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July 27, 2015

Can I Afford to Stay Home with My Babies?

You want to stay home with your little ones, but you're just not sure it's financially possible.

You may have asked yourself, "Can I afford to stay home with my babies?"

If so, this post is for you!
Afford to Stay Home

What are the deepest desires of your heart? 

What are your priorities?

Are you willing to make the lifestyle changes that might be necessary to make this possible?

If you have been following along in my space for long, you know my passion for motherhood

You know my heart for mothers serving their families and managing their homes in a creative way. I realize that my perspective on this is not a popular one - a call for moms of little ones to reject the cultural norms in this country and embrace the Creator's design for the family and their God-given role in the home.

Sally Clarkson does such a beautiful job of describing God's design for motherhood, and if you are a mom seeking specific direction in this area, I know you will be encouraged by her!

I did not choose motherhood because I was "just a teacher".
I did not choose motherhood because we felt we could "make it" on my husband's salary.
It was not at all a financial decision.
I chose motherhood, because God gave me children.

Even in faith circles, we have accepted the lie that men and women are equal in every way and that there should be no difference made between genders. We have accepted the lies that we can do it all, have it all, be in two places at once, give 100% to our well as a full-time career. Ignoring God's design, we have begun to embrace new thoughts and ideas - ideas that have taken women away from their homes and placed them in full-time careers - while childcare workers take care of the little ones. 

We have farmed our children out to day cares, nannies, etc. and we pay them to raise our children. When you consider all of the costs involved in a mother maintaining a full-time career - child care ($$$), travel expenses (vehicle, gas, etc.), service costs (house cleaning, lawn maintenance, dry cleaning, eating out, etc.), the spending that takes place simply because the part-time mom feels she deserves certain things, the lack of time she feels she has to commit to wise money management, etc. - many families are barely breaking even. Some families would be amazed at how much more money they would have if the mom gave up her full-time career - Yes, you heard me correctly. Sure, some are coming out ahead financially - possibly way ahead - but their homes...their families are the price that is paid.

Is it worth it?

Read: From Classroom Teacher to Full-Time Mom

...but I have to work, they say.

Sure, they might have to work if they are going to be able to afford the house that they've mortgaged. 

Sure, they might have to work if they are going to continue carrying car payments. 

Sure, they might have to work to justify their shopping habits - even though the spending may not be that extravagant. 

Sure, they might have to work to feel okay about taking the vacations that they feel their children deserve. 

Sure, they might have to work because they've married a man who insists that they have a real job.

Sure, they might have to work to pay for years of poor financial decisions.

But in all reality, do they really have to work? 

We need to keep God's wishes at the center of our desires. We can strategize and plan, but we need to run our plans through the grid of God's plan. Having this mind-set is part of what sets us apart from the world. People in the world make plans according to what they feel is best for them, what will bring the most financial gain, or what will bring them notoriety and success. God invites us to make our plans according to what will be in line with His desire for us and what will bring glory to Him, not ourselves. - Karen Ehman

It is possible to live [and thrive] on one income (no matter what that income might look like), and in my post - How to Thrive on One Income - I share some of my most practical tips.

Maybe you find yourself in a situation where you are wondering if this one-income thing is possible for your family. If so, you are the mom I want to encourage today!

Are you willing to make the effort to budget carefully?

Are you willing to learn how to be a more savvy shopper?

Are you willing to do without the truly unnecessary?

Are you willing to stop buying things you don't need?

Are you willing to downsize - drastically, if necessary?

Are you willing to viciously attack any lifestyle/cycle of debt you may have?

Well, it all depends on your priorities.

You will only truly sacrifice when you passionately believe in the outcome. 
- Dame Ramsey

Soon after I became a mom, I started to realize that there are many moms who have no desire to be with their children. They will openly tell you that they would not be able to stand being with their little ones all day. Hey, at least they're honest, but I have to say...I felt a little shocked when I started encountering these mamas. Yes, I realize that being a full-time parent is incredibly would be far easier to pass my responsibilities off to someone else... so I shouldn't be surprised by what these moms have to say, but I am.

More commonly though, I hear mothers with full-time careers outside of the home saying that they wish they could find a way to be home with their babies. They say that they would give anything to be able to quit working outside the home - away from their little ones - away from their domains, but many of them - for whatever reason - are not taking any steps toward changing their situation. Maybe they feel stuck? Maybe they feel hopeless?

If you continue to do the same things that you've always done, you can not expect your situation to change. 

As a result, some of these moms spend a great deal of time and energy declaring to the world - typically in conversation with other moms or on social media - how difficult their life is as a working mom. They passionately express their belief that they are pulling double-duty, and they want everyone to understand that their hard is so much more difficult than everyone else's hard. However, the reality is that we are all working moms - It's just that some of us do it part-time and some of us do it full-time. Some of us pay childcare workers to do our parenting job while we - for various reason(s) - commit ourselves to a full-time career and some of us consistently do the child-rearing ourselves.

If she were at an outside job all day long, she couldn't leave her children unattended all day. Someone would have to get them up, dress them, feed them, cook, clean, change diapers, give naps, chauffeur them, monitor homework, feed them again, clean up again, and so on and so on. What moms at home do all day is work. - Karen Ehman

I have watched countless moms leave newborn babies behind and head back to work. Many are heartbroken...shedding tears as they hand their itty bitty ones over to someone else, and I want to to tell these moms: You do not have to do it. You do not have to leave your babies. You do not have to experience that kind of loss and sadness. It isn't meant to be that way, sweet mama.

While lamenting their situation, they continue in the same cycles of money coming in/money going out, and they attempt to rationalize their situation with statements such as: 

It's not the quantity of time I spend with my children that matters - It's the quality. 

...but I love my job. Why should I have to sacrifice my career? 

I want my children to see me working hard and enjoying what I do. 

My kids understand that this is just what we have to do

My mother was a part-time mom, and I turned out okay for the most part. 

...but children are so expensive.

It makes me sad to hear parents say that can't have any more children because they can't afford to pay for them. If God has placed a desire in your heart to have more children, I can assure you that He will provide for your family. He does not fail. We are the ones who have blown this parenting thing way out of proportion - especially when it comes to our pocketbooks.

A Couple of Final Thoughts
As I mentioned before, I realize that there will be many who disagree with my perspective on this topic. This post was not intended to confront those who may find themselves feeling differently regarding roles in the home, etc. This post was specifically designed to provide direction for those seeking direction in this specific area.

I am in no way saying that it is wrong for moms to [have hobbies they enjoy] or to bring in income for their families. No money-making allowed is definitely not what I'm saying. There are so many great options out there for full-time moms - options that allow them to save money for their families/supplement what God has provided through their husband without their home and family paying a price. This will most definitely look different for each family, but for me, I love this blogging space. It is a creative outlet that yes, generates additional income for our family. However, I have shared my heart about how important it has been for me to keep this particular hobby in its rightful place. In addition to blogging, I have shared other ideas for making extra cash from home - things that I have always enjoyed doing...on the side...but not at the expense of my home. 

Some families have faced great tragedy and loss and have been forced to make difficult decisions in this area. This post was not designed to address those kinds of extreme situations. The thoughts shared here today are specifically intended to encourage and challenge those who are intentionally working toward seeing their desire to be a full-time mom become a reality. 

The road may not be an easy one, but I promise you it will be worth it!

The day-to-day of this approach to life will look very different for each family...It may vary depending on the ages of your children...There will be adjustments as your family unit walks through different seasons of life together. There is no set formula to walking this out, so if you are struggling with a decision related to your life as mom, may I encourage you to take some time to gain God's perspective in your specific life situation? He understands your family's financial needs; He is walking with you in the misunderstandings you may be having with your spouse; He is there in those moments when you are doubting your ability to mother well; and He will honor your desire to seek Him and His very best for your family.