Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Don't give up work to be a SAHM unless

(937 Posts)
akaemmafrost Tue 27-Nov-12 20:18:01

You have a HEFTY private income or can work from home.

I gave up work, usual reasons, wages would barely cover childcare, WE wanted kids to be at home with a parent.

Fast forward. I now have two dc, the father of my dc cheated on me, physically, emotionally and financially abused me.

One of my dc has SN and cannot attend school for the moment.

I've been out of work for 10 years now, I have no profession. In 6 years time our child support will stop as will most of our benefits. I will near fifty having not worked at all for 18 years.

My future is shit. Utterly grey and bleak. All I have to look forward to is a state pension. While my ex earns a fortune, travels the world and has new relationships.

This is reality for me. So think long and hard about giving up work to stay at home because no matter how shit your job is it's preferable to my future don't you think?

And it was all decided for me by a man who decided he hated me and didn't want to be married anymore and a child being diagnosed with significant SN.

It's that simple.

FeuDeSnowyRussie Thu 29-Nov-12 11:36:03

You could be right Tunip and it will be very interesting to watch how things go with these couples, especially once 2nd babies arrive.

TunipTheVegedude Thu 29-Nov-12 11:39:13

Here's hoping though, eh, Feu?! smile

Although as you say, we don't know what goes on behind closed doors, I have been on holiday with a lot of other families and there definitely is more equality in couples re chores than there used to be - I know far more couples who share fairly than ones where the man sits around expecting be waited on.

ISayHolmes Thu 29-Nov-12 11:40:18

Wanttowrite you make excellent points. I'm very sorry to hear about your husband. No one ever thinks they will get ill until they do- I certainly didn't, and while I'm still able to work I am in pain a great deal of the time. It can happen to anyone. I know that makes me sound like the boogieman, but it's true. It's just something that always seems to happen to other people, some distant friend or something you read about in an inspirational piece in the Guardian. Then suddenly it's your life.

Anyone who reads this: it's worth having an idea of what you would do if your OH or you became ill. A plan of some sort. You don't have to write down a thirty page research proposal on it but please, give it a little thought.

FeuDeSnowyRussie Thu 29-Nov-12 11:44:16

Yep Tunip, among my friends many a useless boyfriend was (eventually) dumped in our 20s for being useless wastes of space who do nothing around the house. Now pretty much all the men in the couples I know do the same work round the house (along with all the mental work of organizing life) as the woman. Except one, and they got divorced last summer, luckily before they had DCs.

FeuDeSnowyRussie Thu 29-Nov-12 11:47:03

I have to say though, I do think we have lower standards of housework and houseproudness than our mothers. Ahem.

JugglingWithPossibilities Thu 29-Nov-12 11:56:26

That's OK though isn't it, Feu ?
Perhaps women got a bit sick of being defined and judged by how tidy their house is - there is more to life !
If stuff is shared more equally perhaps we can re-discover some house proudness ?

FeuDeSnowyRussie Thu 29-Nov-12 11:59:41

It is absolutely, definitely okay Juggling!

Wanttowrite Thu 29-Nov-12 12:05:20

Thanks IsayHolmes - dd was only 3 when we got shock diagnosis and it really isn't that rare by the time you are 40+ I know lots of people living with illnesses of what kind or another, some more limiting than others. I never thought it would be us and think we are probably still living in a bit of denial at what future holds, however today is our wedding anniversary and all in all I'm happy.

notmydog Thu 29-Nov-12 14:56:22

I honestly hope MNHQ would consider moving this thread somewhere where it wouldn't disappear. So much food for thought. I have never stopped working, although I wished at the time I could stay at home and look after DD. We were not entitled to any government support at the time of DD's birth and we needed my wages as we bought a house just before I fell pregnant. At the time I was working in HR, steadily making progress and fairly happy in my job.

We left the UK to return 'home' because DH wanted to, it took him quite long to convince me. We started up a business together, which never really did well. I found another job in a totally unrelated industry. With hindsight I now know I should never have returned with him. I should not have left my career. We are pretty much financially fucked, our savings are depleted due to our failing business. Our relationship is fairly crap at the moment, if it wasn't for DD we would probably not be together anymore. And also, we need each other financially, I don't think we would be able to run two households on our current wages. DH is hoping to find work in the UK, we will be returning early next year. I'm 42 and I'm not sure what my future holds. Very scared indeed.

emsyj Thu 29-Nov-12 15:29:36

I've just nominated this for inclusion in 'Classics' notmydog.

Charbon Thu 29-Nov-12 15:32:55

I'd like to ask Emma to consider requesting its move to Relationships. That's the board where I think it will have most impact.

CabbageLeaves Thu 29-Nov-12 16:26:38

Agree re moving thread and how much food for thought is here. I would counter the idea that women are forced to stay at home by circumstances, societal expectation with the fact that I know several women who saw motherhood as a way to evade working in a job they didn't like.

Short sighted IMHO.

However a choice they made. I'd like to think this thread makes women make a more informed choice.

When struggling to juggle work and babies I was green with envy at their ladies who lunch lifestyle. Today I am very glad that circumstances forced me to maintain my career.

Issy Thu 29-Nov-12 16:34:36

DH and I had been together for 10 years when we got engaged. He was in the oil industry and I'd always assumed that I would abandon my career and follow him around to obscure parts of the world and raise our children. Shortly before our wedding, DH was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. All globe-trotting and SAHM plans were abandoned and we both continued our careers in London.

Twenty years later DH is wheelchair bound and medically retired, although he does still has a very enviable, part-time consultancy job. We went on to have two DDs, but because we knew the score way before they arrived, it didn't even occur to me to give up work. It's been tough at times but we are financially very stable, the DDs are fine and DH is in the position to do just enough work to keep him intellectually amused without getting over-tired.

We were sooo lucky. That early, early warning meant we could build our lives around the probability that DH wouldn't be able to continue to work. Had MS struck suddenly, when we were ten years out, with two children, in the back of beyond, with zero career prospects for me, we'd have been sunk. sad

Wanttowrite Thu 29-Nov-12 16:40:14

Really agree Issy, we also had enough warning to make plans and savings - so glad I didn't give up working when I had my ds and dd, though I had decent maternity leave and many variations of part time working until now both in high school and I am pretty much full time working.

Spuddybean Thu 29-Nov-12 16:54:46

Cabbage - I could be accused of doing just that. Unfortunately the job i didn't like had no prospects anyway so i doubt would have made very much difference.

Also to the poster who said about women being in these dead end jobs - I totally agree. My exH and i left uni together with a similar degree and both got entry level jobs on 15k per year. However, my job in a national art gallery required nothing i had studied for and was merely an admin job which relied on excel and databases of which i have no aptitude. My husband on the other hand was developed technically and within 2 years was on 36k.

My exH, my dad and DP have all said repeatedly, 'well just earn more money'. as if it was that easy. They refuse to believe that women are funneled into these admin/caring (low paid) roles and to them they are more successful than women because they must have worked harder. frustrating is an understatement. And then you get the odd female boss which is even less understanding, because SHE did it, so other women should be able to. regardless of whatever help she had. One female boss i had hated women who had kids, feeling they had let themselves down.

scottishmummy Thu 29-Nov-12 17:38:47

sorry for your troubles op,i hope you have supportive pals
I think it's folly to be financially reliant upon other adult.folly to give up work
and whist the man career goes stellar because he can work unencumbered woman has no career no back up.and if the wallet walks..well housewife is stuffed

CabbageLeaves Thu 29-Nov-12 18:24:14

Spuddy I think we all make life choices which hind sight tells us might have been a mistake but at the time felt right. You can only do what you think is right, at the time.

The reason this thread is useful is it has a wealth of experiences saying think very very carefully before making yourself dependent. Some of the posters who have argued that advice is scaremongering, will be lucky. Others won't be. Most (All?) of us were also pretty confident in our marriages at one point otherwise why would you have married!

I am independent but there is nothing to insure me against my own health, job loss, breakdown. I wish there was

akaemmafrost Thu 29-Nov-12 19:13:57

Have requested this be moved to Relationships smile.

HoleyGhost Thu 29-Nov-12 19:49:43

I think that part of the problem is that, until you've lived it, being a SAHM seems like the easy option. It is anything but.

scottishmummy Thu 29-Nov-12 19:54:05

thats a truism we all assert,that no one know how hard anything is until is a lived experience

HoleyGhost Thu 29-Nov-12 20:12:07

Yes, distracted by multitasking. It can make the breadwinner resentful, thinking that they are slogging away while the SAHP is doing not a lot.

It being hard work eroded my confidence.

But things can change for the better too. I was lucky enough to find a fulfilling new career and am now happier than I thought possible.

A couple of years ago, I would not have been able to imagine getting to where I am now

startlife Thu 29-Nov-12 20:47:40

Emma, I really hope that your future is positive.

I was in a highly paid job with my first relationship - it was tough at times but it gave me the freedom to end that relationship. I spent years on my own and built up financial security. Then I met H and despite my own experiences I gave up my job when ds arrived (he was a very difficult baby and all the night time waking fell to me). 10 years on my H's career has flourished and I am earning less than I have ever earned. The current climate is very tough especially since we moved to be closer to H's work. I trusted H, I thought it would be OK but I was naive. No one should be financially dependant on another adult.

Turning 40 has felt a watershed (I think it's equal to a man who's 50). I feel as if I'm less employable and I think there is a prejudice towards older women.

ModreB Thu 29-Nov-12 21:11:49

I grew up in a single parent household. Born in the mid 1960's when this was not the done thing. My DM, who always worked, met my stepdad when I was 11yo. He was an abusive twat to both of us, sexually, physically, emotionally and financially until she saw the light and left when I was 18yo.

My DH is the most loving, kind, gentle man that you could wish to meet. He is a fantasic father to our 3 DS's, a wonderful husband, and has been for over 25 years.

But, as a result of lessons learned at a very early age, I have always worked, and had my own Bank Account. He does not know and has never asked what I earn. We share bills but I earn enough to cover all the bills. DH does not know this. I know exactly how much he earns.

It makes me feel sad sometimes, that I will never trust anyone else but me to provide for me and my DS's, but then I look at my DM and think that I have to protect myself and my DC's if ever the unthinkable happens.

scottishmummy Thu 29-Nov-12 21:16:51

i will never be financially dependent upon another adult.too precarious
we have separate individual accounts, and joint for mortgage,nursery etc
i couldnt bear to not have financial autonomy,id feel beholden and downtrodden

MrawMraw Thu 29-Nov-12 22:01:16

What if you are / were NOT married though?

I (stupidly, in hindsight), did not get married to the father of my 2 DC's. I thought I was too young for marriage at the time.

Before I had the DC I was on my way to having a good job with good prospects and pension etc (I was student nurse). exP was another type who is very employable (has 2 degrees, some experience) but didn't want to be "corporate" , or "sell out" and he did earn slightly more at the time than I got in bursary etc and he was adamant he would NEVER be able to do childcare and work his full time job so I gave up my course to become SAHM and we struggled along on just his wage (which was much lower than it could have been if he would accept having a boss) for years.

When we split, I was left with nothing, no money, nothing. He stayed in the house as it was soley in his name (signed over to him only by his nasty piece of work mother), me and DC had to go into a homeless unit angry, go on benefits and we got our own place eventually.

I do work now, but I have no qualifications past 2 A levels, I had zero job history at all because I went from school to Uni (nursing), to SAHM. I went for thousands of jobs, any jobs, and got nothing. Eventually I got part time employment through doing voluntary work (but 9 months voluntary before they offered me a job). The job I'm in just now is minimum wage and I could do it standing on my head (not boasting, just I know I could do more). However the logistics of 2 young children, housework, childcare and a nursing degree would be far too much, I know that I've done the course it took up so much time even pre-DC.

My ex has a house bought and paid for in his name, still working no gaps, and obviously his degrees. He does see DC but pays not a penny towards their upkeep (Child Maintenance have been rubbish, no outcome for years despite me being on the case).

I don't know what the answer is, but really something needs to be done. SAHP's are vulnerable financially, WOHP's are vulnerable in the sense that access to DC could be difficult in the event of a split.

Like SGB said, the work of a stay at home parent is completely under-valued, in fact hardly even valued at all. It should have monetary value. Imagine what would happen in the country if all SAHP's suddenly decided to stop providing childcare and domestic service? shock. If I were ever to be a stay at home parent again I would ensure that my partner paid a set amount into my account every month, out with all the bills - just an amount for me, not for any bills, for my own savings, easily accessible and accessible only by me in the short term in the event of separation. OK, not very romantic, but I won't be in a homeless unit again with DCs.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now