One of the most difficult decisions a woman* must make when she has children is whether she should stay at home to raise them or continue in the workplace. For many women, staying at home is not even an option because she is either a single mom or she and her husband cannot afford to maintain their home without her income. However, if you are pregnant and considering staying at home, there are many factors to consider before making a decision.
- Ability to re-enter the work force. Before quitting a job to stay home and raise children, women should look at how easy it will be for them to re-enter the work force in a few years when the kids are in school. If they are well-established in a career path, re-entry should not be too difficult. However, if they have very little experience, perhaps they should wait a year or two before leaving work to care for children. If they do not plan to return to work, this is less of a factor, but it is important to keep options open. Many women eventually find that they want something else to fill their time when the children are a little older.
- Lost income and cost of child care. Women who are working outside the home should also consider how much income they are likely to lose by staying home. This calculation should include how much they would lose in current income and future raises, but it should also deduct what the couple would otherwise spend on child care.
- Spouse’s support of your decision. This is probably the most important of all the factors to consider. If your spouse does not fully support your decision, you may be subjecting your marriage to problems in the future. Spouses who work outside the home are usually not aware of how much work a stay at home mom does in a day. Therefore, they have a tendency to come home after being at work all day and assume their wives are less exhausted than they are. They may not understand that moms need breaks, too, and they may fail to really value their wives’ contributions to the household. All of these things can lead to resentment over time from both spouses. No matter what benefits you can bring to your child by staying home, they will not outweigh the consequences of subjecting your child to living with parents who do not get along.
- Backup plan if working spouse can no longer work. One of the realities that couples who choose to have one parent stay at home to rear children often fail to fully consider is the possibility that something could happen to the working spouse, rendering him unable to work and meet the needs of the family. While unpleasant to think about, parents should consider what their backup plan will be in that situation. Whether that means purchasing life and/or disability insurance or having the non-working spouse maintain a part-time work from home position is up to the couple, but it is an issue that should not be ignored.
*This article is geared towards mothers because they are by far the most common parent who stays home to care for children. For the sake of easier reading, the article addresses mothers, but all of these factors are equally important for dads who are considering staying at home.