could pay for moments missed with my toddler as he learns to talk and other milestones.

1 mom found this helpful

I "gave up" my career as a high school teacher so I could stay home with my son (now 15 months old). Although I didn't make tons of money, I LOVED my job and I was really good at it. I was the kind of person who actually looked forward to going to work every day. For me, it was never a question--I always wanted to be a mom and to me, that meant being home to raise my child myself. I also felt like I will always be able to work, but my kid is only young once. You have to do what works for you and your family, but for me, staying home and being a full-time mommy has been so rewarding. You will still miss your job and the income it brought in, but if it's something you want to do you won't regret it.

1 mom found this helpful

That is such a personal decision. Sounds like you have a great job
with flexibility. What does your husband think? Do you have his support
if you give up your career to stay home. Can you stay home comfortably,
without your income? These are questions on you and your husband
can answer. Talk about it and you will come up with what is right for
you as a family.

1 mom found this helpful

You have good responses. Are you a person that needs adult interaction or can you stay home and just enjoy being a mom? That is what is boils down to not the money or if you do or don't like your job.

I wrestled with this problem many years ago but I like the interaction of adults and knew that children would not be my life forever so this prepared me for when they left the nest and I would not be the real empty nester with nothing to do because the children were gone. There were times that I did not work because of our moving around being military and in different countries.

So as others have said it is up to you to decide. Can you take a vacation and see if you could really do this full time? That way you still have your job and you would know your true self. A salary over $100k is very hard to turn down right now with the economy as it may take you many years to get back in the work force let alone get amount again. Think long and hard on what you do.

The best to you.

The other S.

I think about it all the time. I enjoy the things and time I get with my kids, but they are so happy in school/day care that I'm not sure they would want to be home all of the time. And I would really only want to stay home if I could still provide for them the way we do now. And losing my almost $100k salary would not afford for us to keep up the lifestyle we are accustomed to. We actually just made if 5 months on my salary alone, while my husband was laid off. We had to put one month of bills on credit cards. But that was it. We still made our large car payments and big mortgage and all, but it was stressful not knowing how long we would be on only one. It was good in the long run though. The kids got to stay home over the summer, but they probably would have done more at day care, since we didnt have the extra money to go to the zoo, aquarium, beach, etc like we normally do. But yes, if money was not an issue, I think I would stay home. However, I do enjoy going to the bathroom alone and adult conversations. But would I give that up for endless cuddle hours? Absolutely!

Hi DM - this is a hard one because it has to work for you. The only "right" answer is the one you choose. Your kids are going to be healthy and well-adjusted either way because you're a great mom - working or not. You are obviously feeling the tug to be at home with your kiddos. I totally get that. I encourage you to let go of any mommy-guilt right off. Guilt never leads to wise decisions.

I decided to quit my high stress high paying job to be a SAHM mom but the job stress was a real factor in the decision. If I had been really happy at my job, my decision probably would have been different. Now I work PT at a low stress job and I'm happy although I have to admit I really do miss the money! The other thing I have to admit is that I really had a lot of my identity wrapped up in my job and earning money. You dont get many kudos being a mom.

I have a dear friend who is 15 yrs older than I am and has raised her children. She is an RN who is working as a school nurse in high schools for a local district. She said if she had it to do over again, she would have worked FT when her kids were young and been a SAHM or PT job mom when they were older and dealing with all of the pressures and demanding schedules in jr. High and High School. She felt like her kids needed her more when they were older.

Talk it over with your husband and ask questions like - can you afford it? Would work allow you to work PT for a while or hire someone with whom you could jobshare? Is your husband's job stable enough that you could feel comfortable quitting in this economic environment? Is finding a different job an option? You get the idea -

I wish you all the best!

I gave up my career as a podiatrist 4 years ago to stay at home with my kids.
I also emmigrated from the U.K a week after finishing my job!
I LOVED LOVED my career, it was something I always wanted to do, and now I couldnt go back even if I wanted to , because over in the UK a podiatrist is not a MD, over here they are. I am currently going back to school to retrain as something else.
I like being at home, I don't LOVE it all the time, sometimes it is boring, it is almost always harder than being at work for some reason, I am not a very crafty or "fun" mom, so I sometimes wonder if my kids would be better off at daycare - but I know heart of hearts they wouldn't
I have no money at the mo - my hubby works hard, but only brings home 40k, and we have to pay 2 car notes and all household bills etc out of that.
I gave up 6 figures, a new car, new brick home on a golf course, to live in a 2 bed trailer. my car is 10 years old, my hubbys is 20 years old. we don't eat out - I buy my clothes at walmart. it is a very different life.
It is nice to know I am there for my kids, like my mother was for me, I always loved the securtiy of knowing she was there, waiting for me at home. once both of my kids are in school (3 years time) I will be going back to work, I have to, I have no savings or retirement.
So the right answer is - if you can afford to, then stay home - it is the best for your kids, if you can't afford to, then keep working, or work part time.

There is no right or wrong answer. You need to do what is best for you. You might consider a 2 or 3 week "vacation" from your job to stay home and do what SAHMs do every day. See if it is something you enjoy or if you are ready to go back to work after the hiatus.
I've been home for 18 years with some part time work scattered in there for good measure. I wouldn't trade a minute of it -- well, maybe one or two. I've found that the older they get, the more they need you. My two are in high school and they need me more than ever.
Do what is best for you and yours.

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