SAHM Now Career

Updated on December 19, 2012
T.S. asks from Lima, OH
17 answers

I have 3 wonderful children ages 4, 2 and 1. My previous employer reduced my hours to 16 hours per week (4 days per week for 4 hour days). By the time I added childcare costs and gas, I was paying to go to work. My husband and I decided for me to stay at home with the kids. Now, my husband's income can pay the bills as long as he gets overtime but as we all know with the economy, overtime is never guaranteed.

I had an interview a few weeks ago with an OBGYN office. I was offered a position as a Medical Office Receptionist. It does not pay very well at all. My last job I was paid $2.00 more per hour so this downgrade is huge for us. I figured in the full time hours, the rate per hour, the babysitting fees and the gas to get there and I am basically evening everything out to where I am not making anything extra. The only reason I am looking at the employment is to get the experience. I already have account specialty work experience in health insurance, which is why they offered me the job.

I have been a stay at home mom for 8 months and my biggest cons at this place is the hours and the pay. When I spoke with the office manager, she said that I would be probably working check out most the time so I have to wait until the last patient has been checked out and left. Somedays they run on time and others they run late. Since overtime is not offered there, they said that if you find out you are getting close to 40 hours, then you would just come in later another day during the week or leave earlier as long as there was somebody else there to do the check out. I do not have a huge issue with this, but the problem is the later I stay, the less time I have with the kids and I keep questioning myself: "Is the low grade in pay for experience worth the time away from my kids?" I cannot be a stay at home mom forever since my youngest will be in kindergarden in 3 1/2 years. But I also know that with no college degree and trying to go back into the work field after 3 1/2 years of not being employed is hard to find. Work alone right now is hard to find with the economy and I honestly believe it will only get worse. I have a little bit of college background like medical terminology, computer, chemistry and a few others. I just finished up computer and chemistry this last semester and with my husband's work schedule and the lack of studying time I had, we decided for me to take off a semester. My husband keeps asking me if I want to be a secretary/receptionist the rest of my life b/c if I do, then to go for it. But if not, there would be no reason to keep going. I always come back and tell him that without these people, businesses wouldn't run well. Unfortunately with my lack of education, these are the only areas that I am able to get. I honestly would like to be a manager, but I also know manager's work long hours. I just want to be able to have time with my kids.

Can some of you parents out there give me some advice? I'm not asking what I should do but just want opinions and in your opinion, what you would do yourself. Thanks!

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answers from Chicago on

Before I had kids I had 2 different career paths.

Path 1 - I have a degree in History and Secondary Education, and a license to teach Social Studies in grades 6-12

Path 2 - I was working an entry-level customer service job for a steamship line (shipping industry). I had no experience in it before being hired--my experience was basically customer service and temp work doing receptionist and light accounting duties. Many of my co-workers (in the same role) didn't have college degrees. If it weren't for the cost of FT daycare, I would have stayed with it.

My youngest will also be going to school in 3.5 years, and I am just relishing these days as much as I can. When it is time for him to go to school, I will probably go back to work, but not necessarily to either of my previous paths. My husband and I have bought 2 rental units, so I am getting some experience with property management, but am also OBSESSED with real estate and home construction. Who knows? I might also just go back and work at Pottery Barn, which was one of my more enjoyable jobs.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Cut where ever you can an stay home with your babies for a few years. It sounds like that's what you want. You have the rest of your life to work, but only a few years to be with you kids while they are young.....

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

If I were you I would skip this job. Even if you are breaking even you are actually losing because of the stress factor.

I am an accountant but I work in the billing office for a doctor's group. With all the new regulations that are being thrown at us we are hiring at least one person a month for billing and coding. If you understand insurance you will get hired because the codes are always changing but insurance companies seems to stay the same. I am saying we teach coding.

You will only find this in a larger doctors group where they can afford to have biller/coders that are specific to one major insurance company.

I guess the way I look at it is if you take that job you are trapped. They will keep you there for all your waking hours, what you will have left is time with your kids. You will not have time to find a better job once you get the experience you are looking for in this one.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You started off by saying your husband's pay doesn't cover the bills without OT. You taking this job doesn't seem to solve that issue and will add a lot of stress to your life. Likely some costs too as you turn to take our dinners more often maybe etc. I agree it's not easy to get back to work when you've been gone for a long time but I'd make that tradeoff if I were you. Could you find an evening job one or two nights a week so no childcare costs? Or babysit someone's child with yours? I work full time and always have but it's bc my job does pay very well and if I quit, I'll never get another job like it again. So i dont criticize working moms but I would stay home if I were you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I don't see the point in taking this job. I get how you don't want to remove yourself from the workforce completely, so you have an easier time getting a job in the future, but could you volunteer somewhere instead? This would let you pick your own hours, but it too would give you something to put on your resume.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't really see why u would take this job.

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answers from Tampa on

I have a college degree and worked up until I had my first child, 11 years ago. I left for the same reasons- my pay would go towards child costs, food, dry cleaning, etc. I wanted time with my child. I was a marketing assistant and could have gone up the corporate ladder. However, I wasn't very excited about my job. I was bored to death.

I enjoyed being home with my son, but I did feel mentally bored and felt isolated from adults. I took up freelance writing with the local newspaper, which allowed me to write most of the articles from home. Three children later, I am still a stay at home mom and writer. I don't make enough to pay the bills but I could if I wanted to. I just never pursued full time writing.

I wonder if you could find work from home. Best of luck. Let us know what you decide to do!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I wouldn't work if all you are going to do is break even. Its not worth all of the hassle or the effects on your family. It doesn't seem to me like a receptionist type of job would really need 'experience' anyhow so you will be able to jump back in when you want to. If you really need the money you are probably better off waiting tables at a decent restaurant.

I would also look into temp work. Do you know that many big companies hire all support staff through temp agencies? This way they don't have to extend large benefit packages.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Count on the office running late more often than not--you (or I) would definitely be pissed with that after a few times and then it would show in my attitude. Like the first responding mama said--cut back at home and stay with your children. Cut back on snacks, lawn guys, nails, hair, car washes, shopping (get introduced to thrift stores--I love them) and stop big time gift giving (even within your family). Great kids toys can be found at yard sales and thrift stores.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Having health insurance is a BIG help, in my opinion. When I didn't have it, I would've worked for less just to get the coverage. Medical care is so expensive.

If you decide working isn't going to help your financial picture then I suggest that you continue with your schooling. The classes you mention fit in with something in the medical field. We will always need people in medicine. Is he saying you're preparing to be secretary/receptionist? I don't agree.

My daughter became a medical assistant. She uses computers. Most recently she's working as a home care co-ordinator in a hospital. She arranges for home care for patients being discharged. The pay is low but because she's working in the hospital has access to the possibility of improvement in her status and pay.

Definitely train to do something that you'll enjoy. I suggest that working in the doctor's office will also give you some experience in the medical field to see if you're interested and may also give you an in to a better job.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

To me it would not be worth it. I'd try to get creative and see if I could baby-sit, walk dogs, clean houses, senior care-give, etc. I'd probaby throw my name on and see what I could come up with.

These years with your little ones are some of the best (and yes toughest) in your "career" as a mom. I would not want the majority of my mental and physical energy going to a job where I barely broke even. The only way I would do it is if I had to do it to put a roof over their heads and food in their mouths.

I worked and went to school when my kids were little and I still regret it (and I've been home now for 10+ years).

Only you and your husband can make this decision. I would pray about it first and foremost. Good luck whatever you decide.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Wow, that's a tough one! You make good points.

As for myself, I am a SAHM with kids ages similar to yours, just more of them. I'd pay to work and that would be silly. Even if I made $100K a year would still take most of it from childcare for 5 tiny kids in a good, quality center. And yet, we still have daycare costs. My oldest goes to a center after school because I need to be available to get my other kids at various times from various preschools, and we do aftercare there too. I can't be in 3 places at once! Still, it adds up to less than one kid in full-time daycare, all that.

I do have advanced degrees and realize I can't just enter the workforce in years, and I guess I'll not be entering the workforce in the future. Managing the household is hours and hours a day (doesn't even include the kids!) and when they are older and need to be driven to practice, etc. I'll be available for that. Then it's off to college for them...time flies!

So, I can't tell you what to do in your situation. I would simply say if being a SAHM is too tedious, go for it. If you really enjoy being at home, then don't take a job that doesn't really pay or offer much valuable experience.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lafayette on

Stay there for your kids. When your oldest gets in school, you'll have homework to help with every evening. Focus on saving money while you are at home -- that can be your financial contribution. Cut coupons, mend clothes so they last longer, etc. Make a budget & stick to it.

Maybe even begin an at-home business that you can do on your own schedule (when your husband is home to take care of the children). I know that Mary Kay is flexible, depending on your schedule. I'm sure there are others. Find a product that you can support & look into that business!



answers from Detroit on

I'm in a similar situation. Without boring you with the every detail, I have 4kids that need me emotionally right now. I did online classes while working full time when my daughter was smaller. Now, I have my associates degree (healthcare admin) and dd will start kdnergarten next year. I've been on several interviews, and am thinking that staying at home is the smartest move right now.
I will probably continue my education. Any field pays better if you haves bachelors degree. I've worked in customer service for 14+ yrs and my co workers with 4+ yr degrees always made more.
My financial aid checks also helped us make ends meet.



answers from Cincinnati on

If I was evening out but was still able to help with the cost of some of the expenses, I would take the job. Your oldest will be going to school all day in just a couple years so you may start seeing some savings after that. I don't know what type of work your looking into as far as career but this may be a good opportunity to get some experience then work your way up to something better. I think you better take the job. There are plenty of ways for you to cut back on things and have a small amount of change in your pocket.
I would see about getting childcare at someones home because it might save you some money. The manager at my company doesn't put in a lot of hours. He usually does 8-5 and sometimes is in on a weekend. It probably depends on the type of work.



answers from Cincinnati on

If it were me, I would pass and seek part-time employment. I've not worked full-time since my oldest was born in 1999, and I have no regrets. In 2007, I started part-time work in 2007, and did that for 2 years to offset financial need. I stopped for a year, because we moved out of state. In late 2010 I started again due to a car accident my hubby was in. I chose a low paying job close to home, and only work when he's home. I have since transferred to another dept., love my job, and make more than I did. For me, I feel I have just one shot while my kids are little - the time flies! I'll have plenty of time to pursue a career full-time when they're older.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Have you considered a nanny? It may be less expensive for 3 than a daycare center. Also - does your husband have any flexibility in his schedule? If your work schedules overlap less, you might be able to cut some out of the child care costs.

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