When I told people I spent the first two years of Oliver’s life staying at home to take care of him, they go, “Oh, how I wish I can do that as well, but I can’t.”
Reasons differ from people to people, but most of them are finances related.
We’re not particularly well-to-do, but before I had Oliver, we did some planning, which allowed me to concentrate fully on the task ahead. If you’re thinking of going down the same route, hopefully this post will encourage you. 🙂
1. Save up.
Once we sort of decided we’re ready for a baby, I started doing two things. One, I calculated my minimal expenditure each month. Meaning, all my personal expenses including handphone bills, insurance, transport etc… Except food, which K took care of. Mind you, K was earning less than $2.5k then, but we’re pretty low maintenance. I thought my days of being an entrepreneur really helped alot in disciplining myself for this.
Secondly, I saved up enough for the two years I would be taking care of a baby before possibly sending him to a childcare centre at 18 months, when the fees would be notably lower. This worked up to about $4k, excluding the monthly housing loan payable via CPF (which I wasn’t too concerned cos I’ve accumulated some over the years).
2. Actual reality vs Fantasy
Being a SAHM does not equal to being a “tai-tai”. Let me repeat that. Being a SAHM DOES NOT equal to being a “tai-tai”.
Ditch all those fantasies of a mom smilingly lovingly at her baby while rocking him/her to sleep. In the first few months, you’ll be taking 1 minute showers, wolfing down meals (usually you don’t get to finish it), pumping milk and feeding milk. You will probably feel like a machine. Or a zombie. Or both.
And you’ll wish the baby can rock himself to sleep. Basically, just sleep.
But it will be wholly satisfying. The kind of exhilaration after you’ve climbed a mountain or finished a year long project with a very demanding client- You probably won’t want to go through it again, but the experience will be character building. And totally UNFORGETTABLE.
3. Help & support
I knew I wanted to take care of my own baby. Not only cos there’s no immediate family’s help- Both my parents already passed on and my mother-in-law had little experience, my husband being brought up by his grandmother. I’m also uncomfortable with hiring a maid/nanny. Most importantly, it’s a life experience I don’t want to give up on.
However, my partner’s support was crucial.
Part of the reason I guessed I was able to enjoy my SAHM life so fully was cos my husband granted me 100% support.
I’ve got friends whose husbands preferred them to share the financial burden cos they were worried one person’s income isn’t enough. Or some partners might be okay with the arrangement at first, but resentment build if they don’t fully understand what a SAHM entails. To this, I observed that getting the husband to be actively involved in the caretaking from day one allows them to better understand your situation.
It’s also important to have a like-minded group of friends that you can constantly interact with and keep you sane. I ventured into some mommy forums during my pregnancy days and joined this private Facebook group just for mommies who were having July babies. We shared information, encouraged each other, rant about all things under the sun… And simply just helped each other through the challenging days.
So are you ready to be a SAHM? Here’s a fun quiz for you to determine that, but I quote:
The good news? Your kids don’t care what choice you make. Research shows that as long as you’re happy, your kids are happy.