Life is about choices and consequences. We have to be mindful of the potential consequences when deciding what choices to make. Sometimes it’s hard to know what those consequences might be but part of being a grown up is considering the possibilities.
If I choose to eat a pint of ice cream every night, likely I will gain weight. If I choose to spend money on clothes and shoes before paying the bills, I might run out before I have enough. In my opinion there’s no such thing as “can I afford it?” – you just make choices and then have to deal with the consequences. Do you want to pay your bills? Do you want to have money in the bank? Do you want to have credit card debt? Answer those questions first, then see if you can make the choice to purchase something.
Making the decision for me to become a SAHM was a family decision both me and my spouse had to make together. We gave a lot of consideration to the consequences of either decision. Her new job meant longer hours and more travel. When we were both working full time jobs, there was the weekly calendar discussion of who would do daycare drop off and pick up for each day depending on meetings and work schedule. It was hectic and sometimes chaotic to rush out the door at work, navigate traffic, pick up the babe, get home make dinner. Then bath books and bed. And that’s all we saw of the little man. The idea of staying home meant that we didn’t have to do that. No daycare meant no need to juggle work obligations with drop off and pick up. Plus one parent traveling would mean the other parent was on the hook for everything every day, which seemed overwhelming. So one potential consequence was more freedom and flexibility with scheduling with the added bonus of more time spent with the little guy.
In fact, I didn’t realize it at the time but I was really becoming aware of how little time I spent with him by just seeing him for the short period of time in the evenings and weekend. Becoming a SAHM would mean I was his primary caregiver and oh the list of consequences there! Would I be able to give him what he needs developmentally? Would I have the patience to deal with a toddler all day? But I would know him. I’d know what he likes and doesn’t like. I’d know how much he’s eating and sleeping. I wouldn’t have someone else telling me what cute thing he did today or what milestone he was achieving because I would be witnessing them myself. That’s a pretty sweet consequence.
So far everything was lining up and pointing pretty perfectly in the direction of yes, make that choice, but how would we finance it. See my earlier statement about “affording” something. If you want something badly enough you figure out what choices you can make to make it work. We want to pay our bills on time, we want to not have credit card debt, and we want to have money in the bank. How could we achieve all of that and go down to one income?
People always assume that because we can “afford” to have me stay home that we must be loaded. Quite the contrary. In fact, we had much more money when we had two incomes, even considering the expense of daycare. We could have just continued along that path and the consequence would have been more money but also more stress and less time together. So we had to find other ways to make choices that would allow us the opportunity to live peacefully on one income. And those are the choices we make every day now out of necessity. We are still learning and navigating this tricky road. We’re looking for a place to live and realized that we don’t want to spend a ton on rent, which is hard in Seattle because you can get a lot nicer house the higher up you go. And little luxuries have gone away but I would say overall that’s ok. We’re getting smarter with our money and making it go further. Because I don’t want to have to change this decision. I want to make it work.
What are some choices you’ve had to make to “make it work” as a Stay at Home Mom?