Quitting Job to Stay at Home

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Will I regret leaving my career?

March 2010

I am a SAHM of two kids, a toddler and a 5 yr old. I LOVE being a SAHM and hardly ever have days that I feel like I miss being at work. I worked in a fairly creative job but the hours were really bad (not 9-5), there were egos and politics, and it is not a family friendly career. I did freelance off and on with the first child. I couldn't afford child care so I worked during naps and at night. But since it is deadline-driven, project based work it was very inconsistent and difficult to know how many hours I would be working each week. This was stressful and I couldn't take on big projects. Even if I could hire help, that person would have to be very, very flexible. Well, when #2 came a long I had no time to fit in my work so I have stopped taking on projects. We are ''ok'' financially--being very careful with money and living a humble lifestyle. I never feel that I miss working--I just miss the paycheck. I have other creative outlets for that side of myself and I definitely miss it when I can't find time to create for me. I find spending time with my children a much more rewarding experience then working. I feel that this time with them is going by quickly so I am trying to savour it. But, I wonder will I regret not keeping my ties to my old career? Taking on little projects kept me connected, but I have no time for that now. My oldest will be in part time Kindergarten in the fall, but my youngest won't be in preschool for another 18 months so that will put me farther behind. Juggling two kids with work seems so crazy, especially if you don't really crave the work. Will I regret taking time off work? If I do need to find work again in a few years will it be impossible for me to find it if I haven't been working all this time? I have always found a job easily and feel that if I really wanted to work again I could. Am I being naive? I need a role model--someone in a deadline-driven, creative field who has managed to balance work and family. Most of the moms I know in this field just had kids, so I don't have a real example of someone who has found this balance. I guess I just want to know that I will still be able to find work once I decide to start doing it again. -Anon

Your post could have been me but with older kids, I've been out of workforce for 5 years and did about 4.5 years of working with kids. A fact that I take some solace in that I have done this at some point.

I too feel perfectly happy not working but wonder if in the future I'll wish I had done more. I have decided that I won't live in fear or doing something counter to my current instinct of fear in the future. Sure lots of people will say if you don't do something now you may never have an option, but I just am not going to buy into that kind of fear. I figure I can have what I want when I want it and if in 3-5 years I want to work, I can make it happen then. That said, I am thinking of a class or two, a conference or two. Frankly though my motivation a little low on that front.

I just think life is too short to change something you love doing for the fear of maybe not having what you want in the future. That's my take, good luck anon

I am not convinced being a SAHM has as much of an affect on our careers as we think it will. Yes it means you loose $X for so many years and therefore your retirment might be delayed or your disposable income tight for a while. But I know many woman older than I who took years off from their careers to be at home and that currently have very good jobs. I mean if you want to run a large company, law firm or be president then you probably can't take time off but for the average professional I just don't believe it is that much of a problem. When you are getting ready to start back up again ease in part time, take classes & things will unfold naturally. You can always put off going back to work for a couple years but you can't put off your children growing up. Good for you. You very fortunate to be able to take this time with your children. Anon

After being home full time for several years with my children, I have just returned to work part-time. Because of my schedule - and partly due to economy - I'm not making as much as I was even 6 years ago. I am not in a creative role, but I work with people who are (graphic designers, etc.) and my role is very project- and deadline-driven. I don't love my job and I don't hate it, but the paycheck is nice.

I can't tell you how glad I am that I stayed home with my children for those early years. I, too, tried to work on a project basis while they were young and I could never swing it. (Seems the important issues always came up on the day the baby wouldn't nap! Or I'm in the middle of a call when the kids start fighting...that's always nice.) I did enjoy my SAHM status while I had it, but I also dreamed of working (both for fulfillment and for the paycheck). Now I am sentimental about the old days and can honestly say I spent as much time with them as I should have! They are young for only such a short time. When they're both in school full- time, you'll be more than ready to go back!

In the meantime, I suggest treating your back-to-work plan as your part-time job. Just because you choose not to go back to work doesn't mean you have to cut ties with your career. Keep in touch with your professional contacts...occasional e-mails, even meeting them occasionally for lunch during the work day. If you were involved in any professional organizations, attend a meeting or function once in awhile. Stay up-to-date on your industry (technology, trends, etc.) and maybe attend a conference every 6-12 months if that is relevant to your position. You might find that keeps you feeling connected, and instead of the door to your career closing, it just keeps revolving! Good luck! Grateful Stroller

I could have written your post, but I'm about 5 years ahead of you with older kids. That said, I did freelance just like you did after working f/t, and then totally cut my ties to my old deadline-driven, creative field, even going so far as telling contacts not to call and tempt me with work offers. Fast-forward a few years later---I got a call and have more work than I know what to do with. Now that both kids are in school, it's more do-able. I'm trying to decide if I want to continue long-term because it is so intense. Like you, I feel that I want to savor time with my kids and find it more rewarding, but I'm riding it out for a few months- the paycheck is really nice to have! So...yes, work will always be there and remember that it's not an either/or. The one thing I have learned is to try to live in the present and enjoy what you want to enjoy, circumstances can change at any time, and then you can adapt. Hard words to live by, but I'm trying... trying to stay balanced

You can't get back time lost with your children/family. You can always get back in the job market. Careers can be recreated and you can build back to your previous status. Have not regrets about being a wonderful mother (working mothers are wonderful too) with the good fortune of raising your children full-time. K

I believe my working and kid life is very similar to yours, but my kids are older (11 and 15). I'll tell what I've done over the years (and why) and how I feel about it. First of all, if you truly love being a SAHM, then you won't regret it later. Second guessing during parenting is unavoidable for the most part, but it will drive you absolutely insane. There's that old saying about how no one ever put on their tombstone, ''I wish I had spent more time at the office.''

Secondly, here's my take. I worked in publishing for years as a writer and editor. I was a managing editor when I decided to work part-time freelance from home. (My youngest was about 5 months old when I quit.) At first I worked because I wasn't ready to give up that part of my life. But as you pointed out, working in a deadline-driven job with two little kid is hell. I eventually scaled back to maybe 10 hrs/week, plus I got help with the kids. Basically, it turned my job into a hobby that just paid for itself.

After years of that, I stopped working altogether. That was actually really nice and I could have done it for a lot longer, but when the economy started falling apart, I got freaked out about being a one-income family and being so dependent on my husbandC,bs job, health, etc.

Now, I am editing books freelance here and there to keep myself sharp and connected. Like you, I've never had trouble picking up work, but I was worried that my luck would run out with so many extremely talented people out of work with fresh experience and contacts. I feel that I cannot risk letting my skills and industry connections go stale.

Even though my kids are older, it is still difficult to balance things. I allow myself time between assignments so I don't feel too stretched all the time. Maybe you could do that? Just do two or three projects a year? One thing that helps is that I have to tell my kids to respect my work time. I think it is good for them to see me working and learn that they cannot pull on me and demand my immediate attention 24/7. You also need to get buy-in from your partner. That is crucial. My husband and kids have to do more around the house when I am working, which I think is good for them.

I hope hearing my experience with this has helped you in some way. Maybe when/if your toddler starts preschool, you can set a few hours a day aside for working? And then, as I said earlier, only take on a few projects a year? If you end up really hating it or cannot find the balance between home and work you need, then stop. YouC,bve already said you love being a SAHM, so it isnC,bt a bad plan B. That's the good thing about freelance, you can let it ebb and flow as your time and temperament allow. Personally, I am just worried about the economy right now and have seen so many people I know have to sell their houses, borrow money from their parents, and make other sacrifices due to losing jobs or investment money.

Good luck. I don't thing you can make a ''wrong'' decision in this case, which is probably why it is so difficult.

Can't decide whether to quit my job to stay at home

October 2004

I can't decide whether to quit my lucrative, and relatively easy, public sector job in order to spend more time with my 7 month old daugher. My boss absolutely won't let me go to a reduced schedule. I could easily find consulting work with more flexibility, but would miss out on the benefits (especially the retirement) of this job. OTOH, I am missing out on being around for my daugher, most likely my only child (I am in my early 40s). For those Moms who quit, any regrets? How has it worked out as your child got older and entered pre-school and school? d

Could I have your job? Actually, I'm as torn about returning to work as you are about leaving work. I've had both experiences and I think being at home is definitely better for your child, at least through high school. (I'm not kidding!) There is just too much that you are willing to overlook and ignore when you're at work. I know, because I did that for my first child. If you must work, make sure you have an excellent nanny for your child, because they do need love and attention and someone to play with and learn from. It also helps if you have an extended family nearby, so that your child's doting aunts and uncles can be there for them when you can't. I also can't say how important it was for me to be around to see who my children's friends were, to catch up with them on their days, to be there for school errands, holidays, special projects, etc., etc., etc. Believe me, kids are sponges and will soak up your time and energy.

Having said all that, the reason I said earlier that I wish I could switch places with you was that I want my husband to retire earlier. In addition, I have an older child from a previous marriage and now that she is ready to graduate from college and enter the working world, I cannot relate to her the way I wish I could. I was in college at the same time as she was and both she and my elementary school child were able to talk about school, homework, tests and even though it was at different levels, it was fun and really brought us very close together.

So I think it's a catch-22, on the one hand, you want to be at home with your children, on the other, how can you resucitate a career after so long out of the workforce?

It's hard to provide the best for your family. As commuting times increase and we become more reliant on technology, it seems, we get further away from our core, our family. A real dilemma. I wish you good luck with your search for the right balance. Super Mom wannabe

I think that it is hard for people here to tell you what to do. I think the key might be seeing someone who can help you figure out what is the right decision for you. I personally love doing part-time work but for my best friend, she's only happy on a career track.

I think a life coach might be a good route for you since you have a specific issue. It would be great to have someone think through how YOU want your life to look and feel and then come up with a plan that you believe in for achieving it. I love Toni Littlestone (528-2221) but there are I am sure many people who would be happy to help you think it through. I encourage you to do this instead of jumping to a rash decision that might not be the best one for your situation and desires. Figuring it out myself

Have you looked into using the Paid Family Leave Act (PFLA)? It is a new program that gives you 6 weeks of leave within the first year of your child's life. You can use this time in one lump or to reduce your hours to part-time or to take a day off here or there. I believe that, unless you are an executive at work, your employer is obligated to give you the time off. This is not a long-term solution, but it might buy you some time. Contact EDD for more info. Currently of PFLA

My guess is, since you have put so much thought into this decision, something is telling you that you DO want to spend more time with your daughter. Or, you feel guilty for not spending more time with her...? First, no need to feel guilty if your current work makes you happy. Happy mom, happy family. But if you find you are missing your daughter and want to know her better, then who cares about the fringe benefits at work? You will never get this time back with her. It is a one- shot, limited time offer. I quit my full time job when my daughter was born and have worked part-time (very few hours, overall) on consulting projects since (she just turned 1). I have absolutely no regrets. I had a well-paying, senior management position and a solid career path. No doubt I have derailed it by taking this time off to raise a child. But by continuing to work (consulting) even a little bit, I will have kept a hand in the game and presumably will be marketable when I re-enter the work force full-time in a few years (I am 37 now). I presume you can re-enter later, too, in a similar position that you have now? If so, this special time with your daughter is probably well worth the trade off. Of course, I don't know how much retirement money you are giving up. My litmus test for decisions like this is the death bed--what will I think when I'm there...? no regrets

If you can make ends meet without your salary, or can make it by working part-time, I'd say leave your job. I've been home for a few years now, and though I'm occassionally a bit bored and occassionally stress about not using my education, I love being home with my little ones at this point in the game. My feeling is that the 'job' of mothering young children is only available for 4-5 years, so if you can stay home, and enjoy it, then go for it. An additional benefit to having one parent at home, in my opinion, is that it's easier on one's marriage/partnership and in general less stressful for the family. I plan to go back in a few years, and imagine I'll have to take some sort of step 'backwards' to get back into the workforce, but for me it's been very worth it. Elizabeth

I had the same struggle when I had my second child, more than five years ago. I went back to work just to see whether I could still enjoy my job and motherhood. It was too much for me. I felt like I wasn't doing anything well. Working freelance a little bit has helped tremendously because it gives me a life outside of being a wife and mom. I won't lie to you, though, it was a tough transition. I felt like my needs and schedule were at the bottom of the family totem pole. I finally realized that even given that, I was probably the most important person in the household because I made everything happen that needed to happen. So, I was the most important but least considered, if that makes sense.

5 years later, I can honestly say I don't regret my decision at all. My kids are both in school now, and I can pick them up and take them to do things, have their friends over, and so on. If they are sick, my husband and I don't have to go into strategic planning mode to deal with it. So many kids have to get dropped off early at on-site childcare and get picked up from there hours after school is over. Many of these parents don't have a choice, so I'm not criticizing them. I'm just grateful that we have enough income that I can be here with my kids and still work a little doing what I enjoy. I doubt you'll regret it. And if you can consult, do it. Because if you find you're not the stay-at-home type, your resume will be fresh and you can try to reenter the workforce with current jobs on your resume. Good luck. anon

I quit my job about a year ago (I'm 37) to ''stay Home'' for awhile. My kids were a bit older--3 and 5. The five year old was just beginning kidergarten. I can't say that I regret my decision but it has been harder than I thought. It has been really hard to meet moms in the neighborhood. They all seem to know each other already and have their cliques. Also, I can't get anything ''big'' done around the house while watching/picking up the kids. Financially it has been tough. Things that bite us are property taxes, car maintenance, home emergency repairs and the like. You can forget any kind of travel, visits to the hair salon, nice shoes, home upgrades and restaurants. It is so expensive around here. I would advise looking for another part time gig to allow you more time with your child. That is the best solution. You have worked for a long time and it will be hard to re-define yourself IMO. anon

I quit my job and went to private consulting after my 2-year- old was born. The job I had had great benefits and retirement, and I'm now barely scraping by with the reduced income. However, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

For one thing, we don't have to pay for childcare, although we do pay for health insurance (my husband is also self-employed). But the most important thing is that my schedule is flexible, I think our son has benefitted from it, and I know I'm not missing out on any of his development. Although I get bored and miss work at times, I still work part-time. I figure this time while he's a toddler will pass soon enough, and I don't want to regret not spending it with him (and our next one, due early next year). Colleen

I quit my high stress job on my 40th birthday to completely focus on getting pregnant. 8 years later, with 2 little kids and pushing 50 years old, I can't even remember what I did for money. My savings are running out and I do need to remember what it was that was easy about it.... My advise to you is to keep your hand in. Even if you have to change jobs now, it will be easier than later because your skills are current and your confidence is solid. I know they have a name for people like me ''re-entry'' and that there are plenty of us. Still, I feel unemployable especially at the level I was, and it is petrifying to think of actually getting out there again. As to your role as a mother, I don't think that the intimacy I have with my kids from being together constantly is fundementally different than the bonds that form by getting up and going together, then sharing impressions of the day later. It sounds so trite, but as long as you are happy and secure, your kids will be too. So really just think about what will be best for you. Annie

I quit my job a few months ago when my son was 10 months old. For me, it was a great decision because I was also burned out on my job. I have absolutely no regrets but it is harder! My advice is to go for it if you can afford it. The time when they are young goes so fast. I have seen a big difference in both of my kids now that I am at home. Especially during the first 3 years, it is such a gift for your kids to be there if you can and want to. tired but happy SAHM

I have been a stay-at-home mom for 5 years. It has taken me quite a while to get over the guilt (and stress) of giving up some financial security to stay home. But, I have to say that, for me, I've decided that staying at home is the way to go. It was REALLY tough the first couple of years. As much as I love my kids, I just wasn't getting any kind of intellectual stimulation. As I cleaned the floor for the 8th time, I would really miss my old office (and paycheck).

But, I feel like the benefits that my kids have received have out weighed that. Our lives are so much less stressful. My kids enjoyed preschool without having to be there all day. You get a lot of time to understand your kid & their needs. I always thought that once my daughter started kindergarten that I would have lots of spare time & could get a job. But, I have found out that mothers are the reason schools are successful. Schools need help with yard duty, library, volunteering in the classroom, fund raising...5 years ago this would have sounded like torture but now I can see the value. Anyway, I'm trying to say that every year I find more reasons to stay home. Some kind of consulting work would be great, but I would not want to return to work full-time as long as I have the financial means to stay at home. roz

I think discussing the logistical differences between staying at home and working would help in the decision making process. I have often wondered if I should re-enter the paying world but I don't have a good grasp on what the trade-off would be.

My typical day consists of making the kids breakfast and getting them off to school. I then have a couple of hours in which I typically take care of all the household nitty gritty: cleaning, shopping, doing finances, paperwork and volunteering at the schools. After I pick up the kids it is homework time. After an hour or so of downtime we are back out again for sports activities. Upon our return, we have a sit down (homemade) family meal, then showers, reading and bedtime for the kids. Weekends then get taken up by more sports, social engagements, and I try to keep sunday completely unscheduled for us.

I don't know how I would get all this done if I had a job on top of it all. Are there much more efficient ways of getting things done that I don't know about?

If you work outside the home what is your typical schedule and when does it all get done? wondering how others do it

Thinking about quitting my job to stay at home

June 2004

I need advice and support on the issue of becoming a stay-at- home-mom. I am married and have a five year old and 8 month old baby. I have been working as an attorney part-time and am due to go back full time next month. I have been unhappy at my job for some time and have decided to quit before I go back full time. In addition to staying home with the baby and having more time for the 5 year old, my husband and I are hoping to improve our quality of life with only one parent working outside the home. We are exaughsted all the time (order lots of take-out, barely feed the cat, house is a disaster). I feel constantly overwhelmed and am impatient with my older child. On the other hand, the financial stress when I quit will also play a role (It will be MAJOR).

I am scared and feel a bit lost about this process. I am also worried about getting bored with playing with the kids and feeling guilty if I just schlep them around to do errands all the time.

I would love any ideas on how to make it through without just trading one type of stress for another. changing mom

Hi, I could have written your post myself about two years ago. I was working 20 hours per week, with two kids, and finding it to be incredibly stressful on my family. I did quit my job in spite of all the concerns you describe, and I can tell you it was the best thing I've ever done. My kids are so much happier, and I am much less stressed and able to enjoy them more. Those days when they can't go to school/day care (because they are sick, the school is closed, doctor's appts, etc) no longer cause a big crisis. My husband is much happier, too, because he sees I'm less stressed out and that the kids are doing really well with this arrangement. I will say that I'm sometimes bored, I sometimes miss working, and I do get lonely. What's been key for me is to hook up with other moms and get out of the house every day. It took me about 6 months to really build up a support system, find other moms to hang out with and other interests that can be pursued from home. The kids don't mind errands much; it's actually kind of fun for them so I don't feel guilty about taking them. Plus, one thing about being a SAHM is that you never have to worry about whether your kids get enough of your time--so you don't have to feel guilty about doing stuff with them that's not necessarily ''fun.'' ANyway, best of luck, I hope whatever choice you make brings you some relief from the stress you're feeling. happily staying home

Becoming a SAHM was an easy decision for me once I realized that work was just that...work, or a job--and I, too, was unhappy there--and easily (relatively speaking) replaceable. Being with my child was not. Having said that, the financial strain has been great, and we basically live off the equity in our house so that I can be at home. Would I do it differently? Probably not. Knowing, or feeling, that this is the only opportunity I will have to be with my daughter, I know that it's worth it in the long run. However, what I do find difficult is not being involved reguarly with other adults. ALL of my closest friends live down south and even though I am in a mom's group, which is helpful, I would not consider these women to be close friends. This is very hard on me. As far as getting bored, I highly doubt that would happen to you, as there are many many activities for your youngest child to be involved with or to partake in. So with that, I would recommend that you go ahead with staying at home, but make sure you maintain or develop some outside interests so that you continue to be an individual besides being wife and mother. This will truly allow you to enjoy this precious and irreplaceable time in your children's lives. Good luck. anon

Some things i have found that really help me are having something planned every day - either a class or a outing with the kids (even to the park), or may be a craft project that i see in a parents magazine or online. My son goes to school two mornings a week and it is nice to get a break to do household duties that are hard with him around. There are dull moments for sure, but i never regret my choice to be a SAHM. My husband says that he feels less stress because he knows i will be taking care of certain things around the house and our children so he can concentrate on his career. Make sure you sit down with your spouse and are clear on what things you will be responsible for when you become the SAHM. I pay all the bills, do all the household shopping and make dinner (or arrange for dinner) every night. My spouse has a really stressful job and works late so it takes a lot of pressure off him to not have to worry about those things and he can play with the kids when he gets home. He also takes the kids a lot on the weekends and takes a class with our son so that I can get some personal renewal time. a SAHM

My situation is slightly different than yours-I had a more-than full time career before motherhood which I opted to leave behind when I had my now 10 month old son. Nonetheless, I can relate to the issues that you raised. First, congratulations on your decision! I love staying at home, which for some reason lots of people find hard to believe, but I do love it. Looking around at couples where both parents work, I can't fathom how they do it and keep their sanity. During the week I take care of all of our family/house business-cleaning, appointments, money, shopping, dry cleaners, laundry, meals, etc. The evenings and weekends are strictly family time-no frantic chores or trying to get things done. I treat my responsibilities in this regard like a job and try to get everything done during the work hours so that off hours really are off. Its huge and we love it and needless to say my son loves it! As to how not to get bored at home...the key for me has been connecting with friends for outings, lunch, whatever. Also I go to the gym regularly and leave my son in the childcare there-the workout is nice, but honestly sometimes I just go for a long, hot shower. I really like a nice, leisurely day to day routine with my little guy, but when I do start to feel as though I'm climbing the walls, I call up the girlfriends. Also date night with my husband and friends is very important-since I don't always get adult interaction during the day, its vital that I get it on the weekends. As far as errands go, I try to limit the errands to one per day-so Monday is Target day, Tuesday is dry cleaners, Wednesday is fun only, Thursday is groceries..you get the idea. I get everything done in a week but limit driving around time for both of us. When I first started staying at home, I used www.flylady.com to organize my house/days/weeks and I swear she has done more to improve our quality of life than I can even begin to say here. Stay at home mothering is, in my opinion, a funny combination of slowing down and speeding up. The slowing down is related to the letting go of your previous expectations of ''getting things done'' since, as you know, time with kids is different than time with adults. When you shift into all kid time, it takes a while to mentally adjust. The speeding up, for me, was in relation to wanting to take really good care of house and home so that we had a nice, clean, peaceful place to relax together as a family. So basically I work fast and furious during naptime to do chores and make a nice dinner, but when my son is awake I relax and try to just be with him without worrying about other things. Also I try not to live up to some perfect Martha Stewert ideal and torture myself trying to make everything just so. I do what I can, and then I make myself stop and just be with my husband and son. We talk ALL THE TIME about how happy we are with this arrangement..our home really feels like a sanctuary, we eat healthy meals together, we have time to talk and plan and go on outings, and we both feel busy but mostly sane.

The money issue is hard, too, and I confess that I take on weekend work once a month or so just for the income. It only breaks us even, though, so I've just been trying (not always successfully) to not lust after ''things'' and live more simply (no fancy vacations for us, no major housework, inexpensive or no new clothes, no gymboree, a grocery budget, etc.). I throw away catalogs without looking at them and avoid retail at all costs. My boy is already looking so big to me, I try to remind myself that its him that I'll remember and not the fact that our dressers are ugly and we can't afford new ones. If you have friends in a similar situation, connect with them now. If not, consider networking here or with a more formal mother's group.

Good luck and congratulations again to you. I think you have some sweet summer days ahead. Rebecca

I would suggest that you try being a SAHM and see if it works out for you - financially and otherwise. I see it as you having not so much to lose if you don't like your job and will have to be working full time. If staying home doesn't work out, I would think you could find a different job - although it would likely be hard to find a part-time one. Sometimes you have to make somewhat scary changes if you want things to get better. Good luck. Ellen

I chose the same path -- to stay at home after working for about two years after the birth of our first child. I have now have two kids and am so glad I amde that choice -- even though I was the primary breadwinner by a large margin. I can't offer any specific advice -- but I can say i expected a big change in our lifestyle and that I would be stressed out by that. And it is true -- we eat out less, don't go on fabulous vacations, are mosre modest in our gift giving, and generally ourchase less, bt I can honestly say I don't miss that life. The balance and pleasure in our new rhythm is more than enough -- and its funny how all the things I thought were crucial -- I don't even notice their absence. To be sure, being a SAHM has its own stresses -- its not all picnics at poolside -- but I choose the stress of this life over feeling torn and rushed and incomplete. Best of luck! Happy I took the leap

With the small cavaet that lifestyle changes take time and energy, require adjustment and create some stress (initially), I encourage you to take this opportunity and make the most of it. You may find that you love it, once you've got the rhythm.

A key may be using some of the skills you acquired while working (organization, teamwork, negotiation) while learning to live on ''baby time'' (hurry up and wait). If you go out and find them there are moms like you in the East Bay, and the potential for wonderful friendships exists. Please feel free to contact me with questions and for support in a less public forum. I think you are making a good choice. Heather

About becoming a stay at home mom, I can relate very much to your dilemma. My kids are spaced at about the same range as your own and I worked both part time and full time while they were young. They are now 6 and 10 and I am sad to say that the entire period when I was working had the effect of making their toddler years a blur. I cannot remember when my youngest began talking, what his first words were, etc. This is too great a price to pay in my opinion. If you have the choice to stay at home count your blessings. It does sound boring on the face of it but there is so much you can do to find personal fulfillment for yourself as well as through your children. I am very involved at my children's school and have made many meaningful friendships there. It is also quite a benefit to be able to drive on fieldtrips, volunteer in the classroom, attend all the day and evening school functions. I just feel so much more a part of their lives than I would if I had to work full time. Like you, when I was working I always felt absolutely overwhelmed, missed school deadlines, spent weekends doing laundry and cleaning, it wasn't much of a life.

As an example, it is now summer break and instead of having to spend thousands on summer camps I can take my kids on adventures we all enjoy: rollerskating, beaches, museums, biking, etc. When I need a week or two to myself for rest I can enroll them in a one or two week camp. When you work full time (unless you teach) you scramble each spring to fill up your child's entire summer with camps, schools, etc. Since you have a child that is entering regular school you will have a much greater view into their world if you actively particpate in their school, get to know their friends, etc. Our children attend a well regarded public school and I do notice a unintentional division that occurs between those kids whose mothers work and those that do not, mainly due to stay at home moms' availability for weekday play dates, after school activities, etc. You also develop your own relationships this way that you will need to keep your sanity.

I also feel like I'm living a life of luxury when compared to the time crunch I experienced when working and commuting. While the kids are in school I can spend at least an hour or two doing something for myself whether it's working out, hiking, taking a class etc. I just feel like a much more balanced person now that I am home full time. In the end, so many mothers must work full time. If you have the choice you are fortunate. You can always return to work if being a full time mom doesn't suit you, but you can never retreive that lost time with your children during their most tender years. anon

Congratulations on your decision. It is truly the best decision you can make for your children's well being. My advice is to concentrate most of your time on your children and do errands around that time. I have a 6mo and a 2 1/2 year old. My week typically consists of the following: Mon we go to playgroup at 10:30 then come back and eat lunch, nap time during which I excercise, get dinner started, kids wake up. My 2 1/2 year old may play outside until dinner. Eat dinner, get son in bath, read stories, sing and he's in bed between 7:30 and 8pm. In between, I clean and straighten up. I usually clean up dinner the following morning while I'm getting breakfast ready. I probably pick-up and vacuum twice a week. I grocery shop early in the morning before our activities or I go on Saturday or when my husband gets home.

I really don't make it to any specialty shops anymore and I don't stress about. If the grocery store has it, I buy it there. Tuesday I go walking with friends, wed is a free day so we stay home or go to a park, Thursday is my baby swap day for two hours, Friday is my hiking day. The lunch/afternoon time is pretty much the same everyday. I put mine and my children's fun in front of every thing else (except husband) and I make sure I have plenty of friends that I interact with. Most of what I'm doing is free. I make exceptions for the mom's groups because that's my support group. I am not stressed. I am relaxed and very content. Also, keep in mind that if you are a type A personality and think you will be bored, get creative. Redirect your energy as an attorney. Think of all the women who have done great things because they stayed home (ie. the women who wrote Super Baby Food, the mystery writer, and others). Have fun with your kids! tief

As a former investment banker, I also decided to stay home with my son and felt that the advantages of spending time with him during his early childhood outweighed the drawbacks of exiting the workforce for a few years. While I sometimes miss interaction with other professionals, I strongly believe my investment of time with my son is far more worthy than doing M deals right now.

I think the phrase ''you can have it all'' still applies but not at the same time. Something will definitely suffer if one tries to do too many things at once or if one does not have at least one parent who is able to spend a lot of time with the kids. The situation with two professional parents with executive jobs makes it particularly challenging with kids. In terms of moving forward, I suggest getting involved with classes or activities with your child as well as meeting up with a mom's group. This will enable you to interact regularly with other interesting moms. retired investment banker

Here\x92s the truth: you will be trading one kind of stress for another. Some things you are currently experiencing may not change or become better just because you\x92ve decided to stay at home with your kids. You and your husband may still find yourselves exhausted all the time. Your husband may feel added physical and emotional stress of being the sole breadwinner of the family, and as for you, being with two young kids non-stop IS exhausting. Your quality of life may not improve, just because you\x92re at home with the kids. You might still find yourselves ordering lots of take-out, forgetting to feed the cat, and living in a house that\x92s in a constant state of disaster (at least that\x92s the way it is in our household). You may still get tired, overwhelmed, impatient, or irritated with your kids and/or husband after a sleep-deprived night or a marathon day with the kids. Your kids may vocalize their boredom and displeasure at having to be dragged from one errand to another with you all day long.

But, at least in my experience, the rewards of being a stay-at- home parent are great. Some thoughts:
1. I wake up in the morning with my kids and instead of rushing off to childcare/work as I used to, I get to ask them, \x93What do you want to do today?\x94 The day is open and ours to discover.
2. Spending so much time with my kids, I know my kids so well and get to experience their thoughts and emotions as they happen.
3. I like being a major influence in teaching my kids certain values, beliefs, and how to navigate their way in the world. When people compliment my kids and say, \x93Oh, you have such nice kids,\x94 I try not to be too egocentric and think it\x92s because of me ;-) but having spent a lot of time with my kids, at least I see how they got that way.
4. I get to discover--or rediscover\x97new interests as my kids explore them. Since my son has become interested in astronomy and biology, we\x92ve both embarked upon a journey to learn and experience as much as we can in depth on the subjects\x85much more interesting than my former line of work.
5. I enjoy putting on \x93play clothes\x94 every day and expect them to be messy with dirt and sweat at the end of the day (I have boys), instead of having to dress up for the office. And I\x92m saying this as a former dress-up professional gal with a habit for Banana Republic clothes and corporate-babe shoes. Okay, it was an adjustment to shop for my clothes at Target and Old Navy (on sale!), but I will say this\x97I don\x92t ever want another job where I have to dress up and go to the office every day.
6. My husband has a lot of stress at his job\x97and not everyone he works with loves him at the end of the day. Being at home with the kids is my full-time job. At the end of the day, I know my kids (and husband) love me. That makes my \x93job\x94 so much more rewarding than any job I\x92ve had before. I tell people that I consider myself \x93lucky\x94 to have the opportunity to stay at home with my kids\x97-a lot of my friends say, \x93Oh, I\x92d love to stay home with my kids but we can\x92t afford it on one income.\x94 But really, it has less to do with luck as it does a willingness to do it this way (we are not a high-income family so it is a big financial hit to live this way). Bottom line, though, I\x92ve never regretted my decision to quit work and stay home with my kids, and sometimes I wonder why I didn\x92t do this sooner.

Your kids are young for such a short window of time\x97and you\x92re not going to get that time back, ever. Being a stay-at-home parent is stressful and overwhelming, kind of like training for an extreme endurance sport every day, but so worth it\x85I say go for it and good luck. Another stay-at-home parent

Congratulations on your decision! While it's not always easy to be a stay at home mom I find it to be one of the most satisfying times of my life. I think it's key to establish a good network with other moms. I've met some great friends just by going to baby gym, kindermusic, etc. It's very important to get out and have contact with other adults.

It's inevitable that you'll be running errands with your kids, I find it's easiest to do while my 4 year old is in preschool so that I only have to deal with one. I just try to balance it with a children's activity so that my 1 year old gets some play time as well. The reward of doing those errands during the week is that you have your weekends free and the stores are generally a lot less crowded.

Another benefit of being a stay at home mom is the flexibility - I love that we can change our schedule if it's a beautiful day and just head to the beach or whatever. Good luck to you! Jackie

I am sure you will receive many responses. I don't think the transition to being a SAHM (I prefer to just call myself a homemaker - it seems more descriptive) is an easy one at all. It took me the better part of a year to really feel satisfied. I have the following suggestions from my experience: Embrace the domestic godess within. Through this list, I found Flylady.net, and have been really inspired to devote 2004 to getting my house organized, clean and maintainable. And for a person who *hated* housecleaning, this is really something, but I love the sense of accomplishment of getting things orderly and keeping them that way.

Consider it a management opportunity. For an ambitious person, staying at home can feel like a demotion, but it doesn't have to (feel that way). I view my job as running this household, and I keep my lists, I make phone calls, I plan meals, I do the shopping and all that time, I take care of my daughter. It helps that my husband places great value on the work I do, and lets me run with the whole ''Chief Operating Officer'' title (though I suspect it amuses him a bit).

Plan activities for your kids. There are oodles of books about games and crafts and activities you can do with the kids, and having a few things planned each week may be fun for all of you (well, both of you until your 8 month old is a little bigger). Cultivate hobbies and interests. When I have time, I am learning to sew, doing a little decorating, trying out new recipes. I'd like to sit down at the piano a little more, read a few more books, learn to garden. With one child, some of these things are possible; when my second arrives, I expect the time will diminish, but just knowing that my life extends beyond cleaning and changing diapers gives me a sense of dimension, like I'm still here under this 'Mom' title.

Keep the big picture in mind. Early on, I kept thinking about how long it would be until I could go back to work, but as time has passed, I think more about the kind of home I am trying to provide for my family. I want our home to be a safe place for us to return to when the world outside our door is cruel; I want it to be a place where our kids and their friends gather and spend time; I want to create serenity for my family because things are orderly, saving weekend time for more fun stuff.

I can't imagine how hurried our life would feel if I was working, and I'm grateful that my husband's income allows me to stay home. Hopefully, when it all nets out, the financial hit will not be as bad as you expect. As a homemaker, I think I can feel brain cells dying sometimes, but then I also notice that my mind is growing in completely new directions, too. I do laugh at this ''new me'' - I never, in a million years, expected to be happy being ''Holly Homemaker'', but at some point, I realized that the ultimate irony would be to sacrifice my career to stay home with my child(ren) and then miss their childhood because I was so wrapped up in a ''Am I happy or am I not?'' quandry. I may go back to school someday or back to work, but it seems sort of distant and irrelevant right now, since I don't know who I'll be when that time comes, and what I might want to do. Hope that helps! Happy Holly

I am currently a SAHM, but have been a working mother both part-time and almost full-time (4 long days). My experience was that part-time was the best arrangement in terms of balance between true quality time with my kids (now 4 and 1) and the need for fulfillment outside the role of mom. If there is any way you can find another part-time arrangement, I would suggest that. Otherwise, here are my thoughts: I love my kids dearly, but I have to admit to fairly frequent bouts with boredom. I would suggest if you do stay home, to find some kind of adult activity (volunteering, book clubs,etc.) that you can do to keep that part of your brain that doesn't think ''diapers, naps, Goodnight Moon...'' functioning. I have found that just doing playdates/moms groups, while fun and good for the kids, does put you in the position to be talking about your kids all the time. I am the first to go on and on about my adorable prodigies, but it doesn't always satisfy my need for ''adult conversation'' during the day.

In my observation of the SAHM's I know, the happiest/most content appear to be the ones that have sufficient means to do lots of activities with their kids (classes, etc.) and/or hire a sitter regularly for a break. Since we are on one income and it is a stretch, there isn't room for me to hire a sitter for my baby so I can have my own time. My solution has been to do a childcare swap with another SAHM. You can use the Childcare Digest for this. Just remember this means for every break you get, you also have a time with two babies.

Also, I think I have mastered the free and cheap things to do in the East Bay to keep things interesting for the kids. If you haven't already, join the Oakland Zoo and one of the science centers (Cal Academy, Zeum, Chabot, LHS) and you will have reciprocal discounts at all of the other zoos and science centers in the area. Add to that plagrounds, parks, and free beach areas and you will have enough variety for yourself and your kids.

As far as schlepping the kids around, this does happen, but what I do is try to make one day each week the schlep day. My older daughter knows the drill so its just part of her routine, too. Every Wednesday, we grocery shop, stop at Longs, whatever, and sometimes I reward her for being a good helper for the day (her favorite dinner that evening or a short video). If you can get most of the week's errands done in one day, you can focus more on the fun outings for the rest of the week. It also means that there is hopefully less busy stuff to do on the weekends and you can spend time with your husband doing family things. Good luck! Elizabeth

First, you'll be surprised how much less you spend when you stay at home and you don't really need to do without, just differently. Some of this may seem blindingly obvious, but here are a few things:

- Public school for the 5-year-old. Most of them are a lot better than you might think. Don't spend scarce money on private school. Also, many schools have good afterschool activities for a nominal cost. Don't feel guilty about using these because having two kids at home is HARD.

- Look into co-op daycare or preschool for the little one. You do need SOME time without a child for difficult errands or time for yourself. Co-op can mean trading off with a friend. If you don't know anyone yet, go to your local parks and playgroups. You'll soon meet wonderful people. These relationships are good support and will keep you from going crazy.

- There have been many good money saving tips published in these newsletters. Mostly they involve shopping at certain stores and cooking everything for yourself. I hope some of the threads have been archived, but to summarize: Eating out (as well as take-out) is by far the biggest money burner I can think of. Trading off dinner with friends (preferably ones who can cook!) gives you a respite from the kitchen and entertainment for free. Now that you don't work, you can go to Trader Joe's, Costco and Monterey Market in the morning before things get crazy, and I find these to be fun trips for the little one (though not always for the 5-year-old). Rent movies, listen to the radio (rather than buying CDs), watch the ballgame on TV, use the public library.

- Before you quit, get a line of credit on your house (if you have a house and enough equity). It'll be easier while you have a job and it will be your back-up. When I quit working, we cut our income by 60%! Yeah that's right, I was the big earner, but it's the best thing we've ever done. Our lives are much better and I'm perfectly happy being a mom and a housekeeper. It's been 4 years and we're doing pretty well. we occasionally have to dig into our equity line for a big ticket item, but the house is going up in value so I think it's justified. Glad I did it - you can too!

Resenting my husband because I can't quit my job

Feb 2004

I am looking for some advice from other working mothers out there who although may be satisified with their work, might at times feel resentment towards their husbands or their situation due to the fact that they ''have to'' work due to the fact that their husbands do not make enough for the whole family to live off one income.(oh yeah, we live in the bay area)

Since I returned to work (when my son was 4 months old, he is now 2) I always felt working part time with one child was managable and I have felt so lucky to have the best of both worlds- a career and being available to my son. At times the balance is really tough because I work in the city and work a 10 hour day with an additional time for the commute and I have moments when I really miss my son and feel like I need to stay home with him. I always figured I would eventually take time off when I had a second child as our quality of life with two parents working would definately suffer. Not to mention, I have been feeling as though it was time for a career change and i would welcome the time off while I searched for a new job when my kids went to school.

My husband and I have talked about wanting a second child and also buying a home (should we stay here) but to afford a home I would have to work and to afford quality child care as we have provided for our first born, we would need my income again- I may even have to go back full time since child care for two children would be very costly.

I know everyone has a choice in life and plenty of people try to live off of one income but we do live in the bay area we have run the numbers and we cannot do it unless we were to rent a one- bedroom apartment! We do not live extravagent lives but we are also realistic of how much we can live off of- and my husband's income is just not enough.

I can't help but feel recentment towards my husband for not earning more to give us more flexibilty. Before I had children I thought I could handle both a career and children but I am finding it more and more difficult and the thought have having two children and a full time job makes me so depressed- for several reasons- the first not being able to raise my children and the everyday chaos associated with two working parents- I just feel like everyone will suffer.... in the end the kids will be alright but it is me and my marraige I worry about!

I know this is the bay area and a majority of families are two income. How do you handle the day to day? For those who may have had some recentment towards your partners for not making enough- how do you make peace with this?? Did any of you make career moves that would allow for a more flexibility with your family? I would like to encourage my husband to think about other positions (in his field) that may allow him a higher earning potential but part of me says I just have to own up to reality and cope!! I never wanted to feel locked into a job for money but that is how I feel and what's worse is that I feel it is at the expense of my children.

Any advice out there???
Resentful Working Mom

Wow, you've got a lot going on in your posting. It sounds like you have more than just a concern about your husband's income (and you brought up some good points about living in the bay area that another poster mentioned as well.)

My experience is similar to yours where I was totally a career person before kids and thought I would be able to keep my job momentum and have a baby, too. It turns out, that I went to 4 days after my first baby was born and now, with baby #2, I am basically a SAHM (some freelance at home). I went through lots of opinions and emotions about my husband's income and wanting him to earn more (which is ironic since I used to be so proud of being the higher-earner previously). It is such the double-edged sword of marriage in today's society/economy--we want women to earn as much as men, but we also want men to earn enough that we women can live with just their income. Tough to do in the bay area!

If I were you, I would have a full discussion with your husband and tell him how you are feeling. Clearly you have some resentment, but you also sound just stressed and tired. Do you need more time to yourself? Alone with your husband? Sleep? You should also to talk about what both of your priorities are. Is the bay area TOO expensive for you, based on these priorities? Are you able to do the career change you talked about? When would you want a second child?

I never thought we could do it, but we are managing to get by on just one income for now. We live very economically (luckily we bought our house before we had kids). We talk about our budget a lot. I know my husband works really hard, so I try not to focus on his income.

Good luck and hang in there! Elizabeth

I am sympathetic to your wish for more income, because I think that it is really really expensive to live in the Bay Area comfortably, especially with two children. But why a priori is it your husband's job to earn such a high income? Different families have to come up with a balance of work and family that works for them. When my husband lost his job, when the company he worked for went bankrupt, he was able to find some work part time. I felt very lucky to be able to move from part time work to full time work, and help our family stay in our home, and pay our outrageous mortgage. Being the bread-winner for our family was a worthwhile experience, for giving me sympathy for the pressures on my husband. Trading places was also good because it helped my husband understand the pressures on me to work part time, do the errands and cooking, and take care of our two kids after school.

It is a real balancing act in the Bay Area. I tend to be resentful that things are so expensive here, but I don't consider that my husband's fault. We work together as a team to try to cope, and stay here because of all the friends, family, school, church, and people dear to us here.

I would strongly encourage you to consider moving away from the Bay Area if you want to be a Stay at Home mother. We can't necessarily have it all--we have to pick and choose whether the advantages of living in the Bay Area outweigh the disadvantages of having both parents work, having children in childcare, having a small house with a big mortgage and never enough money to do all the things we wish we could do. anon

I sympathize very much with your desire to stay home with your childen and children. Life is short and kids are only with us for a short time--we ought to be with them as much as possible. Of course they benefit from that too. As I look back, I dearly wish I had spent more time with my children and less with my job. I can't believe I cut short breastfeeding to go back to work! However, I do not know how a young family makes it in the Bay Area. Without knowing too much about your situation, you might consider looking at other places to live, if your husband's career has potential elsewhere. As to the resentment, don't blame your husband for a mistake you made. In other words, you presumably knew a lot about his potential career and income when you married him, or else did not pay attention to it. You said yourself you assumed it would not be a problem. That is not his fault. Again, without knowing more about the situation, you chose your current situtation, he did not trick you in any way. So you have no right to be resentful and you need to work together on how to find a solution to your current dilemma. anonymous

If you're interested in having a full-time stay-at-home parent, then there's another option that you didn't mention: you find the higher-paid job, and your husband becomes the full-time stay- at-home parent. It might not be the right solution for you, but then again . . . . A stay-at-home dad

Hello- I don't know if this is ''advice'' so much as an understanding of how you feel. We have a 4-month old son and I too have felt the resentment of having to return to work.

I grew up with the notion that I would go to college, get a great job, work my tail off and fall madly in love with a man, get married and raise my kids at home. Lo and behold, I just went back to work last week.

My hubby and I crunched the numbers and for me to stay home that would mean selling our house. We just bought it last year.

So, I know how you feel. The bay area is a major let down when it comes to home buying. My husband and I make pretty decent money but it still doesn't seem to be enough for the bay area. We moved into suburbia.

Keep your head up. Do what is best for you and your family.

:) Back to work but would rather be with my son

I really have to disagree with your resentment. As a mom, I earn 60% of our income, pay for the mortgage, and most of the bills. I have no expectation that my husband owes me a certain income. It is easier for me to command a higher salary because of too many years in school, but when we married, I married him because I loved him, and because he loved me and has supported me in all aspects that matter. My husband works very hard at what he does best. It isn't a great salary, certainly not one that could make it alone in the Bay Area. In that sense, I consider myself lucky but I also had to sacrafice to get where I am at right now. No spouse owes you a certain salary. If he is working at a stable job, and not lazy about it and enjoys it, it would be wrong of you to ask for more than what you have...unless you don't have healthcare, not enough food on your table, or clothes on your back. What he does owe you is his emotional, spiritual and physical support. I do expect my husband to do his chores, to kiss me everyday, to tell me I am wonderful, & to support me when things go crazy. Having a nice house isn't all that. Our parents got by with much less. There are plenty of moms out there with nice homes and husbands that are less than what they want. If salary is your only complaint, it should be a small one. Donna

I can't relate to your situation exactly. I am not always pleased with my husband's income but that is a little different - I am the breadwinner in the family (& the mom.) My on-and-off unhappiness, which seems to fluctuate with my stress level at work, stems from the pressure of being the source of income my family most depends on, and the knowlege that if anything were to happen to my job, we might be forced to leave the bay area and the home we love. I don't resent my husband really, but do often wish things were somehow magically different and there just wasn't so dang much pressure. When I feel this pressure and stress, I have to remind myself that my husband didn't cause it. It's just grown up life.

Now, from a breadwinner perspective, I can't imagine coming home to someone who resented me for not earning more, when I am working my butt off every day to provide. I assume you knew your husband's earning power when you married him - I did and I have to remind myself of this - and you knew that the bay area was an expensive place to live. Your resentment of your husband actually sounds like a childish perspective, as if you expected him to provide for you as your parents did - hence the term ''sugar daddy.'' If you approached this more from a partnership perspective - how can WE change this situation to make BOTH of us happier - I think you would get more cooperation from your husband.

In the current job market, which seems to be improving but not all that quickly, I'm not sure it's as easy as compelling your husband to find a higher-paying job in his field. Indeed, you may consider yourselves fortunate that neither of you is facing involuntary unemployment. anon

My advice would be to shift your focus: rather than resent your husband (since resentment isn't likely to contribute positively to your marriage), take a look at what's really the problem: we live in a society that requires money to survive, and quite a lot of it to survive here. We have an economic system that is not really equitable, that promotes nuclear families as the ideal to strive for. I think about how much more people would have and accomplish if they pooled their resources. How much easier it is to raise kids with *several* adults contributing, rather than just two. This economy (and accompanying ''family values'' of which the nuclear family is one) is not good for children or families, (in my humble opinion) when everybody has to work so much that the kids get no time with their parents. Maybe you can find alternatives to just making more money? My husband and I are discussing with another couple the possibilty of allying on things like home-buying and child-rearing, figuring it's much easier for four adults than for two! Maybe there is an alternative out there that would work for you? Creating alternatives

It might help to get a little historical perspective here. There was a time when earning the family income was entirely the male partner's responsibility. Many men refused to let their wives take on outside employment because their manhood would be in question. Now many dual career couples have chosen to live/remain in the bay area. How many people can earn a salary that makes possible a 3+ bedroom home near good transportation and schools all by themselves? Don't assume that the stay at home moms you see at the park all have incredibly high earning husbands. People I know who do this are making huge sacrifices to stay at home, cutting way down on family spending vacations etc.Or they rent instead of own. Of course we also live amidst plenty of wealth. But there will always be people wealthier than you with nicer houses and fewer jobs per couple. Whether we choose mates who are teachers or social workers or computer programmers or real estate developers I think we have to support each other in the journey between satisfaction and fulfillment and settling. Maybe the full-time creative genius has to realize that to support a family he or she has to find a well-paying day job, but if someone is already doing the 9-5 slog at some occupation they love or are settled enough in,it's not really fair to ask them to go for earning more so the other partner can realize their dream of job change or stay-at-homing. But if the COUPLE decides on some belt tightening and temporary job reduction for the family and a job change comes out of that, that's another story. I've seen marriages crumble when some women who've always dreamed of a 'big spender' meet one; I always wonder if they've traded in a life for a life style. But I think it is historically and geographically anachronistic to resent one's spouse for having to work in the Bay Area. I'd like to win the lottery, too. In the meantime couples will have to decide together if a second child really requires a bigger house, if the commute/childcare expenses and family sacrifices make a secondary income worth it or not; even whether a second child is the right choice for their material goals. I sometimes think if I were a man I'd resent all the pressure to provide. Until our society truly becomes family friendly, it's couples as individuals who will bear the costs of the demands of the workplace on both one and two job couples. Hazy stereotypes from the past aren't particularly helpful in this. my two cents

Hi, I understand how you feel completely and know it's very hard to go to work when all you think about is your child/children. While I did not have the resentment toward my husband, I did resent my full time job when I went back to work after having my first child. Eventually, after becoming pregnant with my second child, I made a career change. I studied for my real estate license while I was still working full time and passed it. I chose to become a loan officer since it affords me the flexible hours and I could make good money after the first several months. I am not sure if you have considered other career options, but an office job with long commute just doesn't make any sense after having two kids for me. Real estate is a good option, but I know there are others also. If you have to work, you may want to consider it as an option. I've been very happy with my career change so far. Bread winning mom

Well, to be honest I think that resenting your husband is a pretty sexist attitude! I've had my moments of resenting our situation, and envying my friends who live in lower-cost areas for their ability to pay a mortgage and live comfortably on one income (and I am certainly experiencing my fair share of dread about paying for childcare for two kids, as well as about how much more cramped our home is likely to feel with two -- my second is due this summer), but I've never felt that somehow it's my husband's responsibility to enable me to stay home. Our marriage is a partnership, we are each equally responsible for financially supporting our family, and we are each equally responsible for our mutual decision to remain in the Bay Area! We have plenty of friends who've made a different choice and moved, mostly, it seems, to Oregon. :-)

Perhaps this viewpoint is more obvious to me because, before we had a child, it was always my husband, not me, who thought it would be nice to be an at-home parent. Now that I've had a baby I understand the attraction more, to be sure, but although I'd love to work part-time I can't imagine doing the full-time mom gig. But then, I've never been interested in the type of Major Career that requires long hours and lots of dedication and allows no opportunity for a full personal and social life, either. Neither has my husband. So, we both have a sufficient but not large income, and we both have sufficient flexibility to take the odd day off for a preschool function but not enough to just quit working for a long period of time. Life is a series of choices and no choice is perfect! I think you make peace with your own choices simply by recognizing that you *do* have a choice and have made the best possible one for your family.

So you and your husband may have some choices to make. A job change for him, which might involve more money but less family time? Stay in the Bay Area, with all its advantages, or a move to a cheaper area? A second child, or stop at one? What about a job change for you? These are all things you can discuss and ponder, but ultimately you and your husband have to take responsibility for these choices and deal with the attendant compromises *together*; to me, that's what marriage is all about. Wasn't expecting a white knight

Hi, I can appreciate your frustration. My husband left a good paying job to attend graduate school, and I started to really feel some financial pressures. I had been a ''stay at home mom'', and really wanted to continue that focus in my life. Thanks to a post from another member, I learned about the job that I currently have. It is not one that I EVER considered doing, but allows me to be a mom full time, and earn a pretty good income at the same time. I only leave the house a few times a month for business...

If you don't feel comfortable asking your husband to leave a job that he enjoys, maybe you might consider doing something that would be more flexible and allow you more time with your child. Because we are not supposed to advertise our individual businesses on this forum, I will be fairly vague. But I will say that I work in the Direct Sales industry (I would have gasped to hear myself say that only a year ago!) and really love it. I really love the freedom to run my business as I wish and also love the fact that there is unlimited potential and loads of positive reinforcement. I recently went to a conference and was surprised to find corporate people who had quit their 6 figure salaries to do what I am doing. They wanted to focus on their kids, and their former jobs did not allow this. They are now happy to be with their families, but still bring in good income. There are different types of Direct sales companies, so there is probably one that could suit your interests: toys, candles, cooking tools, scrapbooking, home decor, etc...

If you'd like to discuss this avenue further, I'd be happy to share more details about what I am doing. I also know several people in other branches of this type of business and would be happy to put you in contact with them.

Best Wishes, Happy mom...who loves her flexible work schedule

When I read your post, my first thought was, ''did I write this while I was sleepwalking?'' I have felt the very same feelings you have. When we first bought our house, it was before I got pregnant, and I was very insistent that we purchase something that we could afford on my husband's income alone so that I could stay home with our child when we had one. Well, we ended up buying something that was just above our price range which was fine at the time when the economy was high. But since the economy has tanked, so has my husband's earning potential. This meant I had to go back to work when my son was 14 months old. I tell myself, I should be greatful that I had that amount of time at home with him, but I still feel resentful. We also accumulated a lot of debt on our credit line before I started working, because my husband did not tell me that we weren't making enough to pay the bills until we were in over our heads. He just kept thinking, ''when the next client comes along, I'll be able to take care of it.'' I guess I'm not offering much help, just doing a rant of my own. I do have one suggestion. We attempted this, but for numerous reasons, which I won't go into, it did not work out for us. My suggestion is to move somewhere where the cost of living is much lower. There are loads of places where you can buy the house of your dreams and be able to stay home with your kid(s). It all depends on how much you are willing to comprimise as far as weather, location, etc. We had planned to move to Sacramento, and, even with our high credit line, would have been able to get by with a very small mortgage. Other than doing something drastic like this, the only thing I can suggest is just doing your best to make the most of it. For me, it has gotten a bit better (although, you can tell that I am still a bit bitter about it). I think I have resigned myself to knowing that things could definitely be worse and that I do love my husband and my son with all my heart and I treasure (as much as I can for an exhausted working mom) the times we spend together. Best of luck to you! sorry I couldn't be of more help!

My first thought when I read your posting was whether you and your husband had discussed the idea of your living on one income, as a prerequisite to having kids. Otherwise, I don't think these days you can or should assume that having kids means the man needs to become the sole breadwinner in the family. Even in places where the cost of living is lower than it is here in the Bay Area, I would hope that this is something that couples work out, based on the career and family desires they both have. My husband and I have two kids. I've always made somewhat more money than he does, mostly because the kind of work I do pays better. There have been times (like right now) when I've worked a bit more than I'd really like to, because he didn't have much work and wasn't bringing in much money. But, the same has been true in reverse. I was out of work for 5 months a couple of years ago, and we had to survive on his income. Whoever is working less has more responsiblities with our kids, and I think that has been healthy for them, and for us. If your husband is happy with the work he does, you probably wouldn't want him to make a career change that would make him unhappy. That would only make him the resentful one. I would recommend sitting down with your husband, if you haven't already, and discussing what's most important to each of you. If you would really like to stop working, and he would like to keep doing what he's doing, and you both respect each other's goals (that can be the hard part!) but you both agree that financially it's not possible to have it all, then you have someplace to start from. working mom

Hi- I know how you feel. My son is 15 months old and up until he ws 10 months old, hubby was sole income for us... it was difficult to manage, but we cut back in other ways and also go on WIC program and that helped a little. At 10 mo my hubby lost his job and I am sole income for moment (I am a doula and soon to be a CBE) and I bring in a little money, but obviously not enough for rent and everything else. Luckily things have been good lately with clients and all, but its stressful when he's not working. We've made it work and its really about staying positive about what you DO have, not what you DONT. I know its easy to be resentful about it all, but trust that things get better and maybe you could find a way to have a part time job with a little more income? Or he could look for a diff. job or possibly go back to school nights to get a better job. It is very difficult to live on a smaller income than you think you should have, but its doable and you just have to find the right ways to cut back.... email me off list if you want to talk. Shaana

I didn't read the original post, but after reading the responses I can say from my experience that it is a double edge sword. My husband left a non-profit job close to home for a higher paying job in the SF. This job allowed us to buy our house and for me to be a SAHM (granted with some budget cutting). However, he leaves the house at 6:30am, deals with 45 minutes of traffic each way and many evenings doesn't get home until long after the baby is in bed. He is stressed and unhappy with his job. It is very painful for me to see him so unhappy at times. It is painful for both of us that he doesn't get to see his son every day, nor enjoy the hobbies he used to have time to do. In a fair world parents could take turns being the stay-at-home parent. It's not fair for you to resent your husband's income -- who knows, maybe he resents you for being the one that gets to stay home.

I think you need to change your attitude and get creative with other ways to bring in income or adjust your life styles to make staying at home a more affordable option. We looked at our budget and saw that just having my husband take a lunch to work several times a week instead of eating out added up to a lot of money. We check books out of the library instead of just buying them. We make coffee at home more often instead of going to cafes. anon

Wow -- I feel some of last week's posters were a little hard on you. I sympathize greatly because my partner's been unemployed for almost 2 years now. I also have resentment because we did have a tacit understanding that I would leave my career after we had a child. Well, our baby is 6 months old and I'm back at work. It's very very hard when your plans for life don't turn out how you expect them to.

Someone once gave me this advice -- You can't change someone's behavior, only how you react to it.

So rather than let the resentment eat away at me and our relationship (he is a loving caring man, just a software engineer who got caught in the dot com craziness), I decided to do something. I told my partner that I have to leave my job because it makes me unhappy. So we are saving money, cutting our costs, and I plan to leave this year. And he continues to look for a job. We will most certainly go into debt but being unhappy in my job was a big part of my resentment towards my husband and my desire to stay at home. I plan on finding another career that allows me to work at home. I may be naive, but I'm putting my faith in the universe that we will be okay. Look at what you really resent -- is it your job? is it your husband's lack of understanding of your desire to stay at home? or? Then, you and only you can do something to change your life. Good luck anon

I understand how you feel. Raising a family here is challenging. I was born and raised in the Bay Area and all of my family is here. Moving is not an option for us. My husband's income is very sporadic and we can't rely on his jobs to pay our expenses. So working is a necessity for me. Here is what we have done to make it work.

I work from home. My job pays a high hourly rate. We use a health plan with a high deductible. We live aggressively on the edge of financial ruin. We recently bought a home in a nice but not fancy area. Our mortgage is interest only adjustable for minimum monthly payments. We do not own new or even newer cars. We rarely eat out and we don't shop much. We may not have a second child due to financial constraints.

But life is good!! We get to spend lots of time with our daughter because we both have flexible schedules. We take it one day at a time and focus on her. If my husband worked a straight 9-5 job he would be a very unhappy busy person who we would not see very often. I much prefer worrying about how we will pay our monthly bills than about how I can improve my daughter's realtionship with her Dad.

You have to take responsibility for the situation you are in. Be creative and find the compromise that works for your family. Your husband probably won't make more money anytime soon so figure out a way around that. I get upset sometimes too about my husband's income but the alternative of him working all the time would be so much worse. Living on the Edge and Loving It