Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

SAHM versus Daycare

I recently posted an article called “Why We Didn’t Buy The Most House We Could Afford ” in which I stated that the real reason we went this route was so that we wouldn’t be house rich and cash poor.  As an example, I stated that one of the primary reasons that we went this route was so that my wife could be a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom).  This is something that she wanted to do, and luckily, we were in a position to do it.

Interestingly, most of the comments were steered toward the example (my wife being a SAHM) instead of the real reason “being house rich and cash poor” part.  So with this article, I decided to step out of my warm fuzzy financial realm and think a bit further about the Daycare option versus the SAHM option.

Let me say that I’ve just deleted 500 words on the 2 options, and now I’m starting over again.  Why?  Because of the variability within each of the 2 options!  There are both bad SAHMs and bad Daycare facilities and great SAHM and decent Daycare facilities.  For each case, it really does depend on the SAHM and the Daycare options, parameters and individual variables…

So instead I decided to talk about what my wife did…

First, my wife breast-fed both of our kids.  This was advantageous from both a cost and health perspective.  For a great writeup on the benefits both from a health and cost perspective, check out this article –> (How Much Money Can You Save By Breastfeeding? ).  If you read that article, breastfeeding/breast milk is a superior option.

Before my kids started school, I was always surprised when coming home to see what the day’s project was, sometimes it be playdoh creations, paintings, or whatever the latest bug that were caught for analysis.

My kids have been involved with swimming lessons, soccer, gymnastics,, t-ball, baseball, basketball, storytime at the library, lego club, science club, girl scouts, etc… ever since they were practically old enough to walk.

Both of my kids could read and do basic math before the started school, and both currently (although my daughter didn’t at first) enjoy school very much.

I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg on why being a SAHM for my wife was a better option for us.

I have to admit, I was on the fence about having my wife be a SAHM.  She made good money as an Accountant, and after looking at a few online calculators, we would be quite a bit more wealthy (although we are still above average for our income class).

So, in the end, I have to go with a Charlie Brown answer and say that it really does depend on the parent when deciding to go either the SAHM or Daycare route for anyone else other than my wife.  But I can definitely say that for our kids, the SAHM route was the best for us…

I admit it really doesn’t matter whether a child is raised during the workdays by a SAHM or a Daycare facility, at least if the parent isn’t totally passionate about the task of being a SAHM to begin with.  After all, I’m not a SAHM child and look how wonderful I turned out (Ack).

I'm Okay


Care to share?  Please add to the conversation, I’d really like to hear your thoughts and experiences!


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31 Responses to SAHM versus Daycare

  1. Ok, you’re veering into insulting again.

    “Decent” daycare facility but “GREAT” mother. (emphasis added). Why not great daycare facilities? They only go up to decent?

    “raised by a SAHM or a Daycare facility” Kids who go to daycare are still RAISED by their parents. They’re not RAISED by the daycare facilities. In the same way that your wife took her kids to all those activities, they’re just getting activities in one place.

    “, at least if the parent isn’t totally passionate about the task.”
    I’m very passionate about being a parent. WOHM can be passionate about parenting while still fitting in daycare.

    My kid started reading before age 3 and is doing double digit addition and simple multiplication at age 4. He also writes, knows everything under the sun about dinosaurs, birds, and now volcanoes and a myriad of other subjects. And OMG, he went to daycare. Had he stayed home he would know different things.

    He’s also popular, socially well-adjusted, well-behaved, creative etc. He even cleans up after himself. Though we don’t do any lessons outside of daycare, other than swimming in the summer. He’s doing preschool instead. It takes a village to raise a child and your wife chose outside classes as part of her village. We chose preschool.

    Stop slamming people who didn’t decide to SAHM. I’m not slamming your wife or your choices. Don’t insult me. The sad thing is this is a very tired and ancient argument… but you obviously don’t keep up with mommy boards.

    • Wow, you are reading way too much in to what I write. I’m actually agreeing with your comment on the post: Why We Didn’t Buy The Most House We Could Afford

      I no way did I make that claim that you weren’t passionate about being a parent. I meant exactly as I said, if you are not passionate about being a SAHM (not parenting) they it wouldn’t be for you. My wife’s dream was to be a SAHM since she has in college, she has great passion on that matter… Me, not so much…

      Wow, I’m not insulting you.?. Sorry it came across that way, I’m way too old for such petty pursuits. In fact, I thought I was agreeing with you and giving a link back to your site.

      • Look at the LANGUAGE you are using. It is insulting. Your intentions may be good but your LANGUAGE is not. You probably can’t help it as you’re not aware of it. IBTP.

      • Money Reason can correct me if I’m wrong but when he said, “… isn’t totally passionate about the task” he was just talking about parenting in general. I’ve known stay at home moms who do nothing but cart their kids to the mall and drink Starbucks while their kid plays around in those foam play areas. One can easily argue that kid might be better off in daycare. I’ve known working moms who work just to pay for their kids’ daycare because they like working and they don’t want to be a SAHM (even though they are totally awesome loving moms, btw- they just need a break).

        Maybe you can fault him for not being clear, maybe not, but I don’t think the article came across as anything more than, “Here’s what worked for our family, do what works best for your.”

        If we are to get upset about anything I think it should be over referring parenting as a “task”. It is NOT a TASK! It is a BLESSING! An HONOR! To imply that it’s a task is to imply that it is something that’s to be crossed off a to-do list, something without meaning! It is the MOST important responsibility you’ll ever hope to have!

        Totally kidding about that task thing of course…

        • Lol, good comment.

          The task that I meant was the activity of being a SAHM. But the rest of your comment was spot on!

          My intention of the post was to get career mom’s to state the positives instead of attacking me like Nicole does in her comments.

          Thanks for explaining what I meant. 🙂

  2. This is such a touchy subject, as people feel very passionate based on what they did themselves.

    When I decided to stay home, I got constant grief from people that said I was wasting my Masters Degree, blah blah. When I worked, I heard about all the things I was missing by not being at home from SAHMs. (I worked outside the home 3 days a week for 3 years and stayed home after that. I work part time now, but entirely from home.)

    We tried daycare, but turns out my oldest had an immune system problem and he was getting sick all the time. So, we switched to a nanny instead. I know my kids got great care from the Nanny, and we needed the money I was making. When we were able to live on exclusively one income, I quit.

    My oldest two kids could read/write/ do math before going to school, but that is because they were driven. My third child was an energetic maniac and he couldn’t care less about learning those things. He wanted to run outside, play in the woods, and find caterpillars. I don’t take credit for my first 2 because it was them that determined what they wanted to do. I don’t frown on my youngest because he wasn’t as academically advanced at a young age. He is 13 now and is doing fantastic. Young kids are all different, and you just gotta go with the flow.

    For us, having me stay home has been a Godsend, especially since my oldest had so many health issues when he was younger and missed a lot of school. However, I will say I thing being home during the teenage years is just as important because an empty house can be too much temptation. Sure I have raised my kids to have morals and such, but I know what teens are like and I will never say ‘my kids would never do that’.

    That being said, I do not judge those that choose to work instead of staying home. It is a very individual choice. Nicole, I don’t know that MR was putting down working moms. I think he is just proud of what his wife and children have accomplished. Also, I am sure he is glad that he has a job that allows them to lead the life they have.

    • Thanks for your story on why you choose to be a SAHM. I’m sure you and my wife are in a similar camp with respect to the passion in being one.

      I really does depend on the circumstance. If I were married to a different wife that didn’t have any desire to be a SAHM, I would be more that content with that move. In fact, before we got married, I actually had no plans on my wife being a SAHM. That was entirely her wish.

      And you were right, I was just expaining why we didn’t buy a larger house. By building a modestly sided house, we were able to have my wife stay at home, and fund our 529s, 401ks, Roth IRAs, etc…

  3. Wow MR, you are treading in dangerous dangerous waters (sort of like attacking teachers lol).

    Both sides are very passionate. I wish you luck answering the comments that are going to fly in….although I have to say, I thought you were pretty diplomatic in the post

    • Gee, I honestly thought this would be a genial excercise… People posting what they liked about either choice.

      I meant no offense to either option above.

      Bill the cat was me poking fun of myself.

    • Nah, it’s not like attacking teachers, he didn’t start out by saying he hated all working moms, lol. 😉

      Yeah, I can see this being a passionate subject. I came from a household of both. My mom worked when I was growing up but was a SAHM when my younger sisters were born (8 and 13 years after me). All 3 of us turned out to be pretty smart. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, but I have no idea if Mom working or not had anything to do with it. I liked daycares personally since I didn’t have to do chores, lol. Good luck with these comments MR!

      • Your comment is what I was hoping to hear. Your experiences and your take on the differences add to the discussion (Everyday Tip’s experiences does too).

        Thanks for the personal insight into your experiences growing up!

        I wasn’t raised by a SAHM either, and I’m okay (tick tick, I think anyway) 😉

  4. ET– He’s using specific language (see above) that puts down working mothers. Language is very important. It’s also very common language used to put down working mothers. Like a little verbal knife in the back.


    Personally I don’t feel any guilt about my parenting choices (how could I, since DS is perfect), but I have heard this phrase SO MANY times and seen working mothers (including friends) get so upset about it, like to tears upset, that it makes me angry. I hate the way that so much of this culture is trying to make women feel guilty about their parenting choices.

    He may not have “meant” to put down working mothers, but he IS putting down working mothers.

    • Nicole,
      Sorry, I don’t know what IBTP means…

      I read the link you attached, and it is true, I heard those same things from SAHMs, especially “I want to be the one to raise my children”. On the other hand, I have heard plenty of working moms make comments to me like “What do you do all day?”, “Why are you wasting your education?”, “Be careful because a lot of SAHMs don’t have anything to talk about besides their kids” and on and on. It is just like politics, Republicans will always disagree with Democrats and SAHMs will disagree with those who work. (Obviously some people handle it perfectly well, but I know plenty of people from the opposing political party from me that love to just spout off this and that instead of having a civilized conversation.)

      SAHMs probably make the statements they do to justify their decision to stay home and Working Moms make the comments they make to justify their decision to work. It is human nature to defend your decisions. Unfortunately, some people do it in a totally inappropriate way.

      Maybe it is because I am a SAHM (pretty much), but I do agree with Evan, I think MR handled it pretty diplomatically. However, this post obviously hit a hot button with you, so you and I are just interpreting it differently based on our own experiences I suppose.

    • Nicole is making this post something that it’s not.

      I don’t think it’s wise to read something that isn’t there through you own misinformed eyes. Practically all of the other commentators understand what I meant, while you don’t. This tells me that you are wrong when the others and I tells you what the meaning is, and you still say that it’s not correct. Sorry, but no, your interpretation is incorrect.

      While it was interesting to me initially that you didn’t understand what I was writing on this topic and my typical financial articles, now it’s old and stale. And quite frankly, it reminds me of a child throwing a temper tantrum when they are wrong.

      My articles are primarily from my personal experiences and what works for me and others. It’s not theory and it’s not some TV/movie drama, it’s real and personal.

      I’m a blogger that writes about finances because statistically, I’m way ahead of the curve and believe that I can help others similar to my current income level.

  5. I am a little reluctant to enter this fray! It is a personal choice how you bring up your children, but it must start with the children. My wife worked part time (30 hrs) when our children were small. The hours were skewed to the weekend. Only 2 hours a week were they without one of us. Our kids could read and do math before entering school and participated in all activities such as gymnastics, ballet, etc. Whether you do less or more as long as you are thinking of doing the best for the kids is what matters.

    • Thanks for the comment, this is the kind of information I’m looking for 🙂

      I totally agree, it depends on the kids, parents and what they are oriented towards. Your family practices sounds a lot like my family.

      My wife works 8 hrs a week, so in the summer, she takes the kids to work with her. her boss is very flexible…

  6. Hey MR,
    We quit breast feeding about 4 weeks in. It just was not working out for us. The kid was unhappy and the mom was stressed out. It would be nice to breast feed, but formula it is.

    I would love to be a SAHD! (One reason why I’m trying so hard to build passive income.)

    The Mrs. is talking about not going back to work, but I don’t think she really mean it. She really enjoy working and I’m making her go back to work after the maternity leave is up. heh heh. We’ll see how she feels after a few months back.

    I’m hoping my mom can move up and take care of the kid, but if that doesn’t work we’ll have to go with day care.

    • SAHD sounds like a great way to go! I don’t think I would have made a good SAHD 5 years ago, but today I would be great!

      Sounds like a wonderful plan! As for the breastfeeding, it might have it’s advantages but at least you guys have those 4 weeks in. I remember reading that even that helps! I was a formula baby, and although I have allergies, overall, I’m fine.

  7. Money Reasons – this is a very polarizing subject, especially if you make the assumption that working parents aren’t passionate about raising their own children.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at routines and schedules, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be with my children more.

    Part of me feels that I always have the choice to stay home if I ever need to because we planned our finances that way. I like that flexibility and hope that if my kids really need me, I will be able to see the signs and make the decision that it’s time to hang up the suit coat.

    I like working not because of status or buying fancy stuff, but I do like it for the financial security. There is a great sense of calm and stability that comes from having no debt and a hefty emergency fund. Maybe part of it is also that I grew up very poor and I’m paranoid of going back to that place. Plus my mom worked as well.

    Plus when my first son was born, we made the decision to move my mom to town. We couldn’t have done that without my income (at least not for the first few years). I made a choice to continue working after kids so that I could care for my mother and also so my kids could get to know their grandma. I do not regret that choice.

    So that’s my take. I love that your wife is an awesome SAHM and you still manage to live a debt free lifestyle. I don’t think one lifestyle is necessarily better than another.

    • I’m definitely not saying that working parents are not passionate about raising their kids. I’m just saying that some parents (and I would be one) would not enjoy being a SAHP (Stay at home parent). From my own personall experience, I know that I’m easy to anger if what I’m teaching isn’t grasped quickly.

      The point of my blog post was that every situation is different, and what works well for one person might not work out well for the other. My wife had a great desire to be a SAHM, me, I honestly couldn’t care otherwise.

      Since I wasn’t raised by a SAHM or SAHD, I know that it’s not the end of the world not being raised in such a way. I consider myself to be fine, (a little burned out with all that is going on in my life) but fine all the same.

      Thanks for providing your personal experience and thoughts on the topic. Great information!

  8. MR – After reading your post (and all the comments) I understand what Nicole is saying, but as a working mother myself, I didn’t walk away with the same results. My take away was that your family was able to go with the SAHM route because you made other choices (many financial) to make this happen. And that while it isn’t for everyone, it was right for your family.

    For me personally, I am able to work from home 2 days a week, but for the other 3 our daughter goes to a sitter. A sitter that I honestly don’t know what I would do without. She is wonderful, kind, patient, sweet and loves our child – so I kind of HOPE she is raising our child while she’s there.

    • I think a sitter is a great solution!!! I didn’t really mention that option, but with a caring, intelligent sitter, it’s a one-on-one relationship. I think you may have stumble on the ultimate (pun intended) solution.

      Great point about “raising” while the child is in your sitter’s care! After all, you are paying for her services, so I’d hope that she’s teaching your daughter in some way.

      Thanks for your personal perspective on the matter, and “congratulations” on finding such a great hybrid solution. I think you may have the best of all world with your arrangement!!! Nice, very nice!

  9. My mom worked outside the home most of my life and I did all of my kids’ lives. We all turned out fine.

    I always thought a part time job would have been perfect, but not many companies offer promotion track jobs to part-time workers. So I stayed full time and was able to advance.

    Now as I approach retirement, I am struggling with the same part-time issue as I look at moving to that work schedule as a transition.

    • Yeah, I’m sure in many if not most the socialization of daycare, preschool, and school in general makes a more rounded child all around.

      In fact, even though my wife was a SAHM, she still send the kids to pre-school, just for that exposure.

  10. I think nowadays, most families have both parents working because a single income may not be enough. I think if you can afford to do it with single income and it makes sense, then go for it.

    For most people that I know, they can’t really afford to have a single income so even if the mom wants to stay at home, it’s just not an option. But I’m glad to hear that you are able to avail that option.

    • We cut back on a lot of fun stuff. There were even years where we skipped big vacations. Both of our cars are low end models and at least 8 years old. I’m literally going to try and drive mine into the ground (I hope to get another 5 years out of it).

      We’ve never made over $100,000 in a year. So mostly we had to sacrifice other niceties for the route we chose. For instance, a larger house and bigger yard would be pretty nice right now 🙂

  11. My wife and I pretty much did exactly the same thing as you. I posted about it as well and got some interesting responses. I don’t disagree with either approach (my mom worked), but we’re happier with my wife staying home right now.

    It’s funny, the comments on our post started drifting towards how your kids are going to be more prone to getting sick if they don’t go to day care, and how they will be anti-social (like SAHM’s keep their kids locked up in solitary confinement or something). It’s definitely a polarizing topic.

    • Thanks for the comment Echo. I meant the post to be just an objective open discussion, and it totally went in the wrong direction. I felt like the entire post was hijacked, definitely not what I intended.

      Plus things were made up about me and my views that were completely false, I was pretty offended.

      I’ve learned to now limit the damage from people that don’t get it. I won’t have my blog hijacked again!

      Thanks for sharing, I receive pretty good support from others that knew my character, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. 🙂

  12. I didn’t really intend to comment but since this blog isn’t THAT old and I read every comment and the blog itself it seemed only reasonable to comment.
    I am not a parent but I have worked in every aspect of child care.
    I worked in a daycare that was by all ratio, developmental, and visual standards excellent. I also worked in a daycare that emphasized the stupendous nature of its care while leaving one person in charge of six one year olds.
    I can honestly say that the difficulty of daycare is you don’t know the faceless child care worker and most parents don’t really want to either. We’re paid horrifically low wages (usually no better than $10 an hour and benefits are pretty laughable) and we are as stretched thin as you think you would be after spending eight hours with yours and five other parent’s children.
    I’ve also worked as a nanny and I wish that more parents would consider the nanny or nanny share option. Parents can be just as involved with day care kids and without and it’s no indicator of how good you are as a parent but a nanny can actually provide some consistency and continuity.
    This is a touchy subject. Everyone feels guilty or haughty for their decision and those aren’t even two different groups of people. I think we should always be questioning what is best for the kids and ourselves in tandem. It doesn’t make sense to only think about one half of the relationship because you can’t.
    Thanks for the blog and the way you handled the comment. It was admirable.