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April 17, 2014 / BTM

More Moms Are Staying Home

stayathome3Belinda Luscombe reported the findings of a new Pew report in that showed there has been an increase in stay-at-home moms among American families for the first time in a few decades.  The trend would likely be similar, but less pronounced, in other Western countries.

Has there been a change of heart among parents over the value of having mom stay at home?  

The Pew report found three main reasons for this increase in stay-at-home mothering:

– the tougher economic climate is making it harder for moms to find work that would make paying for childcare worthwhile.  These moms are home but don’t actually want to be;

– changing demographics.  Immigrants have a higher tendency to stay at home with their children; and

– ‘public ambivalence about the impact of working mothers on young children.’

Still, only one fifth of American children have a stay-at-home mom and a working dad.

What kind of mothers are staying at home by choice?  Here’s an excerpt:

 Mothers who say they are staying home by choice tend to be married (85%) or cohabiting (64%).  Only 41% of single moms say their primary reason for not working is to look after their families; more of them either can’t find work, can’t work because of illness or are studying.  Most mothers say they’d like to work.

In fact, as Pew notes, while upper income, highly educated women who have opted out of the rat race to spend their time and talent on raising children have attracted a lot of media attention, and been the target market for a lot of parenting books, child development anguish, and mommy blogs, they are a very small minority.  Pew says only 5% of stay home moms have a masters degree or higher.  These more educated women are likely to be married to a guy who is working and the group has a median income of around $135,000.  About 70% of them are white and almost a fifth of them are Asian.  A much bigger chunk, about a quarter, of stay home moms only have a Bachelor’s degree.

It seems that I buck the trend.  I have a Master’s degree.  We don’t make that much money.  I don’t buy parenting books, or anguish over child development.

The value of having someone (most likely me) stay at home with our kids was something my husband and I agreed on while we were still dating.  We began our marriage on that assumption, and structured our finances to make sure that we could afford it.  I don’t see how you can really do it otherwise.  We bought a house based on one salary and used the other salary to pay down the mortgage as quickly as possible.  It turns out, our mortgage was paid off with my last paycheque before going on maternity leave.  If you are used to living off one salary, its easy to go down to one salary.

I have no regrets about staying at home.  I enjoyed raising our kids, and still (mostly) enjoy managing the home (who really likes cleaning bathrooms?) and being here when our kids come home from school.

I now find myself at a new cross-roads.  This is the first year when both kids are in school full-time.  Many people consider going back to work full-time at this point.  We’re going to buck that trend too.

I have to be honest, I’ve struggled with what sort of paid or volunteer work I should take on at this point in my life.  I want to work in some capacity, but I definitely don’t want full-time work.  We still want the housework and the shopping to be done during the week, not over the weekends.  We want flexibility when our kids are sick, or field trips come up.  We want to purposefully train our kids in their faith.  If both of us are tired or distracted with work demands, how could we accomplish that?  I am very mindful that whatever I take on to fill my time can’t take my focus away from home, which is still my primary mandate.

Why is working at a day care considered worthwhile employment, while staying at home to care for your own children is demeaning and unintelligent?  I’d like to see the value of having a parent at home increase in society.  I’d like to see women feel confident in making that career decision.  It is a valuable role and it is absolutely worth it.

Did you stay at home?  What were your reasons?  How did you make it work?  Did you ever go back to work (or do you plan to)?  How and when did you go back?


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