Monday, July 6, 2009

To Be a Working Mom or Not?

by Maressa Conover - special guest contributor

My husband and I have a decision to make that will affect both our family life and our finances.

Two years ago, when our only son was three months old, we had a decision to make: sell our house or find a way to make ends meet. I loved our house so I wanted to do anything to keep it. I started a small-home daycare so I could have the best of both worlds: working full time (45hrs) and staying home with my son. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well after two years of doing this schedule, I realized that it was taking a toll on me.

I know Dr. Laura would be yelling at me right now, reminding me that being a mom is the most important job! Although we’ve been able to pay the bills, I don’t have peace about my current situation of dividing my time between raising my son and having a business in my own home as a long term solution. My son alone demands a lot of my attention and my patience is wearing thin trying to juggle all the kids, the home, paying bills, and getting enough quality time with my family. I remember this quote (I heard somewhere), “kids spell love: TIME.” Time, that we don't have.

When my husband comes home from work, we are both beat and we wonder who’s going to take care of us? We’re so tired and at the end of the day we end up eating out a lot, even though I enjoy cooking; sometimes I just can’t do one more thing.

Raising a young child is hard, non-stop work, let alone running a daycare as well. Now I am pregnant with our second baby who will arrive sometime early fall. I will then be a nursing mom and will want to end the daycare, but it’s so hard letting go of something we’ve worked so hard for, possibly, our home. If I ended the daycare, there is that risk of losing our house and consequently we would experience more financial stress. On the other hand, if I do end the daycare, my husband and I would also have more peace and more TIME with our son and with each other. And with more time, maybe, just maybe I would start cooking again.
What would you rather have, financial stress and a great marriage and family life, OR good finances and a stressed relationship? That is, if you HAD to make a choice. If the right decision is made, do you think the peace of that decision would balance out with the new financial issues to deal with?
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  1. I think you have a tough decision to make. However, I personally, would rather have financial stress and a great marriage and family life. I have made the decision not to work and stay home with our last child, who is now 10. I probably should go back to work so we can play more and have more and also have less financial the end, what is more important, really?!? It is more important to me to be there for our daughter and my husband, to cook healthy meals, to have a big garden and quality of life. It has been very difficult for me to give up some of what I've enjoyed the past few years as our finances have decreased somewhat. I (and my husband occasionally) have to remind myself what really is important in life and why I don't work. I am fortunate to have a home that I don't have to sell at this time, so I don't have the same tough choice as you do. Having 2 older children I know how fast the time goes and you can't get it back. Enjoy your kids - they are only small for a short period of time - and take time to take care of you. My neighbor said the best thing to me one day (she is in the military). She said, you'll never look back on your life and say "I wish I would've worked". Powerful words!

  2. You are in a tough spot. As a dad and father one of my greatest responsibilities is to provide for and protect my family. In this case I'd have two opposing agendas clashing with one another. The provider understands that if we lose our house it will take many, many years to get back to where we are now. The protector wants to guard the well-being of my wife. So I'm in conflict. I guess what I would try to to is to keep the house and look for ways to alleviate the stress on my wife. Maybe have a two regular nights a week where I take out our son for the evening allowing mom to have the house by herself with no agenda. I guess I'd also try to get up earlier in the morning to do more around the house. But ultimately over an extended period I would begin to wear out as well, so I'd have to rely on another source for strength, the Lord. All in all it would be a tough situation, but I think it's extremely important as a dad to satisfy both agendas

    my 2 cents

  3. I heard some where that the reason most people divorce is over money. Sometimes I would take work related problems over financial problems. It seems that if there is a stay-at-home parent there usually is some sort of sacrifice and a change in their standard of living. I have a friend who was living in her perfect home with tile she picked out, kitchen cupboards she just loved, and a big backyard all near the beach. She stayed at home and the bills piled up so high that they just had to sell their home. Now they are renting and they are just so content. She had to go back to work to pay off the bills they accrued, but her husband was so relieved to rent and not worry about fixing up the house and work on the yard every weekend. He now has more time w/ the kids. They rent, but they are just as happy and their financial burden was lifted.

  4. I think about this topic often…
    I come from a very busy family with two parents who worked full time and then some. But, they seemed to always make time for family stuff. Fortunately, my mom had a job where she could bring us to work with her from when we were babies through elementary school, and my dad’s job was very flexible. There were those days where I wouldn’t even see my dad because he left for work before we got up and got home after we were asleep. But they made it work. We have such a close family and my parents have been married for 35 years (with 4 kids)! So I know working and being a mom can work…with that said, I still worry about it. I would love to stay at home with my kids, but at this point, it doesn’t look like a reality. Neither me nor my husband make very much money (and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change soon) even though we have great jobs that we love. We wouldn’t be able to survive on one salary, even if we continue renting our small apartment and living very minimally. So the question is a little different for me…to start a family knowing that we will have to work and our child will have to go to daycare as a baby (I hate that idea) or wait until we have saved enough money for one of us to stay home (might take a long time/never happen). Neither situation is ideal because I am so ready to be a mom!!! I think I will choose to be a working mom out of necessity, and thus be choosing the less stressful situation, because money issues can be even more stressful. I'll let you know how it works out in a few years. :)

    Anyone want to sign up to watch my future children for me for free??? :)


  5. I'd have to agree with those who think that the family relationships are more important than earthly comforts: money and houses. I've been amazed at how much you can do with so little. We are on a very tight budget and live in a house that is only 850 sq ft, and although I do have my own business, it only pays a small portion of the bills...I do it so that I can I work while being home with Abbey. It is a flexible job which enables me to pay attention to her, especially when she really needs it. I love that. I've learned that nothing can replace the relationships between you and your spouse...or you and your children. Having a nice house doesn't make people happy. Feeling loved does. That's my two cents.

  6. I have a close friend in the SAME situation *wink,wink*, and everytime I see her, I want to rescue her. She and her family seem soooo stressed and tired!

    I would LOVE to own my own house!! A home I could host big dinner parties, rooms the kids could run around in, and of course a BACKYARD!!! WOW!! green grass!!! What a dream come true! and then reality hits...
    If I want all that I have to be ready to-

    Work full time, be away from my son all day, not manage the home to my best ability, bicker with my hubby b/c that's what I do when I'm stressed and overwhelmed... Yikes!!!

    I also have to remember... we're still young. When the kids go to school, I can work my heart out, we can invest in a nice home, go on grand vacations, and have some cool "toys!"

    Til then... we make it work on one-salary. Less financial stress b/c of a budget. AND LOTS of family lovin' goin' on! :) And somehow even with a budget, we are able to do more than we thought! God works it out somehow! :)

    Love ya Maressa! xoxo. I know you guys will do what's right for your family and your situation.

  7. Hey Maressa,
    Our hearts go out to you guys, what a difficult decision to make! We live VERY modestly on one income, and somehow God has made it work (we are pro's now at sticking to a budget:)). But it's been an act faith all the way. We too love our home, it's been an incredible blessing! However if push came to shove, and I know this economy is difficult (we've had to consider moving, and still keep it in the back of our minds if it means that I'll be able to continue staying home b/c Christian's company is going through some transitions) - but we would give up our house in a heart beat if it was becoming a burden and it meant saving our marriage and being around so that we have time to build a really good relationship with our kids. There are all kinds of scenarios with parents who work. I know some people don't have a choice, they have kids and they have to work and they know that going into it and are fine with it (boggles my mind...), others are single, divorced or widowed with kids... and some of them make it work, and for others it doesn't really work....but they keep doing it anyway. My point is that at this point you do have a choice...I know it's probably not all that appealing, but I think you are doing such a mature thing in that you are WILLING to consider giving up your house in order to strengthen your marriage, align your finances and spend time with your kids. That is awesome! xoxo Kate & Christian Benn

  8. It's tough. I really feel for you! Being a work at home mom is SOOO hard. But, honestly if it came down to it I would choose my family. I love my job and enjoy what I do. But, my family is the most important thing. Your kids won't care at all if you own a home or not, they will only remember the memories you make with them.
    love you!!

  9. My husband and I have been in this situation. . .we lost everything. . .hit rock bottom. . .BUT we just told ourselves that at least we have one another. . .

    I kept kids in my home also, but it got to be stressful and weighed heavily on me physically and emotionally!

    I pray for you and your family. . .these types of decisions are hard to make! Good luck and I hope EVERYTHING works out for you!

    God bless!

  10. From the writer:
    Thank you all for your wonderful comments, encouragement and prayers. We decided for me to quit daycare! Now I just have to break the news to my daycare parents. I am excited to have more time with my son and the newborn baby girl on the way. I will finally be able to "immerse" myself fully into the role of motherhood without dividing my attention between my kids and the daycare kids. I'm so excited! It's true, I will never look back and wish I had worked more hours! I am grateful for the temporary help it was in order to pay off all our other debts besides our mortgages, so it did a lot of good for those 2 years, but one can only live in under that much stress temporarily, not long term :) Thank you for all your prayers!