Itching to get out of the 9-5 workforce, and spend more time with your kids?
I share why you cannot take the risk to quit your career.
However, there are countless ways moms can earn a high income, from home, with legitimate, flexible careers — many of which earn $100,000 or more.
The argument is over: You absolutely, positively cannot afford to be a full-time stay-at-home mom.
No need to delve into arguments about personal choice or what is good for children or families. That’s all been hashed out in the mommy wars. It’s not about those issues. This is about money.
You. Cannot. Afford. To. Be. A. Fulltime. Stay-at-home-mom. You just can’t.
What’s that you say? Your husband is a banker? And your daddy is rich? Your spouse adores you? Doesn't matter. It makes zero financial sense for any of those 5.1 million women in the United States who are stay-at-home moms (per Census data). That is about one-in-five married-couple families who have decided to put their family’s futures in jeopardy.
Don’t just take it from me. I recently interviewed Joanne Cleaver, a career consultant and author of The Career Lattice.
“Stepping off the career track completely is career suicide,” Cleaver told me. “Don’t do it.”
You cannot afford to be a stay-at-home mom
Her reason? You will no doubt lose the momentum you’ve built, the network you accumulated, the credibility you’ve earned. But these longtime truths are accelerated in today’s tech-driven world – no matter what industry you’re in. “If you completely leave the workforce, when you return you’ll have to completely reinvent yourself with new skills, new credentials and a new portfolio,” Cleaver said. “You might as well start in a new career.”
These challenges translate into a tougher time getting a new gig when you want one. And once you do, you’ll earn less than had you kept a foot in the workforce while caring for your kids. Researchers at Harvard and the University of Chicago found that when professional women leave the workforce for three or more years, they suffer a compensation hit of about 37 percent. For female MBAs who take time off to be with children, pay drop 41 percent relative to male MBA earnings.
However, if you plan ahead and keep a hand in the game, things might turn out differently. Of course, things don’t always happen as planned.
Divorce for stay-at-home-moms
Many women assume they will just live off child support and alimony in the event that they divorce. They are often shocked that is not the case.
Take me, for instance. I was married to a really nice, devoted guy who made a handsome income. We had a baby, bought life insurance, set up automatic contributions to our retirement accounts and emergency savings, and even started a college fund. He had disability insurance, but that never came into play after he fell off a cliff and nearly died of a brain injury – of which the lingering and devastating symptoms played a big role in dissolving our marriage.
Who could have planned for that? That is a crazy story. Not so crazy are these scenarios:
- Death of a spouse
- Life. Stuff just happens and you have to stop working.
When I had my first child I’d enjoyed a lucrative freelance writing business, which I cut down to about third-time after Helena was born. After my ex moved out, I quickly ramped up my workload. So when the child support and health insurance stopped because he was fired (again, related to the injury), I was able to swing my family financially, even after I had another baby.
Had I not had a career, or an ongoing business, my son, daughter and my life would be in a very, very different place. We would likely be broke. I would be angry. I would be selling stuff I really care about and making decisions about our futures out of fear instead of love and happiness. I would have fewer choices, less power.
Here is the reality of what to expect in divorce:
Plus, there is increasing support for equally shared parenting time, and no child support at all, paid to either party. After all, if both parents now have responsibility for the kids equal time, and each have equal time to work and earn, it does not make sense for one parent to pay the other parent's bills.
The best-case scenario is that you are awarded financial assistance from your husband for a limited time, and are expected to find work and become financially independent of him.
The very best-case scenario is that you both equally share in the responsibility of raising the children. This is hard to do when he is really angry about financially supporting you, and you are really angry that he doesn't do his share, or that your lifestyle is so compromised.
Many women assume that their kids' dads are not capable of being good fathers because they were not very involved during the marriage. However, there is a phenomena in which men thrive in fatherhood after divorce, in part because they have to now that the mother is not around to save them, and also because they find their groove and confidence as a parent because they are not being criticized or otherwise default to the mother, who is around and involved more.
Do stay-at-home moms get custody in divorce?
Traditionally, the assumption was that children's lives should not be distrupted if at all possible in divorce. Four decades of widespread divorce have taught us that by keeping women financially dependent on men in an effort to keep her home with the kids is a recipe for poverty for everyone involved, high tensions and co-parenting conflict, and no one moving on after divorce.
Instead, stay-at-home moms today are not automatically entitled to keep the house, and fathers are far more involved than generations past.
This all may seem to be scary and overwhelming, and I understand why: You assumed your life would be a certain way, that you had an agreement with the division of home and money labor with your husband, and it is now all over.
How a SAHM can afford to leave a marriage
Here’s the good news: We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity for women and mothers. The economy and feminists before us have created a scenario in which we do not have to be dependent on men. We can work and earn and live in whatever goddamned house we want to afford.
And you will find as you move past your divorce, and date and find love and build a career, that you don't want to have the kids around 24/7. You will look forward to recharging and relaxing while they are with their dad. That is normal and healthy, because you are a normal, healthy woman.
Even better: Today part-time, consulting and freelance work is not only increasingly available to employees, but also growing in popularity among employers. There is such incredible opportunity all around you!
Dr. Susan O'Malley was a secretary with no more than a high school diploma, and set out at age 30 to become a physician. Dr. Susan O'Malley shares about:
- How she got over her low-self image to preserver through rejection from every medical school in the country, and eventual acceptance
- Romantic disappointments
- Powering through one of the most rigorous academic paths as a single mom of a newborn to become an emergency room physician.
- Her eventual move to cosmetic medicine and entrepreneurship with the opening of Sonas Med Spa in Connecticut
- The power of physical beauty
- Dating as a single mother
- What she does with her money
- Her daily schedule while in medical school while raising her tiny son
Work at home jobs for moms
Ask yourself: How can you keep a foot – toe, knuckle, nail – in your industry while still giving your children the time you feel they deserve? Brainstorm, ask colleagues and mentors for advice, and get creative to make sure you remain relevant. You can’t afford not to.
This post outlines popular, easily accessible careers that many people can start from home, without special degrees or training, including:
- Virtual assistant
- Social media manager
- Grant writer
- Graphic designer
- Clinical research coordinator
- Coder / programmer
- Travel consultant
- Event planner
Other legitimate work from home jobs for single moms
When exploring what kinds of side hustles, careers, gigs and jobs you may qualify for, consider:
- Work from home jobs on a computer
- Work from home typing jobs
- Work from home data entry jobs
- Work from home customer service jobs (chat jobs)
- Work from home medical jobs and medical transcription jobs
Want to find work-from-home or freelance jobs? My friends at FlexJobs.com offers the best listings of these positions. Read my FlexJobs review.
Where to find a job
In addition to FlexJobs, which is an excellent source of quality, vetted flexible, work-at-home careers, also check out Steady, which lets you create a free account where you can find local and remote flexible jobs, and ZipRecruiter.com.
Professional resume writing service
Hiring a professional resume writer or resume editor is a huge advantage when searching for a job. A quality resume service will help you not only create a professional resume, but also help you frame your experience and goals in a way that you cannot do on your own. It always helps to have a second set of trusted eyes when it comes to important career moves.
ResumeWriters.com has helped more than 250,000 clients in 70+ specialties update and create resumes, CVs and LinkedIn profiles for students, professionals, executives, military, IT, and those seeking career changes (or getting back into work after staying home with kids, or other life events). Learn more about the quick, affordable services at ResumeWriters.com >>
Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker,” her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.