I will be the first person to admit that 5 years ago, I did not understand what the day in the life of a stay at home mom entailed. It’s not for a lack of respect, but a lack of understanding as I didn’t have kids yet and I had NO IDEA the sheer amount of dependence that children have on their parents. And more specifically, on their moms in the beginning years of their lives.
For years I was the corporate climber and would say without question or a single doubt in my mind that I had no interest in being a stay at home mom. It wasn’t for me and wasn’t something that I wanted.
And to be honest, even when I made the decision to leave my corporate job in January 2020 it wasn’t necessarily because of a deep desire to be a stay at home mom. There was a lot more to the decision.
I had plans to be a stay at home mom for about 6-9 months after I had my second child, wait until he was 6 months old or so then both boys would be in daycare, and I could start my entrepreneurial journey then.
I chose to be a stay at home mom during a time where literally all I could do was STAY AT HOME and be a mom.
And over these past 2+ years, I have a whole new appreciation for stay at home moms, full time working moms… all the moms. Because the amount of mental workload we carry with us every day to ensure that the lives of our children, household, spouses, ourselves, extended family, friends, work etc. are in good standing….is completely exhausting.
I Just Simply Didn’t Understand
For purposes of this post – let’s just strictly talk about the stay at home mom. Full time working moms, stay at home moms – we all have our set of challenges, mom guilt and invisible workload – it’s not a competition of whose life is harder. They both are hard for their own different reasons. I’ve experienced both – I understand both.
I truly believe that there is an incredible disconnect with the role of a stay at home mom. A complete lack of understanding from the general public – specifically men and women who do not have children but even those that do.
But yet another transition in my life has opened my eyes, my perspective and my awareness around a role – a life changing role – that I had no business talking about or inserting my opinion about when I had literally no clue what it entailed.
I Thought The Days Would Go A Little Differently…
I imagined that…
- That children would throw a few temper tantrums here and there but when I would say it’s time to get in the car – they would listen and simply get in….and not run away from me for 15 minutes.
- That when I brought food to the table that they would eat it….and not start throwing it down to our dog for his 5th meal of the day while staring at me dead in the eyes knowing full well they aren’t supposed to be doing that.
- I didn’t realize that simple tasks we do every day like diaper changes, getting dressed, brushing teeth would feel like I’d just climbed Mt Kilimanjaro at the end of it.
- I thought they would always nap…Apparently that’s not how it works.
- That when it was bedtime, we would peacefully read stories and go to bed….and not run around like wild animals as I’m trying to finish the Little Blue Truck for the 37th time.
- I imagined that Moms would all get together – chat, laugh and drink coffee together while their kids peacefully played…not start and stop 1,000 conversations to play referee, stop my child from jumping off the highest point of the playground or kiss another boo boo because they ran full speed ahead into a swing.
I didn’t realize that because they were hanging out with ME all the time that I had to actually plan, prepare and be intentional about the environments they were being put in. That their beginning development – physically, emotionally and mentally would rely almost solely on me day in and day out.
I simply didn’t realize how much they would need me or how ridiculous their demands would be.
My 3 year old is easily the most demanding boss I’ve ever had. Ever. And my almost 2 year old is a close second.
The point is that it’s not easy. It can be incredibly fun, rewarding and fulfilling – I would not trade my last 2+ years for anything. But it is SO much harder than I ever expected. And perhaps made a little harder mentally knowing the amount of effort you’re putting in, with little credit – pay – benefits – recognition.
The Financial Sacrifice That I Want You To Consider
Which brings me to my final thoughts and something that needs to be considered if you are contemplating being a stay at home parent – the financial sacrifice.
I have never once regretted my decision to stay at home with my boys.
But I can say without a doubt it was the worst financial decision I’ve ever made.
One that I had an understanding of before I made it and no regret since making it. But a true shock to the financial system today and for years to come.
Over a 5 year period, I will have lost over $1 million dollars of potential earnings, minimum. It was a poor financial move.
One that I want to be transparent about because I want others to truly think about this before making their decision.
I’ll say it again – I took a risk, I followed my gut in telling me I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, I wanted more time with my boys and to build a business of my own and for that – I changed my path and said goodbye to the traditional, secure financial path.
This sacrifice of earnings in order to be more present for their children is common for women/men who choose to stay at home.
But I wanted to discuss a few other areas of sacrifice that many individuals may not have considered yet:
- Lost opportunity to save for retirement in a meaningful way along with an employer match. (You have the option to contribute to a Spousal IRA)
- Missed income increases, promotions, raises, bonuses – putting a pause in your earnings during some of the most meaningful professional years.
- More limited opportunity to use debt and borrow on your own as a result of no income
- Now limiting your future earnings from Social Security & Medicare as a result of no current income to pay into those government programs
(In another post I will discuss the ways you can protect yourself financially as a stay at home parent!)
Please consider these financial sacrifices before you and your family make the decision for one of you to stay at home.
As I mentioned, I would never go back and change my decision. But any time you make a big lifestyle change – it will be imperative to consider the numbers and have an understanding of their consequences not only today, but for years to come.
What I’ve Come to Realize
What I’ve come to realize over the past 2+ years at home with my boys – as perhaps I was guilty of thinking this way years ago – is that stay at home moms are completely undervalued by society.
While I am sure many stay at home parents would say that their hardest day at home with the kids is better than the most strenuous days at the office, a stay at home parent’s work has so much financial value, just like a traditional career! But all that seems to go unnoticed.
I see you, stay at home mom or stay at home dad. I appreciate you and all you do. I respect the sacrifices you’ve made.
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