Being a Stay at Home Mom When You “Shouldn’t”

Many times over the past almost six years that I’ve been a stay at home mom, I’ve been riddled with guilt over our decision. Thoughts float around in my head: “Should I go back to work?”, “Will we be able to save enough for retirement without me financially contributing at this moment?”, “I really wish we could afford more flexibility in our budget so we could (go on vacation, join the Y, send our daughter to a cottage homeschool program, etc)”.  The guilt ate me alive at times!  It was especially worse right after my husband lost his job.  Not only was I feeling very depressed about him not having a job, I was feeling massive amounts of angst because I wasn’t working and bringing in a full time income.

I finally had to sit down and decide what our plan was going to be.  Often times when anxious thoughts take over, I have to focus on the positives to make myself realize what the bigger picture is.  We have a plan, and hopefully next year this time things will be so much better that we will forget about the few months when Mr. Money was unemployed.  I’m sure there will still be sacrifices, but if that means that I get to spend as much time with my family as I can then it’s worth it!  When there’s a will, there’s (most likely) a way.  It may not easy, but it is worth it!

Here are some of the ways we make it work:

1. Keep Expenses Low

We purchased a modest sized house over ten years ago and have made it work for our growing family. We’ve rearranged rooms and decluttered many times (constantly!) to make our spaces work for us. The cars we are still driving are same vehicles we’ve had for years and we take good care of them so they will last. Buying things we can’t afford just isn’t an option at this point in our lives and we’re okay with that.  We don’t make trips to the store just for fun and we try to combine trips to save money, time, and gas.  Shopping is not a hobby in our household.

2. Budget

Our budget is bare bones right now, but we are doing our best to stick to it. By budgeting, I feel as if I have more control over our finances since every dollar has a plan for it.  When the money is gone in one category, it’s gone.  I personally think I have the hardest time with the food category- I feel like we need what we need and there’s no way around it. However, we do have a large pantry and freezer that I can use to make it work so I really crack down on that.  We meal plan and ensure meat is thawed in time for dinner and that really helps.  I think food is a budget buster for many families!

3. Side Hustles

Figuring out a side hustle, or “Dave job” for the Dave Ramsey followers, is an excellent way to bring in extra cash each month.  I offer babysitting services, do some freelance writing, and take care of the neighbor’s dogs to help bring in extra income. Mr. Money has been known to do yard work and handyman tasks to help pad our bank account.  I believe there is something that everyone is good at that they can use to make money.

4. Cheap or Free Activities

Living in an area with excellent parks definitely has its advantages! We love to pack picnic lunches and visit different play grounds with friends or just hit up one of the local parks and go hiking. A few weeks ago, the aquarium closest to us had a homeschool field trip day and we all went for the cost of one normal admission! It was a great experience, and packing food meant we didn’t pay for anything else. In the month of October, we also scouted out all the local trunk or treats and free Halloween events happening in our city. We had tons of fun and only spent money on gas to get us to those places!

5. No Shame

This is probably the hardest part of being a stay at home mom for me, but I think it’s so important. You have to have no shame with some things. Wearing used clothing and shopping at thrift stores has become the norm for us. We receive hand-me-downs with pleasure and are very thankful for having new pieces of a wardrobe for no money! Sometimes we have to tell friends or family we just can’t afford to do activities with them, and that’s okay. No shame in that!

There are still days when I question whether or not I’m doing the right thing, but I firmly believe that every parent goes through that at times!  Raising a family is hard work, there’s no doubt about it!

What are some ways you make your financial situation work? 


Having Another Baby

Now that Penny’s almost two, we keep getting people asking us when we’re going to have another baby.  I seriously feel like I was just trying to conceive and was pregnant!  There are many factors to when the best time to have another child is, and here are some of our thoughts:

-There’s no best time to have babies.  Money will never be perfect and we’ll probably always wish we had more money.  However, we are doing okay money-wise and I don’t feel like it would be catastrophic if we decided to try to have another baby in six months or so. We can wait and wait, but we could wait forever.

-Babies are really not that expensive.  When they are little, you have the added cost to health insurance premiums, food (I’ll breastfeed the next baby as well), and diapers (we’ve got a bunch and would probably only have to buy a few more).  Since I am a stay at home mom we won’t have to pay daycare for two kids so that is huge!  I think the real cost when it comes to raising kids comes later when they are older.

-I’m a firm believer that babies don’t need a ton of stuff.  Since we already had one, I think we’ve pretty much got everything we need as far as the big stuff for a next baby.  I would have to buy the new baby a convertible car seat after they outgrow the infant seat but that is about it!  I do think it’s fun to buy new baby things, so I am looking forward to buying some new clothes or things for our next baby.  Consignment stores have inexpensive clothes!

-Spacing college costs is an expense we’re thinking about.  For instance, if we had only 2 years between kids we’d have to be paying for dual college tuitions for two years.  We’d like to help our children out as much as possible when it comes to college, so a little more time between them will give us an advantage later.  If we can’t pay for all of our childrens’ educations, then we’ll just do the best we can.

-I don’t want to wait too long because I would like Penny and her sibling to play together and enjoy each other.  I am two-and-a-half years older than my brother and six years older than my sister.  I like the three year spacing between myself and my brother although we did fight a lot as kids.  My sister and I are really close now and I love it! I want Penny to have the experience of being a sister.

I tend to over think things and I feel like there are a million reasons either way when it comes to spacing kids.  I would like at least one more child, and I’m hoping it’s easier the second time to get pregnant.  I’m so thankful we have Penny and she makes us really happy!

What are your thoughts about spacing children?  Do you think it’s better to have them closer together or further apart?



Maternity Clothes Cheap

When I first learned I was pregnant, I decided that I would be ahead of the game and start looking for some fall/winter maternity clothes, since that’s when I would be pretty big.  I went with a friend to a few stores, including Motherhood Maternity, and scoped out prices.  Old Navy’s maternity line seemed to be pretty reasonably priced.  I learned that I loved all the clothes Motherhood Maternity offered, especially their petite pants.  They fit perfectly length-wise, and that never happens!  Unfortunately, they were also priced around $35 a pair, and holy cow. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $35 for a pair of pants.  Luckily, I waited and was able to come up with a pretty nice maternity wardrobe without spending a ton of money.  Here’s how I did it:

-Went to yard sales.  When I went up to Michigan to tell my family I was pregnant, my mom and I hit up some yard sales.  She noticed one advertised on Craigslist to have maternity clothes, so we made sure to go there.  I got a pair of the petite Motherhood Maternity pants for fifty cents!  They were in great shape and are my favorite maternity pants today.  Love them!  I also got a few gender neutral sleepers for the baby for a quarter each.

-Went to many thrift stores.  Some thrift stores were much better than others, but I’ve been able to pick up a few pieces here and there, making my wardrobe more expansive.  Thrift stores weren’t my best source of clothing though, to be honest.  I think the quality of clothing at thrift stores varies depending on where you live.

-Borrowed clothing from friends.  One of my friends brought me over her whole maternity wardrobe when she found out I was pregnant.  I was able to borrow quite a few shirts and pants from her, saving me a bunch of money and shopping time!

-eBay and Craigslist.  When I learned that I loved the Motherhood pants, I started searching eBay for them.  I was able to pick up a couple pairs of dress pants for a really good price!  Even better, I didn’t have to leave the house.  My mom kept her eye out for maternity clothes on her local Craigslist, and she found someone selling maternity clothes.  She went over and bought a few pieces, and then told him to give her a call in a few days if he still hadn’t sold the clothes.  He called her later in the week to tell her she was welcome to pick up the rest of the clothes for free if we were still interested.  Awesome!

Being pregnant and thinking about how much pregnancy and babies costs can be overwhelming.  I am trying to take things one day at a time to avoid being overwhelmed.  I’m thankful I was able to put my whole maternity wardrobe together for not too much money.  I can’t imagine paying retail for all those clothes, especially when they are worn for approximately six months!

I think having and raising a baby is as expensive as you make it.  I’m going to do my best to enjoy my pregnancy and baby and not blow my budget.

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