I am thinking about money today, and not in the "oh I have so much money I just don't know what to do with it" kind of way. I am trying to figure out just how little money we can bring in and still maintain our standard of living (or at least close to it).
We've never really had a budget. Back when I was still working full-time and was pregnant with my first child, I sort of drew up a budget. We knew we wanted me to stay home as much as possible, so we took a huge inventory of our assets vs. liabilities and did manage to create a budget which allowed me to significantly cut back on my hours after Maddie was born. But that budget soon went out the window, and we haven't really had one since that time.
It's 8 years later, and we have an entirely different financial situation at this point. I work a part-time job (Saturdays) and currently work full-time hours doing childcare. This past year has been terribly stressful for me, but we've had a great income. I have given notice to 3 (out of 4) childcare clients that I will be ending my position in June. The plan has been to continue watching "K: (an 8-year-old girl) and use that income to get us through the summer.
Really, really long story short, I am not sure things are moving in a positive direction with "K" - there has been a huge increase in the amount of fighting - especially when the kids play outdoors and our neighbor gets involved (we live in a townhome, so the backyards are rather cozy - our neighbor is also a 2nd-grader and some big problems have come up when all the girls are outside). Add to these problems the fact that when I do childcare, I can't allow my own children to do certain activities.
Maddie wants to go to Girl Scout camp this year, and I plan on sending her. All of my kids enjoy Vacation Bible School. My kids have never learned to swim - because I have always had daycare kids in my care and can't take them to lessons at the pool. The list goes on and on...... Basically, I feel like my kids have had to accept less because of the kids in my care. Even though K is mostly a good kid (with the exception of the recent fighting), I still can't let my kids go off and participate in other activities if she is in our care.
Part of me says that I should just quit - stay home with my own children. Let them take swim lessons and meet Daddy for lunch at his office once and a while. Do things that other kids with a SAHM can enjoy doing (things we haven't done for a long, long time). But the other part of me says that the money I bring in (even if it's meager and way below fair market value for my services) is still grocery money each week.
So we're back to the budgets. I really need to see if we can live off of Craig's salary alone (my part-time job has no hours in the summer, so I don't even get that little paycheck to help). I know things are going to be really, REALLY tight, but maybe we can make it work.
My children are 8, 6 and 3 - they aren't babies anymore and I feel like I have missed out on so much in the past few years. They won't be young for much longer - I really feel like I need to take the time NOW to be with them again. With Maddie approaching the "tween" years, I know it's just a matter of time before friends will seem more important than family. I want to enjoy a summer where she just wants to be with me. Maybe that's selfish in a way, but I think my selfishness really only helps them too.
I'll post tomorrow on my budget findings - hopefully good news for us. when I first started typing today, I was going to ask opinions on IF I should quit my babysitting for good. As I wrote, it's become pretty clear that it's what I really want. I just need to make it work.