Posts filed under ‘stay-at-home’

Why Do I Feel Guilty?

Relax

Last week I spent two hours out of the house, all by myself, at a spa. I left my son in the care of my in-laws and took advantage of the spa week savings. Instead of paying $100+ dollars for a facial I spent $50. Instead of paying a $100+ for a pedicure I spent $50.

I know that $50 is still an unbelievably high price to pay for a pedicure. Local places charge much less, but I can’t stand the smell of the cheaper salons in my area and I don’t always trust their safety standards either. Two times a year I pay for a pedicure, the rest of the time I do it myself at home. So those two times I splurge a bit.

I didn’t actually pay anything for the spa visit. I used a $100 SpaFinder gift card that I won in an online contest and paid for the tip using a gift card my mother-in-law gave me last Christmas. I paid absolutely nothing out of pocket and still felt guilty about it.

It’s a mentality I’m really trying to break free from. My husband works an eight hour day, comes home to bath my son and get ready for bed and then takes care of business for his company. As a result I feel guilty taking it easy, sitting back and relaxing at the spa.

I felt similarly this week when I visited my massage therapist. Three months ago I visited her for the first time in over a year. My neck and back felt so amazing afterwards, (I’ve had my fair share of medical problems in this particular area), that I decided to arrange a massage once a month.

Her prices are insanely good, $80 for an 80 minute massage and her hands work miracles. Honestly. Before I started seeing her years ago I suffered nearly 24 hours from aches and pains. After a few months in her care the frequency and intensity of my pain decreased significantly.

This week I went back to visit her and as I laid on the table I couldn’t help but feel guilty for being there. I know my husband doesn’t care that I go. In fact, he prefers that I receive treatment. He knows I’ll feel physically better, but still I feel bad about it. I never felt this way when I was working so I attribute it to the fact that I’m no longer working outside of the home and I’m no longer bringing home a paycheck.

I know deep down that this feeling is utterly ridiculous. My husband goes to tailgates and football games while I watch my son. He eats lunch out every afternoon and visits with his brother for an hour every few weeks before heading home from work.

So why do I feel guilty relaxing, spending money and leaving my son in the care of someone else? Is it just a mom thing , a stay-at-home mom thing?

October 25, 2013 at 2:27 PM 1 comment

Above All Else You Need a Plan

Life is full of decisions. There are the every day questions we ask ourselves like should I eat egg salad or peanut butter and jelly? Should I go to the store today or wait until tomorrow? And then there are those bigger decisions that weigh on your head and your heart. Those questions differ for everyone but mine included: Where should I go to college? Should I marry this man? Should I buy this house?

Among the ranks of the most difficult decisions I made certainly included: Should I leave the work force to stay-at-home with my son? After months of contemplation I took the leap and have now been home with my son for nearly two years.

Since I decided to stay home I am fascinated with the topic of moms who are faced with this same decision. I know my case is not typical, but not highly unique either. I gave up a six figure salary. I also had the option to stay home where I know many others do not.

I recently read The New York Times article The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In. It tells the tale of a group of highly paid women who opted out of the workforce years ago and now want, (or in many cases need), back in. What struck me most of all in reading this story was how unprepared some of these women seemed.

Did they really think they could leave the workforce and return ten years later to the same job with the same level of pay? Industries are constantly changing and your skills are now ten years behind younger, more eager individuals who are applying for the same positions.

I realize that many of the women interviewed in this article are now divorced. Perhaps they never planned to work, perhaps they never thought about a day where they might need a job. I myself have contemplated a world in which I never need to work again, but let’s face it things change. Situations change. Marriages crumble.

You have to know how much money you have in the bank. You have to keep in mind that it will get split in half in the divorce and that you still need enough money to live on. You have to realize that the interest on a million dollars goes a lot further toward paying a mortgage and utility bills than the interest on $500,000 will.

To be honest I don’t know how a woman making $500,000 at the height of her career didn’t have enough money to fall back on. It seems she should have been able to save a significant amount of money before ever dropping out of the workforce, but I suppose that’s a discussion for another day.

I often think about returning to work. I’ve thought about what skills I need to possess to return to a job similar to the one I had and what skills I would need to look for a completely different job in a completely different industry.

I have a general idea of how much money I would receive in a divorce, (hopefully that never happens) and how much money I would need to live and pay my bills. I know that I am frugal by nature, but I also acknowledge that I could and would significantly downsize my lifestyle.

I’m a planner. In fact every time we purchase something new I drive my husband crazy with a series of ‘what-if’ questions. I want to know how much that decision will cost us today, what factors we need to consider and how it will impact our bottom line in the future. It’s difficult to tell from the opt-out article if any of these women contemplated their futures. If they had any plan other than to leave their jobs and never look back on that decision.

The truth is we all need back-up plans in life. We need to understand our skills and consider returning to school for additional education. We need to keep tabs on our industries and understand how the models are changing. I am always shocked by the number of female students who still graduate with journalism degrees and the very small number who complete degrees in engineering or computer science.

These articles can be difficult to read because they only provide one piece of the puzzle. They focus on a select group of people and provide minimal details on their lives and the decisions they made.

Every individual is unique as is every marriage. What works for one family might not work for another. Many women are thrilled to stay home and others can’t imagine not working.

If you decide to stay home you shouldn’t do so without ever looking back at that decision. You have to have a plan for the future. You have to keep a careful watch over your finances. You have to recognize the fact that you might need to return to work one day.

This is really no different for someone who is working. When I worked as a software engineer I worked alongside many employees who didn’t keep up on their skills. Software is constantly changing and there were so many employees that simply didn’t keep up with the times. They thought their jobs were secure but when layoffs came they found it difficult to find new employment.

No matter what your situation is you have to stay up to date and relevant.

While I loved feeling smart and certainly miss the companionship of coworkers I still believe staying home is the right choice for me. The most important thing I can do is revisit this decision frequently and make certain I have a plan for the future.

August 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM 2 comments

Will I Ever Need to Work Again?

It seems kind of crazy to think that I haven’t driven to an office in over a year and a half. In November of 2011 I held my newborn son and simultaneously waited for my severance check to arrive. My unexpected layoff and associated severance package was a blessing, but I still wasn’t prepared for life without work.

I interviewed and accepted a new job just weeks after learning about the elimination of my position. I’ve received steady paychecks since the age of 15 and couldn’t imagine a life without them. I worked out a deal to begin the new position six months after the birth of my son, but from the moment I accepted the offer I struggled with my desire to stay home full time. A month or so before the new job was set to begin I reversed my decision.

I know I made the right choice. The past year and a half has been a magical journey and I feel both fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to stay home with my son.

But now that I’ve been home for so long I wonder if I shouldn’t make a plan to return to work. Initially I planned to stay home for six months, which quickly turned into a year and a half. It’s been nearly eighteen months since my son arrived and I am still home with him. Now I wonder how much longer I’ll be here.

My son was born in October and in our state he can’t start kindergarten until after he turns five. If I wait until he’s school age I’ll be out of the workforce for almost six years.

I started thinking about this while I was walking around the neighborhood. Pushing the stroller on a beautiful spring day I thought, “six years seems like an unbelievably long time to be out of work,” so I asked my husband for his opinion and was quite surprised by his response. He said, “I assumed you would never go back to work.”

I can tell you that I never considered a future in which I would not return to work. So after I stopped laughing at his response I asked him if he was serious. When he said he most definitely was I asked him for more details.

Here are his thoughts:

  • My son won’t start kindergarten for another four and a half years.
  • If I got pregnant with another child, (the jury is still out on that decision), and I decide to stay home until he or she starts school you can easily add on another couple of years.
  • In a little over nine years we will own both of our homes outright.
  • If we include additional principal payments we could pay off our primary home within seven and a half years.
  • Once our primary home is paid off we could apply the money we previously spent on our mortgage to pay off principal on our beach home. That would decrease the life of that mortgage by at least one year.
  • By the time both of our houses are paid off our monthly expenses, (due to the lack of mortgage payments), will drop dramatically.
  • Without a mortgage our rental home would finally return a profit or at least break even.
  • If all goes well, the market remains high, my husband’s business flourishes and our investments continue to do well we will have a healthy sum of money in our bank accounts.

I certainly never considered a future in which I didn’t need to work, but now that my husband mentioned it my mind is swimming with possibilities. Rather than searching for a high paying job in a very lonely cubicle I could find a position that I really enjoy. If things move according to plan I could do just about anything.

I’m not sure how we will proceed as the years pass by. I always question prepaying mortgages during a time with low interest rates and you never know how the market will perform as time progresses, but I must say it’s nice to think about a life in which I don’t need to work anymore.

April 9, 2013 at 10:40 PM 10 comments

The Most Magical Year of My Life

If you are a long time reader of this blog you know that I was laid off a week or so after my son was born. I lined up a job that was set to begin when he turned six months, but as the start date of my new position approached I had a change of heart.

After an inseparable six months I simply wasn’t ready to hire a nanny to watch him while I worked. It was an extremely difficult decision to make. I didn’t have the contact number for my hiring manager so I sat on the living room couch and typed up an email to him. As tears streamed down my face I gathered up a box of tissues and attempted to explain the predicament I was facing. While the job paid more than the one I’d been laid off from and the opportunity to learn new technology was enticing I just wasn’t ready to part from my son.

I’ll never forget my husband shaking his head as he watched me typing. “Most women would be thrilled with the opportunity to stay home”, he said, “why are you crying?” I cried over the decision itself, over the idea that I would be dependent on my husband, on the fact that I didn’t know how or when I would find work again. I cried because I wasn’t sure that it was the right decision and because I hate making decisions as I always worry about the outcomes of whatever I decide.

I cried because this felt like a momentous occasion. I had worked all my life and couldn’t imagine not earning a paycheck. I qualified for a six month severance package when I left my job, so for those first few months I technically felt like I was still earning a living.

I read that email at least ten or fifteen times. Then I read it to my husband. He assured me that it sounded good. That it explained my predicament and that it was okay to click the send button. I looked down at the button, reread the email one more time and then clicked send.

Unlike all of the other decisions in my life I never second guessed this one. I decided that where there is a will there is a way and when the time comes I will find work again. I gave in to the fact that I will be dependent on my husband and embraced the idea of staying home with my son. On the very day I was set to start my new job my son learned to crawl and I was right there, front and center, to witness it.

A year later I can look back and say that this has been the most magical year of my life. It’s amazing to watch my child grow and learn right before my eyes. He began as a little lump with clenched fists who preferred being swaddled and bundled into a little ball. These days he prefers exploring to snuggling. He walks around the yard unassisted and barely holds my hand as we walk down the street to explore the neighborhood. He is inquisitive and bright. He loves to turn pages and read. He sings to himself when he thinks no one is listening. He hides behind our ottoman for a daily dose of peek-a-boo.

He loves people of all ages and races. He smiles at everyone he meets and has recently started giggling to himself for what appears to be no reason at all. Unlike other babies his age he appears to have no fear of strangers. At a football game you can pass him right down the aisle and he’ll play with everyone he meets.

I know that a lot of women love their jobs. I know others who simply can’t afford to stay home and I respect every woman’s decision no matter what the reason. As for me I can’t imagine living my life any other way than the way I do now. This has been the most magical year of my life and I feel grateful and fortunate for every moment of it!

November 6, 2012 at 12:41 PM 3 comments

Advice: How to Make a Vacation with a Young Child Feel Like a Vacation

This week my husband and I will make our yearly visit to the beach. As a stay-at-home mom I spend 24 hours a day with my son. That includes time during the week and on the weekends. In fact, in his short life I think I’ve spent a total of 8 hours away from him. You read that correctly. A mere 8 hours over a 10 month span of time.

While a vacation from work means no time spent in the office and no alarm waking you for a work, a vacation with my son won’t be much of a change from our regular routine. I will still wake up sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 to feed him. I will still feed him most of his meals and spend most if not all of the day with him.

I am certainly not complaining about staying home with my son or vacationing with him. He is the light of my life and I absolutely love to be with him, but I do wish my husband would wake up to his morning cries or offer to take him for an afternoon walk for twenty or thirty minutes so I can relax by the pool without worrying about whether or not my son is hot or requires more sunscreen.

I’m sure there a lot of moms feel the same way I do on vacation. You crave a few minutes of quiet relaxation time and hope that your husband gets the hint about watching your little one for just a few minutes so you can wander down to the beach, sip your orange juice on the screened in porch or lay back in the hammock under a big tree with a cool breeze.

I’m sure the moms that read this blog will provide me with some advice. How do you feel about vacationing with your children and do you feel that it’s quite difficult for a mom of young children to feel like she’s on vacation?

September 2, 2012 at 9:00 PM 9 comments

It’s Definitely Meant to Be

If you read this blog you know that I struggled with the decision to stay-at-home with my son or return to work as a software developer. After months of weighing my options I decided I wasn’t ready to return to the working world quite yet.

My journey to become a stay-at-home mom is an interesting one. After working in the same department for over 11 years I decided to interview for a new job that was closer to home. I wasn’t ready to leave my company, but I wanted to look for a new opportunity that would cut my commute in half.

I interviewed for that position on Valentine’s Day. That day I also saw two bright pink lines on my home pregnancy test. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I wondered how I would ever return to work. While part of me wanted to remain a working parent the other half of me didn’t know how I would ever return to work after my child arrived.

Ninety days after starting in my new position I was informed that my entire team was being eliminated. Strangely enough I was told that management knew this was going to happen before I even interviewed for the job. I was cut along with more than 200 other employees.

If you believe in God you have to wonder if this was a sign. All of the other layoffs were instantaneous. An employee was told their position was eliminated and they were escorted from the building. This wasn’t the case for me. I was told my position would remain in good standing until November. My baby was due in late October!

What are the odds that I would be laid off and that the layoff would not occur until just after my baby was due to be born? I would receive six weeks of short term disability if the baby arrived before my termination date along with six months of severance!

Not certain that I wanted to remain out of work indefinitely I interviewed for other jobs outside of the company and landed one that included better pay than my previous one. I accepted the position, but after much thought and contemplation I decided that I was not ready to return to work quite yet. I just wasn’t ready to place my son in daycare to go to a job I know I won’t love. So a few weeks ago I contacted my employer and let them know I would not be starting.

That new job was supposed to begin today. And wouldn’t you know it, but today my son crawled for the very first time. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, not a week from now. Nope. TODAY. If I had gone to work this morning I would’ve missed it. While that’s not the end of the world and many mothers go to work each day and miss these first moments, I know that I didn’t want to miss this one.

You can believe in fate, you can believe in God, you can believe in many things, but I now believe more than ever that I’ve made the right decision to stay home with my son. Whenever I’m in doubt it seems the stars keep aligning to show me the way!

May 7, 2012 at 10:23 PM 8 comments

Decision Made!

I hate to make decisions. Really, it is one of my worst qualities. It’s a funny thing actually. I have a lot of faith that things will work out for the best. Given that philosophy you’d think I could leap and not worry so much about where I might fall.

Before making any decisions I ask myself a series of questions. I try to list out all of the pros and cons and think as hard as I can about best and worst case scenarios. It drives me crazy. It drives my husband crazy. It drives everyone around me crazy.

Given my reluctance to make decisions it is no wonder that I have been pondering my decision to stay home or return to work for nearly six months.

If you’ve followed my story you know that I was laid off last summer and that I was thrilled with the idea of staying home with my son. In fact, some people told me I was the happiest they’d ever seen me in my life.

Well I’ve been home for nearly six months now and I’ve finally made the decision to stay home. I was offered a job that would have paid me more money than my previous position and offered comparable benefits, but at the end of the day I decided that I really wanted to stay home. After all, I can always work but I can never get back this time with my child.

It was a hard decision to make and as I contacted the folks who offered me a position I actually cried. I think there were a lot of mixed emotions in turning down the job, including feeling dependent on my husband, realizing that I’ll need to cut back on my savings goals, wondering if this is a mistake for my long term career and fearing that time out of the workforce will make it that much harder to find a job in the future.

Despite all of those issues and concerns I decided to stay home with my son. There are so many amazing things about being a stay-at-home mom and I simply wasn’t ready to give any of them up for a boring job in a cubicle. (Not that there is anything wrong with boring jobs in cubicles.) A good friend told me to “jump off the ledge” and that’s exactly what I did.

In my heart I know that this is the right decision for me. I know a lot of women would make the decision to return to work. In fact, I don’t have any friends who stay home with their children, which made it that much harder for me to decide to stay home.

I made this decision with two key things in mind. One: This is a point in time decision. I can, at any time, change my mind. If I get bored, if I feel this isn’t the best decision for my son or my family or if I just miss the working world I can always look for work again. Two: Sometimes despite all of the intellectual reasoning and questioning you have to listen to your heart. I have prepared and saved for years for something special. I just didn’t know exactly what that something special was. With the birth of my son. I now know.

April 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM 5 comments

Why Do I Feel Guilty For Spending the Money I Saved?

I’ve been saving money for no particular reason. I’m just a saver and so I did my best to squirrel my pennies. I clipped coupons, I searched for bargains and I stayed out of stores. I sold unwanted items on eBay and promised myself to limit future purchases of items I do and did not need.

I never tapped into that money. Once it crossed the threshold from checking to savings it never crossed back. That’s the way I like it and that’s the way I intended to be. I figured I would tap the money once I reached financial independence or retirement, whichever came first.

But then, one day, back in October my son was born and I decided to rethink my plans for that money.

I previously carried health insurance through my employer so with my job loss comes a $1500 monthly COBRA bill. That means I not only lost my paycheck, but now owe an additional $18,000 in medical premiums each year! (My husband is self employed and all of the policies we’ve found to date have similar costs.)

I am now considering staying home with my son and plan to use a portion of the money my husband and I have saved to pay our monthly medical insurance bills.

I know people who drain their savings to buy their first home. I know others who drain their account every six months or a year to travel the world. So why is it that I feel guilty for using the money to stay home with my son?

March 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM 4 comments

How Would You Spend The Next Year if You Knew It Was Your Last?

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I have been struggling with the decision to become a stay-at-home parent.

If I stay out of the work force for the next few years I will certainly struggle to return to my prior career as a software developer. Technology moves quickly and to maintain marketability I would definitely need to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in software. I kind of ‘fell into’ the profession and I certainly don’t enjoy it enough to read up on it while I’m not employed.

So part of me thinks I should seek employment so that I can maintain marketability. Part of me thinks I should find work so that I can continue to be intellectually stimulated. Another piece fears I’ll become so wrapped up in my child’s life that I’ll be unable to think, focus or talk about anything other than my son and of course, there’s also the fact that I’m giving up a six figure salary to stay-at-home.

I’ve asked just about everyone what they think of my options. I’ve asked every parent I know if they stayed home or went to work and then I ask if they were happy with their decision. I listen to the pros and cons and then gauge how I feel after hearing their thoughts and listening to their suggestions.

I’m amazed at how LARGE this decision feels to me. Although I know it’s not set in stone and that I can always change my mind six months, a year, or longer from now it still weighs heavily in my heart and mind.

Well today I was asked a question that helped me find at least a small sense of clarity. A friend told me she was going to ask a question and that I didn’t have five minutes to analyze my answer. (Something she knew I would do.) She said I had to answer as soon as she asked it.

Her question was simple, “how would you spend the next year if you knew it was your last?” Without hesitation I knew the answer was staying home with my son. I have to admit I was surprised by how quickly my heart pulled me in that direction.

I’m not one to move forward in life without a plan. In fact, I hate to admit it but I think the lack of a plan is the thing I’m struggling with the most in making this decision. If I choose to stay home I have no idea what type of job I will have to take in the future. Will I make less money? Will it be difficult to find work? Will these things make me regret my decision?

Sometimes in life I think I need to step back and pause. I need to listen to my heart and believe that life will work out and that so far it always has. If this was my last year on earth I would not want to spend it sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer. I would want to spend every single moment with my son.

Does that mean I’ve finally made a decision? Not exactly, but today’s question definitely got me one step closer to figuring it out.

How about you? Do you have any words of wisdom for my dilemma or do you know how you would spend this year or next year if you knew it were your last?

March 20, 2012 at 9:30 PM 9 comments

Does a Six Figure Salary Make My Decision to Stay Home Harder?

My mom always knew she wanted a family. It was her one hope and dream growing up as a child. When my brother was born she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she would stay home to raise him. When I came along she continued the trend and stayed home for a total of twelve years. She returned to work when I turned nine.

My mom was never particularly good in school and had quite low self-esteem, which made it difficult to find a high paying job after graduating from high school. Throughout her working career she never made much money.

When I asked her about the decision to stay home with my brother and I she said it was a no-brainer. In essence, she and my father knew her salary would barely cover the cost of day care.

They carried health insurance and other benefits through my dad’s job and my mom didn’t particularly enjoy her work, so there was really no benefit in her dropping us off at daycare.

When I told her that I was considering staying at home she asked if my six figure salary made it a tougher decision. Interestingly enough I never considered the weight of my salary on my decision until she asked me.

The decision to stay-at-home is almost entirely emotional for me. An extremely low salary may make the decision easy, but above a certain threshold I’m not certain what difference a higher paying salary really makes.

If I made $50,000 would it be easier to stay home than if I made $100,000? I’m going to have to think about this for awhile, but off the top of my head I’m going to say no. It’s more a question of desire and affordability.

If we can’t pay the bills with my husband’s income then I’m not sure if it makes a difference if I earn $50,000 or $100,000. At the end of the day I would need to go to work to pay the bills. Similarly if I loved my job it might not matter how much I made either. The fulfillment of work might be all that I wanted regardless of salary.

Still I thought it was an interesting question and one I wouldn’t have thought about if my mom hadn’t asked me about it.

February 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM 5 comments

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