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Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 01:03 AM   #1
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Stay home now vs. retire early

Hi all. A brief question, but a big one:

Is is better to have one spouse stay at home with a baby now while the other works and delay ER (potentially forcing both spouses to work full time for 5-10 years while child is still young) OR is it better to have both parents work (this means daycare) so both parents could ER when the child is still young (8 or so).

Hard decision... miss some of those vital baby years because of daycare, or sacrifice "being there" when the child is between 5 and 15 years old. Not to mention the extra years of stress and work.

Thoughts? Anyone?
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 04:31 AM   #2
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

I am a stay-at-home-Mom of three kids, all now adults. In my opinion a kid needs you most when they are 10+. There is so much pressure on teens now-a-days I think it's really important to be there at that time if possible. I was able to avoid the typical teenage rebellion by being spot on and have now breathed a sigh of relief.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 04:37 AM   #3
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

It really depends on the income the 2nd income generates-expenses. *

Factor in the cost of daycare+cost of 2nd vehicle & it's replacement (depending on mileage stacked on during commute)+gas+commute mileage+veh maintenance+meals out of the home+(I'm to tired to cook tonight meals)+ time away from your child. *Take that number and subtract it from the amount of net income the 2nd job produces and come up with a number.

If that number is worth it to you, then do the 2nd job, if not... you know the drill. *

There is a web site that will calculate this for you although I can't remember its address. *Do a broad search you might find it. *I think it was on MSN family. I've run the numbers before and it was shocking how much that extra job costs you. *

I ran some scenerios and some peoples 2nd income actually produces negative results!!! Could you imagine working for a whole year and actually losing money while spending time away from your child? *It would be devastating.

I found that on an average wage, you will lose almost half of your earnings due to added costs.

Another option that we chose is to work opposite shifts where someone is almost always home with the child. *It saves a lot of the costs incurred, but you spend less time with your spouse. *For some, that would be a good thing!!! Others, not as good. *But I think the child benefits from having at least 1 parent home at all times.

We also have 1 in school and P/T daycare provider (12hrs a week or so) just to give our other child a break from us and us from him. *It also provides them a chance to interact with children their own age. *

My wife works 28 hrs a week (3 full days, 1 1/2 day)and I work full time, so we still do see each other, it's not as bad as it sounds.

It is your decision. *It really depends on your family and what works for them. *There's pros and cons for each.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 10:13 AM   #4
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

I cant speak for when my son will need one or both of us "the most", but I cant imagine either of us missing what we've experienced in the last 14 months...let alone both of us.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 10:24 AM   #5
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

Just noting here that there are reasons to work apart from money--I got a lot of satisfaction out my creative job, especially in my 40s when my kids were in middle school through college and I was at my peak career-wise.

I stayed at home in my mid20s-early 30s till youngest was in kindergarten, then worked "mother's hours" till they were in middle school, then full time till age 52, then part time till retirement at age 55. None of this weas planned in advance--I did what I was comfortable with at each stage of my life and my children's lives.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 10:38 AM   #6
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

It depends.

Business Week pointed out that sending the second parent to work is initially a money-loser (commuting expenses). *After a few years, though, the experience & additional skills raised wages and made it a good deal. *BW also pointed out that it gave the other spouse a skill that kept everyone above the poverty line if the family was split by death or divorce, not that I'm implying it's an issue here. *BW's tone was "Don't just depend on your spouse, look out for your own skills in case you need them."

My spouse couldn't imagine staying home "all day" with the kid. *I was ambivalent but I was also obligated to stay on active duty for another couple years and we decided not to wait. *In retrospect I don't think I would have enjoyed being an at-home parent to an infant either and I would have probably found myself looking for work to relieve the money squeeze. *I'll never know the real answer to this question for me. *Every parent has to do what makes them feel better. *If you feel like you should be home with the kid then that's what you should do.

Childcare seemed perfectly acceptable to us since we were willing to pay for quality. *Our kid also socialized well, got along great with the group, and quickly got all those childhood diseases out of the way (chicken pox at six months). *She was an "always on" baby and hardly slept at night (two-hour wakeups) so we really appreciated the childcare break while we slaved away at our cubicles. We didn't miss any of those "firsts" and we think that peer pressure actually encouraged her to try things that she wouldn't have attempted on her own (or without a lot of parental nudging).

That lasted all the way through third grade, and in the mornings she was always in a rush out the door to get to school early. *No "leaving home" anxiety there and she's still really proud of her perfect attendance record.

Now that I'm parenting a teenager I'm darn glad I'm around. *The kid next door, nearly 14, spends her school breaks largely at home alone (while parents work) and she's very very bored without a bunch of boys hanging around to pay attention to her being able to handle her own entertainment. *You know they're bored when they're hanging around the bus stop waiting for the other boys kids to come home from school. Our kid is independent but she really likes having us in the house for those urgent teen issues. *

No, not those, I'm talking about having us drive her somewhere.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 10:42 AM   #7
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

I had just started my career (2 months) when I found out I was pregnant with my first son. I did not want to give up the job I worked so hard to get so hubby and I worked opposite shifts for 14+ years while the boys were young. I was injured on the job when my sons were 11 & 14 and retired on a disability. (not of my choosing) In hindsight it turned out to be one of the best things that happened to us as a family.

I have to agree that the kids really need you when they are 10+ yrs old. By spending so much time with the boys I really got to know them and all their friends. Our house was open at all times for their friends. I didn't have to miss school or athletic events due to a work schedule. I had time to volunteer and serve on the boards of local organizations.

My guys are now 23 & 26 and we have close relationship that I don't see with lots of their friends and their parents. They both have commented on how lucky they were to have parents who took such a large role in their lives and their interests. I know my staying home had lots to do with this. (my former job was high stress and really long hrs on all different shifts)

That being said only you know what will be best for your family. Good luck with whatever you choose.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 11:08 AM   #8
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

If it is a choice between under 8 and 8 and older I vote with 8 and older.* Been there, done that with a son and daughter.* The time kids need to most parental supervision is when they want it the least..*

It doesn't matter how good a job you did when they were little, if they stray in those middle school/high school years they have major problems.

This assumes that you can provide quality child care when they are young, have reasonable schedules at work, and have no distractions from work and family.* Neither are part-time responsibilities.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 11:31 AM   #9
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

A decision can depend on the presonality and trustworthiness of the kid. My mother went back to work during school hours when we were in elementary school and full time when we were a bit older. My sibs & I were intelligent and reliable--the worst thing I can remember doing was watching Rocky & Bullwinkle(!)--we were not allowed to watch TV on school days. My children were also intelligent, skeptical, independent thinkers (not apt to follow some cockamamie idea if it didn't make sense to them), and trustworthy. What can I say about my daughter who at age 17 informed me that she'd made herself an apointment with her doctor to go on the pill becasue she'd decided to have sex with her boyfriend. Hard to argue with that logic! Anyway, DH was at home during some periods of time when he was a contractor, which was nice (especailly having a nice dinner on the table that I didn;t ahve to prepare, and at an early hour!).
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 12:10 PM   #10
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

Interesting thread to me, because I've been conflicted about working when my kids were young.

First of all, it is very popular to bash daycare. I'm not talking about this board, but everywhere else. However, from my experience excellent daycare is a boon. My kids spent their first 6 years in a top rate center. They are both intelligent, articulate, well-socialized young people now. One thing I have noticed that is definitely different about my kids is they do NOT fight viciously, either verbally or physically. My kids have NEVER hit each other, shouted at each other or been mean. Sounds incredible? Well, they are 6 years apart in age, but they were also very carefully socialized to be cooperative and to talk things out. Since I spent my childhood having bloody fistfights with my siblings and having abuse screamed at me (and dishing it out), I doubt I could have done as good a job.

I am not saying they don't get mad at each other. They just know when to stop. And they are not perfect kids, but they are really well-behaved.

I wanted to keep my semi-professional job when I got pregnant. I desperately wanted interesting, fulfilling work. For a couple of years, it was definitly true that the cost of daycare almost equaled my salary. But my salary went up faster than the cost of daycare, and there were intangibles (pension and benefits) that were especially valuable.

I agree with the other posters about being home with my middle- and high school children. After gaining seniority at work, I was able to negotiate a reduction in hours to half time. I volunteer at the middle school every week and I volunteer for projects at the high school. I know all of my kids' friends, their teachers, I know what they do after school, what grades they are getting, the whole shooting match. I am able to take time off so they are not at home alone over school breaks. That is priceless.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-01-2006, 12:38 PM   #11
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

Our kid just turned 3, so I can't really say much about the needs of older kids. But the first five years of life are by far the most important from a developmental standpoint. Your kid will probably do fine in just about any environment, but the early years are when the foundational bricks get laid. Your kids sense of self-condfidence, intellectual curiosity, trust, socialization, and behavioral skills are all being established during this time. I wanted to have a hand in molding my kid during these critical years, and so far, we're very happy with the results.
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-02-2006, 12:51 PM   #12
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

On a related subject.........

My RE begins in nine weeks, if you want to call it RE since I'm in my late 50's and have 27 years with Megacorp.* The desire to spend time with my grandchildren and simultaneously help my son and DIL with their dual careers was one of the many factors involved in deciding to pull the plug.

The kids are 5, 3 and 4 mo.* They currently are in day care.* Beginning in the fall, the youngest two will continue in daycare, the oldest starts a combination of daycare and half day kindergarten.* I've volunteered, along with my son's MIL, to frequently deliver the kids to and from daycare limiting the hours they are there even if mom and dad sometimes get stuck at the salt mine.* And, more importantly, to be available to babysit all day if one is under the weather.

Spliting the duties with the MIL, I'll still have plenty of opportunity to do my own thing, travel, etc.* Son and DIL can keep their careers going without worrying about what to do if work keeps them late one day or one of the kids is sick.* I figure helping them keep careers intact is like leaving them an inheritance, but I spend it instead!* *

Sisyphus, perhaps you have opportunities to involve extended family with your children in a win-win situation like this? It's certainly not as good as being there yourself, but without the stress of rigid schedules and planning for contengencies, it might a reasonable alternative to staying home.

*

* *
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early
Old 04-02-2006, 01:07 PM   #13
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Re: Stay home now vs. retire early

I would have to suggest that maybe it isn't necessarily an all-or-nothing choice either way. Laurence and I both have SAH spouses and very young kids. Both of our spouses "have their cake and eat it too" by going out on their own. If you look at the wide range of tax breaks afforded to home businesses and the high cost of second the second spouse to work, it isn't that hard to more than replace the earnings you forgo by withdrawing someone from the workplace.
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