To view the original blog you can click this link: The J. Paul Experience
SAHMs (stay-at-home moms)
Forty years ago, about 44% of married mothers with children under 15 were SAHMs (1). In 2009, that percentage had dropped to 26%. By the way, that’s close to 10 million in the late 60s, down to almost 5 million in 2009. From what I’ve read, men came back from World War II and filled a lot of the jobs that women had previously held while men were fighting overseas. There was an increased desire for a strong family, so men provided and women made sure that the home and the family were well taken care of. Over time, it seems as if men’s salaries couldn’t keep up with inflation and their incomes were no longer enough to solely support the family. Therefore, a lot of women went back into the work force to help support the family financially. I’m sure there were other reasons for the decline in SAHMs as well. Perhaps the importance of education and increased numbers of women achieving higher education played a part. Maybe many women wanted more sense of purpose and importance outside of the home. Whatever the reason, we’re no longer in the “Leave It to Beaver” world.
It’s All About the Cha-ching
Obviously, yet sadly, money rules the world. If you don’t have money it’s hard to have your primary needs taken care of, like food, clean water, shelter, clothing, education, etc. – not to mention all the cool things you want outside of that like smart phones, tablets, sporting goods, big houses, and fancy cars. I think that this is probably the number one reason for both partners in a marriage (or long-term relationship) to work. It makes sense.
What if, though, mom can’t make enough income to make it worth her working? I found that, in Virginia, the average is close to the national average for childcare costs…somewhere around $10k a year per child (2). That’s not including the gas to get to the day care, then to work, and then back and forth after work as well. Let me give you our personal example. We’ll round my wife’s (Amanda) income to $20,000 before she left her full-time job as a medical assistant. That’s a job that requires an associates degree, by the way. After paying daycare and gas I’m guessing we’d only see about $5k take-home pay. Does that seem worth it? Maybe for some people, like those who can honestly say they love their job. I’m willing to bet they are the minority though.
Let me paste an excerpt from Dave Ramsey, who is a financial expert and is nationally renowned for his plan that helps folks get out of debt, start budgeting, and increase savings. In one of his online posts he writes:
“You have to make over about $25,000 a year to even break even in the workplace if you’re paying daycare. By the time you pay daycare, extra wear and tear on the car, gasoline in the car to drive to work, different kinds of clothing—more professional clothing in most cases that are more expensive—more cleaning, more fatigue food because you’re not at home to cook, you’re not cooking from scratch so your grocery bill is higher—usually because it takes longer to cook from scratch normally—and on and on and on. The costs associated with you being in the workplace all added up is about $25,000 a year, give or take. That’s what you’ve got to look at. If you make $50,000, you’re netting $25,000 and that’s nice. If you make $100,000, you’re netting $75,000, give or take. That’s what you’re facing” (3).
SAHMs Are Lazy?
I’m willing to bet that the people who say SAHMs are lazy have (a) never had kids or (b) never been a SAHM. I’m going to be honest, if you would have asked me five years ago, I probably would have told you that SAHMs have it easy; they don’t have to go to work; they get to be at home; they get to do what they want. As I met SAHMs as an adult, I realized that it probably wasn’t as easy as I had thought. What really opened my eyes, though, was the birth and the raising of our son, Caleb. He is awesome and I never imagined I could love someone so much, but he is tough.
A couple of weeks ago, Amanda went out with a friend for an extended period of time for the first time since Caleb’s birth (he’s 6.5 months old now). Amanda ended up staying at her parent’s due to a bad storm that night, so I ended up having Caleb all night. I put him to sleep, I woke up with him for an hour or so in the middle of the night and watched hunting shows, I held him tight and walked around with him while he screamed himself to sleep again, and then I woke up and got him and myself ready for the day in the wee hours of the morning. It was fun and also one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever had. And guess what… Amanda does this day-in and day-out. Of course, I help when I’m around, but my job has weird hours during the week that cause Amanda to parent solo, especially during the day and early evening.
To this point in Caleb’s life, he is still pretty needy and dependent. To be happy, he has to be held or closely monitored the majority of the time. I’ve heard people advise Amanda to take a nap when Caleb does, but that’s her only alone time. So, when Caleb naps she takes care of other things like sorting through bills, doing laundry, cooking dinner, etc. Yes, she does get to get on Facebook and Pinterest, but that’s only because you only need one hand to nurse a baby, so you can semi-effectively use the other hand to re-post cool DIY ideas to your Pinterest boards. She also has her own blog, which she primarily works on when I’m home and playing with Caleb. Somehow, I still come home to a decently clean looking home with dinner often ready to eat. Needless to say, Caleb loves his mommy more than anything in the world and so do I. So, no, she is not lazy and she doesn’t just sit around the house all day doing nothing.
You’re Not My Mommy
For us, we want our kid(s) to learn from us, receive support from us, and have a long-lasting relationship with us. Children do a lot of their learning in the first few years of life. One of our fears is that if our kids are in day care, someone else is providing a huge portion of their learning and support. I did some math to see how many hours a full-time working mom would spend with their child(ren) vs. not with their children. Basically, if you work 40 hours a week, you spend 2080 hours a year away from your child(ren) – if you want to take out a couple of weeks for vacation, it’s still 2000 hours away. Then you have to add your commute time times 5 days a week, times 52 (or 50) weeks a year. Now, all in all there are 8736 hours in a year. If you sleep 8 hours a night, you have to subtract 2912 hours your away from you child(ren) for sleep – that leaves 5824 hours you could possibly spend with them. Now, you have to subtract your work hours: 5824-2000=3824.
Basically, if both parents work full-time, the child is spending about 34% of their waking hours with someone besides their parents. Personally, we don’t like that idea; however, I know that some parents may be okay with that, especially if the child is being watched by someone who is really trusted.
Do What Fits – Do What You Love
Let me be clear, because I don’t want to be mistaken: I don’t think that being a SAHM is a necessity or the only right way, and I will never push my ideas about parenting on others. It appears that some non-SAHM families do not hold the same value though, and are somewhat attacking toward SAHM families’ values.
Ultimately, you have to do what you think is right and what is best for your family. Some people, like Amanda, have a deep calling to be a SAHM – beyond a shadow of a doubt, they know that being a mother and raising their kids a certain way is what they were put on this earth to do. Others may value the sense of achievement and importance they receive in the work world, which is awesome (go get’em tiger!). Some may know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were meant to do something else on this earth, like be a counselor, police officer, or beautician. Others may value the things that their extra income can afford for the family: the best health care, the best food, fun trips and vacations, the newest Toyota Sienna with the flip-down flat screen and built-in DVD player, etc. I understand that too, and trust me, I’m trying to find ways to have all of that for my family as well, without the extra income.