7 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Stay-at-Home Parent
A couple friends have recently cast off the shackles of the working world to embrace the role of stay-at-home parent.
Walking away from any full-time salary in this economy is a tough decision. Scores of parents haven't had the luxury of choice because of layoffs, downsizing, and the overall fiscal turmoil.
So far, the decision is proving a rewarding one for our friends, but they certainly debated the merits and quality-of-life considerations long before taking the plunge. Here's a look at some of the major fiscal, social, and familial factors they took into account. (See also: Why Stay-at-Home Dads Are Good for Families via Parenting Squad)
1. The Single Salary Budget
It's the obvious starting (and possibly ending) point. The most important question surrounding becoming a stay-at-home parent is whether your family can truly afford living on one salary. Before becoming a stay-at-home parent, make sure to adequately plan for the reduction in income. Make sure that your family is able to maintain the same quality of life they are used to while also having adequate income to save for retirement. Honest budgeting and realistic expectations regarding necessities and wants are key.
2. Having a Safety Net
If the employed spouse becomes injured, terminated, or laid off, will your family be able to support itself until your spouse finds work again? Unless your family is able to support itself for six months without a salary, becoming a stay-at-home parent may not be a good option. A sudden job loss could leave your family in a tough financial spot.
3. Adequate Communication
While one parent is working and the other is staying at home, it is very easy for resentment to build between spouses. One or both may feel taken advantage of, and it is often common for the stay-at-home spouse to feel neglected. Before you decide to stay-at-home, it's a good idea to thoroughly discuss how you will manage the change and how you plan on keeping the lines of communication open. Also plan to make several changes to accommodate the different schedules and remain flexible.
4. Actual Savings
While you may be saving money on child care and gas by choosing to stay at home with the kids, you may spend more money on utilities, food, and activities. Trying to entertain children at home may also prove to be more expensive as you may have to purchase new toys or plan for daily outside activities. Actually sit down and calculate the current expenses you have at the office and those you can expect to have while staying at home.
5. Social Outlets
Staying at home instead of going to the office can bring about strong feelings of isolation and lacking social connections. Before becoming a stay-at-home parent, make plans for maintaining an adequate social life. Also keep in mind that having to create a social life outside of the office can be more expensive. Instead of being able to have lunches in the meeting room with coworkers to fulfill social needs, you may now have to enroll in enrichment activities or plan to eat out more.
6. Career Prospects
While most parents choose to become stay-at-home parents during their childen's younger years, many desire to return to the working world once their children are older. Being out of the workforce for numerous years can decrease the likelihood of securing a job in the future, and parents who choose to stay home need to consider whether they would be comfortable about being in a lower position or not obtaining one at all in the future.
7. The Effects on Children
While many parents believe that staying at home with their children can be more beneficial for their children, it can actually be detrimental. Day care provides children with a great way to learn to be social and how to function well in group settings. When children are kept at home, they can be deprived of socialization unless a parent sets up frequent social experiences such as play dates or trips to the park.
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