February 20, 2013

The Decision to Stay Home

** This post was written on September 21, 2012.  I never published it **

I don't even know where to begin.  The decision to be a SAHM was not one that was made overnight.  Of course after Asher was born I thought about how nice it would be to be able to stay at home but financially we weren't prepared.  I think we weren't financially prepared because until you carry a child for 9 months, give birth and see their little face for the first time you really have no idea what it is like to be a Mom - what its like to hold and feed and care for your own child.  So reluctantly, I went back to work.

When I found out I was pregnant with Adler I started to think about it a little more.  Then they found the amniotic band and I made the decision then and there if there was something wrong with my baby I would do whatever it took to stay home.  Well a few weeks later we found out he was going to be fine.  But - that got me thinking.  Why would I do everything in my power to stay home with a baby with special needs but not if he was healthy?  So I started looking into staying home.  I joined the SAHM board on BabyCenter and learned a lot there.  From there I found that I really needed to live off of Dustin's income for a while to see if we could actually do it.  As of October we have been living off of just Dustin's income for a full year and socking mine away in an emergency fund. 

It was during this time that I made a lot of decisions that would make it possible for me to stay home.  I grew out my hair - between Asher & me we were spending nearly $1,000 a year on hair!  I made my own laundry detergent.  I drove the Bug every.single.day even when my belly got huge because it got twice the MPG that my truck does.  I started to meal plan and basically cut my grocery budget in half.  I started following the "We're Debt Free" board on BabyCenter.  I have learned SO much there.  They made me think about things I had never thought about before.  Like the fact that we were paying $45/mo for XM radio in 3 vehicles and $20/mo for Onstar that I had never used.  It was those ladies that introduced me to YNAB and it has changed my life!  You really have no idea where your money is going each month until you have to categorize each expense.

Now, when I go shopping (which isn't that often) I really stop to think about whether or not I need something.  Dustin and I are fortunate enough (or disciplined enough) to not have any credit card debt and very little consumer debt (damn you boat).  If we had a lot of debt to be paid down we would not have been able to do this so soon.

I'm so glad I had the foresight to start saving for baby #2 early.  And by early I mean January 2010 - Asher was 6 months.  In January 2010 I opened yet another ING account and named it "baby savings."  I started with putting $5 a week in it and every couple of months I would increase the amount.  By the time I had Adler we had $4,000 saved so we were able to pay all our medical bills in full. 

Probably one of the best things I did - that finally pushed me over the edge into full SAHM mode was read Dr Laura's In Praise of Stay at Home Moms.  I saw where Julie had read it and bookmarked it to read later.  I'm so glad I did.  It really made me think.  She asked questions like "If you were to die and know you're coming back as an infant.... would you choose to have your Mommy take care of you or go to daycare."  Suddenly this was not a hard decision at all.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not gonna judge any working Mommy.  I was one for 3 years and its hard.  And staying home is gonna be hard.  But at this time I feel like home is where I need to be.


Sara said...

Lots of great information here. Thanks for sharing! :-)

The Meier Family said...

I knew some of this, but not all and it helped me understand your decision more, so thanks! You defiantly need to do what makes you happy! :) But anytime you decide to come back, I am ready! ;) Take care, Nikki

Carlee Gerber said...

Great post Tess! Very informative! Staying at home really comes down to being aware and knowing where every dime goes! I made more than Andrew when I went to PRN(24 hrs/month) at work! It was scary but I've kept an excel spreadsheet since 2008 of where every dime goes so it was easy to make cuts!!!

Julie S. said...

I am so glad you liked that book. My mom gave it to me shortly after I decided to quit working at the school. It really brings an entire new perspective to your thinking! And yes, staying home is HARD and working is HARD and just being a mom is HARD! But-- you do it well! :)