Monday, April 13, 2015

The Stay at Home Mom Advantage

Today I will sell you on the idea of a Stay at Home Mom for a wife. I'm preaching to the choir, but let me ramble on about it. Let me also sell it for the ladies out there, as I have a small female readership. I'm just offering one post of counter-programming as a howl at the progressive hurricane. I am fortunate to live in a low cost, flyover area. This was part of our plan as we could not afford to live in a short commute zone in Boston, for my wife to follow the career path we both wanted for her, and to have multiple kids. My wife teaches ballet and modern dance, and has ratcheted down her teaching to now only two evenings a week. I bring in 90% of our household income. The pressure is on me. My wife knows this. This is not too different from some of my peers, but the difference is my wife is mostly a stay at home mom while my peers make 65% of their household income and their wives work in shitty 9-5 jobs making 25-35K year. I found out in 2014 what an advantage having my wife be a stay at home mom was.

1. She doesn't have her own bag of work bullshit to dump on me. My wife has small stuff as she runs the business side of the studio from our home, but my friends' wives do the "work drama is horrible" routine on them for what appears to be hours. Coworker had a wife that worked at Wal-Mart. Said he'd let her run through her Wally-World stories and zone out, repeatedly responding with 'wow honey". My carpool regularly retells these wife work stories for amusement, but it's at a minimum the first 20 minutes of their wives' time at home from work. I don't talk work drama at home. I leave it there since I heard my parents bitch about work all growing up. Our time at home is spent focused on us.

2. No drama about WHO IS PICKING THE KIDS UP TONIGHT!?!??!!? IT'S YOUR TURN GARY! HOW COULD YOU FORGET???? >legit work phone conversation overheard monthly<

3. My kids spend time with their mom during the day, and no worries they are in a day care Fight Club.

4. Those small errands that take up my peers' weekends are done during the week by my wife. This allows me to enjoy my weekends with my family instead of sitting at Midas or running to Home Depot to grab paint.

5. She cooks meals so it's another thing off my plate that some of my peers have to do. If she worked, I imagine the meal thing would be handled differently.

6. If something serious family related comes up for me, I have a partner at the house to contact to take care of things like organizing a trip. Family emergencies that may require travel arrangements or figuring out what hospital to go to, I can farm out to her as she is at home, and move it out of my hands at work.

7. Martyr Moms. Yes, being a mom is "tough" but a "working mom" adds in a whole other layer of bullshit that society allows women to use as Martyr Moms. You know the moms who lie and spread Faceborg myths, like "A mom can't use the bathroom in peace for 5 years, snarf snarf". So that Martyr Mom never uses the bathroom when he kids nap, are asleep for the night, are gone at an activity, are home with her husband? Logic. My friends with wives who work end up getting sucked into things at home because just like those men getting stressed and worn out, women do too. Sometimes the working dads become the "working mom" hardship story, but they don't bitch about it or get media coverage.

8. Friends who have wives that work have to play the "sick kid" or "sick day care provider" missed day from work game. Which parent leaves work or takes the day off to deal with a sick kid? My last boss would do this once a month (he called it "daddy day care"), but in the four years my son has been around, I've never missed a day for a "sick kid". This applies to children's doctors appointments, too. I hope my boss and his wife's Toyota Avalons are worth it.

9. When shit goes bad at a working mom's job, the stress and job search drama bleeds into dad's life. It's a natural partnership empathy thing. Stay at home moms don't have that baggage.

10. If your kids are school age, primary interface between school and your household becomes your wife. Like a lion on the savanna, you are only called in if shit gets very real.

This advantage crossed my mind all through 2014 as my specific department in my division went through a horrible period. I had peers suffering insomnia, anxiety attacks, massive weight gain or loss and whatnot. I had some nights of waking up at 2am and being unable to go back to sleep. I just wrote for you all down at the desktop those nights. My bad sleep was due to knowing some behind the scenes political drama at work, not just simple work stress, as I knew of the potential downsizings being debated and negotiated. Debating working until 8pm or just coming in on Saturday boiled down to who else would be there, and if you could stand them?

The thing that I had as an advantage was a wife being a great partner focused on our home 100% because she did not have work damage of her own. During a high stress year at work, I did not have to come home to most of the bullshit my coworkers endured. My peers at work were not so lucky. I cannot recommend this lifestyle decision enough. Think about it. I know some cities make a single income difficult, so think about relocating if your job is transferable. There are plenty of affordable cities under 500,000 in population and away from the coasts. Take one road trip outside the Acela Corridor, and you'll be pleasantly surprised about what you can find. Just think about what you really want in life, and make it happen.

14 comments:

R. Wilbur said...

There was some sort of Facebook or viral letter floating around from a husband to his stay-at-home wife, with the theme "I can't afford you."

It was weepy-beta nonsense, but he monetized some of the services and brought her contribution out to 75k per year (if he had to hire someone to do things).

Additionally, I've seen a study (via Peter Hitchens) in the UK where a second income, minus the necessary services that now must be purchased, really only added 200-300 net pounds at years end.

I'd appreciate an addendum to this post building on that theme -- you make $X. Your wife could make $Y. But if you had to pay for these things (plus the stress!) that the stay-at-home wife can accomplish, how much would $Y really need to be to justify the work?

I know, of course, that attempting to monetize the household economy is a big part of the reason everything went to shit.

But then we forgot what we were monetizing - -- so we need to work our way back to sanity somehow.

Anonymous said...

I am a college- educated, former business owning, stay home mom for 20 years. Hard work, but my family is healthy, happy, and everything works well. I love being home.

nightboat2cairo said...

As cool as that is, try being a farmer too. It is like you say but more so. There's no commute, you work together on the same problem set and the kids learn by example. The job is full of dangerous things that guys can do that girls have trouble with, so you are totally macho in your wife's eyes.

PA said...

Great breakdown. This is also our arramgement.

A stay-at-home mom also doesn't have male bosses or senior executives who tell her what to do. I pity the husbands of some of my female coworkers. I'm not even talking about anything blatant; little things like eyes lighting up when talking to a charming manager.

Sometimes I work late hours, or bring the laptop home and do a few hours of work over a weekend. I couldn't imagine tolerating my wife having responsibilities that cut into our family time.

Volunteering at school (which really is a form of community networking) and other low-stress things are great for women to do. But her having a full-time job is too disruptive of family dynamics, and it really just turns your household into a business arrangement. Divorce would feel like less a taboo to break from that perspective.

Suburban_elk said...

Stay at home moms can tend to go crazy though, if they are not connected to some semblance of a community. If their immediate family structure does for that than they are ok, but otherwise?

Back before the worm turned, a mainstay of the public education curriculum was home economics with cookies and sewing. And shop class for the boys but were the girls in there too i cannot remember them being there. I still have a garden trowel from 7th grade which got an A, and it is on the shelves along with my other trowels and it was not my fav because it is heavy and with its heavy gauge and sharpened blade more of a weapon - if you are going to carry for the suburban streets it should be plausibly deniable as regards intent.

That trowel was the last useful thing from my public education. Had i had any clue about life i would have taken that garden trowel walked away and gone to work but i was only 12 so.

Just think about what you really want in life, and make it happen.

But my biggest gripe about things is how suburban kids between the ages of say 10 and 15 are not put to work in useful things like gardening and farming and shop. Instead they are inside with attention deficit disorder which are symptoms for bored, and everyone knows this, except actually not everyone because the notion that symptoms are (not) treatable is … like whack or something.

Anonymous said...

It's the opposite of traditional, but I started being the stay-at-home dad to twin newborns.

My wife's salary tripled to $200k in 3 years. Where I was still in the $60k region. Having her throw that away to stay at home would be stupid, and having one parents at home rules, so I'm doing it.

The house has never been more peaceful, both of us are very happy. I don't like not working, it's emasculating, but I still get to "run the ship" in the husbandly way and the sex life hasn't suffered. Benefits outweigh the costs.

I'll go back to work after elementary school starts... probably

JohnK said...

For further inducement to reconsider two-earner families, people can also take a good look at just how much it 'costs' to have a second earner in sheer economic terms, too.

First, there's the taxes on the extra wage earner, plus possibly getting boosted into a higher bracket if you file jointly. So that's 30%-40% of the "added" income gone right off the top. Then, as you intimated, even aside from which stranger you'll just love trusting with your children, there's sizable extra transportation costs, child care, even extra prepared-food costs.

One guy's back-of-the-envelope calculation for a 'typical' situation had the second earner actually bringing home, after added expenses and taxes, about an extra $3/hour (yes, $3 an hour).

Also: social security. Most couples pretty much earn zero extra social security from that second income. The spousal benefit usually turns out to be the better economic choice. That is, if the second spouse does not work at all, she doesn't lose any social security income (the spousal benefit), nor does the couple together lose. But usually you don't gain any social security benefit from a second earner. The better choice for the second earner is usually the spousal benefit.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Have you ever read Elizabeth Warren's book The Two Income Trap? It's actually pretty good. She may be a far left lunatic but she correctly identifies the problem that having dual earners in a family hasn't really done anything for the standard of living, and it is only in coming up with solutions that she errs, predictably, on the side of massive government intervention.

I think Nassim Nicholas Taleb also mentioned in one of his books that families with two incomes are more fragile for both reasons you discuss and because the stay-at-home spouse (presumably the wife for various reasons familiar to readers of blogs like this) can step in to boost income if the other spouse is incapacitated without suffering a massive drop in overall family income.

Jenny said...

we've been doing the SAHM thing for about four years now. Lack of social interaction does drive me a little crazy, but the stress in our home has gone way down, even with money being tighter. It is so much nicer.

Anonymous said...

Offsets:

Potential for total loss of child custody in case of divorce

Potential for lifetime alimony in case of divorce

Net Advantage = -1,000 X

Anonymous said...

There are wider-reaching problems caused by two-income families, as well. The first one I can think of that extends into society is the lack of social neighborhoods for the kids to grow up in. When the kids and parents are gone all day, no one gets to know each other. The rare stay-at-home mom can't let her kids roam the neighborhood because there's no social network of other moms to help keep an eye on things. And stay-at-home dads just don't work. They are excluded from mommie groups and they ruin the trust a man has of his woman at home because the stay-at-home 'man' will probably want to bang her. Let's face it, you can't have a community or neighborhood when people only go there to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Can't even begin to consider this without the increased possibility of divorce rape being addressed.

Jessie Maureen said...

Thank you for all the ideas! I am 3 months pregnant and my husband I agreed to pull me out of work and be stay at home mom. We could definitely use the extra income, a lot or a little, to support the baby! I will keep your article for the future! Very excited to be a stay at home mom and hopefully make some extra incom. Thank you again!

Bryant said...

One specific societal ill caused by two-income households is that it generally raises the price of houses and all household items. This, combined with the massive increase in debt, is one of the reasons why the continuing drop of purchasing power by the average workers in the US has been masked.