can't afford to work

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
can't afford to work
10
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 5:11pm
I noticed in the education debate that someone said that she did not have enough education to get a job that could afford quality care. I am also in a similar boat. I was in a commission only field. By going on maternity leave, I lost all my clients. Until I got a new clientele, I would be paid minimum wage for 40+ hrs of work. My take-home pay would be less than childcare for at least the first few months. So, in that sense, there was no option. However, people still treat me as though my staying home was a luxury. In that case, do you feel that if mom wants to work, dad should be forced to compromise, stay home weekends, come home earlier during the week, just so mom can be happy? Andrea
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 6:21pm
"However, people still treat me as though my staying home was a luxury. In that case, do you feel that if mom wants to work, dad should be forced to compromise, stay home weekends, come home earlier during the week, just so mom can be happy?"

I am not certain what you mean here. I am also not sure as to when child-rearing became a woman only sport.

If your family needs two incomes to sustain, yet can not afford quality childcare, then yes, your family needs to reveiw split schedule options. (Parents working opposite schedules, so childcare is not needed.)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 6:21pm
I don't have an opinion on what Dads should do in this case, because I think Dads are just as accountable re: the rearing of their children as Moms are. However, I do want to say that I believe that the VAST majority of U.S. SAHP's with children under age 6 are doing it because they have been forced to it by not being able to find affordable quality daycare (relative to the lower-earning spouse's pay.) I think that as a percentage of SAHP's as a whole, the number who do it purely because they want to is miniscule.

(PS: I'm not including split-shift couples in the above. Working split shifts so that one parent is always available for child care is not having a SAHP in the way I'm defining it here. I'm defining it as one parent not having any income derived from labor.)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 4:20am
I am the person you were referring to in your OP. I am not sure I understand your question correctly. I think you are asking if dad should adjust his work schedule to be able to pick up some of the childcare slack, thus making it easier/cheaper for mom to work.

In a perfect world dad would and should, because long term it would be better for the family and for the marriage. But often it isn't possible. When we had our child, for example, we were not doing well financially and we decided that the only way out under the circumstances was for dh to increase his workload. This meant he traveled for long periods, beginning when I was still in the maternity ward. Since I could not count on him being home or even in the country at any given time, I could not take a job or go to school around his "hours."

My brother did quit a good carreer track job and went freelance when his son was born to allow him to spend more time at home. This was to make it easier for his wife to finish her masters and start a carreer as well. That part has worked nicely. She now has a job that she loves and it should lead to a better full time job down the road. OTOH, his carreer has suffered because of it and with it his future earning potential.

It may be easier if dad is working a straight wage job, like shift work in a plant or something. Then dad could take a late shift for a few years, allowing mom to work during the day. It is tough, but I know people do it.

Still, it is unfortunately not an easy situation to resolve.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 6:17am
That makes me feel better and I think you may be right. For most of my friends the cost of decent daycare was the main factor in deciding whether or not to work. When my dd was born almost 11 years ago, I had worked out that I had to make a minimum of 40K a year to have enough to pay for childcare and other work-related expenses and take home enough to at least pay for the weekly groceries.

It is also brought home to me again whenever I go to Denmark, as I just did. My brother pays the same kroner amount for daycare as I would have to pay in the US in dollars. IOW, with about 7 kroner to the dollar he pays one seventh of the US cost. This is because daycare in Denmark is heavily subsidized by the government, which of course translates into a heavier tax bill for everyone. So, I am aware of all the downsides to such a system, but I also see how it allows a young couple to work, study, have a life AND kids (PLURAL). The subsidized daycare is paired with generous maternity and paternity leave (6 months each at full pay) and options for extended family leave at reduced pay. Under those conditions child rearing is a whole other ballgame.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 1:24pm
I disagree. I know lots of SAHMs who choose to stay home - they could earn enough to afford good child care.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 2:19pm
Is your assumption based on personal experience or some governmental statistic? I ask because I hardly know anyone who stays at home because they cannot afford childcare. My experience is hardly scientific, but does span my experiences living in 3 different states in 2 different regions of the country. I think your statement is based on your personal experience, not necessarily the broad spectrum of people.

Jenna

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 2:36pm
Not the person who made the claim, but I posted that my personal experience backs her up. I should clarify, however. When I originally outlined the problem, I specified daycare of a quality I was comfortable with. Where we lived at the time there were cheap family daycares available. This usually involved a not too clean house where lots of not properly supervised kids rolled around and beat each other up. This could be had for 20 bucks a day. I could have found a job that would have allowed me to pay this and still have some take-home pay. We also had a subsidized daycare across the street. Since I got to watch it in action from my window all day long, I can tell you that the staff consisted of untrained, unsupervised people who spoke broken English and yelled at the kids all day. That would also have been affordable for me.

A good family daycare ran about $50-80 a day. A decent daycare center was about $1200 a month, a nanny was $400-500 a week plus extras like food and transportation. This was 10 years ago. I have had this discussion before on this board and I know that there are other realities in other states. But where I was, daycare costs/quality was a major concern for virtually all my friends.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 5:02pm
A combination. I know lots of people who "can't afford to work", people that I know personally, and people that I've encountered professionally. I have a Master's degree, and I make a decent salary, but if I had 3 children under 6, I'd be a SAHM, too; f/t daycare for 3 would take out my whole net income.

I know that locally, most of the family services programs devote quite a lot of effort to setting up subsidy & discount programs for lower-income families so that mothers can remain in the workforce after they have a second or third child. Also, the larger centers that DS was in accepted daycare assistance vouchers, which were given to make it possible for mothers to work. Daycare is a huge chunk of change, and even tax breaks don't do much good if you have multiple children who need f/t care; the IRS limit on pre-tax saving for daycare is 5K annually, regardless of how many kids you have. When DS was an infant, 5K only paid for 8 months of daycare, at 1998 prices! (Note for those who don't use tax-savings accounts; you don't get that amount taken off your tax liability, you only get to reduce your taxable income by that much.)

Also, federal statistics support my hunch. (I'm not saying that the US govt. is coming out and stating that it is so, just that statistical trends support my guess.) Here are a few: http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/jun/wk1/art03.htm, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.t06.htm, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.t04.htm

I know that the "younger than 6" barrier doesn't necessarily mean that Mom re-entered the workforce at that point because of daycare costs, I know that some families just see 6 at that magic age before which a child needs a parent home all the time. Still, common sense tells me that the primary reason so many mothers leave the workforce only until the youngest hits 6 is related more to the cost of year-round daycare; otherwise, how would one account for summers? I think that the statistic that would actually tell us is info on how many women re-enter the workforce after the second-youngest starts school, but I haven't found those numbers published anywhere.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-07-1998
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 5:02pm
Isn't this something that should be discussed and decided BEFORE having a child? That way, there would have been time to either save enough money to get you through the months it would take to build a clientele back up, for dh to arrange his schedule, or for whatever plan you come up with to be implemented.

I'm not in favor of "forcing" anyone in a relationship to do just about anything. Should he (and you) be willing to discuss this reasonable and compromise? Absolutely. But that is the basis of the relationship. I wouldn't have had children with someone I had to "force" to be involved in their care, so I guess it's hard for me to answer. It burns me no end when someone assumes it's the MOTHER'S responsibility to raise the children, and the father "helps" or (even worse IMO) "babysits" once in a while.

Pat

Pat

"If you need something done, ask the busy man. The other kind has no

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 07-16-2003 - 1:14am
Mine didn't even babysit. Often he complained if the baby made too much noise. Believe me it was a shock to me. I had not discussed it with him beforehand, because he is otherwise a very caring and sweet person. He even loves animals. Besides, where I grew up, it is more or less taken for granted these days that raising a child is a joint project between mom and dad.

So, when I found myself a single mom with a wedding ring to weigh her further down, it was not all that much fun. We have made great strides since, otherwise we would not have lasted. But it took several years before he started taking any part in the childrearing. He has never given dd a bath and has only read a story and tucked her in on maybe 10 occasions after serious pressure from me.

So, of course you should work these things out ahead of time, but sometimes life throws you for a loop and it can be hard to predict where the problems will be.