AIBU…. Why do we not have more SAHDs?

(76 Posts)
LittleChickpea Thu 28-Mar-13 15:52:10

To be confused? Read a lot of articles on this and I was wondering what mumnetters think? If it's of any interest.

It seems there is a feeling that mums end up giving up their careers to stay at home with the DC (for whatever reason) and are treated unfairly for it.

So for those couples that are affected by this? Do men simply not want to stay home or does the idea of men staying home rather than the women have little appeal to families? Does this even get discussed when the decision is made as to who will be the primary care giver if one parent is to stay at home for a number of months/years. Do women with high flying careers think the idea of a SAHD is laughable or not? Would current SAHMs be happy to work full time and their DP be the full time SAHP (taking salary into account - if you earned his exact salary)? Is the growing number of SAHDs a side effect of the economy?

Really interested in hearing what people think.

Wishihadabs Tue 02-Apr-13 08:26:13

I hope you have a wonderful maternity leave and lovely time while your DH is off. I hope his employers see sense. In the meantime don't discount going ft. There are loads of advantages if your DH can get pt hours. (More money, more leave and better career progression spring instantly to mind). Embittered pt worker here.

ivanapoo Mon 01-Apr-13 03:37:46

Wishihad yes we are planning for him to do this (but with me still working 3 days pw, we have money saved to allow us to do this... In theory!)

I agree it's discrimination but as flexible working is at the company's / manager's discretion it might be hard to prove? To my knowledge though NO men have been granted a shorter week there... But then we only know of one other man who requested it.

Wishihadabs Sun 31-Mar-13 09:21:10

Ivanpoo why not get DH to take the last 3 months of the parental leave ? Then you could return ft (as the higher earner). Also if women have returned to dp's company pt in similar roles, I think his employer could be guilty of sexual discrimination.

ivanapoo Sat 30-Mar-13 23:25:37

I earn more than DH so he would be the SAHP but unfortunately we can't afford to pay anything but our mortgage out of just one salary so will both have to work. also while my son is wonderful now at 3 months old I imagine he'll be much harder work in 18 months

I am planning to return to work 3 days per week, and DH would like to do 4 - but his (big multinational) employer is reluctant. It's seemingly no problem for women he works with to go part-time after having children though. This is yet another barrier to more hands-on or flexible parenting for dads.

slightlysoupstained Fri 29-Mar-13 14:09:38

It'll be interesting to see what happens over the next 5-10 years now that parental leave can be shared, and with greater flexibility due soon. The 2 week statutory paid paternity leave was only introduced 10 years ago, but despite talk at the start about slow initial takeup, young male colleagues assume now that of course they'll be taking it and would be outraged if anyone suggested they shouldn't. That was pretty different 10-15 years ago. And we all assume that senior managers will take it too - I think my colleagues would all be a bit hmm if a senior exec didn't.

Not so many taking up the shared leave yet, but I think that will change gradually too, especially if couples realise they can potentially go over the 52 weeks if they share leave (separate entitlements):
www.out-law.com/en/topics/employment/family-friendly/what-employers-need-to-know-about-additional-paternity-leave/

About a third of my antenatal class are taking additional paternity leave - I suspect that having seen colleagues take leave will make more men start thinking about it.

milkysmum Fri 29-Mar-13 13:34:30

My DH has a been a SAHD since just before Christmas looking after dd 4 and ds 18 mths. I upped my hours to full time as I have a higher paid job- not massivley paid- I'm a nurse! DH is a builder and we were finding that the flucuations in his earnings meant we were often paying out more for child care than he was able to earn in a month!

INeedThatForkOff Fri 29-Mar-13 13:27:42

If DC is sick then he struggles to get work to allow him to stay home (they always say why can't your wife).

My employer expects leave for looking after unwell DCs to be split equally between me and DH. Unfortunately DH's employers don't see that he should do any of it angry

noidontwant2hearaboutyourdream Fri 29-Mar-13 13:15:27

DH is a SAHD. I went on maternity leave for a year, then went back to work. He is now having his turn. He really wanted this and was desperate to spend more time with DD. He loves it, he has lots of parent friends and goes on play dates. He never feels left out or unincluded. He organises the house and has dinner ready when I get home. I feel very lucky and am very happy with the arrangement. We might swap back if we have another child.

Most people never comment but his family are very traditional and think its strange. His mum thinks that children need their Mum more than their Dad, which obv is total nonsense! I think enjoying or being good at being the main carer has nothing to do with your sex. Women are not naturally better carers, men can do it as well if they want to.

Wishihadabs Fri 29-Mar-13 13:00:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wishihadabs Fri 29-Mar-13 12:59:42

Extremepie DH also found toddler groups difficult. Although he enjoyed swimming classes with dd.

Because staying at home with little children 7 days a week is, bar several amazing seconds, pretty much like eating your own arm?

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 12:40:15

I went back to work when DS1 was about 4 months old - and that was 2 months after having an accident where I cracked my pelvis!

DH didn't earn more than me (about the same at the time but I can now earn more)so it didn't make much difference financially but to be honest, I wanted to go back to work. I find I become very depressed when I am at home full time and DH doesn't so it made more sense for him to SAH.

When DS2 was born a year later, I went back to work full time and studied at college part time while DH was a full time SAHD to 2 sons under 2!

We both found it hard but I honestly think it worked for us - I don't think I am very good as a SAHM.

-DH will be a SAHD and I'll go back after 3-4 months. And even though we are not even parents yet (7 months pg), we are already considered bad parents - I'm the "Why have kids anyway if you don't want to raise them" and he is "Stop leeching off your poor wife, get a proper job to support your family!".

With attitudes like this, no wonder most people take the easier option and conform to the expectations-

This was and is very true for us also. Lost count of the number of times we had to defend our decision for DH to SAH instead of me, even to 'professionals' like the HV (I did actually start a thread about that!) who asked if he 'felt like less of a man because he didn't work'.

Quite often people were rude, sexist and downright insulting about it to both of us!

There's been a lot of talk recently about whether or not SAHM are undervalued - I think they are to an extent but not as much as SAHD.

Also, what has been said upthread about Dads being 'left out' was very true for DH, he stopped going to our local toddler group because no one would talk to him, even when DS started going to nursery mums seemed to avoid him sad

One of DH's best friends is also a SAHD but he is a single parents so receives none of the same critisisms.

Wishihadabs Fri 29-Mar-13 12:02:27

Just wrote epic post which was eaten !

Wanted to say that DH SAH for about 2 years when the dcs were 3&5. Worked really well for us.

I had been pt/on mat leave/ period of not earning for about 5 years by then. It was great to go ft and really get my teeth stuck in to my career again.

You would need to ask him but DH having been working ft throughout, enjoyed the slower pace of domesticity and spending more time with the dcs. He was especially fond of getting the health visitor round to his perfectly tidy house.

After 2 years when dd was going to school he started his own busisness. This was 2 1/2 years ago and I have now cut my hours back and we share childcare 50/50 (both at school).

Although this arrangement suits us well now, I do miss having a wifeblush

RumbleGreen Fri 29-Mar-13 10:24:59

Well one is that many women partner up with men who earn more than they do. So when that conversation about who should stay home happens it's naturally going to be the lower earner.

Timetoask Fri 29-Mar-13 10:21:02

Sorry for typos!

Timetoask Fri 29-Mar-13 10:18:50

I felts stronger urge than DH to be with my babies. He wouldn't do the job half as well as I do (by his own addition).
I like the traditional family setup and don't feel like an inferior human being just because my DH works and I currently don't.

Chunderella Fri 29-Mar-13 10:18:40

Maybe 3 months afterwards, actually. I remember thinking when I was about 10 weeks post partum that I could probably be in a workplace safely again if I wanted (I didn't).

Chunderella Fri 29-Mar-13 10:16:21

It's multifactoral, got to be. Biology is part of the reason, but not all. Squeakytoy's post is a good overview, but only of half of it.

Obviously, mothers need to take more recovery time after birth. However, I think probably most women are fit for work again by about 2-3 months afterwards. I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but that was about average amongst the new mums I know. Obviously there's the odd Xenia, who's doing stuff the day afterwards, and of course there are some women who never recover their health afterwards. But the actual time off needed at the end of pregnancy and after the birth to recover doesn't explain the difference in numbers.

Equally, it's not about bf either. That plays a part, but the vast majority don't bf past a couple of months max. I also seem to recall reading on here that bf mums are more likely than average to go back to work. If that's true, not only does bf not explain why there are so few SAHDs compared to SAHMs, it actually means a woman is less likely to SAH. So while women need a certain amount of time off due to physical and woman specific factors like birth, recovery and bf, most of us take more maternity leave than we need simply to do those things. And few of us are still bf or recovering from birth by the end of the maximum ML period.

However, most women do need a certain amount of time off, and the current laws mean that either we take the first 6 months or they don't get taken at all. No transfer til before then. And by that time, you've possibly arsed up your career by taking ML anyway- let's be honest, it happens. Time spent on ML often counts for much more than it should do in career terms. I understand that if eg you've worked 12 years and 18 months of that was ML, you have 18 months less experience than the person, probably male, who started at the same time as you and has never taken anything other than annual leave. Fine. But all too often, the time you've taken off is magnified. Instead of being seen as 18 months less experienced than your colleague, you're seen as having about half his value. This isn't universal, of course. but it happens enough that some couples might think it more sensible to ensure that at least one career is kept pristine.

I think there are a lot of structural factors.

The UK (until recent changes) had very long maternity leave, but almost no paternity leave, in contrast to other countries that have parental leave that can be shared however you want. I think in Germany you actually get an extra month if you do split it!

So it's the mum who had to stay home for 9 months, and then naturally it seems the discussion comes up of whether her salary (not joint salary) covers childcare, and only then does it make sense to go back to work.

Then there is the fact that many people these days want to have their DC close together, so a woman at the end of maternity leave may think, why go back if I'm just going to be pregnant again within a year.

I agree entirely numerical. I worked in a very female industry and the pay rises for going up the ladder were pathetic. An extra 10p an hour not unusual. it is not like that in more typically male industries like DHs.

Unfortunately you've got to deal with where you are now the best you can.

HazleNutt Fri 29-Mar-13 09:36:16

DH will be a SAHD and I'll go back after 3-4 months. And even though we are not even parents yet (7 months pg), we are already considered bad parents - I'm the "Why have kids anyway if you don't want to raise them" and he is "Stop leeching off your poor wife, get a proper job to support your family!".

With attitudes like this, no wonder most people take the easier option and conform to the expectations.

Toasttoppers Fri 29-Mar-13 09:28:07

We both work in roles that are very much historically male and female gender based roles. Therefore we unfortunately have the pay differential as well.

He earns approx twice what I do. His industry is still dominated by men, where I work all the staff in similar roles are women.

NumericalMum Fri 29-Mar-13 09:00:59

Thewi the problem is that men shouldn't earn more than most women. In my line of work you rarely see a female over 35. It is so frustrating to have no role models as all the women looked at the prospects of trying to balance a demanding career and childcare and instead decided that, despite probably having higher future earning power if you take one of two years out for maternity leave you end up earning less than a partner with te same qualifications etc. Hugely frustrating and while I am now probably not too much disadvantaged after taking a maternity leave of 9 months 5 years on I certainly struggled for ages to get noticed as people assumed I would be off on my next maternity leave soon. I would love another child one day but unless I can get my DH to agree to splitting leave etc I am not sure I could do the rebuilding all over again myself.

rustybusty Fri 29-Mar-13 08:55:22

There are always men at baby groups, surestart cafe, doing nursery drop offs, and on the parent advisory boards here to. Most people here are dual income households.

bakingaddict Fri 29-Mar-13 08:50:33

I think it's down to your chosen career and earning potential. Whoever has the greater earning potential and job satisfaction will be disadvantaged by taking a few years away from their profession.

As I have neither, work in the NHS and it's hellish at the moment, i'm more than happy to work part time and spend time with the kids although i'm sure DH would love to spend a few days at home too but I kick his arse out to work every day

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