Sunday, January 22, 2012

Is It Worth It to Work Outside of The Home?

I'm going to step into some controversial ground now so I apologize in advance should I happen to offend anyone. 

As some of you may already know, we operate a licensed childcare in our home.   I am so grateful for our business and for the amazing families that entrust us to care for their precious children.  I love each family as if they are an extension of my own.  I believe they appreciate and love us too, as we usually have a child from 6 weeks old until kindergarten age.  The low turnover rate tells me that we are doing something right here. 

This business allows me to stay home with my babies while earning a living.  Ultimately, this is the reason we choose to operate a daycare.

Now that I've said so much positive about my situation, I'm going to say something a little crazy......Get ready for it........

The Big Revelation

It often doesn't make sense for both parents to work outside of the home.   I know, if it weren't for working parents, we wouldn't have a business.  Crazy thing for me to say, right? 

I do understand that not all parents are in a relationship, much less a supportive relationship with their child's other parent.  So please take single parents out of this discussion for a moment.  Or leave them in if you wish. 

Childcare is Expensive!

One of the most compelling reasons for a parent of a small child to stay home with them is.....ME!  Oh, I don't mean that a child won't get love and good care with a daycare provider.  Although quality of care is a concern, we'll save that discussion for another time.  I'm simply talking about the cost of childcare! 

I don't know what the current national average childcare tuition is, however in our region of the nation, $100 to $200 weekly is a common range. This varies based on the age of the child and the type of facility.  Centers are generally more expensive than in-home providers.  

Our average fee is $150 a week.   That adds up to $650 a month per child and a whopping $7,800 a year!  That is ONE child.   

Is it Worth Your Time?

You can do some simple calculating to decide whether working outside of the home is worth it for you and your family.  I'll give you an example situation based on a mother of a child enrolled in our daycare.  For the sake of privacy, she will remain anonymous.  Her income is based on $10 an hour - 40 hours a week.

  Mom's Income and Job Related Expenses-

------------------------Weekly               Monthly
Income  -                   $400.00              $1,733.00
Deduct Income Taxes -$ 58.00              $  251.00 
Net Income weekly   $342.00           $1,482.00 
Reduced by
Childcare fees           -$130.00              $   563.33
Cost of fuel              -$ 32.94              $   137.24
Insure 2nd vehicle    -$ 30.32               $   131.42
Loan on 2nd car       -$ 46.15               $   200.00
Net Income              $102.59           $    450.01

As you can see, my anonymous daycare mother was ultimately contributing only $102.59 a week toward the household income.  That calculates out to approximately $2.56 an hour! 

These figures aren't taking into consideration her commute time, nor the money she was spending for lunches and convenience foods.  Also not being included in these calculations are the money that she spent on professional clothing, haircuts, etc.   I suspect if we were able to factor in those numbers, she likely would be spending money, instead of making money to work. 

With our encouragement, this family made the very wise decision to have Mom stay home with their baby.  Now, convenience foods and eating out are the exception in their household instead of the rule.    The whole family is eating healthier because Mom has time to prepare home cooked meals and pack a lunch for Dad.   Dinner time is now a relaxing experience for them instead of the mad rush it used to be.

They sold their 2nd vehicle and are getting by with one until they save enough cash to purchase a quality used vehicle.   This is huge savings for them each month.

Mom said she feels much more at peace being with her baby.  And although she worries about money still, the extra money savings they've realized just in their weekly grocery bill alone more than make up for that $102 she gave up. 

Being a stay at home parent can be a career to be very proud of.   Sometimes we let society's expectations tell us how we should live our lives.  We may feel we aren't contributing if we don't have a job.  We might buy into the stereotype of the lazy "bon bon" eating wife and let that turn us off to the idea.  But as you can see, NOT working can actually add income to your family's budget.  Just remember the old adage, a penny saved is a penny earned. 

To take the step to become a stay at home parent is a big decision.   I believe both Mom and Dad must be supportive of the idea.  Both must see the value that a stay-at-home parent adds.  The stay-at-home parent should understand the importance of their position and realize the impact they are capable of having on the household budget.

So, if you've been contemplating staying at home with your child(ren), or if you've wondered if your family will ever get ahead, even though you are both working hard, you should put pencil to paper and calculate your actual take home earnings.  You might be surprised at how little you are earning for each hour you work.

Please feel free to share your personal experience.   I'd love to hear how your family makes it work.


  1. When our children were young, my husband stayed home with them. I made more money than he did at the time (still do) and he was making enough working out of the home to ALMOST pay for child care, so we made the decision for him to stay home. We haven't regretted it. Our children are all older now and he is doing freelance work out of the home but even that allows him to do lots of household repairs and such.
    Such an arrangement isn't for everyone- not every guy could stand being the stay at home Dad while Mom earns the money! It's hard on the male ego. But I must say, he has an amazing relationship with our children even today. Well worth it.

    1. Judy,

      I'm so glad to hear of another family that made this arrangement work. And I'm glad that you brought up the fact that a dad can be the stay at home parent. (You might have noticed that I didn't just say "stay at home mom").

      Not every guy could stay at home with his children but I happen to be married to one also! For the last 6 years we have both stayed at home, running the daycare together and raising our children together. Only recently has he decided to focus on his sound and lighting business (for local bands, etc.)

      For us it wasn't only matter of just money. My husband has a Masters degree and probably could make more at a job. It made financial sense and appealed to us on an emotional level.

      We're just so thankful we've had the opportunity to really be with our children for all those special moments.

      My husband has four grown children from his 1st marriage and he missed out on so much simply because he was working, often two jobs at a time. With our two youngest, he has a incredible bond. So there are definite emotional perks for a dad that can stay home with his babies.

      We still get a little flack from others about our choice but my husband is a strong guy and he doesn't let it bother him.

      I feel that what you and your husband chose to do is amazing and you are both to be commended. Thank you so much for sharing your story! What an encouragement you both are!

      Have a great week!


    2. Hi -

      My hubby needs to meet your hubby! My guy also is in the music biz and has a Masters (in Math) - AND stays home with the kids!

      I stumbled across your blog and am glad I did. The question I have is - does it still make sense, in your opininon, for one parent to stay home, if the grocery savings aren't really being met. My husband's a big help with so many things, but most of the cooking and all of the meal planning and shopping have been "my job" because they're just not in his skill set. So we end up eating out one day a week on average and stil include many convenience foods on the grocery run.

      Thanks for having this blog!


    3. Hi Becky! I'm so glad you did find my blog! You raise a really interesting question. I believe from a financial perspective, the stay-at-home parent ought to try to do everything they can to save money for the family. From an emotional perspective, the stay-at-home parent's influence is priceless, if they are truly interacting with the children. If your children are 'tweens or teenagers, your husband's influence might be the factor that keeps your children on a straight and narrow path.

      If your husband doesn't see the financial value in learning those "skill sets" but you both still appreciate what he does contribute to, then I would encourage you to find ways to delegate the responsibilities in a manner that feels easy to your husband.

      For example, if you can plan the menu and grocery list but ask your hubby to purchase the items (with specifics on brands, for savings etc.) for you while the children are in school, then you would be relieved of the time taken out of your week shopping. It might seem like extra work to instruct him in the details but in the long run, I think it would pay off for you in time saved and money spent on eating out and convenience foods.

      You might find that he takes some ownership in this process eventually and takes over more of the responsibility for you.

      If your husband is resistant to doing the shopping (but made easy for him with clear lists), then at least consider the following time saving ideas to free up your time investment in the process.

      1) Consider "mass" cooking - I did work outside of the home as an insurance for over 10 years and I used Saturday mornings to prepare, precook and freeze multiple meals. I found this to be a big time saver and a money saver.

      2) If "mass" cooking is too much for you with your busy schedule, then consider doubling each meal you cook and freezing the second portion for a later day. This way you are making your own "convenience" foods, a little at a time, without any added time investment.

      3) If you have a crockpot, use it as much as possible. I did use my crockpot a lot when I worked outside the home. It was easy enough to throw the ingredients in before leaving for work (or the night before and store in the refrigerator until next morning). I remember that it was such a good feeling to walk in the door after a long day and have dinner ready.

      I can understand your frustration with your current situation but I think with a little creativity and perhaps some prodding on your part, you can find a way to keep peace in your home AND save more of your hard earned money!

      I will write a more detailed posting on these methods in the near future, but in the meantime, you can find helpful information online about "mass" cooking.

      Good luck, Becky! I do hope you'll stop back by soon!

      Have a wonderful day!

  2. Poppy, Thank you so much for joining me over at Living Life. I am hoping with help I have worked out the commenting thing. I hope you will try again.

    I was a stay at home mom and do not regret one minute of it. You make some very good and interesting points. Thanks again. Bonnie (I'll be back)

    1. Bonnie,

      Glad to hear you might've fixed the commenting situation. I'll give it a try right now!


  3. Dear Poppy, Hello, and thank you for following my blog.
    I have read your latest posting with interest and pleasure. Your feelings are so close to my own. I gave up work outside the home when my first child was born. I took further training once she started school so that I could work from home in a freelance capacity and did so throughout my two daughters' childhoods. Often I was working well into the night, with an obliging husband driving the resulting work into town to catch the overnight train so that it could be sitting on the art editor's desk the next morning!
    I had a lot of difficulty in having children and I wasn't going to miss a moment of their childhood; working freelance was the best decision that I made. It isn't a choice that is available for everyone, I know, and I think that decisions and expectations are very difficult for mothers today. So well done you for setting down the economics that could create good decisions and happier households!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! I really appreciate that you've taken the time to share your inspirational story! You are a real encouragement to other parents whose heart's desire is to be with their babies and contribute financially. You clearly made a success of it with determination, hard work, late nights and a supportive husband!

      Thank you again! I look forward to following your blog!

      Best regards,


  4. Hi RaShell! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's been some time since I had to deal with this subject but going back about 15 years, I had this discussion with my husband. I figured out that with child care {after school hours}, work clothes, gas, lunch {to either buy or bring to work}, dry cleaning, and any other expense that comes with working, I would have brought very little money into the house. Not worth having someone else but me be with my kids. {No offense to what you do}. Luckily, I was able to stay home with my kids and I did go back to work once they were in their teens and were self-sufficient after school until I got home a couple of hours later. I guess it shows that even 15 years later, the topic is still tossed around!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kathy! Thanks for sharing your story with us! No offense taken regarding my profession, I do what I do because I don't want someone else with my kids all day. I can't bare to think about all the little moments I would miss. No judgement to parents who both choose to work outside of the home. I just know it's not for me, for many reasons.

      Thanks again and I look forward to following your blog!

      Have a great day!


  5. Hi Poppy
    What a great post.
    I never worked while raising my son. My husband never earned much...we were just very careful with our money. I was constantly "chastised" for staying home. I had many women tell me I was lazy. No, my son meant more to me than having "things". It was a decision I never regretted. I see him raising his own son with the values he grew up with and I am once again reminded that what they learn in those first years is of such importance.
    You have a lovely blog--I'm glad I checked it out!

    1. Thank you for stopping in Sue! I understand the "chastised" issue.

      I've actually had people say to me that I don't work, even though I have 6 children AND run a licensed daycare. I just joke that I should take a job so I can take breaks and a lunch! But I know what I do matters. I have a sense of peace especially now that some of my children are teenagers. I know that I'm where I need to be for both me and my family. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for offering words of encouragement for parents who might have the conviction to be home with their children but haven't quite made that leap.

      Have a wonderful day! I do hope you'll stop back by again!

  6. My husband and I married young. We had two daughters who are now adults. Often, while they were growing up, I stayed home because, as you were saying, it was much too expensive to work. We made hard decisions that allowed me to stay home to raise our kids full-time, such as having only one car for the first six years of our marriage. Easy? No. And we were married for 10 years before we bought our first house. I can say....the sacrifices have been well worth it. Our oldest graduated in 2010 from Texas A&M w/her degree in Biology and my youngest is in her 3rd year to be a Child-Life Specialist. We did something right. I think by sacrificing during those most critical years, it worked for our particular family. And my husband was incredibly supportive, preferring that I stay home instead of work...not all husbands are like that; I've had friends whose husbands actually are jealous of their wives "freedom" from a paying job. Those husbands are usually the ones who never take care of the kids other than for short blips at a time...the dads who REALLY do their part are more aware of a stay-at-home mom's stress and nonstop breaks, no vacations, no holidays, no sick days...just on duty, on call, most every moment, and the moms know how to put the kids first.

    So, I agree with everything you were saying. I admire the strength of the single moms out there and know that they can keep doing it...women are so strong-natured...and their children will grow up to admire their mom's determination.

    Being a mom is not always easy or without tough choices. I'm glad I went without a car and without many simple luxuries so that I could be the one taking care of my children with the support of my husband. I was very blessed.

    However, when a mom does want or need to go to work, having good child care available in a home setting is certainly a wonderful perk and your business sounds rewarding.


  7. Been doing daycare for 25 years with the same age group as you. Such a shame to see some of these kid's family life. The parents value their possessions over the children. So many devastated little ones with divorce. And so many single moms with no legal father in sight. Lots of grandparents bearing the load. I feel that our society pushes mothers to think mostly of themselves. oprah has been a very bad influence on young impressionable women. Just thankful I was home with our two and can be a godly influence on all the families that have passed through our lives. Many have come to be loved as grandchildren by my husband and me. It;s a big responsibility that sometimes literally wears me out by the end of a 10 hour day. But I wouldn't choose to have it any other way. And I have suggested that some mothers should try staying at home. One out of all those years did start daycare to be home with her 3 girls. Most tell me that they couldn't do what I do, watch, care, clean and love little kids all day long. They are missing the best part of their young one's lives.

  8. Hi Poppy. :)

    I just stumbled upon your blog and as I read through it...This will be useful for my when I move out on my own and need to live on a VERY tight budget. So I am bookmarking this blog. :)

    1. Thanks Dyl! I really appreciate the support! Hope to offer more useful tips in the future for you. Have a great day!


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