Getting prepared to be a SAHM

In recent weeks, I have been feeling extremely demoralized at work. I told Kel about calling it quits and taking a break from work.

It didn’t exactly come out as a “break from work”, but it came out much harsher. I told him that I ever gave him a chance to fulfill his dreams and I hope he is able to give me my chance too. I really want to fulfill my dreams once in my lifetime. Or it shall be a lifelong regret for me.

What dream is that? You guess it right: to be a SAHM

After a long, long pause, Kel finally said,”OK, you can quit your job come end of this year and go and fulfill your dreams.”

And I never expected that answer.

I mean, I have lamented, complained, hinted, blatantly spelt, and we have talked about this topic for the longest time. Each time, we both knew it is quite impossible because living in Singapore with single income is too much stress for the bread winner. However, it feels a little different this time. Perhaps my dreams will really come true.

The next day, we brought the kids out and Missy 10 asked to buy some beads from Spotlight to make some crafts. The beads cost $6.99. I thought to myself: If I were no longer working, will I even buy those beads? I had always encouraged her crafts, like the Rainbow loom craze when I bought in total more than $100 to feed this hobby of hers at that time. She is so good with her hands, I really do not mind paying for her hobby as long as they are not too expensive. If I am going to stop working, I may not be able to indulge in her hobby in future.

Then, the next day while waiting for Master 8’s Weiqi (GO game) class to end, I brought Missy 10 to Starbucks for simple revision. She asked to get a drink there. After doing some mental calculations to get a drink to satisfy our thirst, I told her we shall go get a bubble tea at Koi cafe instead. It was between spending $6+ for a Starbucks Green Tea Latte vs $3+ for a Koi bubble tea vs $1 mineral water. Ok, let’s settle for a middle priced one while I can still afford now.

I started to do calculations and mentally prepare myself for the day (if it ever happens) that I choose to stop working, have zero income, and need to cut down on expenses.

What is the trade off from FTWM to SAHM?

1. I will not be able to spend freely as I wish.

2. I will not be able to buy things for the kids without considering carefully if it is a necessity, a must-have, a good-to-have or a no-need-to-have. Excuses and reasons have to be thought of and listed down prior so as to arm myself to face violent objections.

3. I will probably treat the kids to 80cents MacDonald’s ice-cream cone once in a month than a $10.90 Swensen’s banana split.

4. The kids will be going to fun and free places than going to paid indoor playgrounds.

5. The kids will be eating less of restaurants and fast foods.

6. I will have to switch off the aircons for the night and use the electric fans instead.

7. I will not be able to go for facial, massage, spa.

8. The family will not be travelling as frequent as we like.

9. The family will have to explore ways of saving energy and costs in the house.

10. My make up essentials will become luxury items and I will probably switch to a cheaper brand.

…. and on and on the list goes for money saving ideas.

Am I prepared to sacrifice the financial freedom?

Then it comes to the next part of being prepared to be staying at home 24/7 or rather being with the kids 24/7 inside and outside home:

1. I will be racking my brains on what to cook for lunch and dinner everyday.

2. I will be doing endless housework that do not yield much satisfaction at all. The same housework will still have to be done for the next day, the day after, and after and….

3. I will be missing out on adult interaction unless I purposely organize playdates, and that could be quite limited considering the limited time I can be out of the house due to the different age group of kids I have.

4. I will be missing out on world news unless I am disciplined to read news daily and keep myself up-to-date with the on-goings in the community and out there in the world.

5. I need to ensure myself updated with point 4 to maintain an intellectual level with my hubby when we talk. I have to beware of updating too much mundane routines to him.

6. I have to be prepared that I would be “applying” for “leave” less often than what I used to at work. SAHM has no or minimal leave, I need to get used to that. But I believe that could be arranged with Kel, the sweet hubby who always let me go on my girl dates.

7. I have to ensure that being a SAHM, my time spent with the kids is quality time and not time spent on finishing my house chores. Otherwise, this will certainly defeat the purpose of quitting my job to be a SAHM.

8. I need to remind myself that when I stay at home, I will not nag at the kids so much so that they rather that I go back to work.

You may ask, since I have listed so many challenges of being a SAHM, so why am I still hoping to be one?

Simply because I can get to do the below with the kids:

1. More time spent with the kids on home activities, fun play, bring them out for one-on-one dates, or bring all out on impromptu outings.

2. I can cook for the family and let the kids learn alongside with kitchen activities.

3. The kids love my cooking and I enjoy cooking for the family.

4. I can plan for home-schooling activities for my Master 3 and bring him outdoors myself.

5. I will not miss the milestones of Master 3 and be able to supervise closely on my elder 2 academic work.

6. Bringing stress and fatigue from work and inevitably lashing out on everyone in my path when I reached home will be a history.

7. I need not impose on grandparents’ help to take care of my children and I am able to teach the kids and mould their characters in my own way.

8. I will certainly derive much joy in bringing up my own children by myself, than to outsource to others.

Being a SAHM surely has its challenges. I need to live simply and I am really exchanging money for time spent with the kids and satisfaction yield from bringing them up myself.

Tonight, I threw out the question of “What if mummy stay home full time?” and got different reactions from Missy 10 and Master 8.

Missy 10: No, I don’t want mummy to stay home. You will nag at me to do my assessment books, read, etc. I’d rather be left alone to do my own work.

Master 8: Yeah, I want mummy to stay home! I love being with mummy!

I was a little shock to hear Missy 10’s answer as just 1 year ago, she had always asked me to stop working and stay home. Her reaction used to be the same as Master 8’s reaction. Does that mean if I don’t fulfill my dreams to be a SAHM now, I will not be able to do it a few years down the road? By that time, the kids would not want me to be home anymore. And why would I want to be home when they are in their teens with longer hours in school? I would then be left alone most of the time waiting for them to come home and only get to see their closed doors more than their faces.

Some decisions are bounded by time.

Now IS the time and wish me luck. I may really get to fulfill my dreams by next year. Fingers crossed…

By then, I am pretty sure I will be able to handle the SAHM role well.

Are you a SAHM? What are the challenges that you want to advise me to get myself prepared?

34 thoughts on “Getting prepared to be a SAHM

  1. Christy, that is a big decision! But I bet you’d love the quality of it, and as long as you are (as you have shown that you are) mentally prepared to do the change, I think you’ll love it. And I am sure the kids will love that too. At some point even the nagging 😀 ( I laughed out loud when I read #8 of spending 24/7 with the kids). Good luck with the preparing process!

    • It is a big decision which will impact every single person in the house. I am really preparing for that day and my kids have to be prepared for it too lol! I know I will enjoy it but till the finances are more or less prepared for the days ahead, I am still reserve in popping the champagne haha… At least I am getting myself prepared, and if this dream is not a reality, I think there will be still some positive takeaways from the prep.

      • I understand you worry about the finances, which would require a bit of thinking when living on one income. But I have to say that at least for me my habits also changed when I started work: when still a SAHM I used more time cooking myself using basic ingrediences, I made sure I went to the cheaper shop and bought in bulk instead of popping often and with less planning (=I just don’t always have the energy to plan ahead…) to the more expensive one close to us, I fixed minor things on children’s clothes myself and popped more often into flea markets and found a lot of good quality second hand clothes for a good price where as now I don’t have the time so I just walk to a shop and buy mostly regardless of the price… you see what I mean? Some costs drop just because you can arrange the use of your time differently. If being a SAHM is your dream, then I really hope finances won’t stop you as long as it is possible to arrange it somehow (and hey, you may even blog more often then, as you’d get to do more with your children. Not a bad outcome 😉 ).

      • Thanks for sharing how it works for you! I think there will some drop in costs for sure. First of all, electric and water bills will drop without a live in helper, I can imagine saving on ingredients as I will surely use them wisely. I will remember what you said about “finances won’t stop you”. I am more firm about going towards this dream. But I will probably need more than half a year for it. It will not be too late yet as next year my eldest will be in a more difficult academic year gearing towards the next next year’s exams.
        And I look forward to writing on my blog about my SAHM experiences 🙂

  2. Wow Christy! It’s not easy to be a SAHM or even make the decision. Converting to a SAHM has been on my mind since #1 was born. I could tell you have weighed your options before taking the first step forward. There could be days you might wish you are back in workforce but I know when you recall those funny, precious moments with your children (just you and them), you know it’s worth the trade-off. I look forward in reading your new adventures in your new role in this same space!

    • Thank you Joyce! That’s the problem with FTWM converting to SAHM, so many opportunity costs to consider. I am sure I will have days that I wish I am back in the workforce as you said it. But I am positive the experience will be a precious and memorable one when I look back after the kids have grown 🙂

  3. Welcome to being a sahm! That’s really a difficult decision to make, to give up financial and job satisfaction. But I’m sure you are making the best decision you have ever made. I have never regret my decision to give up my job and become a sahm. We have only about 10 years of time to be with children before they start wanting their own privacy. I’m sure Missy10 would love your company as time goes by. Jia you!

    • Thank you Jolin! I think so too.. that my girl will love my presence eventually. You are so brave to make this decision and I am heartened that you never regret your decision 🙂 I am sure I will be the same as you 🙂

  4. This post strikes a cord with me. The same thoughts went through my mind from time to time.

    I really like the financial freedom I have now. But I will like to spend more time with the kids. I have come across so many fun activities that I want to do with them but we lack time. And my elder one is going to Primary School soon. If I don’t do now, I might not have the time soon. But I love to travel and will like to bring my kids to see more of the world that I don’t get to when I was young. And when they recollect the fun time we had overseas or here, I am really happy and feel the money well spent. But again, this can also be done without spending much.

    But the 3 months maternity leave I had for my 3 kids told me I’m not ready to be a SAHM / WAHM. Like you mention I can’t hold a proper conversation with my husband as everything revolves around the kids. And I know I don’t have the patience to face them 24/7.

    So I know you are taking a very big step in this. And I admire your courage. Good luck!

    • Thank you Little Mom. I know what you mean. The financial freedom is actually very powerful. You do not need to account for anything you spend, except accountable for yourself. I had a 5 mths maternity leave when my 3rd child was born. I could do it and each day I was hoping that the day of returning to work will never come. From then on, I know I am ready.

  5. Christy! I am so very happy for you, yes there are challenges buy I know you can face them and I know that in your heart this is what you want and what is right for you. You are a great mom no matter if you are working outside OR inside the house! I never wanted to be a stay at home mom, I would have lost my mind… But when Mr. T was in 4th grade (about 8) and the opportunity came to work from home, I took it. I took the massive pay cut because I would save in gas, I could buy cheaper make up ( and wear it less often!!) and less expensive clothes. And it meant I could be there for Mr. T after school, I was working but I could stop to say hi and talk about his day, and I could be there for him if he needed me, or forgot lunch money and needed me to bring it to him. It was (is) hard, and challenging and a struggle to maintain balance… But it was right for me and where I needed to be.
    Good Luck and I am so proud of you and your courage! And besides, it is so much more fun to save money and make banana splits at home and have a family night 🙂

    • Thanks Kate! You have said everything I wish I could do! I want to be there for the children when they needed anything or simply needed me. Yes, banana splits at home! That kind of fun is what I am after! Saving money can really be fun like how you said it. Living simply has its joy. The trade off will be there. Times of stress will be there. But the quality time and being there with the kids is so precious, the trade offs will be worth it 🙂

  6. Christy, we’re on the same boat! I’m preparing to be a SAHM again in a few months time. Yes, financial freedom might be sacrificed but we’ll have those precious time to spend with our beloved family.

    Finance-wise, I think it really helps to shift our focus from being one of the income generator to income ‘manager’. Rather than thinking how to earn extra money, we as SAHM think how to optimize saving. I also find it useful to chart our spending for the last 6 months before quitting our full-time job, take average, and use it as the reference should we need to cut spending on certain area. After doing that, it becomes clearer on how much we should cut our future spending.

    Household-chore side, I really hope to get a better household management so that I can spend quality time with kids and spouse. I guess there should be a balance between them or you’ll find yourself revolving around chores all the time.

    All the best for you and looking forward to your next thought once you jump into SAHM life. Wish me luck, too!

    • Good advice you have here! I should chart my spending too and I love your title “income manager” haha… I am happy for you to be a SAHM again! I love your post on the planning activities for one month. Actually I am thinking of doing up a monthly theme based learning with daily activities for the kids. It will be easier for a SAHM to do so than to wait till FTWM comes back from work and do it within a super limited after dinner hours.

      For household, you are right about that. Sometimes I can get too engrossed in finishing up the housework thinking I can squeeze in time to do it and end up little time for the kids. Need to be extra careful here. And good luck to you! I am sure you can do it very very well!

  7. Gosh it’s a big step, but I’m sure you’ll be able to take it all in your stride. Your older two kids are growing up really quickly, and you’re right in saying that THIS is the time to be a SAHM, because in a few years, they’ll be in secondary school, and you’ll hardly get to see them. Your youngest is at a great age for you to stay home with him, and I’m sure he will appreciate having you around all the time. It’s going to be crazy busy, but it’ll be worth it. All the best!

    • Thank you Adeline. It is a perfect time now that my youngest craves for my attention and is at the age of fast learning and curiosity. I want to be there to teach him everything. And my school-going kids need me at this time before Sec Sch too. If I stay home, I have more time to supervise their homework and then play together, rather than coming home from work with the limited time is only for academic matters more than play time. SAHM routine is very busy for sure, but it will be fun I am sure.

  8. Money will never be enough.. The funny thing is when we have more money, we spend more; and when we have less, we simply spend less…

    I don’t think it’s a good start to think about what you are ‘giving up’ or ‘sacrificing’ because when the going gets tough, these are the things that will make you unhappy about your choice.. I have reached a point when I don’t do manicure / facial / massages, I dont use make up except for special occasions, I cut my hair once in 2 years, buy clothes only during CNY, buy new shoes only when the current one gives way etc… and never for once felt I was sacrificing or giving up anything.. Its just, a way of life. Having less money just makes me realise how superficial some of my needs were during my DINK days.. So I’m perfectly happy with my way of life, my little HDB and having to take public transport if COE doesn’t drop by the time my car is 10 years old.. I have no debt and am much happier than some of my working friends who have waaayyy more money than I do..

    Like I always say, I may regret everything I say now when I am 60 and working in McDonald’s to make ends meet.. but hey, carpe diem.

    But warning: Point 6 on why you want to be SAHM. As a SAHM, you will continue to be fatigued and lash out on everybody at home. In fact, you will have even more reason and opportunity to lash out on everybody than before.

    • Regarding pt 6, you have given an insight to SAHM life. It’s never easy no matter who you are SAHM/FTWM/PTWM…etc. But having had 5mths of stay home experience with cooking, caring, playing, scolding, house chores, taking the 3 kids out on buses, trains, handling tantrums, my own tantrums, etc and etc, I am kind of prepared. Giving up part is harder when you are a FTWM for a long time and enters into SAHM phase. It all needs some getting used to. I can live without luxuries and perfectly fine with making do with simple life, it just needs time to adjust. I come from a humble background and never really live a luxury life anyway. So, it will all work out eventually.

  9. Love your meticulous sharing! You have counted your costs liao I think! lol. And I agree with Bumble Bee Mum. Especially the Pt 6. Whatever the case, I count it a privilege to be a SAHM as not many families are able to do so or desire to do so. For those who desire, may not be able to afford and vice versa. A tip? Will do good to give yourself and whole family more time to adjust to your staying home. Make plans for adjustment period like having same routine for a week or two and slowly tweak the routine steadily over time? Am so excited to read more of your SAHM experiences! And indeed, as a SAHM for 6yrs, I witnessed how it makes a difference to our lives and have never regretted my decision. So excited for you Christy!!! And kudos to your hubs and you for making this major decision!

  10. Ah.. you are the lucky one Angie! You have a life too even if you are a SAHM. Thank you for sharing here. Will take note of your tip and plan out a routine. Sounds like it is really going to happen very soon haha.. Let’s see how it goes for the next few months if things are really going as planned. It is a mega decision and the prep is like a big project for the big day!

  11. Good luck Christy! You and your kids will have more fun together, for sure 🙂 I decided to be a SAHM when my daughter was born, and yeah, it took time for me to adjust, but now I’m feeling very very lucky to be able to choose to be SAHM.

  12. I’m looking at doing the reverse of you 🙂

    I think you’ve covered most of the pros and cons. I don’t think the financial aspect will upset you as much as you might fear. You can substitute time for money in lots of places – home-cooked food vs restaurants, home-made/recycled crafts vs expensive toy store versions, and so on and so forth. Taxis vs public transport!! Of course you will probably still have to skip a few things, but I think it’s relatively easy to put aside material stuff once you get started.

    On the other hand, I find things like nagging much harder to bear than I expected. Personality comes into it a lot, and I think it depends who your kids are/what your work’s like as well, when it comes to which works out better for you.

    However, if you can manage to try it out and leave the door open for a return to work later, that’s the best of both worlds. Then you’ll really know which answer is best for your family. Huge decision – good luck!

    • Bronwyn! I miss your blogging presence! I hope you are managing well with your opposite switch of mum status to mine.

      I know I do have the option to return to the workforce anytime I wish after I made the switch, if ever. That is a reassurance on its own. Nagging happens even when I am working and returning to the kids and realizing that they have not done much on what is expected of them, especially when a timetable is there. I am trying to cut short the nagging part and substituting for something other than the “NAG”. Financial concerns are real and is my biggest worry actually as I worry that my hubby will be stressed. Hopefully it is what you said here that it may not upset me as much as I fear. I will have to work out the numbers to prepare myself. I still have probably more than a year to prepare ourselves financially and mentally.

      Thanks for your encouragement!

  13. Hi Christy,

    I really enjoyed your sharing. I will be an official SAHM with effect from next week after working for more than 20 years. As I put away my power suits and branded bags, I was overcomed by mixed feelings. I agree with you that this is the crucial period where our primary school going kids really need us. I do not want to have any regrets in future. I am sure we have made the right decisions. Cheers!

    Best Regards,

    • Hi Linda, I know what you mean about mixed feelings. A switch after 20 years is no joke and I am sure initially there will be doubts about the switch. However, I am sure you will find it very worthwhile as many of my SAHM friends have told me. Good luck and I look forward to your updates to me if you wish to tell me how it goes for you. I will love to hear about it! You may email me at 🙂

  14. Hi Christy!
    You have listed out most of the pros and cons!
    I was a SAHM to FTWM and back to SAHM.

    For losing adult interaction, I guess you could sign up for free workshops conducted by library, free trails offered by NParks. You would be able to interact with some of these participants.
    Best of all, they share the same interest as you. However, someone would have to look after your children if you are going alone.

    You won’t be missing much world news as the news would be repeated on TV in the morning, afternoon and evening. And there is facebook, once you like the news pages, eg Channel News Asia. You would not be missing out the major events happening around.

    As for less nagging, I doubt it is easy to do since now you would be at home often and that would mean, you will see the “mistakes” your children make and correct on the spot.

    Sometimes, kids have their own personality and would want to assert that. So, even you plan for things to happen, they may not happen the way you wanted. Don’t be despair, just work around it.

    Bear in mind what makes you want to be a SAHM. That would keep you moving. 🙂

    • Very wise advice Sweet Day mama! Thank you. I agree totally with you that kid have their own personality and it is beginning to show very well in all my kids, especially the eldest one who likes to do her own way. We just have to let go sometimes. Your tips on world news and adult interaction are good. I will take heed. You are certainly a successful SAHM to be switching twice to SAHM in your life 🙂

  15. Hi Christy,

    Kudos to your courage on the final decision to be a SAHM. I have been following your blog in Mummy Diaries and I could sense you are moving closer to being one. I have been through all the agony and emotions like you 5 years ago and have been a SAHM to my 3 kids since.

    Here are some realities being a SAHM :

    On point 6, I certainly nag more than before since I am always around when things happen and first to react on things like careless mistakes in tests, sloppiness, siblings rivalry…the list goes on. I used to think I have loads of patience but this is definitely being tested to the extreme when you are home 24/7.

    On point 2, I have to admit I hardly cook for the family. I am conscious of spending quality time with my kids as such I still retain the helper as a necessity otherwise I will be spending all my time and energy doing housework and cooking and will be tire out when the kids are home. Trust me I tried this out and it increases my frustration on the kids.

    I have many curfews to be home when out with my girlfriends as my time evolve around the kids schedule and I want to ensure I am there when they are home. With 3 kids on different schedule, it can be tough managing your time. Its certainly not true there are less adult interactions. You will find that you interact more with other SAHM who are mums to your child’s classmates.

    I inevitably placed higher expectations on the kids to perform academically since I am the one coaching their school work and following closely with tests and assessments. After all, which parent will not want their kid to perform well academically and able to have a good PSLE score to gain access to good secondary school? In this aspect, it has to be managed carefully else it can cause many disappointments.

    Though some days you will feel unappreciated for all the effort you have done behind the scene, I continue to count my blessings being a SAHM. I certainly would never be able to give them as much guidance and advices if I have been working. When my girl came home crying due to friendship problems, I am the first one to help her deal with her emotion, I am also the hero to help them deal with bullies in school by approaching the bullies and I also build a closer relationships with the school teachers by constant communication on the slightest doubt that arise on school matters.

    Above all, I always remind myself its the love for my children that drives me to be a SAHM with no regrets.

    • Devoted mum, you have told me what I really need to hear! I can imagine I will feel unappreciated, I can imagine I will have disappointments too. I want to be the first to be there for my kids too. So hard for that to happen when you are working and not around them. This is exactly my biggest reason to be a SAHM: to be with the kids now and there. Such encouraging words help to keep me unwavered. I know there are many challenges, but many times, I feel a FTWM has many challenges too and it’s more of mummy’s guilt and not able to do much since I am not around the kids when they need me. Also, I can imagine I may feel to return to work and doubt my decision, but I am sure it is all worthwhile to make the switch.

  16. Hi Christy, thank you for sharing your thoughts here. When I decided to quit my work and become a SAHM 4 years ago, I did not have have such a thoroughly thought through process like you have here. So kudos on you on that because it is going to be one of the most major decisions you’ll make in your life 🙂 Honestly being a SAHM is a tough, tough job but it’s not a life sentence. If you so wish, it will be only be for a season in your life. As you said, the kids will eventually grow up. In my opinion, the most important thing is to have the full support of your husband in this decision, not just financially but emotionally and physically as well because there will be days where you will need to be ‘absent from home’ to maintain your sanity ;). Again, thanks for sharing because it has reminded me what I privilege I have to be a SAHM (just as I was feeling a little less motivated this week). Have a wonderful weekend!

  17. Thanks Jean! So true about having the hubby’s support financially, emotionally and physically. I am sure this will pave the right way to lesser stress and lesser frustrations. I am glad this post encouraged you at your less than motivated week. We all have such a time. I wonder if there is any post that will encouraged me as a FTWM. Maybe only the financial part is all I can think of. You have a great week ahead too for the long weekends! 🙂

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