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to sometimes think that SAHMs are "living the dream" and really envy them

(462 Posts)
Fizzler99 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:54:29

Ok so I don't have kids yet.

I work ridiculously long hours (as in out the house 6.30am-8pm minimum and often work late nights and weekends too). I have a long commute each way (can't afford to live where I work as property so expensive) and the job is very, very high stress. I earn a decent wage, but I am quite junior so I'm not on mega-money despite what my friends and family seem to think

I don't intend to keep this job forever, but I need to establish myself in my choosen career then I can hopefully 'down-grade' to something less stressful.

One of my colleagues has just given up work to become a SAHM. It just sounds like living the dream. No more waiting on cold station platforms for delayed trains at 6.30am, no more hideous commute, no more stressful job and nagging boss and office politics, no more late night working and surviving on takeaway or the contents of the office vending machine for weeks at a time. I am so jealous! envy

Please give me a much-needed reality check. Please tell me the reality of being a SAHM. For those of you that have gone from having a quite high-flying career to SAHM, please tell me how the two compare. I think I really need a reality check!

PostBellumBugsy Thu 24-Jan-13 11:55:32

I think it depends on where you are with you kids. Staying at home with multiple small children is hard work (although there are some who really love it). Staying at home with school age children has more of that dream quality to it IMO.

I have a great job, which I really enjoy - but if I could afford it I'd work part-time, because I think you get the best of both worlds that way.

nonpractisingVirgin Thu 24-Jan-13 11:58:57

You don't have to work where you do in those long hours with that long commute if it's so terrible, why don't you look for something else?

Weissbier Thu 24-Jan-13 12:03:13

I adore spending time with DD but at the same time I couldn't imagine giving up work. Plenty of women want to and that's fine - you can't make value judgements about all this, and the traditional model is great if both the woman and the man are happy with it. Personally though, I don't feel the taxpayer funded my education for me to become a SAHM. I can't cook, I can't sew, I can't garden. I was educated like a man and I want to work kind of like a man. I love my job: moreover, I'm damned if I'm shafting my pension because it was me who went part-time, and I'm not up for relying financially on my husband. This side of the traditional model belongs to an era where it was much harder for husbands to leave their wives.

The really intense part of child-rearing lasts a decade. What would I do with the other thirty-five years of my pre-retirement life? I'm with Elisabeth Badinter on this one.

I did change my career direction to be more family-friendly before DD was born - not part-time, but I went into a related field where I work a lot from home. DH made a similar decision and so all in all, we both work and we both spend a lot of time with DD and don't have to do things like give her loads of calpol and send her in to nursery when she's not well, or have her do really long days there, which is important to us. Also, when I'm not working, I'm with DD or scrubbing the lav, I don't really go out socially. That's the bit I don't eat of the impossible have-it-all cake. I did that before and I can do that again when she's older. We also both just stopped doing stuff like ironing and cleaning windows so our windows are a bit dirty and we're a bit rumpled.

So my point is, whether SAHM is a dream or not depends on what's important to you, and where you find your personal identity. What we do isn't better than what a family with a SAHM mum does, or what a family with two lawyers and a live-in nanny does. It's up to the individual to marry what they want with what they feel their children need and generally I think we're very lucky to have so much choice today. I just think you need to be both astute and assertive regarding the long-term implications of your choices - everyone does, but particularly women, because we tend more than men to subordinate our own position.

mrsjay Thu 24-Jan-13 12:04:23

For some women it is living the dream for others it is soul destroying. No point in looking for a definitive - it doesnt exist

^ ^ that I also have a medical problem but I wanted children also being a sahm was the only way I could manage

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 24-Jan-13 12:13:49

Ha - well if you have no kids then of course being a SAHM seems like living the dream, because to you all it means is just giving up work!

I'm a SAHM and I love it, for many of the reasons you have listed. But when you factor in the poo, the lack of sleep, the trying to keep a small child entertain all day without going mad then the scales are a lot more even than you might imagine.

I think many SAHMs do end up drudging for their families, doing all the housework, all the laundry, becoming the default childcare 24/7, treated as a 2nd class citizen by their husbands.

I am in the fortunate position of having a cleaner who also does our ironing, and a husband who does his share of getting up in the night with the DCs.

Eliza22 Thu 24-Jan-13 12:18:13

I love it. For different reasons. I was a nurse for 26 yrs doing shifts/weekends/Christmas/new Year.... All of it. For the past 6 yrs, I've been a SAHM. I'm in a lucky position I know and it means I'm there for ds when the school closes at short notice, with snow.... In the holidays.... In the morning, when he goes and at 3.30 when he comes home. The house is warm, lit, inviting and he has his tea at a reasonable time.

When I was little my mum had to work. Me and my big sis came home to a dark house (in winter) after hanging about for the bus home.... We had chores to do like preparing veg for tea, running the Hoover over (we had 3 dogs) emptying the ashtrays (!!) and trying to get the oil heater going!

I know which situation I'd rather be in, as a child. Also, I don't spend the weekend catching up on washing, ironing, shopping and bed changing, like I used to have to do, when I was totally knackered from working long shifts.

I LOVE and appreciate it, enormously! smile

MrsDoomsPatterson Thu 24-Jan-13 12:22:25

I work two and a half days a week....To me this is the best of both worlds, I have stayed at home, not sure I could do it again. Saying that I do more to fill my time with hobbies outside of work now so perhaps I'd be OK..But then I wouldn't be ale to aford to do them! Oh well...

YorkshireDeb Thu 24-Jan-13 12:23:16

I once read that when comparing yourself to friends you usually pick out small aspects of their life that you would like to have rather than looking at the whole picture. For example, you think "I wish I was as thin as my thinnest friend", or "as rich as my richest friend". And at the same time they could probably pick out aspects of your life they would quite like. I found it gave me an interesting perspective on things & might help you get around how you're feeling. You've picked out the things you don't like about your life at the moment (like standing on a cold train platform) & think how lovely it would be to be her, not doing those things. But what do you think she would envy about your life? Perhaps being able to go to sleep & not wake until morning? Perhaps having adult conversation through the day? Or having the freedom to spend your money however you feel like it (without having to consider the needs of little ones first)? Try to think not about teeny aspects but about your whole life compared to her whole life. It'll help you make a fairer comparison. X

fromparistoberlin Thu 24-Jan-13 12:23:27

not when their husbands leave them, and they have 3 kids, and nothing on their CV

its all relative......

HannahsSister40 Thu 24-Jan-13 12:24:39

I love being a sahm. I had my eldest dc's, was sahm for several years, then returned to work. When I was working again, embroiled in the office machine once more and aware that my time belonged to someone else (in a way which is infinitely less negotiable than time sharing is with the kids) I realized that those years of being a sahm really were the absolute best years of my life and will stay with him till my last hour. Obviously it wasn't all roses. It was often very difficult, a bit boring, a bit drudgy..but you could also list a whole page of negatives about working in an office! You have to:

1) really really want to do it (to enjoy it- if you're at home through no choice, that's a bit disempowering)
2) have a dh with a high salary who 100% supports your decision and pools all resources equally, including paying equally into a pension for you!

Katnisscupcake Thu 24-Jan-13 12:25:57

I guess I almost have the best of both worlds.

I work from 6.30am until 5pm working for a large corporation, but based from home. So no commute. DD is 3.5 and goes to Pre-school. I drop her at 8am and DH who works 5am-1.30pm, picks her up.

I do those hours Monday to Thursday which equate to full time hours and then get a Friday to spend time with DD, aswell as the weekend.

BUT I hate my job... but because the pay is good, I get to work from home and have a 3 day weekend, I can't really complain. It would make it VERY hard to get a new job though if I was made redundant (which is very possible atm).

Also, I had to go back to work when DD was only 4 months old because we were only on SMP which is rubbish and couldn't afford the bills... The company didn't offer anything extra.

Theicingontop Thu 24-Jan-13 12:26:40

I actually really enjoy being a SAHM. I worked for the first two years of my son's life and it was horrendous, the job I enjoyed turned sour for me because I would rather be with him, and I hated the thought of leaving him each night. I was exhausted.

No cons from me. But I'm ttc so check back when I'm pregnant with number two, and see how rosy everything is then grin

popcornpaws Thu 24-Jan-13 12:33:18

I couldn't wait to leave my work in the city when I found out i was pregnant, for all the reasons you stated.
It was the best 16 years of my life, so much freedom to do what you want when you want. I enjoyed and appreciated every day with my daughter.
Went back to work, got fed up with all the bullshit in my workplace, took a "gap year" to have some me time and am now back at work, different job, part time in a job i love.
So for me it was living the dream.

Librarina Thu 24-Jan-13 12:37:51

I'm 20 weeks PG and I've been thinking about this a lot recently. You don't say how old you are, but if you're under 30, I think there's time for both dreams.

I qualified in a profession I love over 10 years ago. So I've had 10 years of full time, stimulating, interesting work that challenges and delights me. I've been married to DH for 4 years so we've had plenty of good times together. When baby is born I'll have a year of Maternity Leave which will hopefully help us work out what sort of arrangement will work best for our little family when that ends. It's hard to predict these things but I imagine that me returning to work 3 days a week will suit us, especially if DH compresses his hours so that we only have to arrange 2 days childcare.

The thing is, while it is possible to have a lot, it's not possible to have it all. I think if either of us was a full time SAHP then not only would things will be financially tougher, either one of us might get bored/resentful/frustrated. If we both carried on working full time then we would be financially better off in the long run, but we wouldn't get to see our baby and a lot of our income would go on childcare.

For us the best solution is to try and find a balance. Cut and juggle hours, balancing work, childcare and domestic life. Try and find some time and money for fun but accept that the life of nice coffee, weekends away, croissants in bed after our morning run is over, we have a different life now.

If I don't go back to work full time then I will miss out on some elements of professional development in the short term however the pay off will be the time spent with our child and I'm hoping that I've built up enough professional credit to accomodate 5 years of part time working.

For me the secret to any kind of contentment is finding a balance that works for you and don't worry about other people's choices and arrangements.

Depends whether your dream includes

- being woken in the night by a screaming baby, feeding said baby. Repeat an hour later. Repeat. Repeat

- having trouble leaving the house, even to post a letter, while your tiny baby howls, screams, gets feed, poos

- being unable to eat hot food or have a hot coffee as the baby is clinging to you. Everything is consumed lukewarm

- vomit, poo, wee. Often all over you, not just the baby. Oh, and the sofa, or the carpet. Or someone else's carpet blush

- when they're a bit older, you might find you have been landed with all the cooking, cleaning, washing

- lack of adult stimulation

- having to read the same boring, boring story over and over. Play the same boring, boring game over and over

- having an audience when you go to the toilet

- not having time or energy for yourself, whether it's having a bath or doing evening classes or playing tennis

- all your money mysteriously disappears, spent on the child. But this is nothing compared to the loss of money due to giving up your salary

Have I put you off yet? grin Seriously, working is much easier!

Overreactionoftheweek Thu 24-Jan-13 12:41:25

I work two days a week while MIL has ds - I often think about being a full time SAHM when work is pissing me off, but threads like this always remind me that it's a good idea to keep a foothold in the working world just in case.

I can't wait until ds is at school and I have those lovely empty hours all to myself! <crappy mother alert> I do love spending time with him really!

sparkle12mar08 Thu 24-Jan-13 12:47:46

If I'm honest being a SAHM now both of mine are in school is living the dream. I love it and have an incredible amount of freedom to do whatever I like - some days I really do do nothing other than surf on the net for 6hrs! However those first 3-4 years are a pain in the arse to be frank. It's far more soul destroying and much more relentless than working, depending on the exact job. I worked in the public sector for 10 years pre kids and spent some of that in a high pressured lead role and it gave me a breakdown - it's why I didn't go back after dc2. Overall, I'd much rather be at home than working now. Extra money in the budget would be lovely - we halved our (considerable) family income for me to be able to stay home - but you cut your cloth accordingly.

JessieMcJessie Thu 24-Jan-13 12:51:56

OP, instead of fantasising about being a SAHM, why not reconsider your current situation and make some changes to improve it? The commute- is it REALLY true you can't afford to live nearer, or just that you won't compromise on the size of your home or the niceness of your area? Wouldn't having more sleep in a 1bed flat be preferable to leaving a bigger place at 6.30 am? If you're working late and at weekends you don't really need much stuff at home, and small places can still be made pretty and comfy. As you get more senior and earn more you can upgrade. Re the long hours, of course in junior positions it's a bit beyond your control, but are you REALLY focussing, or messing about on coffee runs and on the Internet as treats to help you through the day? Get a book on time management and model yourself not on SAHMs but on working mums who have to get it all done so they finish in time to see their kids.

SofaKing Thu 24-Jan-13 12:54:06

I am glad to have read this thread.

I've been a sahm for 5 years, 3 dc. I've been ill recently and was in hospital before Christmas and am on steroids.
I feel terrible and struggle to cope. I'm angry with myself because I feel I'm not coping and I should be able to.

Thank you for reminding me that looking after 3 children 5 and under is actually quite hard work, even with a supportive (but messy) DH, and that it is OK to be struggling. If I was in paid employment I would have been signed off by hospital for at least six weeks, as it is I did a 12 hour day with the DC the day after leaving hospital as DH could not get any more leave from work.

On the other hand my lovely mum takes two smallest DC every Thursday morning which is why I have time to be on MN!

whois Thu 24-Jan-13 12:54:37

Sometimes it would be amazing, other times I think the lack of adult stimulation, lack of cash, drudgery of day-in-day-out child care could be wearing. I'm sure it's not all long walk in the park, picnics and happy smiles.

Can you make some changes to how you love to improve things? A flat share nearer would would cut the commute and make life more fun.

Long commutes destroy your soul.

It can be living the dream but only if

Your h is completely supportive of you not working
You have a clear idea why you want to stay home to raise your kids
You can cope with the lack of status/respect from society.

Do you respect your friend and the job she will be doing raising her children, if not why the hell would you respect yourself?

morethanpotatoprints Thu 24-Jan-13 12:55:48

I think it is a very personal choice and agree there is no best way. For me as soon as I had ds1 I knew I would never want to work again. We cut our cloth accordingly and until FTC came along struggled financially but it was worth it. Some people though need to work for their sanity because they need some sort of outside stimulation they can only find at work. Being a sahm doesn't mean you are tied to the house and that you have no life. For me it is very rewarding and I have many interests and hobbies which don't include the family. For me I am living my dream, but to someone else it would be their nightmare.

becsparkel Thu 24-Jan-13 13:01:27

I gave up my job to stay at home, it wasn't a difficult decision as my boss was (prob still is) a complete twonk.

So far today I have been screamed at, bitten, battled with nappy changes, had a 15 mo old almost permanently attached to my boob and not managed to leave the house yet. that's after fuck all sleep due to teething. On the upside I've also had cuddles, smiles and some lovely nonsensical chat... And I managed to have a shower today, albeit with a harassing toddler banging on the glass in disapproval! Right now he is napping and the house is a disaster area, I should be tidying, cleaning, laundry & making dinner but I'm going to have a HOT cup of tea and read Caitlin Moran.

impty Thu 24-Jan-13 13:01:28

Funny to be envied... I have often felt pitied.
Can be fabulous esp. once kids are at school. Can also be awful.
Like all things very careful what you wish for grin

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