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Is it easier to go to work than be a SAHM?

101 replies

celerystix · 19/09/2020 07:17

Background: 14 month age gap between my two DC, DC1 is just over 2.5y and DC2 is 1.5y. This entire time I've been a SAHM and whilst I feel fortunate to have spent so much time with my toddlers, the last 2+yrs have been a bit of a blur, particularly DC2s first year of life when I had 2 under 2. It's slightly easier now as DC1 goes to preschool but I still have both DC from 12noon till bedtime everyday including all day every day during school holidays. It's exhausting and relentless. I'm exhausted.

I'm thinking of getting back to work and have made good traction with some recruiters who are putting me forward for roles. These are all full-time and well paid, enough to pay for a FT live-out nanny and still have a few hundred quid left over for myself.

I fantasise about commuting and reading the newspaper on the tube in peace. I fantasise about having the headspace to think what I'm going to have for lunch that day and maybe even squeeze a workout in over lunch break.

Is working out of the home easier than being a SAHM? Or am I being a complete fantasist about this all?

DH isn't bothered if I want to return to work or stay at home, he says he wants me to be happy and do what I want. I've tried to tell him that if I go back to work then home life will be split 50:50, 50% of night wakings, getting up in the mornings with DC and making breakfast etc. I currently do 90% of the childcare and 100% of the mental load.

OP posts:
Pantheon · 19/09/2020 07:24

I often wonder about this but I think some things are easier and some things are harder and it balances out. It also really depends on what job you do, I imagine.

Meruem · 19/09/2020 07:26

It depends on so many factors. I don’t think anyone can say one is easier than the other. People can only give their personal experiences. I had 2 DC 18 months apart and for me, being at home with them was way easier than going out to work. But others feel differently. If you have the choice and your work search is going well then give it a go. Sounds like your in a lucky position whereby if you hate it, you can quit, so you have nothing to lose.

CanICelebrate · 19/09/2020 07:26

It depends on your job. I was a sahm for a couple of years and it was much easier than my current job. But if I had a job with less responsibilities and pressure then it may well be easier than being sahm.

Northernsoullover · 19/09/2020 07:27

I'd say my quality of life got better going back to work. It wasn't the money, it was my mental health.

pincertoe · 19/09/2020 07:30

No on balance I would say its harder.

Time becomes much more precious as you have less of it. Mornings are a rush of getting everyone where they need to be (childcare, at some point different venues and work). You will try and take the minimum lunch you can to reduce how much childcare you pay for so a leisurely lunch is unlikely. You are also going to have to use your lunch break to make any calls you might have to make, appointments etc

Then all housework has to be done on an evening when you are all tired and hungry. Yes you personally might be doing less of it but with less time.

That said, for me personally, the benefit of working far out ways the benefits of staying at home. You will get to chat to adults, you can go to the toilet alone, you mostly likely (could depend on job) get an uninterrupted lunch! You will have more money which might mean being able to spend more quality time together doing things and going places. You might earn enough to buy in help, cleaner, someone to iron etc (I would love a cleaner!)

Wallywobbles · 19/09/2020 07:30

Similar age gap. Two different child minders. In France we go back at 13 weeks pp.

The only thing that kept me sane was work. I did a not particularly great job as DD1 didn't sleep at all.

Got divorced when they were 2&3 and that helped a lot as I had every other weekend off and no one deliberately playing against me.

Sally872 · 19/09/2020 07:30

Both hard in different ways.

The guilt that comes with working is quite tough. I can't give 100% to my work of my kids. I do well at both but at key points if I have to leave work as child unwell or get time off for school show I feel I am letting team down. When I can't manage all the school/club stuff or I am rushing about too much I worry i am letting the children down.

Starfish1021 · 19/09/2020 07:31

It’s so hard to say ‘easier’ because nothing about this life stage, especially with children so close in age is easier. But there are benefits such as ensuring that you have a pension and job to return to. Why is your husband doing so little? Even during my maternity leave my husband got up in the night with our eldest and did the horrendously early mornings. But going back was tough. Having a good live in nanny will help. Why not give it a go? You can always reconsider if it’s not working for you.

PerditaMacleod · 19/09/2020 07:33

I found a thousand times easier going to work. Although I suppose it depends on your job and your kids. My kids are quite demanding and I have a very decently paid, not too stressful job. I enjoy the time I do have with my kids so much more.

Fast90 · 19/09/2020 07:33

Hi OP,

Just wondering whether you’ve considered returning part time? It’s what I do and it just feels the best of both worlds - I really love it.

CountessFrog · 19/09/2020 07:35

Much, much easier.

The hard bit is getting them ready before you leave and sorting them out when you return.

These bits are so hard that I’m really not sure it’s better to work!

SnuggyBuggy · 19/09/2020 07:36

It may depend on your job. I've found it easier than my last job bt in hindsight I should have gone with my gut and left that job after the first week.

Teainagreenteapot · 19/09/2020 07:36

In your situation it sounds like a good idea! 100% of the mental load, wtf?

Anyway personally yes I found it much easier to be at work - loo breaks, commuting, chats with colleagues, being recognised as a whole human being... why not give it a go? You can always go back to being a SAHM if it doesn’t work out.

Bluewavescrashing · 19/09/2020 07:37

Depends on the job, age of children, age gap, support from. DP, whether Granny lives round the corner and is able yo help out, etc.

I'm a teacher and going to work is harder than looking after my kids was when they were at their hardest stage, newborn and toddler. But I enjoy it more.

I love coming home to my DCs, playing with them, eating dinner together, hearing about their day. We have loads of time together at the weekend and in the holidays too.

Carrigfada · 19/09/2020 07:37

‘Easier’ is the wrong question, imo, but working is definitely better all round for me.

Sailingblue · 19/09/2020 07:38

Much harder being at work and juggling particularly if the children are small but it has been worth it for me in terms of mental stimulation, wellbeing etc. Being with the children presents different sorts of stresses but it just isn’t the same as having to deliver things at work.

Tadpolesandfroglets · 19/09/2020 07:39

I’ve been both and staying at home was way harder. I loved my job. Loved having some time to myself and space to be me. Found being at home rewarding but so confining and a little soul destroying with the endless mundanity of it all but (and it’s a big but) was so glad to see them reach all those milestones and get to hang out and be there for them. It’s relentless and thankless though. At least at work people appreciated me! 😂

celerystix · 19/09/2020 07:41

@Fast90 I'd love part time work but these roles seem to be like gold dust at the moment! Also to make it work Re salary and childcare costs, going full time makes better financial sense. But I have told the recruiters I'm also looking for part time work but they've made it clear there aren't many going in my field of work currently Sad

OP posts:
ShivD · 19/09/2020 07:42

If part time is an option, then I found that really worked for me.

I was a SAHM for a good few years and then went back to work 3 days a week when my older 3 were in full time school and my (then) youngest was about 2.5. The logistics of getting to work were a bit stressful but it was great for me mentally and I found that was very positive for the whole family. It really helped to balance ‘THE LOAD’ with my husband and I as before that I’d just done everything by default.

ShivD · 19/09/2020 07:43

Sorry cross posted so ignore my part time suggestion.

Hobbitfeet32 · 19/09/2020 07:44

Depends. The 8 hours I am at work I find easier than looking after small children (senior health professional) but the rush to get everyone ready before and the teatime rush after pick up is hectic.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that there is less to do around the home though, you still have all that to do just less time to do it in. And yes I can say that having worked from home at times during the last 8 months. It can be exhausting but you get paid so I suppose it depends on what you want. Me and my OH are good at sharing the load so eases it slightly for us both.

PamDemic · 19/09/2020 07:45

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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DiddlySquatty · 19/09/2020 07:48

Going to work with someone else in a sah role is the easiest in my opinion....

Doing both can be challenging.
But yes to the time on the commute, time to have a cuppa/lunch in peace and time to be you.
For me some of that is counteracted by the stress of getting myself plus the kids our the door on time and having to be disciplined about leaving work on time for pick ups.

Although just realised you’re talking about having a nanny - so that should make things easier as no getting everyone out the door and maybe slightly more flexibility on timing. Plus they should do a good chunk of what you as a sah parent did in terms of kids laundry and food etc

caffeinebuzz · 19/09/2020 07:48

I think they both have ups and downs, but one is likely to suit you better and so you'll find it easier. For me that was definitely going back to work, when DD was 18 months.

The full-time nanny will help, as you won't have to do the same amount of juggling as a lot of working parents have to do on top of nursery runs (laundry, meals, etc).

Teainagreenteapot · 19/09/2020 07:49


well no, it's harder. It's not hard being a SAHM, it's just relentless and exhausting. But nothing hard about it.

Work is much more challenging. And juggling work and children is difficult. But it's rewarding I think, and you get a break from the sheer relentlessness of small children.

Er... many people find being a SAHM hard! Wrangling toddler tantrums, balancing everyone’s needs, being sleep deprived and having to entertain small children. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done (and I’ve had stressful/demanding jobs).
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