There are things I have (or had) given up as a stay at home mom. Remember, that first year I stayed home to raise my son, I was grossing less than $400/month on my then side hustle before I quit my school administrator job. We were living off of my then-husband’s teacher salary. There was NOT a lot of money coming in. I’ve often been asked, “What do you give up as a SAHM?” and these are my answers.
Here are the nine things I didn’t have as a first-year SAHM (many of which have carried over, even as my life circumstances have changed – online income of up to five figures a month, a divorce, a second child, etc).
I have not been to a salon to have my hair cut since early 2014. Part of that is because I never really found a hairdresser I loved and realized I could do just as good of a job at home. But part of it was to save money.
Even to date, my son has had less than dozen haircuts in his life that I’ve paid for. And my daughter has yet to get her hair cut in a salon of any sort. Trims and cuts at home work for us and help us save money.
On a similar note, I do not spend money on dyeing my hair anymore. Granted I only ever used box dye, but I even quit that in (what I think was) 2018. It’s so freeing, and it has saved a bit of money as a SAHM.
I used to go in 2-4x a year for massages. But those first two years as a SAHM, I did not get a single one. Then my then-husband started gifting me one massage a year for Mother’s Day. And some years my mom would gift me another massage for Christmas. But for two years there were ZERO massages, and then only 1-2 a year – as gifts.
In the last couple years I have let myself get back up to the 3-4x a year number again. I really want to go monthly, but my finances aren’t quite where I want them to be (and I’m honestly probably still too frugal!).
As a SAHM I haven’t really had any sick days. I am currently in my ninth year at home, most of it raising babies and toddlers – but also building a six figure business. However, I only recall maybe one sick day – and even that wasn’t a full day. What do you give up as a SAHM? When sickness hits and the household still needs to run, it can feel like your sanity at times! Especially when something goes through the entire family. 🙁
The kids are ALWAYS there when they are young. If they are up all night, so are you. If they don’t go to school, they’re home with me. I even had a surgical procedure done when my youngest was less than a year old, and my then-husband went back to work the next day. The doctors didn’t even want me lifting my 15 pound baby, but how you are supposed to do that when you’re nursing?! That trip to the nearest Pharmacy (50 miles away) with both kids the day after surgery was…interesting…
So there really haven’t been any sick days. My then-husband never stayed home from work for me to be “sick” in bed. There was one time post-divorce where I called my parents, broke down, and asked them to come spend the night so I could get one solid night of sleep. That’s it.
A Social Life
I went out a fair amount in my 20s and traveled quite a bit in my teens and 20s as well. But then I became a mom and it all seemed to come to a screeching halt. I was fortunate to have one mom in that first town that wanted to do a play date once or twice a month – but that was only if we went to the park. We never seemed to connect well enough to welcome one another into our homes. Had it not been for our friendships at “the football shack” – I would have been home almost every weekend too. Instead I got to venture out for great company, good food, and some cheap entertainment on Sunday.
But then we moved to a town where I knew NO ONE. And that was rough. First I was sick for the entire first trimester of my second pregnancy, plus my then-husband was working about 60 hours a week, and I didn’t really get a chance to know people. Then the baby came and I was figuring out how to juggle two little kids while continuing to build my business.
My social life took a HUGE HIT and it honestly took me over five years for that to recover. Thankfully now it has, but wow…I didn’t realize how lonely being a SAHM could be.
This one really scared me to start. I had just finally gotten a school administrator job, which I’d held a masters degree for already for roughly five years. Our plan after the wedding was to wait 2-3 years before having kids – but then I got pregnant right away.
With my blood clotting history, I knew how precious time could be. We were in some serious discussions about me quitting the admin job to stay home. There were some people in my life who were VERY against that. They kept reminding me of the secure paycheck I was leaving, the retirement I would lose, and thought I would go stir crazy at home with a baby. Plus no one in my family had really been a SAHM before (at least not consistently long-term) – so the support I expected was not there at times.
In my case, I was able to more than replace my income and retirement by my online endeavors. However, I know there are some women who choose not to go this route – choosing to completely forego any type of income, benefits, and retirement.
I was never a huge one to eat out, but I did like to eat if I was out with friends, had a particularly long day, or just sometimes randomly. That first year at home I just *knew* that every meal had to be made at home. My then-husband actually had to sit me down at one point and tell me it was ok to spend $10 once a month to grab some Taco John’s.
However, overall, I still avoid eating out. The costs – especially now that my kids are getting older and want to eat as much as me – are just too high for my frugal blood. It’s something I am more willing to do than in those first few years, but I still don’t eat out as much as I did pre-SAHM.
Keep in mind that I have mostly lived in towns of 600 or less. So I have never had access to a large gym that also offers some sort of daycare services. (Those of you who do AND utilize it regularly – kudos! I’m a little jealous.) But since having kids, I have not had a gym membership. That was something I consistently had for about five years pre-kids, but not since.
Don’t get me wrong, I still try to do some basic workouts at home. But I’m not paying for them anymore. There are a variety of free programs online, and I can walk inside or out any time I want. So I’m happy and really don’t miss the membership.
Being a SAHM often felt like a thankless job. Since I was home all day, some assumptions were made about my free time and ability to drop everything to help others. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE my kids and would not change the last nine years of being able to be home with them. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t times where I was lonely, felt unappreciated, and thought others didn’t care about my contributions.
Of all the “What do you give up as a sahm” topics – this one was the hardest. Maybe this is also due to the divorce. I’m still processing through all that and what it means. But I do know that overall I wouldn’t change a thing. My kids are my greatest blessings.
Those first couple years at home, I just could not justify spending money on new clothes for myself. Even during my second pregnancy, I only bought one pair of pregnancy jeans. Otherwise I felt horrible spending money on myself. Our kids grew FAST – often being about double the size clothing in comparison to their age. So it constantly felt like I was buying new kids’ clothes – which made me feel like we didn’t have the money for me to buy clothes for myself.
I have relaxed in this way a bit, but I still don’t spend like I used to. Part of that is because yoga pants and t-shirts while working from home are a lot easier to come across than the dress clothes teacher-me wore. And I also largely went down to a more capsule-style wardrobe – knowing what I personally like and avoiding less of the trends. But I still spend very little on clothes each year.
Please don’t think that I feel I am or was “missing out” by looking at my list of what do you give up as a SAHM. The last nine years have been a HUGE blessing to me and my kids! But I want to be fully transparent in some of the changes I have experienced. Every mom and family will be different. Our priorities and values change and evolve. But I hope getting one mom’s perspective helps you see what of what you might “give up” if you choose to be a SAHM.
And keep in mind that I was making about $400/month when I started staying home. The plan the entire time was to blow up the whole “work at home mom thing” and not have to go back to work. I’ve been super fortunate (through a lot of hard work and grit!) to have done that. And now I want to teach you the same! You can find out about my business coaching for moms here. Make that money WHILE being home with your kids. If I can, so can you!