AIBU to ask if SAHP's are happy with their life?

(225 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Sat 09-Nov-13 14:09:36

Firstly - no offence is meant by my title and I am in no way a person who judges either SAHP's or Working Parents. I'm just trying to gauge a sense of how SAHPs feel about their role.

My title was originally going to be, "AIBU to ask if SAHP's are happy with their choice?" but part of my post is asking if the SAHP had to make that choice because it was the only option that made financial sense as opposed to them actually wanting to be a SAHP?

What kind of careers did you give up and do you miss work? Do you feel like you have lost part of your identity or do you feel that being a SAHP is what your purpose always was?

I'm expecting my first baby and I spend some time every now and then thinking about 'Return to Work' options but I can't foresee me being a SAHP. I have a job that I love and a career I wouldn't want to sacrifice. Even if it made more financial sense to give up work I don't think I would. Are there any working parents out there who work despite it not making financial sense because they still need that aspect of their life?

monicalewinski Sat 09-Nov-13 15:27:58

I have always worked, my boys went to nursery at 6 months and I have resented and enjoyed being a working mum in equal measure looking back.

At the moment I am off work long term sick (have been off about 10 weeks so far and not due to go back until at least Feb) and I have had the opportunity to be a SAHM finally (although still being paid, so have not lost income). For now it is great, I can go to school things with my 8 yr old and my children don't go to childcare before and after school every day so they can get homework done/go out to play like their friends do but I am already getting bored (mentally and physically) and am missing having my own life and identity at work.

With hindsight, in an ideal world I would have probably liked to be a part time working/SAHM for the years up to end of primary (it wasn't possible in the job I do anyway so a pipe dream); the best case I could imagine would be doing my job which I loved and being able to do school runs etc.

I think with either option you are always giving something up and it is impossible to have it all (it's quite sad really when I think about it).

Hettyjones Sat 09-Nov-13 15:29:52

And to answer your question, no, absolutely not. The feminist movement is about women having a choice not feeling they have to either go to work or stay at home. Unfortunately, finances dictate that such a choice isn't available to all women.

Also, my DH didn't pressure me to sah, he told me it was entirely up to me. He will absolutely support me when I want to return even though he knows it may put limits on his own career.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sat 09-Nov-13 15:31:49

I love being a SAHM, always wanted to be but didn't think we would be able to afford it. Our hand was forced when my work offered me very unfavourable terms to return - rejected my flexible working/part-time request.

Fortunately for us DH was able to get a different and much better paid job almost immediately which compensated for a lot of the drop in income. His career has gone from strength to strength and we now co-own our own business. I am an equal shareholder and so it really is our money.

The key to feeling happy as a SAHP is having the full support and respect of your partner. And, IME, having a cleaner so that you are a SAHP rather than general dogsbody and housekeeper.

Topseyt Sat 09-Nov-13 15:32:11

I am a SAHM.

I ummmed and ahhhed about it for a long time before taking the decision. It wasn't arrived at lightly.

I returned to work full time when my eldest daughter was 3 months old and my paid maternity leave ran out. That was back in 1995, and even then we had to pay nearly £700 in nursery fees for her.

I suppose the decision was really made for me when my second daughter was born in 1998. It would have cost more than my salary every month to pay childcare for both of them, plus I didn't really feel comfortable with it any longer. Me staying at home removed the problem of what to do if childcare problems arose, if I was ill, if child became ill and had to be picked up in the day etc.

I never looked back, although financially it has been a struggle. The problem has come during the last few years as my youngest reached an age where I could again look for work. I have a long career gap to explain every time, and I also ended up looking for work in a recession. Still looking now, although things may finally be looking a little more hopeful.

AnnieJanuary Sat 09-Nov-13 15:33:26

Delighted with it. I did my best - joined a bank, it went under, joined another, it got merged = redundant, joined another and tried to build a career in fraud/legal, but the credit crunch came and the department shrank and moved on, and by then I'd spent 7 years hacking away at it all and I was still on just under £15k.

If I'd had an actual career I loved, I might feel differently. But I didn't. Right now I have a fairly tidy house, no arguments about cleaning/chores, no worries about childcare, no customers/clients calling me a whore (you work in finance, you hear this one a lot) and no boss breathing down my neck. Bliss.

It helps that my identity wasn't remotely connected to my job, so I've nothing to miss. I'm still the same person and have time to keep up the same interests.

Kinect Sat 09-Nov-13 15:41:27

I lost my job when I was pregnant. I would never of seen myself as a SAHM, but I love it.

No idea what I am going to do as a job next though confused

Primrose123 Sat 09-Nov-13 15:42:27

I went back to work part time after my two DDs were born. I had a good job, but I hated leaving them. Our childcare arrangements weren't really working out well, so after a few months I decided to become a SAHM, always with the intention of going back to work when they were older.

I loved it at the time, and it felt like the right decision. We were ok financially, not rich though! I was much happier, as I had been struggling with working and looking after the girls and running the house. DH was working long hours a long way from home, and although he helped when he was home, he wasn't home much. It wasn't his fault, but it had been hard for me too. I loved being a SAHM. I did lots of things with the girls, we did lots of reading and activities that I wouldn't have had time for if I had been at work. I helped out in school and at Brownies and got a post graduate qualification.

Now I want to go back to work and it is very hard. I have good qualifications and experience, and have studied recently, but it seems to be impossible to get a decent job. I am working from home at the moment, and the money is quite good, but I don't want to do what I am doing for ever. I don't want to go back to my old job. There have been changes in the company and everyone says it is awful working there now.

I naively thought that as my children got older, I would be able to find a reasonable job, but there is very little available where I live. Apart from the negative effect on my career I don't regret being a SAHM though.

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Sat 09-Nov-13 15:46:39

I am currently a SAHM. I had a well paid and prestigious job. But it drained me. It was unpredictable long hours and I never seemed to have an energy for anything at the weekend except slumping on the sofa with a takeaway!

After DD1 I went back 4 days. It was ok, but not a real improvement. Rushing home to do bedtime then working in the evening.

If I had loved my job it would have been worth it. But I didn't, so it wasn't. I still hope to return to work in the near-ish future, just need to work out what I will do.

It sounds like your parents had a very disfunctional relationship as to finances (and probably other things given they divorced) OP. Don't let that colour your own choices. We put everything into a joint account and it is all 'our' money. Other than the fact that our finances are utterly intertwined, I am not 'dependent' on DH.

No, I don't think that there is any obligation on either parent to give up work if they can afford it. However, my personal pet hate as a set up is 'Mum does 3 days plus all children related jobs and housekeeping and Dad continues as normal'. That does not work if what the mother wants is a career and not just some time out of the house and a little extra income (which is obviously fine, but less common than gets pretended). I see far too many women breaking their necks in that set up and not daring to moan because they are 'lucky' to work 3 days.

MothershipG Sat 09-Nov-13 15:47:16

I went part-time when I had DC and I don't think I would have coped well with being a full-time SAHP. I do not find the baby stage easy or fulfilling! By the time I had DC2 it meant I was working for my sanity rather than financial gain! wink I had a well paid job in IT but it wasn't exactly a vocation or anything.

Just as DC2 started at nursery I was made redundant and couldn't find another part-time job to fit around childcare so I stayed at home and loved it! I had some child free time and they were getting more interesting anyway.

They are both in Secondary now and I am working part-time again, and although I enjoy my job it's only for the money, I really liked being home full-time. (Fingers crossed for a lottery win tonight!)

I manage all the finances, DH pays the lion's share of his money into my account and I sort all the bills and expenses, he gets to keep pocket money and is quite happy with that. I am lumbered with the bulk of the financial decisions but it feels very much like our money because I am mainly in charge. Obviously I consult him on the big stuff but he's happy for me to get on with it.

pianodoodle Sat 09-Nov-13 15:50:01

I view being a SAHM (although I work evenings) as a temporary thing while the children are very little so in the grand scheme of things it doesn't feel like a huge sacrifice.

We were in the financial position of having no choice anyway but had we had the choice I'd have still opted to stay at home rather than have day care.

Whether you feel awkward about being more financially dependant or not probably depends on your relationship. I've never been made to feel awkward about it, I'm made to feel very valued and reminded what a great job I'm doing by DH.

I know some people do think in terms of money being the only way to feel you are providing but as long as we're happy with our set-up as a couple, outside opinions don't bother me as you do what suits your own circumstances.

Philoslothy Sat 09-Nov-13 15:51:11

I was possibly at my happiest as a SAHP, the freedom, ability to spend my time doing what I wanted rather than being a slave to my job, hours with my children in a non pressured way, time to catch up with friends, visit galleries, study and my home was run properly.

Genesis2000 Sat 09-Nov-13 15:51:30

You can be in the middle ground - be self employed.

It's still hard work though working till 3 am but I feel it works perfectly and I have my own income and my own identity and still do all the things with my children.

redstripeyelephant Sat 09-Nov-13 15:52:07

I am struggling with this at the moment- since my DD1 was born 6 years ago I have done a bit of both. I went back to work 3 days a week when DD1 was 1. Then we relocated for DH's work when DD1 was 18 months and as I was pregnant with DD2 I didn't get another job so became a SAHM, which I loved at the time but always had a niggling doubt about whether it was the right thing long term. When DD2 was 15 months I found a job which was great for me career-wise, but it was long hours, commuting though only 3 days a week.

We have now relocated again, for a better lifelstyle and DH's job. And for now I am a SAHM again. DH's new job is so full on and such long hours I think the only option for now is for me to stay at home. Also no jobs in my industry round here anyway. DDs are 6 and 3. I am enjoying it for now, but I am already getting worried about what to do once DD2 starts school next year. The thought of dropping them off and spending 9-3 on my own every day kinda fills me with dread if I'm honest.

Philoslothy Sat 09-Nov-13 15:53:06

I would love to have 9-3pm free every day, I could do so much.

Mumsyblouse Sat 09-Nov-13 15:59:47

Then I feel guilty for thinking it because surely our children should be our absolute everything?

I do not think this- perhaps for a tiny baby you are everything but even then babies can be very adaptable.

I don't think even for SAHP it is advisable to make your children your absolute everything, the happier SAH parents I know keep their hand in with their old work, or love running a local playgroup, or are studying on the side. Making your children the point of fulfillment in your life is a heavy burden for them, and may not work for you.

To answer your question about working if finances allow one to stay at home- I would always prefer (and did) to have my children cared for by a SAHP say up to the age of three. That would be optimal for me. Me and my husband did one child each, while working part-time around the family. After that, I work for my own interest and sanity and because it's what I'm good at (not so good at homemaking, cooking and so on it turns out).

I agree with whoever said you can't always predict this stuff, plenty of women who wanted to be SAHM's find their dreams of being wondermum and staying home a rather cruel reality which isn't for them, similarly there are very career oriented people who find that the juggling just gets too much and decide to step back, perhaps temporarily, after having a baby.

Remember, this is a long-haul game, even if you are SaHM for a few years, you may return to work, and vice versa. Children don't have the same needs all the time, and one child is less time out of the workplace (if you do SAH) than three or four. Don't make critical decisions now unless you have to, keep your options and your thinking open.

Timetoask Sat 09-Nov-13 16:02:41

My mother, likes yours, drilled into her daughters' minds that women should work and never depend on anyone. She regrets enormously not working.

Pre-children, I had an unrealistic view of what I could juggle. I never ever thought I would be a SAHM. I had a great job, earning well and with prospects. When ds1 was born, we found out at about 12 months that he was disabled, I happily left my career to make sure he received all the stimulation he needed, no other person would have put the love and effort that I would.

I had ds2 2 years later. What a pleasure looking after him. I couldn't have left him with a random stranger that had no particular interest in his welfare. Those years never come back, they are little for such a short time. I also fervently believe that little children need to feel secure and build a strong bond with a single carer.

I went back to work for a couple of years when ds1 started school. I was very hard. I had a great nanny but every time one of the boys got sick, or I had to go to the school, etc, I felt very guilty. I was so tired. Exhausted. Loved working, but wasn't functioning properly. I would only see them on average for 1.5hrs ever night, it was just to feed, read, sleep, no quality time.

After 2 years I went back to being a sham. The boys are 8 and 6 now and I actually enjoy it much more than when they were babies. We share a very special bond. I love being there for them whenever they need me, I love knowing exactly what they are eating, what they are feeling, what happened in their day and what is that very important question they have on the day (some amazing ones!!!). I love not having to wait for the holidays or weekends to take them to the library, swimming, cycling, or whatever.

OOps, sorry its so long. Very Important point is: DH has never made me feel like a lesser human, we are equal in this partnership. That is crucial.

I do hope to go back to work as some point.

Bubbles1066 Sat 09-Nov-13 16:13:15

I was a teaching assistant, I became a SAHM as childcare would have cost more than I earnt. I'm happy at home, I have friends who still work and I see their stress with juggling everything, worrying who will have the kids when they are ill etc- I have nothing like that. However, I can feel a little isolated at times and a bit like in just a Mum but I find this had got better now my oldest has started pre school and I've only got my daughter to care for in the afternoons. When she's asleep I get my me time which is great. When they start school, I hope to work part time.
Overall, I'm happy as a SAHM and don't resent it.

jellybeans Sat 09-Nov-13 16:18:57

I never set out to be a SAHM and was f\t in potentially well paid secure job. But its different for many when you actually have the baby. I hated leaving DD all day (was fine when my parents had her temporary for a month but hated using nursery and it was a good one). I loved the job but not at expense of DD and I felt I was missing out. Maybe if she loved nursery would have tried longer. I quit when I had DD2 and have been SAHM for 14 years (5 children now).

I am very happy being a SAHM. All DC are in school now so I could go back to something but chose not to and to study instead with OU. It's just easier too having a parent at home, even my teens need someone around to keep them on the rails. DH works very odd shifts that change all the time so having me here is easier all round too.

I don't feel I have lost my ID but feel I have found myself and feel liberated from materialism. Not saying that everyone works for that, I have had times when I had to work for roof over head, but when I was working I kept thinking of the nicer house, holidays and cars etc. Nothing wrong with that but we are happy with what we have now. I am happy with the simple life and happy with my own company. I also feel very close to DC and look forward to them coming home etc having done stuff in the day. The days I am in uni for OU stuff or exams I am so stressed and I feel if I worked it would be like that

SAH is not for everyone though and there are risks involved but for me time with DC is my main priority while I have the chance to chose that, I know many can't.

yesIwastheretoo Sat 09-Nov-13 16:24:37

I was so thoroughly fed up with my working life that I was ecstatic to be pregnant and be given a way out. I coldn't do my job with a small child and didn't want to spend all my wages on childcare and I actually looked forward to spending time with my child. My partner also liked the idea of me staying at home with the children. I had a second child and that put off working again.

My partner didn't earn a huge amount and we got into debt. after 9 years out of the workforce I am trying to find work. It's nigh on impossible. I kidded myself that I would become a different person once i became a mother and that perhaps I wouldfind another wayto earn money but i didn't. I am even entertaining the idea of getting back into the line of work i was in before (even though the thought makes me feel ill.) I feel a little sad cos i don't think i was a particularly good stay at home mum either I certainly didn't put as much energy or effort into it as I did for my paid employment.

so i'm stuck between 2positions, yes i made a choice tobe a SAHP but maybe I should have tried harder to get a job sooner - the kidswould have been fine and our family finances would have been in much better shape and my partner wouldn't have had the whole burden of bringing home the bacon. am not happy with the situation a the moment and feel abit stupid to be honest sad

Mumsyblouse Sat 09-Nov-13 16:27:48

yesIwastheretoo remember you are looking for a job in the middle of a recession, who knows, you may have been made redundant or found it difficult to move jobs/get family friendly hours anyway. The work situation is not just down to your choices.

This is one of the best threads about women's choices I've read on MN. People are being really honest and realistic about their thinking- so often this stuff just brings out defensiveness. It's very interesting to read.

KitCat26 Sat 09-Nov-13 16:30:35

I loved my job, it was in an interesting place. It was a secretarial position though, nothing high flying.

When I married DH I moved 50 miles further from my work place and family. We had DD1 about a year after we got hitched. A return to work would have meant I would be paying to work, especially as we had two close together. Fuel and childcare would have easily wiped everything out plus some.

I do enjoy being a sahm these days but it took ages to get used to it. Especially when I was home with both kids whilst DH worked a six day week. I threw myself into the local play group scene and met other local parents.I

A return to work (more locally and part time hopefully) will be on the cards when the youngest starts school.

froubylou Sat 09-Nov-13 16:30:58

I have been mainly a sahm for the last 2 years. My DD is 9 now and I finally get to do what I had wanted to do since she was 3 weeks old.

I do in theory run 2 businesses from home. But in reality they require about 3 hours a week so not too much to do.

I'm currently 34 weeks pregnant and can't wait to have this baby and not be stressed about when I have to go back.

I am reliant mainly on DP but I manage all the finances and the financial side of his company so don't view it that way.

I love my life at the moment. It can get a bit samey BUT if I got bored I do have my own business to work on so can always book a few appointments to get me out and about.

webwiz Sat 09-Nov-13 16:36:33

I was a SAHM for 20 years and went back to work in May. I always did stuff alongside being at home volunteering/studying/bit of freelance work so maybe that helped me get back into the job market. I loved being at home and organising my own time but equally I'm enjoying working again. My youngest is 16 now so I don't need to worry if I need to stay a bit later at work to finish something off.

I was an accountant before DCs and I worked after DD1 was born but just didn't have the energy to do after DD2. I work in the charitable sector now which is perhaps more sympathetic to women returners as they value skills gained in areas of life other than work.

PicaK Sat 09-Nov-13 17:25:29

Yes I am happy. Mainly because i made a genuine choice - i think if someone said i had to stay at home i'd be back out at work like a shot!

That said i feel under increasing pressure from the current government to go get a job. I actually worked out the other day what i hadn't paid in tax over the last 5 years and felt very guilty.

I'm also lucky to have an incredibly supportive DH who earns "our" salary. It does take some mental adjustment to get used to that but it seems normal now.

Rufus44 Sat 09-Nov-13 17:35:14

I became a SAHM on Christmas Eve 15 years ago this year. I never had a problem being financially dependent on my husband because I don't feel I am dependent

I have had the odd little job for a few hours per week for about 6 years now. I work for four and a half hours a week at the moment so would still refer to myself as SAHM as it doesn't feel like even part time work. I earn £115 a month for this work

I do not regret my choice at all but, in the current climate I would advise anyone thinking of stopping completely to leave their options open regarding working part time

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