How Can I Be a Stay-at-home-mom?

Updated on January 20, 2009
S.S. asks from Portland, OR
12 answers

My husband and I are arguing about my staying at home until our kid(s) go to school. He says I have to work because we cannot live on his salary alone, and I feel that for me to work and put our child in full-time daycare is not worth it. My salary would be thrown away on daycare, when I feel that we could pinch our pennies and I could raise our child myself. How do other couples figure this one out?

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answers from Seattle on

I too had a hard time with this. My daughter was 2 months old when I got a call to go back to work. I debated whether I wanted to drive an hour each way to work. In the end, I decided to stay home. We made ends meet. When my daughter was 15 months old, I went back to work part time. Daycare was pricey, but my daughter learned some independence and I got some time to be an individual again. I really enjoyed working that year (I was pregnant with our 2nd child). I do currently stay home with my kids again. We have 4 with 2 in school. The cost of daycare outweighs what I would make. I am waiting until my youngest is in kindergarten and am starting to decide what schooling and skills I will need to acquire before I go back.

Working from home is an option, if you have the discipline. I've considered working nights or weekends, but my husband and I decided that our time together was more important.

We have life insurance policies, ON BOTH OF US. It is important for both of you to have a large policy to cover everything. The house, the bills, 3 years living expenses. It costs us $110 a month for peace of mind that if something happened to him, or I, that we wouldn't drown in our bills and extra expenses.

I hope you can come to some sort of agreement. It's hard either way you decide it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on


I am a stay home Mom to a 5 year old boy in preschool, and a 2 year old girl that is a handful. We tried daycare while I was going to school before my daughter was born. After she was born we decided that it just wasn't worth it to jump through all the DSHS hoops and red tape.

I've been home with them since she was born. We also live on less that $20,000 a year. We don't have much extra at the end of the month, but our kids do have food, clothes and a warm place to sleep. And they have their Mommy home with them.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We deal with this one, on and off.

For a few years while I was in school my financial aid package gave me essentially a thousand dollars a month (aka 3200 per quarter). Daycare while I was in school was a fraction of what it would have been working...since I only needed about 8 hours per week. I did hw during naps and after bedtime.

In Seattle, at least, daycare is expensive. Essentially the average is 1600 a month for an infant, and it doesn't really go down until they're potty trained. Nanny share is usually MUCH less, and there is all the benefit of close one on one attention...wait sorry...not going there now.

So...when things got too tight with us, I had to quit school for awhile to go back to work...but fulltime daycare was prohibitive. I would have made about 70 cents and hour after factoring in taxes and daycare. So we did the he works days and I worked nights.'re working all day taking care of a little one, to work all night, to work all day, to work all night....and my husband has never *really* gotten how much work is involved taking care of children and a house all on your I didn't have a lot of support, much less empathy.

When he got a raise that actually DOUBLED what I made working fulltime at night I quit. He's never really been happy with that decision, and has constantly undermined me since. Since there is really no difference in his lack of support/empathy in either situation, at least this way I'm not a sleep deprived zombie. :P Bleck.

Well that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Anyhow...the easiest and simplest formula is this:

Figure out how much you'll be making per month. Determine the cost of childcare for number of hours you'll be working/commuting. Subtract.

On a purely monetary basis: is it worth it?
On an emotional & intellectual basis: is it worth it?

I'm still in school part time. The downside is that now I have to pay out of pocket, because DH makes too much...but we're in debt up to our eyeballs from getting him through school. Ironically it would have made better financial sense for me to have stayed in school on financial aid (I'd be working by now on a living wage at even 20 hours per week...five times what i can make without my degree). But DH was sooooo stressed about $ that we made the decision for me to quit and work.

Regardless, I have never regretted a single moment of the time I have gotten to spend raising my son. Decisions based out of fear I've regretted. Decisions based concerning his welfare...not at all.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

In addition to trying to pinch pennies as much as possible, have you considered starting your own home-based business?

Having a business would allow you to earn some extra money, buy products that you would buy anyway at a discounted price plus get some income tax write offs (for things like the cost of your cell phone, office supplies, computer, even some of your car mileage etc.) that could help make up for the loss of your job income.

One of the easist ways to get started in a business is to become an independent rep or distributor for a direct sales company. There are many great companies out there that have fantastic products that you can market. Do your research and find a stable, growing company with great products that you would enjoy using yourself with a good compensation plan. Compare the profit percentages of the different companies you are interested in.

Be sure to look at the fine print and watch out for requirements like needing to have "X" number of parties in your first month as a rep or large quarterly purchase quotas that you aren't comfortable with. I would also recommend avoiding some of the older companies that have 25 reps per square mile competing with each other.

It does require effort, time and some investment of money to get a business going. For most people it helps to start one and build up a customer base while you are still working at least part time and then quit your job after you have started to build a customer base.

Most companies will require you to make an initial investment or a monthly fee to be a rep or distributor. This is usually to have an intial supply of products to show people and a website to market online. Those that don't usually have a very low profit margin.

Most people recoil at the thought of "selling" - I did too. It required me to change the way I thought about what "selling" really is. I realized that there are people out there who are looking for the products I have or would enjoy them as much as I do so I all I need to do is to let them know to make it easier for them to find me. No arm-twisting or convincing anyone of anything.

I hope maybe a home-based business will make it possible fo you to stay home with your children.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Well, I have to say this should actually be a pretty easy decision. Make a budget, see how much comes in, how much money you spend, where you can save and what you are left with.
Going back to work and having my baby in daycare was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but it is the best way for us at this point. We are working to stabilize our finances and I hope to be able to start staying at home in a few years, when we can afford it...

Remember to not only calculate your wage, but also benefits. I know plenty of women that go back to work and spend their entire wage on daycare in order to keep their health benefits for the entire family.
Do you have childcare already lined up? Are you aware of the costs? Do you have an option of working part-time? Maybe you need to go back to work for a bit, pay off your debt, if you carry any, reduce your payments and then you can stay home? All those are things that you could consider... Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

This was something my husband and I discussed and decided before we even got married. After we got married, we only lived on on his salary. We used my salary to make extra payments to reduce our debt. We paid off everything but the house - which was great. And we refinanced into a 15 year mortgage - something that increased our mortgage payments by almost $250 per month but would save us over $100,000 over staying with a 30 year mortgage.

If I were you, I would get your husband the Dr. Laura book: Parenthood By Proxy: Don't Have Them if You Won't Raise Them. I would also sit down and figure out exactly how much it costs to work outside the home: Gas, vehicle insurance and vehicle maintenance; work clothing and dry cleaning; buying lunch (and possibly breakfast and probably dinner) five days per week; day care; taking sick leave from work because children in daycare are exposed to more viruses; and don't forget federal income taxes . . . because your salary might be enough to pop you into a higher tax bracket. Then, compare that to your take home salary.

A friend of mine did this and found that she was only bringing in a little over $1 per hour. They decided that she should stay home because making an extra $50 per week wasn't worth having their son raised in day care. She started clipping coupons and stopped getting manicures. He stopped doing paintball. She's been home for five years now - and they are doing better financially than some of our friends who DO have two incomes!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You will need to evaluate your finances and figure out where unecessary things are happening and how to nip some of that in the bud. Daycare is insanely expensive and you may want to call around, get figures, and show him how unrealistic it is to work just to pay for daycare (sometimes upwards of a thousand a month!). Figures usually help guys out who tend to be a bit on the logical side of things. If you do online banking find out where you are spending a lot of your money. With tax return pay things down, get less payments. Tuck your grocery bill a bit by using coupons (check out - very worth the investment - I have used it for 2 years and rarely spend over 200/mn on groceries). Minimize eating out and make actual meal plans - pack lunches. It is totally possible for you to stay at home but the two of you have to make it happen.
Bottomline is that you both will need to be on the same page for you to stay home. I can email you a link to my blog on how to use the groceyr game and some finance tips and tricks to get the most out of your finances (since I'm not sure I'm permitted to post it here). Anyhow best of luck and it is possible!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

some things to consider:

do you get health insurance through your work? if so, double coverage is invaluable, believe me. i have excellent insurance but as the only one insuring my daughter and myself, i shell out right around $6,000 for our medical expenses per year (and i have some of the best insurance of anyone i know!). as a SAHM, the money you'd spend on daycare would go straight to medical care and i know personally, for me, i spend more on health care in a year than i do on day care. so take that into account.

how's your retirement plan? do you have one? if some of your salary is going into a 401k or other retirement account and your company is matching, you need to be taking advantage of that. there will be 2 of you retiring, and unless he's stashing money away like crazy, both of you need to be contributing to your respective accounts so you do not wind up like many female senior citizens do, with very little in social security and either no retirement or more expenses than you have retirement (think widows and divorcees. my grandmother is both and has $1200 a month to live on for the rest of her life, including health care costs, food, rent, bills, necessities, etc, and that's only because she has worked since my mother, now 46, was 4).

third, day care isn't as expensive as you think. for a minimum wage job (in oregon, i don't know where you are), you're making $16,536 a year. day care is usually right around $3-5 an hour, depending on where you live. say you work full time with a half hour commute, you're spending $225/week on child care expenses, or $11,700 a year. yes, you have to factor in taxes, but chances are you will still come out ahead, either with a tax refund or by using your deductions correctly.

fourth, what happens if your husband, god forbid, should die young in an accident? in this economy, or any economy, it is difficult to re-enter the workforce, depending on what you do. for instance i work retail, so it's not going to be an issue for me if i should ever choose to stay home. however, for a nurse, that is a job that requires you to always be learning. five years might be long enough for you to be required to spend your own money on catch up courses. your employer might be willing to reimburse you, but only after a specific period of employment.

all i'm saying is, your husband has the best interests of your family in mind. men look at things logically while women look at things emotionally, and women typically do not take some of these things into account when they make decisions regarding their families. there's a balance here, there always is, and it is up to you guys and no one else to find it. perhaps you staying at home means you work from home, using a sitter for a few hours a day so you can be truly productive and thus able to give your son your full attention for most of the day. or maybe it means you work part time, so you can keep contributing to your retirement and possibly some or all of your health insurance and still have the majority of the day with your family.

good luck with your decision!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Yakima on

Hi S.,

When our first was born, I went back to work two weeks after she was born. I worked very early mornings till noon and the my hubby would do from noon till 8pm or so. Then we went to him working two full time jobs and me being his cook/chauffeur and maid. You'd think at least I would get enough sleep doing this but I got 5 hours of sleep a night. He got 4 broken hours within 24. Then I worked nights and he worked days. So lets just say in all of that, we spent 2.5 years sleep deprived, incredibly cranky and not very good parents till we chose to find her an awesome daycare (she was wonderful AND inexpensive) and I went to work full time days as well. Things got a lot better after that. I am a stay at home now only because I haven't been able to find work. I just would caution against a job that would require you to loose too much sleep.

Now, I think most people can live on one income but there has to be some baseline things going on. First, your housing costs have to be low enough. Less than 1/4 of your total income. Second your debts have to be pretty close to non-existent. If these are true for you, then you can look at penny pinching ways to make ends meet.

My best wishes to you,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi S.:

I know times are tough...hang in there. You are doing one of the hardest jobs every (remember that, it’s priceless). Have you thought of a business you can do from home? I am a stay at home mom of 5 (2 of them are in college, the rest 8 & under)and I sell Avon. Avon is not everyone's thing but I know women who just want to make a few hundred a month for extra stuff and who make a really good living from selling Avon. And it is soooo easy...I just started a month ago and am doing awesome! Everyone loves Avon...I can remember as a kid my mom buying it...she still does, but now it's from me:) Let me know if you’re interested? Keep your chin up!




answers from Portland on

A budget that looks at both incomes, the cost of daycare, lunches, commuting gas, work clothing, etc. The one of you that makes less logically should be the one to stay home if the budget says it is feasible. My husband was home with our 2 for 2 years and diud great. I am home now with them. It is hard to go to a new income level but can be done. On a side note, don't be so quick to rush to have more kids, it isn't cheaper and can be really expensive if it is a different sex. Rule of thumb 1000.00/month/kid with daycare. Both of you have to agree on the decision though, that is paramount.



answers from Seattle on

Hi there! I agree with the other moms, you have to figure out a budget and see if it is something you can afford. Account for everything on your budget...spending money, food, diapers, gas, birthdays, etc. Then, figure out what the cost would be for daycare and gas for you to get to work, lunches, clothes, etc. Do you carry the insurance for your family? If so, does your husband's worky offer insurance? Would the cost be different? When we had our first, we figured out how much money I would bring home AFTER paying for daycare and gas to get to work, etc. It wasn't a ton of money...daycare is expensive! ;) So, we decided that we could make it work if I stayed home, but it would mean we had to sacrifce some no shopping sprees for new shoes, no lunches out every day, etc. It was hard at first, but totally worth it!!

Fast forward 5 years and I am still home with both of our girls and I have started a home based business which allows me to have some of those lunches and shopping sprees back!! Ha ha!! I work my business around my girls' schedules and do my tastings in the evenings when my hubby is home. They get one-on-one time together and I get out of the house, plus I earn extra money! Its the best of both worlds! And, the tax write-offs are great!

If having a home-based business is something you want to explore, keep in mind that most will have some sort of start-up cost for a business kit. And, you will have to put effort into the business to make it successful. It might not be something you want to start if you have a newborn! The most important thing, though, is to do a business you are passionate about! There are so many businesses now, make sure to pick one that is a good fit for you.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions about starting a home-based business!


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