From this post: The Aftermath of Giving up your Career to Stay at Home, Reader D wrote in to ask:
I have a dilemma that has been the top discussion in my home but let me tell you about my situation.
I am married with 3 kids ages 6, 2.5 and a newborn. I’ll be going back to work in about a month.
My husband and I up to this point have both worked after starting to have kids and it hasn’t been an issue.
However, we’ve recently talked about buying a house in about 2 years in order to save up enough money.
It would be in another county here in CA to get more bang for your buck but that requires a lengthy commute to both jobs.
My husband decided it would be best for him to continue to work since he makes more money and then I’d stay at home and work part-time so I’d be readily available to kids.
I however do not want make that sacrifice and want to continue working an 8-5 and hire someone to clean and do laundry.
[..] You had a point about I LIKE THE IDEA OF INTER-DEPENDENCE, NOT TOTAL DEPENDENCE and thats how I feel too but He doesn’t want to go this route as it seems “silly” that we’d have to pay someone when I could just stay at home.
He is really stuck on this and so am I because I really do not want to lose who I am and that really scares me too. I don’t know about other men but I don’t think they get that concept.
My husband thinks its just a math problem and not at all emotional but that’s exactly how we think, I have to see how I feel about a major change and sacrifice, not just whether the math works out.
Can you provide insight?
Great question. Few thoughts:
If you are out of work for too long, you will not get back in, let alone at the same level you left it at
I know plenty of women who stayed at home and then couldn’t even find entry level jobs, as they had been out of work for so long.
Even if men stayed out of work for too long, they would not be allowed back in either.
Interdependence works only if you are able to come to the compromise that it is fair to both parties
A lot of this has to do with money and how it is split between the two spouses.
In my case, it works perfectly only because I am on the hook for 50% of everything we spend/share, and he cannot argue that I should for example, stay at home with Baby Bun when I have to still pay my half.
I am not saying what we are doing is going to work for you or is right, but it works for us and it is one of the points I use to emphasize working or not working — as in, it is my decision.
You will have a stereotype applied to you and you can choose to embrace or reject it
When I was at home, with Baby Bun all the time, I could only think: I feel like a.. stay at home Mommy.
Now this is me, not all stay at home mothers. This is ONLY ME and my feelings.
I would meet others in the elevator and they would peg me as “stay at home Mommy” when in fact I was a freelancer (a real one, not a fake freelancer who pretends to be self-employed when they’re really unemployed), who was waiting on a contract.
In contrast, when my partner stayed at home, and they would say to him: “Oh working from home today to be with your son? How nice of you.”
Why do men get the automatic assumption that they are “working from home” when they’re at home, but women immediately are pegged as “stay at home mommies”?
Minor point but it was really quite annoying.
It is one thing to have children and love them completely (which we all do as parents), but it is another to be asked to do it full-time just because you’re the mother.
Why not the fathers?
Why is it always the man that goes to work and doesn’t stay at home?
I am not down with that without a discussion and a rational, compromise that we can both agree to.
I hate that kind of stereotypical inequality and thinking without any pushback.
Fathers are important too, and they’re just as competent, capable and smart to take care of their kidlets over mothers.
Sometimes, they’re even better.
Questions to ask in such a delicate situation to start the discussion without fighting:
The way I would approach it, is to first figure out how much you both make, net after taxes etc.
1. Who makes more? By how much?
Can you survive on one income only, and what happens if he loses his job?
2. Who has the potential to make more?
Are either of you in an industry where after a few years, you will be making a lot more money, but you need to be in the game to do it?
3. If you worked, is that enough to pay for a full-time person to watch your kids including the costs of your work (commuting, clothing, etc)?
If so, would you have money left over to go to savings as well?
If so, then it is a no-brainer, go to work, then hire someone full-time.
If you worked and it would cost you MORE money to hire someone to stay at home full-time while you worked, this makes no financial sense, unfortunately, unless question #1 or #2 comes into play where you make more or COULD make more.
4. Re-consider part-time work.
Is that really too little for you?
Part-time is nice, you get to have your own Mommy-Identity-Work time away from your kids and to be SOMEONE, while also having time to spend with them when you aren’t working.
Honestly, I’d love to work every other day and have time off with Baby Bun, or work half days (just mornings), and have Baby Bun in the afternoons or something.
But that’s just me. I don’t mind staying at home part of the week just to hang out and do nothing and hang with The Bun, but then again, my salary is pretty high, so I’d still be earning a good chunk of money no matter how little I work.
Has anyone else encountered this? If you’ve lived through it, how did you come to your decision? Can you please help D?