10 years later: Did opting out work for mothers?

There was a movement 10 or so years ago of educated, successful women with high-earning spouses opting out of work to stay home with their children.

From The New York Times Magazine:

“This magazine, in a cover article by Lisa Belkin, called the phenomenon of their leaving work the “Opt-Out Revolution,” and other coverage followed: a Time magazine cover story on “The Case for Staying Home” and a “60 Minutes” segment devoted to a group of former mega-achievers who were, as the anchor Lesley Stahl put it, “giving up money, success and big futures” to be home with their children.”

I remember the first article very clearly because the opening scene was set in Atlanta.

At that point, I had quit working two years before to be home with my kids. I didn’t have an Ivy League degree and didn’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars but I did feel a connection to these women choosing (and being financially able) to stay home.

But I also liked the terms they were using in these articles —  “off ramp” and “on ramp.” I felt like at some point I would want to work again, but for that time I had just taken the “off ramp” and would eventually get back on.

So 10 years later The New York Times Magazine has checked in with some of these same women, and I am fascinated to read how they feel about their journey and where they stand now. (The article is really long but well worth your time. I could only pull a couple of graphs so please read the full article.)

From The New York Times Magazine:

“The culture of motherhood, post-recession, had altered considerably, too. The women of the opt-out revolution left the work force at a time when the prevailing ideas about motherhood idealized full-time, round-the-clock, child-centered devotion. In 2000, for example, with the economy strong and books like “Surrendering to Motherhood,” a memoir about the “liberation” of giving up work to stay home, setting the tone for the aspirational mothering style of the day, almost 40 percent of respondents to the General Social Survey told researchers they believed a mother’s working was harmful to her children (an increase of eight percentage points since 1994). But by 2010, with recovery from the “mancession” slow and a record 40 percent of mothers functioning as family breadwinners, fully 75 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that “a working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work.” And after decades of well-publicized academic inquiry into the effects of maternal separation and the dangers of day care, a new generation of social scientists was publishing research on the negative effects of excessive mothering: more depression and worse general health among mothers, according to the American Psychological Association.”

“The 22 women I interviewed, for the most part, told me that the perils of leaving the work force were counterbalanced by the pleasures of being able to experience motherhood on their own terms. A certain number of these women — the superelite, you might say, the most well-off, with the highest-value name-brand educational credentials and powerful and well-connected social networks — found jobs easily after extended periods at home. These jobs generally paid less than their previous careers and were less prestigious. But the women found the work more interesting, socially conscious and family-friendly than their old high-powered positions….”

“Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist and the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation in New York, surveyed thousands of women in 2004 and after the financial crisis in 2009. She has found that roughly a third of “highly qualified women” leave their jobs to spend extended time at home. Though her subjects were all women with graduate degrees or bachelor’s degrees with honors, they didn’t necessarily have the elite credentials of the women in Stone’s research and many reported having a difficult time transitioning into the work force.”

“Most of the women, Hewlett found, stayed home longer than they had hoped. Eighty-nine percent of those who “off-ramped,” as she puts it, said they wanted to resume work; but only 73 percent of these succeeded in getting back in, and only 40 percent got full-time jobs. “It was distressingly difficult to get back on track,” Hewlett told me. In addition, the women Hewlett surveyed came back to jobs that paid, on average, 16 percent less than those they had before. And about a quarter took jobs with lesser management responsibilities or had to accept a lower job title than the one they had when they left. The impact of those sacrifices, Hewlett noted, was in many cases amplified after the financial meltdown, when 28 percent more of the women she surveyed reported that they had a nonworking spouse at home….”

“The longer they’re home, the more they continue the trajectory toward something different,” Stone told me. “They have greater appreciation of some of the values of home and connectivity, which were somewhat alien to them in their high-flying professions.”

The women in the article talked about their self esteem taking a hit being at home and tied too much to their children, and I am definitely feeling some of that.

With my youngest in first grade, I am ready to take on more work and be outside the home. I love being down at the university, and I do think I feel more confident and have more energy when I am teaching.

I will most definitely take a hit in pay when I do find a full-time or part-time job, and I have very little retirement in my name.  With that said, I have loved every moment of being home with my kids and wouldn’t have wanted to have been in an office. However, now I am ready to work again.

Were you part of the women who “opted” out? How did it work for you? How did it affect your marital relationship? Are ready to go back to work? Can you find work? Is it in a totally different field? Is your pay a lot less? What would you advise the next generation of women?

39 comments Add your comment

Mother of 2

August 12th, 2013
6:57 am

The sad truth is that it’s very difficult to have it all. I chose to stay home with my kids. My youngest will graduate in May and I hope to find a job. I’ve been working on building my skill set, but fully expect to encounter age discrimination, as well as road blocks for being out of the work force for so long. I know that I’ll have a tough time.

I wouldn’t change a thing if I could turn back time. Our family is very close and I am grateful I was able to spend time with my kids as they grew up.

I would encourage new mothers to take all of their maternity leave. Today’s leave options are much better than when I had my children. Leaving the work force is a very personal decision. I remember feeling torn at times because staying home with an infant wasn’t always very stimulating intellectually. I loved my children, but did not love feeling like the maid and cook. I would also encourage families expecting children to have a frank conversation about their changing roles and establish a division if labor.

Mayhem

August 12th, 2013
7:06 am

I chose to work, I couldn’t stand the thought of being home with 3 kids every day. I need adult interaction. AND I didn’t want all that burden on my husband, to be the sole breadwinner. We would not have the lifestyle we have now, had I stayed home with the kids. Also, I like the security of having my own retirement plan, my own savings (we have joint accounts too, but I’ve always maintained a separate savings account). I’ve seen plenty of women stay at home, only to divorce when the kids left, and they have no marketable skills, and NO retirement. I did NOT want to be in a postition like that. You just never know……

However, when the kids were younger, my schedule coordinated with the schools. I was able to be with the kids in the morning, drive them to school, and be home in the afternoons with them. I am usually home around 4:30, 5:00. I like it that way.

A

August 12th, 2013
7:26 am

I am fortunate to be able to work from home, so this has not been an issue. I’m sure I could be making more money and have a higher-powered job, but I wouldn’t trade my current situation. I read about 1/4 of Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” but quickly realized she’s not entirely right and it’s very difficult to have it all. I applaud her a top executive at Facebook, and her decisions only applied to her and her family. I think women have to make this decision for themselves and no one has a right to judge us one way or the other.

motherjanegoose

August 12th, 2013
7:26 am

I have always worked, since I was 16…all through college and all through my marriage. Often part time. NOT in a high paying nor high power job. My teaching career has been flexible, as my children grew up. I started working for myself 16 years ago and love it, for the most part. Except when I am waiting on $5000.00 to be paid to me. I am caught up now to about $1000.00.

I have a HS friend on Facebook who has been home for 20 ish years. Her youngest is a Senior in HS. Her older child is in private college. She has a Masters in Business ( I believe) and a good job in corporate America. It saddens me to read her posts: I walked the dog today. I cleaned the bathrooms. I cooked dinner. I am not sure why she posts these things but there must be something else going on? She is a bright person and seems to be thinking about going back to work with 2 in college ( um I would). I wish her the best!

I am looking towards retirement but know I could NOT just be in this house. I need to be paid for what I am good at, to feel valued. I am not paid to cook and clean. Perhaps because I am no longer good at it…haha! I am planning to phase out in 5-7 years and work maybe two weeks a month. I am pleased that I can orchestrate this type of schedule and hope to be able to implement it!

historywriter

August 12th, 2013
7:38 am

I went back to work at age 47. Surprisingly, I feel more push to succeed and am more adventurous in my career choice than when I was younger. I figure I have about 25 years to really make my mark. It’s harder—companies prefer tech-savvy twenty-somethings, but I chose a career where I can be any age, and can succeed independently as well if I can’t get on a firm. It’s working: the kids are grown and fabulous, hubby is supportive and enjoying the travel I need to do, and I feel fulfilled by my work.

A reader

August 12th, 2013
7:43 am

There are many potential pitfalls to “opting out”. Because you are not taking the off ramp, you are stopping the car and hitting the reset button. And when you do go back to the work force you will be competing for entry level jobs against eager 20-somethings with a recent college degree. Whatever your job title, level of responsibility, or salary was before you left the work force will be mostly irrelevant because it is 10-15 years old and stale.

I did not stop working when my daughter was born because I could not afford to stop. It was very very difficult. I am lucky to work in a family friendly office that offered some flexibility so I could stay home when she was sick, take off early to watch her play sports, go in late so I could have a read to her kindergarten class, etc. And when my daughter was 8 my exhusband decided that the responsibility of being married and raising a child was too much for him so he split. I have not seen him in years and he does not pay his court ordered child support. If I had decided to stay home instead of working then I would have ended up who knows where. Instead I was able to keep my house and keep my daughter in her school.

Alberta

August 12th, 2013
8:13 am

A mother who drops her 6-week old at the daycare center at 7:00 am and picks him up at 5:00 pm – every day until the kid starts school – is not raising her child. The daycare people are raising her child.

SC

August 12th, 2013
8:29 am

Alberta, sometimes a mother who leaves her child in daycare is providing for her child. It is that simple. I notice that your judgement fails to include fathers.

Mayhem

August 12th, 2013
8:47 am

@Alberta – and in some instances, a Single Mom has no choice but to drop her child at day care at 7. She needs to provide a roof over that child’s head, and food on the table, and I don’t think child support (IF she receives any) pays too many bills.

Missnadine

August 12th, 2013
9:00 am

Alberta, stop being so judgemental. I never stayed home with mine and they ended up fine. I didn’t want to be a stay at home and recent it later; there are a lot on resentful moms and I didn’t want to become one of them. My kids are very independent and people compliment me on how well they turned out, while my friends are still supporting theirs well into their 20’s. my decision was not motivated by greed, rather, by my interest in my careerr and a need to make a difference.

Whatever you do, keep a foot in the workforce as it is hard to step back in at the level you left. For those re-entering the wokforce, make sure you mention some of the community service you dd while at home. Do not say things like you were an accountant, cook, nurse, or other, unless you actually were any of those things professionally. Also do not mention, in a résumé, cover, or interview that you stayed home for the reasons Alberta says above. Most likely the person who is conducting the interview was not a stay at home parent.

Vesta

August 12th, 2013
9:05 am

I’m a stay at home mom. I haven’t worked in 13 years. I have two kids. One is a senior this year & the other started middle school. I have no regrets! We don’t have a big house or the nicest cars but I know that I’ve done something that will help benefit my family. I’ve raised wonderful,loving, intelligent, polite kids! This means far more to me than having a “job”! I do not sit at home all day & I don’t know any women that do! I volunteer at my church, the kids schools, & go to the gym 4 times a week. I meet other moms for coffee or we get together and cook large meals to freeze! We scavenge the yard sales & thift stores. I have time to sit back when I need to instead of feeling the need to keep going, and going, and going……..

Do some mom’s have to work? Sure! Do some moms choose to work? Of course! Do some mom’s stay at home? Yup! It’s all about what works for each family. I’m tired of it being a “Who’s the best mom?” contest! We’re all mothers trying to do our best!

Mayhem

August 12th, 2013
9:08 am

Also, I would think that if you “opted” out many years ago, it would be VERY difficult to re-enter the work force, in this current economy. So many unemployed cannot find work. I have 3 friends and one in-law that have been unemployed for over 2 years, and not by choice. One friend was with HP for over 15 years, and she got the ax (in a company wide 20K person layoff), and has not been able to find ANYTHING comparable. The jobs she IS offered, are at 1/2 was she was previously making. So she went back to school full time. Not that it will help. Who wants to hire a 54 year old with a degree, when there’s a ton of 20 year olds with a degree, who will take less money. Plus, she only has about 10-15 years in the work force, whereas a 20 year old has 35+. Who would you hire?

Mayhem

August 12th, 2013
9:22 am

Vesta – you say you haven’t “worked” in 13 years, I beg to differ. Staying at home IS work, and you don’t ever get to leave work and go home. You are ALWAYS working.

I think it’s wonderful that some women have the choice. With the cost of day care, most moms are working to pay that bill, and it’s not helping the family in the long run. If you are working to pay for day care, then just stay home.

I had the choice, but I chose to get out of the house every day, and help my husband financially run our house and family. I also feel like I have a say in how we spend OUR money. It’s not HIS money and it’s not HIS decision as to what we do with it.

iRun

August 12th, 2013
10:03 am

I’ve always worked. For one, I always intended to have a career and I never wanted to put it on hold. For two, when my son was born my husband and I were in grad school and then my husband continued on to get a PhD so I was the sole breadwinner for the first 5 years of his life.

Yes, he was in daycare all day. Yes, the daycare potty trained him (yay!).

But it’s mom and dad he turns to when he feels sad, hurt, insecure, happy, etc.

He’s 12 now and a wonderful kid who is very independent. And my husband and I have fulfilling and decently lucrative careers.

I have a healthy retirement plan, as does my husband, and we have a good life, overall.

Personally, I would have made a terrible stay at home mom. But I feel it’s each to his/her own. Maybe I would’ve been more inclined to stay at home if I didn’t have such a great career. Who knows?

As for the whole “someone else is raising your child” thing…so what? Yes, I paid some people to help raise him. But that didn’t make us any less close or make him any less my child. As I said, he knows he can rely on us or talk to us about anything or climb into our laps or provide him with the emotional support he needs. If he worries about something, he comes to us to talk about it.

Anyway, I don’t regret not opting out. But I don’t care if you feel it’s best for your family. It’s not my business.

yuki

August 12th, 2013
10:15 am

iRun, well said. Thank you for that. I agree with everything you said, to a tee. My son started Kindergarden last week. The teacher has already said how well behaved and polite he is. I’m so proud of him, and I know a lot of what he already knows he learned at daycare. He is independent and is just a great kid.

I enjoy working, making my own money, getting out, talking with people and having a career. My family always comes first and my employer knows this. I’m lucky that I work in a very family oriented business. If there is something at school, I can go. If I want to go have lunch at school, I’m there. If i need to leave early, no problem. Why would I want to sit at home when he is school most of the day anyway?
No, I can’t be the “room mom” but that’s actually fine with me. I’ll help and donate money, etc.

And when my husband and I are ready to send our kids to college, and at some point retire, we will be ready finacially as well. I could drive a dumpy car, live in a mediocre home and forgo vacations to stay home, but no thanks. We are all happier for it.

missnadine

August 12th, 2013
10:36 am

@mayhem – your friend does not have to make it obvious that she is in her 50s. Resumes should just have the last 10-15 years, period. Obviously they will know when they see her, but by then they already like her. That is the biggest issue facing older workers – they advertise their age. I do this for a living (resumes) so I do consider myself an expert.

missnadine

August 12th, 2013
10:38 am

@yuki and iRun – I couldn’t have said it better myself!

jmb

August 12th, 2013
10:54 am

missnadine, if you have been at the same company for 20 years, do you still list only that one?

missnadine

August 12th, 2013
11:06 am

@jmb – that is a bit more difficult. Have you had several positions there? Have you moved up consistently? If the answers to both are yes, then I would be likely to list it – all 20 years. That does show longevity which is admirable. If you’ve had move than 5 or so positions within the 20 years I would narrow that down to 3, but again it depends on your circumstance. I would not list another company though. After that much time, earlier experience is almost never useful to the current job search. There are exceptions, but they are rare.

motherjanegoose

August 12th, 2013
12:47 pm

While I am sad for children who spend 9-10 hours a day in day care, there are families who simply must do this. The worst part, to me, is that the parents are too tired to do much with the children when they get home. I cannot imagine doing this day in and day out.

There are some wonderful facilities out there and I do feel those children are well cared for. There are also some awful places. I have been inside places where the “teachers” are terrible and the children say, ” Can you please stay here with us. ” It breaks my heart.

I also know Moms who have young children and it appears they are on Facebook quite a bit. I do not understand this. Finding your own balance is not always easy. I think it is good for children to be in several environments before they head into Kinder. This helps them to be prepared for transition and also to know how to respond to different people. Relatives are not going to react to your children the same as a total stranger. Your friends may not be as honest with you as a teacher. I see this frequently: a child has a speech problem and the parents are in denial. They can understand him/her “perfectly”. Our son took speech therapy and I was happy to let the professionals tell us what to do. We did not know.

Every family is different. I am happy I was able to work and enjoy adult company and also be home with my children. It is odd now to be home alone, until my husband gets home. I cannot imagine being home all day long, with only family things to do as I do get out and work but my schedule is really the one I make for myself. I love to travel and am able to scratch that itch with what I do!

Real Life

August 12th, 2013
1:01 pm

Interesting and well thought-out comments today–from women who have chosen to stay home with their children, chosen to work and those who had no choice but to work. Each woman is different in the choice she made and the reasons behind it. None of the decisions are wrong, because each made the choice that is right for her. Making such a decision is difficult and only the woman involved will be able to say if the choice she made worked out the way she anticipated.

jmb

August 12th, 2013
1:47 pm

Missnadine, 20 years as office manager/bookkeeper for a small office environment. Prior to this job I held a payroll manager positon for an extremely large company so I wasn’t sure if I should list that one. In my opinion, it seems harder to create an appealing resume with only one job listed but then again, I’ve not made a resume in over 20 years so I’m probably wrong. I hoping your correct that the longetivity will make a difference and thank you for the advice.

[...] writers weighing in across the spectrum. Some wanted to say “I told you so”; some wanted to lament ; others to criticize; and many to explain. . One theme common to nearly all the commentary is the [...]

xxx

August 12th, 2013
2:56 pm

Shouldn’t the question be did it work out for the kids? After all, that was the reason for staying home.

PMB

August 12th, 2013
3:02 pm

I think the worst thing we can do as moms is judge the decisions of other moms. I was sad to see some of the judgments above. Working out of the home and to what degree is such a personal decision involving a multiple of factors which can change yearly: income level, level of extended family involvement, marital status, health, etc. I thought the article was very well written and true to the observations I have seen. When the economy sunk, I saw many moms attempt to go back to work and found that the perfect jobs were not easily available. Most of these mom wanted to be able to contribute to family finances, use their degrees in challenging and rewarding ways but most importantly, have flexibility to be home as much as possible. However, I have read many articles in the last ten years about this- I think our generation of working moms has more flexibility than any other women before us. We frequently step off career ladders and take lower paying work in exchange for time with the kids. We create our own career paths which don’t necessarily head straight financially up . Although its still difficult, more companies and firms are offering flex time and part time work so that they can keep and recruit talented and bright parents. I am a part time attorney and have negotiated my hours and time throughout the years. I have repeatedly turned down promotions that would have helped my family financially so that I could keep my flexibility. With rare exceptions, I am only in the office while my kids are in school and I am home with them when they are home. In the last ten years, I have witnessed more and more female attorneys take this option. My decision has not always been easy for our family or my firm and it is not the right option for everyone. But, it was and is the right decision for my family for now. I am grateful for my flexible progressive employer, my patient, understanding family and my amazingly supportive neighbors especially the brilliant one who writes this blog.

[...] writers weighing in across the spectrum. Some wanted to say “I told you so”; some wanted to lament ; others to criticize; and many to explain. . One theme common to nearly all the commentary is the [...]

catlady

August 12th, 2013
4:53 pm

You have to do the thing that makes the most sense for you and your family. Just be sure when you make nod decision, you are also making others, with long-term implications for you and your family.

My former husband made minimal money. We simply could not do without my income. So I got to stay home 31/2 months with the first (because no one would hire a pregnant woman, three weeks with the second, and 16 days with the last. I would never endorse it; it was physically long past awful.

Bur you do what you must so you have food and shelter.

I met up with my BFF from high school about 10 years ago. She had stayed home. Her husband was a naval flight surgeon. When we got together, she was trying to get OUT of the house; I was trying to figure out how to get IN.

In ten months, I will find out!

Uh, Miss Nadine...

August 12th, 2013
4:58 pm

…”There are exceptions, but they are rare.” – that is I, the exception. At age 49, I was downsized after 14 at my then employer years (and over 20 years in the industry), making over 6 figures. I was fortunate that one of my client companies took a flyer on me at a way reduced salary, even though I was almost 50 (fortunately, again, my prior employer paid me, too, for 22 months post downsizing as part of my severance so I could afford the pay hit).

Fast forward to age 58 with the same “new” employer; having proved my worth and being zipped up the ladder to another 6 figure salary and into management, I was again downsized since I had worked myself out of a job by being proficient, but by not being there at least 10 years so that I could immediately start drawing a pension (that will come at age 65 now), I was left with a very poor severance and a resume that said I was loyal and a very excellent worker ho performed on the job for many years. But, Hey (as Si would say) I did save two other people’s jobs since my salary was the amount that two people made who worked for me…

After that layoff, since I still wanted to work, I tried to find employment, willing to take a 40-45% pay cut; employers were more than willing to bring me in for interviews based on my resume, but once they figured out I was “over age 50″ (even though I am in good shape and present as extremely professional), no jobs were offered me in either management (my skill set) or as a “line” person (as someone else said, there are 40-fifty “30 somethings” in my industry who the employer would rather have for the same salary; and the management seekers wanted people with my 25-35 years experience but at age 45, not age 55-60)…

So, here I sit after 3 years – now I am the age that I wanted to retire, anyway, so I can finally rationalize that I am officially retired…

[...] writers weighing in across the spectrum. Some wanted to say “I told you so”; some wanted to lament ; others to criticize; and many to explain. . One theme common to nearly all the commentary is the [...]

Gina

August 12th, 2013
6:00 pm

I was downsized after 18 years with a company. My manager decided he wanted to be more than a manager to me and when I went to HR, I suddenly was put on the layoff list. However, I was able to stay home with my during Pre-K and now Kindergarten.

It is difficult getting back in the job market. I am an older single mom with young twins. I pass the assessment tests and the personality tests thrown at me, but when it comes down to seal the deal, they select someone younger. Is this what the feminist movement was all about? Wasn’t it about choices and to assist women who have been harmed in the workplace?

April

August 12th, 2013
6:11 pm

I have always worked. I am a teacher and have been fortunate that what I love doing also allows me to be available for my children. They went to day care during the school year when they were small, but we always called it school and had very good experiences with the centers we used.

However, I have many friends and relatives who chose to stay at home. I think they are terrific mothers and have done a fabulous job with their kids. At times I have envied them the fact that they do not juggle as many responsibilities. We are all in our late 40’s now and the kids are getting older. I wonder what some of these women will do when the kids graduate and move out. I would be a terrible “empty nester” with no one in the nest.

My mother always preached to me that I needed an education so that I could support my family if I needed to. I could not support our family in our current lifestyle, but I do feel good knowing that I do have a good income. I think if I did not work that I would worry more about our family’s future.

[...] writers weighing in across the spectrum. Some wanted to say “I told you so”; some wanted to lament ; others to criticize; and many to explain. . One theme common to nearly all the commentary is the [...]

[...] writers weighing in across the spectrum. Some wanted to say “I told you so”; some wanted to lament ; others to criticize; and many to [...]

BlondeHoney

August 12th, 2013
8:17 pm

It has been interesting to read everyone’s comments; it was never an option to me not to work as I was, for the majority of my marriage, the major breadwinner. If I didn’t work, we had no health insurance; my ex was self-employed and if business was good, he did well and vice versa, business bad = no money. I had to go back to work when both my boys were 6 weeks old respectively. My ex is from a very warm close Hispanic American family with my ex MIL a stay at home mom/Abuela so I was extremely fortunate to be able to have my boys cared for by their Abuela with who I am still very close to now. They did eventually go to day care/preschool and it was a great experience. Like Mayhem, I am positive I would have not been a good stay at home mom anyway so it worked out for the best for me; as I have posted before, my boys are amazing productive members of society and my youngest serves our country in the US Navy as an officer in the submarine service, currently deployed. So I think we did a good job with them :)

Laurie

August 12th, 2013
8:37 pm

I think the expectation of these women finding jobs at the same level/pay grade as before they left the workforce is unreasonable. Most people who find themselves out of work for a period of time have the same issue. I was unemployed for 6 months in 2002/2003 after a lay-off, and took a $15,000 hit in my annual salery when I finally did get another job. Check back with these women 5 years after re-entering the workforce, and I bet you’ll have very different results. For me, I was able to increase my annual pay by $40,000. If a person has the right drive and work ethic, he/she will be sucessful, even if they take time off to raise their kids.

DB

August 13th, 2013
6:43 pm

I had a very wise woman tell me, when I was pregnant with my first child, that “you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at the same time.” It immediately took me out of living in the moment, and helped me learn how to live FOR the moment. To everything there is a season — for me, there was a season of working 90-hour weeks in a demanding field. It was rewarding, in a monetary sense. Then, I quit to be a stay-at-home mom. That was rewarding, in a parenting sense. When the kids were older, I started my own business, and now that they are moving on with their young adult lives, I have the opportunity to make my own business grow.

The new business is not in the same field — but that’s ok, I was burned out with that, anyway. Laurie nailed it when she said that there will always employment for those with the drive and the work ethic. It may not be what they had in mind their junior year of college, but you have to stay flexible in life.

SEE

August 13th, 2013
7:05 pm

I stayed home for 11 years after my first child was born. I went back to get my Master’s degree and am now the sole breadwinner in my family. My husband stays home with the youngest and is there when the other 4 get home from school. I sorely miss being home, but am happy my husband gets to experience being with the boys. It’s been hard for me not to swoop in and take over, but let him handle situations on his own terms.

beth

August 15th, 2013
10:06 am

I’m 7 years in as a stay at home mom. I initially chose to go back to work, with my 3 month old in daycare, but almost immediately, I knew it was the wrong choice so we made a plan for my exit and I left my job when she was 1 year old. I don’t regret it for a second. My youngest just entered kindergarten this fall, and I have been thinking about picking up something part time, so long as it doesn’t interfere with my parenting duties… which is my first priority.

I especially identified with the part in the article about what it means to be a stay at home mom. I feel it is exactly that… a stay at home mom… NOT a stay at home maid. This has caused many issues between my husband and myself. I didn’t and still don’t consider myself a “housewife”. I hate that word. I considered my job to be responsible for the nurturing, educating, enriching the lives of our toddlers… not the janitor, maid, and drycleaner. I wouldn’t set my kids in front of a tv all day so I could scrub toilets and run the vacuum. Not that I wasn’t willing to participate in these activities, but he seemed to think that I should be the SOUL participant. It was a rough couple of years until we came to an understanding.

We don’t have any family here, so playing with cousins or hanging out with grandparents isn’t an option. I joined a playgroup. We met at least 2 times per week…alot of times more. We had playdates at children’s museums from Gainsville to Suwanee to downtown Atlanta. We had regular zoo outings, regular Aquarium outings, regular library story times, and of course many, many hours at local parks. Our kids developed strong bonds and learned aobut friendship, sharing, and got to spend ALOT of time outside. And I was lucky enough to get to watch them grow and learn and change. It was a special time.

Everyone seems to think being a stay at home mom is a “luxury”. The article presents it as such and maybe that is what they were thinking at the time. I am blessed to have siezed the opportunity, but it’s definitely not a luxury. It’s a SACRIFICE! A BIG ONE that most are not willing to make.

Now the playgroup kids are a bit older (mine are 5 and 8) and they are all off to different schools and making their own friends and they don’t see each other as often. But we celebrate some holidays together (trick or treat/Easter egg hunts). When they were toddlers, we did Christmas gift exchanges too. But what really stuck was the bond/friendship that I formed with these women. We still get together monthly for girls night out. In our group (which started as a “playgroup” mind you) we have dealt with divorce, miscariage, breast cancer, a terminally ill child, infertility and a host of other things.

My point is… calling it “just a playgroup” really is a disservice to the relationships formed and the souls, both little and big, nurtured. I feel my time and energy was/is MUCH more valued by being a stay at home than by working for a corporation that will cut your throat and your job without blinking an eye. I think expecting to come back at the same pay rate after 5 or 7 or 10 years is ludicris anyway. I mean, 10 year ago… iPhones and iPads DIDN’T EVEN EXIST. Technology changes to much to exect to take that kind of time off without a lower title/pay. Men would have same issue. In the end, all companies think of us as just a number, a warm body until the next new hot thing walks in the door. As evidenced by some of the posts above, Just read in the paper today, Cisco made a 2 (B)illion profit, but it’s not enough so they are laying off 4-Thousand people.

beth

August 15th, 2013
10:09 am

shoot, there is no edit. I spelled soul wong :(