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Does anyone regret becoming a SAHM?

(46 Posts)
PipandBella Mon 15-Jul-19 09:51:03

I'm having a huge dilemma regarding work. Im currently on mat leave with my second child (and also have a 3 year old who starts school next year)
I'm thinking of giving up my job to be a SAHM for a few years and then trying to find more flexible work which would fit in with family life.
My current job is a good one, professional and well paid, but is stressful and has weekend and night shifts as well as early and late shifts which vary from week to week so sorting childcare/ school pick ups is going to be a nightmare.
I always thought that if I was lucky enough to a family one day I would give up the job and be a SAHM or look for something more family friendly, and I'm fortunate that my husband supports the idea of me becoming a SAHM and we would be OK financially.
To some this decision may seem like a complete no-brainier but now it's crunch time and it's proving much more tricky than I expected!
For those who have quit work to be a SAHM do you ever have regrets and if so what are they?
I know there will be lots of benefits to being there for the children, but I know there will be drawbacks too.
Do you miss working? Do you miss being financially more independent? Has it been really tricky finding work to fit in with family life? Or has becoming a SAHM been a great decision?
I would love to hear your thoughts, any advice greatly appreciated!

Tumbleweed101 Mon 15-Jul-19 12:15:35

If you have a good friendship group unrelated to work life this will help.

I never regretted the time I took out to be a SAHM but it helps if you have hobbies and friends to see as there is the potential for it to feel isolating.

The financial hit was worth it for us but I wasn’t earning much anyway. I enjoyed being home and do miss it sometimes now when I’m trying to juggle work, house and kids.

BrokenLogs Mon 15-Jul-19 12:24:26

I'm very tempted to give up work for a while so following!

We've moved and I had to leave my amazing, flexible, well paying, and interesting job.

I'm struggling to find anything even slightly similar, that doesn't involve a long commute.

I start a new contract role next week that is close to home and has potential to be interesting. It's a short contract (3 months) but after this I'm going to take a year off and see.

SunnySomer Mon 15-Jul-19 12:29:18

I was at home for 11 years and loved it. Found it difficult initially to be given money and felt I needed to justify what I spent, but got over this. I also did lots of volunteering to get out of the house v
Returning to work was a shock. I had lost a lot of confidence, the volunteering counted for nothing (people on here always recommend it as a way into work but even school governorship seemed to be perceived as a bit of a mum-occupation), I have totally lost career direction (professional job that I have totally lost interest in but found it was what I was qualified to do and was all I could get back into). I’m not sure this counts as a regret, just a fact. Plus I’ve missed a chunk of pension contributions which has a big impact on my pension pot. And my income is much lower than it would have been if I’d never taken time out. Not an issue really but would be if I found myself on my own for any reason.

daisyboocantoo Mon 15-Jul-19 12:31:54

I gave up work 6 years ago, after the birth of our third DC, I and will re-enter the work force next month. I don't regret the time at home (it was essential, DS1 has Asd and we had to do lots of therapies) but now he is doing full days in a special needs school and DC4 starts school in the autumn.

I am currently pulling my hair out trying to find childcare though! (Here, our children come home for a two hour lunch break)

It was a big financial hit for us, but I enjoyed it and the kids have benefited, without a doubt. I have kept myself a busy part of the community, volunteering at story times in libraries etc.

I work in education so will continue with the majority of school holidays etc.

All that said, I am grateful to have had the opportunity and I am very ready to go back to work.

sar302 Mon 15-Jul-19 12:47:51

I didn't go back to work after mat leave, Ds is now 19 months and we are financially very comfortable, so no need to go back for cash.

I've loved having the time off with him, and would do it all over again... BUT, I. Have got to the stage where I actually miss work a bit! I'm now in the process of half looking for something, but I'm aware of the gap on my CV and it does make me worry a little.

I suppose if I get back into work relatively easily, it'll have been totally worth it. If not, I might regret it in the future. But I have no way of knowing that yet.

Factors that made it an easier decision were:
- No real financial impact.
- Complete financial trust in my husband - ie sharing all money etc
- Working in a relatively "family friendly" career, so no late nights to go back to when I do.
- Not feeling the need to climb the career ladder hard - I'm educated and a professional, but have no desire to be a CEO.

Drawbacks
- you can never be 100% sure of the future and I think I would feel more comfortable able to provide for myself if necessary.
- DS is gorgeous and fun, but I haven't found being a SAHM very intellectually stimulating, and I think (at some point in the future), the balance of doing something else entirely not related to my child, will be a good thing for me.

LittleAndOften Mon 15-Jul-19 12:53:04

I gave up work 3.5 years ago when I had dc. It's been great for dc and our relationship but I have to say I'm not cut out for being at home. It probably doesn't help that I don't have a network of family and friends where I live so feel very isolated. I really miss having colleagues and its been a struggle to find a new sense of identity. It's also been difficult financially.

However, having said that I was not happy in my career. It was extremely stressful and I had a long commute - it was not compatible with having young children and I can't say I really miss the job itself.

Now I have dc2 on the way and I've found self-employed work. I'm still able to use some of my expertise and my aim is to get to the point where I can afford to use a shared-space office with other freelancers so I have colleagues.

So, do it if you've got a good support network, you can make it work financially, you enjoy spending a lot of time at home, you don't mind leaving your job and you aren't the sort of person who needs the external motivation of a job to structure your life.

But - think flexibly. There's more than one way to skin a cat!

Babdoc Mon 15-Jul-19 13:03:23

If you’re happy to lose a big chunk of pension, your career progression and be financially dependent on your DH, crack on.
I hated even being on Mat leave - went back to work at 4 months.
My DH died before our second baby was a year old, and I’ve been the sole breadwinner ever since, until my retirement. It would have been much harder to try and get back into hospital medicine after years as a housewife - I’m glad I never went down that route. Life doesn’t always work out the way you think, and you at least need a contingency plan in case your DH dies or leaves, OP.

InDubiousBattle Mon 15-Jul-19 13:05:34

I've been at home since my eldest was born , so 5 years now and I've loved it.
Do I miss work? No. Perhaps a little when I had two under two but it was fleeting, on the whole no.
Financial independence. Doesn't bother me. Dp and I have been together over 20 years and money has always been shared. I 'do' our finances. My pension pot has taken a hit but I was self employed before so whilst I had a pes ion I'm not missing out on lots of employers contributions, we still pay into a pension for me since giving up work.
Main downsides? Other people's reactions can be a bit shitty sometimes (and reading mn threads on SAHMs becomes masochistic as this forum is so hostile towards them). I'm reluctant to describe getting married as a downside (we do love each other I promise!)but it's something we have never been bothered about but are doing mainly due to me becoming a SAHM.

I'll be returning to work in September when my youngest goes to school and tbh i'm a bit down about it, I'm going to miss being a SAHM so much. I'm re starting my business and doing some volunteering and just feel a a bit flat about it because the last 5 years have been so enjoyable. So no regrets as yet, it's been incredibly beneficial to us as a family and my own contentment and confidence has grown a great deal.

Pineapplefish Mon 15-Jul-19 13:07:42

I was a SAHM for nine years and went back to work when my youngest started school.

I was very lucky and found a good, professional part time job after nine years out of work (due to a need for my specific skill set). I had enjoyed being a SAHM, so was rather surprised to find that I absolutely love my job and feel like I have rediscovered a part of myself that I didn't realise I had lost. It's hard to describe, but being a SAHM does eat away at your confidence - you're so immersed in the baby stuff you forget that you're also a competent career woman.

So I don't regret being a SAHM but only because I have been so lucky in finding a job afterwards. If that hadn't happened I think I could easily have ended up regretting it. After all, it only lasts for a few years, but may have an impact on the next 20 or whatever years of your working life.

ProfessionalBullshitter Mon 15-Jul-19 13:11:35

I quit my job after my second mat leave to be a SAHM. Like you, my decision was driven by the fact that my job wasn’t able to be as flexible as our family needed. DH earns twice as much as me, so it was a no-brainer that I should be the one to give up work.

I was a SAHM for a year and I won’t lie, I didn’t really like it. I found the days boring and relentless and I loathed not earning my own money. DH is very generous and lovely but, before I became SAHM I’d never not worked or had my own money and I really struggled with that.

I did the odd freelance job to keep my hand in and then, after about a year, I got offered a great role with rely flexible working conditions. I realise this is very lucky and unusual. But now I can work from home whenever I need to (I usually WFH at least two days a week), and I can leave early for school concerts, early pick ups, etc.

Now I look back and even though I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do at the time, I never would have found this role if I hadn’t quit my old job and spent a year finding something that was a perfect fit.

If you can afford to do it then do it. But always keep your ear out.

BostonFerl Mon 15-Jul-19 13:12:12

If you’re happy to lose a big chunk of pension, your career progression and be financially dependent on your DH, crack on.

This. I think becoming a SAHM is usually an economically and professionally incredibly short-sighted decision.

driggle Mon 15-Jul-19 13:15:27

I'm doing the same soon. Currently on mat leave with DC2. Due to go back in September but will be left with £60 a month once childcare is paid for (yes, DP is contributing before anyone says, but it all goes in one pot, so £60 is all we will benefit from me working) so I've decided to be a SAHM.
With DC1, I went back to work (retail) after my mat leave but after a couple of years I began to really resent working weekends, Boxing Day, New Years etc so once he turned 3 and started nursery in the mornings, I became a SAHM and I really loved our time together. I loved being able to pick him up from nursery at lunchtime and go wherever we wanted for the afternoon. I went back to work as a TA once he started school and that is the job I'll now be leaving. Of course I will miss the job and the money especially, but DP can support us financially so I'm going to enjoy the time while I can and look for TA work again once DC2 is older.

Fontofnoknowledge Mon 15-Jul-19 13:22:59

No I wouldn't regret it. I never did because my DH earned less than me and we couldn't have managed financially.
There are certain boxes that you need to tick though to ensure you have basic issues covered.
1. Are you married. ? If he is high earner and you are reliant on him then leaving work to be a SAHM will mean taking a big hit on works pension for you. IF anything went wrong in your relationship- and you divorce then you can claim part of his pension/assets/property. You only get CMS if not married.

2. Can you really afford it. ? If so does he WANT you to be a SAHM ? Is this a decision that he is as happy about as you. Some relationships fall apart when this happens as the working parent feels resentful and stressed being the sole provider.

If answer to all above is yes then go for it.

InDubiousBattle Mon 15-Jul-19 13:28:28

Boston, in my, albeit limited experience (SAH is still a pretty unusual thing I think)it isn't short sighted, the people I know who have given up work have thought long and hard about it. There always seems to be the, quite patronising assumption on mn that SAHP are all silly, naive, short sighted etc, that they haven't been through the same thought process as WOHP because they didn't come to the same conclusion.

Tbh op the level of regret among my friends who went back to work ft is high, but our dc are still young, it could change in the long term.

Bumpitybumper Mon 15-Jul-19 13:41:11

I am a SAHM and currently don't regret the decision at all. I have to agree with @InDubiousBattle that my decision to become a SAHM was the absolute opposite of short sighted and I made the decision understanding that it was likely to have an adverse impact on my career prospects, earning potential and pension. Put simply, I made my decision and the related sacrifices because I honestly believe that spending this time with my children whilst they are young is one the biggest aspirations that I have in my life. I believe that it has benefited the children and our family immensely and has been so worthwhile.

ProfessionalBullshitter Mon 15-Jul-19 13:46:48

Tbh op the level of regret among my friends who went back to work ft is high, but our dc are still young, it could change in the long term.

I think this is true. When kids are under five and still so small and dependant, prone to picking up every illness going, and probably still not sleeping brilliantly. And when childcare costs are at their most crippling, it’s very common to regret making life even more stressful and complicated by going back to work full time.

I think when the kids get older and go to school and the pressure eases off a bit, you do re-evaluate. And then working ft seems more doable.

Teddybear45 Mon 15-Jul-19 13:50:04

How old are you? If you’re in your mid to late thirties / forties and have 15-20 years professional experience behind you, taking a couple years off to raise kids might not harm your long term career prospects or future earning potential. If, however, you are in your twenties then you may struggle to get back through the door in some industries.

Bobbybobbins Mon 15-Jul-19 13:56:25

For me if it was a choice of full time work or SAHM I would have stayed at home but I work 2.5 days a week and find this is perfect for me. I wish more places offered flexible working.

PipandBella Mon 15-Jul-19 14:04:10

Thanks for the replies everyone. I'm in my early 40's now so waited a long time before I met the right person and had a family, for a long while I thought it might never happen at all.
I guess that's part of the reason I feel so keen not to miss these early years and to be there for them as much as I can.
Work wise I'm not hugely career minded and realistically have gone as far as I want to go in my current job. I know I would want to go back into work of some kind when the kids are both in school and a bit more independent but I think I would use it as a chance to start in something completely different.
I'm hopeful whatever decision I come to will be very well thought through rather than short sighted, which is why I appreciate hearing all your views on here 👍

Letthemysterybe Mon 15-Jul-19 14:13:30

I’m much happier being at home full
Time than I was trying to manage kids and a full on full time job. But the longer I stay at home the more I wish that I had found a way to make work work! I think if I had my time again that I would try to keep working 2 days a week, even if in a much more junior role than I had full time. Right now, thinking of going back to work when I have had 4 years out of the workplace, feels pretty daunting. My work brain has completely switched off. I’ve also come to realise that a large part of my identity and self worth was tied up in my job, and I do feel ‘less’ not working.

EssentialHummus Mon 15-Jul-19 14:14:44

Everything sar3 said. I’m not fully a Sahm - I do about an hour’s work a day to keep my hand in - but a) being in a fully flexible self-employed role and b) having money from btl property coming in (bought in anticipation of having DC) are what makes it viable for me personally.

InDubiousBattle Mon 15-Jul-19 14:44:57

That would have been my thoughts tooProfessional but they're looking to cut their hours, go pt, reduce their roles now their eldest dc are in school, so ft work seems to be less appealing now.

snowy0wl Mon 15-Jul-19 15:04:29

@BostonFeri - Seems a little harsh. There are measures you can take to help protect yourself against unexpected death (eg. life insurance). On the subject of limiting your career progression, surely that depends on the career and whether you can see it as an opportunity to retrain? Staying in a job doesn't guarantee you will remain employable. I've known people who have worked in the same job for 20 years, been made redundant and then struggled to get another job because their skillset is out of date or too bespoke. There is nothing to stop you taking courses (many free ones online) whilst being a SAHM to keep your skillset up-to-date or retrain.

"Being financially dependent on your DH" - I am confused why so many people view childcare as something that is not worthy of a salary, even if it is a share of their partner's.

I'm finding this discussion very interesting, because I am about to be placed in the same position. I hated my last job and have found the last few months in the volunteering sector so much more fulfilling. I will become a SAHM in November and I'm filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Part of me misses the 9-5 office life and politics, but not enough to return to it atm, especially given the £1000+ per month cost of childcare these days.

herethereandeverywhere Mon 15-Jul-19 15:06:47

I managed 12 months mat leave then a further 10 months as a SAHM by which time being a SAHM was adversely impacting my mental health. All the socialising, hobbies and stimulating child-based activities were still not enough for me to feel like me.
Luckily I was offered a PT job. Still needed to juggle holidays and wrap around when they went to school but so worth it, for me.

So yes, I regretted it but was able to get back to work and rectify it.

Stuckforthefourthtime Mon 15-Jul-19 15:12:00

I had just quit to be an sahm when my husband became very ill. We had insurances and the lot, but what they don't tell you is that there's a long wait before payout, they are extremely specific (so when he suffered severe depression as a result of the physical illness this was treated separately, for example). The upshot of this was I went back full time. If I'd been off a little longer it would have been tremendously hard to find a similar level job, and we would not have had the same financial cushion to weather storms.

If we win the lottery I'll be an sahm like a shot, but realistically very few families these days actually have the resources to do it without a lot of risk.

Even the women saying like one pp that she'd be working for £60 a week - she'd also be making pension and NI contributions and keeping her CV alive so that if she ever needed to, she could return.

There are always reams of threads like this one on Mumsnet... www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/3638450-SAHM-6-years-Feeling-uuuggghh-Trying-to-get-a-job

snowy0wl Mon 15-Jul-19 15:38:13

One thing I found out recently - you can protect your National Insurance contributions as a SAHM even if you don't qualify for child benefit. www.gov.uk/child-benefit

zafferana Mon 15-Jul-19 15:45:48

Do you miss working? No, not really. I was never much of a career person either and actually I was delighted when I went on ML and knew I didn't have to go back if I didn't want to!

Do you miss being financially more independent? No, because my DH has never made an issue of this and earns enough so that we've always been comfortable. At this point a PT salary earned by me would be a drop in the bucket.

Has it been really tricky finding work to fit in with family life? Yes, impossible, but that's because DH works long hours and often travels and actually the only way I could work would be if we had wraparound childcare, which is hard to find. If I have to work and do the childcare then it's impossible, ergo I don't work, but I am studying with the OU and that's been perfect, because I set my own schedule. I can now see why so many mothers set up their own businesses - it's just so they can work the hours they want to/can.

Or has becoming a SAHM been a great decision? Yes - it really has - both for me and our DC, particularly since I started studying as I was bored once DS2 started school. Studying has given me the balance and brain challenge that I missed.

Forever12 Mon 15-Jul-19 15:51:29

I’m in my early 40ies with one dd, gave up my job 2 years ago. I got as far as I could go in my career really and it took me some time to find DH and have a family, so no regrets at all. Planning to stay home for another 3 years and then get a part time job initially. I had very stressful jobs though, worked with some extremely difficult people and at different times experienced workplace bullying, so I don’t regret having this break from work, don’t miss it at all.

MontyBowJangles Mon 15-Jul-19 16:01:54

Thanks for that link @snowy0wl - will look into it.

OP, I became a SAHM just over 5.5yrs ago when dc2 was born. Dc1 was just turning 3. I nearly died having dc2 (in a coma on life support for a week) and hated my job (civil servant in a bitchy office). DH earns 3 x more than I've ever earned and was happy for me to give up my job. It was just a bit of a no-brainer.

The decision was made easier as you re-evaluate what's important when you've been gravely ill. And I've never had a career, just office and bar/waitressing jobs (not everyone is a power hungry career-ladder scaling businesswoman!!).

We are married. We have life insurance. I'm not bothered about a pension. It's not great being financially dependent on dh but it's not forever and I never go without (far from it!). I worked f/t from age 16 - 33 so don't feel guilty.

The early days were hard and some days dragged. I've been volunteering for four years in various places which I've found interesting, gave me a break from the kids/adult company and has enabled me to make a good support network of friends locally.

So at your age and your circumstances I'd definitely take a few years off.

I'm now job hunting and it is very difficult to find something that fits in around school that doesn't involve working with children (have decided definitely not to). But I'm studying for pleasure, and taking my time. Who knows, maybe I'll finally find a career to work towards at age 39 smile

MontyBowJangles Mon 15-Jul-19 16:03:38

Oh, and as they say, you will never regret time spent with your children smile

Newgirls Mon 15-Jul-19 16:12:02

I kept up freelance work while mine were little and thank heavens I did as mine are now teens and I’d be v bored without paid work to do. Plus they are expensive. But I’m glad I saw the plays, concerts, sports days etc - that time at primary goes fast really tho at time it didn’t!

Didiusfalco Mon 15-Jul-19 16:20:33

I ended up becoming a sahm almost by default after redundancy. It was great to spend time with dc and took pressure off home life but - now I am trying to get back into work and finding it difficult even though I have done some very part time work when a sahm. I’ve been worried about my pension and independence for a while. I would only do it in hindsight if I had a career that was very easy to step back into or had other personal wealth to rely on.

Chovihano Mon 15-Jul-19 16:28:37

In my opinion, very long time sahm grin you need a purpose rather than just looking after dc and housework.

To me it was my job, so a bit of housework a bit of parenting, hobbies and interests. mainly educating and socialising the dc in prep for school as didn't use pre school.
I don't go for coffees or the gym, can't think of anything more boring tbh.
I don't watch tv at all, but have the radio on if I'm at home.
The main thing for me was being able to support my dc who had gifts that school couldn't cope with, so have flexi schooled and H.schooled during this time too.
It worked for us, and no regrets.
Just starting working from home now, as was lucky to be able to keep abreast of industry changes in my field, so have picked up at senior level again.

Iggly Mon 15-Jul-19 16:40:35

I have taken some time out of work with two school aged Dcs. It’s been great! I’ve built up some nice friends and have kept my hand in volunteering (school and charity roles).

But I didn’t want to stop work altogether- you never know when you might need to get back to work (she made redundant recently), so I would make sure you have back up plans/savings.

gracepoolesrum Mon 15-Jul-19 16:44:35

Not me but a good friend of mine tells me she regrets it as now the DCs are older she's at a bit of a dead end in life- it's difficult to get back into work after a long gap and her husband works long hours as a result of needing to earn enough for them to survive. Doesn't mean it can't work for you but something to think about.

Cobblersandhogwash Mon 15-Jul-19 16:47:57

I do.

ChicCroissant Mon 15-Jul-19 16:49:07

The good thing about being a SAHM in later life OP, is that you already have years of pension contributions to fall back on (or I did, at least!).

I don't regret SAH at all.

Cobblersandhogwash Mon 15-Jul-19 16:49:57

Whoops. Posted too soon.

I had to be a sahm because there was no other way to enable our family really. Plus dogs. 🙄

Now I have no career to speak of and feel like a proper loser. All my university contemporaries are soaring in their careers.

I'm envious and I feel foolish.

But nearing 50, what can I do? I feel like a bit of a loser.

Stuckforthefourthtime Mon 15-Jul-19 16:56:16

We are married. We have life insurance. I'm not bothered about a pension. It's not great being financially dependent on dh but it's not forever and I never go without (far from it!)

How can you be not bothered about a pension? Our lived experience of critical illness insurance is that that it really is a safety net to keep you from poverty, but even the best rated policies will nowhere near replace what you had from working. It's great your DH earns so much, but to me this is just such a big risk.

Like I said upthread, I loved being home, would love to be an sahm but once you've experienced what happens when the sole earning partner can't earn anymore, it makes you realised just how exposed a sole earning family can be.

Mammysboys2 Tue 16-Jul-19 14:20:04

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

EssentialHummus Tue 16-Jul-19 14:34:18

Ahhh, the spam, it's burning my eyes!!

Mammysboys2 Tue 16-Jul-19 15:13:09

Not meant as spam. Just giving my view on being a stay at home mum. I always wanted to be a SAHM but couldn't do it financially. So what started off as a hobby for me soon turned into a career giving me the best of both worlds, being a SAHM whilst earning. Its a real option to consider!

yousmokedthelastoneanhourago Tue 16-Jul-19 15:29:03

For me, the hardest part of not working is the drop in money. Even if your OH earns enough for you all to live comfortably on a daily basis, only having one income has repercussions for mortgages (you are classed as a dependent), you might have difficulty financing a car in your own name etc

If you don't have any paid childcare, it can be pretty relentless. You will see your friends/family take advantage of childcare during annual leave and feel quite resentful.

Your house is messier that it was when you were working. In addition it can be quite hard to do the things around the house that you thought would be easy being a SAHM. You and your kids will mess up your house on a daily basis, you will spend your evenings tidying up.

That said, I wouldn't choose differently if I had my time again. It's been hard, certainly not the easy option but I feel it was a good decision for my kids.

daffodilbrain Thu 18-Jul-19 12:52:34

If you're naturally industrious I don't think you'd be bored. I had 5 years as SAHM and loved it now back working p/t and I love that!

MontyBowJangles Thu 18-Jul-19 18:55:26

@Stuckforthefourthtime

I dunno. I guess I came from a poor background where my family always lived in council flats/houses, living hand to mouth. Pensions were never mentioned or a thing.

Dh has savings, stocks, shares, great company and private health insurancd and a very healthy pension (or two I think) and we've only got a few more years left til the mortgage is paid off on our decent sized house. So if it all goes tits-up, we could always downsize.

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