As local mom Amy Henninger puts it, “I would just be working to pay daycare and it was not worth it to me.”
Henninger is not alone. A Pew Research Center study showed that the number of stay-at-home moms is on the rise. In 2012, 29 percent of mothers stayed at home, up six percent from the low of 23 percent in 1999. The average cost of daycare in the Hudson Valley is approximately $13,341 per year for an infant and $11,261 for a toddler, according to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office. For mothers of one or more pre-school aged child, and who are not the sole breadwinners for their households, the cost is often just not worth it.
Henninger, who worked in daycare herself for over ten years, said her decision to stay at home with her now four-year-old daughter was also influenced by the desire to avoid having someone else raise her daughter while she was at work.
Gloria Darmanin of West Saugerties, whose sons are one and three, discovered the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom after being laid off from her job when her oldest was still an infant. Realizing that another job would simply be paying the cost of daycare, she concluded going back to work wouldn’t make sense. Her family refinanced their home and car in order to afford the loss in salary, but she says the benefits are worth it. “I’m someone who doesn’t want to miss a second of this very short time we have with our young ones unless absolutely necessary.”
Though these moms expect to go back to work once their children are in school, they are nervous about that transition back to the workplace.
“I’ve worked since I was 15 years old,” said Darmanin. “I’m afraid being older, not working over these years and having children will be frowned upon. Children mean you will be taking time off if they are sick or for emergencies. Employers realize this.”
Former teacher Jenna Slade, a stay-at-home mom with a two-year-old and another on the way, is concerned changes in the education field could pass her by. “Thinking of how much the school system has changed since earning my degree, it makes me nervous I won’t have a clue on what’s going on.”
Slade wishes there were other options for mothers like her, who would like to both stay home and keep current in their career. She would like to work as a substitute teacher, but hasn’t been able to find a daycare that offers drop-in services without a regular schedule.
A number of moms supplement their family’s income and their resumes with freelance work. Darmanin is the social media coordinator for Hudson Valley Parent Magazine, and writes the newsletters for local business Vine Van Gogh. Slade runs a local branch of the national Macaroni Kid family of websites, which provide information about local kid-friendly events and organizations. Although neither make large salaries in these roles, they get to stay home with their kids, something that Slade plans to continue once her daughter is born in November. “I want my next kid to get to do all the fun things I do with this one.”