How do we work? Data points from all over, please

It's been a few years since we did a post like this, so it seems like it's time for a new one.

What I want to get at, through your data points, is why we make the choices we make about work and careers. There's a popular misconception that women are stepping off the career track because they either don't have the fighting spirit (solved by leaning in), or because men are taking 24 cents out of our purses every night while we're asleep and we're too tired to stop them, or because women who work are radical militant hostile feminists and women who stay at home are new-wave feminists who only wear Converse and have tattoos of quotes from Catcher in the Rye on their necks and make their own almond milk.

In short, I think almost everything in the popular media about women/mothers working is full of crap and reduces us all. I'd like us to talk about what it's really like. Are we actually stepping off the career track? How many of our decisions are limited and how many are choice?

Please comment, whatever your work situation is and wherever you live. (Yes, being out of the paid work force is a "work situation.") Your data point helps us all.

Things that are germane to this discussion:

  • how many kids you have and how old they are
  • how old you are
  • where you live
  • how much childcare you need
  • how childcare works where you live (nannies, childcare centers, home-based childcare, etc.)
  • does it "make sense" for you to work in your chosen profession where you live and with the childcare you'd need?
  • whether you have a partner or not and what the partner's work situation is and how it intersects
  • if your child has another parent that isn't your partner, and how that intersects with finances and work and care
  • your education level, whether that limits you in your earning power, whether you are dealing with paying off loans for your education
  • "The Economy" (I put that in quotes because by now it sounds like saying "The Bogeyman")
  • how you feel about your work situation right now
  • how you feel about what you anticipate you'll be doing in five years (taking into account changing childcare needs)
  • anything else you feel is relevant to the conversation (only person of your ethnicity at your job, only woman on your street who works/stays home, first person in your family to earn a degree and how that pressure affects you, credit rating tanked by a divorce, just got a promotion, etc.)

Share as much or as little of that as you want. If you'd like to share your business without actually sharing your business with the whole internet, comment anonymously or under a pseudonym by putting www.fake.com in the box that asks for a URL.

168 thoughts on “How do we work? Data points from all over, please”

  1. I have one daughter, almost 4. When I was pregnant, my spouse and I made the conscious decision for me to take a part-time (30 hrs/wk) job because of his demanding profession. My daughter is in daycare, and since I pay for a full week regardless of whether she uses it or not, I typically use my day off to run errands, etc. Now I am divorced and having a hard time making ends meet on a part-time salary, although I love the schedule and the flexibility. I am applying for full-time positions in my field right now.I am very lucky in that I have a master’s degree and no student loan debt. I actually sort of miss the excitement of my travel-intensive, stressful corporate job that I had before my daughter, but I also sort of like doing this braindead work that I’m doing now.
    I have no clue what I want to be when I grow up but I know it’s probably not financial in nature (what I do now). So five years from now… no idea. I’d love to go back to school, if I could afford it, but I don’t even know what I would major in.

  2. One kiddo, he’s 2.5 We live in Fairfield County, CT.He’s in full time daycare in a daycare center which was FAR less than a nanny, but more than home based. About 13K a year. Gulp.
    Both of us, husband and I, have to work or we could not stay in CT. It would be impossible unless we moved. Even then, rentals around here are not much less, we have a pretty low mortgage payment. Bought our house for super cheap from a relative or we would not be home buyers most likely!
    I have a bachelor’s in Fine Arts and a good job, not in my field. My husband is in sales and has no college degree. We make about 100K and I have college loans of about 15K still left. Over 10 years after graduation.
    I am studying for Web Development at night right now, to hopefully make more money in the future. Plus it could possibly be a work at home type of job, which would be great, no after school child care would be necessary in the future.
    We would like to move to a less expensive county in CT, but still be near the ocean. We use that as our free place to go play on the weekends! So it’s worth it for us being in a town with a beach, or a town away. But CT is so expensive if we didn’t have a ton of family and friends here we would totally leave. It’s outrageous. Living here is making us really doubt the possibility of another child, it’s just way way too expensive.

  3. Two children, ages 5 and 6, I live in North Carolina.I need childcare (preschool) for the 5 year old, and afterschool care for both. I also need at least one night/week, but often two nights a week (this week, it’s three!) of babysitting so that I can attend work meetings.
    Most people where I live seem to do the daycare/preschool thing, instead of nannies or full-time babysitters.
    I am married; my spouse doesn’t get home until 7:30 or 8 pm most evenings, thus the evening babysitters when I have work meetings that begin at 6 or 7. I am the primary parent doing school drop-off/pickup/babysitter scheduling, as he works 45 minutes (one way) away from where we live and where school is.
    Does it “make sense” for me to work in my profession? Yes. Because the child care situation is temporary — my career is hopefully less temporary. My opinion on this for myself is very colored — I lived in Houston when Enron collapsed, and there were constant stories in the newspapers and local news about employees whose life savings had been wiped out, because they had all their pensions in Enron stock. And so many of these employees lived in one-income households. I vowed then that I would always work and never rely on my husband to support the family, because you just never know. So for me, it makes sense to work at my career and in my profession, regardless of the childcare situation.
    I have a master’s degree, and we are still paying off the loans for that degree, as well as for my husband’s master’s degree. Sometimes, it seems we’ll never be done with those loans!
    The “Economy” — yikes. Well, my husband’s job has been shaky at times, so it’s super important for me to keep working and to do a good job where I am! I never feel comfortable about either of our job situations.
    In five years — I would love to be able to not have so many evening and weekend meetings, and to spend more time with my family. To not feel so rushed all the time. I anticipate that in five years, I’ll be able to let my kids (the oldest will be 11 then) come to my work and do homework here, instead of having them in afterschool every day. That will be a huge help.
    I am the first person in my family to attend college, so that definitely colors my experience, too.
    Thanks for collecting these data points — I love seeing how we are all doing.

  4. I live in Northern Virginia. I have two kids, ages 6 and 3. The oldest is in half-day kindergarten and goes to a daycare center in the afternoons. The youngest is at the same daycare center all day. Once the youngest starts full day school, I will likely switch to an afternoon babysitter, but for now we’re staying in the center. I like it and so do they.It seems that daycare centers and home daycares are the most popular choices in this area, with some nannies. I do make enough to pay for childcare out of my salary alone with some left over, so financially it makes sense. My husband also works full time and make significantly more than do I. We could make it on my husband’s salary alone, and we would all probably be less rushed, but I love my job and will do what it takes to have my career in my life. We both have masters’, and we both have not-insignificant earning potential. His greater than mine, however. I am a librarian. Even worse, and archivist, and “The Economy” is not kind to those of us in the library world.
    I like my job, I love my career. I wish I could work a 30 hour work week, just to give me a little slack. But as I’ve said, I will do what I have to in order to keep my career as part of my life. We are done with having kids, so I see the next 5 years as an evolution of this life, changing to take into account the different needs of older kids. I look forward to it.

  5. I’m 32. I have two kids aged 2 yrs and 11 months (they are 13 months apart). I live in the Denver, Colorado metro area.I am an engineer and I hold a master’s degree. I am fortunate enough to be “living the dream,” and working in the field that is my passion and for which I was educated. I work outside the home. After I returned to work from #2, I went to 27hrs/week over 3 days in the office until the baby was 8 months, and then I went to 31 hrs/week over 4 days.
    We have a nanny. We found that having a nanny was only very slightly more expensive than having two infants/toddlers in day care. Plus, I outsource some household chores (laundry, dishes, etc) and some family meals (she makes dinner most of the days she works), which is just huge in terms of time management. Right now, I pay her for about 38 hours even though I only work 31. This gives me some discretionary time to shop, do self-care (haircuts, etc), and get in some gym workouts each week.
    My husband is also an engineer. He holds a PhD. He works full time and consults on the side, but he’s in a situation where his work is not his passion. He had considered dropping to part time when things get slow. After #1 was born, he actually dropped to half-time and was a SAHD so I could return to work full time. I have a more “career-track” job than he does, and I care more about work, but it seems like he has the stamina and focus to put in long hours that I just don’t. (But #2 just started sleeping more than 2 hours at a stretch, so that could be the sleep deprivation talking.)
    I am extremely grateful that I get to do what I do – others I know make much greater sacrifices. I struggle because I’ve had a helluva two year stretch with two maternity leaves and another 6 week medical leave for an unrelated injury. I would like to “lean in” some more, but I can’t seem to get my feet under me. I would like to angle for a promotion, but my performance hasn’t been overly stellar with everything going on in my personal life. I feel like I am letting (myself? society? my family?) down if I do not try to take the next step in my career, for which I am overdue, but at the same time I am overwhelmed by that thought trying to be mom to two very small kids.
    DH and I both have had this discussion that we are both keeping our careers now so that the door will be open to us later. We have discussed one or the other of us quitting many times, but it always comes back to not wanting to close doors. Our jobs are secure while we’re in them, but if we left them, it could be difficult to get back in, especially after time off.
    In five years, I imagine that I’ll be back to full time, and pursuing higher level leadership positions with more responsibility. That’s the track that I’m on. But I want another child within the next 3 years. And DH and I are more-than-casually considering homeschooling the kids (perhaps with DH going part time to do the lion’s share). So who knows? Maybe we’ll quit and move to Alaska (a dream of ours since before we got married).

  6. Two kids, ages 3 and 5, in a mid-sized, midwestern city. I work four days a week from 7:30 to 5. Currently, we have a nanny and send the boys to preschool but that will change in the fall when the oldest goes to K. Youngest will start at a center full-time and I’ll go back to work five days a week.It absolutely makes sense for me to work. We paid a crazy amount in child care this past year and I don’t consider myself incredibly well-paid but I still brought in way more than what we paid out. Working is also really important to my identity so I would probably work regardless.
    I changed jobs about a year ago to a position and company that I really like. Since the change, I’ve really been toying with the idea of trying to “be someone” in my field whereas in the past I was content to just get by. Being someone in my field would involve a move to another part of the country though because I’ve sort of reached the top of what I can do where I currently live unless I decide to go back for a Ph D (which I don’t want to do). I’m totally up for a move cross country but my spouse is not so sure. He is averse to change and is very hesitant to do something this big even though he would have great job opportunities in the area we would move to.
    If we move, I can really see my career taking off which is a prospect that excites me. If we stay, I will have likely plateaued and will probably be bored with what I’m doing in five years hence.

  7. I have an 8 month old and I’m 30 years old. Husband is 36. We live in the Southeast. We have our baby in daycare from 9am to 3:30pm 5 days a week. The daycare centers in this area are atrocious for the most part — charging 50 dollars a WEEK to basically house your kid while you work. We pay 125 a week to a higher-quality center but I’m still not thrilled with the baby/caregiver ratio. We do not have the funds for a nanny because we have student loans…lots and lots of them.I’m a lawyer. If I leave my profession for a few years, I’d be so far behind I’d never catch up. I can’t leave. I also can’t AFFORD to leave, since the husband is a teacher and makes less than I do. We are hoping to get our debt paid off in a couple years and have him stay home with the kiddo and homeschool him. Also, I’d rather do just about anything than stay at home. I got bored during my maternity leave. We plan to have one more kiddo, and hopefully my husband will be able to stay home with both the kids.
    I wish we lived closer to family. We don’t have family within 2 hours of us and if we did, the baby would be with family during the day, not at daycare. I regret taking a job so far away from family.

  8. 3 kids (6,3,1). Twin Cities, Minnesota. FT nanny. We’ve used an in-home in the past, centers are also prevalent here.Both my husband and I (him 39, me 33) work full-time out of the house, in “professional” jobs (engineer, corporate finance) with Masters degrees and it makes absolute financial sense for both of us to work. Plus, neither of us is interested in staying at home full-time.
    Yes, we are still paying off student loans, but they aren’t hurting our financials (we are choosing to build up a solid emergency fund and contribute healthily to retirement rather than pay them off as quickly as possible).
    Currently we make roughly equal money, but long-term my career has more potential than his (he’s not interested in management, content being an individual contributor – he’s about maxxed out his earning potential). I’ve been a manager in the past, recently switched jobs and temporarily back to individual contributor, but intend to move up the ladder shortly.
    We juggle a lot. Both of us have somewhat flexible jobs, so neither of us is fully on the hook for the kid stuff. I stay until the nanny arrives in the morning, he gets home at 5 to relieve her. We cover other stuff (doctor appointments, sick days, etc) depending on our schedules that day – it’s rare that we both have meetings that absolutely can’t be missed or rescheduled.
    5 years out? I imagine we’ll be juggling more logistics with the kids, having ditched the FT nanny. Which means more drop-offs/pickups, finding summer care. But cheaper. I will be managing a team, which means more hours outside of 8-5.
    I’m the first in my family to attend college and have a white-collar job. They don’t get what I do *at all* – which is weird sometimes. I don’t think anyone in my family has ever had full-time paid childcare, and definitely never had a nanny.

  9. I live in upstate NY. I have a 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and one on the way (due in the fall). I have a master’s degree and the loans that come with it, and my husband has a law school degree and the loans that come with that. So, we both work. I work from home as a tech writer for a large company. I’m full-time contract, so I don’t have days off or vacations (well, I can take them but they’re unpaid). I have flexibility, which is great, but it’s tough sometimes to not have any down time. I also work on side jobs in the evening after my kids are asleep, but plan to end that when baby #3 arrives, at least for a bit. Need to keep my sanity, but I’m a bit of a workaholic.My kids are in a small local daycare center. We pay around $10K a year for each kid. It’s going to be a stretch for us to pay for three in daycare next year, at least until September when my 4-year-old goes to kindergarten.
    Most of my friends in the area either do centers or in-home daycare, or stay home with their kids. Not many nannies that I know of.
    I like what I do and appreciate the flexibility. If I have a sick kid, I’m able to still get some work done and take care of the kid, which is exhausting but in a way nice. The people I work with are super understanding about real-life situations and family needs, so I can’t complain.

  10. I’m 42 and the kids are 19, 10 (4th grade) and 5 (pre-k). We’re in Florida. The middle one is in after school care, the younger is in a state subsidized pre-k program with wrap around care at a center.Summer is expensive because both will be going to the summer program at the daycare center. I’m always surprised by how expensive summer is.
    I’m jazzed about next fall because both will be going to the same school, so only one pickup and drop off place/time. I might be more excited about that than the savings from daycare to after school care.
    I’m working in my field and my husband is back to working in his field, so currently, it makes sense for us both to be working/using daycare. My husband had a stint where he was somewhat underemployed and we were figuring out how to SAHD part time, part time daycare, etc.
    I like my work and my work situation. It helps a lot that I really like both the kids’ schools. In 5 years the peeps will be 24, 15 and 10, and like, wow. We’ll be able to think about much less daycare then. Dude.

  11. 3 kids: 1 yo, 3.5 y-o, and a 6 yo. Youngest 2 go to daycare, eldest goes to public school then after school care.My husband and I work full-time for the same higher ed institution in central NJ, within walking distance of our house. We don’t do the same thing and out-earns me by 2/3. He has a more flexible schedule and I’m more or less chained to a desk and computer in my office where face time is pretty important (although special arrangements can be made to do many of my duties remotely in dire circumstances).
    I like my job well enough and my husband LOVES his. I have no student debt and neither does my husband (THANK YOU CANADA for making higher ed state-run and more or less affordable). I’m the first person (and only one of my siblings) who has a university degree: even though this degree has nothing to do with my job now, I would not have been hired without a degree in something. My training for my job is vocational and my profession is based on creativity and a certain skill set.
    As for “The Economy”, since I work for a private institution, the endowment bounced back faster than government budgets (we all know how that’s working out)–I feel for my counterparts in state universities, whose salaries took a big hit and will likely not recover.
    I can hardly wait until all my kids are in the public school system and I no longer have to pay $3,500/mo for daycare (and yes, that’s more or less my net monthly salary), especially for that magic year when they will all be in elementary school and there will be one pick-up and drop-off daily, yay!
    We’re lucky that there a multitude of childcare options here–nannies, Y daycare, church basement daycare, home daycares, institutional daycares, coop preschools. I thought the activities, social interaction with peers and the richness of having the same small pool of caregivers for my children were important, so that’s why my children go to the daycare they go to now. It’s an excellent facility that has a hot lunch program and I never worry about their safety. I love that daycare and would recommend it to anyone.
    About this situation “making sense” is a more complicated question. After all, I don’t make very much and daycare is expensive. I think it’s important for me to work and it’s important for my kids to get out of the house. I just don’t think I’m capable of enriching my kids’ lives 24/7–I love them, but just thinking about all their different activities exhausts me. I’m very introverted and my kids need a bigger world than I myself can provide for them. So it all “makes sense” in this way, if not financially.

  12. 3 kids: 7, 4, 4I’m 41, living in a near suburb of Chicago, recently divorced, with full custody. The kids go to their dad’s every other weekend for a couple days – it was clear when we divorced that he wasn’t going to be interested in adjusting his life to take care of kids half time. We work together ok after the smoke cleared from the financial negotiation during the divorce (and he has been on time and not particularly argumentative about money since we made the agreement, even if he fought it at the time.)
    I work 4 days a week, doing financial-ish work – I’m mommy-tracked a bit after going to 80%, but the office would be perfectly willing for me to go back to full time when I want. Full-time nanny for now (well, 40 hours over 4 days a week), half paid for by the ex. I’m not sure what I’ll do when the twins start kindergarten in 16 months – I’m looking forward to not paying a nanny full time. Life will be much easier financially at that point, and much harder logistically – with the nanny feeding and straightening up after the kids, I’m probably somewhat spoiled. When the kids are at their dad’s, I’ve enjoy being able to put in extra work hours (sounds ridiculous, but it’s a relief to be able to say “I can finish that Saturday,” it alleviates some of the part-timer guilt.)
    I have a masters, no loans, and work in a field that wasn’t hurt too badly when everything crashed in 2008. I’m not excited by my work, particularly, but they treat us number-crunchers pretty well. Math degrees are portable and useful – I feels fortunate that I enjoy and I’m good at stuff that many people prefer to avoid. I can work at home when I need to (it’s better to have face time, and kids are a distraction, so I only do it when there’s a doctor appointment or an afternoon school show or something.) In 5 years I suspect I’ll be doing the same sorts of things, but in the decade after that the kids will be old enough that I’ll probably start travelling for work again occasionally.

  13. I am another mom in the Twin Cities. My husband and I are both lawyers. We have 2 kids- ages 4.5 and 2. Our kids go to a childcare center from about 9-5 every day. In-home daycares are also common. Nannies aren’t as common in the suburb where I live.It makes sense for both my husband and I to work. I have a job that would be hard for me to go part-time or to take a few years off.
    My husband and I both have relatively flexible jobs, meaning neither of us would ever be in trouble for taking sick days to stay home with the kids or to take vacations. I can work from home if I need to from time to time, and my husband can leave early pretty frequently.
    We are both pretty happy with our jobs. If we do change what we do, it will be strictly for career/personal fulfillment reasons, not because of childcare needs.
    I make more than twice what my husband does, so it wouldn’t ever make sense for me to stay home.

  14. I have two kids, 3.5 and 3 months. I’m 33, married. I have a master’s, my husband has a law degree. We’re paying off student loans to the tune of about $650/month and will be for another 20 years, most likely. We work in the same field (federal government–we live just outside DC) which allows us somewhat flexible schedules regarding childcare.The older one, my son, is in daycare full time (a small center). Currently, my daughter is at home. I’m working three days a week; my mom comes and watches her twice a week and my husband stays home once a week. We did something similar after my son was born. In mid-June, when a spot opens up, she will move to daycare full time (sob). We actually really like our daycare–my son has been there since he was four months old and has friends who’ve been there that whole time.
    Daycare is crazy-ass expensive ($200/week for 2+ and $285/week for 0-2) but it still makes sense for me to work. And our daycare doesn’t accommodate part-time schedules, so there’s no benefit to me working part time. As it is, I work 8-4:30 so I can try to fit a workout in and get home in time to see them before they get to bed. My husband works roughly the same schedule, but relies on public transportation and there are nights where he barely sees them at all. It sucks.
    Right now we can afford both kids in daycare, but if we were to have a third, we would have to time it so that our son was in school and our daughter was in the 2+ class to keep costs manageable.
    I’m happy with work now in the sense that I’m good at it, they’re flexible with my current work schedule and with teleworking, and the pay is OKish. I’d like to move up/around but don’t want to rock the boat. Five years from now I’ll likely be doing something similar, maybe for a different office/agency, hopefully for more pay. I don’t have any major career ambitions (read: don’t want to be a supervisor) but I know my husband would love to be doing something more challenging–but it’s tough when our jobs are fairly secure and he’s pulling in the larger income.

  15. I’m in St. Louis, with a daughter who will be 3 in August. I’m a grad student, done with coursework but working as a TA (which is how I’m funded–full tuition, plus a stipend) and writing. My husband works full-time. The wee one is in daycare 3-4 days/week at a great center that we can use because of the university; it’s $65/day, and she’s been there since she was 8 weeks old, which is when my new child leave ended. I take care of her when she’s not in daycare. Most likely, she’ll be switching to a Montessori near campus in the fall, which will be a little cheaper and good for her but tricky to schedule. We’re still planning to use some per-diem daycare days when I have school stuff that runs past 3:30. We’d love to have a second kid, but we’ve held off because we don’t know how we’d pay for more daycare. We don’t have any family nearby, and no friends with kids, either.My husband (38) and I (37) both have loans from previous graduate degrees; mine are in forbearance but we’re paying on his. I’m in the humanities, and hoping that I’ll be able to find a tenure-track job when I’m done with the PhD–having a kid makes the possibility of moving around for one-year adjunct gigs even less appealing than it might be otherwise. My husband doesn’t like his job, but it’s our steady income and he’s sticking it out until I’m done with school. I love what I do–I took time between MA and PhD and worked, and made sure that this was what I really wanted–but I worry, a lot, that I’ll end up without a job. And then I try to stop thinking about it, because that doesn’t get the dissertation written.

  16. 3 people 13, 10, 840
    Ohio
    I need sporadic childcare. Mostly provided by family members, sometimes I rely on a before school care center near my daughter’s school.
    I’m married.
    I was a SAHM for 10 years, then I reentered the work force part time. Now I have 4 part time jobs that I work at when I have time for them, and sometimes when I don’t have time.
    “The Economy” I think the economy is rebounding in some places and situations. Not all.
    In 5 years my oldest will be in college. I’m hoping that I will be further ahead in my grand master plan to be an Interfaith Advocate for Christian/Muslim marriages.

  17. I live in NYC, have one toddler, 1.5 years old. I’m 34 and work 4 days a week, so I need just about under 40 hours of childcare a week. We are in a nanny-share situation with another family, which gets both of our kiddos a good amount of personal attention, prevents boredom and keeps the cost manageable.My husband also works full-time, but makes significantly less than I do, but still, his income is more than our entire childcare expenses. We both have more or less flexible work hours, so we tag-team in order to make things work (one day one of us leaves early, then the other person could come home later either due to work projects or needing to pick up groceries). Unfortunately while I have some flexibility with working from home sometimes, he is not able to do so. His sick days are also very limited, so I end up staying home when our kid is sick or taking vacation days when the nanny is sick, which of course impacts my job performance in a negative way.
    Luckily I’ve paid off my school loans a while back (I hold a BA and working on a part-time masters now) and my husband (has a masters) had none to begin with (thank god for state schools!).
    “The Economy” (I put that in quotes because by now it sounds like
    I’m very happy at my job and ability to stay at home with my toddler at least once a week to feel like I’m still involved enough. However, I constantly worry about not “leaning in” enough and whether I’d be able to advance professionally as much as I’d like. I’m trying to go for a promotion, but it’s hard to put in the same amount of hours as I could pre-baby. Also worrisome is the prospect of having a second child and the additional career set-backs it could cause for me.
    I constantly try to strive for the elusive work-life balance but I find that it’s nearly impossible. At times I find myself envying the seemingly simpler lives of stay-at-home moms, but at the same time I know that this could never work for me, financially or in terms of feeling fulfilled. Life was so much easier before I was a mom!

  18. I have 3 kids, aged 6, 4, and 1-1/2.I am 35.
    I live in Boston.
    My 2 older kids are in a private preschool until 2 pm every day. The youngest is with me. On and off, I’ll have college aged-babysitters watching them for up to 4 hour a week.
    The next answer is a bit more complicated, because my “chosen” profession is writer – in the sense that this is what I’ve always wanted to do and what I always planned on doing. It doesn’t pay enough for full-time childcare to make financial sense, which is why I’ve never had it. It does pay enough that it makes sense for me to hire occasional babysitters and, more importantly, regular cleaning people.
    My actual-profession-I-could-make-money-at-in-theory is law, and if I had stayed in law and not gotten laid off during the big layoff surges (unlikely), I would be able to afford all the childcare I wanted. But I left law before I had kids, so I’m not sure it’s relevant.
    My husband has a full-time+ job with a relatively good salary and, more importantly, excellent healthcare. If this was not the case, I would definitely need a job.
    I worked in law long enough to pay off my loans and put some money away, which definitely helped a lot.
    I’m very happy with my work situation right now.
    In five years, when all my kids are in school, I hope to still be writing, but I’ll step it up and switch over to writing full-time – both in terms of how much I produce, and by taking on several projects I’ve shelved for now because they are too research-intensive and I don’t have time for that yet.

  19. I have a 9-month-old infant. I turn 40 this year. We live in the rural Southwest and currently do not have any consistent childcare. I have a master’s degree in my field (one of the helping professions) which we are still paying off. I would like to go back to work in the fall of 2014 (when the baby turns two), but our marriage is in a bad place and I may need to work again sooner.Childcare options here are almost exclusively unlicensed home based care givers. I am uneasy about leaving a pre-verbal child in such a setting. I would prefer to wait until he has the skills to talk to me about his day. Economically, I could probably pay for childcare and my student loans with a full-time job in my field, probably with some left over. Practically, it would be a huge burden on me to work full-time, I would prefer to work part-time. My husband’s job (federal employee) involves a lot of travel and he is not reliably present for check-ups, sick days, routine anything. His career has always been primary; he has more of a passion for his work and has greater earning potential.
    In five years my baby will be in school. My degree focus was school based services, so my hope is that we will be able to work out a comfortable situation with both of us on the same calendar. We also plan to move across the country by then to be with family. Ideally, we will live close enough that a family member can provide some before or after school supervision. The grandparents would be over the moon to provide after school care several days a week, assuming they are still healthy.

  20. I have one almost 5-year-old in Alberta, Canada. I stayed home with her until she was 2.5.I work in office administration, with a 9-3 M-F schedule.
    Husband owns a retail business and a renovation company; his schedule is all over the map.
    Daughter spends 1 day/week with a family friend, 1 day/week at my mom’s, and 3 days/week in a dayhome, which we pay $30/day. When she starts kindergarten in the fall, I’ll have to leave work at lunchtime to drive her from school to childcare, which is annoying but doable.
    My job is boring, with barely any chance of advancement, but the benefits, hours, and work environment makes up for it for me. I get a ton of fulfillment from my after-work activities, so I’m not really looking for meaning or passion in my day job.
    I make about 1/4 of our household income, which isn’t substantial, but worth it for my sanity – I’m not good at the SAHM thing.
    In 5 years, I don’t expect to be paying for childcare at all – my MIL works in the school system and loves to watch her grandkids during her summers off. (So lucky! I know!)

  21. Twins almost 7, 40yo, Triangle Area in NC.My girls are in full time K and I work part time managing a few small law firms invoicing/bookkeeping. I work about 10 hours a week. I have a BA in History and this is a job I never would have ever imagined I would do and love. I work from home but go into the office to pick up mail/bills 2-3x a month.
    My husband has grad degree, a big career job, travels a ton and works lots of hours. I don’t see how I could work more than 10-20 hours a week. I manage everything with the kids and the house and our life.
    The issue I have is that in the summer I pay more for childcare than I make. So summer is also tricky and a pain and not as much fun as when I didn’t work. My income pays for extras, dinners out, cleaning lady, after school activities. And in the summer…camp.
    I have no idea how long I will have these gigs. I feel fortunate to have something to do but if they fell away I think I could find something to keep myself busy in a non-income way.

  22. Hi-I’m 41, DH is 38 and we live in South TX. Two kids, almost 6 and almost 2. DS goes to school all day, and then gets bused to aftercare where DD goes from 7:30-5:30ish. He goes to summer camp there all day, all summer, too. Most people I work with either use centers or have family members caring full time for their kids (grandparents mainly). I prefer not to be reliant on an individual (nanny or in-home) because if they get sick, or whatever, we’d be stuck. Although, it would be nice having someone to do a few household chores during the day, and care for the kids when they are sick. IL’s are a mile away, and help a great deal-no idea how we’d survive without them. We are very spoiled, but I still live in constant fear of the kids getting sick, because I hate to leave them with anyone when they don’t feel well.Unfortunately, my job is incredibly inflexible-minimal vacation, no working from home, all about face time, and with the daycare/aftercare closed for many religious holidays, it’s tough to cover those and have any family vacation time at all. I am the go-to parent for everything-school events, doctor’s appointments, sick kids, drop off, and pick up.
    DH has plenty of vacation, but claims he can’t use it. He earns more than double what I do, and we could live on just his salary, but we choose not to. We bank almost all of my salary-mostly as a cushion in case one of our jobs implodes. I choose to work-for the stimulation, adult conversation and for fear of never being able to go back to where I am, but where I am is not where I should be 11 years post MBA. Loans for both of us are paid off. I sort of mommy-tracked myself I guess, but despite getting good reviews at this job, I have not moved up. I am debating whether to look elsewhere-need more flexibility at a minimum, but would like to be challenged more. DH hates his job and his company is unstable so we might have to move regardless so I’m kind of holding out.
    The “Economy” has been good to us here in South TX-it was very smart of us to move here when we did and we are financially better off than we were 5 years ago so that’s good. I am amazed/jealous, though, of people in our immediate area who work from home/work remotely/work part time and would love to find that kind of situation for myself.
    In 5 years, DS will be almost done with elementary school and DD will just be starting, but we’ll still need aftercare and summer camp. I hope I’m at a job that challenges me and allows me to use my brain and my degrees v. feeling so stuck and unappreciated like I do now. Feeling stuck in this job in so many ways is really getting to me. Or, we will be in a place where I no longer need/want to work and can focus on doing all the things I am falling short at right now-cooking in general, cooking healthy food, exercising, being more involved at the kids’ schools.

  23. I have live in Fairfield County, CT and have 2 kids: 5 and 7. Both attend public elementary school from 8-3. My husband commutes into the city daily from 6 am-7:15 pm. His salary supports our family, and his job provides our health care.I am a certified English teacher and hold 2 master’s degrees (one in English, one in Education), but I haven’t worked as a teacher since my youngest child was born. I do some freelance editing and tutoring from time to time at about $30/hr. When I hire a sitter, I pay her $15/hr.
    I have been trying to returning to teaching, but it’s tricky because there is a glut of teachers in my area, and I am limited in the school districts I can commute to because my husband’s commute is already so long. If I do find a job teaching, my kids will require child care for at least an hour in the mornings before they leave for school (no early drop off option at school) and after school (a program at the Y costs approximately $20/ per child per day).
    For all its advantages, however, teaching presents some very real problems: there’s no work at home option if a child is sick and almost no flexibility around hours (especially for a new employee).
    I feel very frustrated in my job search now.

  24. I live in the sf bay area. I have a kindergartner and another on the way (not my idea to have that kind of a gap, infertility problems). I am in my late thirties. I think because I came to motherhood later-ish, I have not ever really felt the need to keep working at my old, demanding, male dominated full time job. My husband works full time at an easy going company. I have a bachelors degree in my old field and thanks to my old salary I paid off my student loans in just a year or two after graduation. Some time later, I paid off my HUSBAND’s student loans. Our only debt is our mortgage, which is less than most rents in this area.I know very few SAHMs, only one who did the same work as I did. Silicon Valley is a competitive job market and it’s not surprising that I meet few part timers or SAHMs. In five years I could return to full time work. I’d love to pay off my house, but I’ll be kinda “old” and my skills will be a little rusty. I’ll have to see what happens when the time comes for my youngest to be in school.
    Also, I buy my food at the store and I don’t have a single tattoo. 😉

  25. I have 2 kids: almost 11 and almost 9I am 42 and live in the Boston Metro area
    I need childcare after school mostly for driving kids to activities.
    Childcare here is mixed: Many people hire nannies, there’s childcare centers for younger kids, a town afterschool care, etc.
    I am trying to work out a way to drive my children to their activities more, but it does impact my work…but that said, my career and children are compatible
    I have husband and he works about 15 miles from home. We are able to cover many situations where we might need a sitter and it isn’t covered between the two of us.
    I have a MS in physical sciences. I recently changed jobs and found that my previous job was paying me much less than my current position. All education loans are paid off.
    “The Economy” sucks, but I am happy with we were are as a family. We’ve been both wise and lucky in our finances. I would not claim that all those in financial straits are NOT wise. We’ve had luck on our side.
    I am happy with my job, although I would like to arrange Fridays at home if I could.
    In five years, I will only need people to drive kids to activities. I expect my children to not need afterschool care, but I also expect to spend more communication and discussion time with them.
    I do want to say that I am one of 2 women in my 13 person office. In the physical sciences, women are well under represented and when I do hear the men talk, they seem to leave much of the parenting to their wives. My husband and I do share parenting, but it’s about a 40/60 (I get the 60).
    My last job had the same issue,but I felt pushed out because I was female and had been working a reduced schedule.

  26. I am a 40 year old working full time in Cincinnati, OH, with children 6 and 9. I just started back to work after 10 months of unemployment following a move for my husband’s work. He is an engineer and I am a librarian, so he makes more than twice as much as I do, and I made the choice when we had children that my career would come second to his, although I have worked full-time since they were born. Moving for his career (twice so far; hopefully this is it) has been challenging, and I would certainly be competitive for a more prestigious or specialized position in my field if I were not geographically restricted as I am.Right now the kids are cared for after school by 2 local teenagers (family friends) who pick them up at school, walk them home, and do homework with them. There is more affordable after-school care at their school but they are not good at homework monitoring, which my kids need (especially in soccer season when we have practices at 6/6:30 3 nights a week). There is before-school care at school too (school day is 9:15-3:45) but mr. flea’s schedule is flexible enough that he can go in later. We may look again at the before and after-care at school for fall. It is $250/month per kid for before + after 5 days a week; we’re paying the teens $10 an hour.
    This summer we are doing camps – local university Rec center runs a good camp with a pool, and we are filling in a couple of weeks with other local camps. It’s expensive, in the $150/200 per kid per week range, but even in the summers my paycheck is more than the camps cost.
    I really enjoyed my 10 months being a SAHM, and I do miss the extra time I got with the kids, but I really like my profession and in general need the stimulation of my work. If there was a way to do my job 4-5 hours a day while the kids were at school that would be great, but there is not. And one plus is I work one evening a week, so I get to do the morning routine with them one day a week, and I work every other Saturday so I have a floating weekday off every other week, so I can do our old SAHM routine that day.
    In the past I have used an in-home nanny share, work-related corporate-style daycare (employer-subsidized at one point, which was awesome!) and relied heavily on YMCA camps for summer (in a smaller city, the only place with full-day camps and camps that took 4/5 year olds).

  27. Another Twin Cities Mom. I have a masters and have a “career” I really love. DH has a bachelor’s and a “job” he doesn’t love. I have yet to see a day care data point higher than ours: $285 a week for one 2 year old. It’s a great center, and on the higher end, but you can find even more expensive ones here in MN (we are known for some of the highest day care costs). We both make enough to justify working but that would change with 2 kids, which we hope to have. But neither of us have the desire to be stay at home parents and we sort of feel like DD gets great benefit from being at a place during the day with stimulating activites, other kids to interact with, and structure (neither of us could pull that off for her successfully if we stayed at home).I have student loans and will be paying them off forever, but they’re not too bad considering I make almost double my husband’s salary. We are underwater on our mortgage and paying a 6.25% interest rate which really pisses me off. If we could refi we could be saving hundreds more a month.
    My dream is that when #2 is in school (at least 7 years away) my husband can retire. He is a woodworker and would be content to get the kids off to school and be there when they get home and get 6 hours to work in his shop in between. I feel like being a full time working mom would be much less stressful with a partner that didn’t have the same schedule & stress of a commute, boss, etc.(my job is pretty flexible, but also demanding). I’d also love the idea of our kids not being latch key kids once they’re in school and while DH doesn’t want to be a full time SAHD I think he’d love to be breakfast/afternoon snack dad. He doesn’t think we’ll be able to pull off him retiring so early but I totally think it’s doable.

  28. I’m just going to go down the list, rather than make this a narrative, because I suffer from verbosity.–two kids aged 2 and 5. One going into full-time K next year.
    –34! Woooo!
    –Ann Arbor, MI
    –Full-time 7:00am-3:00pm
    –So many childcare options around here it’ll make your head spin. If you can think of it, it’s possible (nannies, in-home, center based, relatives…sky’s the limit).
    –For the most part it makes sense. I’ve taken a hit for 5 years with nearly half my pay going to childcare. But I am a teacher in a private school. If I take a hit for 5-8 years, but then the kids come to school with me for the next 8 at a 70% tuition reduction and a top notch education, it will have made sense.
    –My husband has a fabulously wonderful and lucrative career in DC. Because we’ve decided the midwest is the best place to raise our highly reactive and “special” older son (the pressure of the East Coast would probably make the boy implode), he commutes. We do not share finances. Everything in the house is paid for separately depending on whose responsibility it is. So if I didn’t work..I wouldn’t eat. I suppose that’s the biggest incentive.
    –Grad school drop out. It doesn’t impact my crappy teacher earning potential, but I’m sure I’ll never be full administration (no big deal).
    –We have luckily weathered the economy very well and we are very fortunate.
    –I love my job and my school so much it hurts.
    –Hopefully doing the exact same thing in five years, with two kids that I can drive to school myself–because I’m going there anyway! The only kink in the plan is my rapidly failing health. If I quit and stay at home–it’s only because I’ve been forced to by my health.
    –I am one of the only ones on my street that works. People are generally nice about it, but there is always a grass is greener aspect when I realize my older son has no real friends on the street because the other children have time to have playdates during working hours.

  29. I have one child, three years old. My partner is in an intense professional school. I am a creative freelancer, but for the past couple of months, I’ve basically been on a break from my professional life. I felt so burned out and like I was losing it, it just wasn’t working anymore.In our situation, spouse has such an intense school workload that he is just not available to workshare things like groceries, home care, and the vast bulk of the parenting. We have a classic adult children of hippies feminist relationship, so this has been a big shock to both of us! (“Oh my God, my husband expects me to manage his dry cleaning.”)
    Kid goes to preschool part-time, so I do have some time to work, but I am so stressed that right now I feel like it’s a better use of my time to use those hours to go buy groceries/pick up dry cleaning/meditate so I don’t lose it. Sanity first, and all that.
    I feel neutral about this at the moment. I struggled like mad to do it all for a year and a half, and then I just hit a wall: I had hit task saturation and nothing was working. I am not one of those people who can just “do more with less” endlessly, you know?
    I do have plenty of ambient anxiety about if I’ll be able to pick my work back up, and what will we do for money, and should I give up and try to get into nursing school? But I guess the benefit of feeling so nuts about it all is that now I’m like, all I want is to feel sane. So it’s not really as bad as it maybe sounds.
    I think about this stuff – how families deal in America – all the time. I have no solutions and no good ideas, aside from “Can you emigrate to Canada? Is that possible for you?” One thing I frequently think about, when my child brings home some bug from preschool, is what people do about illness. Of course in our family, because I don’t have an outside-the-house job, even when I was working a lot, it just meant that I lost a work day (or two, or three), but it didn’t mean that I had to take a sick day or that a boss or work team was going to be mad at me. Especially if (like us) you don’t have family nearby, I just end up feeling like there is no backstop for the American family. It’s like brutal Darwinian musical chairs out there.
    I also feel like both of us have really had our values taken out for a test drive by this whole process. I think we are pretty ambitious people, but at this point I think we also feel like, wow, in an ideal world, our home/family life would really take precedence. One thing I actively disliked during the 18 months when I was trying to be Super Parent was how rushed I always felt, and how much I was always rushing the kid, and how little time there was to relax and jut be together without agenda or stress. I guess our dream now would be not so much “Two-professional-job family in dense urban core, high-powered careers for everyone!” but “Small town somewhere and flexible jobs with livable hours.” (Not that those are easy to come by, or anything!)
    We are currently trying to decide if we can have another kid. Partner would really like to, but I am on the fence. It’s hard for me to understand what that would look like: I have found parenting/family life super intense and hard and I often think that maybe I am just not really cut out to handle all these competing stresses very gracefully. Instead of feeling like a Doing It All supermom, I basically feel like I got mommytracked without even noticing what was happening, like I just kept making desperate survival choices and then suddenly, boom, here you are, dependent on your male partner to make all the money.
    “The Economy” is alarming to me. Partner and I are tail-end of Gen X people. I often notice that, say, our respective parents will have a radically different perspective on career stuff (I think data backs me up here – a BA from an elite school meant a lot more to a Boomer than it does to someone my age). I think we are just much less optimistic about our economic future. When we talk about our family’s future, we talk about wanting partner’s job to be the main income stream we live on, and my pulses of freelance money funding retirement and college stuff. I think we really want to find a way to have ENOUGH and then just let that be enough, but of course we also understand that, given “The Economy” that’s basically asking to win the lottery.

  30. 32, 1 kid (18mo), hoping to have another within a year or so, in Ontario. For the first year of her life I was home with her on maternity leave (full salary for 4 months, ~50% for 8 months). When I went back to work I used vacation to take 1 day/week off for 5 months, and her dad/grandma did 2 days and daycare 2 days. She’s currently in a daycare centre 4 days a week and with her dad the other day.My partner has some flexibility (at least in the winter months) because he is a farmer. When she’s in daycare he only gets to see her for maybe 15-30 mintues a day because of chores, so he wanted to keep her to hang out with him at least one day.
    I loved being home with her for mat leave, but even though I’m not in love with my job, I think I’m happier not being a SAHM. At home, it’s too hard for me to fill the days with activites and our house is in the middle of nowhere. Also, she seems to love daycare.
    Having two kids in fulltime daycare would not be possible financially, so I’m trying to time kid #2 so that kid #1 will be in junior kindergarten (she’ll go just before she turns 4) by the time that mat leave is done.
    I work in research/admin at a university – my own job is fairly junior, but it’s unionized and it pays just enough. The benefits are quite good: it’s family friendly-ish, and my prescription/medical costs ($22,000+/yr) are covered. I struggle with ambition in trying to find something that pays more – I don’t want to sacrifice my 35 hour week, 5 weeks vacation, etc. Currently I’m just sort of hoping something else will come up at the same place.
    IDEALLY: I would work 3-4 days a week, kiddos would be in daycare 2-3 days, and it would be nice if it cost less than the $55/day that it currently does.

  31. Newly minted 7 year-old (first grade) in northern New England. I’m 40.I’m a freelancer, working from home doing corporate writing. My husband teaches in the same school system as the kid. I make roughly double what he does – and handle the last-minute sick days even though I have no paid time off. He does all school vacations since they’re on the same schedule, and we get awesome health insurance from his job.
    We don’t have any childcare, which at times I think is absolutely nuts given that we both work full time. But his day technically ends at 2 pm – though of course his work isn’t done then. I handle mornings w/ the kid, since he’s gone before we wake up. Then he does pick up at 3 on Mon/Weds while I “get” to work until 5; I take Tues/Thurs pickup. And we try to do Fridays together (school is a block away), though I am often back at my desk after we all come home. This summer the kid is going to the local rec center’s day camp for the first time – I anticipate my husband having time to do a bunch of house projects, plus we’ll get the occasional mid-day date. And there will theoretically be a lot less whining than there was last summer.
    I love my work – writing, editing, managing projects and collaborating with a great group of colleagues – but wish I had more time for “my” writing. I’m also on the board of an organization that’s important to me… and which also takes a TON of my time. I’m looking forward to that commitment ending in a year.
    In 5 years? Man, the kid will be 12(!). I’m not sure my husband will still be in the schools – and I will likely be doing the same thing I am now, though with fewer volunteer commitments and more time for my own projects. I feel really fortunate about our situation, and hope that we’re able to maintain it.

  32. I’m 40 years old and I live in Boston, MA. I worked full-time until I had my second child, at which time I moved to part-time work for a while. In the midst of that, however, I decided to change careers and went back to school part-time as well (night classes). Working, period, was a financial sacrifice when we had to pay for childcare for both kids (full-time or otherwise – it wouldn’t have made a difference) and we dipped into our savings so I could have the “privilege” of working.I left my part-time job with the nonprofit I worked for to move to a part-time job in my new field (I’m now an accountant – that job was as a bookkeeper) but the new job was dreadful (the new company’s management, really) so when the accountant at the nonprofit where I used to work left about a year ago, I jumped at the opportunity to go back to an organization that I really enjoyed working for. The one downside was that I really wasn’t ready to go back to work full-time (which I did) – I’m not quite done with my degree, and I am taking the CPA exam, so I’ve been really crazed for the past year. I *hope* that this will calm down once I’m done (last section of the CPA exam should be in August, last class will be done in December).
    The other thing I miss is the time with my kids during the week. I really, really miss that, more than I thought I would. 🙁
    My husband works full-time in finance, and has been the breadwinner. Thank goodness for him, he really made it possible for me to take time to rediscover myself after the kids were born.
    We’ve had such a hodge-podge of childcare, it’s really remarkable. My son has been in a family daycare, in a nanny share, with a nanny with his sister, and in a private preschool. He’s now in kindergarten at a public school, and sometimes he goes to the afterschool program, and sometimes we have a babysitter pick him up (college students, typically). My daughter was with the nanny first, then in a nanny share with another infant, then went to the same preschool her brother went to – since I’ve been back to FT, some days she stays there all day, and sometimes goes with the sitter in the afternoons. In the fall, she’ll start preK at the same public school as my son, and we’ll have a babysitter every day afterschool, at least until she turns 5, since the afterschool program is only licensed for kids 5 and up.
    I anticipate making the jump into public accounting in about 2 years, and I’m nervous about what that will mean. I think my husband will have to take on more of the childcare in the evenings, especially during busy season. But I’m really excited about it. For the first time in a while, I’m really excited about my career.

  33. I have one son, 6.5, finishing up kindgergarten. He goes to full day kindergarten, which we had to pay for, then Y care before and after school. This summer he will be back at his preschool 5 days/week.My husband and I are both 40, living in a suburb of Kansas City (on the Kansas side). We are both professionals with graduate degrees (me-PhD, him-attorney) and are still paying off grad school loans. He had to pay for tuition and living expenses. I had a tuition waiver and a stipend (love the sciences!)but I needed extra cash to live. We hope to have them paid off before we need to pay for college for our son!
    We moved back to this area (we both grew up here) because I had my dream job offered to me. My field is very specialized, so the fact that I got a job in my hometown was just amazing. Luckily, my husband’s field is flexible, and he didn’t even need to take another bar exam (we moved from St. Louis, so he was already practicing in Missouri). We rely on family for date nights and help when one of us is traveling, but we would need full time care for our son regardless of where we lived. My husband travels 60% of the time (leaves Monday morning, back Thursday night or Friday) so I take advantage of family a lot on the weeks he is gone. In fact, I have a meeting tonight, so my inlaws are picking my son up from school, feeding him dinner and putting him to bed for me.
    I anticipate that I will be in my current position in 5 years, because it is really the only show in town for me, and I don’t plan on moving. I hope to have been promoted to associate professor by then, but we will see. I don’t expect my husband to be doing the same thing, but he will be working somewhere. In 5 years, my son will be moving to middle school, and I have no idea what we will be doing childcare-wise. Is 6th grade old enough to be a latch key kid? I stress about it a bit even now, when I am not stressing out about something more timely.
    One thing I have always appreciated about my job and my field in general is the flexibility I have each day. I don’t punch a time clock, which makes mornings when traffic messes up my commute less crazy since I am not racing to get to work by a certain time, unless it is for a meeting. If I have an appointment in the middle of the day, no biggie. The leaders in our division are very sympathetic to working parents, and if you have a sick kid, you leave to pick them up or stay home with them, no questions asked. I really love my job and the people I work with.

  34. Until I formed my S-corp this year (and now make a payroll for myself), I am sure I showed up nowhere for the past 10 years as “employed” or working for an “employer” and my work life fits almost no one’s conception of what work should be.I am self-employed. I work from home most of the time except when I am on construction sites or client meetings. I am very, very good at what I do and paid accordingly. The fact that I am a woman, and a woman in construction at that, is almost irrelevant to my work life. I suppose in many ways I am “off the career track” as I gave up a corporate position, and no longer have ANY interest in managing a department or doing large-scale business strategy, although I used to love both.
    What I do is in some ways far more intense that what even CEOs do (I run my own show 100%), and in other ways “off the grid” – no annual reviews, no boss, no career track. I think in 10 years there will be many more people like me – male and female, and we will all think this business of women striving on the corporate ladder kind of a relic.
    I am not married (yet) and have no kids – no will I (being almost 50). I do what I like and make time for the things that matter to me.

  35. I’ll have to come back later to read all of the comments- I’m at work now, but I’m taking a break to answer, because I agree that so much of what is written about mothers right now is wrong or inflammatory or just plain mean. So here are my data points:I have two children, ages 6 and 3.5. I am turning 41 later this month.
    I am married to their father. We live in San Diego. I have a PhD and I work in the biotech industry at a drug discovery company. I work at the interface of science and IT. I run a group, managing 5 people and 10-15 projects (I now have some more project management help- but I have overall responsibility for those projects). I am very often the only woman in a room of 10 or more men. I am so used to this now that sometimes it catches me by surprise when I notice it.
    My husband has a master’s degree and is a software engineer.
    I took 3 months off with each kid, and then worked part time for one month each time. After my first daughter was born, I was then able to go to a 35 hour work week, but that job got dull so I left and went back to biotech, where a lot of people work really long hours. I do not. I work a 40-45 hour work week. I always have, even before I had kids. I find long hours counterproductive. My husband works a few more hours than me- I’d guess he’s at work or working at home 45-50 hours/week. I’m not sure he’s actually more productive than me, but that is another post altogether!
    We use day care. Both kids started day care when they were 5 months old. The usual day care day for them starts between 8 and 8:30 and ends between 4:40 and 5. My husband and I stagger our schedules to make this happen. We love our day care, and think that it has added to our children’s lives- neither of us is crafty, for instance, so it is great that the kids get crafts at day care.
    My older daughter “graduated” from day care last year, and is finishing up kindergarten next month. We have all day kindergarten, and she is also in an onsite before and after care run by the YMCA. She gets dropped off a little before 8 and picked up between 5 and 5:30, depending on how bad traffic was. (School is near home, day care is near work.)
    I make a lot of money, so there was never a question of whether it made financial sense to work. My husband also makes quite a bit, but I make roughly 20% more. So if someone was going to stay home, financially, it would have made sense for it to be him. He didn’t want to, and neither did I. I love working, even when my job situation isn’t exactly perfect (like, sadly, right now). When I am unhappy with working, it is always clear to me that I am unhappy with some specific aspect of my current work arrangement, and not with the general fact that I work. It was abundantly clear to me in the first couple months of my first maternity leave that I would not be a natural stay at home mom. That job takes skills and strengths that don’t come naturally to me. Now that I am more comfortable in my role as “mother” I think I could do it- but I think it would be a challenge, and I think I would have to really work hard to structure that so that I could be the sort of mother I want to be. I have huge respect for women for whom staying at home comes naturally, and think our society generally undervalues how hard it is to do a good job caring for young children.
    As I mentioned, there are some aspects of my current job situation that aren’t optimal. There are also some aspects that are awesome. So I’m working through what to do about that. But I’m 100% sure that I’ll keep working full time. That is just the right thing for me.
    Another aspect that is important (I think) is that my husband is a full 50-50 partner at home. We have to discuss and rebalance from time to time, but he is committed to an equitable distribution of the work (and play!) at home.
    Also, neither of us has a terribly long commute, and that helps a lot, I think.
    A wrote a post on my household logistics awhile back, and it was quite popular. So I updated it after my oldest started Kindergarten. Here is the updated post, if anyone wants to know all the gory details:
    http://www.wandering-scientist.com/2012/11/an-update-on-cloud-household-logistics.
    I’m looking forward to coming back and reading all the answers, maybe over lunch. But now I need to get to work!

  36. I’m 36 and live in Alberta, Canada with my husband, 36 and our 2 boys, 18 months and 3. We have a full time live-in nanny, who is wonderful. It costs a little less than day care would and a little more than a day home but it doesn’t really matter because there are no child care spaces in this town at all (growing community, good economy, tons of children…)My husband and I both work full time for the health region, for Addiction & Mental Health. I make a good salary, so it makes sense for me to work outside the home, and I also love my job and couldn’t see myself not working. Having a nanny means that some of the jobs at home are also done so I get to focus on spending time with my kids when I’m home.
    I have a bachelor’s degree and have chosen not to get a masters yet because of the extra time it would take from my kids. I probably won’t be able to move up professionally until I get one. I am very fortunate (and grateful) that I had a year maternity leave with both my kids. I feel like for the past few years, my priority has been having a family (since that is a time limited activity) and now that we’re done having kids- I can think more about where I want to go in my career.
    So, right now this arrangement seems to be working for us. My husband and I both have good jobs with great benefits, holidays, and job security doing work that is challenging and very much needed so it makes going to work feel ok.

  37. I live in Quebec, land of the wonderful maternity leave, made even more wonderful by my awesome employer. I took the full leave, which is 2.5 years (1 year paid).I have a 17-month old daughter. She goes to daycare full time. I stayed home with her until she was 13 months and then started school full-time; I tried to send her to daycare only part-time for two months but it was too much to juggle. I’m going to be done with school in about a month, and then I’ll be off work until September, because we can afford it and because I need a break. She’ll probably go to daycare part-time because she loves it and we think she needs the socialization. (Plus, we’re paying anyway to keep our spot.) Come September, I’ll be working 4 days a week until the end of my maternity leave, in April. After that, it’ll be regular 35-hour weeks.
    My husband works from home at two jobs, he’s a consultant and a fiction writer. When the consulting stuff is calm and I work full-time he does pretty much everything around the house, otherwise it’s a juggle. He used to be the secondary income but the consulting picked up a lot so I don’t know who is going to earn more once I go back to work.
    I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree, I might switch jobs at my current employer once I have it, but it’s not a certainty. I like my job just fine, it has a lot of great benefits and a wonderful work environment, though it’s not the most stimulating job ever. I don’t know if we’ll have another kid (a constant interrogation!) so it’s hard to say what the next five years will look like, but probably pretty similar!

  38. I’m 40 years old and live in Detroit, MI. No kids but I do have a dog, Henna. I do have to provide care for her since right now I travel up to 6 months a year for my career and I have no family members who can take her. I have three families that I circulate between right now, one of them I pay and the others I don’t. It does get a bit dicey at times if I’m gone for more than a week and sometimes I have to depend on my mom to pick her up from one place and drop her off at another. It does make me see that my current career is pretty impractical if I were to have kids. Although I have colleagues who travel and still have kids I just wouldn’t want to do it.I’m single right now (been divorced about 10 years) but many of my friends are married. I have some friends who are able to stay at home and don’t have to earn an income but I know more moms who either work part time or have a home-based business or work full-time and have their children in day care. From what I see it’s a deeply personal decision and each woman has specific reasons for the situation she is in.
    I still hope to get married again and have children and often wonder what I would want in terms of a work situation. I’m currently a corporate facilitator but I’m transitioning into a career when I won’t have to travel and where I’d be able to scale up or down depending on the age of my children. I’d like to be able to stay home when they’re young and then ramp my business back up as they go to school but that will depend on the income level and situation of the man I marry.
    I have a B.A. in Music and Business and no college loans. I know how fortunate I am and have my parents to thank for starting a college trust fund for me before I was in preschool. I do worry a bit about the economy and would probably always want to work in some way so that I’m not taking myself completely out of the game if I needed to bring in income for my family. In five years I’d like to be married with one or two children in a situation where my husband’s salary can cover basic living expenses and my business can go to retirement, college funds, extra school stuff/lessons/sports, vacations and home renovations. I’ve been paying my own way for so long (and footed most of the bill even when I was married) that I can’t even imagine what that would look like but it sure sounds nice!
    I wish we would stop demonizing and polarizing the choices that women make. There isn’t only one way. There are always pros and cons to a situation. We’re only going to be truly free as a gender when we stop glorifying the skinny girls one season and the curvy girls the next; the stay-at-home mom one year and the working mom the next; the neo-feminist one week and the traditional Betty Crocker homemaker the next.

  39. Point by point:how many kids you have and how old they are: No kids.
    how old you are:
    38, almost 39 (12 days!)
    where you live:
    Outside of Pittsburgh, PA
    how much childcare you need:
    None
    how childcare works where you live (nannies, childcare centers, home-based childcare, etc.: I believe that most people in this area put their children into daycare. I have irregular work hours and often choose to do my shopping in the middle of a weekday to avoid crowds. It’s just occurring to me now that I very rarely see any women out with their kids at that time. This used to be an area with a lot of stay-at-home moms, but not so much now, I think.
    does it “make sense” for you to work in your chosen profession where you live and with the childcare you’d need?
    If I decided to have kids, I’d have to figure something out. My mom has made it clear that she wouldn’t want to be an unpaid babysitter (don’t blame her for that), but I couldn’t do my work (which takes place in the classroom or at home) without some childcare support.
    whether you have a partner or not and what the partner’s work situation is and how it intersects
    I do not have partner. When I lived in NYC, that seemed pretty typical, even at my age, but here, it feels very unusual.
    if your child has another parent that isn’t your partner, and how that intersects with finances and work and care
    N/A
    your education level, whether that limits you in your earning power, whether you are dealing with paying off loans for your education
    I am working on my MFA. I have a BFA and an MA. I do not feel any limits in my earning power (as a semi-self-employed person, the harder I work almost always equals a high pay level). I am paying off my BFA and my MA, but my MFA, thankfully, is a full scholarship. I took out small loans to help me transition into my MFA studies, and I am hoping to get rid of those for the next couple of years.
    “The Economy”, etc.
    I am hearing impaired, and it is getting slightly worse as I get older. It worries me that I am going to have trouble finding work in some of the careers I’ve had. (I don’t want to go back to teaching HS, but that’s a logical step if I needed money). This really motivates me to build a career as a freelance writer and professor, since those careers are easier for someone with my impairment. It’s hard to get work in academia and writing — harder still to find one job to take care of all monetary needs — hardest of all to make a living as a professional writer. But I’m really good, and I work hard, so I hope that will be enough. We’ll see!

  40. I’m 32, I have two kids, 9 and 7. I was married, divorced, and now remarried. We moved to the Northern, VA area outside of DC, because of my husband’s job. It is at least 1.5-1.75 times more expensive than Richmond, VA which is where we were living. And there was no raise that came with the move.When I found out at 22 that I was unexpectedly pregnant, I was working full-time and so was my husband, but the benefits came from my job. So I kept my FT job after the baby came, and he scaled back to part-time. He worked 8-12 and I worked 1-9 and we didn’t have to use day care and we never ever saw each other or got to sleep ever. We had a second child 2.5 years later in much the same fashion. I kept my FT position with benefits, he worked a series of part-time jobs, end barely met. I got tired of working and never seeing the kids, he got tired of seeing the kids and never me, we grew to resent each other, we never had enough money, him NOT working a PT job was not an option. Him working a FT job and paying for daycare was not an option. We thought about trading places, but he couldn’t land a FT position with health insurance benefits. After a while, we divorced and I became a single, FT working mom who relied pretty heavily on financial support from my parents because I then had no option but to put both children into full time daycare.
    I eventually became remarried, but continued to work until I was laid off from my FT job due to state budget cuts. At which time my husband and I evaluated our financial/stress situation. My current husband is 15 years older than I am, thus more established in his career. He is a senior network architect and make over 100K a year. If I didn’t go back to work outside of the home we could eliminate after school care, gas, car maintenance, personal wardrobe, and lots of other related costs from our budget. Which made a lot of sense, I was pretty burned out and ready for a break anyway. And at that time our youngest was still not in full-day school.
    Now that both our kids are in full-day school and we’ve had to move to a more expensive part of the state, for my husband’s job, I was glad to find a position that allows me to work 100% of the time from home. Which means I don’t have to spend on after-school care and during the summer I only need an in-home sitter for part of the day. She just makes the kids lunch and takes them to the pool or library for a few hours. It’s the best situation we could have hoped for. I’m bringing in some money, but have no work related expenses. Am I stimulated and intrigued each day by my job? Hell no. Is this a lucrative career track? No again. But it is filling the need we have right now in the best way possible.
    Had my ex-husband not been part of the equation my current husband would have accepted the job offer in Minneapolis over the job offer in DC. The cost of living in Minneapolis vs DC is ridiculous to even think about. Had we been able to move to Minneapolis the work from home position would not have been necessary and I would have been able to spend time volunteering at the school and helping the kids with projects and homework after school instead of just opening the door when the get home and making sure they don’t set the house one fire between the hours of 3 and 5.
    In 5 years my kids will be 14 and 12 and although they’ll be able to take care of themselves after school and in the summer, for the most part. I’m assuming that they’ll have more “activities” that they’ll need to be chauffeured around to. I don’t anticipate much of a difference between now and then, career wise for me. My husband and I have talked about moving to Canada once both the kids are 18, but that’s probably not realistic either. Just because they’re 18 doesn’t mean they’ll stop needing us.

  41. I live in Central New York. I’m married and we have a 7-month-old daughter. We need full time day care – 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM, M-F. There are all kinds of options where we live, depending really on how much you want to spend. My daughter goes to a daycare center but we also looked at in-home options. A nanny is well out of our price range. The cheapest daycare center we found was $198/wk and the most expensive was $250+/wk.My school loans are in the process of being paid off, thanks to a state grant I was awarded for working in an underserved area. Money is somewhat of a concern for us, mostly because we are used to living frugally because I was in school for so long. What got us more when looking at daycare was what places offered compared to how much they charged. The $250+/wk places didn’t offer as much or seem as attentive/caring as the less expensive places, even though geographically they may have been better for us.
    I’m approaching a limit in my earning power at my current job and I won’t get another substantial jump for 3 years when I go for promotion (I work as a physician in academics). If I were in private practice my earning power would be significantly greater. Will I still be at this job in 3 years? Who knows. I will have fulfilled my loan repayment obligation by then. I would love to work 4 days a week full-time (that’s what full-time is around here for private practice) but I also enjoy the work I do right now (mix of clinical, education, research, and administration). We also may move out of the area in that time. And who knows – I may have another baby in that time frame too.

  42. I live in Sylvania, OH, and have 2 boys, ages 16 & 12. I’m 42. This is the first year I haven’t needed child care at all; for the past few years, I’ve had child care only over the summer for the younger son, a variety of camps at the Y/JCC, the local Rec center, the science center, and sleepaway camp. He hasn’t had before/after school care for several years. I work from 7:30 – 3:30, so I get home a few minutes after him now that he is in jr. high (last year, we got home at the same time, but he was home alone in the AM; now he gets on the bus as I am leaving for work). When they were younger, we did a variety of different daycare options – we’ve had home providers when my oldest was a baby, and moved to more formal day care when we was ~ 2. Been at several private day cares, and the YMCA (until my youngest got kicked out – don’t ask!)My husband also works; currently commuting an hour to work, so he’s no help now. He has been laid off several times in the past few years, so during those times, we needed no child care.
    I have a BBA, and I have worked for the same company full time for almost 20 years. I have flexibility at work. If fact, due to heath problems, I am considering working 1 day a week at home.
    Hopefully in 5 years, I’ll have the same job (I don’t think I’d know how to work somewhere else, LOL), and day care will truly be a thing of the past, thank goodness.

  43. I have b/g twins who are about to turn 7. I’m 41. We live in Portland, OR.I need child care for about an hour before school/to get the kids to school, after school, and for all those days off of school/late starts/etc. + summer.
    I have a live-in au pair who accommodates our split and sporadic schedule, plus the occasional evening out, etc. It’s expensive, but I willingly allocate significant resources to this arrangement to keep our family sane. I am widowed, and the live-in au pair arrangement gives me many of the *logistical* benefits of having a stay-at-home spouse.
    I have an MA. I’m paying off loans from my master’s, but not a ton and the degree was very worth it. I work in higher education, on the administrative side. Overall, I think my earnings and work/life balance are about as good as I could hope for. Higher ed has been largely shielded from the effects of the economy, so my job has been stable and secure. I’m grateful for that.
    That said, I’m sick of having a job at all. As the sole earner for my family, quitting is not a viable option. I need to have a job, likely a full-time job, and given that, my situation is good. But I’d rather be able to be part-time or home all the time, at least for a while. I’m utterly exhausted from being responsible for a pretty demanding job + kids + house. My job does not make me feel fulfilled personally or professionally, it just feels like something I have to do. So I do it. But I’d rather not.
    Not sure what the next five years holds. The care logistics will be the same with the kids, who will then be rising 7th graders. Not sure how my serious relationship will progress and how that will affect the childcare situation and my work situation. It’s sometimes hard to keep my work frustration from influencing what I want from my relationship.

  44. I have Four kids – 17 years, 11 years, 9 years, 3 yearsI am 40
    I live in Oakland County, Michigan
    I have a nanny that comes at 7:00 am every morning, gets the school aged kids on the bus, takes the three year old to her house at 9:00 am and returns to our house at 5:00 pm
    The nanny is moving away next month after being with us for almost 3 years, at which time I will take the three year old to a home based daycare. The older kids will attend various camps throughout the summer, but won’t go to the daycare.
    Both my husband and I work from home in IT consulting/management positions.
    I have an MBA, and don’t have any student loans.

  45. Kids are 2.75 and 5.25, I am 36 and live in New England, in a medium-sized metro area. Childcare around here tends towards daycare centers and home daycares. Nannies are less common. We need full time childcare, until 5:30, at earliest. Childcare around here tends to end at 5:00, or 5:30 at the latest, since our largest local industry is an “early” industry and many people get out of work at 4:00 or 4:30. This is tricky, and limits our options, geographically, for childcare. My husband works full time as a litigator, meaning he has a somewhat unpredictable schedule that can involve periods of intense work, so I’m currently the primary parent for pick up/drop off. Kids are currently in daycare/preschool in the town where I work, rather than the town where we live, and this works well. I am about to transition to a job with more responsibility and a longer commute, which will complicate matters. The current plan is for husband, starting in September, to pick up older kid at public school aftercare (in our neighborhood), and for me to pick up younger child at new preschool (in the town where I *will* work). I’m anxious about this. At my level in my career, childcare is barely affordable — and I’m not at entry-level. I worked part-time for a few years because of this, but took full time work when I found a position that was a better fit for my skill set. I am really looking forward to the time that both kids are at the SAME school, which will improve our quality of life significantly — both finances and logistics. Many women in my neighborhood are home full time with children, so I’m a little anxious about jumping into the local public school scene — at daycare, obviously, the other parents are also “working” parents. My children are thriving in full time daycare/preschool and I hope they don’t feel like second-class citizens because I may not be as involved, on a day-to-day basis, with their school-life as some other parents.

  46. I have two kids, five and seven. My son is in half day public pre-K and my daughter is in second grade.I went back to full-time work this January after a very,very mellow job search of about six months. Before that, I’d been at home since my oldest was born, but did freelance at home on and off.
    My job is full time January-April and 2.5 days a week the rest of the year, which I love. When full-time, I work roughly 9-6, my husband works roughly 8-4:30/5. We both have white collar officey jobs.
    A neighbor of mine has kids the same age, I drop them off to her house in the morning and my husband picks them up at night. They take the bus from her house to and from school, and we pay her $50 a day.
    We’re in a suburb of a large East Coast city. I work in politics and am paid peanuts, so this is the first year that childcare has been affordable enough for it to be really financially rewarding, but I enjoy working enough that I honestly wish I’d started years ago, as soon as I could break even with child care. We can live off just my husband’s salary, obviously, but the extra income has been great and we’re hoping to move from our very small, very old house to a larger nicer home soon.
    I like my job and love working, and hope in five years that I’ve advanced a bit but am still in basically the same field. Working in politics means I have very little job security, so I’m very lucky that my salary doesn’t make or break us.
    My husband and I both have B.A. degrees; he’s thinking about getting a master’s and I am too, although a law degree would be much more useful to my career. Law school intimidates me, though. We’re thirty and we’ve just paid off all student loans.
    It’s tough, though. During my full-time season, my husband has to pick up a lot of slack. The rest of the year, he works much longer hours and travels quite a bit. He does still travel when I’m full-time, as little as he can, but it happens, and it’s very very hard to deal with. At this point in our lives, it’s hard to imagine being full-time year-round. During the part-time season, I am much more flexible and can go in late and leave early, but jan-april is so intense that I work a LOT and don’t even get federal holidays off. It’s a balancing act that I’m sure will get easier as the years go on.

  47. I have three boys, 6.5, almost 4.5, and 20 months, and I’m 17 weeks pregnant with #4. I’ll be 32 in July. We live in Oceanside, CA (northern San Diego County) and love it here. I don’t require childcare, per se, but I need it for sanity and so my kids don’t get too bored. My oldest is in public school all day, so he’s easy enough. My 4-year-old is in preschool, and I hire the occasional baby-sitter for the toddler just to give myself a break and to be able to get some stuff done in and out of the house. There seems to be a high concentration of SAHMs around here (lots of military families – we’re within a few miles of Camp Pendleton), and otherwise an even distribution of daycare/preschool centers, home-based daycares, and nanny/baby-sitter arrangements, as far as I can tell. I don’t think there’s a particular pattern.I’m very lucky to have a job where I can work from home for a pretty decent hourly wage, mostly make my own hours (which means lots of work gets done after the kids’ bedtime), and allows me to be flexible with childcare, school breaks, etc. I work in transcription, in a two-person company owned by my aunt, who is nearing retirement. I have the option of taking over and owning the business in a few years, which would make sense because my income would nearly double, my workload would increase, but my kids will be older and I’ll still be able to work from home. It’s not a “career field” in the traditional sense, but it’s a viable job that I enjoy and I can keep doing as long as I want, then stop when I’m ready to move on.
    I’ve been married 11 years. My husband makes significantly more money than I do, and his income is absolutely vital to our household. He works very long hours making computer games, which is a long-term career field in which he can hopefully enjoy many more years and move up in the world, so I work from home and care for the kids and the household to support his career.
    I have a B.A. in religion that is absolutely useless to me in my current field or any of my current fields of interest. I look forward to getting a Master’s degree one day in the future, when my youngest is in preschool, probably. I’m currently leaning toward a Master’s in Public Health, with an eye toward working with breastfeeding and birth advocacy, which is my passion and has absolutely nothing to do with my day job. I thankfully have no loans from my undergrad, but my husband has lots of loans from his, still, and it’s a little scary to think about taking on another set of loans for me to go to grad school. Putting it off for now helps with the stress! Haha.
    I look forward to considerably reduced childcare needs/costs in five to six years. I think it will be a relief to know that I can work more and pay less for the privilege. I also anticipate fewer expenses in other areas, so I think our financial situation will be much better. At least, that’s the goal.
    I’m torn between wanting to have more earning power and bringing more income, as well as having the fulfillment of a career I love, and wanting to be home with and for my kids all the way through teenage-hood. I think right now I kind of have the best of both worlds, so we’ll see what happens as the kids (and I!) get older. I feel that I’m still young enough to be able to plan to “start” my own career/education in a few years, which is empowering.

  48. OK, I think the Interwebs ate my first comment, so I’ll try again. Thanks @Moxie – it’s fascinating to read others’ situations. Your “what would have kept you at work?” post a few years ago has stuck with me and I go back to it from time to time.I have 2 kids, 3.5 and 7 months, live in Seattle married to their dad. I just quit my 10-year career track job at a large well known tech company last month. The transition has been surprisingly rough, even though I haven’t been working since mat leave started in Sept 2012, and have wanted to be a SAHM since my first daughter was born in 2009.
    I live in Seattle WA, where daycare and nannies are equally good options and usually depends on the # of kids you have. After 2 kids, a nanny is about the same cost as good daycare, especially if there’s an infant in the mix. I researched infant care before quitting and 3 days a week at the center we loved for our daughter was $2000/mo (!).
    However, even given that it makes financial sense for me to work. I make as much as my husband and sometimes more, if I work full time. I had been working part-time since 2010 (20-30 hours).
    Hubby was supposed to stay home with the kids until early 2014, but got offered his dream job so we had to think hard about what we wanted. We decided together that one of us should be home while they’re little, but considered all the options – he stays home, I stay home, we both work part-time/contract.
    Since I was less than thrilled with work and having to find a new position after mine evaporated during mat leave, it made sense for me to step out for a while. I’m happy about this, overall, but am still trying to work out WHAT this new life looks like (part of this is also learning to wrangle 2 kids by myself since hubby was off for a year during which #2 was born).
    I will hopefully start some VERY part time contract work in July that won’t require me to engage regular childcare outside of my parents, who live nearby half the year.
    My field (project management) is fairly easy to exit/re-enter as long as I keep my network alive. There’s a LOT of contract work where I live, so if I HAD to go back to full time I work, I have no doubt I could.
    I absolutely miss the paychecks, but have always felt a strong pull to be home and enjoy my kids and hobbies and chill out for a while. Like one of the previous posters, I think it’s because I came to motherhood fairly late (I’m 38 very soon).

  49. I’m 32 years old, live in a suburb outside of Philadelphia and work outside the home. My one year old twin boys go full-time to a neighborhood daycare center. My husband also works outside the home. We are one of the few professional couples on our block.I acquired a Master’s Degree (and the accompanying loans) when my undergrad degree proved to mean jack-all when I was looking for jobs. I have a very stable, family-friendly job with the Department of Defense; I work from home two days a week which allows me to catch up on the laundry and do the week’s cooking (and also fit in appointments and errands).
    I do wish that I could stay home to raise my children, but if I left my job THE ECONOMY and the sequester would make it so I would very likely never be able to get it back again. And I also feel that I owe it to my husband to continue being a good earner since he supported me through grad school and now shares in the repayment of my loans.

  50. I should clarify that I work 2 of the 5 days of the week at home, not that I only work 2 days a week. Mondays and Wednesdays I work from home, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays I make the 50 minute commute to the office.

  51. A topic near and dear to me. Can’t wait to read all these later and maybe comment more later, but for now, here are my data points:1. One child, age 7, first grade
    2. I am 39
    3. HCOL outer Boston suburb
    4. I currently need after school care until 5-5:30, plus many random holidays and vacation weeks, and all day care/camp in the summer
    5. Childcare where we live runs the gamut. We used a full time commercial daycare center before my son started Kindergarten and that worked great for us.
    6. Yes, it makes sense for me to work in my chosen profession where I live, etc. I work in user experience/software development.
    7. I have a husband who also works full time but in a low paying dead end job that he doesn’t like and could do so much better if he didn’t have anxiety issues. I am, have always been, and will likely always be the breadwinner. My husband was a SAHD for the first year of my son’s life.
    8. I have a bachelor’s degree in a field that is not really related to my profession (Fine Art). I think it may limit my earning power slightly, but not horribly. I have no student loans.
    9. I’ve been lucky so far with “The Economy” but I do know lots of people at my last company who were laid off. Most have been able to find new jobs in their field.
    10. I have a great job at a great company right now. I work full time, but have a good work life balance and am learning a lot professionally. That said, I’ve been doing this kind of work for 12+ years and while it’s always changing and advancing, I don’t feel as passionate as I used to and should. I feel almost washed up and “old”. But I have no idea what else I’d do.
    11. I suspect I’ll be doing the same thing in 5 years, either at the company I’m at now or another local tech company. Maybe… maybe… I’ll go into management? Maybe? Probably not. If anything, I’d like to be able to be home when my son comes home from school when he’s in late elementary school and beyond.
    12. Women in my field are not unheard of, but we are still the minority which makes me wonder if I would actually be paid more if I were a man with the same skills. I struggled when my son was a baby because it felt like I was the only working (full time out of the home) mom in his baby play group and missed out on a lot. Now that he is older, I don’t feel the resentment as much but I still can’t volunteer in his classroom often or take him to things in the afternoons which is when so many things are scheduled. I feel badly about that, but at the same time, I don’t want to be SAHM. It’s always a very fine balance.

  52. One boy, 2.5 years old. I’m 35. Live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband. I work full time outside the home so I need full time day care but my son is old enough to attend pre-school so that’s where he spends 50 hours a week. I am fortunate to have available any and every kind of childcare in my area and price range. My mom and FIL have also offered free full time childcare but I don’t have a great relationship with my mom (manipulative/controlling/had to put up boundaries for my mental health) and my FIL is “too loving” (no rules/boundaries for my son, gives in to everything) so neither was an option.It makes sense for me to work full time because my mental health demands it (I love my son but I could never be a teacher or full time caregiver to children, even my own). My company also provides extremely generously for our healthcare costs (I paid only $130 out of pocket total for: all pre-natal care which included extra tests and ultrasounds due to some concerns, a week long stay in the hospital which included an unplanned c-section, and my son’s entire first year of office visits and vaccinations). I am not a high level employee (I’m an Executive Assistant) but I’ve held the same role for over 10 years at the same dept in the same company and have worked hard to build a reputation where my work is highly valued and well compensated. We live in a very expensive area but that’s where my husband’s work has always been. We love where we live and will stay as long as we can afford it.
    My husband is well paid which helps us afford our expensive area. However, we also work hard to live below our means. We strive to save my entire salary each month and have been able to do so, even while paying for a mortgage and full time childcare. I drive a 13 year old car and we try not to spend unnecessarily. We don’t deny ourselves fun and frivolous things, we are just mindful of our spending. (My company also provides an award system that gives me an ample “slush fund” for indulgences like shoes and handbags, which I still only buy on sale/with coupons.)
    We are both college grads. (4 year private universities) Our families wanted both of us to go to graduate school but that wasn’t anything either of us were interested in. It does not limit our earning power and I am overqualified for my role but it’s a job I enjoy and am good at. And it gives me time/energy to spend on managing our home. My husband had college loans, which he paid off quickly (he drove a 20 year old car for years after he could have afforded a nicer car) and I was fortunate that my parents paid for my entire education.
    The economy seems to be doing pretty well where we live. Real estate is always crazy high here, even during the recession and housing bust.
    In 5 years, my son will just be starting kindergarten. I hope my parents will have moved across the country to live near us by then. Ideally, I would be able to switch to an 80% schedule at work and my son would spend afternoons after school with the grandparents instead of in childcare.
    I know I am extremely fortunate to live the life I have. I have a husband who is awesome – he cleans the house, is a dedicated and attentive father, and provides very well for us financially. He doesn’t bat an eye when I spend entire days on the weekend with my girlfriends while he cares for our son. He is beyond patient, and basically a saint. We have defined roles in our marriage, but he is always willing to help and do what needs to be done even if it’s one of “my” jobs.
    I had a very frustrating morning and my son is not sleeping through the night again and we have all had various colds (and my seasonal allergies are killing me) for the last 3 months. I am exhausted beyond belief but in typing this all out, I see how truly lucky I am and it’s helped my perspective. Thanks for that, I really needed it.

  53. I live in Seattle and I have an almost-two-year-old. I work full time, but I am in retail, which means very odd hours, and weekends. My husband also works, and his job is also non-traditional, he works evenings. Childcare is a huge problem for us. We absolutely cannot afford full time childcare where we live, and even to get into a center we’d have to spend months on a waiting list. And neither of us is available for a 5:30 pickup. Currently my husband takes our son to work with him most days, and a friend if mine who is a SAHM watches him a couple times a week for way less than market rate. Back when he was first born my husband was working a nine to five office job that paid significantly more than what he is making now. We considered having me stay home, as financially it would be a wash, but we get all our health insurance benefits through my job, and I was already bored halfway in to my maternity leave.We are currently trying for baby number two, and my husband is in talks for a position that might have us moving out of state. If we move and have two children, I might take a year off work to get our family acclimated tongue new home, as we won’t have the same support from family and friends as we do here.

  54. Two kids, one 8, one 5.I’m 39 years old, almost 40 (yahoo!)
    I live in Spokane, WA.
    I’m married to their father, and he works from home. Up to this year, I took my son to the same daycare/ school he’d been going to since he was a baby, and dropped him off around 8:30 and picked him up between 4:30 and 5. Next year, when he goes into first grade, he’ll join his sister’s arrangement: my husband will take them to school when it starts and pick them up when it ends, and will care for them between the end of school and the time I get home from work.
    It has always made sense for me to work, both emotionally, because I do what I love and what I’m good at, and financially, because day care takes up only about 1/4 of my income. But I would try to do it anyway. I have never wanted to be a SAHM. I love working; it’s my vocation. I love the time I spend with my kids, too. The balance is perfect for me. This is made possible for me, like Cloud, by the fact that my husband is a 50/50 domestic partner. He’s committed to sharing the work and leisure. I couldn’t do what I do without that.
    “The Economy” has affected my husband more than me (though it’s affected me too.) His company was acquired by another company, and he thought for a long time he’d lose his job. It turned out all right, but it was a long space of anxiety. We bought a smaller home and paid off the mortgage in anticipation, and now he can retire early if he wants to.
    In five years, I hope I’ll still be doing this, and we’ll be balancing how to pay for lessons and extracurriculars out of my salary alone if and when he does retire early. That’s a whole different ball game (so to speak, har har.)

  55. 46 years old, married, 2 boys 9 & 12, live in Atlanta, have masters degree in special education.I taught public school until boy child #1 was born and I’ve been home ever since. I’m ready to go back to the workforce… sort of. I have a potential job lined up which will let me teach only about 10-12 hours a week. This would be perfect for me.
    I love the PTA time I can give and I’ve gotten used to having the time while the kids are at school to use as I need. I can spend time gardening and not feel like I “should” be doing something else. DH and I have pretty traditional roles, but are happy with this choice. We’re used to having no money, so I’m still willing to continue staying at home. I don’t want to go back full time if I can help it.
    I’d like to continue working part time (maybe increase hours beyond the 12) as the kids get older, but I’ve found that they don’t really need you around less as they get older. It changes, yes, but I’m still needed after school and I hope I can continue to be there for them.

  56. First time mom to a 1 year old. We are in south Texas and both my husband and I are turning 30 next year.Right now I am a SAHM. We are both teachers, and had been saving money for me to stay at home for at least a year. Hubby is just graduating with his masters, which was expensive, so I have to go back to teaching in August.
    We have decided to go with a “Learning Center,” which will cost us about $200-250 a week. There are other options for childcare, but after coming home crying after touring them, hubby agreed that sacrificing half my paycheck is fine, since the rest will just go back to build up our savings for baby #2. Not effected much by “The Economy” since science teachers are always in high demand, although the future seems hazy since Texas has decided education does not cost $$, and our budgets are being cut left and right.
    I am OK with going back to work. We need new cars soon and I am exhausted from staying home and think I may have isolated myself too much.
    I am stressing about how to balance baby and work. Also taking in another mouth to feed while my sister in law attends medical school. Hopefully temporary. In five years I will probably have already spent a year at home with baby #2 and be back at work. Hopefully working on a Masters, although locally they have discontinued the only program I would be interested in, so I’d probably just get whatever will get me a pay raise.
    I am not the only SAHM on my street, but I have been getting attitude from neighbors who think I don’t do anything. One neighbor thinks it’s my job to see who is around and prevent break-ins. The other (who is voluntarily unemployed and bored) acts surprised when I say I am too busy to hang out. This year has been very frustrating without adult conversations, but I am also fearful of the guilt trip I will go through next year.

  57. Love this post!I am 39, live in Evanston, IL, right outside Chicago and have a 5 year old and a 1 year old. I need full time child care. My oldest goes to a pre-K program from 8:30-3 every day and after school care at the same place 2x a week. The younger one stays home with a nanny, but will start in a home daycare in the fall. Where I live there is every conceivable kind of childcare and we have made use of home daycares and nannies and private preschool.
    I have a PhD and am a university professor and my DH works at the same university but is the “trailing” spouse–he is a lecturer. I earn a lot more than he does, more than twice as much as our childcare costs, so it makes a lot of sense for me to work, financially. Also, academia is an unforgiving career path: it’s almost impossible to leave a tenured or tenure track position and then get back on that career path a few years later. So it made sense for me to keep working not only in terms of short-term financial stability but also as an investment in the long-term future of my career. Luckily, I had generous paid maternity leave at my university and my job is flexible even though it is also very demanding. So, for example, I can take off at 3pm if I want to and go get my son from school and take him to swim lessons. I may have to do some grading or course prep or whatever at night when the kids are sleeping, but aside from being in class and being in meetings, my time is my own to allocate as I see fit. That helps.
    Having tenure at a private university has largely insulated me from The Economy, while friends at public universities have really felt the sting.
    In 5 years I will likely be where I am now, but closer to having accomplished the things I need to do to advance to full professor (which is, write another book). The kids will definitely slow this down as I need to travel to do intensive archival research and I don’t like to leave them for extended periods so it really slows down how much research I can get done during summers and other periods of reprieve from teaching. But the kids will both be in public school in 5 years and I imagine we’ll be feeling flush with cash after all those years of paying for childcare.

  58. I’m 33 and have one kiddo, 18 months – we hope to have another in the next year or so. We currently live in the NYC metro area (not in the city though).My husband and I are both in academia. He has a full-time research position that is flexible but demands a lot of time from him and he travels quite a bit – it ended up being about 3 months last year, I think. I am about to finish my PhD and for the last 2 years have been teaching online classes for my university (which is located in a different state) while writing my thesis. O
    Our kid had 10 hrs/week of nanny-care for his first 10 months so that I could teach and write and then went into 4 days/week of full-day day day care. My entire salary (if you can even call it that) goes to his day care but if I didn’t have 4 full days a week (and sometimes during the semester even that doesn’t feel like enough) I would not have been able to finish my degree and do justice to the classes I taught.
    We are lucky to have family close by and can rely on them if needed or in an emergency but we don’t have ‘regular’ childcare help from them.
    The daycare my son attends is probably one of the more expensive in the area but is subsidized by my husband’s employer and is on his campus…plus it is a very very good day care. We loved our very-part-time nanny but it was too expensive to hire her for more than 10 hours a week and as I wrote above, we needed more hours. Among the people I know there is a mix of day care, nursery school (~3 hours/day, a few days a week), and stay at home parents. Among my friends here in town I only know one other person who sends her child to full time care, and she works full time out of home. I work from home and it makes me feel really weird sometimes that I don’t have my son home with me – but there is no way I could do the work I do without full time care.
    I’m finishing my degree now and looking for a full-time job as a professor. So far things aren’t looking too good for next year so I am hoping to scrape things together while I continue to search. I might have one offer but it’s for a full-time position that requires teaching several nights a week and weekends, plus a 2 hour commute (round trip), which will be very difficult to manage, especially when my husband travels. So I’m not sure what next year will look like. We can’t really make it on my husband’s salary alone, even if I don’t bring in much. I’m trying to be flexible.
    The “economy” has mostly affected our field (academia) more than us specifically, although I am definitely feeling it now as I look for jobs. In 5 years i would love to be working on a campus close to home (ideally the same campus as my husband, maybe not where we live now though) with enough flexibility to spend time with our kids after school and not work weekends all the time! I don’t know how likely that is, and in truth over the past few months I’ve started to reconsider whether I really want a full-time academic job. But I don’t feel like I could be a SAHM, either – – a really big part of my identity is tied into my professional life. So I guess a lot is up in the air right now.

  59. Twin Cities, Minnesota. I have a 15-month-old, who is in full-time day care at a smallish center. (Male) partner and I are both 35, both work full-time outside the home.The child care center is cheaper than some of the bigger chains, but it’s still a lot of money. Not so much that it would make more sense for one of us not to work, though. Partner makes more than twice what I make, but is also expected to put in more hours.
    I never wanted to be a stay-at-home parent, but after the child was born I wanted it even less. She was/is quite high-needs–wouldn’t nap without someone holding her, always wanted to be held, still doesn’t really play very independently, etc., and I am grateful every day that we can pay lovely, qualified people to take good care of her while I go to work.
    If we have another one (and that’s still a pretty big “if”, due to the whole high-needs business), I expect I would cut my work hours, but still use nearly full-time child care. Maybe a center, maybe a nanny.
    I am generally satisfied with my work situation, though I could see benefits to working fewer hours. I have worked for several years to get the kinds of projects I want to do and get a more comfortable-for-me workspace. I also really like the people I work with and the company itself. Company is also casual and flexible about work-life balance, which helps. I work in an industry that utilizes lots of freelancers, but I struggle with working on my own. It helps me a lot to be in an office with other workers and have that accountability.
    The economy is not a big concern now, but if I left my job and wanted to find a new one, it probably would be. My industry is pretty competitive, with limited options. I have a master’s degree, but I’m in a low-paying, competitive industry, so I don’t know how much the degree affects earning power. I did it for myself, not for any specific work aspiration.

  60. I am 32, I have two kids, boy 3.5 girl 2.0, and I’m a self-employed Chiropractor, working part-time (25 hrs/week, 4 days, no weekends) I live in Canada. Our kids go to a dayhome, our friend, who is very flexible with part-time fees/pickups/etc and we are blessed. If we took our kids to a daycare centre we’d have to pay for full-time and that’s largely what keeps us away. That and it’s hard to get into any daycare, especially good ones, unless they’re prohibitively expensive. It makes sense for me to work because, even part-time, I make more than my husband (who works full time in IT for a university, and studies part-time toward his bachelor degree.) And it makes sense for me to work part-time so I can be with my kids part-time. I get both worlds, but not necessarily the “greener” parts of both, unfortunately. I don’t get credit for being a full-time WOHM because I have some time with my kids, and I don’t get credit for being a full-time SAHM because I get some time away from my kids. It’s just another example of how this mommy-war feels lose-lose-lose-lose no matter how you chop it. But it’s winning for our family, and that’s what matters. My husband stayed home with our babies (used Canadian parental leave yay!) so I could get back to my business quickly (as I don’t qualify for it being self-employed.) He’s an incredibly involved dad, and I love him for it, and our family is better for it, mos def. Six years into my career, I can *finally* see how the extra education and DEBT is paying off – my work is fulfilling, my earning potential is high, we are reaching a comfortable point financially, it’s awesome. I would say, compared to male Chiropractors, taking time off for babies did slow my progress, but over my lifetime, I don’t think it will be a factor. I would say I’m less “ambitious” than some male Chiropractors I know, but I don’t know if that’s a function of my gender, or my lack of leaning in, or whatever. It could be. It benefits me being a mother in terms of having pregnant and mothering patients for sure! And I love that and wouldn’t trade it 🙂

  61. I have three kids, ages 13, 11 and 5. I’m 35 years old. The 5yo is in half-day kindergarten so he needs childcare during the morning until he goes to school. Otherwise, our 13yo is old enough to watch the other two so we don’t need childcare unless we’re going somewhere overnight (and the kids can’t come – this is extremely rare, I can’t remember the last time we needed it).There is just about every type of childcare in my area – nannies, daycares, in home day cares, after-school programs, family caregivers, stay-at-home-parents.
    We live in the suburbs of Chicago and I work in Chicago, downtown. My husband goes to school part-time, works part-time, is a high school football coach part-time and is a stay-at-home-Dad part time. It makes sense that we live/school in the suburbs, with me working in the city, because my husband is home to take care of the kids. If I didn’t have reliable childcare, it would be very stressful for me to be an hour away from my kids during the day. When my husband finishes his degree and gets a teaching position, it will likely be in the suburbs in our area. Our youngest will be in school all day by then and we’d transition to needing someone to watch him before/after school if my husband’s work schedule doesn’t allow for it, or if one of the older kids isn’t able to because they have sports/music practice after school.
    I have some college – am about 18 months of part-time status away from earning my BA. I have great work experience & rise within each organization I work for, so am able to earn an adequate living without my degree. I work in higher education and it is unusual for me to have been successful in this field without a bachelor’s degree, then again my work has been in the administrative/staff side of things which typically requires less formal education. I’m really at the top of where I can go at this point – not having the bachelor’s means that I’m overlooked for jobs I absolutely qualify for otherwise, simply because I don’t meet the educational requirement. I was fortunate to have paid for my schooling via scholarships, grants, tuition reimbursement and a very small amount in loans, which are paid off. I do owe a sizeable chunk to the university where I was working on finishing my degree and so until I can pay that off, I can’t move forward with classes to finish the degree, I can’t transfer the credits out. I either have to pay it off (in full!) so I can get back into classes or I have to start over somewhere else, which I really, really don’t want to do.
    The economy – in part it doesn’t feel like it has impacted us – we’ve been living on very little money since we started our family and are still working class in many areas of our life, so the economic downturn hasn’t made much of anything different for us, outside of certain costs going up. Where I see it impacting us most is that my husband has had a very hard time getting work because so many people are competing for jobs. I have had the stable, upwardly-mobile job history and he has stayed home with the kids, been in school, worked part time, since we started our family. He works when he can and he goes to school when he can but he’s been the primary caregiver and he’s the one who drops work or school to handle crises. Because of the erratic nature of his work experience and because we’ve had complicated childcare schedules for our kids, he’s had a hard time getting hired. There are a lot of people out there who have more stable work histories and are willing to meet any schedule demands necessary in order to get the job – so they get the job. We are looking forward to our youngest being in school full-time so my husband can devote himself to finishing his degree so he can begin teaching full-time. He’s been a coach at his high school alma mater for years and is hoping to teach there when he’s ready. If not, hopefully in the area.
    I feel both good and bad about my work situation. On one hand I feel stuck – it will be hard for me to get a promotion or to earn more until I finish my degree . . . or it will be hard for me to move into the field I’m really passionate about because I don’t yet have the experience and I can’t afford to take an entry-level role (though I wouldn’t mind the work, just the low pay). On the other hand, I’m being given the opportunity to get experience in my field of passion via my current role – just in any official capacity. I’m going to jump on the opportunity and get the experience but I sure wish it came with a solid job title and/or raise. The experience will be very helpful for when I’m ready to move full-time into the new field but I would feel more confident if I could point to my resume with a specific title & duties, rather than saying “I wore multiple hats and this was one of them”.
    My hope is that things will look quite different for us in all respects, in 5 years. By then my husband and I should both have our degrees and be working in the careers we want. Our kids will all be old enough to not require paid childcare (or very little if the teens aren’t available to help with the little guy). My husband having a full-time job doing ANYTHING will mean a significant increase in our household income and if he’s teaching in the district we’re hoping for, our household income could more than double. It will mean a big, big change in our lifestyle. We’re currently getting by – rent, bills are paid, food on the table, new clothes when we grow out of the old ones, a few treats here & there. No cable, no vacations, no expensive lessons for the kids, worrying about how to pay for braces, can we afford to visit my parents or will I need to ask my Dad to pay for our visit (because not visiting isn’t an option, thus money stress every time we try to plan a trip). To most of my peers, not having all those things equals poverty or being in dire circumstances. I think about the financial worries of years past when I earned less, when we weren’t sure how we’d pay the bills – when we COULDN’T pay all the bills – and I feel pretty good about where we are now.

  62. One daughter, 2.5, with another on the way (due around daughter’s 3rd birthday).Our daughter is in a Montessori school now, though she has been in full-time daycare since 3 months. I know people who have done nannies, family care, home-based daycare, childcare centers, home school, basically anything you can think of. We have a tentative spot for baby #2 at a small infant-only (under 2 years old) day cares, and am hoping that works out because we’re not on the list anywhere else.
    I am 36.6, married, live in Austin TX. I’m a lawyer and I really like it. I work for the State, which means my hours are generally more reasonable than private practice, as is the salary. While daycare is expensive, it makes sense for me to work, and I’m glad I do. My hubbo works full time, too. While I’m generally really glad I work full time, there is a part of me that wishes I could stay home. I guess we all wonder what life would be like if we were in the other position.

  63. –2 kids, ages 6 and 3 months–I’m 38, husband is 45
    –Twin Cities (exurb of)
    –No childcare, husband and I work opposite shifts
    –Most people here have in-home daycare or stay at home because they don’t have enough earning power to make it worth paying for daycare (small town)
    –It makes sense for me to work partly because we don’t need daycare with my husband’s work schedule but mostly because I have very good health insurance (husband’s is WAY more expensive for family coverage and does not come close to my coverage plan) and our oldest has cerebral palsy, so medical expenses could be huge without our out of pocket maximum.
    –Husband works evenings/nights, I work days. Not great for togetherness, but daycare is so expensive in this area that we’ve decided to put up with it for now.
    –I have a BA, husband has a BS. These are fine for our chosen fields, we make about the same amount of money. No loans.
    –We haven’t been too affected by the economy other than the price of gas (I commute one hour each way daily).
    –I’m sure I’ll be in the same situation for work in five years, to keep the health insurance. I wish I could go part-time, but it doesn’t really pay off because I have been there long enough to earn a good amount of vacation time (and would earn less vacation if I worked less).

  64. I’m 36 with a Masters degree and an almost two year old son.Husband is 37 with an HND (Higher National Diploma – we’re in the UK) He’s studying for a degree part time now.
    My career plummeted when I became pregnant, I eventually got my employer to agree to part-time hours only to be laid off a few weeks later. I’m currently doing a crappy part time job and studying part-time to keep my skills current for my chosen career. I’ll be looking to go back to work full time when my current part time contract is up (October)
    Part time jobs just don’t exist in my (male dominated) line of work. When little dude is over 2 I hope he’ll be OK to go into full time daycare. We like the nursery he’s at a lot and they have space. I won’t be home in time to put him to bed anymore but his dad works an early shift so he’ll get plenty of love and attention at bedtime.
    I think I’ll suffer more than little dude does when the time comes to go full time/ late hours. I’ll get to spend a couple of hours with him every morning so I’ll not be a totally absent parent during the week.
    I want him to grow up seeing us both do jobs we love. I don’t want him to see us stressed and unfulfilled – I especially don’t want him to think I gave up my career for him.

  65. Well – my child is an adult now, so I will give data points based on the past.Child Data: 1 daughter; 11 years old
    My age: 41 years old
    Where:Orange County, California
    Day care needed: Before and after school
    How child care works (for me): Private school; paid for before and after school care.
    Yes it makes sense for me to work (single mom – income required.)
    Divorced – ex sometimes employed, sometimes not.
    When ex was employed, I got child support; when he wasn’t, I didn’t.
    Education: Some college; lack of degree may or may not have affected earning ability, but I do OK. No loans.
    Economy: eh – guess I can say I’m lucky to have been with the same company for many years; having weathered many lay-offs and still working.
    I love my job.
    Future: Same thing
    I am lucky to have been able to do what I do without a degree – and was able to finance my daughter’s private school education (with help from my church)

  66. – 2 kids, 5 and 2.5- I’m 32
    – Ann Arbor, MI
    – My kids are in daycare/preschool, soon to be preschool/kindergarten, 10 hours per day, 5 days per week. Boo and Yay.
    – Plenty of options, all kinds.
    – I hate the “does it make sense for the mother to work” question. To me, it’s like asking if it’s really worth it to breathe in all that oxygen if you just blow out all that CO2 anyway. I get so much more out of work than income, even during the 5 years that I worked the most deadly boring job and I was clawing my eyes out.
    – My husband has the career I wish I had. He is a financial analyst at a stable, well-run company. He works with people who respect each other and generally work toward a common goal. I work in academia. Dysfunctional, and everyone hates everyone.
    – n/a
    – A lame master’s degree which is only vaguely related to what I am doing now, and in no way related to what I want to be doing. I made a huge and very expensive mistake when I went to graduate school.
    – We lost nearly $100,000 in the real estate situation of 2008, but other than that we’ve weathered it fine.
    – I like a lot of the work, I strongly dislike the environment. It’s massively dysfunctional, everyone’s working at cross purposes.
    – I’d like to pursue an MBA but my confidence is in the toilet. I feel like an idiot most of the time right now.
    – The only other piece of info I’ll include is that my husband is a dream in many ways, but the relevant way here is that he is a completely equal parent and household-runner. We have worked hard at this and I have had heart-to-hearts with him about this issue and how deeply-felt it is for me, and he listens and adds his own thoughts and really hears me and really internalizes. This has added to my general satisfaction with life immeasurably.

  67. • 2 kids – age 6 (full day kinder) and 3 (daycare).• Age 35
    • inner-ring suburb of Cleveland, OH
    • We need childcare from about 9 – 4:30 on the weekdays. I’m able to drop the kindergartener off right before the 9am bell and we pay for her to be in after-care from the end of school (3:30) until her dad picks her up (around 4:30-45). I then drop off my son to his daycare which is only about 1/2 mile from my office. I get to work around 9:20 and 80% of the time I only take a 15 minute lunch (I technically get an hour – which I actually take maybe once a week) and I try to leave between 5:15 and 5:30. In the summers the oldest goes to day-camps for 10 weeks which cost between $150-$300 a week. During the school year we pay about $1250 a month for childcare.
    • In the region I would say that centers and family babysitters are the biggest daycare providers. However, in my immediate area nannies, home-based childcare or one parent staying home is the norm. For various reasons, neither of those options appealed to us so until kindergarten, both kids were in a small full-time daycare center/preschool.
    • It more than makes sense for both me and my partner to work: each of our monthly salaries more than covers childcare expenses and without both salaries retirement savings wouldn’t be possible (this is very important to us). If either one of us took more than about a year off of work it would be extremely difficult to get back into the job market at a similar level to where we are now. Our salaries are very close to being equal – he earns more take-home but I have more vacation time and a hefty retirement match (non-profits for the win!) which equals things out. So basically, if one of us stayed home we would cut our income in half.
    • My husband and I both work full time. We are both lucky enough to work for companies that let us be somewhat flexible. I work from 9-5:30 so I handle the mornings – I get the kids up and ready for school, drop one off at school, the other off at daycare then head to work myself. Even with the 2 drop offs my total commute is about 7 miles. I’m close enough that I can make it to a few school functions during the work day (not all). My office is also closed the same week as winter break which helps tremendously. I have ample paid sick, vacation and personal time. Most days my husband works from about 7:30 – 3:30 so he does the afternoon shift of picking up kids, getting them to lessons and/or making dinner. Typically by the time he gets to our neighborhood and picks them both up, he can be home around 4:45-5:00pm. He works downtown so it’s not as easy for him to pick up and head to school, but he can also work from home occasionally which makes days with doctor apts, school functions, car repairs, etc. much easier. By the nature of my job I also have weekend and evening events about 10-12 times a year. As long as we have enough notice both my husband and I can juggle our schedules (i.e. he stays in the morning while I go to a breakfast meeting then leave early for pick-up).
    • I have a BA from a state school and, 14 years later, am still paying off loans because for the first 8-10 years I paid the smallest amount possible while I was making an entry-level then paying for childcare (22 more months until they’re paid off! not that I’m counting). I should get my masters and I could for very, very cheap but my heart isn’t in it, and every time I even think of going to school again I want to cry. I’ve been working in my industry consistently since I was 18 and I have zero desire “lean in” or ever be the boss… I’m quite happy in middle management with it’s modest responsibility load. Many people my age in my field are either starting or just completing a master’s program so I feel like it will be something I have to do soon. But I’m not gonna like it. My husband went to school for almost 4 years but stopped just one semester shy of graduation to work full time on a company he was starting (it never really worked out, but lead to some great opportunities). We are still paying student loans on his degree-that-never-happened. He’s been very lucky to have always been employed as most of his colleagues have at least a BA if not an MA. However at this point in his career his 20 years of experience is enough.
    • The Economy – overall in Cleveland it’s still depressed, but the industry in which I work is growing and there is no job shortage. However, the pay can vary greatly and I don’t really want to work for some of the companies.
    • Right now I love the organization I work for, but don’t love my current administration. But, I get paid quite well to do what I do so that makes it easier to deal with the daily bullshit.
    • I hope to be in the same job in 5 years, but by then the little one will be in 2nd grade so hopefully we can be shoveling much of the money we’re spending on daycare now into college funds, retirement and the ever-growing list of things that need done on our century home.
    • As I said above, I feel like in our neighborhood, having 2 parents with full time, out of the house jobs is somewhat rare. I would say of 2-parent households about 60% have one parent staying home. Another 10-20% have 1 parent with either a part-time (during school) or work from home situation. It always amazes me how many kids I see walking to school at 9:00 with 2 parents. I’ve fought the urge to stop and ask them what they do for a living that allows that luxury.
    My DREAM would be to work 75% of the time (9:30 – 3:30) and make 75% of my current salary. If I could do that for the next 5-10 years I would in a heartbeat. But good-paying, part-time work doesn’t really exist in my industry around here.

  68. 1 daughter, 4 years oldI’m 40.
    Live in Amherst, MA
    DD in a home-based daycare/preschool 3.5 days/week
    Hubby is a professional musician and music teacher.
    Hubby’s work is his passion. Hubby works a lot, but does not make a lot. Hubby care for DD the other 1.5 days/week
    College degree. No student loans (thanks to Mom and Dad).
    Voluntarily stepped off of the corporate track last year to take a lower-paying job in higher education, because I felt the corporate job was at odds with my personal values.
    Making less than half of what I was making at said corporate job. My family’s income does not cover our expenses. We’re living off savings (and small severance payment from corporate job). Hoping that when we no longer have to pay for child care, our fiscal situation will be much healthier.
    I’m the primary breadwinner in my family, so not working is simply not an option.

  69. 1, 16M.35 this month.
    Outside of the USA.
    I’m a writer and when she was younger I could manage between her naps, etc. As she’s dropped her naps, I’ve had to farm childcare out. I now employ a nanny for 18 hours a week (in my home).
    Most families here hire live-in domestic workers for neighboring poorer nations. Many others rely on their families. (Joint families are common here.) Still others put their children in childcare centers. None of these options are appealing to us for a variety of reasons. Foreign domestic workers are culturally unfamiliar to me and I’m not comfortable with someone living in my home. (Live in is the only visa situation available to these women. There are no ‘local’ love-out alternatives because of the way the economy of this country is structured.) As for child care centers, I’m not impressed. They are understaffed. Also, many of the local centers do use corporal punishment, which blows my mind.
    As I said, I’m a writer, so I can work on my projects from home. I’ve made it work, though I’m not producing at the rate I did before I had a child by a long shot.
    I have a male partner. He is the father of my child. He has a Big Career and he is often on the road. He makes multiples of what I could ever make — unless I became a New York Times Bestselling Author — and his career has always taken precedence.
    Both my partner and I have masters degrees and we do not have any loans outstanding.
    “The Economy” is what sent us overseas!
    I’m doing OK. I enjoy being a WAHM.
    I hope to have another child at some point in the next five years. My daughter will be in half-day school at 30M (when formal schooling begins here).

  70. I see a few from Canada posting, but other than that, it seems to be all U.S.-dwelling families. So I’ll represent…Denmark.One daughter, 7 years old.
    I’m 45.
    We live in what I formally refer to for internet purposes as Bumf*** Denmark.
    We need after school care 5 days a week. We pay approximately $250 a month for the option for her to be there from 6:30-8:15 am and then from 11:45 am -4:30 pm. She generally is there only after school, sometimes til 3 pm, sometimes til 4:30.
    Child care is almost exclusively state-subsidized, institutional care. That sounds awful, but it isn’t. Her daycare “mother” from ages 10 months to 3 years was a woman who did it from home (standard) and had 3-4 kids at a time. The preschool was two doors down from her house, in a lovely building with lots of space.
    The after school care we use now is physically part of the school, and therefore very convenient. There are au pairs in the cities, but they are not common.
    It makes sense for us to do the work we do, and the hours we have. I have an erratic schedule, being freelance, and DH has a fair amount of flexibility in his schedule, so if I have a late class, he can pick up our DD. I teach English, and am called in for classes by a few different schools. They send me out to teach at the company requesting classes, so my commute is anywhere from 10 minutes to 1.5 hours. DH works full-time (8 – 4:30) at his job which is about 25 minutes away. We live in the sticks, so no commuter traffic. The worst scenario is getting stuck behind a tractor on a part of the country road where you’re not allowed to pass.
    My education is some sporadic college. I had just embarked on getting the prerequisites for starting on a 4-year degree when we decided to move to Denmark. While I could go to school here for free/minimal expense, we live far away from anywhere (see Bumf*** Denmark comment above). DH has a bachelor’s in engineering. He earns about 3 times what I do, but if I had enough work to be full time, I would earn about the same. Neither of us are paying off loans. He got his education free here in Dk, and I went to community college and paid as I went. I absolutely love my work and it keeps me stimulated mentally, so even if I don’t earn lots, it’s so worth it to me for my quality of life.
    The economy seems to be picking up only recently. I am getting new classes booked now in late spring, which has historically been a dead time, since the course wouldn’t be finished before summer holidays. DH just said there is more demand for engineers in our area than in the more population- and industry-dense areas, so we seem to finally be in the right place (it was most definitely the wrong place when we moved here 10 years ago).
    If I get my butt into gear, I anticipate being somewhat established in my consultancy business, helping small businesses with all aspects of their communication in order to be competitive on the global market. If you’ve ever seen a Danish website, you may know what I’m talking about. DH will hopefully be doing something similar to now, though he’d like his work to be more hands-on. We just had a conversation about moving to somewhere near a good school, since the standard of Danish education seen generally is very lax. There have got to be some good schools somewhere…
    DD will be 13 then, so no more need for after school care (which isn’t a cost burden). She will likely go to one year of boarding school, which is fairly normal for kids when they reach the equivalent of 8th or 9th grade (option to go for either year). That is paid by the parents. I don’t know exactly what it will cost, as it varies from school to school, and each have a different focus, but we expect at least $6000 for the year. Could be up to 10,000 or more. Considering university is (as of now) free, we’ll manage.
    There are plenty of foreigners in the area and more so in the country, but we’re not terribly accepted as equals. I’m white and western, so that is an advantage here, but my friends of similar description are passed up for jobs in favor of less qualified Danes. People are shocked when they hear it, but it’s the norm. No idea if that will change any time soon.

  71. 31, have a 1 year old, post-graduate degree, work full-time with a 90 minute total daily commute. Husband also works full-time, fortunately he telecommutes 95% of the time and has somewhat flexible hours.Baby has been on many group daycare waitlists since he was but an embryo, but is still months if not years from getting a spot. We are too freaked out about the lack of safety and oversight of in-home care in our area, plus there are only a couple near us.
    So we have a nanny who comes to our house for 9 hours a day, Monday to Friday.
    30% of our net income goes to her salary. That cost, and the fact housing is astronomically expensive in our area, means we will be in a small 2-bedroom for the foreseeable future … which means likely no second baby.

  72. I have two boys, 4 and 7. I’m 33 and we live in Florida.I need childcare from 9-3 or so five days a week. I get help with tuition/watching the kids from my family. Otherwise it would still “make sense” for me to work but we’d be struggling immensely.
    I’m a single mom but I do receive child support. I have a bachelor’s degree.
    The economy blows but I’m not in debt. I rent.
    I love my job and love freelancing but not having benefits is a huge problem for me. I’m just above the “poverty line” so I don’t qualify for assistance and what I pay for health insurance and medical costs takes up a significant amount of my paycheck.
    Once both kids are in school full time, work during the school year will be much easier. Summers are a huge challenge. Camps and childcare cost a fortune.
    I’m the first woman in my family to earn a college degree. I previously worked full time for six years. Now that I work from home, I have trouble getting people to acknowledge that I have a “real” job.

  73. 1x kidlet , I’m 31 she is 22 months. Live in Auckland NZ.No childcare, am a SAHM. Day-cares, nanny’s, at home care all available in my areaDoesn’t make sense for me to work, would spend 2/3’s of take home pay on day-care and work related expenses. When she is 3, we get 20 government funded hours of childcare, which I will use.
    Husband is a live sound engineer, erratic hours and often away touring with bands, so even though he would like to be home even one day per week so I could work, he can’t be.
    We are the ultimate “make hay when the sunshine’s” people. So when the work is there he takes it. And I’m home with our daughter.
    I would like to work, have more adult time. But am also happy to stay at home for another year.

  74. 1. kids: two daughters, 8 mo & 3y9m2. me: 35 in June
    3. where: outside philadelphia, pa
    4. my work: full time in office
    5. childcare around us: daycare centers, in-home, some nannies, SAH parents (mostly moms)
    6. make sense for me to work? yes, makes sense for me to work
    7. partner and his work situation: yes, have a partner. he WFH FT pre-kids, PT after first kid, and quit completely after second kid
    8. my education level: MA in semi-unrelated subject to my field, no loans (husband has same degree (different field of work), some student loans left)
    9. how you feel about your work situation right now: sometimes wistful for not being able to be home, definitely guilty that i “get” to get away to the office among adults, exhausted
    10. how you feel about what you anticipate you’ll be doing in five years: same career. will maybe be freer to stay late when needed; currently have a breastfed baby at home so i’m rushing home every day
    11. husband is the one at home bc i was the one with a more directed, higher-potential career. he didn’t really like what he was doing, but kept with it for the situation. expecting that when he re-enters the work force, either PT within the next 5 years and FT after that (probably), he’s going to go through a painful gut check as to what he REALLY wants to do.

  75. I am 33 and have two kids: 2.75 years and 3 months.I need part-time child care, more than I have now, which is 2 3-hour days for the toddler and none for the infant. Ideally I would have a part time nanny or mother’s helper for 15-20 hours a week. I teach online composition courses and will teach one course twice a week on campus in the fall. My work is sporadic and pays little. My husband works full time as a Digital Art professor at a local college.
    I mostly know SAHMs, so I’m not totally savvy on the childcare situations most used. I have one friend who did a dual child care center and a nanny for her two kids.
    I live in VT, where there are few jobs of any kind, and aside from home prices, cost of living is rather high. I do most of my work online and am always looking for more work. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing and will be paying off my Undergrad student loans until the end of time.
    To get the child care I need to do the irregular work I have doesn’t make any sense at all, because adjunct work pays so little and I can (mostly) do it at times when my husband is home, though that makes me feel rushed and panicked a lot of the time. My hsuband’s hours are not 9-5, so there are often times we are both home and can (theoretically) swap caring for the children so I can work.
    Our economy is tight tight tight. Husband makes a good salary, but being a mostly single income family is hard, financially. We bleed money each month.
    I both like and dislike our current situation. I mostly like being the primary care giver for the kids. I like being home with them. I also like working, and appreciate that I can do so from home. It is very hard to balance, though, and I always feel as though I’m scrambling to get grades done on time, or respond to students on time, and often wish I could have just a few hours each day that were mine alone to work, with no children to care for.
    Five years from now I hope to be teaching more, perhaps full time, at a collegiate level. What I am doing now, I hope, is giving me the required experience to do so. Ideally, with more flexible hours of faculty, my husband and I could care for the kids a third to half of the time and we could utilize a nanny the rest of the time. This would be dependent on my salary.
    What else is relevant is that my husband is significantly older than I am and will retire before our family is financially able to lose that income, so I feel a lot of pressure to find a full time career that will support us when he is done working.

  76. I have two girls, ages 6 and 3. We live in the Silicon Valley, and I have been home full time since just before the first was born. I really like being home with them (even on the days when I don’t). I could probably find a job in my field here (public policy), but it will be harder to do since we moved back to California to be near our family and for my husband’s job, since we no longer needed to be in DC for my career. My oldest goes to a parent participation public school (full day kindergarten), and I volunteer there one day a week, so I pay a sitter to take care of the younger one for 2-5 hours. In the summer, I will probably do what I did last year and hire a sitter for a couple of hours one afternoon a week, just so I can run an errand or sit and do nothing. Next school year the younger one will be in nursery school one day a week, so that will be the childcare while I do my volunteer hours at the elementary school.The thought of trying to juggle work along with the kids terrifies me. My husband would have to do a lot more than he does now.

  77. I’m 36 yrs old, married, and have one almost-3 daughter. We moved in the fall to the Richmond, VA metro area, and I went from being part-time WOHM (could bring my daughter to work with me) to SAHM with our daughter in preschool 2, now 3, 1/2 days per week. I use those mornings to run errands, doctor’s appointments, haircuts, basically anything which is easier without a 2.75 year old.My husband and I both came from SAHM families(mine had a in-home business but it didn’t run her life) so that’s important to us; but there are absolutely days when I wish I could leave the house stuff behind and focus on something I was paid to do, and I’m most likely going to try to look for something part-time in my field (I’m a admin. assistant level jack-of-all-trades) when our daughter moves on to “real” school. I guess that’s my 5 year plan – to regain my sense of self outside of ‘mommy/wife.’
    We’re lucky to not have any debt from schooling, and have enough income from my husband to make this work and still live comfortably.

  78. We have 2 kids: 21 months & 4.5 years old.I am 33, live in SW Virginia, I work 4 days a week but our daycare charges a weekly rate. I use my day off for chores/errands. I could work 5 days a week and make 20% more, but choose not to, just for my own sanity. Most people have kids in daycare centers, but there are home-based options, too; although, they aren’t really cheaper. With two kids in daycare, which costs over $14,000 a year, we are stuck. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to work, but we also can’t make it financially without me working. Husband works at the same place I work, but in a different department. I have a Masters’ degree, but make way less ($16K/year less!) than my husband who only has an A.A. My job isn’t difficult, but I have a hard time staying motivated enough to finish assigned tasks. Only have about $4500 left in student loans, so I’m luckier than most.
    I hope in 5 years that we’ll have all our credit card debt paid off so I can go back to school or explore other options.
    On a side note, a lot of people around here wait to send their children to school until they are 5 (almost 6) but we’re sending our son as soon as he’s eligible (4, turning 5 within a few days of school starting) to avoid paying another year of daycare. We hope it’s the right thing to do and that he’s not bullied for being smaller…

  79. My wife and I have one 6-month old baby. I am 31, wife is 31 too. We live in San Francisco. It is SO expensive. wife is doing the stay-at-home mother thing for now. eventually i think parttime childcare would be ideal, when she goes back to being an attorney. her wages as a public interest lawyer would only just offset the cost of infant childcare, so it doesn’t really make a difference to the family finances whether she works or not.there are mostly at-home childcare and share-care nannies in SF. There are few large childcare institutions.
    we couldn’t afford to live on my salary without monthly help from my wife’s parents. without that help, i don’t know how we could afford to live in the bay area and have a kid. whether she’s working and we’re paying for childcare or she’s not working and we’re loving on my salary, both situations would be untenable in SF.
    I have a PhD in biology, but don’t really earn much at all in academia. until you get your first faculty job (the average age of that is ~38 in biology, i’m a postdoctoral fellow) you’re earning a subsistence wage. No education loans from undergrad or wife’s law school only thanks to our parents.
    in general, i’m very happy with the current situation, but that’s because we have the freedom for my wife to stay at home with our son. in 5 years, i’m guessing wife will be back at work, and son will be in kindergarten. not sure how we’ll afford kid 2.

  80. One kid, 21 months old. Living outside US. Stayed at home for a year after giving birth – was great but in retrospect too long outside the workforce ( motivation/skill issues after getting back to office). Now the kid goes to daycare for half a day, my husband takes care of him for the other half. We are very lucky to live in a country where parental leave is allowed by law and not too frowned upon by our respective employers. I took six months full time parental leave after maternity, my husband now takes half time parental leave for a year. He plans to extend his reduced hours another year, the plan being to try for a second baby and me taking half time parental afterwards. Anyhoo, long story short, we juggle our hours now and will continue so until all kids are in preschool. As said, very lucky with system and involved hubby, but there are financial and career implications for both of us. I am now stressed about fitting in second pregnancy in a way that would least affect my career but probably there is no perfect way. Worse for hubby than me…

  81. I’m an attorney. 3 kids, ages 9, 6, 3. I worked at a big corporate law firm until the oldest was about 2. I live with my husband in southern California.I now work part time (I would say about 1/3 time) from home, doing hourly work for friends and former colleagues who have their own firms. I love, love, LOVE the work. All the parts of legal work I liked (writing and research), no clients of my own to manage, plus a reduced schedule so I can be with the kids more. I work because I love it, because I love having a professional identity, because I love having some of my own income. It helps, financially, but my income is not mortgage money. But I never want to give it up.
    For childcare: I need about 25-30 hours/week. Up until this year, I had the older two in full-time school (8:30-3) and the little one with a part-time nanny. My kids’ school has a preschool so now the little guy also goes on that same schedule.
    I also get part-time babysitting help some afternoons (college students, mainly), on a somewhat irregular schedule. Sometimes because my work gets busier and sometimes because it’s hard to ferry 3 kids around to different appointments and afternoon activities. I am a little spoiled with the afternoon help, I know, but at the moment it’s in the budget and makes SUCH a difference to my peace of mind.
    Babysitters/nannies here are between $12-$18, varying based on the nanny’s education and experience, driving kids, how many kids, etc. I would say nannies are the most common childcare, especially with more than one child. Lots of Latin (mostly Mexican or Mexican American, some Guatemalan or other hispanic) nannies. Varying of documented and undocumented. In reality, most people don’t ask too many questions on documents because so close to the border, the society is very fluid. Lots of people go back and forth daily, weekly, seasonally. People are willing to pay a good rate for a good nanny, the end.
    With multiple kids a nanny is really cheaper than a daycare, usually, for infants and toddlers. The preschool my son goes to at my kids’ (private) school works out to about $5/hour which you really can’t beat so it was a no-brainer to send him once he was old enough.
    I feel very lucky to have a great childcare and work situation, during the school year, at least. In the summer things get dicier as none of my kids are close enough in age to go to the same camps, camps are expensive, and summer nannies/babysitters can be hard to find. I would say Sept-June I am very satisfied, but the summers are always a juggling act.

  82. 54, married, one kid age 11.I have a BS in computer science, DH has a masters in soil science. We live in the southwest US.
    I work 3/4 time from home as a programmer. Child care is only a problem during the summer, as no program=kid watching tube and playing on computer all the time, ugh.
    I have absolutely no desire to work more or move up; my current six hours a day is awesome, as it allows me to schlep the kiddo to gymnastics/other after-school stuff. Moving up would mean having to deal with managing others, which I hate.
    DH works in management for a federal agency; he loves what he does.
    The Economy: my main feeling is that wages have not increased as much as they were doing when I was in my twenties; even though we make nominally much more, it seems like we are stagnating economically.
    I am looking at retiring from my current occupation and moving into another. I would dearly like some “me” time, which is sorely missing, as the kid-schlepping eats up a lot of time.

  83. 1 son, 2.5yo36
    Maine
    We need F/T childcare in the summer & P/T in winter- our son goes to a homebased daycare where a friend sends her kids as well
    Don’t know of any nannies… quite a few daycare centers and some home-based daycares round these parts.
    I guess to answer the “make sense” question I’d have to say it’s an irrelevant question where I live. The economy is horrid and I am extremely fortunate to have the sit-down office job I’ve had for the past 3 years. We would not be able to survive on 1 income; we are barely getting by on 2. My husband & child’s father is a chef and very very recently signed a 3yr contract at his job where they will pay him a yearly prorated salary even though he is only F/T during the summer (which is awesome blossom). Childcare is $125/wk or $25/day. We have talked some about my hub homeschooling our son which I think is extremely awesome and feel blessed that we can even consider it as a possibility.
    I have my B.A. in Psychology but haven’t really done anything with it. I have quite a bit in student loans and not a whole lot to show for it. If there were any fricken’ good jobs up here that didn’t have 4 million overqualified applicants I might actually be able to use my degree AND make a living wage. I can dream…
    My job is OK, I like my boss, and I’m grateful to have a job
    No idea what I’ll be doing in 5 years; still focused on today and tomorrow 🙂

  84. in my work-for-pay life, i have been an unhappy school teacher, a mildly amused technical writer, a wildly unhappy lawyer, a quite content baby sitter, a fulfilled-but-anxious director of precariously-funded after school programs for kids living in poverty. for ten years i was a largely contented stay-at-home mom, though the sense of financial dependence and lack of financial identity has left me a bit worse for the wear. i now work part-time in a bookstore, which i love, and the rest of my “professional” time is devoted to writing fiction and working toward an mfa in creative writing.my kids are now 16 and 10, and i was home most of the first ten years of my youngest child’s life. my wife works more than full time outside the home (the more-than being largely by choice, hers, not mine, and not necessity). we make it work by living modestly. if i had continued to practice law, we would have no financial concerns whatsoever, including re: childcare, but since that probably would have led to a total nervous breakdown, the other options would not have paid for childcare, and i really wanted to be home anyway.
    i don’t like the feeling of dependence that staying home has given me, the sense that i really couldn’t support myself without a total change of lifestyle. that, along with many other issues, has put a strain on my marriage, though we are working through it (and hence my new bookstore gig). that said, if i couldn’t write fiction i would also have a total breakdown, so i guess it’s the price i pay. maybe one day i will sell a novel for six figures and be made in the shade. hahahahahaha!!!

  85. oh, i forgot: i’ve cleaned a lot of houses to support my writing habit. i haven’t minded that, but it gets tiring the older i get. selling books is more fun.

  86. I’ve got one 2 year old son. He’s in full-time daycare to the tune of $11K/year. We *love* his daycare, and I’d be a horrible stay-at-home parent; it’s worth every penny. My husband and I are both engineers and we’re both working full time in our fields. Household income ~$230K. He has a BS and 3 MS degrees, I have a BS in physics and an MS in electrical engineering. Subject to day-to-day annoyances, I love my job. It helps that we live in Houston TX, which has a relatively low cost of living. My husband is done paying off his student loans and I’m still working on mine. We’ve got some debt from our recent move (traded up houses while the market was still low). We’d have been able to pay off the debt by now except that I’m also supporting my mother to the tune of $12K/year.We weathered the economic downturn really well. I took some time at the beginning of the recession to get my graduate degree, then hopped immediately into a good job from there. Very lucky.
    In five years we may have another child, which makes me a little nervous about finances. My mother, while fantastically unhealthy (and thus unable to help with childcare), shows every sign of living forever. Still, I think we can make it work by being slightly frugal. I am generally really happy with my work-life balance. I’m happy to drop my son off at daycare (there’s a webcam so I can check in from my work computer), and I’m happy to pick him up when I get off work. I’m also blessed with a generally excellent co-parenting husband. We split things up pretty evenly so that neither feels too poorly used; although the fact that I’m more likely to travel for work than he is causes a little strain.
    I have to say, my managers all thought I was going to quit when I went on maternity leave, and it really bugged me. I spent a long time investing in my career, and I get kind of neurotic when I’m not working. I am really grateful to have safe, reliable day care that lets me work the job I want to, and that I have nights and weekends for parenting stuff.

  87. Three kids: 8, 7 and 1. Husband and are both professionals, but my profession pays roughly twice what his does. Right now we’re both working full-time, and have the most convoluted child-care system on the planet. (Grammy sits 2 days a week for all 3, 2 days a week the baby goes to daycare, 1 day a week he goes to another SAHMs place, 2 days a week the big kids have a HS kid who is at our house when they get home, 1 day a week I work at home and am there.)I was laid off twice in the last 5 years (for a total of almost 2 years) , and we have had some real estate investments that the bottom fell out of, so we have some financial catching-up to do in the short term, but the long-term plan is for him to work full-time, and me part-time (3 days per week). I would happily stay at home, but it would make us financially just barely getting by and in my industry (software), I’d be hard-pressed to get another job at my age (43) if I took a few years off to raise kids.
    I have worked very very hard and turned down some really great opportunities in order to set myself up in a position where working part-time is a possibility. In particular, I stayed in a dead boring job for years because I was able to work remotely and part-time. I really like my current position and can see that I would absolutely “lean in” to a lot more if I didn’t have kids at home that I want to spend time with.
    I feel very strongly that I’m sick and tired of being emotionally blackmailed (excuse me, “encouraged”) to be a career woman because “Women everywhere are counting on [me]”. Yes, I have a good education and am smart and talented in my field. Why should that mean I have *fewer* choices? Right now I work because I need the money and because if I don’t do it now, I probably won’t be able to later. If the system were set up to allow parents to lean OUT while they feel compelled to make taking care of their families (and no, I don’t think this should be a women’s issue — I know men who would love this opportunity, too) a top priority for a few years, then the people who wanted to would do it. I’m sick to death of hearing “if we let you do that, then everyone would want to” as an excuse for companies to be inflexible dicks about stuff. If everyone would want to do it, maybe they should look into DOING IT. (Also, btw, I think they’d be surprised, because yes, everyone would like to work part-time, but an awful lot of them aren’t willing to trade part of their paycheck to do so.)
    I have lots lots more to say about this, but I am at work and every minute I spend doing this is a minute later I’ll have to stay tonight and a minute less I have to spend with my children. And that’s the way my world is structured right now.

  88. I am a single — solo — mom. No partner/cop aren’t, no grandparents or other family in the area to help. My daughter is 9. I am unemployed, and live in North Carolina, which last time I checked was the state with the second highest level of unemployment in the country.I don’t have a degree, so no student loans but ineligible for a lot of work, especially around here. I started back to school in January, just finished my semester but not sure what the next step is yet. I have been frantically applying for jobs for months but so far I have only even gotten three interviews, none were for jobs paying more than $12/hour, and only one was for a full time job. My chosen field is children’s music, which is not really a field at all, so I am, a) looking for anything in any field to pay the bills, and b) trying to figure out what direction to go with school to put myself on a viable career path. I’m 43 years old, which feels like an issue.
    My daughter has been in 3 hours of after school/week while I am in class but that’s it for child care. Unless I get a job there will be no child care over the summer. Unless I miraculously find some employment in the next couple of months I anticipate not being able to pay rent anymore. In that case we will likely move to MD where I have family, and throw ourselves on their mercy, I honestly can’t imagine earning enough money to support the two of us, which is really depressing. The Economy in the form of a terrible, brutal job market is responsible for this state of affairs, as is my lack of a college degree and my status as a single parent.

  89. I’m 34 with one child (2.5 years), married, and live in SW Ontario, Canada.Our son is in full-time (commercial) daycare, and that seems to be the childcare option of choice around here. Though I do know some who choose the home daycare or nanny route.
    Both my husband and I have PhDs and we don’t have any school loans. He’s a researcher, and I run an education program – both at the local university. I don’t need my degree for my job, but I chose this career path after finishing my PhD and realizing I didn’t want to continue on the research path. We both work 9-5, and have pretty flexible schedules, so share drop-off/pick-up/sick-day duties.
    We’re both relatively happy with our work life right now – we know we are lucky, especially in this “economy”, to have jobs we want and mostly enjoy. I do know that the job I have know is only a stepping stone and plan on moving on after I go on maternity leave in the fall. I would like to get into teaching full-time, so would need to go back to school for another year to get that designation. Not sure if we could swing it while the kid(s) are in daycare (we’d really have scrimp, save, and watch every penny), or if I’ll wait until they’re both in school (waiting 4-5 years, but then won’t have the money to worry so much about).

  90. I have 2 boys aged 7 and 4, I am 36 years old and live in a small city in Ontario, Canada. My kids are in daycare after school that is located in their school. This is a common situation in our area along with home care options for after school care. In our city, my 4 year old is in full day, every day kindergarten so he is in the same care situation as my older guy.I am lucky to be in the profession I trained for in school. I am a communications professional in the agricultural industry so pretty specialized and I have a well paying job.
    I am on my own and the custody arrangement with my ex is almost 50/50. I pay for all childcare because of his financial situation.
    I am very lucky that my work related travel can be covered by the ex taking a few extra days a few times a month.
    I believe that I am not limited in my earning power by my level of education, my experience or my home situation. I know I am very lucky in this regard.
    The economy in Ontario is recovering and agriculture is insulated somewhat from economic issues because of the need to eat and a limited number of qualified people.
    My work situation right now is manageable although I will be looking for a new opportunity soon because I have been in the same place for 7 years.

  91. One baby, almost 10 months old. Husband is a computer programmer. Last year I was a tenure-track professor in a male-dominated field and he was an IT tech, both at a university in a very small town with no tech sector to speak of. My husband landed a new job in the same Texas city as my family, earning as much as both of us together were making at the university. In academia you don’t really get to choose where you live (except sometimes for adjunct work, which doesn’t pay much more than child care). So it was a no-brainer for me to jump off the tenure track, move with him, and do the at-home mom thing for now.After pregnancy-related medical trauma I really, really appreciate how lucky I am that my miracle baby is here and I get to spend so much time with him. Sometimes I do wonder if I should have stayed on the career track, partly because it makes me sad that I’m one small part of the reason there are so few women in my profession.
    I keep reading the theory that “it’s not an unfair society, it’s women CHOOSING to leave the workplace,” but in our case, it wasn’t a philosophical choice so much as a financial reality. When it comes down to dollars and cents, our society values coders more than educators. So the choice for us was so obvious I’m not even sure you could call it a choice. If I were the coder and he were the professor, we would have done the opposite.
    In the meantime, I’m in the early stages of launching a home-based freelance business, so I’ll say that’s what I’d like to be doing in 5 years. It’s slow going, especially with a baby who shakes his little fists and goes “RRRRGGGGG” anytime I fail to provide him with sufficiently interesting activities for longer than 3.5 seconds. And he has just informed me I have exceeded my allowable typing time, so I will sign off now… 🙂

  92. 4 kids, 15, 11, 8, and 8, in the Mid-Atlantic. Summer nanny required, and during the school year, after-school care for the younger three is still essential (whether parent or someone else). Pretty much every option is open locally – nanny, au pair, childcare centers large and small, home daycare, you name it. Costs vary, we’ve used everything but an au pair.It does ‘make sense’ even with four kids for me to work in my profession, with childcare, even with all four in paid care at times. I make the larger income between the two parents, as well as have the insurance, so it makes *more* sense that I work.
    Partner of 20 years is fantastic. He has his own business, sole practitioner at the moment, but the combined effort of handling kids and home eats a good half his potential working time. We’ve alternated on career tracks between us, one more on ‘home’ the other on ‘career’ in series as our careers have shifted over time. Right now, it’s been five years on the Serious Track for me, and at the same time, five years of him trying to build his business. That has been hard, because my track carries the funds and insurance, so we tend to give it priority (even though growing his business is also important, he’s the one who has had to sacrifice growth for family needs).
    Education: MA in a field almost completely unrelated to my work (he has two degrees also), neither of which limits us. His second degree was essential for his career. No remaining loans for education.
    The economy impacts his career a LOT. Mine, somewhat but not too much, more about rates than about work (IT), since I appear to still be pretty employable. That has made it a little less obviously painful that his career has been so limited by family/kids/house demands. But The Economy is only one factor.
    I’m settling into a New Work Situation right now, which I chose so that, yes, I could have more work-life balance. Leaning in was working for moving up, boy howdy! But it wasn’t how I wanted to live, all in all, partly due to the company culture I was in. Very little overt sexism (lots of being very excited to have a female upwardly mobile on the team – I was a great diversity checkbox, but also good at my job). It was grand, but it was also killing me, and not slowly. Add in that my kids lives took something of a left turn (serious-management-required diagnoses for two of them), and… well, my energy needs to be more on them right now. As the senior VP said when I told him I was leaving ‘you can find another job, you can’t find another family – your values are in the right place’. And in reality, I trend toward “How Remarkable Women Lead” (as books go), not “Lean In”. That book (HRWL) looked at the successful women who ended up looking whole as well as powerful, and found that particular women leaders tend to have a cadence and flow to their career tracks, like natural pushing in labor, where the baby slides back a little between pushes. Sometimes you’re pushing REALLY HARD, and other times you let things rest and rearrange and reshape a little. It’s not one single intense run. That feels right to me. The new job is sane, balanced, pays better, better vacation, and may not make me a big visible name in the industry – or might. They have a great rep. Plus: Sane. Balanced. And good people, too. Maybe another 10 years from now I’ll find it worth another hard push. (Here’s where that simile breaks down – you don’t have to actually Have This Baby Today. You can actually stop and go home and do it again another day.)
    In five years, I see myself being fairly content, doing a lot of interesting things, not insane, and with my family a lot more balanced, too. Maybe even with ep’s career more booming, too.
    We have a ton of (mentally healthy, physically sound, and helpful) family nearby and a good network, so extra help is easily obtained when needed. I never had much ambition until about three years ago, when it lit like a TORCH. Holy moly! Now I’m not sure what to do with it. It was great, but I’m not entirely sure it was healthy – it was very much like a burst of OCD. Rather more than a lot, really. Nothing else mattered quite enough. But really? Lots of things matter more, to me. I lost myself somewhere in the career blasting through the roof thing. I’m still not quite sure where to find me again. The real me is probably off somewhere writing a book. 😉

  93. I am retired and 65, so I’m taking a longer view. I was a public school teacher. I worked hard at my job and was a department leader; I also spent most summers taking classes or in some way involved in professional development. Anyone who says teachers leave at 3:30 and have summers off didn’t know me. No kids, by choice…a difficult choice. In fact, at high school reunions, among my best friends, we look around and realize that most of us who went into “serious” professions (a judge, a doctor, several teachers, a business owner) chose not to have kids–very weird, but I think it’s because there was still a lot of guilt connected with not staying home with kids, and my friends and I couldn’t deal with it. In our case, my husband and I felt that we couldn’t focus on our work and do justice to being parents (or the reverse). In retrospect, who knows? But at the time, it did not seem like there were enough hours in the day for it all. Most of the time, I made more money than my husband. He has a college degree and was a self-employed graphic designer, but eventually needed more steady income and did part-time community college teaching. We moved a few times, and eventually he wound up in education and business sales. He has always been the best support for me; he’s the cook of the house, and we share all household tasks. I would say the real elephant in the room for working women is their spouse or partner. Period. If a spouse or partner shares equally in household tasks (or is willing to finance that help) and isn’t threatened by successful women or women who want to work outside the home, then just about anything is possible with good communication and a willingness to compromise. But if a spouse or partner expects a meal on the table when coming home at night or is threatened by a woman with ambition, that sets up a whole different paradigm. Just as another related issue…I have a good friend in New Zealand who had twins as her 4th and 5th children. Because she had had a multiple birth and had other children at home, New Zealand’s health care system provided a home nurse/nanny 3 times a week for a year (and she was a stay-at-home mother!). Incredible! Something most American women only dream about. We need desperately to figure out how to provide quality daycare and to make working mothers better consumers of what that daycare should “look” like in terms of literacy preparation.

  94. I’m in the urban Southwest, and have a 7-year-old. Both my husband (38) and I (37) are lawyers. We were lucky to have very little student loan debt and paid it all off several years ago.I took 9 months off from work after our son was born, and eased back into working part-time, going from about 10 hours a week to 25 hours a week (my current schedule). My husband works full-time in a fairly flexible job. Both of us work with/for people who also have young kids, which I think is tremendously helpful. We are both expected to put in the hours required to do our job, but there are no “billable hours” requirements, and no old-school competitive office culture to contend with.
    When my son was younger, we did a combination of nanny/in-home daycare/preschool for childcare. Now I just work while he’s in school, and have my husband, my mom, or in-school aftercare for occasions when I have to work outside my normal hours. Summers are covered by various camps.
    Before our son was born, I was working in the public sector. I did not make a lot of money, but I had been quickly advancing in my job, and had room to advance further. After our son was born, I ended up in the private sector, in a small office. Although my income varies each year, for the past several years, I have earned roughly what my husband does (and more than I did full-time at my last job).
    Financially and emotionally/intellectually, it makes sense for me to work, although at first, my take-home pay was negligible after I paid the nanny (9 mos-26 mos). In terms of “leaning in”–I had a pretty clear upward career trajectory in my job pre-kid, and if I’d gone back to that job full-time when he was 6 months old, I’m sure I’d be fairly senior in that office…but after about 6 years of doing that work, I was really burnt out on it and actually found the career change to be welcome.
    When I started my current job, I knew extremely little about this area of law, and was very content to just learn, keep my head down, put in my hours and go home and be with my family. My job has been fantastic in terms of flexibility, and the ability to work from home/adjust hours when needed. In the past couple of years, I have started to rekindle certain ambitions, but I’m also really happy being able to spend so much time with my son and have a pretty balanced life. At some point, I will probably return to working full-time, but right now, I am very happy with my set-up. I became a lawyer at 25, and I figure that career will last me 40-50 years–plenty of time to do the things I want to do. I don’t mind putting some ambitions on hold for the time I get to have my son home with me. Part of this is colored by my experiences with infertility, I think–becoming a parent and becoming a lawyer took me about equal time and money, and I am very grateful for both.

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  97. I don’t have kids. But I feel like there’s something to be said about decisions we make about our careers that isn’t necessarily child focused. I’m 58, and much of my MBA was paid for by a series of employers in the 80s.In the late 90s early 00s I managed a small business within my company and I enjoyed so much of that experience, but hated managing people. At the time, I started flexing to work 10-7 while my asst worked 7-3 in order to cover client relationships from Saudi Arabia to Hawai’i.
    When we closed that business (high litigation and compliance risk) I was left pretty much doing my dream job, which consists of being a publisher for the company’s use (not sold outside). I took about a 10% hit in income then (losing my revenue-based bonus when I lost my revenue center), and didn’t recover to the old level until last year. I still flex 10-7 because it gets me to the gym after everyone else is home for the evening and lets me stay up to watch the ends of hockey and baseball games before calling it a night. My employer is all about the flexible arrangements and that’s never been an issue.
    My only choice for advancement at this level is to manage people, probably at least a dozen of them. That whole idea makes me want to curl up in a ball. However I’m valued, have a nice title, and I’m well compensated (if maxed out without making a change). The peace of mind of doing a job I love far outweighs the potential income or prestige that would come with a job managing people instead of processes and outside vendor relationships.
    I have absolutely no idea how people manage having kids and working. Thus I hang out here so I can develop some level of understanding for friends and coworkers as they navigate those waters. Maybe I’d have been a better boss if I’d had this to eavesdrop on 20 years ago.

  98. I have two children, ages 4 and 1.5. I am 27 years old. I don’t need any childcare because I stay at home with my children, so most of the rest of these questions don’t apply to me. In our area, there’s a mixture of working moms and stay at home moms. I’m not unusual that I stay at home but people tend to regard us as rich because I can. We made it a priority and managed to pull it off, even when only making 24k a year.My husband is a web programmer in a relatively young start-up and we make an OK living. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and it is definitely NOT wasted with me staying home with our children. We made it a priority to pay off our school loans and managed to pay off 25k of debt in less than 5 years.
    I am tired but relatively happy with my situation. I can’t imagine leaving my kids with someone else every day. I dream of a break from them, but I know as they get more and more independent, this high-intensity time of young childhood will pass.
    In 5 years, we will probably be living somewhere completely different (such is life in the start-up community) and I still plan to be a stay at home mom. I plan to go back to school eventually, but I have so many interests and options right now, that I haven’t settled on anything. I don’t expect to pursue anything until the kids are in their later elementary years.

  99. We have 2 kids ages 4 and 5. Prior to January, I worked full time. Hubby took a new job and we moved 100+ miles. The “deal” with this move is that I get to stay home at least thru this summer and enjoy the freedom before kindergarten starts. I am working remotely 10 hours a week at my old job while the new person gets up to speed and I am covering special projects. Once fall starts, my daughter will be in Kindergarten full time and my son will be in a MWF afternoon preschool. We will evaluate finances to see how much extra work I will need to do. It would be nice to have a full year at home with both kids. 5 years from now I have no clue- I have a job vs a career, it pays the bills. I imagine I will be doing some of the same.

  100. I live in Minneapolis, MN. I’m 43 years old in an intact marriage, and I have two children, ages 6 & 8. We have after school child care program, and a full time nanny in the summer. I have two bachelor degrees. I feel like if I had a MA, I would be able to make more money, and have more opportunities. I switched professions because my work schedule wasn’t jiving with being a Mom. I was looking for something that could utilize my skills and experience, but something I didn’t have to do extensive travel and work nights and weekends. I have no idea what the next couple of years will bring. I’m taking one year at a time.

  101. I have 2 kids, 3 and 6. I live in San Francisco. I’m 42, with 2 masters degrees in fields that are not highly paid (art history and archives).My husband is a web designer who has, just this year, decided to consult because he’s tired of missing most his children’s lives by commuting. (Thus far this is has been flexing our emergency funds, some. There’s been some income, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed about cash-flow, insurance that isn’t COBRA and security. If it works, though, it would be a massive quality of live boost for everyone concerned.) We both have student loans, which are manageable, even if we’ll be paying them until the end of time.
    Childcare here in the city runs to nannies or babysitters (or grandparents, if you have them near) or in-home day care until preschool, then after school care (or grandparents, if you have them near). At the moment, my kids are in school – the 3 year old in a preschool co-op 4 mornings a week, and the 6 year old at the local public school. I could probably put them both in aftercare at their respective schools, but my specific 3 year old seems very young for this, and my 6 year old is very fond of my babysitter and her daughter, so putting her in after school care instead would seem like a punishment to her.
    When you consider the childcare costs and the tax hit, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to work until my kids are both in public school full time. Babysitting costs would exceed $14K a year and the rest of the money I’d be clearing would be eaten by taxes. Instead, we pay a babysitter to take the kids 2 afternoons a week, and I volunteer various places on those days to keep my hand in archives and chip in on school projects. Then I do some research, writing and editing at night for actual pay.
    I’m feeling trapped about my work situation right now. I’m over 40, and have no particular career and no clear idea of what I want to do. I feel ashamed about my rudderlessness and distinctly guilty about not bringing in steady income and not having made good on my schooling, but I also want to see more of my children than my hard working parents did. (For most of my childhood they left the house at 7am and weren’t back until almost 7pm.) I haven’t actually tried to apply for work since well before the economy crashed, and I have no idea whether I’ll be able to get work in archives (or web content, for that matter) when it’s time to apply for full time gigs.
    5 years out? I imagine that when my son starts kindergarten – 2.5 years from now because he has an October birthday – I’ll put both kids into the after school program, and (if fees stay the same) that will buy me a solid 40 hour work week at half the child care cost. Then it’ll be a problem of knowing what I want to do and finding a route to do it.

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  103. I have one son, he’ll be 8 months tomorrow. I’m 29 for one more month. My husband and I are both engineers working 40 hours a week on an Air Force base in southern California and are fortunate to have access to the base day care center although neither of us are active duty military. We pay $600 a month for childcare.We could probably afford to live on one of our incomes, but prefer the comfort of two incomes, and, quite frankly, neither of us is cut out to be a stay at home parent. I started a new position at work upon my return from maternity leave and I absolutely love it. I work with great people, doing interesting things, and there’s just enough work to do to keep me entertained but not overwhelmed.
    My husband and I both have bachelor’s degrees, he has a student loan we’re paying off, I do not. He went to school at a state school, so the loan isn’t huge. We pay $500 a month on it.
    “The Economy” is looming most for us in the possible furloughs due to sequestration. Although a furlough would mean a 20 percent paycut, it would also mean an extra day each week to spend with my son, and I think I’m okay with that trade off.
    Five years from now? I always hate that question. I hope we’ll have another child (a daughter would be awesome :)) Probably still working at the same place, but likely in a different position.

  104. I’m 40, my partner is 36 and our only daughter is 4. Because I’m a journalist with a not-great salary we decided I’d be a stay at home parent until she got old enough for preschool (because my salary would not quite cover the cost of childcare, and we felt she’d benefit from having the undivided attention of at least one parent during those early years). I had a book in the works, so I quit my job, worked on the book and freelanced a bit to ease my transition back to work. She went to a part-time pre-preschool, and then at 3.5 entered FT preschool (9-6 daily). I have a FT job again, making more $ as a reporter than I ever have, though I like the work less than I did as a reporter for a public newspaper. Still finishing my book. Still freelancing. My partner is a software engineer who makes 4-5x what I do. We live in San Francisco, so everything’s expensive, but we’re able to pay our mortgage, pay for childcare, and put money away for retirement/college/etc., so I’d say it’s working.

  105. I’m 34, kids 4.5 and 7, live in the Denver metro area.I work .75 FTE for a social services agency largely funded by the Feds and the State. I’m graduating Sunday with a healthcare-related BS and starting grad school in the fall.
    I need care for at least 6 hours 4-5 days a week.
    Most regular child care options are available to me, except family – there’s none nearby, and no close friends available.
    My chosen profession comes with an unpaid internship of 12-18 months, so I’ve had the education but can’t get the letters after my name right now. I’m hoping I’ll be in a better situation after grad school and can knock out the internship. In the meantime, I sort of work in the field.
    Partner works long days and evenings establishing a private practice fresh out of grad school, but gets us out the door every morning fed and clothed.
    He is not their bio dad. Bio dad is 90 miles away, has gone on to have 3 more kids, sees them a couple weekends a month. He has never been to their schools and is minimally involved. He is broke and does not participate in the transportation, so it’s when I can afford it. He pays a couple hundred a month in support.
    Loans are in deferment and some will be forgiven.
    My job is in healthcare, in a rapidly growing field, and if I could do the internship linked to the degree, I’d have a lot of job options.
    Right now, I love my job situation. I work with a dozen smart, compassionate women and can set my own schedule with a high degree of flexibility. They’re all parents or raising their grandkids, they get it.
    I should be done with grad school in 5 years, my kids will be coming up on middle school and I won’t need after school care much longer. Each kid gets one sport activity a summer, and we visit every cultural venue we can on weekends. We might get a piano and start lessons.
    I make about 75% of the federal poverty line for a family of 3, my husband isn’t making much either. So we get child care subsidy, and the co-pay on it is 20% of our income. I worked all the way through school, usually 2-3 part-times. I remarried last fall, but we are years away from financial solvency. I’m happy to have a dedicated partner, and I know at some point his practice will take off, but it’s hard to be patient. If a full-time job commensurate with my skills that paid what I should be making came along, it would be a tough decision to make. Working part-time, school full-time and kids the rest of the time makes me feel as if I’m half-assing everything, but I just don’t see a better solution for any of it.

  106. I’m 30. I have a 3yo daughter. And (world exclusive!) want another one ASAP. I live in far north Qld, Australia in a small town.Before I had kids, I knew I wanted:
    * to keep creating/doing my art/growing my business
    * to get out of the city + live in the country
    * to have some kind of lifestyle/financial freedom so it wasn’t just me tending to my kids.
    I’m a really determined mofo, so I managed to make that happen. When our daughter was six months old, I bought my husband out of his job, we quit the city + went to go be hippies in the forest.
    We’ve got my ideal setup pretty much now… I work for a few hours in the afternoon on my business/art/hippiness, he looks after our daughter, we spend a lot of time hanging out together as a family. My parents-in-law just moved in with us so they are extra support in the childminding front.
    We’ve been thinking about getting her in to some kind of kindergarten just so she can have more kid-time (she’ll start next year anyway), but all the current places in our town are fully booked out + on waiting list.
    Now with adding #2 to the mix, I feel pretty groovy about the amount of support I have. I will probably go back to working in my business a few hours a day after a month – just because I love it so very much + it’s my “me” time. My husband is happy to tend to the wee ones while I’m in my studio. And I try to make sure he gets enough of his own “me time” as well – so that he can study + do his own thing as well.
    We are constantly balancing to try and make it the ultimate “thriving” for everyone. Sometimes it works awesomely, sometimes it gets out of whack, but we’re always tending to it.

  107. -2 kids, age 3 and age 4 months.-Age 31
    -Major Coastal Metropolitan Area
    -Spouse and I both work more than full time, but youngest one is with me during the day.
    -People use every solution under the sun here… They are all extremely expensive. (Nannies are appx. $15-$22/hour before taxes, and 3YO’s Montessori preschool is appx. 19K/year for 9am-3PM mostly-year-round care.)
    No. It doesn’t “make sense.” I direct what is basically a nonprofit organization. My situation is… not normal. Spouse is in tech and has founded/sold a couple companies and runs another one now. Given that my salary is literally 15% of his (and isn’t even equal to what we’ll pay for preschool + childcare once the youngest isn’t with me all day every day)… well.
    So although we’re in a financial position that I don’t have to work – indeed, we’ll technically lose money by me doing so – I LOVE my job. I love what I do and believe in my work. I also love who I work with and it’s really about as close to a dream job as I could ever imagine. It’s the part I was born to play.
    But if we weren’t financially independent, none of that would matter. I would either need to choose a less fulfilling more lucrative field, stay home as the lower wage earner until the kids were in public grade school, or make some seriously difficult choices about childcare quality.
    Luckily, because my org a small family run business, and I’m the “boss,” it’s extremely flexible. Yeah, I put in 60 hours a week or more some weeks. There are many obligations I can’t move and I’m often “on call”. But my littlest one is with me all day, and I don’t have to worry about things like “is it part of our company culture to breastfeed during staff meetings?” because, hey, I RUN the dang staff meetings. It’s company culture ’cause I SAY it is. I can work from home when kids are ill even if it means I stay up late to catch up. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
    What my experience says to me is that more parents deserve the freedom to pursue what they love in a company environment that’s flexible and supportive of family needs. I’m stupidly lucky, and it’s completely crap that not everyone has the freedom to make these same choices. At this point the best I can do is ensure my own staff have the same flexibility as me in our work environment, at the very least.
    In five years – when the youngest is done napping during the day time – we plan to take sabbatical year and re-evaluate what we want to be doing. Maybe return to what we do now, maybe do something new. Travel around the world for a bit and see where we end up.

  108. I’m 35, hubby is 34 and baby girl is 1. We live in the San Fernando Valley outside of LA. My parents babysit twice a week, so the girl is in a daycare center the other three days, which costs $1100/month. It’d be great to find a cheaper home based daycare, but we don’t have friends that live here to give us recommendations and I haven’t found one that I like.I have a graduate degree and now owe over $100,000 in student loans, when I make far less than that. So I definitely have to work full time, but when kiddo #2 arrives we may have to re-evaluate. I don’t LOVE what I do but I can tolerate it. I kinda feel like I have to after spending so much money on the education.
    Hubby works full time and makes a significant amount more than I do, so it make sense for him to keep working full time. He has to leave a bit early to pick up the girl from daycare twice a week though. And he gets up super early to beat traffic on the way into work, so he’s usually pretty exhausted by the endof the day.

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  113. – one child, boy, just turned 8- I am 39
    – I live in suburban NJ
    – I need aftercare at my son’s school from dismissal to 6pm (cost about $300/month and I usually pick up 5:40pm)
    – I also hire a babysitter twice a month on Saturdays (cost $12/hr)
    – In this area, mostly nannies/au pairs but when my child was before K age, lived in different area where reliable daycare was usual mixed with SAHM. I went back to work (teacher) when child was 3 months and he has been in reliable center daycares and then Montessori until full-day Kindergarten (cost then was about $1000+/month)
    – Yes, it does “make sense” for me to work in my chosen profession where I live and with the childcare I need
    – married and husband works from home but also travels about every six weeks; husband walks child to school each morning (except when traveling); husband can sometimes pick up child from aftercare but usually I do
    – MEd + credits education level (earned MEd summer before son entered Kindergarten after taking part-time classes for about four years and have continued education to keep skills sharp and also to potentially increase earning but only by a little)
    – love my work but hate the politics vis a vis that must stay in the school district I am in b/c can’t go through the year-to-year of starting over in another district with that potential job insecurity.
    – Would like to study to become an administrator in the next 5-10 years but that doesn’t seem possible essentially due to childcare needs. I do not think that both spouse and I can have an all-consuming career; one of us needs to have some flexibility in order to give more stability to our son. I wish that wasn’t true and part of me feels cheated that I need to put on indefinite hold my desire to be an administrator but a 12-month, higher-pressure position won’t work for our family at this time. Maybe when 8 year old goes to college. Who knows.
    – I have tried to be involved in my son’s school’s Home-School Association (“PTO”) but meetings are held during the day. I volunteer for evening events when I can. I wish his school would have evening meetings and I also wish they would start family-friendly events such as community picnic at 5pm. How do people get to a 5pm start of an event?

  114. Also – now that I’m approaching 40, I realize I wish I really did want another child. We made the right choice for our family to have one, but there definitely was a large economic part to only having one child. Another component was emotional threshold in that we knew that one was what we could handle essentially due to demanding careers that never ended at the end of the official work day and would suck up all time on weekends if we let it.

  115. -14 month old is an only (for now…we’re hoping for one more)-am 35 (which is why only one more, plus I’d rather play man-to-man defense than zone)
    -southeastern WI
    -need full time childcare
    -and that childcare is provided by my dad, who comes over every day…not sure how we’d swing it if we didn’t have him
    -it ‘makes sense’ for me to work because (a)I have a higher salary than DH and (2)I carry the benefits
    -DH works full time making roughly half of what I do…he loves his job and we make it work, but it’d be lovely for him to have an opportunity in the future to move up. He made a long-distance move, so essentially starting over in his career has affected his salary.
    -MA in education, no loans. Education is a mess in WI…I’m hoping to be able to ride it out since there doesn’t seem to be much else I can do with my degrees.
    -‘The Economy’ is a pain in my rear.
    -I’m fine w/my work situation for now. We live pretty frugally, especially in anticipation of a second maternity leave, possibly next year.
    -I’m guessing things will be essentially the same in five years, just with one more kid.
    Although my work takes up much of my life, I try not to let it become my life.

  116. I find this sort of topic so interesting. I think about it ALL the time.I’m 33. DH is 36. One son, just turned 2. He came along later than we would have liked (infertility), so I don’t know if he’ll have a sibling.
    I am a PhD student. DH is a tenured professor. To this point we’ve juggled our son’s care between us. (We live in a big city in Canada.) There are a ton of nannies in our neighbourhood and some daycare centers. Full-time care in a centre costs so much money I can’t even contemplate it ($1800+ a month for infant care).
    In September our son will go to a co-op nursery school for three days a week (9-3:30), only during the school year (so off at Christmas, March break, and July and August). This will cost $530 per month and we’ll have responsibilities including a 2.5 hour duty day each week. He’s going there because a) we can’t afford full-time care or a nanny since my scholarship stipend is about to run out and b) we can’t imagine putting him in full-time care, although we really really need something to help us out. It’s not really working to do the juggling thing anymore.
    DH has the senior career, which we agreed on when I went back to start the PhD. I am in the same field, so the chances of my landing a tenure-stream position at a university within commuting distance of his are, I would say, in the realm of 0.000001%.
    Originally the plan was for me to cobble together contract work and be the primary care-giver for pick ups and drop offs, etc. But we’ll have to see if there is enough work once I finish (which I should do in the next year, fingers crossed).
    We never had any student debt (we both were fully funded for our graduate degrees) and we live frugally. Right now we make a very good income but it doesn’t seem to go very far in our expensive city with its ridiculous mortgages. We will be ok financially but tight next year, and all bets are off the following year when my funding runs out entirely (hopefully I will be finished by then, and hopefully with a new baby, but that will mean we have no maternity leave).
    There is no way we can juggle childcare between us if a second child enters the equation. DH has already leaned out as much as he possibly can from his job. He needs to be able to work full-time hours again.
    I know I am not meant to be a SAHM, but I also cannot imagine having to work as hard as DH does (and did pre-tenure) while our son (and potential #2) are little. We worked so hard for our first baby we couldn’t face putting him in daycare. Now we think it will be good for him to have the part-time care for socialization (and for his parents’ sanity).
    In five years? No idea. It all depends- are we able to have a second child? Is there enough contract work for me? Does a tenure-stream position come up, and if it does, do I try to get it?
    DH and I right now have a deal that we’ll see where we’re at five years after I’ve defended. If I’ve landed a tenure-stream job, great. If I haven’t, but I’m happy with my contract bits and pieces, great. If I’m not getting any contract bits and pieces, or it’s not working with our family, we’ll reassess.
    I could probably leave academia and do something else, but I really love the freedom to match DH’s schedule. I’ve been in school my whole life- either as a teacher or as a student- so I don’t know that I could cope with office hours and inflexibility. And I love the idea of teaching contract work and then being free (albeit unpaid) in my summers to be with the kid(s) (which would not be true if I landed a tenure-stream position- then I’d be working in the summers, just not teaching). Don’t want to teach high school- already tried that.
    Ideal ideal would be writing novels, but a) I just can’t write anything more when I’m writing the dissertation and trying to get that done, since if I’m working that means DH must be at home with our son, so I need to work as hard as I can and b) I suffer from huge perfectionist issues and I don’t know I could face rejection. Still working on that.
    I will say I have never in my entire life felt so confused about what I wanted, what my priorities are, or how to approach them. I wish I had done more reading about women, children and academia before starting the PhD (even though it has worked out well to have had our son while a grad student). It is not a family-friendly world for women. But now I think I’ve spent too many years living in libraries to be happy as a SAHM, even though I often suspect that’s what I really want.
    If we’re in a world of fairies and unicorns, I think I’d like to be at home, but still have our son in preschool a couple of mornings a week so I would have some time for me, and he would get the socialization. And then go back to work in academia (hahahahahaha- you can never get back in once you leave) once he was in full-time school. But I don’t think we could afford having me home without having to leave our hugely expensive city, which would mean my husband would have a lengthy commute, so we’d have to buy a car, etc. etc.
    I don’t know. I think about this all the time. I wish I could see an easier option but everything has sacrifices. The whole “you can have it all” thing is such a lie.

  117. I have one toddler and one grade school child. I am nearly 40. I live a small, university town.I need childcare fulltime plus sick child care (I have the former but the latter is a problem). Childcare here is mostly in-home care with a few daycare centers. There may be nannies here, but they are beyond my current income level (although they are within reach of a reasonable future income level, but then, I won’t need it!)
    I have terminal degree in my field. It makes sense to work financially. However, I work more than full-time, and I don’t think it’s sane. My partner also works more than full-time, which leaves us with a gap on the homefront. He does it because the long-term hope is that it will translate into a better position and better finances so that we’ll be able to outsource more, but “the economy” has impacted his ability to rise. I don’t think it makes sense financially for him to work as much as he does (he still has student loans), and that’s a sore point.
    I’m currently looking for a change in my work/life situation. Ideally, I’d like to step off career track for a bit, take care of my family and work only full-time for a few years. Basically I’d like to tread water for a few years, stay in my field, but accept less money and a slower career track for more time with my family, and then re-enter in 5 years. It is admittedly, probably a pipe dream, but I hope to give it a try.

  118. I’m 40 years old, married to my husband, 47. We have one almost 3 year old son who attends daycare full time. My husband works nights and I work days. Hubby picks up our son around 4pm from daycare and feeds him dinner. We do handoff when I get home from work around 5:30. He then goes to work and gets home between 4 and 5 am.I’m in IT with a bachelors in History. If I was doing my job really well I would not leave at 5pm every day, but this is a sacrifice I make currently for my husband’s job. I make more money than my husband and I can’t imagine NOT working. I enjoy being in IT and I can’t imagine staying home all day. I like computers, analysis, figuring out technical issues, etc. In 5 years I hope my husband can get a “day” job and we can take turns staying at work late and advancing our careers and making more money. I’d love to get to a level where my husband could stay home or at least work part time so he can attend after school athletic events, help with homework, etc.
    It’s tough only seeing my husband for 10 minutes a day, him sleeping late on weekends when my son is awake etc. It’s our life and we make it work.

  119. SO happy to have data points to add here.Two kids, 9 and 7. I am 44 and live in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
    There is some of everything in my town; full time daycare starting at 6 weeks, nannies, au pairs, 100 sitters in rotation, you name it.
    I absolutely lucked out in my current situation and post this not to brag but to say: HAVE HOPE.
    I work for a company that is run by two of the daughters of the founders. They are mothers of women with children, and were working women themselves.
    They structured my job to be part time, from home as needed, and so it starts after I get my kids to school and ends in time for me to pick them up. I can work out of my house on days like today when my son has an afternoon orthodontist appointment; other days I work on site in one of 18 locations in the Philadelphia region, some as close as 5 miles away, some as far as 65 miles away. I control my own schedule with the exception of maybe 20 days a year when there are things set by the office that I must attend. They hired two of us at the same time and planned for both to be part time jobs, deliberately designed for parents of young children who did not want to work full time.
    This is a MIRACLE in this day and age and I know it.
    This is a flip side to a career I started before the kids were born that involved 12+ weeks of travel per year. The only way to do it was with live in or FT+ help. Some people did but that was not financially or emotionally in the cards for me.
    I am lucky that my husband has a job 10 minutes from our house so the day I was working at a remote site and our child got a concussion, he was able to go pick up the child and take on emergency room duties.
    I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this humane, sensible working arrangement. I can tell you I work more than I am “supposed” to because I am so motivated to want these people to love me, my work, and continue the arrangement. (I am paid to work 25 how. Some weeks it’s more like 22, others it’s more like 30. I don’t care. I appreciate the flexibility enough to make up for it.)
    In five years, I hope I will still be working there but the industry is on shifting sands and if I am not there, my kids will be old enough for me to take another job, and hopefully back to full time by then. I am in an industry where I could get a university job eventually and in about 5 years will probably be looking to do that so I can have tuition benefits.
    My street has a variety of child care arrangements–a grandma who comes every afternoon, latchkey older kids, parents with rotating schedules, other part-time parents, dads and moms–and that makes it easier too. If I am stuck in traffic or otherwise delayed, I have neighbors to call to ask them to flag my kids as they get off the bus to tell them where I am and when I’ll be home. I do the same for them as well. It really does take a village.
    I stayed home on and off since the first child was born, and cobbled together some consulting gigs and other temporary positions. I am someone who loves to be with my kids but I am SO MUCH happier when I work. But I do get consumed with my work, so part time is perfect for me for right now.
    It took me years to find this equilibrium stage (reading lots of Ames & Ilg lately). Wishing everyone the best in finding something that works for you and your family.

  120. kids: two, ages 4.5 and 8.5me: 40
    where: Ohio
    Both kids attended a full time childcare center. Our youngest only has a couple months left there before he starts public school. It has worked out so well for us. The center they attended has so many positives and both kids were/are ready to head on to school when they left/will leave that center.
    It makes sense for me to work since I enjoy the challenge/interaction of work, the salary of either my husband or myself has always been more than the cost of childcare, my family’s health insurance is via my employment, and I have a career that would be very difficult to re-enter if I stepped out for a few years. I like my job quite a bit. In 5 years I’ll still be here doing the same job (not much upward mobility and I’m already higher up than I ever anticipated I would be). Do I get tired and need my vacation time? Yes. Do I dream about the lottery and walking away? Sometimes (tho I never buy a ticket). Am I still pretty happy where I am and what I’m doing? Absolutely.
    My husband started his own company a year ago, so for about 6-8 months, I was the sole-breadwinner for the family until his company began to pick up some steam. Providing a financial back-up to each other is another critical aspect of both of us working. We work for our family now as well as to save for our retirement.
    Starting this fall, when both kids will be in public school, the only childcare we will need will be in the summer. Husband will drive children to school for one year until youngest is of right age to ride school bus. We may sign youngest up for after care at school since it was a great social integration to the school for our eldest, but this is by choice, not need. Husband works from home (and has since our eldest was 6 months old) and that has been very helpful when kids are sick, though I think in the past he felt he shouldered more than his fair share in this area. It’s better now that he runs his own company and doesn’t have a distrustful employer checking up on him every 20 minutes.
    Summer care is a local day camp at a nearby rec center with swim lessons, free swim, lots of planned activities, plus field trips. $105/week. Our eldest loves it and the youngest will attend once he is old enough (next summer).
    To round off the statistical overview, I have two masters degrees, and my husband has one masters degree.

  121. I am 31 and I have one child, 7 months old. I live in Los Angeles. I am an engineer, work full time (9/80 schedule – every other Friday off, but long hours) at a government job. Long commute (2 hrs/day).Baby is in a home-based child care full time. Most of our friends have nannies or family nearby, but day care centers and home based child care are also very common.
    Husband works in private sector, job is less stable. He is also thinking of opening his own company in the next few years, in which case we would need the benefits from my job.
    We both have Masters degrees and no student loans. Cost of living is very high where we live so it makes sense for both of us to work.
    I do like the field I’m in, but I don’t have much passion for where I am right now. My ideal situation would be to work part time (30 hours) or work partially from home, but that is not an option at my current job. If I were to quit or take time off, it would be very hard for me to get back in my field. I am not sure where I will be in 5 years, and I am worried about handling it with my long hours when my child goes to school. Job is good, pay is excellent, benefits are good….but I don’t know if I can keep doing it full time. I am also one of the few women at my job and don’t have a good role model for my career. Most of the wives are SAHMs.
    I am the first in my family to have a Masters degree. All the other women were SAHMs. I constantly feel judged for going back to work at 12 weeks and my own mom has even asked “why can’t your husband support you?” even though she was one of my strongest supportors to go to college/ grad school.
    I constantly feel pressure that I am not spending enough time with my baby.

  122. 39, Los Angeles. Agree w/previous commenter that cost of living is very high. (sigh)Two kids- 8, 5 – in daycare (8:30-5:30) every since 4 months. Older girl now gets picked up after school by the same people as little sister’s daycare, so it all works out.
    Both Hubs and I have masters (Engineering, MBA) and paid off loans before we married. We make more than daycare (about $1200/mo. for the 2 of them) so it made sense for us to work. Plus, we both like (and are good at) our jobs/areas of work.
    Still, the pay is not as good as other MBA-areas like consulting but the intangibles like benefits, work/life balance more than outweighs any negatives (at least that’s what I tell myself)
    In 5 years? Hoping to work 32 hrs (not likely) because as the kids get older, there are more activities, not fewer! (basketball, dance, etc.)
    Sidenote- I’m all for “leaning in” but it gets hard when you’re trying to ask for reduced hours as well…

  123. I’m 32, have a 2.75 yr old and a 9 month old.Live in Boston area.
    I have college babysitters; currently 2 afternoons (3:30-whenever)/week. $12/hour. Current sitter takes the toddler out to play and helps w dinner/baths, but baby is w me.
    I was already a freelancer before getting pregnant; scaled way back but still take on a project every couple months and do some low-impact day-to-day stuff. Currently I get about 1.5 hours/day when both kids are sleeping, so if I decide to shower or clean up around the house or anything I end up without much work time.
    My husband earns very good money (and benefits) and works pretty good hours: out at 7/7:15, tries to be home for family dinner a couple times a week at 6:30. He travels a good amount during certain times of year.
    I have a BS in my field; college loans are paid off. I’d like to go back to school for a masters in public health at some point, I think. There are not really many full-time office jobs for me in my area (if any), which is why I was already freelancing full-time. Now I’d say I work about 5% time! Otherwise am a SAHM, which was always our plan.
    I am starting to think a lot about what I want to do in the next few years. My son starts preschool in the fall (5 morning a week, ~$15K (??!?!??)), but I’ll still have baby 2 w me, and be taking her to classes and so forth, so that won’t change my ability to work. If I want to gear up, I need to come to terms with either getting a nanny part-time or having the college girls take both kids for more hours. I feel torn because I wouldn’t be seeing my son much if he’s at school in the morning and with someone else in the afternoon. Ugh.
    I’ve made a good network of stay-at-home or part-time working moms in my neighborhood, which is an affluent and educated one. (At lunch the other day the other moms all had PhDs or were ABD (from Harvard, no less), though none of them could get jobs in this ECONOMY.) I feel very fortunate to be able to choose what I do, and I’m really grateful to my husband for taking on all the pressure of being the breadwinner. He’s a pretty traditional guy, so it is in keeping w his personality, but it’s still a huge burden. (He values my work as a SAHM very, very highly, and puts a lot of emphasis on how hard he knows it is, but how grateful he is to me for doing it, which helps. He is also very supportive of my getting any help I need/want, and of my work when I decide to take things on. I lucked out in that regard.)

  124. I am 37, live in Fort Worth, and have three boys (13, 4, 7 months). I was laid off when I was pregnant with my 4 year old, and after panicking about loss of income, decided it was a blessing in disguise to stay at home. My husband and I have made it work on his salary alone. I have just started looking for work again, but my field is still really slow, and it would be hard paying for two kids in daycare/preschool, gas, and travel time, so I might wait one more year until I have one in kindergarten. I do miss working and some days it feels like all I have to contribute is talking about diapers and naptimes. I would love to find a modified full time position (30 hours/week) but it’s impossible to find at this time.

  125. Well, I haven’t spotted a UK data point so here goes:how many kids you have and how old they are
    2 – just turned two and nearly five
    how old you are
    36
    where you live
    London, UK
    how much childcare you need
    I work 2.5 days in 2, so two 10 hour days plus about an hour commute each day. My husband does the childcare those days, but that means that his own business has to manage without him (ie nothing gets done, he’s a one man band) and he works very late (think home maybe by 10pm) on the other three days to catch up. End result is no paid childcare (though eldest is at primary school 8.45-3.20) until this autumn, when the little one will go to Montessori nursery three mornings a week (just 9.20-12.20, so not really time to do much work, except maybe a bit of email at home). Montessori is about socialisation etc, rather than childcare. We get tax relief, but it’s still expensive until the term after she turns three, when we get 15 hours a week paid for by the Government. Though we do get tax relief on Montessori fees.
    how childcare works where you live (nannies, childcare centers, home-based childcare, etc.)
    If you can get a place, there are lots of options. But getting a place in a nursery or a childminder (home based care, very strictly regulated) is very, very hard. And prices are commensurate with demand. There seem to be quite a lot of nanny shares, too. Also breakfast and after school clubs, but again, very long waiting lists for places.
    does it “make sense” for you to work in your chosen profession where you live and with the childcare you’d need?
    Yes – very few jobs for me outside London and family is here (and supportive). Financially it’s hard to tell, as I don’t know what we’re losing on my husband’s two days as a SAHD compared to my earnings, because his business is all about building up for the future, so it’s hard to calculate.
    whether you have a partner or not and what the partner’s work situation is and how it intersects
    Got a husband, and see above.
    if your child has another parent that isn’t your partner, and how that intersects with finances and work and care
    No.
    your education level, whether that limits you in your earning power, whether you are dealing with paying off loans for your education
    No loans – I was the last year in the UK to not have to pay at all for my degree. I have a BA Hons from a good university, but would like to get a Masters in my chosen field – maybe once the two year old starts primary school (which is age 4, here in the UK). Not having a Masters doesn’t limit me now, but might if I changed career tracks to a related field.
    “The Economy” (I put that in quotes because by now it sounds like saying “The Bogeyman”)
    I missed 30% cuts by staying out on maternity leave / career break for two years (protected by law in the UK against redundancy while on maternity leave). I think some more are on the way, but am hoping I’m part time and so relatively cheap… As for my husband, his business is utterly unpredictable over the medium / long term. Which is a worry.
    how you feel about your work situation right now
    Glad to be back while not having to send my kids to childcare. But it’s hard trying to be effective in two days.
    how you feel about what you anticipate you’ll be doing in five years (taking into account changing childcare needs)
    That I will still be part time, probably very part time, as I can only see them needing me more for after school clubs, help with homework, emotional support etc. I won’t be in the same job, as the nature of my field is moving jobs every 18 months or so.
    anything else you feel is relevant to the conversation (only person of your ethnicity at your job, only woman on your street who works/stays home, first person in your family to earn a degree and how that pressure affects you, credit rating tanked by a divorce, just got a promotion, etc.)
    I am very lucky to have family close by and wiling to help. Plus a very flexible employer and a husband who can make his own hours. I think I’ve probably got the best possible deal – but even then, knowing my two year old cries for me on the nights I’m working (I get home after she’s asleep and leave before she’s awake, so she doesn’t see me for 60 hours) is awful.

  126. I’m 36 and have two kids, ages 2 and 4. My husband and I both work full time, and I make a lot more than he does. (Corporate job vs. nonprofit job.) We both love our jobs, though they are pretty stressful. We live in the Bay Area and bought our home from a family member during the real estate bubble, which means that most of our income goes to pay our mortgage. His mother lives with us in an attached in-law unit (a huge advantage to buying this house), and she is our primary childcare provider. It is wonderful and ideal in many ways. We don’t have to pay $2500-3000 a month in childcare. And our kids are safe, loved, in our home, etc. They are also bilingual since MIL speaks Spanish to them. My daughter goes to a very nice but inexpensive preschool a few mornings a week (it’s a co-op so it’s less than $300 a month.)There are also downsides. The ones you would expect, like clashing over parenting decisions, definitely come up but we do a pretty good job managing all that. It’s also hard when you’re not technically paying the person who cares for your kids because you feel like you can’t be as directive as you would be otherwise. When my daughter tells me she watched TV all day, I’m annoyed but it’s harder to complain about it than it would be if her caregiver was someone I had hired (or even my own mom instead of my mother-in-law.) Meanwhile I know she sometimes feels like she’s left holding the bag with the kids (delightful as they are!) while I lead my glamorous office life. Ha. But I do dress up and drink coffee without someone tugging on my pants leg all day, so I see her point.
    The biggest issue we have now is that my mother-in-law is ill and going through extensive medical treatments. We don’t have the money to put our kids in daycare full time (especially now, since we are also paying all the medical bills), nor can we afford to have my husband stop working. He’d be glad to stay home actually and would be great at it, it just doesn’t make financial sense right now. And it would be impossible for me to do so given my salary. So we have to patch things together on the days when she is too sick or at the doctor’s office with the help of my parents and the generosity of our employers. I honestly can’t wait until they are both in elementary school, and I don’t have to worry about relying on someone else all day every day. (I guess I’ll be relying on the school instead, but that feels different.)
    That’s my childcare situation, which I realize is unusual and which (until my MIL fell ill) a lot of my friends envied even as they expressed doubt that they would be cool having their MIL around that much.
    I like working. I like my job, and I’m good at it. I never thought I’d be a corporate executive, but I like the people I work with and I get to be creative. I have my BA in English and French and I’d like to get a grad degree some day, partly because I just like school. But I wish I could afford to work part-time while the kids are little. That would be my ideal. I always thought I would stay at home with my kids like my mom did with us, but that’s just not how things worked out for us. I don’t dread going to work in the morning, but I of course feel sad about not having as much time with my kids as they and I would like. My husband and I don’t even like the kids to have sleepovers at my parents’ house very much, because we spend enough time without them as it is and want to be together as much as we possibly can.
    I’m a career gal, but I still self-identify as a wife and mother first and foremost, which is interesting. But I think my husband would say the same about himself.

  127. I’m 36 and have two kids, ages 2 and 4. My husband and I both work full time, and I make a lot more than he does. (Corporate job vs. nonprofit job.) We both love our jobs, though they are pretty stressful. We live in the Bay Area and bought our home from a family member during the real estate bubble, which means that most of our income goes to pay our mortgage. His mother lives with us in an attached in-law unit (a huge advantage to buying this house), and she is our primary childcare provider. It is wonderful and ideal in many ways. We don’t have to pay $2500-3000 a month in childcare. And our kids are safe, loved, in our home, etc. They are also bilingual since MIL speaks Spanish to them. My daughter goes to a very nice but inexpensive preschool a few mornings a week (it’s a co-op so it’s less than $300 a month.)There are also downsides. The ones you would expect, like clashing over parenting decisions, definitely come up but we do a pretty good job managing all that. It’s also hard when you’re not technically paying the person who cares for your kids because you feel like you can’t be as directive as you would be otherwise. When my daughter tells me she watched TV all day, I’m annoyed but it’s harder to complain about it than it would be if her caregiver was someone I had hired (or even my own mom instead of my mother-in-law.) Meanwhile I know she sometimes feels like she’s left holding the bag with the kids (delightful as they are!) while I lead my glamorous office life. Ha. But I do dress up and drink coffee without someone tugging on my pants leg all day, so I see her point.
    The biggest issue we have now is that my mother-in-law is ill and going through extensive medical treatments. We don’t have the money to put our kids in daycare full time (especially now, since we are also paying all the medical bills), nor can we afford to have my husband stop working. He’d be glad to stay home actually and would be great at it, it just doesn’t make financial sense right now. And it would be impossible for me to do so given my salary. So we have to patch things together on the days when she is too sick or at the doctor’s office with the help of my parents and the generosity of our employers. I honestly can’t wait until they are both in elementary school, and I don’t have to worry about relying on someone else all day every day. (I guess I’ll be relying on the school instead, but that feels different.)
    That’s my childcare situation, which I realize is unusual and which (until my MIL fell ill) a lot of my friends envied even as they expressed doubt that they would be cool having their MIL around that much.
    I like working. I like my job, and I’m good at it. I never thought I’d be a corporate executive, but I like the people I work with and I get to be creative. I have my BA in English and French and I’d like to get a grad degree some day, partly because I just like school. But I wish I could afford to work part-time while the kids are little. That would be my ideal. I always thought I would stay at home with my kids like my mom did with us, but that’s just not how things worked out for us. I don’t dread going to work in the morning, but I of course feel sad about not having as much time with my kids as they and I would like. My husband and I don’t even like the kids to have sleepovers at my parents’ house very much, because we spend enough time without them as it is and want to be together as much as we possibly can.
    I’m a career gal, but I still self-identify as a wife and mother first and foremost, which is interesting. But I think my husband would say the same about himself.

  128. I am married, 34 years old, with a daughter who is 2 and 3/4 and another baby girl on the way (due in June), probably our last child. We live in Orange County, CA, one of the more expensive areas of the state, although our particular city is one of the more reasonable ones. We have no debt except our mortgage – neither my husband nor I had student loans, and we’d paid off both cars by the time our daughter was born.My husband works full time, around 50 hours a week. I work part time from home as an independent contractor (technical editing) and currently make roughly 75% of what he does. We’ve had this setup since my maternity leave ended when my daughter was 4 months old.
    We had a mother’s helper for 6 months when my daughter was an infant, as I didn’t know how demanding my workload would be. It wasn’t a great situation for me, as I was still nursing the baby at least twice in a four hour period, she slept a lot while the sitter was here (nothing like paying someone to watch your kid sleep), and the sitter learned that if she just let my daughter fuss and cry for a while, I would eventually come out to see what was up, so she didn’t work very hard to keep the baby entertained. I also hated having all the responsibilities of a SAHM, but with none of the flexibility – I felt like all my time in those early months was spent either waiting for the sitter to arrive, or trying to get errands run/lunch eaten/nap taken before she was due. When the sitter quit to go off to college, we decided to try having me work without childcare, which I’ve been doing ever since. I work during my daughter’s naps, early in the morning or late at night(though less of both since I’ve been pregnant), and weekends. My husband recently started an 80/9 schedule, since he was already working more than 8 hours a day anyhow, and it’s made a huge difference having him home every other Friday. We actually get the occasional day of family fun, instead of never seeing each other because one of us is always working while the other takes the kiddo. Because my workload is cyclical (I have crunch times and times with a lot less to do on a regular, bimonthly basis), I also started taking the money I might have spent on a sitter and flying my mom down for a week or so every other month so I could have help during the busiest times.
    While my area has lots of childcare options to choose from (both full and part-time nannies, as well as in-home and “official” daycare centers, plus it’s a college town, so there are a ton of students always looking for babysitting jobs), my former experience with the babysitter has left me kind of gun shy and reluctant to try that route again. My daughter will start preschool in the fall two days a week, for three hours a day. I’m waiting to see what type of infant I have (I have heard stories of mythical children who sleep long stretches in the pack and play while their parents write novels – perhaps I’ll have one of those!) before we decide whether we need to change our childcare arrangement. I also might be losing my contract at the end of the year, so the next 6 months is going to involve a lot of scrambling and reevaluation.
    From a financial standpoint, it does make sense for me to work – we could get by on only my husband’s salary EXCEPT for our property taxes, but we wouldn’t be able to save much or deal with unexpected bills, like car repairs or emergency room visits. Moreover, “the Economy,” specifically how sudden and widespread the crash was in 2008, really made me rethink how much sense it made to live on a shoestring (as my sister does so she can homeschool her four children) when I have a perfectly good skill I can put to use working from home. My husband’s employer also has a high turnover rate, and while he’s one of the more valued employees there, you just never know. I watched both my brothers in law go through periods of unemployment when the recession hit, and I can’t let go of worries about health crises, another economical crash, getting my kids through college, or any of the other myriad things we’ll need money for down the road. Plus, see above about possibly losing my contract.
    With all that said, I have struggled a LOT with the SAH/WFH balance. While my brain says I have the best of both worlds, I know I’m not as “happy” as I expected to be at this point in my life. I can’t tell whether it’s the “mom” jobs I don’t like, the work I don’t like, or just that I’m trying to do both at once, and feeling guilty because my husband has very little free time (whereas I kind of steal mine while home with the kid all day), because I don’t know whether I’m holding up my end of the household duties (yes, really), and because I feel like I’m neither the best mom, nor the most efficient worker that I could be in any given moment.
    I do know that I never felt that my job was a career, still don’t feel like this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life (despite being very good at it), and will probably be going through a lot of soul searching once our kids are in school to determine just where I want to go from here. I’m grateful I can be home and still make a good amount of money for my family, but I feel like I’m only staying sane because I know everything will change in the next five years. I just don’t know how, yet.

  129. I have a 6 year old Kindergartner and a 13 month old. The baby is in full time daycare and the kindergartener is in after school care now and will be in ‘summer camp’ soon.We live in Montana a few hours away from family so that’s not an option. Generally childcare around here is with relatives or in centers (either in homes or not, Montana regulates these kind of oddly). If you have a nanny you would be seen as some sort of liberal elite 🙂
    We both work in academia so it is what it is. With the higher ed economy being what it is, Hubby can pick up extra classes over the summer (he’s an adjunct) and while I’m tenured I also have a 12-month contract, so we need care over the summer too. Day camp is a great option this year but I wonder how soon my daughter will think it’s too babyish to endure….
    We are fortunate enough to have no debt other than our mortgage and that is manageable. We could survive on just one salary, but it would have to be mine as I’m tenured (just about the only employment-until-death situation left in America) and it would be downright stupid for me to quit to raise the kids. I’d NEVER get this kind of job again, in terms of security. And Hubby is not interested in staying home. For that matter, I don’t think I would be either even if it did make any sort of financial sense. I like working. My kids will only be kids for so long, true, but that also means I have to have some means of supporting myself when they’re gone, you know?
    I think I will still be in the same job but maybe with a few more responsibilities in five years. The campus is growing and so will our department, if higher education ever gets funded again (ha ha). I love the kind of work I do and find it very rewarding. I am very lucky.
    One interesting datapoint is that mothers with small children are very rare in academia in my experience, especially two children. Other professors look askance at my children when they visit. I’ve had to advocate for a lot, but I’m rewarded with a pretty flexible schedule and again, the job security.

  130. I’m 34, one child (6 weeks old). I live in NYC, moving to Seattle next month. I quit my FT job to stay home for what I plan to be about 6 mos. I want to go back to FT or almost FT work and use an area daycare center. If I’m lucky, I’ll land a job that has in-house daycare (that I would still pay for). It probably barely makes financial sense, but I am not the type of person who wants staying at home to be my indefinite plan.My husband works FT at a job he dislikes, but provides health insurance and a small salary (my earning power is much higher); he’d rather be a stay at home dad but is tethered to massive student loan debt that is handled through the income-based repayment program that requires he work (the repayment plan is 100% worth it to us, and will end in less than 10 years).
    I have a doctorate in music (useless, though rewarding at the time), relatively modest student loans that I am paying off. I opted for a career in non-profit fundraising and, when working, make a pretty good salary for that sector.

  131. 1 child, age 6.5 (wish there were more but see my age)I’m 49
    Portland OR
    DD attends school-based aftercare daily 2:30-6, plus assorted late starts, inservice days, etc. Will need fulltime (8-6) coverage for summer.
    Previously, kiddo was in full-time non-profit center care (center’s mission is to provide high quality day care to working parents — few days closed except major holidays) We LOVED this place!
    Childcare in area is mixture – in home care, centers, nannies, SAHM, family care. We have no family in the state, my parents are 75+, husband’s mom is 85+.
    I am self-employed with doctoral degree, husband is engineer. Downturn in economy has impacted us both in different ways. He makes more than I, and his firm provides excellent health insurance. But, his schedule is project driven, so he travels several times per month & has less flexibility than I have regarding end of workday. So he gets punkin to the bus in the morning on his way to work, and I have to drive clear across town to get her at the end of my workday — I spend about 1 hour in the car every evening getting her & then getting us both home. But we do it this way because I can set my own schedule, and leave work promptly at 5 pm. When kiddo gets sick, though, we often each work half a day, since I don’t get paid sick time.
    I have primary responsibility for running the household (and finances) in addition to fulltime work; we pay for housecleaning twice a month.
    I got doctorate with $75K in loans, that is now about 1/2 paid off 20 years post degree. Husband had no student loans.
    I’m scared about being able to save enough for retirement, considering I wasn’t earning in my field until I was 30+ (and still had those pesky loans), but we’re also saving for college. Working as hard as I did 15 years ago, but health care reimbursement is completely stagnant or worse – some insurers pay me less today than they did 18 years ago, but my patients are more sick. So, I’m making less than I used to. Economy has devastated husband’s industry (construction engineering) – he lies awake worrying.
    In 5 years, kiddo will have outgrown afterschool care but I’m not totally sure how that works when kids are middle-school aged. I hope that by then, she’ll go to summer sleep away camp for most of the summer.
    All-in-all, though, feel very fortunate that both husband & I were raised to save $ from a young age. We live within our means, will take our first vacation in 2 years, and are fortunate that we found a good public school option for our daughter at a time when our state & city continue to defund public education, cut school days, cut PE & art & music.
    Every year, I get angry when I look at summer day camps & after school things that seem to assume one parent stays home to drive kids around. Day camps that end at 2 pm? Soccer “camp” that is 1 hour daily? Parks & Rec options that only occur on weekdays? School calendars that have random days closed, late starts, 3 months of vacation.

  132. Two boys, almost 6 and almost 3 (birthdays next month). I’m 41, married, live in New York City (Manhattan). Most people here use nannies, not entirely by choice; the daycare options are limited and expensive.I just made a Big Change because after five and a half years of being a full time WOHM, it was no longer working. I was a magazine editor, an intense, stressful yet not very highly paid job, but I loved it. My husband worked at a small IT consulting firm with regular hours and some flexibility, and we had a full time nanny. He made about 30% more but my job had better benefits.
    What changed: two years ago, my husband’s job began looking unstable (not really related to The Economy), and he had to make a job change. After six months of looking the best offer he had was with a large, merciless consulting firm. He got a 30% raise – and a schedule that involves about 75% travel.
    At that point, my ability to hold the working mom thing together began to fray. Topping it off was that after a series of raises, the nanny’s salary was threatening to overtake my own. I stuck it out for a year, but I knew it no longer made any sense.
    So I just quit my job, and am freelancing, which is helped by the fact that my older son is in elementary and younger will go to an extended-day preschool program in the fall. With my husbands’ raise and losing the nanny, I only need to make about 30% of my former salary for us to “keep” the same amount of our earnings as we did when I worked FT. I’m assuming I’ll easily top that. I’ve also been excited to go back to writing after editing for many years. I am loving more time with the kids and love the idea of being able to pick them up from school most days, help with homework, make a decent dinner, etc. I do NOT miss the weekday working mom scramble.
    So I’m pretty sure the change was positive, but I sometimes wonder if the tradeoff was worth it for my husband to be gone so much. The kids miss him, I miss him, and I hope I won’t wind up feeling like I forfeited my career. Hopefully he’ll find another job with no travel within a few years, and then I can reassess the WAHM thing.

  133. 42 YO single mom with 9 YO. Work in hospital as RN 3 nights / week 7pm – 7am. Every other weekend, most holidays.My parents live four doors away and my son sleeps there when I work, they drive him to and from school.
    I am lucky beyond belief for this situation. They’re taken care of him since he was 8 weeks old. If it weren’t for them I’d be living hand to mouth, and I have no idea what I’d do for childcare with my hours.
    The economy sucks: wages are stagnant, cost of living and health insurance through the roof. My job, however, is secure with 7 years nursing experience + ICU experience. I don’t pick up overtime because I don’t want to abuse my childcare…
    I live in the Detroit metro area, own a condo, and my housing expenses are about $720/month for a 1200 SF condo in a reasonable area… something that doesn’t exist in other parts of the country.
    I bank money all year for summer camps (which are important because keeping a kid all day and night all summer is tiring to grandparents). No afterschool care expenses. Public schools through schools of choice to a better district than we live in.
    Have a minimal ($9K) amount of student loans left from the nursing degree.
    Working 3 nights a week sucks, I’m tired all the time, never adjust to a normal schedule, but I’m able to be there for homework, soccer games, to arrange playdates, at times I’m half-way a stay at home mom.
    In five years? No idea. I just want to get off of the midnight shift (been doing it 3.5 yrs) so I can think clearly and feel like a human being…
    But am grateful to never have to worry about having enough money to pay for groceries, or camp, or vacations. And from reading all the posts, grateful beyond belief for my parents.

  134. Quick response to data points:2 kids, 5 and 3
    I live in the Mid-Atlantic (hi, hedra!)
    I’m 38
    I work out of the house and need full time child care. The town I live in is pretty affluent, so I know lots of families with nannies and stay at home moms who send their kids to expensive part time pre schools, and everything in between. I have also tried everything – nannies, nanny-shares, daycare centers, home day care, and preschool.
    It makes sense for me where I am now. One of the places I lived previously was a continual child care nightmare. There were almost no daycare facilities – one decent, one terrible, no nannies, no preschool, some home day care of varying quality. It was maddening and I was happy to go. A lot of women were forced out of work because of the limited child care options.
    I have a partner and my partner works in a town that is 300 miles away, so a bit more than half the year, he only comes home every other weekend, which means I have to do all the drops off, pick ups, daily routine, sick days.
    I feel badly reporting that the economy hasn’t affected us adversely -we have kept our stable professions through the ups and downs.
    I really, really hope that in the next year or two that my partner comes to live with us full time, which will make a huge difference in all our lives, especially me as my stress levels have been incredibly high the past couple of years – had to go on medication because all other methods of self-care are not currently at my disposal. On the up side, my partner and I have weathered many years of this stress level and we are as happy and connected as ever, so at least at I’m not worried about my marriage.

  135. I have two kids – 6 and almost 3. The 3 year old is in daycare 4 days/week @ $33/day, and the 6yo is in full time kindergarten. Childcare in this area is primarily in home or at the one centre in town. It is difficult to find, and when we first moved here, we drove to my daughter’s old in home daycare (half an hour each way) for six months until we could find closer childcare. The costs are significant given our income, and I am looking forward (financially) to Sept. 2014 when she can start full time kindergarten.I’m in central-rural Ontario, Canada. I will be 37 this year, and I have a MA in English, which while not immediately applicable to the work I’m doing provided a lot of transferable skills.
    I work full time from home with a flexible-ish schedule doing office administration for a farm organization although I’m the companies sole employee, so I have a fair bit or responsibility. My husband works full time on our farm. I also work on the farm doing farmers’ markets and the bookkeeping plus chores as needed.
    I’ve only been in my job for a year, but I’m really enjoying it. Because the work is symbiotic with our farm, my employees are quite flexible. I LOVE being able to work from home, (I’ve taken the cordless phone to the driveway to wait for the bus!) and the flexibility allows us to juggle sick kids, class field trips, etc.
    Overall, it makes sense for me to work especially as the farm seems to siphon money off quickly. We do hope to make off-farm work optional in the next five years.
    My biggest struggle is that my husband sometimes sees my work as 9-5, and then I’m “free” to make dinner, put the kids to bed, etc. while he works on the farm. I don’t think he always understands how much else gets done around the house (laundry, farm bookkeeping, etc.). Part of it is that he needs daylight to do things like fencing, making hay, etc. while computer work can be done at any time.
    Financially, we don’t have school debt anymore, but we do have a lot of loans from buying the farm and starting up (about five years ago). There is an increasing demand for what we raise (pastured beef and pork), but there are a lot of costs to growing as well. (Cattle is not cheap and pigs eat a lot). We met with a financial advisor who told us that often there comes a time in a business where their growth outstrips their cash flow, and we are there right now. It’s not a bad place to be; it just is stressful and requires a lot of creativity and time to deal with.
    Finally, the other thing I struggle with is time, especially “me time” (gag – I feel silly even saying it). Mostly, I would love to work out and miss it, but it seems like the kids and the farm suck up any free time I have. I keep thinking there has to be a way to do it all, but sadly, at this season, perhaps there isn’t.

  136. 2 6 month twins at home with a nanny- $600/wk and a 3-year old in full time daycare- $250/wk.My job lets me work from home most days but requires me to not be multi-tasking childcare. When I do go in, my commute to my office is an hour each way.
    My husband and I both have Master’s degrees and pretty demanding jobs. I am not cut out for being a SAHM but would love to cut back to part time (7 hour days) to have a bit more time each day with my kids.

  137. We are two parents (over 40) with an 18 month old in the CT River Valley, MA. Both of us work – my work is FT (I am a professor) and my husband’s can be anywhere from 1/2 time to FT depending on funding levels (he is also in academia). We have our daughter in daycare 3 days a week at the daycare center at a local college. Ather age, care ends at 3:30 (we can’t wait for her to go until 5 in the fall) We pay about $900 a month.
    I can’t figure out how childcare works around here because it was so hard find someplace that took infants (we started her in childcare at 8mo, before that I had a generous parental leave (one semester) from my college).
    I have some flexibility with hours, etc, so I work from home the 2 days a week our daughter is not in care. Even still, we have a college student babysitter 2 hours a week and I work a lot in early mornings, naptimes and evenings when my daughter is sleeping. I made a special skype address to have some evening office hours with students in my upper level courses.
    I have a very long commute, so on days I work at work, my husband does all morning care, and afternoon care at least 1 afternoon a week.
    We decided to keep her there this summer because they allow more flexible scheduling (not the same days every week, you don’t pay for weeks you sit out) and she likes being with her friends (we coordinated with one friend’s parents to make sure that they would overlap). Technically, I don’t have to go in during the summer, though it helpful in keeping my research going and prepping for fall classes.
    I can’t imagine NOT working, and neither can my husband. At least part of that is that we had our child “later in life” and our careers are a big part of our self-identities. I have a PhD and my husband has a masters in one area and is ABD in a different area.
    The past semester was hard for lots of work reasons intersecting with juggling family. But we did it. Amazingly, though I am extremely tired, I actually able to think constructively about what we need to change to make the next semester easier.
    5 years from now – well, that depends on the “Economy” and how it plays out with my husband’s job. I already see that he is enjoying his time with our daughter and that now that she is not an infant he is taking over more of her care. I can see that he may be taking over more of her care outside of school time and I will be spending more time at work. But I also realize I am extremely blessed to be thinking that way!

  138. My data points:One 5.5-year-old son, I’m 47 and DH is 50 in 2 months (obviously we are late to this parenting thing:-)). We live in an intown burb in Atlanta. Both of us work FT out of the home. I was working in the PR agency world before my son was born. Hated the job and the lifestyle, so I was lucky enough to move to a major nonprofit coming off leave and enjoy it. I have flexibility to WAH when needed and a current male manager who has 4 kids, so he gets it. Hubby is a PA in a major academic hospital here. He has relative flexibility and surprisingly normal hours, but the vast majority of kid management falls on me (and I assume it does). I’m very lucky, though, that hubby is a full parenting partner, and does fill in and participate in school stuff/sick days/doctor visits when he can. We just evaluate it on a case-by-case basis.
    We live in an expensive little town near a major university and major government agency, so lots of daycare/nannies/SAH parents … it runs the gamut. Son went to the same daycare for nearly 4 years, then started in public pre-k this past fall, which we use after care. Starting summer camp season in 2 weeks.
    Funny, I would say that I need to work and not cut out to be SAH mom … especially when my son is younger. But I’d love to work PT now to pick him up from school, for playdates and other activities. He’s just more fun now, so I hate that I can’t spend that time with he and his friends. My mom was was teacher, so my summers were carefree; I’ve mentioned to my hubby recently that I hate that our son won’t really ever have a carefree summer. No sleeping in, no days at the pool, no days finding out what his pals are doing and it makes me sad. But because we live in a pricier part of town, we both need to work to stay here. It is a conscious choice and I recognize it, but I can still wish and dream.
    Realistically, 5 years from now will most likely be similar to our life now. Hubby won’t leave because he has a good gig; I have a good gig as well, and won’t leave my company unless I’m downsized (always a possibility in non-profit). If that happens, I’ll figure out a way to consult, because I don’t ever want to go corporate again.
    Our biggest challenge … we have no family in the area, so we’ve built up a family of great friends and neighbors, who have graciously stepped in for help with childcare on the rare occasions I have traveled and hubby was stuck at the hospital.
    Being a working mom is hard, but I just pick my battles. The house isn’t terribly clean and I don’t cook as often as I’d like. But, we just make sure we maximize our family time, as we worked so hard to have our little family.

  139. I’m 35 and have 2 kids-aged 3 & 4. We need full-time (7am-6pm 5 day) childcare. Currently the kids are with an in-home sitter and that’s been great (and afordable!). They’re moving to a jewish community center preschool this summer that is super highly rated/accredited/what-have-you. The price will just about double, but it is less than 1 mile from our house/work and the sitter is an hour round trip.From a purely economic standpoint, it still “makes sense” for me to work–even with the increased price of the jcc. Although it helps that I’ve just paid off my student loans! If we had a 3rd kid and had to pay for childcare for 3, it would be hard.
    That said, it “makes sense” for me to work, because I looooove what I do, earn a fairly high salary for doing it and am able to strike a reasonable work/life balance.
    My husband technically has the “bigger job.” He earns a more than me–but is a much smaller cog in the machine in his organization. He works from home and travels out of state about 50% of the time. When he’s home, his work is primarily conference calls–so watching preschoolers while he’s on the clock is not feasible. And he works at least 25% more hours than I do. He does get dinner prepped/ready most nights that he’s home and does 50% of the kid schlepping.
    I have a Masters degree–and I think it helps rather than hinders my options. However, at this point in my career path, any position I took would require more hours, more commitment and more stress from me–which is not at all attractive to me. I’m at near 6 figures (US) now–and to change jobs wouldn’t push me much higher. I’m at the top of the food chain in my organization-so there is no risk/possiblity of promotion internally.
    Because I work in government finance, I’m a bit isolated from “The Economy” in terms of job loss risk–but it does certainly increase my job stress. My whole job revolves around how to accomplish our mission with diminishing resources. Fewer resources = more work.
    I’d like to think that in 5 years, our childcare needs at least will be dialed in. Our kids will be 9 & 8. The neighhborhood school they’ll be attending is fantastic and it’s 1 (safe) block away. The school provides before/after care through the YMCA at a reasonable price so until they’re ready to latch-key it, we’ll have them covered. When we’re no longer paying more than a house payment for daycare/preschool, our ability to save/pay off stuff will be enhanced–and hopefully our overall family financial profile will improve.
    Final thoughts–I love my work. It energizes me. It gives me a feeling of competence and accomplishment that improves my self-esteem and happiness. But I’m certainly not without guilt. I miss my kids fiercely during the day, and all I want to do when I get home is snuggle on the couch with them until we all melt into one big lump together. But then I get home, and they don’t feel like snuggling and I have to do some house thing or make just one phone call and then the night slips away from us, and I’m just rocking in my sons room after he’s long asleep in his bed so that I can be physically close to him and hear his night snuffles and wishing I hadn’t frittered the night away. It’s win-win and no-win at the same time. We’re happy. But we’re always wanting more.
    And Moxie, I think this is a great topic for discussion and I’m thrilled you’re collecting these data points. The one universal truth about parenting, I’ve decided, is that we all *feel* isolated and unusual sometimes. It is so helpful to feel connected to this web of amazing parents and know that we are Not Alone.

  140. Wow, the comments have been enlightening to read!Data points: almost 41, married, husband is 45. Two children: girl 5.5, boy 1.5. Live in Austin, Texas. Both of us have BAs in humanities. Husband still has student loans. Both children in full-time day care, though at different facilities. Daughter’s has swimming, field trips, and a “curriculum” that will likely have her reading by the end of the summer. Son’s is a church school around the corner from our house with very small class sizes. We pay almost $1400/mo for both. Add in the mortgage, student loans, car payment, and (shamefully) credit cards, and we are living month-to-month with only a tiny bit of savings for emergencies.
    We are both working full-time and have been going through the most stressful 6 months. I work for a legislative state agency and a legislature that has been in session since January. I work a lot of overtime, and have worked both Saturdays and Sundays from about mid-March through early May. I actually got both days off for Mother’s Day and we were all in shock and didn’t know what to do with ourselves as a family! The upside to the crazy hours is that I get leave time for all the overtime I log. In the past I have traded in the extra leave time for 4-month paid maternity leave when each child was born. THe downside has been that our marriage has been pushed to the breaking point. Now, I’m so burnt out and it has been such a stressful time for my husband and myself, that I’m really ready to find a new job or new career. If I could quit altogether, I would. But financially, it’s not an option.
    Husband is also working in state government. We both will have solid health insurance and contribute to a pension fund, so there is incentive to keep on working for the state. And, if either of us could manage to get a Master’s in public admin, the payoff would be there. But it doesn’t make financial sense right now. Having the daughter start public school in the fall will give us a financial cushion and hopefully we can dig out of some of the debt and save a little.
    I keep thinking about how it’s been not so bad to work full-time knowing that our kids have been in high-quality, dependable, full-time day care. Now that we are about to enter the era of public school, I am worried that it’s going to be more stressful, even though the cost will be less. School starts at about 7:40am and ends at about 2:45pm. What kind of nutty hours are those?! We will have to pay for after-school care, which costs on average about $200-$250 per month. And I can’t get a good read on the quality of the programs. (and then summer camps, many of which fill up with early registration and early payment by the later winter or early spring.) Then there’s homework and the possibility of extracurriculars and the need for an earlier bedtime. I’ve been thinking more and more that if there is a way to work 30 – 35 hours per week, life will be much easier for our family.

  141. I am 36 and have 2.5 year old twins. We live in the Midwest and most of our friend’s kids are sent to childcare centers but some are home-based. Currently, my husband is home with the kids Monday through Thursday and the kids go to a babysitter on Fridays. I work full time with very little over time.Both my husband and I have college degrees, his in architecture and mine in engineering. When “The Economy” went bad in 2009, he was in the first wave of layoffs at his firm. My husband got a job in sales at a small company. I work for a large company and have both good benefits and job stability. When the kids were born, I took my 12 weeks of FML and then my husband quit his job and stayed home with the kids. My husband was asked to come back to work part time (Friday & Saturday office hours.)
    For about 4 months, I worked 4 days a week so I could be home with the kids on Fridays while my husband was at work. Because of the reduced pay and increased cost for benefits (I had to pay extra for the 8 hours per week I didn’t work) that arrangement was cost prohibitive for our family and I went back to work full time. Initially we had college student come to our house to watch the kids but once they found job, we were able to find a mother in the neighborhood who watches the kids the day we are both at work.
    Before I actually had to think about the logistics of having kids and paying bills, I always assumed I would stay home with the kids. I was competent in my job but did not “go the extra mile”, maybe because I didn’t see myself there forever? Then my husband lost his job, we worked through fertility issues and became pregnant with twins. Looking back, I know I had regrets about going back to work after they were born but I wasn’t heart broken or felt pushed into the choice. It just made more financial sense for our family. I have higher pay and better benefits plus I liked my job fine (low stress) while my husband was very stressed out at his job and made much less money. Also, I know it helped me to know dad was at home with the kids to alleviate my internal struggle about “leaving” my kids to work. Silly, but it was there.
    My department was restructured while I was on maternity leave and I have a different supervisor now. I have received 2 promotions since I have been back and am working on a very high profile project. Since I have been back, I have found a new sense of purpose with my career and higher satisfaction. I also I click better with my new boss. I can’t tell how much is that’s my attitude versus outside circumstances with new corporate culture.
    I also maintain my husband was better equipped to be home with the children when they were very young. He is generally much more patient and is not as prone to STRESS OUT as I am. I think I would have loosened up to some degree if roles had been reversed but a not so secret part of me is glad the entire family didn’t have to endure that situation. I feel wistful about being back at work sometimes, especially on the days the three of them call me all excited about something. But I don’t feel like I miss out on the milestones. My husband is much more sensitive about being there for “firsts”.
    I have very little regrets about how everything has played out. Initially, my husband had a struggle with being a stay at home dad. He would tell me he wasn’t contributing to the family because he wasn’t bringing much money home (he comes from a fairly conservative family). As the kids have gotten older and blossomed into great people, he sees what he’s been working on and his feelings have changed. He is wistful about someday having a career again, the part time stuff is to get out of the house and bring home some cash but it’s not a passion. We have talked about the kids going to all day preschool but neither of us is excited about the option so think we will slowly ease them into preschool. Once they are in full day school, we will both work full time.
    What really helped us be flexible is the fact we lead fairly simple lives. When the kids were born we had the mortgage, student loans and the car payment for the bigger, child-friendly car we bought when we found out it was twins. We also had a little savings. For the first year we were stretched thin, not to where we were close to losing our house but grocery shopping was creative and we had zero savings. We have since paid off our student loans and the car and now only have the mortgage. Plus we can save money again, what a novel idea! Sometimes I look at my friends and wish we had a nicer car or newer kitchen but that passes and I’m glad the family is financially secure and both parents are mostly happy with their roles.

  142. I have two children, 12 and 8, and I’m 43. I live in Philadelphia and need after school care at this point only for the 8 y.o. and in the summer, camps. There are many options for childcare here, but the quality varies tremendously. When the girls were little, I was married and went down to a 30 hour work week, my husband had the better paying job, which requires travel. We made the decision then that I would go on the mommy track, though what I didn’t realize fully then was that he felt that decision was irrevocable. I found a fantastic cooperative daycare/preschool that was not super expensive. I feel like I was the primary parent to the kids.When I switched employers in the same field, and went back to FT (35 hrs/week), the new employer offered to pay for a Master’s degree, so I enrolled in a program. I have been taking courses very part time, working FT, and being a parent. In retrospect, me taking the time for a class one night a week was a problem for my ex-husband. It meant that he would need to be home on those days, or we would have to find a babysitter, and somehow that voided our previous agreement in his eyes.
    Last year we started mediation for the divorce process. Most days I feel pretty stable in my work position, though “The Economy” does not encourage that feeling. Given that I am now divorced (or almost, officially) I do have concerns about what would happen if I lost my job. But I can’t obsess about that right now. I am hoping that when I finish this MS degree I will be able to find a better job w/in my organization, but I would also be happy to stay where I am (most days I can say that). I have a comfortable life today. I feel like I may have been more financially secure (maybe) when I was married, but emotionally, I was a wreck. I’m working on both fronts now, and am making some progress, so that’s good. Thanks for checking the data points, Moxie, it’s helpful.

  143. Thanks for the fascinating comment thread, and the ability to contribute (and vent a bit).I have one son who is almost 15 months old, and just this month I ditched the birth control and we’re now officially trying to conceive baby number two. I’m 30, as is my husband. We live in the suburbs of DC.
    I’m in a transitional period right now. I have been in a PhD program for the past six years and will finally, FINALLY be graduating on Monday (!!!). When I began the program I suppose my intention was to eventually earn the degree and then look for a full-time, ideally tenure-track academic job. I say “suppose” because, frankly, I just sort of decided to keep going on the academic track after finishing my MA because I was good at it, I was getting paid to do it (through fellowships and assistantships), and I didn’t have a clear idea of what else I wanted to do other than hopefully eventually have a family. Well, a lot changed between 2007 and now. When I began the PhD program I was 24 and single. As I meandered my way through the program requirements I also met, dated, and then married my husband; bought a house; got pregnant, and had a baby. Meanwhile, the whole academic job market in my field changed substantially for the worse. I have friends who finished their degrees 1-3 years ago and are STILL seeking an academic job. And these are talented people, leading me to believe that if they can’t find work in our field, I won’t be able to, either. To be honest, I’m not sure that I want to pursue the academic track anymore–at least, not in the manner in which this program has groomed me to pursue it.
    So, here I am trying to figure out what to do next. I’ve been more or less a stay-at-home mom since my son was born, but now there’s not a nagging voice saying “you really should be writing that dissertation.” Instead the voice is saying, “Now what?” I have truly loved being at home with my son for the past 15 months. I’m surprised, actually, by how fulfilling I find being at home with him. So I think what I’m trying to do at the moment is let myself just embrace the fact that all I really want to do at the moment is be a stay-at-home mom.
    For that to work, my husband has to work two jobs. He has his career as a writer for a federal government agency, which brings in enough money to meet all of our basics–mortgage, groceries, gas, car payment, utilities, and my husband’s small student loan bill. But in order to have breathing room for emergencies or just to be able to live a little (eat out, hire a sitter so we can have a date night, buy toys for the baby or new clothes once in a while, take vacations, etc.)we need some additional income. So my husband’s side job covers that. I also bring in some fun money on the side by tutoring and teaching stroller fitness classes. I take my son with me to teach the exercise classes, and I schedule the tutoring when my husband is home to handle childcare. The small amount of money I make isn’t needed for necessities, but it definitely contributes to our quality of life. We have our fingers crossed that my husband will get a promotion this year, which further takes the pressure off of me to find more work.
    I have convinced myself that looking for a full-time job doesn’t make sense since we’ll hopefully have two children soon. I tell myself that I’d be paying so much for full-time childcare in our high-cost-of-living area that I’d only be bringing home maybe half (at most) of my paycheck and that wouldn’t be worth the stress of working full-time and being away from my children. To be totally honest, though, I don’t think any amount of money could convince me to work full-time right now. You could offer me a seven-figure job tomorrow and I honestly don’t think I would take it if it meant I had to be away from my son 40 hours a week. It would just make me too sad. Maybe I’ll feel differently at some point, but that’s how I feel right now. I’m enamored of my still relatively new role as mom, and I enjoy my days with him too much to want to do anything else.
    My other confession, though, is that I feel guilty about not wanting to work full-time. I feel like my friends who do work full-time are probably judging me for spending all of this time to get a PhD and then not even attempting to use it. I feel a little bit lazy and indulgent for choosing not to work when I could, and I feel guilty that my department paid so much money for me to get this degree only to have me say, “Eh, maybe I’ll adjunct lecture at some point when my baby is older.” And I feel like a bad feminist for wanting my husband to be the breadwinner while I stay at home entertaining the baby, gardening, cleaning, cooking, banking…and reading novels during nap time. I’m busy as a stay-at-home mom, but I know I’d be busier as a working mother, and sometimes I feel guilty watching other working moms but opting for what feels for now like the easier and much more fun option of staying at home. And I feel like I can’t really talk about how much I love being at home with my baby except with really close friends who also stay at home, because I feel like people will either judge me (“How boring she must be, not needing work to keep her mind occupied”) or feel like I’m judging them for working. All of the stay-at-home moms I know here talk often about going back to work eventually, as if to prove to themselves that they could if they wanted to. I wonder if this is just a DC thing, as my sister-in-law in the Midwest seems perfectly content to just admit that she’s planning to stay at home forever, until she has grandchildren to care for.
    Oh, I should add that my husband fully supports me staying at home. While I know he would be supportive of me working, I also think he feels a lot of pride in being able to provide enough on his own for me to stay home (another outdated gender role norm that I feel vaguely guilty for not wanting to address).
    Five years from now I hope to have one or two more children and still be at home with them. Once all of my children are in public school, though, I hope to find a part-time job that allows me to work primarily during their school hours. I have convinced myself that when I’m ready to work again, I’ll be able to find something. I already get anxious when I think about how that might not be true, and I might not be able to find a job when I do want one. But I try to convince myself that I’m an intelligent, employable person. Working right now for the sole reason of guaranteeing I’ll be able to work later doesn’t make sense to me.
    In summary, I feel guilty for not really working, but I think I’d feel sad and even more guilty if I was working.

  144. I’m 31 and I live in NJ and work in Manhattan as a lawyer for a big law firm. My daughter is 21 months old. My job is demanding and I work very unpredictable hours. I try to leave by 7pm but usually that means I’m logging back in after I put my daughter to sleep and working another few hours at night. I wish I could work less or not at all but it’s not an option since I make much more than my husband. My mom is watching my daughter full-time now (amazing) but she’s leaving us soon, so we will need to figure out what to do about childcare. We need childcare from 8am to 8pm. The hardest part about working is not spending enough time with my daughter. I don’t think I would mind work so much if the job weren’t so intense/stressful, and if I had more regular hours (9-5) or at least some work flexibility (work from home one or two days a week). But none of those are an option in a law firm. They say it is, but practically speaking, it doesn’t work well from the women I’ve seen do it. I think my best option is to find a new job, so I’m looking, but haven’t found anything yet. Until then, we count ourselves blessed for having jobs and do the best we can with what we have. It ain’t no joke though, being a working mom! No one told me how hard it would be!

  145. Anon in BoulderI live in Boulder, Colorado. I have a nearly 1 yr old and a 3 yr old.
    I work on an 80% arrangement for a government employer, and my husband works full time in a creative field. My paycheck is the larger one, even though I’m part-time. I know I’m among the fortunate few professional women to have a part-time schedule, but it’s not feeling part-time enough at the moment.
    If we could swing it, one of us would leave the workforce altogether, as my husband and I don’t like putting such young kids in full-day care four days a week. However, we can’t give up my gold-plated health insurance, because my daughter has a frighteningly expensive chronic health condition. And my husband is rightfully scared to quit his job, as his industry is currently undergoing seismic change and will look very different in 2 or 3 years.
    Our kids go to different preschools, both of which are excellent, the sort of enriching, caring environments that all families should have access to. Even from our relatively privileged perch on the bottom rung of the upper middle class, the cost of child care is crippling — $2300 per month for 4 days of care per week. It eats up almost a third of our family’s monthly take-home pay, and exceeds our rent by a fair amount. We’ve done everything we can to tax advantage this cost, but the government support is laughably small compared to our annual bill. The only thing that makes me feel at all ok about the amount of time that our kids spend in others’ care, and the amount of money we’ve invested in it, is that we have absolutely no qualms about where we send them, and I know that some days they have more fun at preschool than they would with their parents.
    The very long, rambling point I’d like to make that gets lost in all the discussion of “leaning in” is what that means concretely if you really value spending time with your kids. I’m away from my kids for 9 hours at a stretch, four days a week. I want to see them as much as is possible on those days, not just for a harried game of “get ready for school” in the morning, or a rushed bath and bedtime story at night.
    So we cut corners on everything. I cut corners at work, often leaving earlier than I should. The whole family cuts corners on sleep (how do you get a baby to bed at a decent hour when the family doesn’t arrive home until nearly 6?) Exercise gets squeezed into our lunch hours. I never, ever accept girls night or book club or volunteerism invitations, because I feel like our family time is too precious for me to pursue a separate adult social life.
    The highest, most important value for me and my husband, at least while our kids are so young, is maintaining a few unstressed hours with the kids each day. That means that every other obligation in our lives is performed on overdrive. I haven’t read Ms. Sandberg’s book, but is that what she was suggesting was the solution to the work-life problem?

  146. I have an almost 5 year old and a 6 year old. I’m 38 and live in North Carolina. My husband and I managed to get two master’s degrees and two PhDs while we were having kids. This meant super flexible schedules (and very small paychecks) so we shared the load 50/50. I worked part time in this manner until my youngest was 13 months old. My husband stayed home with them after that (and finished his graduate work) while I went back to the classroom as a high school teacher for two years (we really needed more income at that point). I landed a full time faculty position last year and have been commuting 40ish minutes each way, but I do have quite a bit of flexibility and summers off. We’ve had the kids in preschool (5 days a week, half days) for the past two years. My husband is finally working closer to full time (the economy tanked as we finished school but he didn’t have a public school teaching gig to fall back on like I did). We are putting both kids into public school next year (one in K and on in 1st grade) so we’re on track to pay off loans and dig into our careers. We don’t have family in the area so we’ve really had to juggle it between the two of us and with the help of some good friends. I have personally struggled some going back to full time work, but have finally found a pretty good balance where I am with my kids a lot and also feel like I’m growing into my career. Our house is never clean 😉 I’m glad we were able to do part time and share the load when they were babies (it was tough financially, but good for us overall). I did resent working without flexibility (so I negotiated for more wiggle room and that has made all the difference for me). Your post “free but not cheap” was life changing for me… thank you for that and for all you do!

  147. such great timing as I was researching mid-life career changing books just before popping over here!One daughter: 2.5
    Me: 38.5
    Live: Portland, OR
    Childcare needs: 4 days (I work 32 hours/week)
    Childcare set-up: 3 days at a local, small center, one with my folks
    Make sense: Yes, because I am passionate about what I do and a better mother when I have a work outlet.
    Partner: Yes. works 40+ hrs/week. very supportive, but I manage all appointments, shopping, etc.
    Education: Masters in my field, nearly paid off.
    Economy: I work for a non-profit, it’s rough to fund your own position when foundations have less and less money.
    Work situation (right now): It actually feels pretty great. I like what I do, who I work with, and who cares for my child.
    Work situation (5 years): I’ll be ready for a change in the next few years. I really have no clue where I want to go/what I want to do. Just starting to really ask those questions. I would really like to keep working 30-32 hrs/week when my daughter transitions to school. I love working in education, love working for a non-profit, but ready for a new challenge. I’m not sure how to find new challenge while still maintaining the sense of “balance” I currently feel between work and home.
    I’ve been in the environmental field for all of my career. What would it be like to move to a new field? New social norms? Etc.?

  148. I’m 33 years old. Two kids — one 3 1/2, one just shy of 1 yrLive in Vancouver BC, married to kids’ dad.
    After my one year maternity leave with the first kid, I went back to work with my job in the environmental non-profit world (Masters in Environmental Studies), but I went down to very part-time, just 2 days/wk. I did that for a 1 yr contract, at which point I was nauseously pregnant with my second kid and I didn’t look for another position. I did get benefits for a year after my contract ended. The childcare we used that year that I worked was a combo of ‘husband in school with flexible schedule’, a friend of the family, and a paid babysitter.
    I feel extremely fortunate to 1) be living in Canada where we get excellent maternity leave 2) have a husband that makes enough money to allow me the freedom to choose whether or not I work outside the home right now. I’ve never actually crunched the numbers to see whether my job would even cover daycare costs — even working full-time, I didn’t make very much. Someday, when kids are in school, you don’t have to worry about that calculation so much.
    In general, I love being home with my kids when they’re this young. On any given day, however, it’s so hard that I feel like I want to trade places with my husband and go to work. I easily get feeling resentful that I’m ‘stuck’ while he’s out in the world. Kids are tough, relentless, thankless work! But usually I’m thankful and happy to be where I’m at. I guess right now we are just doing what we can do to keep life as ‘simple’ as possible and keep it from getting too frenetic (which I fear two full-time jobs would do beyond what I can handle).
    I want to be the kind of mom that I had. She was at home with us kids until I was in Kindergarten, at which point she went back to work part-time. I guess I see myself being out of the workforce until my youngest is in Kindergarten. And since all kindergartens in BC are all-day, working at that point won’t require an overly-flexible schedule.
    But even then, it kind of scares me that I might not be the one that my kids first see when they get home from school. I want to be the mom that they can ‘download’ their day to, tell their social woes to, do their homework with… I want to be know what’s going on with them intimately. I’m scared that if I got home at 6pm I wouldn’t have the energy to do that for them. Obviously oodles of moms are managing to do all that and do it well, I just don’t know what to expect when it’s my turn to manage all that.
    I think part of my willingness to temporarily give up my career comes from having a pretty sensitive child who has always taken an extremely long time to warm up to new people and new situations and who gets overwhelmed very easily. That was partly a factor in why I went back to work only 2 days a week — she just seemed like such a vulnerable little soul I couldn’t bear the thought of full-time daycare. I have major mom guilt about doing everything I can to prepare her for the world. Right now that means being home with her and that feels right.
    My second kid is very different and I don’t foresee having the same hangups about going back to work when she hits school age. That’ll be in about 5 years so we’ll see…

  149. Me, almost 37, baby due in July.Melbourne Australia
    We leave inner-city with a diverse income spread so you name it we can get it (at a price)
    I got organised for childcare at about 26 weeks (on return from my honeymoon). We’re waitlisted for long day care for babies at a mix of Co-op, private, government centres but it is an incredibly tough market to crack.
    It makes sense for me to work as I am a Masters qualified white collar professional in a growth industry but I am very aware at 33 weeks pregnant how my whole world is going to change when the little one arrives.
    My company offers 12 weeks paid maternity leave (6 weeks upfront and 6 weeks on your return) with government mandated 12 month unpaid maternity leave period.
    Ideally I’d I like to go back 3 days a week in my current role in March next year.
    Slowly increasing to 4 days after getting acclimatised to the working parent thing.
    Husband owns his own cafe which is a 7 day a week job with much more working week flexibility.
    He is keen to SAHP and also wants to career transition to something else so we’re in flux at the moment.
    When I was 25 I never thought I would be the breadwinner in my family but as I’ve invested more time in my career (which is why I am so late to the baby train) I can see how it would suit my personality now.
    As for five years from now – hopefully the unknowns we are dealing with now as a family will be known and it will be a whole different set of problems instead.
    Moxie thank you so much for this post I’ve loved reading everyone’s stories.

  150. I am a 32 year old stay at home mum who lives just outside of Sydney, Australia. I have two small children (DS 3, and DD 15 months). My husband is an Anglican Minister and works from home (but is out many nights and really quite a lot during the day).DS goes to preschool in Picton (20 mins away from us) 2 days a week. My in-laws come every Thursday to help out with the kiddies so that I can escape/do what I need to do.
    Because my husband is an Anglican minister, we live in a house owned by the church (no rent, and half utilities), we own one car and are paying off a second one (a 2nd one is a necessity given that my parents and in’laws live at least an hour away each, and the nearest supermarket is 15 mins away).
    I was a high school English Teacher before kids, and never managed to get a job closer than 30 mins drive/train ride away, and any of the schools I used to work at are at least an hour away now anyway, so going back to work with small children was never going to be practical.
    Economically it would cost us money for me to go back to work with childcare/preschool/tolls/petrol etc.
    In terms of expectations, I would be very rich if I had a dollar for every time I was asked When (not if) I am going back to work. But in ministry, I have many roles within the church (Biblestudy groups, playgroups, meeting with people etc), and my weeks fill up without work!
    It’s funny that this topic came up actually because just recently we have been exploring what it would look like for me to go back to uni part time. My husband is already doing a Masters part time, and I’m going to be taking up a TESOL certificate and then next year going to Bible College part time. If I’d wanted to go back to work, next year would be the year, and I’ve been trying to get some casual teaching (with no success) which would place heaps of strain on our logistics. But next year is looking even more complicated really because if I’m studying 2-3 days a week an hour and a half away, and DS will be at preschool 4 days a week and DD will be at preschool (not childcare) 2 days a week max, we have to work out how that will look, and how it will impact us money wise… It’s all very confusing, but in short, no I’m not going back to my old career now, if ever.

  151. Both my husband and I are 34, and we have a 4 month old daughter. We are planning on having 4 children, but that number is pretty fluid as we are just getting used to being parents. We live in central Canada.Currently I’m home on mat leave (we get 1 year here with pay, though not full pay), but I will be returning to work early, at the end of summer. When I return, my husband will leave his job to become a SAHD. It is what makes sense for our family. I make more than him, with substantial earning potential in addition (I am a surgeon). His job would barely cover childcare costs for one child. More then financially though, it allows me to focus on my career without worrying about how my children are cared for, sick days, and all that comes with having kids in care. In addition, he is meant to be a SAHD, or possibly even have a small daycare center. He is the guy playing with everyone’s kids while the adults are talking amongst themselves, he’s all 11 of our nieces and nephews’ favourite uncle because he never tires of hide and seek, reading them books, etc.
    If he hasn’t started his own daycare by the time our daughter is 2, we plan on enrolling her in a couple of half days a week because we like the socialization it provides. There are all kinds of child care options here, and we know people using each of them.
    I have many many thousands of dollars of debt (six figures worth of student loans). The only way I can imaging paying them off is to work in my field. And thankfully I love my job. I do wish I did not have to work 100-120 hours per week, and in the long run, I will be looking to scale back to 60-80 hours a week. Mat leave has shown me just how much I love my job.
    I am nervous for when I go back to work. Mostly I’m nervous about how I’m going to keep breastfeeding and when I will actually fit in mommy-daughter time and couple time. I know we will make it work, but I’m sure that first milestone I’m not there to see will break my heart.
    Five years from now we will be in a different city (for further training), with more kids. We are hoping to return to our home town (where we are now) upon the completion of that training, but who know’s if there will be a job waiting for me.
    Childcare wise, our oldest will be in kindergarden, and kids over 2 will be in daycare part time and and kids under 2 will be home with dad. When our youngest is in kindergarden my husband will get to chose to return to the workforce (admittedly very difficult after nearly a decade out by then) or continue as a SAHD with so much more free time. By then we will not need his income and so the choice is 100% his, as a huge thank you for setting aside working to raise our family.
    The only other thing I think is relevant is that I am the only woman in my field. I work with 14 men who don’t understand the struggles of being a working mom. All of their wives are SAHM, which in some ways makes our experiences the same, but in so many ways different (e.g. at 4 months I have still not fully physically healed from a very “dramatic” delivery, and of course breastfeeding).

  152. I’m 29, with a 9 month old baby. My husband stays home with her full time, I work exactly 40 hours a week and not a minute more. I have a B.A. “The Economy” sucks here (inland portion of California)with the unemployment rate hanging out around 18%, which is definitely a factor in why only one of us is working outside the home, but I honestly can’t say what we’d do if jobs grew on trees. Generally, I think the gender role reversal is almost the best of all worlds…but I have some doubts about how the breadwinning role is going to mesh with successive maternity leaves, etc.

  153. Fascinating topic.4 children – 5.5, 4, 2, 4 months
    Me – 42, married to husband
    Location – Dublin, Ireland
    Childcare needed – technically none, as I am a SAHM. Eldest child in school, 4 year old in pre-school montessori 5 mornings a week. Father in law (retired) is currently helping me one day a week by doing the school run and playing with the 2 year old while I do medical appointments/housework etc (invaluable help which keeps me sane).
    How childcare works here – a variety of options, nannies (rare), in house daycare (most people use this option when they go beyond 2 children), childcare centres, and grandparents (very popular, about 15% of the people doing school pick-ups are grandparents).
    Does it make sense for me to work – No. Childcare is incredibly expensive here, childcare for one child can be equivalent to a mortgage. As I used to work in the arts/non-profit sector, my whole salary would have gone on childcare. With 4 children, there is no way I could afford childcare.
    Husband – has a good job, earning 5x the salary I used to earn. He also works very long hours, out of the house from 7am-7pm on a really good day. The kids only see him in the mornings during the week, so its important that I’m around.
    Education – Masters degree in children’s literature. Working in the Arts/Non-profit sector was what limited my salary. If/when I go back to work I won’t work in the arts sector again – I have no intention of being that underpaid and overworked again.
    The Economy – dire. Has affected us somewhat, particularly house prices. Our house is worth roughly 35% less than it was at the peak of the market. It has affected husband’s job prospects for the future. It has affected many friends who you think would be safe i.e. pharmacists put on part time hours. A family member qualified as a quantity surveryor and she was the only member of her class of 40plus people who had a job in Ireland. Every single other person was emigrating to get a job. We are lucky.
    How do I feel about my work situation – I’m doing the thing that is right for me and my family right now. But sometimes I worry that I am wasting my potential, that I will never get a job again and sometimes, when I am exhausted and stressed, I feel that a qualified professional would do a better job in taking care of my kids.
    5 years time – Aaahh, my youngest will be in school, so all my children will be in school (big sigh of relief!). My ideal would be to write while the children are in school and then be with them and do homework/activities with them after school. I might try to get a one day a week school hours job (I’m sure that’s as common as hen’s teeth) to get back into the real world.
    Other – I have always wanted to be a writer and managed to get my first book published in between baby 3 and baby 4. I would love to do more and I have so many ideas but no time or mental energy to do anything about them at the moment. I also see having had a book published could be incredibly useful to prove to any future employer that I can still think and I’m not just a brain dead stay at home mum, incapable of doing anything except change nappies and watch daytime tv.
    I do feel I would be very vulnerable if my husband and I split. Stepping off the career ladder is a risk but it’s a risk worth taking at this point in time.
    I’m in a group of 9 mums and we all met when we were having our first babies and still meet up regularly now. I’m the only stay at home mum. When 5 of us met recently, I asked whether, if they could go back to being 18 or 20 again, would they have chosen the same career path or a different one. Interestingly, they all said they would have chosen a different path – the engineer would have been a lawyer, the IT professional would have been an engineer, the pharmacist and mental health nurse would also have chosen different careers.

  154. 31 year old in NC, with an 18 month old. I have my own business, started when I was laid off while 6 months preggers and the severance was good enough that I figured “now or never” – no point in hunting for a job while that far along anyway. It’s worked out well.My son stays with a friend and her 22mo for ~3 hours a day, or I use a drop-in daycare when she’s not available. Between that, nap time, and time after he goes to bed, plus weekends, I work ~40 hours a week with only 15 hours of childcare. It’s stressful. I sometimes wonder whether it’d be easier to work full time on a normal schedule – with full time childcare. But then I think about how little time I’d get with my son in that case, and drop THAT idea.

  155. I’m a nearly 45 yr old mother of two girls: ages 6 and 10. My husband has a bachelor’s degree in a technical field and was laid off shortly before the birth of our eldest. Since my salary as an engineer could cover expenses, we decided to try the SAHD route.It’s been a great relief to have my husband at home, especially when I returned to work after my maternity leaves (6 wks for the 1st one, 10 wks for the 2nd one). I think it’s been a big contributor the lack of regret I might have had as a working mother.
    All of this nearly fell apart last year, though, because of the economy and some extraordinarily bad business decisions on the part of my former employer. I was laid off at the beginning of 2012 and it took me a little over a year to find another job within my industry without leaving town. I took a 15% pay cut and increased my commute time by 45 minutes, but we’re still in the Austin area in our own house.
    We’re finally getting back on our feet after dipping into our savings last year. While it’s really nice to have a regular paycheck again, I’m really nervous about the next time the economy takes a big dive. I feel like a layoff target because I have over 20+ years of experience as an engineer. I hope that my current efforts to update my skills will help keep me out of the next round of reductions.

  156. I haven’t read all the comments yet, but this is fascinating. And it shows how right you are, Moxie – the current media “debate” about parenting and working is far too limited.I am 40 years old, married to a 40-year-old man. We waited longer than I wanted to to have kids, partially due to our two stubborn personalities who have trouble agreeing, and partially due to biological difficulties. I am grateful to live in a scientific age and very happy to say that we now have a four-and-a-half-year-old boy and a three-year-old boy who are both awesome.
    For the first 4.5 years, I was the WOH spouse, supporting my family while my husband stayed home with the kids. This came about because husband used to work in finance, hated it, and we agreed he’d quit that and look for something he’d enjoy more. We didn’t realize how long it would take for him to find something else. He didn’t have a full-time job for seven years.
    For a year or two, I was okay with that. I was pursuing my career, and very much enjoying it, and I believe partners should give each other the opportunity and support to pursue their dreams. But I never intended for that to be permanent. I very much wanted to trade off and have a turn with the kids myself. I kept letting my husband know that it wasn’t okay for him to retire and never work again (which otherwise he would have done unless/until disaster struck).
    Where we lived until a few months ago, he faced a lot of discrimination as a stay-at-home dad. I felt good being the breadwinner, but it was also a constant strain. I had expected him to be able to find some work and he just didn’t or wouldn’t.
    So he finally found a job a few months ago – in another state. I agreed to move half-way across the country (for the third time), and live in the same city with his entire family, if I could have my turn being with the kids while he worked.
    So that’s what we’re doing. However, we moved from a place where preschool was relatively cheap ($650/month paid for two kids, three days a week, from 8:30 to 3:00) to astronomical ($2600/month for two kids, though it is available 5 days a week, 8:30 to 5:30). We can do it because we sold our house in the cheaper place at a profit, but that won’t last forever. In August, the older child will go to public Kindergarten, so our monthly childcare cost will halve. It will still be a stretch, but at least our bank account won’t be hemorrhaging so fast.
    I am currently freelancing most days during the week. I need to make some money and keep my brain engaged and my skills up. I am enjoying that. I felt I needed to take this particular project when it was offered, but I hope to cut it back a bit. I am taking one whole weekday a week just to be with the kids, and another weekday for laundry and cleaning. The rest I work. It’s not enough money, but it helps.
    I do plan to go back to work full-time eventually (assuming I can find/create a job, which may be tricky in this new place). But I’m not sure when I’ll start that. It’s scary not to have full-time work now, with The Economy so terrible, and with my field of work in a huge state of flux. But my kids are only this age once, and I desperately need to connect with them now. I spent the last two years working incredibly hard, long hours, and didn’t get to see enough of them. We are more bonded now. I also will likely look for more flexible work than I had before. I want to stay available to the kids. It’s important to me, and my husband’s job is demanding enough that he can’t be as available.
    I’m also not entirely sure what my next step will be. I am taking this time to try figure it out.

  157. I love reading this comments.i am 27 and do not have any children but my sperm donor and i have been trying for a year….so i really, really hope it will happen soon, before this quest sucks the life right out of me.
    i am in school, will have a masters in education as well as teaching certs in HS english and early childhood next summer. i have a BA in education.
    until the end of the month i am working PT (12 hours paid/many more unpaid) as a youth coordinator. i also work between 22-26ish hours/wk (going more towards the 26 mark in summer) as a nanny for a recently minted 2 year old who i adore. i charge 17/hr which is typical for this area–dc metro. i actually get really angry when i hear the moms at the playground pushing $800 strollers and wearing superexpensive yoga pants while holding lattes complaining about how they can’t get a sitter for $10/hr who is not a teenager…well, duh. i firmly believe that in-home childcare is something where you get what you pay for. (daycares and such are to some extent different…you still do get what you pay for in many ways, but we should also have really excellent gov’t funded centers, and we don’t, so). anyway, babysitting allows me to pay my rent, which is crazy expensive around here, and usually feed myself and my dog and only have to borrow money from my parents occasionally. its obviously tough when the family is out of town or when i go away twice a year for my masters program.
    there is basically everything you can imagine round here…nannies (i am usually the only white nanny though) au pairs daycare centers preschools of every stripe and to a slightly lesser extent, and usually more as you move out into the suburbs, in home daycares. i think nannies/nanny shares are probably the most common for parents of infants/toddlers who work FT. otherwise many parents seem to use a combo of PT preschool and babysitters. in DC proper, there is full day Pre-K for 4s and many elementaries go from PK-5th, which helps a lot and I dont know why we dont have it nationally. Ahem.
    right now i am looking for teaching jobs for next year so everything will probably change. i hope to have a year or two to teach PT-morning–preschool to transition to teaching/working in A System, and also i dont want to have to say goodbye to the kid I nanny for!
    in 5 years…well, I REALLY hope i will have a child. god. beyond that, hopefully teaching in a school that i really like and getting to engage in exciting professional development…

  158. One DD age 8Florida
    I’m 48/ hubby is 50
    I was SAHM until she was 5. Money was tight, but so glad we did it. Then I went back to work PT, then FT. I enjoy my job most days.
    I have a MA, hubby has a BA.
    It makes sense for me to work, because I carry the insurance. Hubby is self-employed, works from home.
    Which allows us to homeschool. Public schools here are horrible, and private ones cost more than a mortgage. We have a very flexible/nontraditional schedule which is great for us.
    Most folks around here either have a SAHM or pay lots for daycare/aftercare. Either one cuts into the family budget. We are lucky that Grandma is close enough for an occasional date night.
    The economy here is bouncing back. Lots of hiring in the area. Houses are selling again.
    In 5 years I will have a teenager. I think my heart just stopped!

  159. I’m 40, live in a college town in Maine, and have a 16 month kiddo.I work at the college as staff; my husband (kiddo’s dad) is a solo practice lawyer. I love what I do and am pretty driven and ambitious about it, so was chomping at the bit to return to work after my 12 week maternity leave ended. My husband is less interested in his work life and is more interested in family, so we started out thinking he could be a stay-at-home-dad; as it turns out both of us love our son most when we’ve had a little bit of a break from him.
    So far, I’m the primary earner and have the benefits our family relies on. My husband has been doing a number of other things (working for a nonprofit, adjunct teaching at a college) but is now starting to “lean in” to his law practice and is starting to see financial results from that.
    Kiddo is in college-run daycare, very high-minded and correct, kind of to an absurd degree, and also pretty expensive ($700/month for 3 days a week now; going to be $970/month for 5 days a week starting in August). But super convenient; I walk to work with him and pick him up and walk home. Husband takes one to one and a half days a week while my mother takes a half to a full day most weeks. My work is really seasonal and when it’s not my busy season I’ve got a lot of flexibility for appointments, sick days, etc. Around here I know families with a variety of arrangements — no au pairs, but nannies, babysitters, stay-at-home parents of both genders and various kinds of daycare arrangements.
    We have student loans (I’m a lawyer too, by training) and I still am not earning what I made 12 years ago in my first year after law school (and it wasn’t that much — I was in Maine, not in BIGLAW). As a family our income is probably around $80k. We have an apartment over our garage that subsidizes our mortgage payments and we just bought a small building where my husband’s law office and some other lawyers will be. Getting out of the house will boost his productivity, we hope, and the numbers on the building should eventually throw out a small amount of extra cash.
    Our hope is that we can maintain flexible work, and that our family income/net worth growth could come through real estate if we can be thoughtful, careful, and sensible about it. Stay tuned.
    Life is really good and part of that is letting go of the ambition of my high-powered college and all the people I knew then. Part of it is losing a commute and living somewhere where we can walk to everything. Part of it is a mental adjustment; I finally accepted the things I could not change about my work and realized I still love it, and the irritations don’t have to drive me bonkers.
    I do think about 5 years from now. I have a restless heart and don’t quite see where I can grow at work — although I love what I do now I wonder if my temperament can stand staying put. I’m interested in home-schooling, because I think it would be wildly interesting and fun. But our financial and benefits situation would have to change a lot for that to be possible. It would be me, because my husband has no interest in it, and I wouldn’t want to entirely give up my career. I wish there were a way to do that and work part-time.

  160. Nearly-6yo-twin girls. I’m 45, we live in southern NH. I went back to work part time when the girls were 6 months old, and then fulltime when they were almost 2. Have worked FT since. We used full day day care til the girls went to kindergarten last fall, and have used our local Y’s wrap-around program to support the kids for the whole day while we work (~7:15am til ~5:45pm) When I was pregnant, I harbored a secret thought that I would want to be a SAHM. That changed after about 4 months at home. I need the mental challenge of my work, which has evolved greatly in the last 4 years. DH works FT too, and his career as also grown more challenging in recent years as we both develop in our careers. We each have BS degrees in engineering, which has helped but not driven our careers or earning power. I was lucky enough to not need student loans, and DH finished his off while we were dating.We are both challenged by our jobs – we love our work but sometimes fight the managerial responsibilities. I’m hooked on being in leadership now though, so I kind of have to take the tough parts with the parts I love more. I expect we’ll both be working at least this hard, 5 and even 10 years from now. DH is the engineering manager at his company, and I’m the director of quality assurance at mine. We both like our bosses and overall work and will muscle through the frustrations to reap the overall rewards (satisfaction and $$).

  161. I am 37 and I live in the Chicago metro region. Two kids aged 5 and 2. Husband is a SAHD. Childcare is mostly center-based around here. Completing my PhD and have been working FT since the oldest was 11 months old. Husband worked PT and transitioned to SAHD when the youngest was born.In our family, I am the one with the really good network and the drive to get out of the house and do something. My husband has passions, but his are of the cerebral and home-bound variety (reading, writing, thinking, music). Except for his love of the outdoors, he’s quite content to never leave the apartment. I feel like the walls are closing in on me if I don’t get out regularly. When we met 13 years ago, our plan – if we ever had children – was that I would work and my husband would stay home until they were in school. I’m kind of pleased that actually ended up working out as planned. I’d like to work closer to home, but my hours are good and the flexibility is as well.
    My loans go into repayment in a few months. We do not talk about it. No, no. Shush. Not. A. Word.
    I think I need to work. I need to have something to occupy my mind or I engage in rather self-destructive behaviors. I am like a battery that never quits. I need to be exhausted in our to wind down.
    When I complete my degree, I’ll likely take on side projects in addition to my FT job. I swear, my energy level is almost unbearable.

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