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It’s Not My Money, It’s Our Money

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One of the toughest things I went through after I gave up working to become a stay-at-home mum was the loss of independence. I had been earning my own money since I was fifteen years old. I always had a part-time job during school. I have vivid memories of my mum coming home on several occasions to tell me that I was starting work in one of the local cafés or restaurants in our home town. I was met many times with the words “You’re starting this Saturday”, (whether I liked it or not). And yes, some of them were good and some were absolutely ghastly, but it gave me a taste for working and more importantly, I had my own money. And I liked it.

So I continued working part-time all the way through college, eventually getting out then into the working world. You don’t realise it at the time but there is a wonderful sense of achievement in being able to work and then reap the benefits of that work, which is to have independence and your own money. That’s why I think I found it so hard to cope after I gave up working to stay at home and take care of my children. All of a sudden the money wasn’t there anymore. And that was a very strange feeling to me and a big, big shock to my system. As far as I was concerned, everything that I used to do for myself had to stop – buying clothes, getting my hair done or even buying myself make-up which I always loved. Because it wasn’t my money that I was spending now, it was his.

I sat with my husband many, many times talking about this, often crying about how I had run out of toiletries or badly needed a new pair of runners but couldn’t bring myself to go out and buy them. He tried so hard, pleaded with me even to go out and get whatever I needed. But I kept shaking my head through the tears, telling him that I couldn’t go out and spend his money like that. To which he kept replying “it’s not my money, it’s our money”.

 I’m not exaggerating when I say that it took me the best part of two years to finally begin to accept that statement. Even now I can’t say that I fully accept it (or ever will) but I have finally learned to live with it. Now I will go out and buy something if I need it and not feel as traumatised as I used to. After many discussions on the topic he has finally brought me around to believing that although I am not bringing money in, I am still doing a job here at home and an important one at that. The trouble is my brain has always had trouble connecting the two. To me a job was not a job unless there was a pay cheque at the end of it.

I also know that for me, part of the problem has been worrying about what other people might think of me. There have been many occasions where someone has turned to me in conversation and said “So what do you do for a living?” And every time I have stopped and hesitated, afraid to say what I do, because for fear that if I say that I am a stay-at-home mum, that will not be a good enough answer. And yes, the truth is that sometimes when I have said it I have been met with a pause and a blank stare. But there have equally been times when I have told people and they have nodded (almost patted me on the back) and said “ah, a full-time job then, seven days a week”.

The truth is people will always have their own opinions, but most of the time we are the ones judging ourselves. I know I did, I judged myself into oblivion until I was almost a nervous wreck. But I don’t do that anymore because I know that I made my own decision to give up work for a while and stay at home. And I now know that this is ok. However I should point out that I have massive respect for any woman who has children and goes out to work every day because that is a tough thing to juggle.

 I know that someday I will return to work when the time is right. But in the meantime I have learned some valuable lessons. The main one being that giving up your independence completely (especially when you have had it for so long), can have a very negative effect on you and leave you feeling very lost and low at times. I have also learned that taking care of your children is wonderful but you cannot give yourself up to them completely. Otherwise you will find yourself starting to fade away.

 So whatever you do, try not to give yourself up completely. Try and hold onto some of that independence if you can, be it financially or just personally. You will feel happier within yourself, I can guarantee it. And a big shout out to my lovely husband for always recognising that what I do here at home is a job, and never, ever being greedy or selfish with ‘our’ money.

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

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10 Comments

  • Alan Herbert

    I totally get where you are coming from.

    Before becoming a SAHD I wasn’t flash with the cash but if I saw something I needed at a decent price I’d buy it.

    Now I hate even taking a few pound to buy a coffee when taking one of the kids to a hospital appointment or one of their sports events.

    #globalblogging

    • admin

      It gets easier with time but I have to admit I still keep the spending to a minimum. I probably always will as long as I’m in this situation – force of habit I guess!

  • Heather Keet

    I’ve never hesitated to spend ‘our’ money, but that may be because I was raised by parents who viewed every dime they each made as family money. When I first married Hubster there were times when he would call it ‘his’ money and then I’d withhold doing any chores that benefitted him. The first time he ran out of clean underwear made him realize how much stuff I did without notice or acknowledgement. #GlobalBlogging

    • admin

      Believe me I have considered the whole ‘I’m not washing your clothes anymore!’ scenario but I never go through with it. Because at the end of the day I realise that he is fully supportive of me and it’s really my issue that I have to overcome. That’s what you get for having an independent mind!

  • Carmela

    Omg I needed to read this! I feel like the universe is always leading me to the right person. Just this morning I was feeling all the feels about “not having my own money”- because I decided to stay at home (and side-hustle as a new blogger).

    I feel you sister. Just like you, I have been working since age 15. I’ve always had my own money. It’s been two years now and I still cannot accept or move on that I am not employed just like a regular employee. I need to keep reminding myself that this setup is the best for our family (for now).

    It’s good to know that I am not alone. #blogcrush

    • admin

      That’s what I always tell myself too – that it is the best situation for my girls right now and that someday I will get my independence back. I will never get over not having my own money but I am very lucky that my husband is so supportive and never makes me feel awkward about spending it. He is the one who kept pointing out to me that I am doing a job here at home, just an unpaid one. It definitely helps you get through when you have a supportive partner.

  • Lisa Pomerantz

    This is such a great post. Our money here is indeed our money. I am the one who earns and struggles to spend since we hit a big bump in the road. Thanks for helping me set my head back on! #blogcrush xoxo

    • admin

      Thanks Lisa, it is all about supporting each other isn’t it? That’s what I have learned from all of this. I miss having my own income but I know I will get it back someday!

  • Lucy At Home

    As a SAHM for 8 years, I really relate to this – my husband is always happy for me to spend the money but I always feel like I need to ask permission first or at least let him know what I intend to do before actually going and doing it. #blogcrush

    • admin

      Me too Lucy, I am now a lot more comfortable spending it but I still always make sure to run by him what I have spent it on. I don’t think I will ever feel fully ok with it but it is getting easier.

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