Can You Afford to Stay at Home?
Whether you are preparing to have your first child or your fourth, you are probably thinking about when you will have to return to work. Many parents at this stage will fleetingly consider having one parent stay at home and then decide that it can't be done. The reality is that it is easier than you think.
To find out whether it can be done, you will need to sit down with your partner, some writing materials, and a calculator. Get together all of your bills – all of them – mortgage, utilities, grocery, entertainment and so on. You want to be able to paint a very accurate picture of your finances and decide whether you can survive on just one salary.
Generally, the more kids you have the easier it is to stay home, due to the cost of childcare. Look at the salary of whomever is staying home and deduct childcare expenses. This tells you how much money you are actually making. For some, once they see that they are making less than minimum wage after childcare, the decision is easy.
Of course, you may have to make some sacrifices to make ends meet, but for the most part, the feeling you get while staying home with your kids is worth it. If you don't think you can afford to do it, look at ways to supplement your income. Maybe you can work a few nights a week, or do something at home for money. You are already at home, so why not look after another child?
If you are really set on becoming a stay at home parent, then you will find a way to make it work. But don't feel like you have to. If the thought of being home with the kids for the next five or more years makes you unhappy, then you are better off to go back to work. Your kids would be much better off with a well-rounded parent that they spend time with evenings and weekends, rather than a full-time unhappy parent.
Another option for those who don't want to stay at home forever is to take a sabbatical from work. See if your work will allow you six months to a year off, and then see if your partner can do the same. That gives you up to two years to decide whether staying at home is something that either of you want to do full time.
With some careful planning, you and your spouse can find a way to make staying at home work for you and your family. Again, it will likely require a few sacrifices and some creative thinking, but it can be done.