Our happy Babywoods
Our happy Babywoods

The past few months have been been some of the most eventful of our lives. From welcoming our first child (ok, second if you count Frugal Hound) to buying our homestead property, Mr. Frugalwoods and I feel like we’ve been on a wonderful–yet chaotic–roller coaster of hectic-ness. Amid these changes–and largely because of them–I also made the decision to quit my full-time office job and become a work-at-home Mommywoods.

Although I only recently made the official transition, I hatched this plan quite some time ago and have steadily schemed to bring it to fruition.  As with so many things in life, several factors conspired to make this new career choice feasible for me and the opportune financial circumstances are but one element.

Our Desire For Babywoods To Have A Parent At Home

I could pretty much stop writing right here because this is the dominant reason for my decision. Mr. FW and I both had the benefit of being raised primarily at home by our parents and other family members and this is what we wanted for Babywoods as well. As inveterate insourcers of just about everything–from haircuts to plumbing–we had a hard time getting our heads around outsourcing our daughter’s care. That’s not to say there aren’t great options for daycare–indeed there are!–just as there are great options in the marketplace for all of the other things we do ourselves (I should know–I used to get lovely salon haircuts). Rather, it’s a question of wanting to do things ourselves and thus have control over outcomes and of course, costs.

On the Monday I would’ve gone back to my office (had I not handed in my notice) I looked at Babywoods and started crying. Mr. FW–ever on alert for my bizarre hormonal swings–rushed to my side and tried to suss out what was wrong. Lucky for him, I was crying for what wasn’t happening–I couldn’t imagine leaving Babywoods and was so relieved and delighted that she and I would be staying home together that day and every other day. Those emotions were a strong indicator to me that I’d made the right choice.

The Finances

Babywoods, Frugal Hound, and Mr. FW
Babywoods, Frugal Hound, and Mr. FW

If the emotional side of things wasn’t compelling enough, the finances absolutely sealed the deal for us. As people who like to do our research extensively (some might say obsessively… ), while I was pregnant I researched every single daycare I could find in our area. I interrogated parents about nanny shares, home daycares, large daycares, small daycares… you name it, I read about it. And what I deduced is that daycare in the Boston area is equal parts expensive and competitive. A number of centers I called (while I was all of 3 months pregnant) were already filled up for the month I’d need Babywoods to start.

And those that weren’t booked? Astronomically expensive. To the tune of circa $2,300 per month (aka $27,600 per year). That’s just about what we pay on our Cambridge mortgage and it’s more than we paid annually in undergrad tuition. While I made a good deal more than that at my day job, the thought of shelling out that much cash every month for something I didn’t even want to do (be away from my daughter) made me nearly physically ill (or it might’ve just been, you know, pregnancy… ).

Thusly armed with these daycare “tuition” costs, Mr. FW and I began scheming alternatives. We considered all of the following: should we move to where our families are to avail ourselves of free daycare? That didn’t make sense to us since we knew we wanted to end up in Vermont and, we didn’t think it’d be fair to suddenly saddle our parents with their granddaughter’s care. Should we just suck it up and pay? You can guess how we felt about that option. Or should one of us stay home and chart a new path? Being people who already intended to do just such a thing, this last option felt the most natural and tenable.

Creating A New Career

Babywoods at 5 months old!
Babywoods at 5 months old!

Around this same time, I began ramping up my work through Frugalwoods and freelance writing. Motivated by my friends who do similar solo-entrepreneur projects, I formulated a strategy for earning money from home. What was initially a side gig for me–writing articles here on Frugalwoods and on other financial sites–has blossomed into my new career.

I hadn’t fully realized that writing was my dream job until I started doing it. But the first time someone paid me actual money for the actual words I write, I was thrilled. Thrilled, I tell you. And I had the transformative recognition that this, yes THIS, is what I was meant to do. I frequently wax poetic about giving yourself the financial freedom to pursue your passions and through this exploration, I’ve discovered my own passion for writing.

When I began Frugalwoods two years ago, I had no idea of the opportunities, friendships, connections, and jobs it would open up for me. And this experience made me realize: if you want to start something new in your life, just do it. Put yourself out there–whether it be through art, music, writing–the only failure is if you don’t do anything. There’s truly nothing to lose by trying.

Working From Home

Since I’m also caring for my bouncing 5-month-old full-time, I don’t put in anything close to a full 9-5 workday. But since I’m a freelancer, I don’t have to! I write and schedule calls when Babywoods naps, after she goes to bed, and on the weekends when Mr. FW is home and able to watch her. And sometimes I write while she snuggles in my lap or plays at my feet. We have a whole system worked out, me and Babywoods.

And since I don’t work a full day, I obviously don’t make nearly as much money as I did at my full-time job. However, the fact that we’re not paying for child care, combined with our extreme frugality, and our recent financial windfall of renting out our Cambridge home, means that I earn a sufficient amount to make up these differences.

Babywoods helping me pack
Babywoods helping me pack

To put a finer point on it, if you combine the revenue from my freelance writing, plus the difference in housing costs between Vermont and Cambridge, plus the net profit made from our Cambridge rental, plus the absence of daycare expenses, it comes out about even.

Another aspect I love about my position as a freelancer is that I can work as much or as little as I want. Earlier this year, for example, I worked a ton–every spare moment was spent writing, which was awesome! This month, however, since I’m also packing up our house and coordinating the logistics for our move to Vermont, I took on far fewer jobs. The ability to control my schedule, and my work flow, is invaluable and its the type of flexibility I’ve always craved. I know I praise the internet a lot on here, but hey, the ability to simultaneously create a career and parent my child is, I think, made uniquely possible by the opportunities afforded through remote work.

I’ve discovered that while I adore being a stay-at-home mom, I also adore my writing career. I’m a better parent because I have this professional outlet enabling me to be intellectually engaged, connected to my colleagues in the field, and enjoy an identity beyond being a mommy. For me, it’s an ideal balance.

My Misgivings

Just because I’m happy with my decision doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of misgivings. Trust me, it’s impossible to be a recovering perfectionist and not stress even when you think you’ve made the right choice (every Type A person reading this just nodded their head).

Sometimes I worry that I’m not able to fabricate enough fun/activity/stimulation for Babywoods throughout the course of a day and I wonder if she’d receive more if she was at daycare. And what about socialization with other kids? I engineer scenarios for Babywoods to be with other babies, but most of the time she’s just with me. I hope that I offer enough enrichment and I also look forward to her going to preschool part-time (for free, thank you state of Vermont) when she’s three as that’ll provide her the opportunity to interact and learn with her peers.

I think there are no perfect or right answers in parenting. I think you just have to do what feels best for your family and, hopefully, what makes the most financial sense. It’s tough to resolve to stay home and it’s tough to make the determination to continue employment outside of the home.

Aren’t You A Feminist?

Indeed I am. And it’s part of the rationale behind my new trajectory. It’s my belief that, as a feminist (who is fortunately married to an enlightened feminist), I’m enfranchised to structure my life as I desire. I’m not forced to stay home; nor am I forced to go to a job. This third-wave feminist ideology of defining what feminism means to each individual woman, and how we express that through our life choices, resonates deeply with me.

We discussed which of us should stay home and I nominated myself for several reasons: I wanted to stay home, I wanted to expand my freelance writing career, and, Mr. FW makes quite a bit more money than I did at my full-time job. Were these factors reversed, Mr. FW would’ve been the one to stay home.

Is Working From Home Right For You?

Babywoods playing at my feet
Babywoods playing at my feet

Maybe. And maybe not. Nothing has challenged me in life as much as parenting and nothing has ever solidified more firmly my belief in the notion that there’s no one right way to do, well, anything. While working from home is the solution for our family, it very well might not appeal to you, or be practical for your circumstances. If you are interested in also becoming a freelance writer/blogger and are wondering where to start, I highly recommend my friend Cat Alford’s course on the topic: “Get Paid To Write For Blogs.” Cat is the expert on creating a work-from-home career and she successfully does it with her young twins.

My ability to strike this arrangement is thanks in large part to–of course–our extreme frugality. I really can’t stress enough the incredible options that frugality yields. And I’m by no means the first early retiree/financial independence devotee to take advantage of this parenting option–indeed 1500 Days to Freedom, Mr. Money Mustache, and Root Of Good all utilized their frugality to allow them to stay home with their children.

As I am so fond of doing, I’ll leave you with a thought on how the dominant paradigms of our culture conspire to make us into endless consumers. In many ways, daycare is an example of how much we pay to work in this country. I sincerely wish we had free childcare programs for all families in the US, but, we do not. And so, families are left to grapple with an essentially no-win situation: lose an income by staying home or lose a lot of an income by paying for daycare.

Furthermore, the cost of daycare often sets families up for needing two incomes. Working full-time puts immense pressure on one’s time and makes it tempting to get on the paying-for-services train: take-out, house cleaners, laundry services, dog-walkers, someone to mow your lawn, and every other conceivable time-saving expense. And paying for all of this, plus daycare, makes us ever-more dependent on our paychecks. While it’s worth it if both parents dearly want or need to work full-time, it’s nevertheless a rude awakening of what we pay for the privilege of working.

What’s your frugal child care solution?

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  1. That is wonderful for you and your family. Please make sure you have enough disability insurance on YOU if something happens. We received poor professional advice when we decided for me to stay home and didn’t have enough for me. We were able to make it work (with a lot of scrambling, stress and a small inheritance) but six figures later we are very grateful to be in decent shape. I was in my 30’s with a toddler and preschooler. You are more likely to be disabled than die so life insurance is only part of what you need.

    1. How do you get disability insurance without an income though? From what I’ve read you must have an income to purchase disability.

  2. Thank you for your take on this! I often think back to the time when my oldest (now 6) was 5 months old and I had to return to work, and not just “work” but a 3 day conference in Vegas. I bawled and bawled each time a client asked me how the baby was, because all I wanted was to go home and be with him! With my twins, born a mere 18 months later, I felt similarly but was still resigned to the “I can’t afford to quit my six figure career” loop running in my brain. Fast forward to 6.5 years later where I am finally making a change and going part time which is all due to lifestyle and spending changes we’ve made over the past 2-3 years. The frugal lifestyle truly does open your eyes to what is available and creates opportunities to make changes when one is not so attached to a specific income. I applaud what you’re doing and appreciate you as an inspiration to other young families!

    1. That’s wonderful you were able to make the transition. I think you hit on an important note there–frugality really does open up your eyes to how possible it is to live (and live well) on much, much less. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. I love being a work-at-home mom, and I’m glad you do. I really do think it’s the best of both worlds.
    My kids are in preschool and school all day, but I still put them off and on the bus. And I can quit work the second they arrive home, go eat lunch with them at school, or take the day off when they have a snow day or school is out for some reason. I couldn’t do any of those things when I worked in a 9-5 job, so I am incredibly grateful. Heck, I could barely leave an hour early at my old job! Now that I am self-employed, I feel like my life is finally “mine.”

    1. Yes! That’s how I feel too–my life is finally mine! And, I’m looking forward to being able to be involved at her preschool and school too when she’s older. So glad to hear you’re loving it so much!

  4. I too decided that, once my children started arriving, I would never work full-time while they were still young if I could possibly avoid it, and I too am a feminist. I mean, I like that I get to vote, inherit property and am allowed to have my own bank account, what’s not to like, am I right? (This is what I say to women who do that stupid thing of going ”oohhh I’m not a FEMINIST…” as though it means a hideous man-hating harpy who burns her undergarments and refuses to shave her ‘tache). This time, and it is short, believe me, will never come back. And babies under 18 months at the very earliest, are not really candidates for ”socialisation” in any true, meaningful way as you’d get at a daycare. Sure, mom-and-me classes are great, but the notion of ”playing together” and ”collaborative / sharing” stuff happens closer to 3 in reality, so I promise your little cherub is completely happy and satisfied in what is to her a brand-new, totally exciting world with new stuff every, single day, anchored by familiar, loving faces and a structure to feel safe in. This is not a rant against daycare as that too provides a loving and warm environment in which young babies and kids can explore safely etcetera. But fear not re socialisation. Get her into a couple-of-times-per-week play school some time between 2.5-3 and otherwise just do the usual things you’d want to do anyway, like water-orientation classes, mom and tot activity groups, that kind of thing.

    Good point re insurance though, and I think we need to rather belatedly do something more meaningful about that for ourselves! We’re not US-based, but the concept is very much the same…

    1. All great points–indeed I think we all like being able to vote :)! And re. the socialization, I’d read that too, so I’m hoping that by going to preschool at 3 she’ll be in good shape. Thank you for the reassurance!

  5. Another excellent post Mrs. FW. You demonstrate so beautifully how frugality and savings give you the freedom to choose your own path.

    Babywoods is so cute! Oh my goodness!

    1. Thank you so much! And, glad to hear you enjoyed my article for Personal Capital!

  6. I’m happy for you and your family. Sounds like you’ve managed to strike a perfect balance and it is great to have the flexibility to work as much as you wish at home. Good for you and Babywoods. She is in great hands and it is always nice to rest easy about that.

    The Green Swan

  7. Congratulations on your new and exciting life! Achieving your dream of moving to your beautiful homestead, raising your gorgeous daughter, and embarking on an exciting new chapter in your career is truly inspiring! You have become one of my favourite FIRE blogs and I think it is because of your excellent writing (you ARE a writer) and your unique voice! Enjoy it all and be proud of all you guys have accomplished – it is incredible!

  8. LOL – I see Sophie. They ALL love that silly little giraffe, don’t they?

    Our child care arrangements have changed over the years – from Grandma, to full-time daycare, to being home with me while on extended maternity leave. The current arrangement is that the two youngest ones go to daycare three days per week. Mr. Smith (who makes less than me) stays home with them one day per week, and my mom helps me with them while I work from home one day per week. It’s not ideal, but it give us some semblence of balance, for now. Mr. Smith likes working – in construction. So while it might have made financial sense for him to stay at home, he can’t do his work while watching the kids.

    I’m really happy for you and love that you recognize being a feminist doesn’t require you to chase a high-status job. You are choosing your future, that ability sets us apart from women of different times.

  9. I never wanted to be a SAHM but when we had LB, I realized that I enjoyed being a WAHM quite a bit. Unfortunately, forgoing childcare is NOT an option when you’re constantly at odds with your own body, which I am. Chronic pain means I literally must have some help, physically, and since PiC’s job isn’t as flexible as mine, that means hiring it out.

    It’s very expensive here too, and I hate that line item expense, but at LB’s age, seeing hir joy at going to daycare on daycare days (and the IS DADDY GOING TO DAYCARE WITHOUT ME?? meltdown on stay at home days) makes me very comfortable with doing what we need to do to continue to earn and stay well.

    If I were 100% healthy like I used to be, I might have chosen to go fully freelance and WAH like you but we’re doing well with our current setup.

    I adored being there for every bit of LB’s earliest days, and I hope you revel in every moment. (Maybe even when poosplosions happen because they do. And are kiiiinda funny!)

    FWIW, I consider our choices the most feminist: WE are choosing what’s best for us, not the system or anyone else. And that freedom of choice is everything.

  10. You are singing my song’s I quit my teaching job when tiny Eivy came along because a) I couldn’t rip myself away from her and b) I’m pretty sure childcare costs more than I was making. Having that freedom allowed me to develop my own photography career which fit perfectly (and still does now that she’s seven) around caring for her. Plus I’m able to take care of all the house and rental property issues which is a huge help to our family.

  11. Good for you Mrs. Frugalwoods! I’m sure Babywoods is quite happy to have her mom around, and let’s not forget about Frugal Hound who must be thrilled as well.

    It’s crazy how much daycare costs, isn’t it? We are in the very lucky position to bring our Baby CTC to my sister-in-law, who has a very friendly hourly rate :-). I love to work outside the house, but I only feel comfortable to do so because I now our little one is with family.

    Plus, I decreased my number of hours and have the opportunity to work from home. That also helps quite a bit.

  12. Fantastic post!!! And YAY for staying home!!! And double YAY for pursuing a writing career!! It sounds like you definitely made the right choice for your family!

    I stayed home as a freelancer from when my daughter was born to when she was just over 2 1/2 (and we added a 1 1/2 year old to the mix too haha!). When my oldest was 2 1/2, I put them in part-time daycare to allow me more time to freelance and to get the kids some extra interaction. It does get a bit harder as they get older (at least in my case). And now, good grief, they fight alllll the time. My oldest will be 4 in a week and my youngest is now 2 1/2! They go to an awesome church daycare five days a week 9am – 1pm and I work full-time but am able to work remotely the majority of the time. For right now, it’s a perfect scenario for our family.

    However, I am actually debating going back to school to be a PA. This is a huge decision that I’m not taking lightly, so we’ll see!! The one bummer of a PA job is obviously not being able to work from home haha!

  13. I do not have a frugal child care solution. Child care is almost $17k per year for my toddler in an in home daycare (conveniently owned by a very close friend). It will go down by $2k in the fall when he starts preschool. It will go down to about $6000 when he starts kindergarten (after school care).

    Of course that does not include the school aged child. His costs are about $1500 with after school and summer.

    However, it does get easier. I am contemplating skipping a week of summer camp for the big boy this summer and just working from home, splitting with the hubby. That is something that is doable with babies and older children… Age 7 or so. Not really possible with toddlers.

  14. Babywoods is SO cute!! I want to be a stay at home Mom too. Makes me think that I need to push back having kids a few more years until I’m FI ready. I also wanted to raise my kids in Boston where I grew up and ouch – 2300/month is expensive! Congrats on making the choice!

  15. I love your perspective on feminism – engineering an experience that works best for you. I hate it when people attack the freelance work from home experience as some kind of illegitimate career choice. I have a feeling this arrangement will eventually enable you to grow your income far past what you previously earned at the 9-5. Congrats!!

    1. Thank you so much! And, I have a feeling you’re right about the income–I love that I can work as much or as little as I’m able depending on what else is going on in our lives at the moment. Right now prepping for our move is taking over my life… 😉

  16. Congratulations to you. A year ago my husband and I made a similar lifestyle change. He has his own handyman job while I work full time from home. This is the best decision of our lives. Although we don’t make much as we both used to having full time jobs, our lives are so peaceful, bLended and less chaotic. We don’t depends on my inkeD to drop/pick them up from school. Its a win win for use. Reilly sometimes less is way more.

  17. Thanks for this post! I was curious how it all played out. We struggled with what to do as we live incredibly rural and day care was not an option (nor was a full/part time nanny or babysitter)- heck I commute 90 miles one way for work and to put the little guy in daycare would have been another 20 miles one way. My husband works for the family ranch and I love my job with the park service. As soon as we found out I was pregnant, we started brainstorming options and resources. We crunched the numbers and realized we could make it on my husband’s salary (quitting his job wasn’t really an option). But I really love my work and the intellectual stimulation it gives me, so wasn’t keen on giving up that all together. We got creative and decided to pitch a solution that ended up, to our surprise and delight, being accepted by both employers. Now I go to the office 2 days a week, and work from home 1/2 a day with additional hours throughout the week as I can manage; I usually end up with about 20-25 hours/week. On my office days and telework mornings, DH is primary care giver and only participates in work that he can take the little guy along with. This arrangement has really worked well for us and has given us the added benefit of DH have “father-son” days that have really helped our transition from a couple to a family. It’s not without it’s challenges. I am a year out from finishing a graduate degree and so am also sacrificing sleep to finish schoolwork on evenings and weekends. I am getting a new supervisor at work that may not be as receptive to either a part time or teleworking employee (both uncommon at my unit) and could require me to return to full time on-site work or give my notice. We’ve also had some push-back from my husband’s family about his availability to do various activities. We try to maintain open communication and conversation about what’s working and what isn’t with each other and with our respective employers. So far (little guy is 8 months), so good but we continue to plan and strategize for the future, while enjoying the time we both have with our little guy. Everyday brings new joys and challenges and we continue to take them one at a time.

    1. That’s wonderful that you’ve been able to come up with a creative solution–I hope it’ll continue for you! Also, I’m super impressed you’re doing a graduate degree at the same time–wow! Keep rocking it!

  18. That last line is awesome. ‘What we pay for the privilege of working.’ I’m currently having this argument with my brother (who has a newborn! Uncle status over here). He pays out the nose for daycare in Brooklyn instead of having one of the two of them (my brother or sister-in-law) stay home. I may have to use this line on him. 🙂

    1. I wonder how many young couples buy into the line that “they must have 2 incomes to manage these days.” I wish we had tried harder to live on one income before DS came along back in 1988. Having said that, when the company DH worked for closed down and he decided to try to go out on his own, my benefits were invaluable. DH was in partnership with this other guy for 10 years, and what he learned about himself and other people was a real eye-opener. If we hadn’t had my income, he wouldn’t have had the chance to grow personally and professionally.

      I guess the bottom line is the bottom line! Make the choices that are right for you, your partner, and your child. But make sure you run the financial *and* the emotional numbers first.

  19. We have sliding-scale preschool around here, so Big Brother goes for a full day for $110 per month. That includes an IEP discount; we expect to pay about $400 next year for Little Brother.

    Currently, Little Brother goes to an hourly daycare center. My hours are skewed later in the day–think 1-6, 3-8, etc. So I drop him off on my way to work, Mr. FP picks him up around 4, and instead of paying for a full day, we pay only for the hours we use. Brilliant!

    I have used some form of part-time daycare since Big Brother was 11 months old. I was then four months pregnant and in online grad school! Little Brother started at 7 months.

    Pro tip for baby stimulation: See if your local library has a summer reading program for babies. No, really! We have a great one in Denver inspired by the ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read program. The “reading” activities for babies are actually Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play, and the specifics for last summer were things like “finger paint with pudding” or “make up a song with your child’s name in it.” But don’t worry–even babies need their down time :-). Totally cool for her to roll around on the floor a little while you work.

    1. Sounds like a perfect daycare arrangement! $110/month for preschool is incredible. Nice!

      We’re all about the “reading to babies” thing–and she sort of looks at the book while we read to her ;). She is also a big fan of rolling around on the floor by herself–gives her the chance to explore and hone those motor skills (plus she looks so pleased with herself when she wiggles into a new spot).

  20. I am a nurse and have telecommuted from home for 7 years. I worked full time until a year ago, and my company requires I have child care on days I work. I had to have several years of nursing experience in a hospital before I could land this work (for me it was ICU and Labor and Delivery). I earned certification as a managed care nurse and it gave me more options. Part-time is usually not an option in insurance, but I volunteered to learn every line of business we have, and when they created out first float pool position, it meant I was the best candidate to pilot it. I now cover people when they are off, work 4-8 days a month, and still telecommute.

    I am getting my MSN in education too so I can have more work from home options that won’t require child care, such as teaching online nursing courses. I started a blog as well and just bought my second site and will launch it soon. I hope to create passive income from freelancing and owning several websites. All of our children have some extra needs and that means many extra medical appointments and school visits during the month, and we really need a parent at home most of the time. I’ll do whatever it takes to still earn and be home.

    1. Wow, Jen! That’s awesome! You’ve charted a really unique path. Congrats to you for making it work for your career and your family.

  21. I always imagined I’d stay home full-time, but when my daughter was about eight months old, I was bored out of my mind. Fortunately, I was asked to work p/t at a local college for a ten-week period, while someone was out for back surgery. Since this was supposed to be temporary, we hired a babysitter to care for our daughter at our house, while I was at work. The guy never ended up getting back surgery, but my temporary gig turned into something I’m still doing, almost six years later!

    We stuck with the babysitter because my daughter was just under a year when I started working, and we really wanted her to have one-on-one attention. We ended up paying the sitter about half of my income, so it wasn’t a very frugal childcare option, but we don’t regret it at all. She developed a strong bond with the sitter, who did many things that I would’ve done with her had I been home, like taking her to swim lessons, ballet class, playgrounds, the library, and eventually preschool.

    I’m incredibly fortunate that I’ve been able to hang onto my part-time gig, and schedule my work hours around my daughter’s school days. I get her on the bus in the mornings, and off in the afternoons. This limits the number of hours I can work and thus my income, but it’s definitely the right balance for our family at this time in our lives.

    Congrats on finding a great balance for your family!

  22. When our daughter was born, the cost of childcare was more than my DH’s income. So he became the SAHP while I continued working. We also have health insurance through my job, so it was basically a no-brainer. Four years later, we are looking at homeschooling her and will continue this path for as long as it makes sense. The cost of afterschool care and summer care and the like would also equal about his take home pay should he return to work in the next year or so.

    1. Good point about afterschool and summer care costs–it doesn’t end when they go to elementary school! Kudos to you for charting a path that works for your family.

  23. I was in your shoes….about 22 years ago. I never planned on being a SAHM. After my daughter was born I found out how hard it was to hand her over to a caregiver every day and how much I missed her during the day. My workday got shorter and shorter – going in later and leaving earlier so I could be with my baby. This was back in 1994 when it was uncool for a college grad to decide to be a SAHM. I got a lot of flack from people because I was “wasting my college degree.” It wasn’t a choice it was calling. And it was the hardest job anyone will ever do.

    Fast forward to 2003 – I was working part time while my 6 and 8 year olds were in school. Then lost my job and went through a divorce at the same time. That life crisis pushed me into a new space where I created a home business that worked for me but again, most people around me didn’t understand. I was able to be there for my kids, support myself, and build a business that takes care of me today, and I also mentor other SAHMs so that they can stay home with their kids and run a business on the side. Win-win.

    Enjoy this experience! BTW, I lived on a 300 acre farm in Tennessee from 1994-1999 and learned a lot about country living with 2 small children. Always have plenty of diapers and diarrhea medicine on hand – it’s a long way to the store when you run out of those things.

    1. Oh wow, the “wasting your college degree” argument is deeply offensive. And you are right–parenting is THE hardest job! Congrats to you for turning things around and creating your own business. It’s often true that the greatest results stem from the most challenging circumstances. P.S. good call on the diapers and medicine!!! I already have a stockpile…. 😉

  24. Babywoods has the cutest little smile! I quit working when my kids were little to stay home with them for five years until my youngest started kindergarten. I did side hustles from home for extra money. Since they started school, I’ve worked part time, then full time and now I’m back to part time. My oldest graduates high school next month and my youngest will be gone in two years. It is so true that the time passes so, so quickly. Even though there were times that were difficult when I stayed home, I’m so, so glad I did. My advice (even though you didn’t ask for it. 🙂 ) is to remember that it is every bit as important for you to get out and socialize as it is for Babywoods when you stay home. The public library was always a good place for us as they would have story hour and other activities for the kids and the moms could talk at the same time. I made some great friends that way. You could also see if there are any Meetup groups for moms and kids in your area.

    1. Wonderful story! That’s great you were able to work in whatever configuration was best for you at the time. And, very true about mom socializing–I love my baby-and-me groups for that very reason. And am so delighted that there are similar groups I can join up in Vermont!

  25. In Canada we can get a year of mat leave (getting paid at EI rates, which for me means about 25% of full pay). I’m not pregnant yet, but we are saving so that I’ll be able to take that full year off and be financially comfortable with EI + savings for a year. After that, I’ll go back to work full time and my husband will take care of the baby. He works from home on a flexible schedule that can be as part-time as he likes. It will mean he cuts back on hours, but my salary is much greater anyway. I’m sure it will be hard to return to work, but I’ll be glad to have a full year at home (both of us home during the day for a full year!)

  26. For a few months after one of our sons was born, I gave in to the pressure to work outside of home,..and in those days, there were definitely polarized positions, true “mommy wars.”

    I sooner aliases the pointlessness of buyung into that. Yes, I’m a feminist -but one whose every instinct told her that the right choice (for her) was to stay home and not miss a minute of her baby’s life. Other mothers would be lost in loneliness and craving for a different lifestyle. They might even sink into depression. They might crave daily connection with lots of different people.

    There truly is no one size fits all choice. Working from home and caring for a baby can be very stressful sometimes. Finding balance (is that even possible for parents? .) is tricky and a moving target. But I don’t regret the time I spent in those wonderful/crazy/joyous/sad/ grateful years.

  27. Your reasons sound a lot like mine for staying at home. I quit after my second, largely because after daycare I would be bringing home $200 a month. I figured I could save that much by being home and not having to outsource things like cleaning/cooking/baking, etc. I worked from home for a few months, then was done. Now I do a little free lance writing when I have time, but it’s a bit harder now they aren’t babies who nap a bunch!

    I do get frustrates when people tell me “you’re so lucky to stay at home!” Not because I’m not privileged (I realize I am!) but it supports this 1950s paradigm where I am lucky to be supported by my husband. Um, no. We both work hard. I think devaluing parenting by acting like its a “luxury” instead of an actual contribution to society is pretty anti-feminist. And ultimately makes things way harder for working parents when we act like parenting obligations aren’t important, and therefore don’t fund maternity leave/sick leave/affordable childcare. I know there are lots of families who can’t afford to live on one salary, and sometimes have to make questionable childcare decisions, going with unlicensed, substandard care and I don’t think our standard for “lucky” should be not having to do that! Childcare should be affordable for everyone! And that starts with seeing caregiving as important work, no matter who is doing it! Okay, hopping off my soapbox.

  28. $2300/month for daycare!! Are you kidding me? Gosh, I’ve been out of touch a long time. I realize it’s Boston, but really!?? Anyway, my daughter was fortunate enough to stay home with her two toddlers, and it was wonderful for her and them. There are pros and cons to either side, and each family has to do what is right for them. We did not have the internet so many years ago, not even personal computers. So this new technology has opened so many new doors for young families. It truly is a gift. Babywoods is a doll, and I’m so glad you’ve found your way. See, it took your own daughter to show you your passion…writing! P.S. I love that pink blanket around the table leg….such wonderful parents! Enjoy

    1. I live in Portland (Oregon) and that’s not totally out of line. It’s $1400 at my current place (long wait list), $1800 – $2200 at the place we were at when he was <1 year old.

      I too started shopping for daycares when I was 4 months pregnant, and none of the 10+ places I talked to had a spot available ( a full year before I needed it!). I ended up finding the more expensive place 2 wks after he was born. Such stress!

      My husband had unstable IT contract work so it made sense for me to keep working (in a full time salaried position). However, it meant we were paying for daycare many months when he wasn't working (because of the wait lists).

    2. Yeah, daycare prices are here are just absurd. Haha, that’s funny you noticed the table-leg blanket–I have it there so she won’t bump her head when she rolls over ;)!

  29. I’m so glad you’ve been able to establish this great option for both childcare and work. I also worked part-time as a freelance writer after my first child’s birth. I also cried at the 6-week mark just imaging if I had to return to a full-time job away from home at that point. Frugality definitely helped made this an option.

    I agree that we face difficult choices regarding childcare and career. I think in some ways the shift to two-income families meant most people adjusted their lifestyle requiring two incomes. Two incomes are great, but if you can live off one income (of less), that’s even better.

  30. You will never regret being home with Babywoods. I don’t think (but I guess I could be wrong) that there has ever been anyone on their death bed wishing they spent less time with their loved ones!! We were lucky when our kids were little as my MIL’s sister came from Europe and was our live in nanny. She was already retired and came to the us to get away for a while. She would have stayed with us for free, but we paid her a couple of hundred dollars a month plus room and board, food, etc. She was amazing and our kids called her grandma. I just wish we were smart then and saved and put away a lot of money…but hindsight is always 20/20. Too bad that most of your readers are already people interested in FI and frugality…I wish more youngsters would catch on. Although I’m doing my best by preaching to the my kids and nephews. LOL

  31. Very swell choice my fellow frugal friend.

    That child care bill is untenable unless you’re making boatloads of money. After the taxes that comes with a higher income and all the extra costs of working it just doesn’t make sense.

    I think you made the right choice and if you ever get tired of writing, there’s always going back to full time employment for The (Wo)Man.

    I can say I don’t regret quitting work to spend more time with my kids. I know I could always go back and continue my career (or more likely, start a new career).

  32. Kudos to you on making a plan that works for you and your family! It can be hard to think outside the box, resist societal pressures, and follow your own true north, and it’s inspiring how you have done that.

    One thing I wanted to point out—not to challenge your choice, but just to share my frustration with hearing it so often. The idea that we lose a lot of an income by paying for daycare. Several moms I know who’ve chosen to stay home cite the fact that daycare ate up most of their salary as a key reason for their decision, even making it a “no brainer.” But it is a fallacy to do the math this way, as though the cost of daycare comes solely from the mother’s salary. The cost of childcare comes out of both parents’ combined income. There is also a likely significant long-term loss of lifetime earnings to consider, as the stats show that parents who have been out of the workforce have a hard time getting back in, let alone at the same rate of salary increase they were at before . I am considering kids in a few years, and something I’m weighing heavily is the potential long-term impact on our income. Freelancing, while scary because it’s not a dependable paycheck, is an appealing flexible option…

    1. Thank you for raising this — It sounds like she actually wanted to stay home and Mr F is cool with that, so this isn’t really a response to their particular choice or scenario. But most people who are at the age when they’re having babies are not anywhere near their peak earning potential. Choosing to stay at home for 1, 2, 5 or more years is exit-ramping from all of that potential income/career growth down the road, and most studies show that women never make up that lost ground when they do return to the workplace. It seems like it just perpetuates a bad cycle: Women make less money than men do, women have children and stay at home to care for them, sacrificing income and work opportunities, and then when they do go back to work they make less money because they now have less experience than people (men) who stayed in the game.

    2. I was about to write the same thing about childcare coming out of combined income and impact on long-term projected salary, especially if you’re a woman. I chose to go back to work after my son was born (and I realize how incredibly privileged I am that it was a choice and not a requirement due to our financial state) and the desire to keep my hand in play in terms of my long-term career goals and earning potential definitely factored into that decision. Both my husband and I have flexible work hours so we only have to pay for three days of care a week. That’s working for us in terms of being frugal with childcare costs and letting us spend family time together while still working toward career goals. But, wow, is it exhausting some days….

    3. Yes, this is a good point of discussion to keep in mind. When I first went back to work, daycare ate up a much larger percentage of my income than it does now, just 3 years later. And my career has taken a total new unexpected trajectory that has opened a couple of different doors into possible higher income down the road that I never could have anticipated. At this point, I’m glad to have both the doors open for more money, or be able to consider jobs where I make less money, but have more family time, thanks to frugal habits and living well below our means. I’m truly thankful for the position we are in.

      When I was pregnant and weighing the different options for who would care for my child, I opted to at least make the return to my regular 8-5 after she was born just to see what it would be like, and the anticipation leading up to my return from maternity leave was the worst part. After that, it has been mostly manageable. I’ve enjoyed being able to continue contributing to my family’s income with my paycheck, and believe I’m doing the right thing for my family at this time, even though I miss her during the day.

      Thank you for this post in general. I am always so interested in the intricacies of how you make different aspects of your life work (which I very much admire!).

      1. I feel similarly to Rachel. I was kind of on the fence about going back to work when I had my first, and at the time childcare felt like a huge chunk out of our income (we never just compared it to “my” income). But I did go back to work, and now that we’re wrapping up our last (8th) year of paying for private daycare before public school starts, it feels in retrospect like a much savvier move than it felt at the time. Our incomes have risen faster than childcare costs. With no more daycare costs on the horizon, my husband and I are considering both of us switching to part time paid work, and we can do that because we’ve been socking a ton into retirement accounts which now just sit there and compound, and also because we are now much better established in our careers so we have more part-time options than we did in the new-baby phase of our lives (alas, neither of us can do our jobs from home). And we happen to get so much more enjoyment out of our elementary-aged children than we did our babies (not that we didn’t love the babies very much, but we’re not “baby people”).

        Which is not to say that Mrs. FW isn’t making the exact right decision for her, I am sure she is! I just think that there are other ways to weigh the financial benefits that are clearer now in hindsight than they were when I had my first baby.

      2. Same here. My daughter is almost 3 and my salary has doubled in that time. Had I made the choice to quit in the few paychecks after I came back I would have missed out on that huge increase. I know that might not be typical, but I’ve seen lots of coworker’s leave at the director level only to be hired back several years later 3-4 levels lower. That results in huge lifetime losses in income and years of missing investments in your 401k. Everyone needs to do what they think is right, but daycare is definitely not a woman only expense.

      3. This is such a great discussion thread. Everyone’s circumstances are different. There is no one way fits all and I think finding a creative solution is key. If I had been working a high-paying job that required a good amount of time and would lead to career advancement I would have been more inclined to put my first in daycare. I wasn’t. My job was very fulfilling, but I felt that I wanted to stay home more. I did some freelance work for my old employer while she was a baby and have stayed in touch and they have made it clear they would love me back at some point. Now I have three kids three and under (surprise! Twins!) and I’m so glad that we don’t have to pay for daycare for all three of them. My husband is also working a position now that allows him to work from home when he wants to. He can’t be much help to me, but it has allowed him to see how busy and stressful my days can be. Now he can watch out for our older daughter while I run an errand with the twins. It’s been a great set up for us.

    4. From my experience (having worked and used daycare and also stayed at home) I also would argue this to my husband that daycare didn’t just come out of my salary. But there are also other “costs” to working and using daycare – we were busier, had less time to cook and probably would’ve hired a house cleaner down the road. Also, my sons had a few health issues that would have made daycare a difficult choice. Also we wanted control over what kind of education/discipline they received. So while it did come out of both of our salaries, we could make up the difference by me quitting. There is future income lost but to me it wasn’t necessarily worth the other hidden costs.

      I think we should focus on making it easier for parents to return to the workforce after a hiatus. I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten dumber or less skilled in my years off ????, but we do still have that perception of stay at home moms being unskilled! Addressing discriminatory hiring practices as part of the wage gap would help increase families’ abilities to make a choice that works for them.

  33. Thank you for this, Mrs. FW! I have been eagerly anticipating a post on childcare, especially now that I am expecting a baby myself and trying to figure out what to do. I think we are going to go the daycare route (which is just slightly cheaper in Providence), but I really appreciate hearing your thoughts. It is such a tough decision.

  34. I always knew I wanted to stay primarily at home when I had children. Luckily my husband was very supportive of this and before we had our son, we tried to simulate living on one income. I have also been able to transition to a per diem position (I’m an RN) which means I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule and can keep up my nursing skills if I want to return to full time at some point in the future. We are also grateful that my husband’s job changed while I was still on maternity leave, and his income is now greater than it was before. We use in-laws and a SAHM from our church as childcare when I do work, which has been great.

  35. Very well said!!! You will never regret your time at home with Babywoods…and you may even discover more frugal activities once all the work “fog” clears your mind. I embarked on the same journey almost 22 years ago. Frugality (then it was Amy Dacyczyn’s wisdom) allowed me to be a SAHM for over 6 years. All the naysayers that told me that my career would leave me behind, etc. were proven wrong when I re-entered the 8 to 5 workforce . Keep spreading the frugality love….it really does work!

  36. I love your writing! Your posts always bring a smile to me face. Frugality does give us the freedom to make the choices that make us most happy at any stage of our lives. I just recently retired and frugality allows me to be satisfied with less and truly appreciate this new and exciting stage of my life. We really have to evaluate our ”needs”; staying healthy, being true to myself, developing my art and living in the moment far outweigh any material ”wants” I may have. Be happy!

  37. My wife has a very similar situation as she stays home but she runs an online design shop from the house and while it doesn’t replace her income that she made previously, we always knew that it would take a step back, so whatever she makes is a bonus. It’s funded a lot of our luxuries like a trip to Disney World last year, some concerts, and various other travel and things.

  38. Finding childcare is complicated. I’ve toyed with going back to work (I’ve got a 2 yr old), but I go back and forth on the issue constantly. At this point, I’m starting to think I’m “retired” (If you can call it that!! I’ve got a 2 year old, after all!). The cost of child care is major issue, and also because of our frugal lifestyle, I don’t need to work. I’ve decided to take life as it comes, and I can always change my mind and go back to work later.

  39. I’m resonating with every single part of this post. I’m so thankful to be staying home full-time with our two after the school year ends, and every one of the emotions you discussed were part of that decision. I hope to eventually earn freelance income through proofreading and writing as well! Congratulations again, and thank you for sharing your decision process here.

  40. I am glad you found something that works for you. My cheap childcare solution was not to have them:) teehee! Enjoy your time with Babywoods and writing.

  41. I am a working mother. I am blessed to have my mom care for my children. I do pay her but she is very affordable. It works well for us since I make more money at my job and I have excellent benefits as well. My mom is able to earn some money and she has a great relationship with my girls. If I didn’t have family to care for my kids, then my husband would be the one to stay home.

  42. When our first was born (almost 3 years ago), I went back to work full time and my husband stayed home. Then my husband went to work full time and I worked from home part time when our son was a year. Most recently, when we had our second in January, we decided for me to stay home full time because two in daycare would have totally wiped out any income I brought in. Sigh. I love being home with my babies but I also look forward to when they go to school and I can return to work. The part about socialization for kiddos is equally true for the stay at home parent. It’s so important to make play dates and activities so you get to see other people (real people too even though we can talk to people online). This has been especially hard with two and in the MN winter but so important for my sanity and ability to parent well!

  43. I’m so glad to see your plans come together – it’s a wonderful feeling when goals and reality align, and I think it’s awesome that your family was in a position to make this transition.

    I’m thinking back to your post about time optimism. When setting your expectations for work productivity with a young child at home, please bear in mind that your (adorable!) daughter is about to become a lot more challenging. She will sleep less, crave more attention, and require greater supervision. Every kid is different, but once our boys started crawling they had zero tolerance for being hemmed in. And once they could explore, the pace of their learning (and by extension their need for attention and interaction) took off exponentially. I just could not make sustained progress on my own projects while keeping them engaged and out of trouble. Our older son didn’t really start playing independently until about 2-1/2, so that’s a prolonged period of pretty intense parenting. I don’t think you’ll ever regret your decision to be at home with your daughter during her early years, just be forgiving to yourself in terms of what else you can accomplish while you’re a full-time parent. Good luck!

  44. We don’t have any kids. But we’ve discussed the possibility, and we’ve also discussed the financials of it… I don’t know how I’ll feel if/when it happens, but at the moment, the plan would be that I would go back to work, as I make more money, and my husband would take the majority of the childcare… Of course, things can change, and since this is all hypothetical we won’t know until it happens, if it happens… I do enjoy reading how and why different families make their decisions. It helps us with the process of educating ourselves. Thanks for sharing.

  45. This is a mire I’m currently working my way through. We live very rurally and even though I started calling daycares when I was less than 3 months pregnant, I was only able to find one viable option with an opening when I’d need it. Because of the rural location and the home-care daycare situation, part-time daycare is also not an option. So we need to go all in with daycare or find a way to negotiate care between me (and my employer), my husband (and his employer), and my father-in-law, who is 75 and whom I don’t feel right leaning on for full-time childcare, even though he has offered.

    I’d love to have the option to stay home. I’m American, after all. I want my cake and the ability to eat it too, haha. Mine is the reliable salary with benefits while my husband’s is contract work. My husband currently likes his job more than I do, but mine produces the living wage. It’s a real negotiation to find the right balance for us and we’re not nearly there yet. Daycare will probably be a reality for our family at some point, but I’d really love to find a way to postpone daycare for our little one arriving in Sept. for at least 6-8 months.

    As an aside to the comments above about daycare costs coming out of the woman’s salary, I wanted to add the point that if a woman is not working, and the job she left includes benefits like employer-contributed retirement, she’s potentially losing out on a lot more than the bottom line on the paycheck.

  46. My husband and I have been working for the past year-ish on setting up a similar lifestyle to the one you have now – except we’re not aiming for early retirement/FI.

    I’m going to be the primary caregiver for our child (arriving in 10 weeks, give or take!) but also work part-time mostly from home for my business. I’m happy to have you as a model, a few months ahead of me! I do plan to travel for speaking engagements for some of my income when the baby is > 12 weeks old, which will necessitate occasional babysitters, and it remains to be seen whether I’ll view that as a welcome or unwelcome break from our child.

    We arrived at this solution not so much motivated by wanting a parent-caregiver during the day or avoiding daycare costs but just because I’m so passionate about my work, which lends itself well to self-employment and part-time work from home.

  47. I love your writing, but…..

    Wow, I have to say I was a bit surprised that you were pursuing paid blogging. I wish I could reclaim all of the time I wasted on attempting to produce income from my blogs and/or writing! Hopefully your existing job/rental income will give you the cushion you need until you can find some form of freelancing that pays better – or write a book, at least…

    1. In one day, she has 90 comments.. I’d say she is doing something right already.. and she just started the paid writing.. only 4 months ago.. imagine where it will go!!! Great job already.. Mrs FW.

      1. 90 comments/article does not replace a salary. But that doesn’t matter as she wasn’t talking about making money off of *this* blog, she was talking about getting paid to write for ‘blogs’ which I took to mean *other* blogs. That’s just a very hard row to hoe…

  48. Good for you! I’m due next month and plan on dropping one of my two part time jobs therefore just leaving me to cover about 18 hours a week (my husband is a teacher and ends his day early) of childcare. We are super fortunate that we live by family that can help us with childcare, at least temporarily. But our maternity leave system in the states is so awful that it really puts a lot of people in difficult situations. I feel very fortunate to be able to work a skilled part time job but have been very surprised at how mom-unfriendly my employer is. It seems to me that we need to be encouraging more people to have babies and our current maternity leave/daycare/preschool set up does not do this at all. I’m glad you found a solution that works for you! Gotta love the Internet.

  49. Child care costs are insane, and I know so many parents having to make that tough decision of whether to keep two jobs and the infinitesimal monetary benefit of the second job over the cost of day care. Child care should be paid for by the state so that people don’t have to make these stupid life decisions between the lesser of two evils. It’s a decision that would tear me up inside if I had to make it. I think you two are doing it the right way.

    But since you asked, my frugal child care decision is not having kids in the first place. 🙂

  50. Babywoods is so darn cute! Makes me yearn for those days when mine were so little.

    When my 1st was born, my husband and I made about the same income ($90K each) but my field is more flexible and I really wanted to stay home so that’s what we did. This decision was made a lot easier by having purchased a house we could afford on just one income, having two paid-in-full cars, and banking my income for the two years prior to having a baby. I was home for 7 years and during that time did regular freelance work in my field, mainly for former coworkers. I never really sought out any work but maintained my connections so that people thought of me. I also starting working 1 weekend day at a library and that job ended up providing our health insurance when my husband changed jobs and his new company did not have good benefits. I loved my years at home and wouldn’t trade it for anything. When youngest (of 2) started K I had no trouble finding a flexible full-time job that I love and my kids enjoy going to the school aftercare program with all their friends. You are right that early frugal choices really help set you up to make the choices you want. If we’d overspent on our house or cars we’d have felt like I had to work and I’d have missed so much.

  51. We don’t have kids, but my two siblings have 2-3 children each and they have different solutions – a frugal one and a not so frugal one. Sister 1 bought a rather cheap home next to my mom out in the country so she watches the two boys 2-3 times a week at her house (one is not in school yet) while she goes to work. She also is a single parent. Sister 2 lives in a major city and has a nanny come three days a week for 12 hour days to watch two kids (costing $40k/year). They have super intense jobs with long hours. Now that she has a third baby, her nanny quit and they are having a hard time finding a (legal) nanny who wants to watch three kids for 10 hours a day. Maternity leave is over, they are in the middle of paternity leave, so they will figure it out soon hopefully! One staying home will not work due to the amount of student loans and mortgage they have. Different solutions for different people even in the same family. There there’s me; no kids, retiring early.

  52. When I had a “second” family 5 years ago there was no question one of us, my partner or I would be at home. This decision was based on cost of daycare ( not in the US but still costly) as well as deciding that life is not all about both of us working ourselves silly to get “ahead”. We make do one one solid income and side hustles galore ( my partner is the stay at home parent now and he hauls garbage, fixes lawn mowers and sewing machines, sells on EBay etc, etc). Having the male being the stay at home is also an interesting discussion topic. Raising your own kids if you can do it is priceless. There are other “costs” I found when having kids in daycare. They get sick alot in daycare. I had two older kids go to care from early on and if it was not colds, fevers and communicable illness it was head lice and on and on. My son broke his arm at daycare when he was two. One of us would have to stay home from work to look after the sick child. Your babe is small and I am certain she enjoys life with you rather than being with a stranger all day. You only have to go to the park ( free), walk around the neighbourhood ( free), find a play group ( often free or low cost) to find interaction. School will come soon enough and she will get all the kid time she desires and you will be ready for her to go out in the world. I applaud your decision and congratulate you on making a successful career for yourself at home as a writer and as as a mother which is terribly important “work” for those who do it 🙂 I think society tries to guilt mothers and parents into decisions we make at every turn. I learned a long time ago to do what is right for me and my family and so far it has worked like a charm.

  53. Yes!!! Thank you thank you thank you! The feminist movement was never about having it all at once, but simply about having the right to choose. I have done it all, work at home, go out to work, stay at home mum. The best option for me has been part time work from home, and I go into work when needed, and I feel like I have the best of all worlds ☺

  54. I ended up being the stay-at-home Dad to save on childcare costs. I actually kind of enjoy it. Instead of being at work, I get to spend time with my youngest while he’s a baby. That’s something I missed with our oldest. I think it’s worth it.

    My blog isn’t as established as yours, so I don’t make any money from it. We’ll be fine though. We now have over $4,000 a month in regular dividend income to cover our expenses. I think we’re going to be OK.

  55. Another silent Long-Time-Reader Here 😉 Excuse my bad english, but I’m not native…
    Although I would personally not go so extreme in frugality as the happy frugalwoods go I really appreciate your articles and your way of thinking. Thank you for your ideas for a New way of thinking about Money and for the “Heart” you put in your articles!

    I’m very happy for you that things are working out so perfectly for you <3
    And of course babywoods is the cutest thing ever!!!
    My husband and I are also dreaming/planning for Kids and if financially possible – and at the Moment it looks like, because we both are fairly good savers – I also will then be a stay-at-home-mum 😉 There is no way I would let someone else raise my Child for me.

  56. I strongly suspected you had bought a house before you ever announced it after reading about your househunting. And I was sure you were not going to abandon Babywoods to daycare services and troop off to work. It may come as a surprise how much you bond with that little life once you can actually hold it in your arms. I remember crying all the way to work after dropping off my first baby at the sitter’s every morning. I was miserable. Fortunately we decided nothing was worth it, not even being poor if that’s what it took for me to be home full time. So I did get to raise my own children and be a homemaker. It is where this woman’s heart is. I am glad it is yours also. Babywoods is VERY happy about it, too!

  57. Great post! I’m a work at home mom (5-15 hours/week) to a 21 month old and a second on the way! I’m consulting in my field (I’m a lawyer by trade, spent my career in advocacy/nonprofits) and I’ve found the connection to collegues and work to be invaluable for me. For what it’s worth, I’ve found that our childcare needs have morphed as our baby has grown, so we’ve got some paid childcare a few hours a week to allow me to work. I’m also exploring some shared childcare options (taking turns/cooping) to reduce costs. Good luck to you!

  58. Everyone needs to do what suits them and their financial/emotional/physical/social needs best. I have friends that would go nuts at home and for me it was and is my ideal life. We got married fairly young (23) and had our first at 25, then the second at 28 and then the third at 30. That’s lots of pregnancy, birthing, nursing and not sleeping. I felt so blessed and, honestly, omniscient because prior to conceiving our first son I knew I wanted to stay home with him. My husband made twice my income and I knew we could live on it because we had at different times when I was changing jobs. It has been challenging at times, sure, but it was the right choice for us and led me to think of all kinds of ways to cut our budget, be frugal, be mindful of resources and make our lives happy and full with simple things. That mindset got us through paying off debt, paying off our house, starting to invest and starting our own small business. Now the kids are all in school and I do the books for our pest control company. Our income is modest by most standards but it is the most we have ever made and we feel positively rich…but we always were. We knew how to make a little do a lot and we had peace in our hearts about our lives. I wish the same for everyone.

  59. Returning to work was a struggle for me as well. I cried every time I thought about daycare or a babysitter for our son. Luckily my husband and I both had bosses who were willing to allow us flexible schedules. My husband was a post doctoral Fellow at the time and I was a technician. We both worked at the same Institute but for different Principal Investigators. We were able to split shifts – I worked 6-2:30 and DH worked 3pm until midnight (or later). That went on for almost a year until we moved for his next position, as an assistant professor and I became a stay at home mom. The move and life change was tough for me because we left our 30 acre farm to move to an urban home. I had worked at my job for 19 years and left behind many friends. Now we are hoping to retire to a farm we bought 2 years ago in the Finger Lakes Region of NY. I love following your homestead story and have zero regrets about being home with my kids.

  60. Sounds like things are working well for you and your family! Hopefully the blog doesn’t evolve into a parenting blog. So hard to find a good frugal living blog and not every reader is a stay at home mom or even a parent

  61. I have been readong your blog for awhile but never commented. I was so thrilled when you announced your homestead purchase, hearing anyones dream come to fruition after hard work is always exciting. I stay home with my two kids under 3.5yrs. I heard a lot as well about stimulation and I worried. Kids parallel play until they are at least 2-3years old though, they are more interested in us. Mama guilt can be around the corner with any decision we make though. What I discovered is babies want our love and our time. Sharing our world is thrilling. Discovering fans, the washing machine, animals-it’s amazing seeing everything through their eyes. But you realise they ‘need’ very little. Well done on your beautiful baby and the choices you are making.

  62. These wrenching decisions are now ` water under the bridge` for me, as my kids are in or finishing college, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. I agonized over what to do and what was best for my babies. Each family has to work this out personally and each job situation is different.

    But like several other commenters, i want to urge young women to consider keeping a foothold in the job market while their kids are young, even if it’s part-time and even if it barely covers the cost of childcare, if at all.

    What Ive seen over the years is that my friends who quit working entirely did not go back to work unless they couldnt survive without the income. This was due to a combination of reasons: it wasn’t easy to get back in and they had to start at the bottom; they and their families had grown used to have a parent always available and it was now hard to imagine not having that. This meant that the new job had to be high-paying and flexible in order to be worth it and this is rarely offered to someone who’s been out of the job market for a while unless she has a rare, in-demand skilll.

    Meanwhile, life can throw you some curveballls. Being reliant on one income can put your family in a vulnerable spot if the breadwinner gets laid off, there’s a divorce or disability, their field contracts, or they find themselves in a job situation that’s unworkable due to boss, stress, etc. Consider that only one of you is contributing to social security and retirement accounts. It’s true, daycare is expensive, but so is life afterwards, even if you live frugally–braces, college, class trips, health insurance, etc. I’ve managed to avoid these curveballls but in a way I feel I was just luckier than some of my friends.

    There are definitely some tradeoffs here, and I will say it was sometimes stressful and tiring working while raising kids. I ramped up to FT as they got older, as my job and industry pretty much required it. There’s no perfect solution or balance and there, and there were certainly hectic moments. But my kids got some wonderful things from my working, which I only see now. For example, as they begin now to enter a complex modern workforce, i can advise them–it’s a world I am much more familiar with because I live it every day. We have money to travel occasionally with them and seeing other parts of the world is educational and a great bonding experience.

    No Mommy Wars or judgment here. Its a decision each individual family has to make for themselves. I just wanted to add one person’s longer term perspective here.

  63. I am so happy for you! I stayed at home for many years, then went into a career field. I will always have guilt about that (darn that Mommy guilt!). But my children are grown with their own families and I now use this career to pay for my dream. My dream has always been to have a farm with animals. I have cows, horses, dogs, chickens.
    My goal is to have the farm more self sustaining. I’m about 10 years out from retirement. Running this farm with a cow/calf operation will be my full time job in retirement. I can’t wait!
    My recommendation to you is to find a way to have most of your land under an agricultural exemption. It works wonders for your property taxes and you can deduct expenses on your federal taxes.

  64. I am happy for you! I’ve been a WAHM for almost a year now. What pushed me into it was having two very scary incidents of bleeding during my first trimester and bed rest for several weeks. I decided to quit a very stressful marketing job (we had shifting hours) for the baby’s sake. Now, she’s a happy 4-month-old and I’m exclusively nursing her, and toying with the idea of homeschooling when she’s older.

    I can’t NOT work; that one month of bed rest drove me crazy and I’d be bored without something to engage my mind. I do copy writing, editing and transcription. My first clients were referrals from friends and online communities. I now have enough projects to pay the bills for the next few months, especially since we made a drastically leaner budget that allows me to stay at home. My husband’s office offers health insurance for dependents, so that’s one less thing to pay for. The WAHM life can be quite exhausting and since I’m extroverted, I find it lonely sometimes. But the plus is priceless: I get to spend my days with my two most favorite people in the world.

  65. Congrats, that sounds like a wonderful arrangement. The time with you daughter is priceless and your frugality and strategy are paying off. Kids don’t really ‘play’ with other kids until they are around 3-4 (when they go to preschool anyway) so don’t stress about it – the most important ‘thing’ they need is you.
    I work part time (including 2 days at home) around school hours now my kids are at school and I find it works well for me.

  66. I’m glad that things have worked out so well for you guys. I am shocked at over $2k a month daycare. I thought our son’s daycare (at $1100 a month in the Philadelphia suburbs was high!)

    I do think true women’s liberation is not that women HAVE to work outside the home, it’s that they can have the OPTION to do what both appeals to them and what works for their family)
    I think it worked out well that your new career was one that could easily be done from home. Mine wasn’t and it’s not always an option.

    Babywoods is stunningly adorable. Seriously, so cute!!

  67. My frugal daycare solution was living in Quebec 😉 We had a year of paid maternity leave, then I took an extra unpaid year at work to finish up my undergrad, during which my daughter went to daycare part-time for the lovely price of $7 a day. Affordable child care is one of the greatest things our government has cooked up. After a year+ of caring for my kid, I was ready to get back to a more adult world, and I think it solved the socialization problem you mention, too. (But if Babywoods goes to preschool at 3, then I wouldn’t worry about socialising at all! That’s plenty early enough.)

  68. Congrats on being able to stay at home. I changed careers to allow me to be home more, my wife works two afternoons a week & I stay home to watch our little one.

  69. My husband and I have been weighing various options for when we have our kids. I’m a school librarian, so my job isn’t conducive to working from home, although there are a few related directions I could go. But I truly love my job– but the likely $1200 monthly daycare bill is a tough pill to swallow.

    Babywoods is THE CUTEST!

  70. What an amazing journey you are on! I’m a longtime reader of your site and have loved watching your dream unfold. You are truly an inspiration of mine as I strive toward financial freedom myself. Enjoy your time with Babywoods – my “baby” is 10 years old now and oh how I wish for time to pass more slowly!

  71. Ouch on childcare! Thanks for making me appreciate mine. It’s $180/wk for infants, and it dropped to $155/wk now that my little one is in the toddler room. It goes up a bit when she moves to the preschool classroom at age 3. But pretty darn affordable compared to your options. But the cost of living in outstate Minnesota is also much cheaper than that in Cambridge.

  72. So how is Frugal Hound taking the news of less dress up and picture time? Based on the lone picture, Frugal Hound has been reduced to a prop, haha.

    Great that the months and months of planning with the blog, freelancing, etc have all started you off on a path that you have lead and chosen yourself.

  73. We are fortunate that Mr. TJL has been the stay-at-home-parent for our daughter. She is in kindergarten now, but he gets to volunteer at her school, go on field trips, walk her to school every day, and so much more. They have such a real and connected relationship. This is the main driver for my early escape as well! Although she will be eleven by the time I FIRE, I hope to spend these formative years with her getting a global education. I seriously can’t wait (but I will)!

  74. I am looking forwarding to returning to work in 2 weeks. I love my son but I also am better with a routine and work outside the home gives me the routine my spazzy brain needs.

    We are lucky in that my mom, a single woman, wanted to retire and move in with us to raise our son before he goes to preschool (We also get along well with my mom). We will probably put our son in part time daycare when he’s a year old or 18 months, like 2-3 days a week) as at that point, it drops in price and I do want him to socialize with other kiddos (I’m a bit of a homebody so myself alone wouldn’t be good at finding playdates). We’re cloth diapering and I’ve heard anecdotally that that can make potty training “easier” with elimination communication, so I’m hoping getting potty trained faster (if we’re successful) will make cheaper daycare an earlier possibility for us as well.

    Since you mention you go to church, your local church might have some type of part time daycare opportunities that can be cheaper during weekdays. I worked at a well-to-do and large Methodist church nursery while in high school and I got paid to work at mom’s day out, mom-to-mom, and VBS, so I’m sure there’s a church in your area that has some lower cost day care options, at least in the summer. (we were all fully CPR certified and trained in child care!)

    Doing what works best is what IS best for a mom. I have to keep working because my job is the most secure and in my field, if I keep working consistently, I can make a good salary AND get to a point where I can get a flexible and/or more remote work at home, which is the ultimate goal.

  75. I love your blog! Thank you for writing it – and your baby is SO adorable! As is FrugalHound – and shew has exceptional dress sense for a hound.

  76. I can tell you that no fancy career in THE corporation will love you back. Ever.
    No matter how smart, clever and good you are.
    You’re not missing out on anything.
    You followed your heart.
    That is the best course of action.

  77. Aww your daughter is so cute. I see she has a Sophie the Giraffe, my daughter is 18 months old and still loves hers

  78. What a great analysis and personal story of choosing to work at home and parent. I chose to stay at my job full time after a 4 month maternity leave as I really did like my job and I made enough to make day care feasible. However, I continued my career only because we found a wonderful small family day care that treated my son as their own son. He and I have had several conversations about it as he has gotten older (he’s now a college freshman) and he said that it was okay and that he loved them and that they loved him, but that he always missed me every day. But that the way he thought of it was that it was his job to go to day care and later to school just like it was his dad an my job to go to work, if that makes sense. He has always been a profound thinker who may major or minor in Philosophy at college. And both my husband and I have made sure we had flexible schedules so that one or both of us could attend all school events, scouting, etc. so it worked out, but we had to really think it through to get it to work. I turned down assignments that would have led to faster advancement, but they involved too much travel or really long work hours. I am adding this for all those folks who for what ever reason are working and have kids in daycare. But, I agree with many posters that you have to follow your heart and find the solution that works best for you and your family. Baybywoods is just adorable and such smiles–her joy is contagious!

  79. “The only failure is if you don’t do anything.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

    Awesome post!

  80. While not exactly frugal, we just sucked it up and paid. I would have paid for it even if it was more than I made. I’m one of those women that just can’t be a stay-at-home parent – it’s not in me, and there’d have been a lot of mess for Dad to clean up if I had stayed home. We moved to an area where daycare is half what it was in the DC metro area (that’s about all that’s cheaper!), although our district only has half-day Kindergarten. Once Daughter Person starts 1st grade next year, our expenses will be reduced even further. It’s about the same price per day for care before/after kindergarten as it is for full day day care ($30/day vs $35/day).

  81. Personally I am thrilled you are dedicating your work energy towards more writing! Keep it coming!

  82. Ms. Financial Slacker started working from home when our first was born. And I started working from home at the age of five.

    Although I have had periods of significant travel, I still get to spend the majoority of my time at home with the family and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    There have been professional and financial sacrifices, but nobody lays on their deathbed wishing they had worked more.

    If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity, take it and don’t look back.

  83. I think it’s great that you are in a financial position to be able to have one parent stay at home. Not many people even have that as an option. Congrats on that!

  84. When we found out we were expecting #5, the hubs and I decided that we would both stay home for a year. Years and years of frugal choices are really what gave us that freedom. It can be easy to dismiss small frugal choices but they snow ball into investments and then streams of passive income. I think it’s great when women can find the balance that is right for them. With enough time with the kids and enough time to devote to tangible things (paid or not). I love being able to do one thing each day that doesn’t become “undone” by the next day. It’s not that I mind the dishes and laundry, but goodness gracious: with 5 kids it is like weeding a one acre garden!

  85. You know I am so glad that you had actually taken time to plan this transition from a full time to an at-home job. One of my friends committed the major mistake of quitting her job in a hurry while she was still planning her baby without a backup plan. And it actually took her a lot of time to find another job.

  86. Congratulations on your decision to be stay-at-home mom instead of outsourcing your child care. I think it’s one of the best decisions a parent can make if they have the option to do so. We don’t have children yet but struggle with the idea of having our future child/ren attend daycare. We’re so close to FI that we one of us might not return to work once we get to that point.

  87. Daycare is super expensive all over the country for the most part, but I’m so glad you’re finding success with freelance writing! I have my family help out a lot with childcare when I need it but my son is a older and just finished kindergarten so he’s in school for most of the day. I still would like to be more present when he gets out of school so I’d love to turn my freelance writing side hustle into a full-time gig and just work during school hours and when I can during the summer. We’ll see how it goes.

  88. Wow, this is absolutely amazing to hear. You and Mr. Frugalwoods are living out the plan that Mr. Picky Pincher and myself outlined a year ago, when we started our frugal journey. I’m so happy to see it’s achievable. 🙂 I’m not a mom yet, but I do struggle over whether staying at home is right for us or not. I’m sure the answer will come when Baby Picky Pincher is here. 🙂 Bravo for doing what’s right for you!

  89. Very timely post for me Mrs. FW, TB Jr. was born last May, and so far we’ve gone the opposite route, but my wife as a hair stylist has a very flexible schedule, so we’re only having baby in daycare 3 days/week.

  90. I have been a SAHM for just over 24 years. It has been the best part of my life so far. It wasn’t always easy, but I was able to be the first one to see steps, smiles, walking, running and all the rest. I taught my kids how to read, write, understand arithmetic, ride a bike, take them all over the world and show them cultures and languages. Both have scholarships, friends and are basically good citizens. Best decision hands down.

  91. I want to be a work at home mom to take care of my kids more. I am glad that you are able to this for your kid. I think you’re glad that you made the right choice because you may have more time for your family.

  92. Good for you. Daycare can’t replace Momma in a child’s life. Luckily I was able to shift work around so I am home with my 2nd child. I work at nights part-time so I also can homeschool him:)

  93. I was surprised when you suggested that your baby would receive MORE at daycare…the notion seems very confusing that somehow putting your child in a daycare away from her mother is the ideal in any respect. Trust me…all first time moms worry that they aren’t enough of whatever they need to be for their baby… but babies do not need constant stimulation, or affection, or entertainment. They will thrive without mommy and me music class, signing time and baby art. Since the beginning of time until about 35 years ago when marketers discovered that parents would spend big money on giving their children a head start, babies were observers, they were in the background. They played with sticks, rocks, grass, if they were lucky a wooden spoon and siblings. They spent a lot of time in cradles and even hung off door frames in Victorian times over a chamber pot. Einstein, Beethoven, Freud, Galileo, Jobs, and I were all raised without dazzling pinterest-ized parents and institutionalized early years (I had to put myself in that list because…well it is the only time it would happen;) and I’d say it worked out! Seriously though the baby industry tells us we aren’t enough. It tells me that my toddler playing at my feet with two Tupperware containers needs MORE …all the time more… but after several children I know the truth is they need us. I am blessed to live in a country that provides paid leave for one year for mothers and/or fathers to be home. There is at least a little more of an acknowledgement here that parents matter most. I hope you know how lucky you are to be one of the few American women who gets to be home. It isn’t easy..no not at all, but in 30 years (or ten or five or next week) you won’t regret it! Don’t let the daycare up the street market you away from your child if you don’t have to or want to:)

  94. After adopting our son at 4 months old, I stayed home for the 3 months required by our adoption agency and then went back to work part-time. Daycare did not agree with our little boy – he wouldn’t sleep there and later I didn’t agree with their handling of his getting bit daily. So when he was 18 months, I stopped working.

    I knew getting back to my career would depend upon what the economy was like when I was ready. My daughter entered first grade in the fall 2008 – the beginning of the economic slide and a time of layoffs, not hiring. In all I spent 13 1/2 years at home with the kids. I went back to work 2 years ago.

    Financially – at first we realized that we spent so much, that we needed the two salaries, So we spent less and actually paid off the house during that time. I stopped counting after I “threw away” a million dollars gross of salary and 401K contributions. We survived my husband being laid off from his job of 23 years. We actually took advantage of the time taking the kids out of school and traveling in the camper for a month. When I did return to work, it was at a lesser level and 20K less than I would have made had I stayed in.

    When I went back to work, my then 12 year old daughter had a hard time of it. She burst into tears when I told her and had a year of stomach pains and headaches.
    My son complained that I wasn’t around to chauffeur, but being 14 he was fine.
    My husband, though he never complained aNd is always supportive of whatever I wanted to do, I could see the difference. Our weekends and nights went from time with the kids, time to do stuff together, hobby time and downtime for us to a sting of chores and errands. All the stuff that magically happened when everyone was at work and school, now was compressed into time that used to be ours. The kids always had chores, hubby always helped, but this was different and added stress. Dinner fell apart and we waste more money out of lack of time. Life when I was home was calmer and slower paced which suited us.

    It wasn’t easy, we had no family around to help and there were times when I felt my brain had turned to mush and I felt totally unappreciated. But, that is normal. In retrospect, I would not trade those years I had with my kids for anything, Priceless as they say.

  95. I’m curious how you are filing taxes, as a self-employed master. Are you filing as sole proprietor? LLC/sole proprietor? LLC/SCORP?

  96. I’m curious as to which course level you took from Cat’s program. I’m interested but don’t want to spend more than I have to!

  97. Your story sounds like mine. I did the same thing. I left my Marketing job at a bank in Maine because it physically hurt to think of my son (now 16) in daycare. I also encountered waiting lists. I was only making $10 an hour and all of my paycheck would have gone to a stranger raising my child. I left. One day I took my son to a local trolley museum. I told a lady who I met there that I dreamed of being a writer but didn’t know where to start. She gave me the name of her editor at the local paper. I pitched article ideas to him and I became one of their part time writers. I wrote during my son’s naps or at night. We moved to Florida, had two more kids, and I wrote for a paper down here for many more years. I eventually got tired of writing advertorials. After battling a serious illness and surviving, I miss writing and art. I found your blog and you inspired me to think about writing again. Thank you!
    PS- I wrote a blog to a few years ago. I was too scared to publish it. I just showed it to my friends.

  98. I realize this is a pretty old post, but I’m reading more in this genre because we’re planning a change in trajectory soon- your message really resonates with us! BUT I wanted to point out one key point that I think was missing here (or maybe I missed it). The choice to switch from the traditional ‘away from home’ career track I believe is ultimately based more on the passion/desire piece of your article. The financial argument is a little flawed and I think people really hold themselves back with sticker shock of quality childcare. The key missing point is that the main bulk of professional childcare expenses are TEMPORARY and also and INVESTMENT in your earning potential (which if you’re in the career you love, it’s your happiness and job satisfaction as well) as well as your child’s development. It saddens me when people wig out over childcare expenses and make enormous life changing decisions in such a rapidly changing and temporary stage of life. Even if you become at SAHM/D primarily for purposes of childcare, you still have to shell out cash for preschool, camps, clubs/sports, to enrich your child’s life along the way (granted, free preschool is some places, fair point… but then taxes etc etc) so it always seems like a limited point of view to quote the price of infant full time care being most of your take home pay (not including benefits, by the way) as a reason for quitting work. I spent 45K in childcare for two kids last year which was our peak cost-year in this expense category, but divide that over my kids’ lifetime under our roof (45,000 / 18 yrs / 2 kids), it’s a reasonable investment in their development and my earning that year (granted I’m also in a field it’s hard to jump in and out of, so the staying is very valuable…. even tho I will probably leave for ‘passion’ related reasons eventually). Anyway, sorry, too long here! But want to get that message out there about the financial side of this argument! Never want to see people putting limits on themselves when they have choices. LOVE your work here! Congrats on making it all happen 🙂

  99. After many years of saving, and reducing expenses, I’m deciding 2020 will be my year to stop working outside of the home. I’ve followed your blog for years, have your book:), and know I’ll be fine! While we won’t be homesteading-I’m sure that we’ll fine our own method to enjoying life frugally without my income(as we do already!). Take care,

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