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Posts Tagged ‘SAHM’

1 year as a SAHM

Today’s my “SAHM”-anniversary.  I’m sure Hallmark has a card for that, right?  It’s been a good, hard year.  In some ways, it was a big adjustment.  After all, I added a 4th kid into the mix just a couple of weeks of leaving my job.  In other ways, it wasn’t that big of a leap because well, they’re my kids.

I realize now how different the time that I used to spend with my kids is from how I spend time with them now.

Before, I worked full time, just giving me evenings and weekends with them.  But a year before that, I was just part-time and I worked mornings.  BUT…my kids napped a good chunk of the afternoons, so I wasn’t spending much more active time with them than if I was working full-time.  (The oldest was starting to drop his nap as I moved from part-time to full-time).

Before, I didn’t have to feed them lunch — my sister (as my babysitter) did or the daycare did.  Believe me, having to plan for lunch threw me for a loop for a bit!

Before (especially the year they were in daycare), my house stayed clean during the weekdays.  Now? We spend our days cleaning it.  Cause we keep making it dirty!  As you’d expect, when people are in a house, it gets used.

There are things that have been really good:

  • Getting a handle on Finn’s food sensitivity issues.  We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re WAYYYY farther along than we had been.
  • Being able to take Finn to pre-school.
  • Letting my kids nap when they want/need to instead of pushing a schedule.  I’m still a big “babies do better on a routine” gal, but the daycare environment just didn’t suit me as far as that was concerned.
  • Seeing what areas we still need to work on (aka: being out in public).

There are things that have been really hard:

  • Similar to what I realized my first year of marriage (with Jeff at that time), they (the kids) don’t go home.  They’re already home.  That means that I’m actively with the same group of people from like 5:45 AM to 7:30 PM.  That’s a long time.  When Jeff gets home, I jump at a little break.
  • Figuring out the food sensitivity issues.  It’s a hard thing to do because it can take 3 days before something shows up and you have to be very disciplined.  Me and food aren’t known for our great discipline with each other.

 

This isn’t a complete list, obviously.  But I’ve realized that if I wait until I have the time or energy or desire even to document all the things in my head, it just won’t ever get done!

 

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I’m reconfirming my choice to stay at home.  Here’s how it all went down:

Mid-December, I got an email from a company:

“Dear Jayme…in looking at your profile on LinkedIn, you seem really cool with mad skillz that we’d like to have at our company.  Do we have what it takes to make you look at us?”

My reply:

“Dear company…you seem cool.  I’ve heard good things about you.  And you’re right – I am awesomeness.  The total package.  But I love my life and would only want to work part-time.  Thanks for thinking of me.”

Their reply:

“Hey, part-time could work.  We’d do whatever it takes to make you love us.  Come on in.”

So I did.  Did an interview.  They loved me.  A couple of weeks later, they asked for another interview, with the owners of the company (it’s a small company).  So I went. It went down like this:

Them: “Hey Jayme…you ARE awesome.  We could totally make part-time work.  But I don’t think you’d accept the position that we had posted, amiright?”

 Me: “Yeah, you’re right. You’re a great company.  It’s a good position.  It’s just not where I want to go.”

Them: “We have many needs. Would you rather do position A?  Or position B?  Or position C?  How about we set you up with an interview of some others that work here so you can see how cool we really are?”

Me: “Okay, those jobs sound cool.”

Them: “By the way, how much are you looking to make?”

Me: [tells them what I used to make, clarifying that I had been full-time]

Them: “Great.  Well, expect an email from us!”

The next day I thought more about it.  It IS a great company.  The potential positions seemed good.  The timing for my family was just horrible.  I just wasn’t excited. Don’t get me wrong: I was excited about being wanted.  About being told that I got skillz.  That’s really nice.  But, I decided that, if offered, the soonest I’d start would be June.  I wasn’t out looking.  I don’t need to work.  I had been hoping that I wouldn’t really like the position or the pay (so that it’d be an easy decision).  Jeff was supportive of it, but wasn’t excited about it.  The timing was horrible.

But instead of the email for another interview, I got a “Thanks, but no thanks” email.  It flabbergasted me.  I imagine it was about money since things were good until then.  But who knows?  Maybe I’m bad at reading people.

Either way, it was a RELIEF.  I was relieved that I didn’t have to make a Yes/No decision.  I don’t know that I’ll be a Stay At Home Mom forever, but, at least for now, it’s what I want.

Lesson learned.  Decision reconfirmed.

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It’s officially been 1 month since my last day of work.  Since then, we also welcomed Baby Ben into our family, so the time has been full.  Thought it’d be good (for me) to document some of my thoughts on how the ‘Not Working’ thing is going.

Answer: I LOVE IT!  Since I’ve been employed since I was 15, the closest thing I can compare ‘not working’ to is my maternity leaves where I took 6 weeks off work.  Which is pretty fitting because if I was still employed, I’d be on maternity leave right now.

But this is pretty different than my maternity leaves.  For a couple of reasons:

  1. I knew that my maternity leaves were temporary.  The time was limited and I knew that I was going back soon.
  2. I still continued to work during my maternity leaves.  Not full-time, of course, but I dialed in to keep my email Inbox as clean as possible and to respond to anything critical.  I had people doing parts of my job during each leave and I knew that I was putting a burden on them.

This time?  I can’t work even if I wanted to.  No access to any company resources.  Why?  Because I’m not employed there!  I might wonder what people are doing while I’m gone, but it doesn’t cross my mind often.  I don’t know what meetings I’m missing.  I don’t know what decisions they have to make.  I don’t know what software enhancements they’re designing.  I just don’t know.  I don’t have to worry about the work that’s waiting for me when I get back.  That makes it infinitely easier to not think about my past life.

Right after Ben’s birth, I had this thought: “Man, having Baby #4 sure is easier than Baby #1!”  I chalked it up to confidence brought about by experience.  But I don’t think that’s the cause of my calm nearly as much not having to think about work and what impact my absence is having on my co-workers.

I wrote about this almost 5 years ago, but so far, my experience is proving it out: Being a Stay-At-Home Mom seems to be emotionally great!  My attention isn’t divided and that is very freeing right now.

 

 

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Why I’m (Going To) Stay At Home

Ask 10 different moms why they stay at home instead of full-time work outside of the house and you’ll likely get 10 different answers.

For some, it’s financial.  It just doesn’t make sense, in their situation, for them to work.  Maybe that’s because their personal incomes are low.  Maybe it’s because the number of kids they have make daycare expensive.  Whatever the reason, it COULD be a financial no-brainer for them to stay at home.

For some, it’s emotional.  They really, really, really want to.  It’s where they want their focus to be.  It’s what they’ve prepared for.  Maybe they haven’t found a non-mom job that they really like.  Maybe home is just where they want to be.

For some, it’s just practical.  Maybe their spouse is military and moving is something they frequently do.  Maybe their spouse works long or irregular hours or have lots of travel.

For me?  Why am I deciding to stay at home?

It’s my influence.  I’ve lost too much of my influence with my children.  It isn’t that I have no influence with them, but my influence is too small.  When I was just working part-time, it didn’t bother me.  When they were really young and the major goal was keeping them alive and thriving, it didn’t bother me.  When my sister was my babysitter, it didn’t bother me.  When there wasn’t so many of them, it didn’t bother me.

But all of a sudden?  It started bothering me.  My kids are in a church-ran preschool and they do good things there.  They’re even thriving there.  In particular, Finn has done great with an established routine.  (Something that kid really needs!)

But I’ve realized that Mr. Jacob has more influence over my 3-year-old Finn than I do – by a long shot.  Mr. Jacob seems to be a good guy, but I don’t know him.  I’ve never had him over for dinner.  I haven’t met his wife or his child.  I don’t know his philosophy on teaching or discipline.  I don’t know how long he’ll be at that pre-school.  Same with Stephen’s teacher – she seems great, is a grandmother and is very kind.  Sammy is too young to have much influence on, but the same things apply.

Even though the decision-maker wasn’t financial for us, it still has financial ramifications.  And that does bother me.  I make a great income and it’d be financially worth it (on paper) to have up to 7 kids before daycare costs are more than my income — especially once you factor in that we’d probably hire an in-home nanny.

It isn’t that I want to be the only influence on their lives – grandparents and family are wonderful influencers.  And I like the idea of preschool a couple of mornings a week.  I like Sunday School teachers and Awana leaders. I’m just not ready to give up 50+ hours/week at this stage in their lives.  I’m excited to stay home for the major reason that I can start to have the influence on my kids that I want to have.  

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I’ve come across so many articles lately about “How to Live on 1 Income!” or even “Why doesn’t America have mandatory maternity leave like other countries do?”.  I get it — it’s even something that I blogged about before — years ago.  But since then, I’ve kind of realized some things.  Such that now whenever I hear the question “How Can We Live On One Income?”, I mentally reply “As long as your income is Bill Gates’, then you’re fine.”  For a while, I thought of it as an income problem.  Or I mentally think “Just have the expenses of Mother Teresa, then you’re fine.”  I would think of it as an expense problem.

Okay, not really.  It doesn’t take Bill Gates income to support a family.  And you don’t have to have expenses of a single nun.  And while, at the end of the day, it does come down to expenses and income, I’m guessing (just guessing) that in my circle of friends, there are 1-income homes making $40K/year and they make it work. And there are probably also couples making $150K/year who struggle to pay all their bills.  So, it isn’t the amount that’s critical — it’s the decisions made that make all the difference.

But even that statement is kind of misleading.  Because, I’ve realized that:

  • It’s the decisions your parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions your spouse’s parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions that you made after high school that affect you today. (Student loans, rents, mortgages, car loans, etc)
  • It’s the decisions that your spouse made after high school that affect you today.
  • It’s the professions that you’re in that affect you today. (Income potential as well as other expectations like dress code, cars, houses)
  • It’s the professions that your spouse is in that affect you today.
  • It’s the part of the country that you live in that affect you today. (Particularly housing has a huge effect on cost of living)

It’s all kinds of things.  I’ve just come to realize that being/having a stay-at-home spouse is a complex issue.  It’s not SOLELY a function of the decisions that you make today, but it’s influenced by decisions made for the last couple of decades and decisions not even made by you.

Over the years, my mind has gone from “You just have to make a budget that only spends what you make.” to “You just have to have 1 income that makes enough money to support your needs.” to “I think people need to really be wise about their decisions and the decisions that they lead their children too because financial decisions can have a really long-term effect.”  Aka: It’s complicated. 

 

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SAHM and men

We’re almost at the end of our “SAHM” series on stay-at-home moms, we’ll finish up with talking about men and dating.

So, let’s say that you agree that the Bible gives men the responsibility of financial provision for the family.  Should it affect your dating life?  If so, how does that affect the men you would date?

My opinion:

It does affect who you’d date.  If that’s your worldview, you need to evaluate three things in the man you’re dating: desire, ability and timeframe.

Desire

The first criteria is desire.  The man you’re dating should have the desire for his wife to be a SAHM (should the Lord bless you with munchkins).  He may even have a desire for you to stay-at-home as a wife, even before children.  That’s excellent – if that’s something you’d desire as well.

As I said before, show grace and understanding to the single man who doesn’t yet have an opinion on this topic.  It really, really may not have ever crossed his mind to even think about it.  Give him time to think about it.  To process the idea.  To seek counsel from others.  You can’t make the decision for him – he needs to own this.  If he doesn’t “own” this, it won’t work.

Ability

The second thing to look for is ability.  You want a guy that can turn his desire for a SAHM into reality.  He needs to have the ability to support a family on his income.  He needs to have a plan for how he’ll get there.  Do not read that as “He must make $100,000/year by the age of 22.”  That’s unrealistic!  Read that as:

  • He’s doing what he can at whatever stage he’s in to prepare for the stage he wants to get to.
  • He has realistic expectations of what it does take to provide for a family.  It takes more than $10,000/year, but it doesn’t take $80,000/year either.

He should recognize that his degree in underwater basket weaving isn’t going to put food on the table, but his degree in Accounting might.  You also can do quite a lot to make his income possible to support a family on.

Timeframe

If you’re actively looking at getting married in the near future, then the third criteria is that he not only does he need the desire and the ability to turn a SAHM concept into reality, but he also needs to be able to do it in a reasonable timeframe.  If he won’t be in that position for another 20 years, then this isn’t a good time to date him.  It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy AT ALL; he’s just not in the position to be married.

This means if he’s a 20-year-old college sophomore, it’s probably okay that he can’t support a family today as long as he has a plan for how he will in a few years.

My cautions:

Your timing

These are things that will be good topics in your early(ish) days of dating.  I wouldn’t ask a guy for his 5-year plan before agreeing to a cup of coffee.  But I wouldn’t also invest a lot of time and energy into a relationship with someone who I’m not compatible with long-term.

His motives

I’d also be wary of men whose motives are wrong.  Men can desire the right thing for the wrong reasons.  And that’s bad. (Women can too.)  If a man desires a SAHM for a wife to enable a great home life for he and his wife, to give his children the best possible upbringing, to give the whole family ample opportunity to share the gospel with friends, family and neighbors, that’s wonderful!

But if his motivation is to have a SAHM so that she can be isolated from the world, easy to control, unable to ever leave him, then that’s disastrous.  I honestly don’t think I know any such men.  But I am sure some exist.  And there’s nothing God honoring in such situations!

Your fear

Don’t be afraid of being poor.  There’s nothing that makes being wealthy better than being poor (prosperity gospel).  And there’s nothing that makes being poor better than being wealthy (poverty gospel)!  Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church says there are 4 kinds of people:

  • Righteous Rich
  • Righteous Poor
  • Unrighteous Rich
  • Unrighteous Poor

Make sure you’re righteous – whatever income you have.  The Bible says we should want to have just enough.  You need to be able to provide for your needs. If you can afford some wants in there too, great! It’s okay to not have a vacation every year or a fully funded 401(k) or to wear hand-me-downs.  You (likely) will struggle financially, especially at first.  It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to eat.  It means that you’ll have the opportunity to lean into each other, trust God for His provision and see some miracles in your checkbook!

The fact is that it is much harder to be financially independent than it was for our parents when they were our age.  It can be done, but it is harder.  Houses are more expensive.  Student loans are much higher.  Incomes are lower.  Expected standard of living is higher.  It is tough.  It will take both of you to make this lifestyle happen – without a doubt.  It can be done, but please don’t make it any harder on yourselves.

My final advice:
Consider these things. Be open to God’s priorities, not the world’s. Don’t think your value to anyone (God, your family, your friends, anyone) is the money you’re able to make. It’s not. You are not defined by your income, however high or low it is. Know that being a stay-at-home wife/mom is a financial decision. It’s an emotional decision. It’s a spiritual decision. Take Laura’s advice: “Live as if you are never going to get married, just don’t spend your money that way.”

May God give us His wisdom and discernment as we navigate all of these tricky waters!

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SAHM: What If?

Whenever the idea of being a Stay-At-Home mom comes up, I hear objections.  The sentences always start with “But what if…”.  Today, I’ll tackle some of the most common “What If” questions that I’ve heard (or said myself).

What if…my husband dies?
What if you’ve been married 10 years, have 3 little ones and your husband dies?  It happens.  It happened my mom, in fact.  And if it happens to you, you have options:
1) Use that life insurance policy!  There is a reason that most financial advisors tell you to have life insurance when someone is dependent on your income.  Dave Ramsey recommends 10 times your annual income, probably for this very reason.  Adequate life insurance ensures that you can continue on as a stay-at-home mom for quite some time.

2) Remarry.  It happens.  I don’t think you’re required to remarry, but you’re certainly free to.  But you also won’t be remarrying immediately.  Get life insurance.

3) Go back to work then. If your spouse does die and if you do go back to work, you’re about in the same position as if you wouldn’t have been a stay-at-home mom.  You can consider yourself blessed to have stayed-at-home for the time that you did.  But get life insurance.

What if…I do go back to work someday?  Won’t I be behind?
It’s quite possible that you will go back to work someday.  Maybe when your kids are in school during the day.  Maybe when your kids are all grown and left the nest.  And it’s a fact: your career will not be the same as if you had continued to work during the 20 years you stayed-at-home.  It just won’t.  You will have a harder time finding a job.  But…it’s also likely that your interests have changed.  The job that interested you when you were 20 probably isn’t the same as the job you want at 50.  The job you want now might not have even existed 20 years ago!  And your income needs probably aren’t as high.  If you’ve been living on one income smartly for 20 years (expensive years of raising kids), then return to work, you’re probably not needing a $100K job.  Your income is most likely to be “play money”, not “grocery money”.

Plus, you don’t have to go back to work.  Maybe once your kids are in school or grown up, you use that time to minister to others.  Be a secretary for a homeless shelter.  Be a regular visitor at a nursing home.  Mentor young moms just starting their mothering days.

What if…my husband loses his job?
It happens.  Quite a bit recently, too.  Of the 8 million jobs that were lost in last year’s recession, 75% of them were held by men.  I’m guessing a good chunk of them were married.  If your husband loses his job, he finds a new one.  Even if it’s less than what he’d want.  It is possible that you going to work will help the situation (that’s a call you both will need to make), but if you’ve been living on one income all along, you’re far more likely to weather this storm that if you’ve been dependent on two.

What if…my husband leaves me?
You’re thinking “I know were both Christians, but divorce happens just as often in Christian homes as is non-Christian homes.  My odds are still 50/50.”  No, no they aren’t.  Or at least they don’t have to be.  There are things that, if part of a marriage, make your odds of divorce drastically low.  Drastically. Like pray together.  Attend church together.  Have a budget and agree on it. In fact, the benefits that a SAHM provides would help divorce-proof your marriage.  Besides, if divorce is an option that you’re considering in your marriage, you’re working from a position of fear OR maybe you have a hint that marriage to this man at this time isn’t the right choice.

The thing to remember in all of this: God is the Ultimate Provider. He will provide the necessary funds if your husband dies, leaves or is laid off or He will provide the ability to live without them.  We should be wise and plan for certain events (like death!), but even that wisdom and the ability to plan is God-provided.  It may be that you’ll have hardship financially for a time in life.  Is that so bad?  It may be that others will give to you out of their surplus.  Is that so bad?  It’s the Gospel in action!

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