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The day I unexpectedly became a stay at home mom

I came across this article on Becoming Minimalist the other day: The Completely Achievable Path to Becoming a One-Income Family

It reminded me of my own story of becoming a stay at home mom. It’s been over three years now, so I have probably begun to take it for granted, but here is how it began:

I had gone to work like every other day, but mid morning I was called into my general manager’s office and asked not to return the next day.

The details no longer matter, but needless to say I was stunned, and worried about what the future would hold.

We had our oldest two at the time and I would find out the next day that I was pregnant. We had always talked about me being a stay at home mom, but at the time, I had our budget clearly laid out and there was NO WAY that it was possible. But we were “working towards it.”

When my husband got home from work I had already been looking up jobs on Craigslist and had a plan for finding free lance work to help get us by.

God bless him, his response was: “No. Absolutely not. I want you to be home with the kids and we’ll make it work.”

All I could think was “well that sounds really good, but I know our budget better than you do!” (We literally had $0 in our savings account at the time.)

But I agreed to give it a try and if at any point I needed to go back to work we would cross that bridge then. He agreed to sell his truck that we still had payments on.

"If I hadn't lost my job I worry that we would have never decided that we were in a place where we could afford for me to stay home...it has been worth every sacrifice and cut back (and didn't change our lifestyle that much in the long run!)."

What happened?

A year later his truck was the only thing that we had to “downsize” (and he has since replaced it with a similar one) and I never had to look for full time work.

I do freelance graphic and web design work on the side, but because I enjoy it, not because I have to.

Even with keeping close track of our budget, I never realized how much we spent on daycare, gas for me to drive to work, clothes, and eating out because I didn’t have the energy to cook when we got home. And we just bought more because we had the ability to do so (most of which we justified as a “need”).

So when we made the switch, it honestly didn’t feel like we were having to give up much to afford for me to be at home. And my husband preferred the benefits of it: I was less stressed, cooked way more, and the house stayed cleaner. (I hope this doesn’t sound like he was glad to have a maid–when the house is under control, he feels like life is under control and I think I probably feel the same way, too!)

But even after I had been staying home for awhile, there were a few things that I struggled with:

  1. Shouldn’t I work until my student loans were paid off? I still had ALOT of student loans, was it responsible for me to not work before they were paid off?
  2. We could do more “good” through donations with the extra money I was making. Without my income, our tithing and giving lines would be significantly reduced.
  3. I enjoyed my job with a Christian organization. I truly felt like I was helping and encouraging people everyday, would I have the same impact on the world being at home?

It didn’t happen right away, but over time I realized this:

  1. Even with my salary we weren’t paying extra on my loans, whether I was working or not they were still going to be there.
  2. Being able to give more is one of those lame Christian excuses to justify our actions. (Giving is good, giving at the expense of my family, not so good).
  3. I should invest where I have the most influence, and who are more impressionable than young children which we now have four of?

Do I:

  1. …ever wonder what it would be like to have my salary again (it would almost double our income)…yes. I sometimes look at other mom’s mini vans with envy, and their jobs, too. I enjoyed my job, I was good at it and had invested a lot into it. There was a lot of immediate gratification whereas raising kids is more of a long term investment.
  2. …think that every mom should stay home with her kids? No, not necessarily, but if you WANT TO, I think you should do everything within your power to make it happen.
  3. …thank God often for letting me lose my job? YES. I honestly don’t know if we would have ever gotten to the point where we “thought” we could afford for me to stay home, and that is kind of scary and sad. I am so grateful for how it worked out, although it was VERY painful at the time and took quite awhile to get over.

Looking back, my encouragement to you is this: If this is something that you TRULY want (if it has created a burden or weight on your shoulders), find a way to make it happen.

If you desire to be a stay at home mom, decide that it is ok to sacrifice vehicles, career advancement, some activities for the kids, status and even your house to make it possible…these things will STILL be there when the kids are older.

And like us, you may find that the sacrifices don’t actually feel that big once you make them.

It is kind of funny that our houses have gotten smaller and smaller since we have been married, but the quality of our life has gotten better and better. (And we still do have nice cars and a nice place to live, it is possible on one income! :)

Here are couple other posts that you might find helpful:

The Completely Achievable Path to Becoming a One-Income Family (seriously, read this if you haven’t, he is much more articulate than I!)

Finances and a $5 Latte (this explains the plan we made to get out of debt)

Make This Your Year to Get Out of Debt (how we paid off $60,000 of debt in one year without me working :)

Do you desire to stay at home? And if you stay home, how does your family make it work? Please share, we can learn so much from each other!

 

Dawn

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And if you are on Pinterest, here is a graphic for that– THANK YOU (thank you, thank you!) for sharing!

"If I hadn't lost my job I worry that we would have never decided that we were in a place where we could afford for me to stay home...it has been worth every sacrifice and cut back (and didn't change our lifestyle that much in the long run!).