5 Reasons You Might Live to Regret Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

stay at home motherhoodMotherhood is really a complicated endeavor full of so many choices and so many twists and turns that it's no wonder we all become horrifically insecure and bound and determined to prove our choices are superior to others. The reality is, sadly, there is no one right path. There is no one recipe for raising a successful child and there is no one right answer as to whether or not a woman should quit her job to be home with her children.

There are so many variables that go into a decision like that and countless articles have been written advocating either side of the equation. Few of these articles mention the bigger issues that go into these decisions -- affordable childcare, better maternity leave, etc. -- but they are still worth discussing.

The latest, one from The New York Times, is a fascinating look at three women who "opted out" a decade ago and are now facing the consequences of their decisions. In short: It's not pretty.

Most of these women (OK, all of them) are privileged. These are women whose husbands earn close to seven figures and for whom money isn't an issue, so let's just make that clear. These aren't the average stay-at-home moms. However, they make some really good points. Drawing from the article, we've pulled 5 reasons being a stay-at-home-mom may not be the best decision.

These include:

1.) You could get divorced: One of the moms in the story DID get divorced and getting herself back up to speed on things wasn't exactly a simple thing. She quit at the top of her game career-wise and lost a lot of time and money because of it. Is it fair? No. Is it right? Again, no. But it's the reality. Women who opt out can be left by their spouses and be left financially devastated.

2.) You lose valuable skills: Another thing some of the women in the article (and in my life) complain about is the loss of job skills. Some women (like one in the piece) are lucky enough to parlay skills they earned through school volunteering and such into lucrative, flexible jobs. But that is the exception more than the rule.

3.) Your self-esteem plummets: For many of the women, it wasn't just about money, but also about self-esteem. I know when I was staying home, I felt like my husband was bored by most of what I had to talk about. Now that I am working again, we have a lot more to talk about.

4.) It creates resentment with the spouse: A lot of the women in the piece said that their high-earning spouse wanted them to stay home. But then in times of recession or economic downturn, they become resentful of that decision that forces them to work that much harder. One dad said:

I wonder what I could have done, having 12 years to sort of think about what I want to do. I sometimes think, Wow, I could have been an astronaut in 12 years, or I could have been something different that I’d really enjoy and that I never was afforded the financial opportunity or the time or the resources to enjoy. Maybe call it jealousy. Maybe envy. What could I have been in 12 years of self-discovery? I’ll go out on a limb and say: "I’d like to try it. It looks pretty good to me."


5.) The family makes less: Even if there is no divorce, your husband could lose his job. Even a man making $500,000 a year isn't going to have a lot left when he has three kids, a $4,000 mortgage, private school tuition, and no job. And moms with no jobs find jumping back in may not be as easy as they hoped. One mom in the piece said:

I lose sleep and have great anxiety over the thought that we have three kids who are three years apart in age and we’ll be paying for 12 years of college. Every time my daughter says, "I’ll be out of here in two years" is every time I go to bed at night and say: "Oh, my God. Can we sustain what we need for her and for the other one and for the other one and us and everything else?"


It's not a decision for everyone and some of these women were happy. But getting the full picture of years of stay-at-home-motherhood is a valuable exercise. For me, it has reaffirmed my commitment to go back to work. Then again, I have a job I do at home with a lot of flexibility. I know I am lucky. These decisions aren't easy ones.

Still, I feel grateful that I am able to contribute to our family financially, grow my career, and also be home when my kids get home from school, and for now, I wouldn't change a thing.

Would you ever quit your job?

Image via Scott/Flickr

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pezch... pezcharlotte

As a happy working mother who has a child in day care which she loves, I cannot wait to read the snarky comments to this article.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Or- you could look at it as a wonderful life decision... live that time to the max and have no regrets. Aside from the divorce situation, the rest are all about how you look at life. Sure, as a stay-at-home mom I am not running the corporate gambit and climbing the ladder of success- but I sure the heck am not sitting on my ass and doing nothing all day. Also, my life is not limited to laundry, dishes, and dirty diapers... it's all about what you make it. Unlike these women, I'm not living a "privileged" life without sacrifice- but I work hard, I volunteer in ways that matter to me and my family, and I'm raising my children with my entire heart and soul. No amount of career success could EVER compete.

That's just my personal opinion. :-)

nonmember avatar Gina

I'm happy to stay home for these first few years. Im young so i didn't have a career yet. Whenever i get back out there, I'll take the good with the bad just like i do now. No regrets here.

miche... micheledo

I don't see myself regretting it at all. And I certainly won't change my mind because I MIGHT regret it later. Personally, I would rather regret being at home with the kids then NOT being with them. It is only a fraction of their life and my own that I have this opportunity.

If regretting it is that big a fear, then maybe staying at home shouldn't be your choice.

(And seriously, you don't have to pay for your kids college. They can work their way through like many of us habe!!)

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

pezcharlotte- the key to your statement is, happy. There are many happy working moms- and there are many happy stay at home moms... it is those that just cannot find a reason to be happy that spend their time trying to make others unhappy as well. The mentality of, Well I can't find joy in being at home- how could anyone else? or Working makes me sad, how dare anyone be happy doing what I don't want to do? really seems to be more prevalent.

We hear more about unhappy people, because those that are happy are out enjoying life!

pezch... pezcharlotte

I was going to respond to you HistoryMama. I agree with you completely.  I think the problem is that we are all oversensitive. Myself included. For instance, your comment about raising your children with all of your heart and soul.  Because I am too I just have help. I also know that my daughter is getting so much out of her daycare/preschool. 

nonmember avatar Sarah

I don't regret being a stay at home mom. For me to have gone back to work after maternity leave, I would have only brought in about $100 a month after child care costs. It didn't make sense to my husband and me. He changed jobs so his new one equaled the pay we were both making and now we do with what we have. Sure we've sacrificed things, but overall it's worth it to our family.

nonmember avatar TJ

I have been a SAHM for almost thirteen years. I left my teaching career fully expecting to return at some point. As it turns out, the changes within my state's educational system have made me opt out of a return. Had I continued teaching, the gradual changes through the years wouldn't have been such an adjustment for me. (I still wouldn't have agreed.) I know I am fortunate to have been able to stay home, but it does sadden me that I don't really have a career to return to, and my degree (elementary education) is pretty worthless if I don't teach. I don't regret staying home, but I did pay a high price.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Pezcharolotte- on the internet, we lose so much in the way of conversation... my intention isn't to infer that others do not, just that I am and that is all that matters! We are oversensitive and we care WAY too much about what others think of us or how we relate to te Joneses... Screw them! Live life to your 100% and give your children everything you can- you'll be happy, they'll be happy. Our unhappiness comes when we think there might be something 'better.' What's better?!? Unless you're in a bad situation (which happens) better is all relative. :-)

nonmember avatar CrystalMP

I don't have a choice in whether I stay at home or not. My husband makes enough for me to stay at home and any job I get wouldn't pay enough to cover child care and gas. The only problem I have with staying at home is that being a mom is all I'll ever be and I don't want to boys to think less of me for not being more, but on the flipside I don't want my boys to have what I had as a child. I can remember very well most days I would only see my mom for about 10 to 15 minutes at the most during the day I don't dislike her for working as hard as she did but I still wish she had been around more

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