Proper care and feeding of a SAHM is a big problem among Americans, notably and specially the conservative Christian ones. This is meant for guys who want to know what tools and resources their SAHMs need to not just survive but bloom into productive, cheerful wife critters. It’s also meant for women who want to be SAHMs or are SAHMs who don’t know what to ask for before or during marriage.
To start with, the baseline income for the household (primarily from the husband working) needs to be about 100k in 2015 dollars. I have to slap a dollar value on the value of lost community, and about 100k is a good starting baseline. If you want to live a functional life on less, you need some combination of the following:
- Relatives who really will help out around the house and/or with the kids. Vet, vet, vet them on this so that you can make alternate plans if they think “helping out” means “one night a year, with pay”.
- Willingness to rent rather than own. Even when it costs the same to get a mortgage payment, the fixed costs of home maintenance are higher in most parts of the country.
- Willingness to accept a smaller family size than is usual in conservative homeschool type circles. This is historically normal in America. People wanting to economize smartly and do without domestic help didn’t have large families. A lot of people will tell you their own sainted mother did without domestic help and raised 4/7/10 kids easily, but those people are nearly all men and are going off their childhood memories, where they didn’t know that the neighbor girl(s) who hung around all day were paid mother’s helpers. Or they’re lying. Sorry!
- Access to safely walkable basics like groceries and parks.
- Consider the health impacts of pregnancy and nursing with regard to family size. And consider how long it will take the youngest to reach an age of being helpful if you want a truly large family (7 or more kids). One of the reasons I promote household help for SAHMs is that one woman without any help generally maxes out at three kids. Some women can handle four on their own, but generally things start to break down after that for most women. So if you ignore my first thing and want her to stay home alone with seven or eight kids, don’t expect much. She’ll never have the time or energy to show them how to do chores until it’s too late to be useful.
- Strong church fellowship. Church folks who take care of young mothers seriously are a great blessing and totally can make it possible for a SAHM to thrive at lower household incomes.
- Good neighbors. See above.
Now those are things that make it possible to be functional, effective and relatively rested as a SAHM on more limited income. At higher incomes, they provide a backstop for times when income is not so stable or when you have income but can’t purchase adequate substitutes for real community and family ties. Those things also make it possible for SAHMs of smaller families to be truly leisured and able to devote time and care to supporting their local community institutions and providing support to some of their own family or local community members as needed.