Who are the modern stay-at-home moms?

The Ann Romney stay-at-home debate from last week prompted a smart reporter from The New York Times to look into census data to find out who the modern stay-at-home moms really are? Are they rich ladies with husbands making big bucks? Or are they women who can’t afford day care or are they traditional women who want to be home?

From The New York Times via the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

“…65 percent of married women who stay home with children under 18 years old live in households that earn less than $75,000 a year, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau….”

“Stay-at-home mothers are younger, less educated and more likely to be Hispanic than they were in previous generations, and perhaps have a more traditional view of family and more limited job skills than other women these days, according to a Census Bureau report that analyzed changes in stay-at-home motherhood from 1969 to 2009. Eighteen percent of stay-at-home mothers lack a high school degree, compared with 7 percent of women in the work force. And black women were about half as likely as white women to be a stay-at-home mothers.”

“Across the country, 70 percent of married women over the age of 25 with children work outside the home. The median income of those households is about $87,700, compared with $64,000 for households where the mother stays at home, according to an analysis by Andrew Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College of the City University of New York. “The biggest difference is education,” he said.”

“According to the Census Bureau’s 40-year review, ‘Those with the least education are now the most likely to stay out of the labor force as stay-at-home mothers.’ “

This totally makes sense to me. Daycare is very expensive. You have to be able to make enough money to make it worth your while to pay for someone else to care for your kids.  I didn’t end up teaching spring quarter for the university because they wanted me to teach in the afternoon and I would have had to pay for childcare. It doesn’t pay enough to cover childcare costs. So I totally get this.

It also makes sense that the families where the mom works has a higher median income — duh because she’s working and adding to their income.

Does it surprise you that the modern stay-at-home mom is younger and less educated? Does this fit the stay-at-home moms you know? How much does a “traditional” view of the family affect whether a woman stays at home or is it mostly an economic decision?

61 comments Add your comment

DB

April 17th, 2012
2:57 am

That is interesting, but I have to wonder about the flip side of the numbers: 18 percent of the stay-at-home moms lack a high school diploma — which means that 72 percent of them have at least a HS diploma . . . I’d be curious to see what percentage of them had a college degree.

Taking the example of a family making $87K vs. a SAHM family making $64K: That’s a difference of $23,000 a year salary. Take out an average of 20% for taxes, that leaves you $18,400. Over a 52 week year, that’s $353 a week. Daycare, figure a minimum of $150 a week per child. Two kids, that’s $300, leaving $53 a week. Add in clothing, transportation — suddenly, you’re in the hole!

Fred ™

April 17th, 2012
6:10 am

Being a stay at home mom is a piece of cake compared to being a stay at home dad. Whine all you want ladies, but them’s be’s the facts.

Jeff

April 17th, 2012
6:34 am

Being a SAHP is extremely difficult with kids not in school.

But it is also a job that has amazing benefits down the road when done even somewhat correctly.

Keep up the good fight.

jarvis

April 17th, 2012
7:02 am

A DB, you see the flaw in what you typed didn’t you? You realize you only took taxes, clothes, and tranportiation away from one of the incomes? The $64K would need to be reduced as well.

motherjanegoose

April 17th, 2012
7:06 am

I do not know many SAHM parents. On our block of 16 houses we have 2 SAHM. Both are college educated and both have husbands with ( currently) good jobs. Neither have had a job in the over 12 years they have lived next to me. Everyone else on our block works at least part time or is retired from their job.

Does a traditional woman want to be at home? I never wanted to be home every day. What is a traditional woman anyways?

motherjanegoose

April 17th, 2012
7:07 am

oops SAHP…no coffee yet….sorry

GTmom

April 17th, 2012
7:11 am

Exactly DB… Intown, I find that most of the SAHM are highly educated. But when you add in daycare costs (esp. intown) if you are lucky enough to even find daycare, sometimes the numbers don’t add up. If the mother is an educator, social worker, or works nonprofit, daycare costs could far exceed the take home salary. My coworker was complaining last year that he paid 11,000 dollars for his son to attend GA Tech. I just laughed. I paid 18000 dollars last year just for daycare costs. I have been trying to convince my husband to stay at home for years. Since the recession started, his salary has dropped down to a quarter to what it used to be while mine has increased to 2/3 more than his. After adding in costs of everything to keep the kids in care, the numbers are not adding up. Yet, there is a chance his salary may rebound. But he doesn’t seem to even like his job. He is an incredible person and probably the smartest person I have ever met. He could do so much with our kids to challenge them intellectually or heck just help with homework. The stress of having two people work in professional jobs is very difficult. There are lots of discussions on whose afternoon meeting is more important, who needs to pick up the kids, who stays home from work when a child is sick. Our bosses do not care and when you have two people working full time (whose jobs entail 50+ hours a week), neither one is able to advance a career and will watch other employees be picked for promotions. I would prefer to be the one staying at home. I LOVE doing art projects with my kids…. or walks to the park… or going to the library. I prefer my kids over the people I work with but being I am primary breadwinner and hold the only insurance benefits, this is not an option.

I think it is great when you have a choice to stay at home. I do not think everyone would be happy doing it and no one should feel you have to do it. Maybe in rural areas or in poor areas of the city, SAHMs are not educated. I think in other places, this is just not true. But for most middle class families, I think both parents have to work to make ends meet. This is why you have probably see the Census to be skewed for the less educated or poorer families.

K's Mom

April 17th, 2012
7:55 am

I think DB and GTmom hit the nail on the heas for the Atlanta area. I think most SAHP are educated but the math does not work out when. You factor in childcare costs. As I said last week, I lost my corporate job during my 1st pregnancy and we decided for me to stay at home so that my husband’s career in a new industry could flourish and because what I would have brought home was so negligible. That being said, I got some additional training and have started a decorating business which has done fairly well, but I would like to work a bit more but keep it part time.

MJG, of my friends who stay at home all of us love being with our kids, but also miss the challenge of a career. All of us do something part time to feel like we are contributing a little bit. The thing we all have in common is that our husbands work 60-70 hour weeks and because of that we feel flexibility in our lives is key for a quality family life.

I will say that I do see some SAHPs who do very little but play tennis and shop, but I also know women who work full time who are on FB all day. But for the majority of women and some men who stay at home, there is no perfect answer and you just do the best you can with what you are given.

Me

April 17th, 2012
8:01 am

What kinds of jobs are typical for those where the costs of daycare outweigh the income derived from the second spouse working??
Surely you speak not of fast-food restaurants or similar – these I can understand – but, for those with a college degree and some backgroud, I would think these to be making a bit more than the $23k used in @DB’s example since that isn’t much above minimum wage, i.e. only about $7500/year more. And, with the exemptions and deducitons abailable, it’s doublful that the tax bracket would be anywhere near 20%.
As far as being a SAHP, there is no way in hades that I would have the patience for such so, yes, we used daycare up to the point where it seemed more benefical to simply “kill two birds with one stone” and hire the combined nanny/private tutor – which, believe it or not, cost very little more than the daycare.
I could probably do a Google search but, those of you on here are intelligent and have a good feel for the ATL area, so what are your best guesses as to the “average” median household income for those families with only a single spouse working and for those where both spouses are employed full-time?

motherjanegoose

April 17th, 2012
8:11 am

@ K’s Mom…my husband only worked that many hours when he had two jobs and I was working part time. He typically does not put in many more than 45 hours per week but he does commute at least 90 minutes each day. Sometimes he has worked from home. The men whose wives are home ( near me) probably do work that much each week. Perhaps that is why they are able to be at home. I am certain they make more than the $64,000 quoted above….at least double. You have to do what is comfortable for you but I have always liked working and since I have been in education for my entire career, my schedule is flexible and I was off most of the summer….always ready to go back in the fall….haha!

K's Mom

April 17th, 2012
8:13 am

@Me, I made between $75-$80k in my last position and we figured that after childcare, professional wardrobe, dry cleaning, additional gas, eating out more and so on, I would have brought home between $1000-$1500/month. That was not worth it for us. My husband makes just under six figures and that is a drop from when we married.

K's Mom

April 17th, 2012
8:20 am

@MJG, NPR apparently had a discussion last week (I missed it) about one spouse staying at home (primarily wives) because of the other spouse having an inflexible/long hours schedule in an effort to simplify family life and allow the person who has the greatest earning potential to work where their career flourishes to its highest potential. I hate I missed it because it seems like it would have been interesting.

FJ

April 17th, 2012
8:25 am

I am a SAHM and have been since my oldest was was born 11 years ago. I have a college degree, a real estate license, and a paralegal degree. We live intown and almost all the moms around us are college educated but stay at home. I was in the workforce for a dozen years before I became a mom. My husband has a demanding job that requires a decent amount of travel and he makes a good living. If I went back to work, we could drive cars that aren’t 5 to 10 years old, we could take ski trips over spring break, we could redo our kitchen, etc. but we decided when we became parents that the luxury of raising our children was far more important than any material possession. Our household runs very smoothly since I am, for the most part, available to handle whatever comes up.

With all that said, my youngest started kindergarten this year and all of a sudden I have too much time on my hands. I would love to go back to work part time but I’m a little intimidated about putting myself out there after being home for so long. My oldest is starting private school in the fall and I would like to be able to contribute to the astronomical tuition but I can only work during the school day hours. Since my husband has to travel, I have to be able to get everyone where they need to go and still get myself to work. I have a BSEd and I’m thinking about teaching preschool because of the schedule. Not really at the top of my list of career choices, but it works with my life right now. But even the teachers at our old preschool have masters degrees or more. The place is full of overqualified moms just like me.

Voice of Reason

April 17th, 2012
8:29 am

Most of the stay-at-home moms that I know seem to spend a good portion of their time playing shovel-ware games on Facebook. When they are not playing games on Facebook, they are complaining about being a stay at home mom, or, even worse, constantly defending their stay-at-home mom status even though they never give a reason as to why they feel the need to defend their decision to become a stay-at-home mom.

What’s interesting is that the one stay-at-home mom who defends her position the most is the one with a Master’s degree.

We all have regrets, but at some point you have to get over it and move on.

K's Mom

April 17th, 2012
8:30 am

@FJ, check out Odesk.com. They have contract work in different fields and it is all work from home. I am planning to look more into it after baby #2 gets here, but I have heard lots of moms who have liked it and brought home a little extra cash.

Anonymous

April 17th, 2012
8:34 am

That is one thing that drove me crazy about the Ann Romney comment. Not all stay-at-home moms are there by choice. For many, they don’t have a choice. Daycare is extremely expensive, especially in some areas (we are in town and I pay about $1,500 a month for one child). If you have two or more kids under school-age, the cost is insane. Many moms can’t make enough in salary to make that daycare cost worth it. My point is just that there are many variables and SAHMs make the decision to stay at home for many different reasons. Both choices are a lot of work. I personally think staying home is incredibly difficult. I think it is easier to go to my office every day. I have great respect for SAHMs.

☺☻Have A Smile!

April 17th, 2012
8:45 am

We all have regrets, but at some point you have to get over it and move on.

+1

JATL

April 17th, 2012
8:48 am

As others have said, the intown Atlanta SAHMs represent a highly educated group (and some SAHDs too). I know many, many SAHPs (I was one for almost 4 years), and almost everyone at least has a BA or BS and many have graduate degrees. A lot of the ones I know though DID choose to stay at home -it wasn’t an economics factor. A few have that, and many of them are now looking for work again since their younger kids are eligible for lottery-funded pre-k and are heading off to elementary school. There are a lot of them though!

jarvis

April 17th, 2012
8:55 am

Not judging….seriously asking…..what do stay at home mothers with children in school do all day?

apples2apples

April 17th, 2012
8:57 am

Do any of these “stay at home” moms have an older sister for me?

FCM

April 17th, 2012
8:59 am

Last week the debate was that Obama family would better understand…..President Obama made $400,000 last year (source: AJC Sunday April 15).

FCM

April 17th, 2012
9:00 am

My point is lots of us would love to “get by” on $400K.

FJ

April 17th, 2012
9:14 am

@ K’s Mom – thanks, I’ll check it out. @ jarvis – I can’t speak for all the SAH moms, but around me, we are the ones that are making sure the public elementary schools are top notch. We are in those schools every week, helping with all kinds of things, and doing plenty of work behind the scenes as well. We are doing volunteer work for our neighborhoods and our churches. But as I said, I still have extra time on my hands. I never felt this way until both of my kids were in school. I don’t have any desire to make a career out of tennis or yoga, so it is time for me to find a part time job that actually has a paycheck!

Roberta Higginbotham

April 17th, 2012
9:33 am

Interesting comment from one blogger – “As far as being a SAHP, there is no way in hades that I would have the patience for such…”. Wow. A woman has kids knowing she doesn’t have to patience to be a full-time parent.

Me

April 17th, 2012
9:44 am

@Roberta Higginbotham — First of all, I am not female. Second, as it relates to the “no way in hades” comment, this is no way relevant to having kids knowing I don’t have the patience to be a full-time parent. It simply relates to the fact that I, myself, could not be a SAHP as there isn’t enough for me to do around the house to stay busy. I’ve been semi-retired twice; once while the kids were small and again when they were in their teens and both times I had housework, etc. done – and the kids cared for – without issue. I’m just not very good at staying at home. That’s all I meant by that.
You probably shouldn’t jump to conclusions without knowing me or the circumstances surrounding any comment I make.
And, not having the patience to be a full-time parent, apparently had no ill effects as I have one daughter who is married and is on her way to becoming a doctor; a second daughter who is also in college majoring is Business Administration and a step-son who will graduate next year with a 4.0+ GPA and who wants to become a vet.
I honestly don’t think they went a single day without proper care regardless of my level of patience.

jarvis

April 17th, 2012
10:04 am

Thanks FJ.

My wife talks about wanting to stay home, but both of our kids are school aged now, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why she wants to do that. She’s a teacher, so she has roughly the same hours as the kids, so it’s not a matter of being there when the kids are out of school or anything like that.

Her grandmother (who incidnetally went back to work once my MIL graduated from high school) once told me that the years my MIL was in school were “great years”. She lunched with her friends several times a week, and the house was always clean. We both laughed at that comment by the way.

Obviously times have changed, but what the hell is that? That’s not productive. I pay a maid $55 a week to help keep my house clean….that’s much cheaper than giving up our second income.

jarvis

April 17th, 2012
10:09 am

FJ, I’m also assuming the school volunteering is for elementary aged students. My experience is that not much of that is needed in middle and high school.

A

April 17th, 2012
11:02 am

I think something more modern is my situation of a “work at home mom.” I started out just doing a few hours a week when my son was really young (after leaving a full-time office job), but gradually as his school hours/days increased, my workload did too. So now I basically work most of the time he’s in school and then I can spend time with him when he gets home. Best of both worlds, and I am grateful everyday for this situation since we’ve never had to pay for childcare (we did pay for private preschool and kindergarten though) and I’ve always been there for my child. I realize not everyone can have this, so I consider myself extremely fortunate.

K's mom

April 17th, 2012
11:24 am

@A I think you are spot on in your assessment. I know that is what i hope to get to in the next couple of years and have just been doing some interent research in that vein. Even the home staging side of my business is slow right now and I want to contribute a little more and be challenged too!

ng4bama

April 17th, 2012
11:31 am

Almost 20 years ago when our oldest son was born, I quit my full time career to stay home with him and our second son who was born 2 years later. Our income was cut in half. There were times when we barely paid the bils, but they were always paid. God blessed our decision beyond what I expected. We have moved twice since with my husband’s job. During this time I got to experience my boys growing up first hand, we went on many adventures and went to many places. When our youngest started school, I started back in the work force on a part time basis. During their school years I have been an officer in PTA, member/officer of many booster clubs, and coached them in rec soccer and middle school soccer. I have been able to go on trips with their church youth group. I have been truly blessed to be part of their lives. Now that one is in college and the other is a junior in high school, I do work more. But I never miss their activities. I have been blessed to open my own business (Bookkeeping/Accounting) so I can set my own hours.
By the way I have a Bachelors and a MBA. I am glad I have them but I am more than glad that I have been able to be the mother to my two boys.
What is more important? Raising children to be responsible adults or making money, having things, etc.? Kids need their parents now more than ever.
Mine are almost gone from home and I look back and have no regrets that my husband and I made that decision almost 20 years.

BlondeHoney

April 17th, 2012
11:36 am

I congratulate all of you that have the resources to be a SAHP. Would like to have been one but for most of our marriage i was the main breadwinner and my job provided the health insurance that my self-employed husband couldn’t. The key is being involved in your child’s life whether a SAHP or a working one; although I was a working mom, I was always involved and successfully raised two awesome young men :)

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Techmom

April 17th, 2012
11:42 am

Most of the SAHMs I know have multiple young children so it doesn’t make sense for both parents to work. I also know a few who have older children but home school. There are some moms at my son’s school though who seem to love the life of going to the gym and playing chauffeur and that’s about all they do (and yes, there are days when I’m really jealous of them!!) but there aren’t *that* many of them.

I have never had the opportunity to be a SAHM but I have been lucky enough to be able to work from home since my son was 9. Previously my husband and I both commuted and were constantly arguing about whose 4pm meeting was more important b/c someone had to leave to pick our son up. No one wanted to cook or clean or do house work. We were stressed about everything. I finally decided to ask if I could work from home a couple of days a week. I work in IT so it’s not like I couldn’t; it was just at the time, no one did. My boss denied my request so I ended up putting in my letter of resignation and told them I would work remotely until they found my replacement and then I’d be happy to come in and train my replacement. Well no replacement was ever found and nearly 8 years later, I am still working from home. The crazy part is our entire office now works from home. I know it sounds like the perfect situation and I definitely wouldn’t trade it but there are still definite draw-backs. My assignment has changed over the years and I do not have nearly the flexibility I used to. I couldn’t tell you the last time I ran an errand during the day or ate lunch out and work does not ever end. I work with people in all different time zones so I end up working late or crazy hours “because I can”. I’ve had to put boundaries on work but I often feel like I have to go above and beyond, simply b/c I do work from home.

Scotty

April 17th, 2012
11:43 am

Well, I’m a SAH dad (with a master’s degree). Honestly our decision to have me stay home with the kids was not a financial one – we are fortunate enough that we could pay for daycare and still live comfortably. Our decision to have someone stay at home with the kids was just for our comfort and piece of mind. When our first child was born my wife & I both had office jobs and we did look into daycares and we were just underwhelmed by the quality of the day cares that we could afford and get into in the time frame we needed. It just happened that my job was much more flexible and allowed me to work from home (which I still do) so I could be home with our son. Add two more kids (and trying for #4) and I have to say we are completely happy with our decision and I enjoy being at home more than I thought I would. I was a bit apprehensive about it at first, but I have to say I enjoy the little everyday things – making the lunches, taking the kids to school / picking them up, running the errands, volunteering at the school, etc. We’ve talked about reassessing our situation once all our kids are in middle / high school, but honestly I think I’ll continue to be a SAH / WAH dad.

oneofeach4me

April 17th, 2012
11:47 am

When my daughter was born ten years ago, I went right back to work after 6 weeks. We were a middle class household and dad was still in college working on is degree and employed part time. Fast forward 5 years, and when my son was born, I stayed at home with him for the first six months. I must say that I really enjoyed that time. Being able to cook, clean, read, interact with our son, even go to the gym without time constraints or constantly worried about personal time. Then.. hubby got laid off and we lived off savings for a while hoping he would find another position. He didn’t. I went back to work part time for a year and then bumped up to full time. That was 4 years ago, and I still work full time but also go to school full time. I did graduate high school.

I do wish sometimes I could work part time and then be home when the kids get out of school. Kind of the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the cost of living continues to go up every year while our salaries stay stagnant.

Uh, FCM...

April 17th, 2012
12:06 pm

…Barry’s SALARY last year as POTUS was $400K – his (and his wife’s) total INCOME was way up there as he paid $1.3mil in taxes…plus, think about the perks (house, food, travel, no cars, etc)…yes, only Romney is rich in the Dems world…

iggy

April 17th, 2012
12:12 pm

Obama hates Stay At Home Moms.

FCM

April 17th, 2012
12:24 pm

Yes I know….but last week it was sort of “The Obama’s don’t make what the Romney’s do and so they are more able to feel the pain”…..I still don’t think that is true.

As for me I will spend $550 in child care per WEEK this summer! That is $2,200/month and I bring home $2810 a month…..so guess where my income tax “refund” goes?

Working from home is not an option and as a single mom not working is not an option. Maybe Lotto?

homeschooler

April 17th, 2012
1:08 pm

I’ve said before that I often consider myself a SAHM although I work a 40 hr a week job. (nights and weekends)

I decided when I was in college and worked in daycare I didn’t want my kids in daycare (I’ll leave that for another discussion) t went on to earn a masters degree in social work, started working for DFCS, got married, built a home and decided to have kids. My husband and I planned for me to work part-time afternoon/evenings when he and his parents could be with the kids. We could have made it with me not working but it would have been so tight and I knew I wanted at least a little bit of “spending money”. Then I was blessed with the opportunity to work nights and weekends with a lot of the work being done at home. And THAT was the absolute best of both worlds. We have full insurance benefits, two full salaries, we have never had to pay for day care or a babysitter. Kids have a fabulous relationship with grandparents because they help out a couple days a week (but not too much to get overwhelmed). I truly have the perfect situation. My only problem now is that it is one thing to care for kids during the day and work at night it is a whole ‘nother ballgame to school them. I’m freakin’ tired, I have bags under my eyes and I’m getting grey hairs and for the first time in 12 yrs I’m thinking it’s time that something gives. Not sure yet what that will be. The oldest might start private school next year. We’ll see. Giving up my job would be such a big deal because we would lose not only 40,000 in income but benefits too. (husband is self employed). Plus, I am now used to the extras (a maid who comes a couple times a month..etc). I’m with Jarvis, I’d rather keep the income and pay the maid. Plus I suck at housework.

I have felt so blessed to have had the extras (maid, summer trips, gymnastics and other activities) but, given the chance to it over again, I would never have kept my job if it meant having to put the kids in daycare. I know it is a necessity for some but it never was for me and I’m glad for that. I know others who say it is a necessity while they drive brand new cars. If you want to work, no problem, but don’t complain if you really could give some things up, crunch some numbers and make it work.

In terms of people I know, I would say most are making a sacrifice to stay home. All my SAHM friends have college degrees, most are masters level. They could have really good incomes. Many have gone back to work part time once the kids started school but others found that it was just too stressful. They couldn’t volunteer, go on field trips, go to award ceremonies etc.. during the day at the schools. They also still had to pay daycare in the summer, after school etc.. It’s HARD to be pulled in so many directions. My SAHM friends who stay home while the kids are in school get to work out, get all the grocery shopping done, bills paid, house clean etc.. so that when the kids are at home after school their focus is on them. Yes, I envy them but my husband does not make quite as much money as theirs do. :-)

We were able to find our balance and if people think outside the box there are all sorts of ways to find your balance. Some are more amazing to me than others. My first friend (we were 22) to stay home with her child lived in a 90,000 dollar home, her husband made 35,000 a year and they budgeted, and made it work. They never incurred debt and have ended up very successful. Now she differs greatly from my other friends who’s husbands make 6 figures and they stay home while the kids are in school AND have a maid. Like I said…maybe I just married wrong. (or was that yesterday’s discussion) JK.

Techmom

April 17th, 2012
1:14 pm

@FCM – what kind of camps are your kids going to in the summer that it costs you $550/week? Maybe you ought to find a teenager to keep them every other week at home for half that amount.

GTmom

April 17th, 2012
1:28 pm

Living inside the city, our camp that we got in is $220 a week for one child. Add in aftercare.. it gets higher. But we were lucky we got in. I tried several other camps at $180-190 a week and they were booked within the week.

catlady

April 17th, 2012
1:48 pm

“What you see depends on where you sit.”

The SAHM mothers around here are usually low-education/income. Of course, so is everyone else. Many of them seem to be married to men who are “disabled.”

In my poker group, I am the only one with a regular job–male or female. The others are well educated but have found ways to live alternative lifestyles. Guess I was not smart enough!

JATL

April 17th, 2012
2:02 pm

@Techmom FCM’s camp costs aren’t out of the norm. My oldest goes to a $150 per week camp offered at his younger brother’s preschool for many weeks during the summer (and it is a bargain), but for some special experiences and to do certain sports and pursue certain interests -those camps are $230-$260 per week plus aftercare that ranges between $50 and $100 per week. If both of them needed a place to go in the summer, then the very least we could get away with would be $300 per week, but $600 per week would be more the norm. At the age of my oldest, I won’t consider anything getting close to $300 or above (I would only do that if he was deeply involved in some sport or activity at an older age and needed one or two weeks of a special camp), but Fernbank, the Aquarium and many other day camps out there cost well over $300 per week -and a number of them are nowhere near full day (Fernbank doesn’t even offer aftercare).

Liz

April 17th, 2012
2:25 pm

K’s mom, I was really interested to read your response, as I feel my husband and I will be in a similar position to your family.

I’m a newlywed, but my husband and I have been talking about when we’d like to begin trying to have a baby so I find this discussion especially relevant. My husband is an officer in the military and makes right at 6 figures. I’m in sales and bring in 60-70K. I’m definitely the “spender” in the family and enjoy the extras, from nice clothes to vacations, etc. It scares me to give up my income…I know I would feel guilty spending on some of the things I purchase now, and there is probably a lot I would have to scale back on…but you make sacrifices for your kids.

On the flip side, being that my husband is in the military, 6-12 month deployments are a realistic part of our future for the next 10+ years. I would feel guilty working 8+ hour days and getting home just in time to put my kids to bed, especially when their dad is out of the country and you might not have “back up” in case something happens (illness, an unexpected meeting, etc.) (I know single moms do this, and it’s not for 6 months at a time, and for that they have my upmost respect).

My mom (who had a college degree) stayed home with my sister and I, as our dad traveled 30+ weeks a year with his job. He was very successful, so our family was fortunate enough to have “the extras”…private school, lessons, summer camp, vacation, you name it. Most of my mom’s friends and neighbors were in similar positions. I think that is growing increasingly rare in today’s world. Interestingly, my parents are now “empty nesters” and my mom is somewhat bored. She wishes she could go back to work, but she’s been out of the workforce for 27+ years. She’s a smart , well-educated lady, but I think she lacks confidence in “putting herself out there” after so many years of not worrying about it. She constantly advises my sister and me to “keep a hand in the workforce”, even if you don’t *need* to from a financial standpoint.

I guess I’m hoping that when the time comes, I can take a couple years off while the children are small, and then go back to part-time/work from home when they reach pre-school, etc. to maintain some flexibility.

Techmom

April 17th, 2012
2:26 pm

I understand that some camps (Aquarium/Zoo/Fernbank) are that much but do kids need to go to those kind of camps every single week? I think some downtime in the summer is a good thing AND it could be more affordable. I also get that the average daycare-run camp or YMCA/Parks & Rec camps are about $150/week. I’m simply suggesting that maybe there’s an option of finding a local teenager who can alternate weeks and wouldn’t cost nearly as much.

FCM

April 17th, 2012
2:27 pm

My oldest is too old for the daycare style “summer camps” The only place we found that will take her (she is almsot 13) is the YMCA. That is $55/day per kid….no discounts for multichildren (ala daycare style). Church camp is “sleep away” for a week each and that $250 a week (per kid). So a slight cost break. I am using one week of vacation to save child care costs and they will spend some time with their Dad. I think I figured it out to be $3,300 for the summer just in child care–that doesn’t include what I might spend on our “vacation” and is only IF Daddy actually has them for a full month this summer (he never has before but said he would this year).

I know I brought them into this world, I am not saying I am owed child care. I am just saying the cost is probably higher than most people think.

I did try to find a responsible teenager/college student who would watch them….but I have not had any luck so far.

Jess

April 17th, 2012
2:55 pm

I am not a SAHM, but a work out of the house mom. But I am best friends with a SAHM. Trust me, she does not just chauffer and go to the gym. I chauffer and go to the gym too, just not at the same time that the SAHMs do. She is also working from home plus going to school.

Reed Markham

April 17th, 2012
3:11 pm

According to Salary.com the average mother works 92 hours a week. The studied concluded, “The job titles that best matched a mom’s definition of her work are (in order of hours spent per week): housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO, and psychologist.” According to Salary.com the average salary of a stay-at-home mother should be $138,095. Stay at home mother and all mothers who are raising children work hard. And for stay at home mothers, work comes without a paycheck. It’s important to keep in mind that the average stay at home mother works a busy 24/7 schedule. Most stay at home mothers rarely get a luxury vacation to Hawaii, transportation in private planes and limousines, fine dining every night of the week, and being waited upon for every want and need. I’m not sure too may stay at home mothers have time for a round of golf.

jarvis

April 17th, 2012
3:18 pm

Salary.com….bleh.
I’ve not heard of this report, but if it’s like their pay ranges, they are overblown self-reported garbage.

I’m telling more on here about myself over the last few days….I’m a career compensation manager.
Salary.com is about as valid walking around a room asking the people what they make, averaging those numbers, and sticking some unknown percentage on top of what has been reported.

No offense Reed Markham, you would’t know, but Salary.com is to Comp what Amway is to paper products.

K's Mom

April 17th, 2012
3:49 pm

@Liz, I have definitely had to change my spending habits and we do not have a lot of luxuries. I really like nice furniture and I prefer to invest in nice shoes and clothing that I will wear for 10+ years rather than buying cheap stuff. So now that I do not earn a salary, I purchase one or 2 dresses per year, rather than shopping online at my lunch break. We have not taken many vacations since we married. We are fortunate that my parents live on a large lake and have boats, so we go there for a week in the summer instead of the beach right now. We do try to do a 1-2 night couples only getaway each year, but try to do it with points to defray cost. I do feel guilty when I spend money on myself and I consider a new lamp or accessorie for the house to be spending money on myself. Fortunately my husband is very giving and when I say I would like to get a pedicure or spend $50 on the house, he always says go for it.

It sounds like we have similar backgrounds and it is challenging to make the transition. I was on bedrest in my first pregnancy for 7 months and that made the transition from business attire to yoga pants easier, but when my son was 8 months old I realized I wanted/needed to work flexibly some and started getting additional education to do home staging in addition to some decorating. Things are slow right now and the additional money is nice, so I am going to continue to keep my name out ther and do projects as they come but also look for some contract work.

If you ever want to talk more feel free to ask Theresa for my email address.