A question that plagues expecting and new parents is whether or not one of them should quit their job to become a stay-at-home-parent. It is definitely a decision that is fraught with worry, frustration, regret, and confusion.
Here are some factors you may want to consider as you make this all-important decision for your growing family.
Is it feasible to live off of one partner’s income? If yes, then you will probably still need to project how you will live if you cut out the supplementary income. It may mean less take out and money for spending, and more frugality when it comes to the budget. If the prospect of losing an entire salary is daunting, you may need to take a serious look at your budget to determine if staying at home is even a possibility for you. You will be saving on childcare, which ultimately can take a huge chunk of your pay, but in addition to the monthly bills, what would happen when an unexpected expense arises? Would you be prepared financially? Dave Ramsey has a great budget option for people who wish to live off one income, and there are many other helpful programs and budgets out there to accommodate different incomes. This financial consideration requires thought and preparation and can be very scary once you begin to investigate, but work through those fears and learn your options.
Will You Miss Working?
Many people get a sense of purpose from their job. They feel needed, wanted, and necessary, and they get rewarded with pay and positive affirmation. Not every aspect of employment is enjoyable, but once you eliminate work from the picture, some people begin to feel they lack importance, and sometimes they lose their sense of self. This is a very real struggle that can happen when you become a stay-at-home-parent. You love being with your kids, and there are moments you wouldn’t trade for anything, but somehow you become lost in the shuffle of eat, sleep, play and you doubt yourself and your worth. Knowing that this is a possibility, you have to consider if losing your job means losing yourself and can you cope with the often mundane and repetitive tasks of parenting? A 9-5 job is one you can leave at the office, but as a parent, you will always be on-call and your mini coworkers will always need you. If you’ve chosen to become a stay-at-home-parent and you are stuck in a funk, consider joining a stay-at-home-parents support group or play group, or scheduling outings for yourself every once in a while. Moms and dads are important and fostering your sense of self includes taking time out of the day for yourself! If you spend your day giving, giving, and giving, you will be left depleted. Remember to take for yourself and ask for help or a break, if you need it!
Sharing Parenting Responsibility
Discussing with your partner how you will share parenting responsibility is important. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can tend the house and children all by yourself. Things happen throughout the day which can make those chores difficult to finish, and you can end up feeling defeated and discouraged; feeling that you have let your partner and family down. Don’t be so harsh on yourself and don’t try and tackle every chore in a day’s time! Take time to enjoy your children. Isn’t that why you decided to stay at home? Make sure to agree on which chores and household responsibilities will be handled by you or your partner. This may change daily, or weekly, but you can quickly burn out if you put everything on yourself. Even though you are the primary caregiver, you are not the only parent and shouldn’t have to feel that you are solely responsible for the children. Parenting is a blessing that you share with your partner, and you need to recognize this fact and make sure that everyone is taken care of without either one of you feeling overburdened.
One aspect of employment is that you are around adults with whom you probably have more in common with than your babies. Missing that connection of adult conversation can cause a stay-at-home-parent to regret their decision to leave the work environment. Many parents have found ways to connect that work for them including social networking as a means to stay in touch with family and friends they don’t get to see as much. There are also online parenting forums where many moms and dads can go for advice, support, and a little humor. Finding local play groups in your area is another way that will keep you in touch in your community and will force you to get out and about, thus avoiding a serious case of cabin fever. However you find it, adult connection is key to keeping a stay-at-home parent from burning out.
Cafe Mom is a great forum to connect with other stay at home mom’s going through a similar situation, for support, advice and general conversation with people you can relate to.