Most women in the U.S. do not stay home with their kids. According to a 2016 analysis by the Pew Research Center, only about 18% of U.S. parents are stay-at-home parents (about 83% of these are moms).
I think those numbers should be higher.
In fact, the whole mission of this blog is to encourage more moms to stay home.
If you’re reading this post, maybe you’re considering staying home, but there are a few obstacles that you just can’t seem to overcome.
Maybe this post will help.
What follows is a list of the top 5 objections I hear to staying home and my objections to those objections. If you can change your mind on these top 5 issues, you are well on your way to radical motherhood and becoming a stay at home mom.
1. I can’t afford to stay home.
Objection: You CAN afford to stay home, you just need to change your money mindset. Rather than asking, “What are all of the things I want, and how much money will I have to make to get those things,” you need to ask, “What I can I live without in order to give myself fully to my family?” You need to decide which expenses are absolutely necessary and which are worth sacrificing for the greater good of being at home full time, and you need to be brutal. Do you need… to travel and take long vacations? A fully funded retirement account? To pay for your children’s (possible) college education? Expensive haircuts, clothing, shoes, and manicures? Cell phones for every member of the family? Separate bedrooms for every child? Fast food? The list of things the average family could cut out of their budget is longer than you might think. I found a tool online called a “Living Wage Calculator” that tells you, by metro area, what you need to earn to survive. It’s well above poverty level, but it’s well below what most people probably strive to earn. Based on what I saw for my area, I think it gives a pretty good idea of what you CAN live on, if you choose to. http://livingwage.mit.edu/ For some additional inspiration on how to downsize, read our posts on finances and living on one income:
2. I will not be happy if I stay home.
Objection: First, you CAN be happy if you stay home. I thought the same thing, and I was wrong. All it takes is a little tweaking of your perspective and priorities. Second, you cannot make decisions based on how you feel, or how you think you’ll feel. Feelings are fickle, and it’s our job to become the master of our emotions. We rule them; they should not rule us. If you think you would be unhappy at home, take a moment right now to pinpoint why you think that. Is it because of something you think you’ll be missing or missing out on (co-workers, recognition for a job well done, meaningful work, nice office, expensive meals and trips, interesting clients, sense of purpose, using your training/knowledge/expertise)? If so, have you thought about what you’re missing out on while you’re at work (all of those “first” milestones, talking to your kids, playing with your kids, knowing what your kids like/dislike/think about all day long, being the number one influence in your kids’ lives, enjoying your home, volunteering, making homemade meals and snacks, spending more time with extended family and friends, taking naps, wearing comfortable clothes)? I find that if I line up the pros and cons of working vs. staying home, staying home is a hands-down winner.
3. I spent a lot of time and money on my education, and I don’t want to waste it.
Objection: Is the sole purpose of education to get and keep a job? I would like to think that my education wasn’t “wasted,” yet I never really needed it to get any of the jobs I’ve had, and I’ve only “used” it in a very general sense. Education has value in and of itself – it becomes a part of you that is yours whether you use it to do work that earns an income or not. What you’ve learned, no matter how specific or technical it may seem, can be used in many different ways and environments, including at home. If you’re holding onto guilt for the money spent on your education, let it go. The money and time are gone, and you aren’t going to get them back, no matter how many hours you work. If you’re worried that no one else can make the same contribution to the workforce that you can, you’re right. You are unique, and so is the work you could do. Whether you’re a brain surgeon or a sales rep or a kindergarten teacher, the working world WILL miss out on your talents if you’re not there. But they can and will find someone else to do approximately the same thing you could do. Your kids, however, only have one mom, and you are the only person who can be that for them.
4. I need a break from my kids, and they need a break from me. We would make each other crazy if we spent all that time together.
Objection: The main reason I decided to stay home, after several years of being a working mom, was that I was sick of giving the best of myself to my job instead of my family. I worked all day, and by the time I picked the kids up from school or daycare and got dinner on the table, I felt like all of my patience, creativity, and energy were gone. Our whole evening together felt like a long, painful countdown until bedtime. The mom is the hub of the family, and if the hub is tired and short-tempered, the whole family feels it. When you work all week, evenings and even weekends seem like never-ending to-do lists – make dinner, clean up from dinner, catch up on laundry, take the kids to practice, clean the bathrooms – there isn’t any time to just relax and enjoy each other. I think the main reason that so many working moms think that their kids would drive them crazy if they were home all day is that they’re used to only being around their kids when they’re exhausted. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows at my house, but there are very few times when I think, “Man, I wish I was at work right now.”
5. I’ll be betraying the women’s movement if I stay home. What about all the women who went before me and fought for equal rights and equal pay?
Objection: Read up on the women’s movement. I promise you, you don’t owe it or anyone involved in it anything. If the women’s movement really was or is about giving women choices, then one of those choices is to stay home and raise your children, and a true women’s libber should be happy for you. A great book on this topic is Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement, by Sue Ellen Browder.
If you want to read more from us on this topic, take a look at our Top 22 Reasons to be a Stay at Home Mom.
Are you thinking about becoming a stay-at-home mom? What are some of your biggest fears and concerns? If you’re already a stay-at-home mom, what are some of the objections you hear most often?