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Struggling to decide btn SAHM or PT work - help!

(18 Posts)
Moomo Tue 11-May-10 21:34:42

I am really sruggling to decide whether to go back to work PT (3 days a week) or to be a SAHM.

We can just about afford for me to be a SAHM but would have to cut out luxuries/holidays etc. At the moment I can't imagine leaving DS and haven't yet found childcre i'm happy with yet (i still have time tho). I also had a very difficult pregnancy and we want to TTC no:2 pretty much as soon as i would go back to work (it took us 18 months to get pg with DS) so i'm worried about the strain of working and looking after DS while pregnant.

BUT I have a job to go back to that i enjoy and i earn a lot more than DH. I'm also worried about getting into a bit of a rut at home - especially in winter when its harder to get out and about, and how hard it would be to get back into work when the DCs (hopefully) are older.

I know its my decision and everyone's different but i would love to get any comments/advice from SAHMs and people who work PT as to how they made their decision and how its working out.

violethill Tue 11-May-10 21:43:16

I did 3 days per week when my dc's were 4 and under and found it great. I was keen to keep my hand in with my career, and also even if we'd been able to survive on one income, I think there's big difference between scraping by and actually being able to enjoy life. Particularly as you are the higher earner, it makes sense not to jack your job in totally.

Concordia Wed 12-May-10 01:00:17

i was the higher earner and did go back part time after DC1 and then for 6 months after DC2 but have now stopped. really enjoying it and kind of wish i had stopped a bit earlier.
deep down i think it's what i wanted to do, but we can only afford it for a fixed length of time (can't meet ougoings on DH salary).
if you manage to conceive quick and do return to work, the maternity pay may be good though?
i guess you can always go back for a few months and then decide (that's what i did after DC2)
i think i have learnt to remind myself that no particular state - full time - part time - sahm - is permanent. that helps me feel more settled about any decision i make.

onadietcokebreak Wed 12-May-10 01:28:45

A few things to consider:
Is your DPs job safe?

Do you have a nest egg of 3 mths salary?

Would you have to pay back any employers maternity pay if you didnt return?

How competetive is your field if you wanted to return with gap?

Are you likely to get a part time working arrangements which reflects your family needs?

Personally If I was planning another one fairly soon I would say return to work part time...then become a SAHM.

emy72 Wed 12-May-10 09:16:17

One of our best family friends asked me this question two years ago. Her situation a little different as her husband earns a six figure salary and she earned very little but in a job she loved. I told her to keep her job as it would keep her sane, and she went back two days a week, following my advice!

Last year her husband lost his high powered job due to the recession and was at home for a year in total as the competition for jobs was fierce and wasn't getting another one fast.

It was a stressful time for them but she was able to up her hours temporarily so that they wouldn't eat too much into their savings and keep things going whilst his husband look after their children.

I think this is a scenario worth keeping in mind. Good luck with your choice!!!!

NikkiH Wed 12-May-10 10:59:21

I worked three days a week when my children were small and it worked out fine. It has also allowed me more flexibility to change my working hours now they are older and at school so that I can fit in drop offs, pick ups and after school activities etc.

My friend gave up work when she had her DS1 some 12 - 13 years ago and is planning on returning to work when her youngest is in secondary school by which time he'll be able to make his own way to and from school and be by himself for an hour or so until she gets home. This is still a couple of years off and she is already wondering how she will manage to find work after so long out of the workplace. She thought about going back to work while the boys were at primary school but finding work that fitted round school hours and term time was nigh-on impossible. With hindsight she wishes she'd carried on working part-time when the boys were small so that she wouldn't have the issues she has now.

paulaplumpbottom Wed 12-May-10 11:02:52

Could your DH stay at home since you are the higher earner?

Moomo Wed 12-May-10 13:11:38

Thanks eveyone - lots of things to think about!

Diet Coke - in asnwer to your questions:

DH is self-employed so his job is safe but running your own business is always risky. If it all went wrong he's confident he could still get a job earning the same, if not more.

We do have 3 months salary and a little more for emergencies.

I don't have to pay back maternity if I don't go back as I'm only getting statutory minimum.

It is a competitive field but I am v qualified for it and have a good CV (sorry not showing off just being realistic!). Not sure how employers would view a gap though.

I think the big question is how PT work would fit in with the family as I would have to commute an hour each way on the train and we don't have family near by so would have to use a nursery or nanny share from 8am to 6pm.

Nikki - I'm also worried about having to work during the holidays when DCs are older!
I did think about just being SAHM until DCs go to school but then would have the same problem as your friend about school holidays etc.

VioletHill - you make a really good point about scrapiing by vs enjoying life. The thing is, that makes sense financially but am not sure how much working PT would affect other quality of life issues i.e. less stress, less rushing around, no guilt at leaving DS etc!

Paula - not really possile for DH to stay at home and don't think I would like it if he did! I would hate to be going to work while DH looked after DS!

I think that ultimately I want to be a SAHM but am worried about money, feeling unfulfilled and feeling like I'm copping out! I used to have a very high stress demanding job and think I am a bit burnt out and the thought of not having to work is very appealing. But then I might get bored after a year or so. ARGH! It's not getting any easier!

amidaiwish Wed 12-May-10 13:19:03

i think you have answered it yourself - that you ultimately want to be a SAHM

if you don't have to, commuting with long childcare days, TTC, being pg then with 2 DCs, i think will be too much. if you have the choice.

why not give yourself a couple of years off whilst you complete your family and see how you are. keep your hand in with a bit of freelance/consultancy if you can. keep in touch with work colleagues, see it and talk about it as a couple of years off. not forever.

nellie12 Wed 12-May-10 13:28:39

Another thought here.

If you can afford to be sahm then it doesnt matter whether you return to the same job or not.

You could always try working in a different field, or going back to work in a more family friendly job when the kids are older.

fwiw part time can be the best and worst of both worlds. If you enjoy the job and it isnt overly demanding / high stress then it works out fine as you have a break and feel more fulfilled yourself whilst still being mum.

If its high stress and demanding it works out as packing in a full weeks work into part time hours - still feeling stressed and the knowledge that you are putting your dc into childcare, which comes with its own cost and stresses.

paulaplumpbottom Wed 12-May-10 19:12:48

I know alot of people worried about being unfulfilled. I'm sure there are a few people out there who are but if it helps I love being a SAHM and I feel more fulfilled now than I ever did at work. Most of the SAHMs I know feel the same.

There are a few finacial sacrifices to be made but its sooo worth it.

EmmaandJacob Wed 12-May-10 20:12:52

I feel the exact same as you and am having the same conversations with myself.
Part of me thinks I will never again get to be with my son while he is small, and that in 20 years time Ill regret not being with him more than the extra money!
Im like you we can just about afford it,but I feel the same like I am cooping out if I dont go back.
I want a career change anyway (am thinking of training to be a teacher) so dont really care about the gap in working.
I think do what will make you the happiest -lifes too short!


willowstar Thu 13-May-10 11:01:45

I am having the same discussions with myself as well but have decided to go back 2.5 days a week. but...I am going to go back at the last possible moment if that is OK with my employers.

One of my main worries is where to put my daughter to nursery because like you I commute by train and the whole journey including the walk at the other end is 90 minutes each way. It would take about the same length of time by car so I could in theory take her with me and use the nursery on site

anyway, I digress...I am going to do the minimum three months that I have to do or pay the money back and see how I feel. I would love to stay at home with her but a very small part of me is thinking it might be better for her to mix a little bit with other people.

Moomo Thu 13-May-10 12:05:15

Glad to know I'm not the only one having this struggle!

Willowstar - I personally feel that the very best thing for DS is to be with me all/most of the time and that at 1 year old he can get all the social interaction he needs from playgroups etc. But I do feel like I might need to get out without him sometimes!

It's also scary when you commute that if anything went wrong if would take such a long time to get back to them, so I understand you wanting to put your DD in a nursery near work. But how do you think she would cope with 3 hours in the car every day?

I'm going to see another nursery this afternoon and if I don't like it then there's not really any other ones in the area that I can use as they are all term-time only except for the two that I've seen already and didn't like (they were both HUGE and for 100+ children and I really didn't like the atmosphere).

Worked out that if I got a nanny 3 days a week I would only clear £500 a month which, although really helpful, doesn't seem quite enough to make it financially worthwhile.

On the other hand, I'm feeling a bit blue today as it's been raining for the last few days and I haven't been able to get out of the house. I don't want to feel like this forever!

MrsCMAW Fri 14-May-10 08:22:16

Have you considered working from home doing something like direct selling? I'm an Usborne Books seller and it's brilliant - it brings in a bit of extra cash, it gets me out of the house and it can totally fit around DS - I take him with me to almost all my appointments. Plus we get lots of free books for him to enjoy grin

If you're interested in knowing more drop me an email to or have a look at my website

rachelamelia Sun 29-May-11 14:49:57

My little one is 11.5months and i've been back at work for 3 weeks, working 3days p/week.
My job is very competitive too, i work in the media and like you, although it's not greatly paid, it holds the key to a possible limitless future.
It was agonising deciding whether to go back or not, and right at the last minute i decided i wanted to stay at home to look after my little one fulltime, but felt i'd be letting down my employers who had accommodated me a lot allowing me to go back p/t.
All i can say is that the decision doesn't get any easier! I'm still procrastinating whether we're doing the right thing, but we're muddling through and making it work. She's already caught some killer bugs from nursery & i've already had to have time off sick! But i'm scared if i stay at home i will lose an amazing job and all the opportunities it holds, and i also think my daughter will be very proud of me in the future.
I worry too though going forward, about school holidays, and will i have to put her in after school club (i used to feel so sorry for those kids when i was at school).
In short i don't think as mothers we can 'have it all' somewhere along the line we have to sacrifice something somewhere; some of us choose to sacrifice our independence, some choose to sacrifice time with our children, and some choose to sacrifice money, i'm trying to sacrifice a little of all of the above and hope it works! But we've decided the moment it doesn't work i'll hand in my notice.
On a plus side my little one is loving nursery! She's never cried when i've left her ( i always ensured a good handover routine) and she is loving the interaction with the other bambinos - we chose a very small family run nursery.
And i hate to say it but i am more chilled out about things, work has given me some perspective on being a mummy and has helped me to handle things far more competently and less emotionally! And i'm still b/f! So at the end of the day we always manage a b/f which i think has helped her accept all the change.
I'm not prepared to go back however full time & if my employers ask me to, then my hand will be forced anyway as for me nursery 5 days a week is a no no (unless of course financially people have no choice).
Good luck with your choice, and remember you being happy will make your little one happy no matter what you decide.

2littleterrors Sun 29-May-11 20:52:58

I was a stay at home mum until my youngest started school so I had a total of 8 years off. I had a very good job in finance But I wanted to spend the early years with my kids and it was well worth it, we had to sarifice a lot but it meant that I had proper quality time with my children.

But as soon as my ds started school I started studying and getting myself up to date in the knowledge that my field would require. It took 3 years of evening studies as the day ones were too expensive. But it was well worth it as half way through I was offered the job that i am still in now, it started as 2 days then increased to 3. It is a very family friendly job and un-usually 70 percent of the women work part time. The money is a little less than what I was earning previously. But this place is soo nice to work for, that the money doesn't matter.

So basically what I am saying is if you do take time out to spend with your little one, you can go back to a good job. It may not be easy and straight forward and you may need to study and do extra training but you will get there if your determined.

Good luck with whatever you decide. But just remeber they grow so quickly and in the blink of an they will be teenagers.

harpfairy Mon 30-May-11 17:16:21

cannot encourage you strongly enough to try the PT life. I work 3 days and it's easy. I don't feel like I miss out on a thing. I don't particularly love my job but I like my colleagues, having adult interaction which is not child-centred, even the commute, dressing smartly, wearing heels etc. Every now and then I think I will chuck it in. The shorter the gap on your CV, the easier it will be to go back to proper work when the children are older - so even if you try it for a year and give up when you have no2, time in work is never a waste. Plus you have a well paid job, and obviously a good career - even more reason to give it a try. You may find you enjoy it!

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