"I Was A Stay-at-Home Mom -- And My Marriage Survived"

Community Leader
Registered: 05-04-2011
"I Was A Stay-at-Home Mom -- And My Marriage Survived"
6
Sat, 05-04-2013 - 12:51pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharon-greenthal/stay-at-home-mom-marriage_b_3115247.html

How do people react when you tell them you're a stay-at-home mom?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-24-1997

Although I'm well past the stay at home stage (my kids are now 24 & 28 yrs), I saw the headline & without reading the article, I was one of those mothers who stayed home 12 years & yes, I'm still married - 33 years!  I don't need to read any articles.  Been there, done that.  The KEY to being a stay at home Mom & have your marriage stay strong is 1) your spouse MUST have a secure income with health benefits (family coverage).  2) Whichever parent stays home must cook dinner, do housework & be sexually intimate with your partner.  3) Avoid the malls - the parent staying home with child(ren) needs to keep the money in the bank.  You need to be cognizant of the fact that your family is living on ONE income & this does NOT give you the right to shop for yourself.  Remember, your situation is not permanent.  There will be a future day when you can return to work & spend your OWN money shopping for yourself.  In the meantime, if you have to wear the same jeans & shirt for the next 7 years - too bad.  Who cares?  Certainly not the kids in the playground.  So who are you trying to impress?  The other mothers?  I can guarantee you that no matter how many outfits they are buying, in 5 years, they will be crying on how broke they are & will have to return to work faster than you will because guess what - they need to get out of debt.  They will never admit it, but that's the reason. 4) Don't put any charges on your credit cards.  If you need to charge something - it better be a life and death emergency i.e. medical, car repairs, etc.

Well, hopefully this info helps.  And yes, I actually wore the same jeans for 7 years & the same shirts.  By the way - a tip - once your kids are in school - see if you can work as a teacher's aide.  You get the same hours/days as your kids & you will earn some pocket money.  Also the public library.

Kathy

Community Leader
Registered: 05-04-2011

Hi Kathy!  Thanks for weighing in.  You make a lot of good points.

I do feel, though, that you're downplaying the necessity of our taking care of ourselves.  You're right, we definitely have to be stewards of the money our spouse or SO brings in, but we also have the right to take care of our own wellbeing, whether that means something more frivolous like buying the occasional new outfit or going for a pedicure, or something that keeps us physically healthy like a getting a gym pass or going for solo walks, or taking the time out to read a book or spend some time doing absolutely nothing.

I also don't believe that we necessarily have to do all the housework.  Taking care of young kids is a full-time job in itself, and doing that and all the housework and all the paperwork can bring a woman to the point of exhaustion.  It's okay to share the housework with your spouse or SO.  Of course, it's another thing when he or she is working overtime or multiple jobs; then I do believe that you have to work your own two jobs, as well.

I hope to see some more great contributions from you in the future!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-24-1997

Littlebaker 5 - I agree with you on most points.  As for the solo activities i.e. reading a book, taking a walk, etc., in my case, my mother lives nearby so she would take the kids for the weekend about once a month.  Sometimes 2x a month.  She had my daughter for a week when I gave birth to my son.  Also when my son had multiple surgeries for webbed fingers, she took my daughter while I was nursing my son.  Other than that, I was home with the kids.  As for the money, my husband took care of the bills (still does).  As for cleaning, laundry, etc.  I've always done the laundry (my husband hates it)..  Cleaning?  OK I hate to admit it, but I'm not the vacuum type person.  My husband & I have had arguments over it - he'll be the 1st person to sweep & mop.  Yes I do vacuum but not as much as him.  As for the kids, we can see who inherited what - our daughter took after my husband (she's a neat freak).  Our son took after me (a slob).  Our son has gotten better since he started working & having his own apartment, but he's no match for his sister & never will be.  I should have seen this coming.  When they were toddlers.  Our daughter would ALWAYS pur her toys away neatly & clean up.  Our son?  I always had to put his stuff away.  On the other points, yes an OCCASIONAL outfit is OK.  What I'm concerned with is when a SAHM starts shopping for herself & putting it on the credit card & in a short time, that credit card is carrying a larger balance than what they can afford.  They then start paying the minimum balance instead of paying the entire amount.  So it will take that much longer to pay off the debt.  This happened to us, BUT, it was for medical - not for shopping at the mall.  Both our kids were born with syndactaly (webbed fingers) inherited from my husband.  At the time, my husband's health insurance paid 80% of what the insurance company allowed - NOT 80% of what the doctors charged.  So the difference came out of pocket.  Obviously, we didn't have the money to pay, so we put most of it on the credit card & my Mom helped out with some of the finances.  What was involved - our daughter needed 2 operations (both hands); our son needed 5 operations + occupational therapy.  He also had RSV virus which required a week in the hospital.  So our credit card (after 12 years as a SAHM) went up to $15,000.  That's when I returned to work & yes, I paid it off in full.  By the way, the reason I was a SAHM?  After our son was born, we had all 3 doctors (gynecologist, pediatrician & hand surgeon) tell us that either we hire a full time nurse OR I would have to stay home with the kids.  Bottom line, all 3 doctors said there will be a LOT of home care.  So obviously we couldn't afford a full time nurse, so I was basically forced to stay home.  I remember at the time, I wanted to return to work but after listening to the doctors, I realized the kids needed me more & I knew the doctors would be calling child services if I had a babysitter taking care of the kids.  So as we were not prepared financially, thankfully, my husband is a high school teacher (secure job with benefits), & we learned to live on less & make it work.  Well, that's it for now.

Kathy

Avatar for j8songrl
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-02-2003

Let me first start off by saying that I am a first time high school and college graduate in my family and that I taught first grade for four years. DH and I have been together 12 years (high school sweethearts) and married 3 1/2 years. When he decided to start a family it was the right time for us. We had three prengancies within six months (two of which ended in first trimester miscarriages). I always knew once I had kids that I'd stay home with my kids. When people hear this they think it's dumb because why would I "waste" my time in school and in a career just so I can stay home. To which, my reply to them is my kid(s) will only be little once and I can always go back to teaching. I feel the early experiences a child has shapes their character and personality for the rest of their lives. With my background in teaching and my love for children it just made sense for me to stay home. That being said, DH works from home, so techniquely he could have just been with our son (who is 5 moths). I mean as a teacher, I had benefits, summers, holidays, and weekends off. But, the child rearing is not for him and it's not for most men. I feel blessed that he has helped me out as much as he has, especially since he is able to be home and make his own hours. He gets up with our son at 3am and I have him the rest of the time. I have him from 6am-8pm, diaper changes, baths, naps, bedtime, running errands, etc. I also cook the meals, take care of the house, and DH needs. DH stil does the litter box, though. Some days/moments are harder then others and I find the older my son gets, the easier it is. I do only have one (for now) and the whole SAHM thing is new for me. I've earned my own income since I was 18 and it's hard to depend on someone else, but I find that the sacrafices I make (not having my own income) are worth it to see my son learn, grow, and change everyday. Plus, DH spoils me when he can on birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

I think it's hard being a working mom and it's hard being a SAHM. I feel blessed that I was in a situation where I could make the choice. I think SAHM do have to make sacrafices as far as not spending much money. I find that I would much rather spend money on my son for toys, clothes, or activities anyway. I take my son in the bathroom with me in his bouncy seat when I take a shower so I can tend to him (if needed), I pack him around when I do chores, and I'm always the last to eat (so my food is usually cold), so I can tend to the baby. I am able to get enough sleep, though since DH helps out (after I had 2 1/2 months of broken sleep).

Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

 

Community Leader
Registered: 05-04-2011

Thanks for your input, love.  :)  We who are able to have a choice are definitely blessed.  There are so many families out there who can't.  It sounds like you're very fortunate with your DH working from home, too, so that you can both get some sleep and some work done.  How do you think you'd manage if your DH worked out of the house?

And completely out of curiosity, would you ever consider going back to school for a second bachelor's or a master's degree?

Avatar for j8songrl
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-02-2003

I am so fortunate that my husband was/is able to be home for the first few months. He is going to get a PT job outside of the house this fall because we don't have a lot of wiggle room right now, financially speaking, but we make it work. The financial sacrafices have been worth it to have him here, even if he is working. I love that we are able to work out a sleeping schedule, so we're both able to get 8 hours, which to me is so important with him working and me taking care of the baby all day. I wouldn't be able to do that fully if I was walking around like the "walking dead" because of sleep deprivation.  Those first two months I did do everything and it was rough, which I why I asked for him to help out at night. I have no idea what we'll do when we have another one since at that point Ricky wil be sleeping throuh the night (since we don't plan on another until he is three) and with DH having to work PT outside of the house.

As far as your question about how would I manage if/when he does work outside well, he definitely helps me out at night (no complaints, there), but it would pretty much be the same. I get up with the baby at 6-7am and have him until 8pm. DH doesn't get up until 11-12, so he can get enough sleep and then gets straight to work. He does have a flexible schedule and went to all my doctors appointmens when I was pregnant and he's been able to go to all of Ricky's so far. We get a couple of hours in the evening together before I go to bed at 10pm, which we call our "date night." We also take advantage of his nap times on the weekends (when DH is not working), so we're able to manage our couple time. Although, we haven't been out without the baby yet and I have major anxiety about having anyone else watch him because no one can care for him like momma can. I know I'll have to let go eventually, for my own sanity anyway. There are defiinitely difficult days when he fusses a lot, but they aren't that often and the other days make the difficult days worth it. Yesterday, was one of those difficult days, which makes DH say that he only wants one. - Sorry, didn't mean to get side tracked....

As far as my education, I would consider more school or a different degree/certificate. I've been really interested in Spanish since I took it in high school, so that would be neat to do something with that. I would LOVE to get my Masters in Reading, but I have student loan debt that has to be paid into first before doing something like that. I feel like since I am home indefinitely (until our kid(s) is/are in school) that now is the time to focus on hobbies, too. I would love to learn to use a sewing machine, knit, join a mommies club or book club- something outside of being Ricky's mommy (other than a mommy's club) or Jason's wife, not that I don't love those roles, though.

I've only been home for five months, but I've connected with a couple of old friends, who also have kids, too and I've been getting together with them a couple times/week, which has been nice. I'm getting a local park permit today, so I can get into the parks for free and I'm probably going to invest in a zoo membership and museum membership by the end of these year. I can get one person in for free with each of those and kids under two get in free anyway.

With three little ones, have you had time to do things you enjoy? Are you also trying to further your education to help you whe you do return back to work? What kind of activities are you able to do with your little ones? Also, a little off topic, but when did your LO's start sleeping throuhg the night and what did you do to help them?

Ricky sleeps 8 hours and gets up to eat and get his diaper changed and then sleeps another two hours. I know, I'm lucky, but it would be nice for him to just sleep straight through. People always say the love the baby stage, but I find it tiresome, and while I have loved getting to see how learn, grow, and change everday, I can't wait for him to get a little bigger/sleep more and become more self sufficient.

Amanda

Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers