stay at home parents – career choice or luck?

posted 5 months ago in Career
Post # 2
2507 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I am not a Stay-At-Home Mom mum yet, but will be following my maternity leave from my current pregnancy.

I NEVER thought I would be a Stay-At-Home Mom. In fact when I was at uni I couldn’t think of anything worse than ‘just being a housewife’. Then I had a child, had a year’s maternity leave and came back to work full time. I LOVED being on leave and I can honestly say I have never been happier. After the initial newborn phase, my house has never been so organised, we have never had so little stress and being with my little boy was just amazing.

I HATED being back at work. We are paying £886 a month nursery fees and reliant on my Mother-In-Law providing free child care. I work in a professional job as does my husband and the constant juggling we have to do to keep our respective employers happy and maintain our home (and we have a cleaner to help with that) just puts so much stress on both of us. On a good week I spend 23 waking hours with my son. That kills me.

We are able for me to stop working for a few years because of a couple of things. 1) we own our house outright – my husband inherited it 2) we have a good savings pot which will more than cover 5 years out of work for me and a needed house reno – this is all down to my husband being so frugal and amazingly savy at saving 3) my husband has a private income from some properties his family owns – its not a lot but enough to keep our savings healthy 4) he earns a very good wage. So good that we will not quailfy for any government child benefits even with me not working.

This was not planned when we got together or got married, it really was just ‘luck’ (I don’t like using the word ‘luck’ when it comes to inheritance but still)

All I will say is, if I did go back to work full time, we would be paying about £2000 a month child care (MIL could not look after 2, that is asking too much) and with the cost of my commute to work I wouldn’t actually be making any money. If that becomes the case for you too it can sometimes make more financial sense to not work.

Post # 3
1742 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

i was curious so i did a quick google search of infant childcare in my area (orlando), the lowest ive seen is $250 a week, the highest $375 a week. So a little over a $1000/month. I can imagine in large metro places the price can probably be double that a month. 

i think what will dictate our final decision is how much we will have saved by the time baby is born. D.H. is really trying for a promotion right now that could double our income, but he could also have to wait another year for it. Ultimately, it makes sense for us for me to stay at home at least for the first few months, and then for me to return to work but part time only. 

Post # 4
4287 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

going2bmrsc :  Can you decide to become a stay at home parent? 

Or does it 100% rely on your partner earning a significant wage to do so.

Well you can’t “decide” to become a stay at home parent on your own, it needs to be a joint decision and obviously your partner would need to earn enough for the family to survive.  Although in many cases it isn’t just a situation where most people can’t afford to stay at home, many times people actually can’t afford for both partners to work.  Depending on your area you might be just the same or only a little worse off from one partner staying at home to look after the kids.  However if your husband isn’t making enough to comfortably pay all the bills and have a buffer, and you have a reasonable childcare option then it could be best for you to work.  Every situation is different. 

Post # 5
3 posts

After 2 kids (now 3 and 5), my partner is the stay at home dad (working 3 days a week in his job and 2 days at home with the kids). I work 5 days a week and love it!

Our incomes are average but we have enough to get by and do activities (purchased a cheaper house in an average area etc). 

I stayed at home for 3.5 years, it was good but I needed to go back to work 🙂

Childcare in Aus is expensive, with government rebates it’s $250 for the three days a week for both of them. Thankfully the government covers some of it otherwise it would be $600 a week for 3 days! ($100 a day per child, which compared to some daycares is cheap). So it’s not really worthwhile him working extra days.

Post # 6
354 posts
Helper bee

going2bmrsc :  i find that it’s both.  I stayed home till my kids were all at primary school then i went back part time. I do feel very lucky that we could afford for that to happen butat the same time it was a choice we made for our family.  

Personally,  i think it’s lovely for a mum to have the time with her child for those formative years but i also think it’s good for your child to see their mummy working,  which is why I do a day or two a week now.  

There’s no right or wrong.  If you can afford to and you want to,  go for it. 

Post # 7
9011 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

who is going to pay the bills if one salary if you decide but your husband doesn’t make enough to support you.

Post # 8
1177 posts
Bumble bee

I’m not sure it’s about luck or just making a decision. The couple has to decide together if it’s the best choise for them and this includes desires and finances.

That being said, most sahp I know have not made the decision themselves. It has been dictated due to lack of employment, not affording childcare, getting laid off from work etc. So that has just happened without deciding to do so.

Post # 9
2507 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I was just thinking that I know a couple for whom the wife being a Stay-At-Home Mom was a career decision. They are very traditional and religious and the husband had grown up with the idea that he should work and his wife stay home with the children. So he worked hard to get into a posiiton where he could buy a house himself. He is also super frugal and won’t spend money on anything he doesn’t actually need.

When they married his wife was working, but after her maternity leave she didn’t return to work either (worked out nicely actually as she went on mat leave 1 year into a 2 year contract role)

I think if you want to be a housewife you need to work at setting up as much in savings before you meet your partner and find one who is 100% on the same page and is willing to sacrifice certain things to make that happen….. or you marry rich…

Post # 10
1915 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2017 - Pearson Convention Centre

For us it was a joint decision that we have been planning for a while. Since we have been married we have lived on my husband’s salary and my salary has been our savings now that I’m pregnant I can’t wait to be a stay at home wife and mom.

Post # 11
717 posts
Busy bee

Perhaps it’s a bit of both. We make it work with a little less than 50k salary, although we live in a rural area with very low-cost living. We don’t spend money on many extra things, except for occasional events, fast food, and a subscription or two. We buy our clothes from thrift shops or discounted department stores (TJ Maxx/Ross/Marshalls, etc.) or just snipe out sweet clearance deals. Penny pinching has been a bit of a hobby of mine, so living like this has always been normal for me.

Debt is also a huge factor, which is obviously unique to everyone. Neither dh or I went to college so we don’t have student loans, and that probably helps give us some wiggle room. The decision could come down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice, even if it means downsizing or relocating to a better economy….although not everyone has that option, in which case I’d say it’s luck. Of course, this probably couldn’t be done on a minimum wage salary…at least not without govt assistance. However, there are some no-higher-education-required entry level positions that start at $15/hr + overtime where I live, so theoretically a debt-free high school grad could support a family if they wanted to. It really just depends on your situation. 

Post # 12
2642 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom, and that’s the plan still once I have the baby I’m currently pregnant with.  I would say some of it is luck that I’m able to do it, but here were a couple things I did plan so that my life would work out this way.


First, I made sure my partner was on board with this choice.  I think that would be a deal breaker in a relationship for me, if the guy was 100% against it.  Also, we planned our timing on having a baby.  We’ve already been married a couple years and bought a house.  I am also coming up on 6 years at my current job, so by the time I leave, I’ll be 100% vested with my 401k.


That being said, I know I was lucky in that my parents helped me a lot with college so I didn’t have student debt, my husband had minimal debt that we already paid off, and both my husband I an have higher paying jobs, so we’ve been able to buy a house and have a good amount still in savings.

Post # 13
6436 posts
Bee Keeper

going2bmrsc :  I’m not a Stay-At-Home Mom, but have friends that are. The way it came about varies from family to family. For one couple it was an agreement before they got married – she gets to come home when they have babies. Period. And they ended up moving to a LCOL area to make that happen when they got pregnant unexpectedly. Another one was an unwilling Stay-At-Home Mom – her professional licensure didn’t carry over when the immigrated to the US and so she couldn’t work in her field. They eventually moved back because she was so unhappy not being able to have her career. Most of the others were combo want/need SAHMs. They wanted to be home, but it didn’t make financial sense until they were looking at 2 or 3 daycare bills for multiple children so they came home at that time.

It definitely has to be a decision both parents reach together and talk about extensively before jumping in. We both work, but one thing that I think was amazing for our marriage was stacking our parental leave. We were home together for the first couple weeks and then he went back to work while I finished up my mat leave. Then we switched and he was home while I worked. Then she went to daycare. Living both sides of that partnership is very eye opening. We both thought the other had no business complaining about being tired because we both thought the other had the easier job – until we switched. 

Post # 14
2218 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2017 - Courthouse

I do not have children yet, but the older I get, the more I want to be a Stay-At-Home Mom. I’ve always wanted to be a mother more than anything else in the world. And I think I’ve always wanted to stay at home. 

My husband knew this when we first started dating. He enjoys that I’m very domestic and he doesn’t have to worry about much at home. And I think he really, really enjoys being the breadwinner. 

For me, there’s a few things we as a couple wanted to line up so I could stay at home with our future children.

First is like some PP said, make sure your partner is on board. Second, we have always been savers. Although we enjoy having a good time, it’s important to save if you do want a parent to stay at home. Third, we don’t have children yet. I would have loved to ttc when we first got married. However, it would have made money a lot tighter. I think the difference in even waiting a few years can make a huge difference and set you up for success. I think my husband’s salary is almost double what he made when we got married and he has become a partner in the company. 

If we weren’t as financially comfortable though, I think I would find a way to make it work. My parents never had a ton of money but my mom prioritized staying at home with us. So they didn’t drive fancy cars, their home is 1200 sq feet (they still own it and paid it off when I was in high school) and they didn’t spend on things they didn’t need.

Post # 15
1153 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

My husband will likely be the stay at home parent since I’m the one with the more high-powered career- he currently only makes 40% of what I do. I think it’s definitely a balancing act between whether you can support a family on one spouse’s salary, what the daycare costs and options in your area are, and what your personal values are- some people feel like it’s more important for the child to spend the majority of time with a parent or other family member, others value the socialization a child can get at daycare. 

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