Working Is a Luxury Some Moms Can't Afford (But They Do It Anyway)

working moms moneyThanks to the Rosen/Romney showdown of 2012, working moms are all over the news right now. What better time to stop and reflect over your own working outside of the home, in the home, not working at all but letting the nannies and chefs take care of everything in the home, situations? Over at CNN the hottest article today features a mom who declares, "I can't afford to work," and sadly, this is oftentimes true in the world of insanely expensive child care and low paying jobs. (Although the woman in this article said she decided clearing $18,000 a year wasn't enough to have someone else take care of her kids, for some of us that would be PLENTY. That's after child care and commuting costs, you guys.)

After my first child was born, I also found myself in the position of working only to pay the babysitter, and sometimes (most of the time), going in the hole. But I worked, even though I totally couldn't afford to do it.

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As someone who lived in New York City (the most expensive place to raise kids, or even puppies), I left a corporate job to pursue my acting and writing dreams and found myself pregnant a few weeks later. Not the best time to give up paid maternity leave, yet there I was. By the time my daughter was born I was writing part-time, and trying to increase my freelance portfolio dramatically. Needless to say you don't make a ton of money freelance writing when you can only afford a babysitter for six hours, once a week. But at some point, I just made the jump and increased my child care in hopes of increasing my profile. We were incredibly broke for quite some time, but it worked. By the time my second child arrived, I had an actual job at an actual publication and was well on my way.

For me, having a baby put my career goals in sharp focus. When you don't have a lot of time to waste, it's amazing what you can accomplish. But the debt that followed us has continued to put strain on our family, and we're still engaged in a constant balancing act over child care costs versus my work schedule. But this was our decision, like staying home instead of paying for child care was Sunah Hwang's decision. We're all trying to do what's best for us and for our families, under conditions that are less than ideal.

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All moms work. Some of us get a paycheck, and some of us get the satisfaction of not missing one second of our baby's life. But until women are making more than 77 cents on the dollar, health care is a given, rather than a crippling expense, and child care and maternity leave are supplemented by the government, only the very rich really have good choices to make. The rest of us just trudge along, and try not to think about what our decision to have a baby just did to our bottom line.

What choice did you make?

Image via lrargerich/Flickr

baby first year, bonding, back-to-work


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paren... parentalrights1

So if a mom is literally giving her whole check to daycare then what is she buying food and shelter with?


@parentalrights, I think it would be safe to assume the husband works too and his paycheck takes care of the bigger things.

I stayed home until my kids were both in school. I didn't "have" to work but I wanted to and I worked in their school district so I was home when they were home. 

I also didn't raise them during the "mommy wars" years. This was in the 80's when women were a hell of a lot nicer and a hell of a lot more supportive of each other. It wasn't like now. THANK GOD. Women now are downright mean.

MeAnd... MeAndTommyLee

I deciided to stay home and raise my own children.  My husband has always worked full-time w/benefits, and we saw no reason to pay someone else to do so.  Along the way....throughout 23 years of marriage and seven children,  I did take part-time jobs here and there to supplement our income because our boys wanted karate lessons, a couple of the other's needed tutoring and our only daughter's senior year was full of expensses.  We did/do fine. 

We might not have luxuries, cable TV, cell phones, or lease a brand new car every year, but we are not in debt (no credit cards) and are sending some of the kids to college presently.  And most of all, I'm happy because I saw all my children walk for the first time, heard them say mama the first time, changed their diapers myself, fed them, played with them and taught them what family means. 

I understand single parents NEED to work.  Who I don't relate to, our parents that make a very good living on one salary yet one of the parents continue to work.  Having babies and dropping them off at some daycare at six weeks old suggests a lack of priorities IMO.  Parents that are dropping their children off at 7:30am and picking them up at 5:30pm M-F cannot be considered their own child's primary care-giver.

butte... butterflymkm

I too was working just to pay for daycare at one point. Daycare here is ridiculously expensive. $1900/month for one child and while this was a safer nicer place is wasn't one on one either. Even the crappiest semi dangerous place we looked at (and I wouldn't put my child in a dangerous situation) was $1500/month. Factor in the gas to communte an hour back and forth every day and all the other costs of working in an office and I was often in the hole. I decided to go back to school and finish my masters do that I could be home with my dd the vast majority of the time while still making things better for the future for our family and getting out a bit each week to save my sanity. Worked out well all the way around (except financially of course but a little sacrifice now is worth more in the long run) I agree with Jafe-the mommy wars are crazy and I praise moms period for doing what they have to do and what they think is best for their families.

nonmember avatar Thesimpletruth

My weekly paycheck was $4 (yes, four - that is not a typo) less than what I paid in weekly childcare...and that is actually not figuring in commuting time/gas. It was a no brainer...why would literally lose money and not get to raise my kids? If I had made a lot more money, then it would have been worth it. Just wasn't.

MsRkg MsRkg

I feel like I was really blessed with the options that I had/have. I choose to go back to work but I didn't have too. I'm the director of new departmen that just started and as such have five employees that work directly under me. Since the department is new, and essentially my brainchild, I do the work for a substanially lower price than I should or than they could afford to pay for. So basically if I'm not there, the department closes, and  probably 3 out of the 5 would have to be let go. With these tough economic times, people can't afford to be out of a job, and I couldn't in good consciene let my actions affect the livelihood of another.

We have a no-hour workday, so there is no need to be in the office unless absoblutely necessary.To that extent when I had my son, I was home on maternity leave for 18 weeks, and when I went back paid for childcare on the days (2-4 a week )when I had to go to the office.  Now that he's in that rambunctions toddler phase, and is not easily amused by watching the TV in mommy's office, he's with the nanny more than usual, but that does not make me a bad mother, or my son any less loved. 

Even though my husband makes enough to support me staying home, I would have wanted to go back regardless, because I don't think I could have functioned well being with the baby all day , everyday. I liked the idea of having an adult social circle that didn't revolve around diapers and feeding and the best strollers, etc.

sofia... sofia0587

Child care cost is ridiculous here it's $1000 a month that's more than my 2 car payments and insurance together! I just don't understand if the government wants people off welfare and to work than wtf is it so expensive to do so. I unfortunately am going back to work full time after spending 11 months at home but for now my SO mom will watch her.

Torra... TorranceMom

I stay home with my kids. :)

memek... memekisses

Hubby works nights and I work days. We never have to get a sitter so financially it works out. Do we spend as much time together as wed like to? No. But you fo what you have to do to make it.

Caela... CaelanOceanamom

I don't have a choice; work or don't pay the bills isn't much of a choice. Lucky for me my mom is my daycare because my husband works out of town Monday through Friday. We see each other once a week and on the weekends; and I usually have to work Saturdays.

All I want to do is stay home with kiddo-my heart breaks a little bit every morning when I leave.

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