Can't Decide Stay at Home or Keep Working?

Updated on February 12, 2009
S.M. asks from Dallas, TX
18 answers

I took a 4 month maternity leave and then went back to work full-time. My daughter was at home with a nanny from 4-7 months and started daycare at 7 months - she is now 10 months. I REALLY wanted to stay home with her after my maternity leave but I went back to work b/c if I stayed with the company through March 2009, I would get a big bonus. Well, now March is just around the corner and I'm trying to decide (and negotiating with my husband) what I should do.

My husband has said I can stay home if it is that important to me but that he would prefer that I keep working - he thinks our daughter is doing fine in daycare and that with the economy like it is, we should keep 2 incomes. If I were to quit working, we could make it fine on my husband's salary but would not really have much for any extras nor would we be able to save much. We've talked about wanting to add on to our house and he's pointed out we wouldn't be able to do that if I quit working. The other options are to maybe see if my work would let me go part-time (3 days per week) or just remain full-time.

Our daycare is good and I like our daughter's teachers. But it's just that I would love to be home with her and be the one taking care of her. I can't shake the feeling that there are at least some negative effects on a young child's emotional development from spending 40 hours a week in daycare. However, I don't want to put our family in a financial bind or do something that's going to make my husband end up resenting me. In short, I want to do what's best for our family overall but I just can't decide what that is! I never want to look back and wish that I had spent the time at home with our daughter but I also don't want to quit and then have us end up not being able to provide as much financially for our daughter as we would have if I had kept working.

Any advice from people who have been there and done that?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and advice - lots of wisdom on this subject out there and it was truly helpful! We are going to try and live off just my husband's salary for a little while and see if we can make that work. Also, my husband is looking at some new job options so depending on how that all works out, it might make me staying at home an easier option. We talked about it last night and my husband said let's just get through March and then re-look at this. In the meantime, I'm going pursue a couple of part-time opportunities to see if they could pan out so that we at least have options to consider. I thank you so much for all of your thoughtful replies!

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

I agree and disagree with the rest of the moms. I am WFTM, my son stayed with a nanny for 3 yrs. and then put him in a daycare and a lot of good things have happened to him. He started developing socially, have lots of friends, develop a love for studying, etc. Things that wouldn't have happened if he had stayed home longer. Another thing is the current economic situation. At this time, with recession and not knowing if you have a secure job, it's better to have 2 incomes than just depend on 1 income and being able to save for a future. Yes, I would have hoped I could have stayed home with my son, but he was taken care of and he had a routine I would not had given him. Your daughter will always loves you and will never be confused about who her mommy is. At the end of the day it is a really personal decision that only u and ur husband can make. I only gave my 2 cents. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I know that this can be a hot topic of discussion but I wanted to throw in my two cents.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you. If you really want to stay home and you are not putting a huge financial strain on your family- then you should be at home where you want to be. Ten years from now you won't care whether you added on to your house or had some of the other extras.
I will tell you that I am a stay at home mom and I LOVE it! If you are really concerned about the money then sit down together and do a budget. Turn off the tv, get in a "together" sort of mind set and really talk about your money situation.
When I decided to stay home we knew that it was going to take some adjustment. I made 45% of our income at the time. Just before I decided to quit, someone lent me a book called The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. That book and the financial plan that he shows you how to implement changed our lives.
You can get his book from the library or buy a copy at the bookstore. He's also on the radio every weekday from 1-4pm on 570 AM and he has a show on the Fox Business channel as well. If you get really serious about his program you can attend a Financial Peace University 13 week course at a local church. You can find out more info about him at (I think I'm sounding like a Dave Ramsey commercial :) )
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions about Dave's program. We've been doing it for 3 years and are working on Baby Step 3!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Been there (for 14 years!) and haven't done it, although I desperately want to! We have a 2 year old so I'm feeling that pain all over again! However, we've become too addicted to the lifestyle of a 2-income family that cutting back now would be very painful. Mostly it is because of the extras for our three girls -- private music lessons, membership fees, soccer, etc. To lose my income would be to say good-bye to these things and my children have really benefited from the extracurricular enrichment. And I actually earn more than my husband and all of our benefits are through my company so that is another consideration.

But I wish I had made that choice 14 years ago because that would have been the best time to adjust our living style.

If you feel that your husband's job is very secure in these times of economic uncertainties, then you may want to try the part-time thing first to get a feel for it. I would trade an add-on to my house for more time with my kids!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter is now 3 and I worked the first 2 years of her life. After he constantly getting colds, ear infections, sinus infection and all that good stuff I finally couldn't take it anymore and quit my job. We had to make some SERIOUS sacrifices but it has been worth everything to be home with my daughter. You miss so much while they are little that you just cannot get back, and no one can raise your daughter like you can.

You need to just sit down with your husband and talk to him very seriously. You probably won't be able to add on to the house, and you won't have all the luxuries you have now but you are providing a wonderful home for your daughter. Not only that but you can be a better wife. You are not as tired and stressed when you get home so that leaves you more available for him. He will notice a huge difference in your lives after just a few days, for the better!

I say go for and don't look back. It has absolutely been the best decision I have ever made.



answers from Dallas on

Money is money... it does not make a family nor does it make happiness.

I truly believe if you have the ability to stay home you should. I quit a near 6 figure job to be home with my baby girl. I don't regret a single bit of it. I will stay home through her school years too, but if you feel the need to go back to work, it's really only a few SHORT years. So you put off the work on your home and those extras and spend time with your baby. I look at my daughter daily and wonder where the time has gone.

Elizabeth is 20 months. She is the most amazing person and I honestly don't think she would be as far along as she is if I weren't home with her. At 20 months, she can say nearly anything, knows her letters and her colors. Right now she is singing with Choo Choo Soul and actually knows most of the words. I love watching her dance and sing!!! I will say staying home is a job. It's a lot of work to be home with your baby and is the most rewarding job of my life!

Being a SAHM is a very personal decision. I know some women who don't want to stay home. I don't judge that. I just know this was the best decision for me and I would hate to miss a moment!

GL on your decision!



answers from Dallas on

Would your company allow you to telecommute at least part time? I work at home with my own Child Shuttle business and it's HARD to juggle it all! That said, I have a babysitter that comes and works while I'm home so I can get things done. I'm always accessible to my child, but he has lots of fun/social interaction, etc. for 3-4 hours/day. Perhaps you can strike a balance with that. A few times, my sitter has helped out a friend by bringing over another toddler and my little one LOVES that - you might be able to work a deal with another mom to share the cost and the care. The sitter actually can work slightly less hard with two because they play with each other a lot. This could be cheaper than daycare, and if your company is flexible with some sort of part time/telecommuting arrangement, it could be a great solution. I hope that helps! Good luck!


answers from Dallas on

When my son turned 1 last June, I left my job to stay at home. It has been a lot tighter financially, but well worth it. We cut back a lot, especially with eating out, and we make it work. If you really want to stay at home, then do it if you can. I think you will probably regret it if you don't. You're daughter won't notice if you're cutting back. I feel like I'm a better mom and wife b/c I'm not so stressed out and tired from working f/t, then coming home and still working around the clock. I greatly admire the working moms who pull it off! However, b/c I wanted to stay at home so badly with my son, it was causing me so much stress. I started resenting my job, even though I loved it and the people I worked with, not to mention the kids in my class (I taught at a daycare). I still visit the daycare I worked at, and I do miss working there, but I do not regret my decision one bit!

If you decide to go to work p/t, just remember that most daycares don't do tuition based on # of days a week, but for the whole week. So if you're keeping her home 2 days, you're most likely going to be paying for those 2 days anyway.

Whatever you decide, do it b/c it's what's best for your family. Give it to God and trust that He will carry you through, no matter what your decision is!



answers from Dallas on

i have been a SAHM, a full time WM and now a part time WM. there is no best choice for anyone. you will always feel some kind of guilt, be it for not contributing financially to the houselhold or for the child being in day care. that's reality.

that being said, i approve of day cares and such as a rule. my children have learned more from them than they could have ever learned from me. if you find a good one, then keep it forever. the child will let you know if it's a good one. they will flourish and enjoy going every day. that releases me from any guilt i have about working because i know my kids are well cared for by capable people.

i can't tell you what to do. i know i was miserable and lonely as a SAHM. i enjoy working, be it full time or part time. my kids are happy. my hubby is happy. most importantly, i'm happy. you have to figure out what makes you happy. no amount of sacrifices could be worth my happiness. before you make a decision, figure out what you would have to give up to stay home and ask if it's worth it. because in this economy which is slow to recover it may take a while to rejoin the working world if you change your mind.



answers from Dallas on

I suggest exploring ALL of your options and thinking about it for a while. We talked to a financial advisor and he laid all options out for us - both of us working, me working 30 hours/week, not working at all. I chose to reduce my hours to 30/week. It is working out well for now, but I still want to stay home. This economy scares me so I will continue to work for now. But, I think you should go with your gut and do what is going to make you the happiest. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on


I think this is perhaps the most difficult issue moms grapple with. There really is no "right" answer that fits everyone's circumstances. I do think it is easy to live a lifestyle that makes us dependent on a second income, when we don't really have to be. But I also know that most of us who aren't earning an income have to live with some financial sacrifices, both in areas of "need" as well as "want." I also think that if you have such strong feelings, you probably will have some regrets down the road that you didn't stay at home at least for awhile. And husbands usually have no real idea of the other sacrifices that are made by the moms who do work outside the home! It will get harder, instead of easier. And the burdens generally fall on the mom.

That being said, why not try to have the best of both worlds in some way? Work for another half year or two, but begin living only on your husband's income. Start saving every bit of money you bring in. This will give you and hubby time to adapt to the one income lifestyle; it will give a good reserve for future issues; and if the economy stays bad for long, it will hopefully keep you employed when you most need it. After you've reached a reasonable savings amount, give notice, stay home, and enjoy the time with your child. It truly will give you more than you could ever imagine! And, personally, since we're the ones who conceive, carry the pregnancy, deliver the child, and have permanently changed bodies as a result, you deserve this and your husband needs to acknowledge that (IMO). I think men don't really appreciate that whole dynamic nearly enough!

Good luck sorting through all the pros and cons. I hope you will find a way to stay at home, even if briefly, but I completely support any woman's decision - or need - to continue working.

(and I don't want to sound like a male basher, but I think it's also possible for the men to work a second job, even if part-time, to support their wife in staying home with their children. And if you do stay at home with your child at some point, I would encourage you to really consider in advance some good boundaries with your hubby about handling the income!)



answers from Dallas on

It is great that you are really thinking this through. I am not sure I have an answer for you, but will try.
I hated that my son was in daycare and becuase of the commute to and from work, he was there almost 12 hours a day! But my family HAD to have my income, so I had no choice.
I would consider working part time. For one, with the economy the way it is, it may be harder for you get a job in the future if you just stop working all together. That will get you some extra income and let you be at home too. That would also allow you to still have a sense of self and give the baby a chance to socialize at day care part time. And if money gets tight, you can always see if you can go back to full time hours. Contact the day care and see if part time tuition is availalbe and talk to your boss.
Good luck, that is a hard decision


answers from Dallas on

S.: I am glad you posted this concern!!! I am in the same situation right now! I had my baby 5 weeks ago and I also can't decide if I want to go back to work full time. I asked my employer if I can get a PT position but the local hospital doesn't offer PT. So I am at the point where I am lost and have no idea what what to do either. My FMLA at my job is up due to me being on bed rest early in my pregnancy. So I just asked for personal time off to be at home longer with my little one so I can decided what I am going to do. So your posting will give me some advise as we are in a similar situation.



answers from Amarillo on

Congrats on your baby. You went back to work to get a bonus due in March right? Well, what are your plans for the bonus; are you spending it on something "wanted" or is it needed? Have you two sat down and mapped out your finances and where you will be in the next two to three years? Do you really need to build on to the house right now? Can you cut down on your expenses and toys right now?
A poster suggested you try to live off of one salary for six months so that you know what to expect. Do you have the 6 to 9 months salary in savings to tide you over should you (or hubby) lose your job? These are things you must consider first before leaving the work.

Today's economy is not that stable and anything to rock the boat could cause a ripple effect in your personal financial future. As said only you can make this decision. Good luck to you. But do think long and hard about it. The other S.



answers from Dallas on

While I was pregnant, I thought for sure I would go back to work, but once she was born, the thought of leaving her with someone else broke my heart. I didn't want to get a report and read on her first babble, step, work, etc. I was able to work it out with the company I worked for to work part-time and work from home. It was great at first, but once she became mobile (walking), it was more difficult. My part-time job felt like a full-time job because it would take me all day to get work done with all the interruptions and later I came to realize that it wasn't fair to her. She deserved and wanted my attention so I finally quit and it was the best decision I made. Sometimes I miss work, but not as much as I know I'd miss my daughter. To have some "me" time I did enroll her in Mother's Day Out so I had some time for myself and it gave her exposure to other children. It has worked out for the best and I'm so happy I'm here with her to watch her learn and grow.

Children's most critical years are the the first three years when they're developing who they are. After the age of three, they who they are.

I know the economy is rough right now, but never once has my husband thought of having me go back to work. He thought it was the best move I made to stay home with our daughter and that our daughter is better for it. When you factor the cost of daycare, you'll see the loss of your income won't be a major factor should you decide to stay home with your daughter.



answers from Dallas on

I worked for one year after my oldest was born and then decided I had to quit because I wanted nothing more than to stay home even if it meant big sacrifices. My husband didn't want me to quit, but left the decision up to me. I couldn't have made a better decision. I have enjoyed every moment, well almost every moment, staying home with my children and I beleive they have benefitted as well. My husband is as happy with my decision as I am and we haven't made as many sacrifies as we thought we would have to make. These have been the best years of my life and I wouldn't change a thing. Jobs will always be there, but your children are young only once and for a very short time. It passes so fast. No matter what you decide, make sure it is a decision that truly makes you happy and with as few regrets as possible. Good luck!!


answers from Dallas on

What do you think your daughter needs more right now in her life, you as her mother and teacher, or stuff? I think a lot of us could do better financially and still save money if we cut out extras that we don't really need, or even miss when we don't get it anymore.

I stay at home with my two little ones, and it is trying at times, but I love it. In just a few short years, they will be going to school 5 days a week and they have their Sunday school teachers, so now is the only time you have to be that influence 100% for your baby.

Try going to work part time if they will let you. That way you still have a little bit of extra income and you can still have some of the time with her at home as well. This can help you decide which you feel you need to do full time.

Sometimes, the math of a working mother considering gas/taxes/daycare expenses/lunch/wardrobe... isn't really worth all of the extra trouble and heartache of wondering if you are making the right decision.

Be sure whatever you decide, it is for you and your daughter's best interest and not to appease your husband. If you do continue to work to please him, and later have regret, you may end up resenting him for making you miss out on the joys of staying at home for a few short years.



answers from Wichita Falls on

What about working and bankrolling your salary? Living off your husband's income exclusively and letting yours pile up in the bank. If you're comfortable with the lifestyle, you should have a nice little nest egg saved up at the end of six months or so that will let you do your addition or live off of in this tough economy.

If you (as a family) can't stand it, then you have your answer.

FWIW - my husband did not want me to quit working, then after six months of having a SAHWAM - he didn't want me to go back. The house ran so much more smoothly with a full time manager; now we're back to splitting that duty and he's back to washing the toilet. LOL

Good luck



answers from Dallas on

I don't have failsafe advice for you, but I just want to say, I TOTALLY understand your stress in making this decision. I'm going through that process right now, and after 1 year of thinking, I can't come up with a good solution. My difficulty is health insurance--my child is on my health insurance, and there isn't a great alternative if I quit my job. But, I've told myself that there really is rarely a perfect solution to anything, and I'll need to make a decision and cope with the difficulties and enjoy all the benefits of that decision. As thoughtful as your query is, I'm sure you'll make a well-educated choice that will be good for you AND your family. Your child is lucky to have you!

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