The Transition: Shifting from the Working World to SAHM

For six years and sixteen days I worked from home in the event technology/mobile app industry. Throughout that time my job title and responsibilities evolved, I watched numerous people come and go, traveled throughout the United States going to various trade-shows and meetings, and made life-long friendships. None of that was enough to keep me around after having our son.

When my husband and I decided we were ready to start trying for a child we knew there were a lot of things that were going to change. We were not going to be able to travel whenever and wherever we wanted or stay out late with friends every weekend. We were not going to be able to sleep in on the weekends until ten or go drink at the local breweries and festivals whenever we pleased. We also knew there was going to be a huge change to our financial situation. Did you know that, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610? And that is based on 2015 numbers. If you take into account inflation costs since that study was completed the number is drastically more. We looked into this at the beginning of our journey, discussed a handful of other important items, and decided on two possible scenarios:

  1. I take my full maternity leave, go back to work and my mother would watch our future child during the day or,
  2. I become a stay at home mom

Putting our child into full-time daycare was never something we considered even for a second. Between the sicknesses that we saw our friends’ children suffering through that they picked up from other kids at their daycare, to the cost (the USDA estimates that parents who choose to put their children in daycare spend an average of $37,378 per child on that expense alone), it just wasn’t something we wanted to do. Luckily my mom hopped on the idea of babysitting her future grandchild every day with zero push from us. I am pretty sure she actually told us we couldn’t put her future grandchild in daycare and volunteered before we had the chance to say otherwise! But I honestly wasn’t going to argue free childcare in addition to the opportunity to continue my career.

Despite knowing we had a full-time in-house babysitter set up for when my maternity leave was over, my husband and I still wanted to make sure that if needed I could become a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and we would still live comfortably on his salary alone. That is the first thing I believe anyone considering making the huge transition from two salaries to one needs to do before anything else. You need to make sure that you will still be able to afford all of the necessities and things you pay for monthly (i.e. mortgage, electricity and water bills, car payments if you have them, food, clothing, etc). You are bringing a new life into this world and you want to ensure they are always fed, dressed, and living the best life possible. If you are going to be struggling on one salary and constantly worrying about keeping your lights on or not being able to afford a winter jacket that fits, it might not be the best option for your family at that time. But there also might be some things you can drop to lessen your monthly expenses, such as cable, a monthly membership you hardly ever use, or eating at home instead of dining out.

My husband and I decided to go all-in and drop down to one salary immediately. We wanted to fully commit and experience what it would be like to live on his monthly income alone. So, every pay period we took my paycheck and moved it from our checking account into our savings account. Poof. That money was “gone” and not there for any of our daily/monthly/yearly expenses. We hardly ever take money out of our savings account unless it is needed in an emergency or special case (such as down payment for a house or medical issues) so we knew we wouldn’t touch it unless absolutely necessary. We started doing this in November of 2015 and our son was born in September of 2016. This gave us almost a full year of living on one salary, while subsequently increasing our savings, and proving that we could still sustain our normal way of living. I definitely suggest starting as soon as you are considering having children. We found we didn’t need to change much, just little things like not eating out as regularlay as we did and I couldn’t go into Target and buy every single thing I wanted. THE WORST! Target has literally all the things I want to buy!

In addition to moving my entire salary to savings we started moving a few hundred dollars a month to a separate savings account to start a college fund for our son. We still do this now as we do not think it is an option but a necessity. We want to be able to pay for our son’s education and not have him suffer through school loans. This is also something I suggest starting as soon as possible if it is something you wish to do.

In addition to figuring out if you can stay afloat financially, you also have to think about all the new expenses that having a baby is going to add into your daily lives and factor those into your monthly budget. Diapers and wipes are two of the biggest items because along with being costly and going through them like I go through Krispy Kreme donuts hot and fresh off the converyor belt, they are also a necessity. No, cloth diapering was not an option for us but it could be for you. I have heard that is a way to save money. Formula is another extremely large expense if you choose/have to go that route. We did. I wish I would have kept a tally of how much money we spent on formula. We had to buy a special formula specifically for cow’s milk allergy that was $37.99 (it is now $39.99!) per can before tax. A rough estimate of the amount we spent on formula alone for the 10 months that our son was on it is anywhere from $3,000 to $4,500. Mybe more. Who knows. All I know is that we would go through one to two (sometimes three if he was going through a growth spurt) large cans every six days because our son ate a lot. He grew like a weed, like all babies, but seriously ate so much. Our bank account suffered BUT, the good news is that we knew we could handle it because we were financially prepared and luckily no more formula after the first birthday. Organic whole milk is much more affordable!

So, fast forward to the end of my five-month maternity leave and I went back to work. I tried hard to jump back into the day-to-day tasks and reassume my position as best I could. It only took about three days back when I told my husband I hated it. Not my job specifically, even though there were many days throughout my six years that I absolutely hated my job, but this was not the case this time. This time I just didn’t want to work. Not just at my current job, but anywhere. All I wanted to do was spend my time with our son. Teaching him to make new sounds, learning how to grab/play with his toys and making him giggle. Teaching him about life and helping him reach his milestones such as crawling and talking. I wanted to be there, day-in and day-out, watching him grow and learn every chance I could.

My husband heard me out and was on board. He actually encouraged me to go through with it because there wasn’t anything he wanted more than me to be the one teaching our son and helping him grow. We sat down and he made a list of all of our monthly expenses. Nothing was left out. It included clothing, groceries, gas, cable, internet, travel, eating out, healthcare, car payment, mortgage, “fun money” and a whole bunch of other stuff I cannot remember. He broke it down into as many categories as needed so we could see how and where we were spending our money. This also helped us see where we could cut costs if needed. I actually just cleaned out the “junk drawer” in our kitchen this past weekend and threw this list out. I really should have kept it for sentimental purposes.

Exactly two weeks after returning from maternity leave I emailed my boss my letter of resignation. As soon as I pressed send I was both terrified and beyond thrilled. I was going to be a SAHM. But crap, what about insurance? My insurance through my company was beyond great. So great that it only cost us a total of $150 for my entire pregnancy and birth from the time of my first ultrasound, and I had a c-section with a four and a half day hospital stay! This number does not include the IUI and all the visits that led up to my pregnancy, since that procedure is not covered by insurance even though I believe it should be, but that is for another discussion. Anywho… luckily my husband had already started the process of looking into getting us on his insurance plan at work. It definitely was not as affordable as the insurance plan through my company but it was still something we could make work.

So, here we are, July 2018 and being a SAHM is still in full force. I love absolutely everything about being able to be with my sidekick all day, ever day. There are also times I wonder who gave birth to this tiny dictator because it couldn’t possibly be my child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the floor right now because I did not let him have four stamps after little gym class instead of three. But in the end, it is worth it. That is what every past and current SAHM told me when I explained I was making “the transition.” I would not regret one minute of it, not even the hard minutes. Even if we couldn’t go on as many vacations as we used to or have as many nice, expensive dinners out because our expenses don’t allow it, nothing will compare to the memories made with my child during our daily adventures.

Another important thing to know about transitioning to a SAHM is that it must be a team effort and decision. Everyone must be on board, no one can be on the fence. The reason I say this is because being a SAHM is harder than the job I left behind and is still a full-time job. Probably more-so than the “regular” full-time job. Have you ever taken care of a four month old infant for a whole day and tried to keep them fed, happy, and entertained approximately 12-15 hours out of those 24? It is not a walk in the park on a nice fall day with a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks. Then when they get older and move from three naps to two, then two naps to one, your days become even more challenging since there is more time to fill with activities. It is a bit easier to entertain them as they get older since the types of activities you can do once they are walking, running, and able to understand direction broadens. Being a SAHM is infinitely more tiring and exhausting than my old day job. My current boss is also way more demanding than my last and definitely not as understanding, especially when I tell him he cannot have a third pack of Annie’s Fruit Snacks. There are also nights that my husband gets home, the house is a wreck, and I have already poured myself a glass a wine. He knows this is his cue to take over allow me a short break to take a hot bath or just sit and read in silence. However, no matter how bad the days or nights are, the good always outweigh those and I would not trade being a mom for absolutely anything in the entire world. Each morning my son leans in for a big kiss and hug after I get hime out of bed and change his diaper. It is the small moments like those that I cherish and wish to hold onto forever that make all the date-nights I am missing out on much more tolerable 😉

Note: I do teach Bodypump but I do not consider this a “job” per se since I only make anywhere from $18-$23 per class depending on which gym I teach at and teach maybe two to three times per week. This kind of pay might fill my truck up with gas twice a month. I also would be working out and staying fit whether I was on the stage teaching or not, so I might as well get paid to do it and get a free membership for being an instructor!

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