Anyone Here with Professional Degree Staying Home Mom Due to Bad Economy??

Updated on October 17, 2012
J.L. asks from Long Island City, NY
23 answers

(Dear MaMa's, this post is not intended to downgrade/disrespect staying home mom which I consider as a full-time job and one of the most beautiful things to do in life. So please please no condemnation for me from staying home mom. I just need a peptalk and encouragement from moms who recently became staying home mom because of bad economy.)

First time posting here but have found this forum to be tremendous support and comfort - thank you all!!! I have a Ph.D. degree in Science which took 7 years (including post-doc) of hard work and sacrifice to earn. For the past 10 years, I have had a good job where I use my educational background and truly enjoyed with a decent pay. Now due to bad economy, I am at the brink of being laid off. I have always dreamed of establishing, with true satisfaction of what I am doing, a good career track until I retire. Fortunately thanks to an excellent nanny and my husband's support, my kids grew up (3 and 5 years old) well and happy although I was at work full time most of weekdays. Now I am torn: should I look for a new job most likely with a significant paycut but at least I will be able to bridge my career track until economy picks up again, or should I stay home raising kids? A half of my salary has been spent to pay for the high-end nanny that we had, therefore if I take over, we will be missing the other half of my salary, which we can manage by being thrifty and my husband can pick up more hours of work. Are there any moms in similar shoes now, despite all the extra educations to get professional degress (JD, MBA, Ph.D. DDS, etc), having to stay home these days because of difficulty in getting another job? How are you coping with it? Don't you feel depressed not going to work place all of a sudden after so many years' enjoying in building up on career track? Are you continuously actively looking for a new job (which takes a lot of time)? Would having a gap in resume put me in a significant disadvantage if I raise kids now and try to re-enter to job market later when kids are older and economy picks up again? In a way, I feel excited that this may be a forced opportunity (otherwise I might have never had) to spend more time with kids and be more involved in their everyday lives. But what is oppressing me is: all the extra years of education and hard work to achieve the professional degree may not lead to anything after all. I will appreciate any of the pep talks from moms recently facing a similar situation. Is there any support web group for this cause?

Many Many Thanks In Advance!

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answers from San Diego on

I have my law degree and I am licensed in 3 states to practice law. That being said I have been a SAHM for almost 8 years. Never ever in a million years would I trade that for any amount of money in the world. I am very very lucky to have had this time with my children. No one ever leaves this earth thinking 'boy I wish I had worked more", the only regret I have heard is "I wish I had spent more time with my family". Do it!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

I agree with Sheila totally!

That being said, I have a double college degree that took me 5 years of my life to earn. However, I was totally blessed when I was forced into quitting my job due to the economy 5 years ago. I thought it was horrible at the time, yet have found out otherwise since. I have tried to get back into the work force now that my girls are all of school age. I tried it for several months, but I found it impossible to attend school functions and hated asking for certain days/times off to contribute to my volunteer time with the school. I'm very happy being a SAHM whose skin care business pays for groceries and annual trips to Disney World.

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answers from Chicago on

J. I am going to address this a little differently than you might have planned for. I am sure others will directly answer your question. I will say this: whether you planned it or not you were given a gift to stay with your children and watch them grow. I too, am educated, not as high level as you, but have finished a Bachelor's Degree, paralegal certified, improv certified (yes it actually required school to make people laugh) and I am a talented and artistic type person. I am musical and intelligent and while I think I am starting to sound like a sales pitch for a dating website I think you get my point. I join millions of wonderful, smart beautiful women who have wondered how this will work with raising children (and WILL IT MAKE ME CRAZY).My children are grown now. And I will tell you this, I now plan to go back to school, but do not for one minute regret that I gave up furthering a career or a higher income and I was able to be available during the years they needed me. And I got to participate in so many things. While it is wonderful (and congratulations ) to be so educated and you worked so hard, it is also a wonderful treasure to SEE AND FEEL the wonder moments in their lives, and YOU SIMPLY DO NOT GET THAT BACK AT ALL!!! soo sorry, I wasn't yelling I am making a point. You cannot go back and see that toothless grin or get a hug with a runny nose and baby shampooed hair stuffed up your nose ever again. You can laugh at movies but you cannot go and replace the moment when the kids found nine baby kitties under our back porch or made a video starring their guinea pig. And you cannot replace the wonderful smells that your children have (when my son went into the service I refused to wash the sheets for months so I could simply smell him) and if you are worried about your sanity or your intelligence or future opportunities, live now in the minute. Because that is really all you will ever have. Do not worry about it. Just love, love your kids.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on


If I could have worked only part time until my children were of school age I would have ( I am a professor and would have given up any chance at tenure had I quit completely or tried to work part time.) It is true that you cannot get that time back both in your career and with young children!!! I also would have had a difficult time with this decision as I love my work; I would have missed it. It seems to me if you can stay home until your youngest is in first grade and then go back to work (maybe part time at first) that this would be a good balance.

I also happen to be someone who grew up poor and when I had kids I wanted to know that if anything happened to my husband, that I would be able to support my family financially. (My mom could not.) (When I was a kid I saw first hand how hard it was for some moms to get back into the workforce when they had to and I did not want to go through that...this is a very specific example, but it is one of the things that drove me to seek a career.)

I do make sacrifices in both aspects of my life and I am honest about that, which is difficult. I was being pressured into taking a high-level leadership role at my college and I had to mention many times, and sometimes with great force, that I could not accept due to my family responsibilities. It was very hard for me to openly say this as I feel that women in the work force are somehow supposed to deny that they have other, more important obligations. I have been slammed at work, mostly by other women. When a man declines to work late because of a child's need, he is a hero. When a woman does it, she is seen as using her private life to be lazy.

I have also felt guilt for the things I have missed. Now that my kids are older (12 and 8) it is easier and I can even talk with them and see if they feel bad when I miss things that SAHMs are able to participate in. Generally they are okay, but sometimes I feel very guilty. I feel very fortunate that teaching is a career that tends to allow me to be home when my kids are home, for example. Still, I know that if I did not work so much, I would be more present for my kids.

On a slightly different note, I think my marriage is stronger because I work, but that is a very personal thing...I think some marriages are stronger because one parent is able to stay at home (my best friend is a doctor and her husband is the stay at home parent and it is the perfect situation for their family). My husband and I work in the same field and just today he was feeling upset about something at work and I was able to help him and he said "I am so glad I am married to someone who understands what I am going through right now." That made me feel really good about my decision...especially because I think sometimes when we are raising young children, we can forget how important it is to focus on our marriages (but maybe that is just me).

You sound like a really great mom who is doing some good, thoughtful reflection on this. I am sure you will find a solution that offers your family the best balance. Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

This happened to me about 8 years ago and I haven't looked back! I am an Electrical Engineer and invested 10 years in my college education (including many thousands of dollars which I am still paying back, many many all-nighters studying with my geeky college pals, and passing up many opportunites for serious relationships) and I don't regret one minute of it. I eventually started a great career as an engineer, made some serious money, got married, got pregnant, and got laid off!
I am glad I did, seriously. I since got pregnant again and again and ended up being a SAHM with 3 beautiful, well behaved (for the most part), very well mannered, confident and expressive children.
I love being a part of their daily lives, not having to juggle an outside workload, being home when they are sick, have doctor appointments, teaching, learning, helping them to become independent self-reliant adults. Chasing them to tae kwon do, dance, gymnastics, etc. and still finding a little tiny slice of the day for me.
I too get irritated when people berate SAH moms because they think we are all uneducated or lazy, but I think having a higher education prepares us in a way that some people don't understand. You can use a lot of the skills you learned in college as a mother. Creativity, organization, logic, memory, finances, decision making, creative problem solving, etc. Which by the way you will list on your resume because most employers know that successful full time mothering is NOT easy and requires an extensive skill set. You just have to sell it that way!
I don't see me going back to work for a long time (my youngest is still 2 1/2) and I'm good with that. I want to be here when they go off to school in the morning and I want to be here when they get home. I am their pillar and their comfort when they need me there. I want to be there for them 100% of the time. That's now my job.
My biggest hurdle is convincing my husband that the paycheck that arrives on the 1st and 15th of every month is not 'his' money, it's 'our' money and I've earned it just as much as he has. With that in mind, pay yourself (allocate some of that paycheck to yourself for yourself) so that you don't lose sight of your self worth and accomplishments.
Yes, sometimes I miss working and having adult conversation all day and a break from kids, but I MAKE time for that. And I miss going out to lunch with my work pals, but I do that now with my other educated SAHM friends and we even do girls weekend getaways! So always make time for yourself and get the breaks you deserve.
Try it for a while and see how it goes. Living on one income is a hard adjustment, but VERY do-able. You just have to make some sacrifices.
Your children are only little once, and the time flies by. Enjoy it now!!!!
Good luck to you, I'm sure you'll find your place and your passion.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi J., I don't have a professional degree, I work part time. However I will tell you that a friend of ours and her husband went to Germany for the husband's work. He has a PHD and is a professor. The wife is an ER doctor. They have 3 young children. Over there, it is VERY common for professional women to not work until their children are in school or whatever. Totally different from America. She has many friends, other professional women who also stay at home.

In the end, do what you feel best with, and what will satisfy you. That is a tough choice!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I can relate to your post although I haven't been laid off. I just wish I was. :) I have an expensive and prestigious MBA and a couple of professional designations so I have a great paying job etc. I too have struggled with the idea of how much I invested in getting to where I am vs thinking I should be home. What I can tell you is now that my kids are 5 and 6.5, I'd really like to be home. I wasn't cut out for it when they were younger but now I would not only like it, I feel like it's becoming more necessary. We have an expensive nanny too but she's not mom. The choices they have to make etc will only become more difficult. There are more nuances and judgement calls to make in terms of how and what to teach them now as well. Your youngest is 3 but your oldest is approaching this territory. So for the most part, I'd look at it as a blessing that you may have less of a choice about staying home. In addition, I'm not sure exactly what you do but consider if it's a job you can get back into relatively easily. Mine isn't. I've become so specialized and where we live, there isn't much in my industry so I really think that despite my credentials, I may never be able to get a job again if I quit now. If you don't feel that way, I'd stay home. At least give it a try. Maybe try to consult a tad. On the flip side, I always recommend reading the book Feminine Mistake. It outlines the risks of staying home. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

I do not have my Ph.D., but I was a professional until my husband and I made the decision for me to be a stay at home mom. I ended my 15 year, very well paid, career. If the economy was this bad back then, I would never have given up my career (unless laid off). However, since the economy is not good, and you do have such a great education, why not try to obtain a job as a professor for an on line college? I met a mom, who I thought was a SAHM, but quiet the contrary. She was at home during the hours her daughter was home, but she was a professor for University of Phoenix. She also taught evening classes at ASU (brick and mortar she would call it). She taught in her field. She loved it because she was able to still be there for her daughter when her daughter was home. Some evening classes started at 5pm, so her daughter would go to the grandma's until her dad got home. It really worked for her.

Good luck!

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answers from Boca Raton on

I have a professional degree and ten years of student loan payments that I JUST finished.

I have been homeschooling for the last 4 years. Hence, my decision was not related to the economy. It would probably be tough to go back today - especially at a very good salary.

Am I happy I have my degree to fall back on ? Yes. Would I trade homeschooling for working at this point in my life? Never, unless there was no other way to feed and house my family. Does our choice contain risk? Absolutely. But we feel the risk has been analyzed and considered as much as it possibly can be.

I have done it all - worked full-time, part-time, nannies, daycare, in-home care, etc. Nothing beats staying home. Nobody loves or cares about my children the way I do. Nothing beats being here when they're sick, hugging the toilet, and want their MOM (not hired help). Nothing beats customizing a curriculum for a child who is nearly a genius in math but struggled to read despite numerous years at an extremely expensive, exclusive private school. Nothing beats a long, heart-felt discussion with my teen about civics and government in the middle of the day.

God gives us the children, and the responsibility. The days go slowly sometimes but the years go quickly. As Jackie Kennedy said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."

That's just my philosophy - doesn't mean it's right or wrong - it's just what I believe with all my heart. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

What Sheila said was beautiful and I completely agree!

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answers from Kansas City on


I am not in your situation, but wanted to respond anyway. I am a SAHM with a Master's degree. I completed my degrees (both with a 4.0 average from well-regarded universities) before my children were born. I made the choice to stay home. In my opinion, there are only 2 reasons to work: you have to or you want to. At the time my oldest was born I didn't want to or have to work. Five years and three children later, that is still the case. My youngest will start kindergarten when I am 37. If I go back to work then, I will still have the opportunity to work 30 years until retirement (my mom will retire at 67). In the grand scheme of life, will it make a difference if I work 30 or 34 years? Nope.

I would use this time to spend extra quality time with your children. Can you do consult work? Can you work part-time? If you did stay home and there is a gap on your resume, just say you wanted to be with your children--who can fault you for that?

It is a tough decision, but maybe you company is doing a favor for you--it's just hard to see it that way.

Most of my SAHM friends are highly is an atty, one is a dentist, several have Master's Degrees, and one has a PhD in Engineering or something.


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answers from Minneapolis on

I have to tell you, I always thought I would work, my mother worked w/ 4 kids (nurse) my sister worked w/ 4 kids, I have a degree from a very respected nationally ranked College (read: big bucks that my parents spent on my education), I love money (!), I had a great job that I was really proud of..... and then the economy tanked and my company shut down offices and laid off a lot of people; one of which was me. What a gift.

We had a nanny too AND I worked from home so I spent a lot of time with my children even though I worked full time. I would have breakfast w/ them. Pop out of my office and read them a book or 2 or 3 throughout the day, have lunch (or at least sit w/ them for a while if I couldn't take a full on lunch break). The nanny would bring them to me so I could put them down for their naps, etc., etc. I honestly thought I wasn't missing much of their childhood (they were too young for pre-school so they were at home 90% of the time) and then I stopped working and stayed home full time. I was SHOCKED at how much I was missing. It's the little things.. the little conversations in the car, in the grocery store, etc.

I was happy that I got to stay home with them and then after a bout 3 months, once I realized how much I was missing, my happiness turned into full on gratitude. I am just so grateful that I get to do this.

It's not easy though... not at ALL. In fact it, at times, can be the most frustrating thing EVER. Your children are a bit older than mine so you may not have as much frustration re: getting them dressed, into the car, etc. it sounds silly - but when you have to say the same thing over and over and over again..... it does make you feel like you're losing it a bit. You'll understand once you're home full time.

I get the wanting to work, life career path, etc. and I totally support it... but you've been given an opportunity - I say take it. good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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answers from Honolulu on

Its about priorities and what you want or will be happiest doing.
And, the level of sacrifice of maintaining a lifestyle/costs, or not.
People make due. And/or cut expenses or amend them as need be, when laid off or having a job with less pay.

No matter what kind of degree, you have.

That is the bottom line.

I have a University degree and multi-degrees. Double majored etc.
I am a SAHM.
I am happy.
As for work/career.. my take on it is, it will fall into place and work out.
If/when I do need to go back to work, or have to.
You pick and choose, or make due, with life's offerings.
There is no finite... path.
Or career path.
Plans, change.
And as one moves throughout, life and its phases.

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answers from Houston on

I don' have a degree... I was about 1 year away from finishing and yet I put it on hold. However, I know several moms who have advanced degrees who are now staying home.

I did work for many years though prior to having children, so it is a bit of a shock staying home, but keeping busy and providing support to your kids is important.

Your children will grow fast. All of those years of hard work and education can still be used in the future, so it isn't wasted. Also, it's proven that educated parents often mean more educated children, so your example will pay off to your kids as well. Maintain your education/career. You can still go to yearly conferences and get new certifications if you need, so that 5-10 years from now if you apply for jobs, they see you will still actively interested and keeping up to date in the field. You can even work part time at nights teaching at a local college in your field. You can volunteer for field tests or whatever it is that your do. It's fairly common these days. I know several moms who tutor right now and that hover around their fields, though they are no longer technically in them at the moment. Resumes can be reworked and many employers are taking advantage of hiring professional women who took time off to raise families.

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answers from Boston on

Hi J.-
I have a professional degree and worked for 10 years before choosing to put my career on hold and become a SAHM, it was the best decision for our family. It was an adjustment because I did really enjoy my job and the salary but I don't regret my decision. I'm not too concerned with the gap in my resume because I already hold several years of experience and plan to attend professional development that will keep me current in my field along w/ making connections for future job opportunities.

You sound very apprehensive about the whole thing. If going back to work will make you the happiest, then it will be the best thing for your family and vice versa. There's no right or wrong answer, you just have to do what you feel is right for you and your family.

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answers from Redding on

No money or career can compare to the time and relationships you can have with your children. I know many parents who wish they had spent more time with their kids when they were younger and they can never get that back. I admire your hard work and time spent on earning your degrees, but in the end, when you look back at your life, what will you want to be able to say you accomplished in your life? it is impressive and I'm sure you're proud of all you've accomplished in your education and career. You are to be applauded for your commitment and the sacrifices you must have made along the way. I would hope you can not look at it as not leading to anything. There are work from home opportunities as well that can give you the best of both worlds. I know of a great one if you want more information about it, let me know. There is no greater job than being a parent and being involved in your kids lives, shaping them into the people they are meant to be. I wish I could be at home instead of in the workforce. I would hope you will find the benefits in each opportunity.

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answers from Chicago on


I have a Master's Degree and loved my career. I worked for almost a decade post graduate school and then after having my first child decided to stay home. I have been home for almost five years and do not regret my decision at all. Yes, you put in a lot of time and money into your education and career and if you want to continue it, do so in whatever capacity you can, consulting, part-time, etc. If you want to stay home, do so. Nothing is permanent you can always change your mind. Just be honest with yourself and do what will make you and your family happy and fulfilled. Don't make decisions because of an escalation of commitment. Best of luck to you and your family!



answers from Denver on

I have 2 degrees. I look at my current situation as a blessing in disguise. it's allowing me to personally raise my children, while getting some serious experience working with children. I figure I will return to work once they are in school, or if the proper opportunity comes up.

if you have a degree in science- why not apply somewhere like Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, NM? I worked there a few years ago and it's truly a fabulous place to work.

Best wishes-



answers from Washington DC on

I freelance, so I'm still using my degree, just very PT. You might want to check out a site like which caters to "mom professionals" with a degree.

It was an adjustment and it was my choice (though I hear my old company laid off a bunch last fall) but I'm trying to make the freelancing work and enjoying the time with DD.

If you think you'll have a big resume gap, freelancing or volunteer work or education (though you have a PhD...) can fill that gap for employers. Could you do tutoring, for example?

In our case my PT work fills the gap and we save on my car, my lunches and gas and daycare.



answers from New York on

WOW!!!! What a post. First of all there are many in your position, you where see the hand writing on the wall regarding what may or may not happen to your particular job, while others have been given a specific day or date range for the termination of their position the thing is you have to make some decisions about how your are going to handle it. One of the first things that happens is that crisis of identy. You really discover if you have been finding self value in the job as well as your identity in the work you do. A mind set needs to change because we are all more than our work or degree.

The other thing that needs to happen is a mind awakening to the endless possibilities available to us once we are severed from our jobs. How could you possibly use your degree and experience in another capacity? Would it be possible to start a business? Could you open your home to other children? Or offer some kind of product or service?

If you think your salary will be cut in half then that will be your experience. Also if you are willing to take what is available right now while still looking for better you will find what you are looking for. How diligent are you? Have you used all of the technology out there to create contacts and establish professional realtionships that could benefit you in your future objectives. There are endless possibilities and the scenario you present is only one but may not reflect at all your actual future of events.

You may start by having some negative feelings around not going to a job but your mind controls it all. How are you willing to foster and develop the way you think to create the kind of future you want for yourself. Positive's attract positive while negative's attract the negative. Try honestly seeing the glass as half full and look for the positive in everything. Look for solutions instead of being hung up on every bad thing that has or can happen.

I hope this helps pull you into a better direction. Remember your children are learning from you how to handle adversity. For the last 4 years I have watched over half the staff where I work be terminated or forced to retire. I have used this time to reduce my personal debt and get my finances in order as well as save like crazy and live a more simplistic life. My life now is richer and better than ever. It doesn't mean I am without challenges but I have other options at my disposal. I could still be the next person released from this job but I'm better prepared and I know it wouldn't be the end but the beginning of something beautiful and wonderful. I love the adventure of life.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi J.,

Just have to mention that I do not think you come across as thinking you are better than other SAHM's, as one poster claimed. Wow. A little support for each other???!

I will say that being a SAHM is tough emotionally, especially when they are very young...but I wouldn't change having done it. I gave up a university teaching job and the PhD track to stay home, and I don't regret it. I did get a part time job though, because I need that connection outside the home.

I think consulting might be an avenue for you, as someone else mentioned. You do sound excited at the prospect of spending more time with your children, and if finances allow you to do this, it is definitely worth trying. There is always a market for good people when the economy picks up...I wouldn't worry too much about that...



answers from Dallas on

I have a master's degree, and I teach part-time at a local university. For me, it's the perfect balance of work and family. It also keeps me in the workforce with no break in employment.

Don't be afraid to think outside the box- it's not all or nothing!



answers from San Francisco on

Please don't listen to these people. Plenty of people work and still love and care for their children. To really answer your question... It sad. You may feel upset and depressed that you wasted time, money, and so much more getting a degree and not able to use it. If its so rewarding and better to be SAHM that working woman, then why waste a money on a degree that you do not plan to further pursue. I have a Master's in Law School and love my kids and married, but did not put all my energy to be jobless. That was not the objective. Therefore there is nothing rewarding by being a failure and result to being a SAHM like that was your dream all along. That's like people who only became teachers because they couldn't get the job they really wanted rather than a teacher who studied to become a teacher.

This economy sucks and all you can do is get your foot in the door and hope that a better opportunity comes out of it after the economy gets better.

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