My wife and I are expecting our first child, which means we have a thousand and one things to do before our little one arrives. One of the things we can check off the list is deciding whether or not my wife would continue working after we have our child or if she would be a stay at home mom. I’ll save the suspense – we have decided it is in our best interest for my wife to be a stay at home mom and raise our child at home.
The decision for us was fairly easy – we had been preparing for it since we got married 2½ years ago. Shortly after our wedding we began preparing to have one parent stay at home. We paid off all our debt and started living on less income than we earned. Shortly after paying off all our debt, my wife took a job that paid less, but offered a better quality of living. We decided at that time to live on my salary and split her salary between saving for retirement and building a nest egg.
But the decision isn’t always an easy decision for everyone to make, and there are many factors that come into play. Here are a few things to consider:
Should you be a stay at home mom, or a working mom?
Can you afford it? This is the first and most obvious factor many people consider. Giving up a salary is hard to do, especially in a difficult economy. But you might not be giving up as much money as you would think. After you take into consideration the costs of daycare (anywhere from $4,000 – $15,000 per year), taxes, commuting, professional wardrobe, eating out, and other work related expenses, your take home pay may be less than a third of your actual salary. If you can afford to give up that amount of income, you may decide it is not worth the headache of juggling the stresses of work and raising a family.
Do you want someone else raising your children? This was the deciding factor for us. My wife and I prefer to raise our children instead of shipping them off to day care for the first few years of life (we do not have any family close enough to help out). Your situation may differ if you have a relative who can watch over your children while you work either full or part time. But we want to cherish the time we have when they are young.
Will being a stay at home mom hurt your career? This is an important question to ask. Taking a several year hiatus from the work force can set your career back if/when you decide to return to the work force. But that doesn’t mean you can’t remain active and work on your skills while you are a stay at home mom. You can work as a freelance writer, remain active in professional organizations, obtain professional licenses or certifications, teach online courses, teach evenings at a local community college or university, go back to school, start a small business, etc. There are many other proactive things you can do to lessen the affect of being out of the traditional work force for several years. You may even decide to use this as the launching point for a new career.
Should you stay at home, or return to work?
You will probably get an opinion on this from just about everyone, but this is a decision that should be made by you and your spouse. For my wife and I, the decision was easy. But I know it is a difficult decision for many people.
I would love to hear your thoughts on being a stay at home mom, or returning to the work force after having children.