Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To Work or Not to Work, that IS the question.

Well let's be honest here. There is no option. As my dear husband informed me not so long playing stay at home mommy is "not sustainable long term".  So there ends the question. But not really.  There's a lot more to it than just deciding to go back to work. Because I don't have a job to go "back" to. We just moved to the Chicago area two months before Gunnar was born and I haven't held a job since 2008. I do have a shiny new degree and lots of experience to boot but not sure where to start in Chicago.

I wish I had the luxury of making the choice to stay at home, but I guess in the long run with my student loans, rent, car payments and a new baby, money is our major obstacle. I so desperately want to fight for my right to stay at home. I love being a part of Gunnar's day. I love it. Even when it's hard, I love it. It's virtually impossible to get anything done, but I love it anyway. There is a reason I used to get paid to do's a full time job. If only I could get paid to be a mommy. Argh! But I can't very well justify working just to work. Daycare is far too expensive in this city and I flat out refuse to pay for someone else to raise my child just so I can work a retail job. I don't want to work just to pay for daycare, that makes no sense at all. There has to be something I can do to create revenue. My etsy shop is a start...but a couple hundred bucks a month apparently won't cut it (according to the DH). 

I've been looking for teaching jobs but not finding much in the area. I really miss the stage and would love to start auditioning again, but first I need to figure out what to do with Gunnar. I have yet to find a daycare in the city that has drop-in hours (let alone one that will accept an infant under 15 months) and I just don't know how to go about finding a trust-worthy babysitter that would be available during the day and one that won't cost me an arm and a leg.  To be honest, now that I'm a mom...I don't know how I got hired as a nanny. How do I just trust some random college student to watch my child? I know I'm going to want to find someone doting and attentive. I hate to think of putting Gunnar in a daycare where he would just be plopped in some excersaucer and left to his own devices for hours on end. (Not to say all daycares are like this...I know my nephew goes to a very loving daycare in CT but in my mind loving daycares come with a hefty price.)
I feel a little trapped. In limbo with this beautiful child not necessarily wanting to find my way out but knowing inevitably I'm going to have to or our financial future will suffer. It's times like these when I wish I lived closer to my parents.


  1. This is such a heated topic for many. So I can only speak from my experiences... But we've found a way for me to stay home. We don't have a lot of extras (though things have improved as Luke's job situation has gotten better and better). Four of us are crammed in a 2 bedroom house. We only have one car, and it had better last, for a long long time! But with the price of day care on the east coast, (and I'm guessing Chicago is much the same) for the extra $500 a month I would be bringing home, teaching, it's not worth the added stress for every member of my family. I know that all of our lives are better with me being at home. And I know that our quality of life (not having to run errands on the weekends when everyone else is, for example) is much better with me not working. I know that if I was working, our dry cleaning bill would go up. We'd be getting take out more often. We'd need another car, most likely. When you start to think about those extra costs, the $500 I would have taken home is just gone. I feel like it's worth finding a way to work from home, stretch those dollars, or otherwise make the money add up. I hope you can find a way to stay home with Gunnar! I just know that these first 5 years go by sooooooo fast. Henry will be 4 in a few weeks! I don't want to look back at my high schooler and feel like I traded those first few years for nicer clothes, new furniture, or two real vacations a year... It all just goes by so fast, and I don't want to miss a minute of it. Best of luck on your decisions (or just convincing your hubby that this is what you really want!).

  2. Kelly said it. I don't have much to add to her wisdom but did want to echo it because I agree 100%. Mark and I, between the two of us, have over $300,000 in educational debt. We'll eventually be like the Andersons - 4 or maybe even 5 of us crammed into a 2-bedroom apartment with a walkup. We "have only one car, and it had better last," as Kelly says. We have the worst-ever, oldest model cell phones and the cheapest plan available. No landline. We don't get cable and our TV is from 2003. I found MANY of Matthew's baby items for free on my mommy list serve or bought them used for cheap. I just tonight bought the FIRST piece of non-maternity clothing I've purchased since very early 2009 - for real!! - and I only spent about $100 on maternity clothes. I don't get highlights. I don't do yoga. I don't fake tan. I get a pedicure once or twice a year and it's often a gift certificate. BUT...

    (1) As Kelly says, you have to add up ALL the expenses of working, not just daycare, and subtract those from your post-taxes take-home pay!! As she says - the takeout, dry-cleaning, if you've got a kid (or 2!) and a FT job, probably a maid service unless you want to spend all your free kid-time cleaning, and imagine daycare for TWO! Also, as a SAHM you have time to focus on reducing expenses - making sure all the groceries get eaten, not doing takeout. As they say, a penny saved is a penny earned. I work as a dry-cleaner, nanny, chef, and budget expert all in my own home and I get paid for that work every day, because I'm not paying someone else to do it.

    (2) I worked both as a nanny and in a daycare. It was a reputable daycare, "La Petite Academy," you can google it - Wisconsin chain. Not the highest-end, but not dirt cheap either. I definitely have stories that could convince you not to do daycare unless you can afford really high-end. The bottom line is the workers aren't paid a whole lot more than minimum wage - imagine the people who are willing to change diapers all day in the 2 year old room for not much more money than they'd get at McDonald's. Some of them can present well to parents, and obviously this is considered in hiring them... but as with everything else, you get what you pay for. If you do go with a daycare, the first question I'd ask is how much the actual workers are paid per hour. And I would make sure it's one with a webcam.

    (3) As Kelly says, the time goes by SO fast. You have so many years ahead of you where you can go back to work without missing out on your babies - only seeing them evenings right before their bedtime and weekends!!! I guarantee if you stay home, you'll never regret it on your deathbed. Ever.

    That's my more-than-two cents. Really, I'm a lawyer and even for us we wouldn't be THAT much better off if I worked. If we both worked, we wouldn't be skimping on anything. We'd live closer to Mark's job and have higher rent in a bigger place without a walkup. A lot of what people buy these days they don't actually need. Past generations that always had a spouse staying home didn't actually have more money than we do; they just rarely ate out, used hand-me-downs, and lived more simply.