When many women picture their future family, they often imagine becoming a stay at home mom. A recent study actually found that the number of women staying at home with their children is on the rise for the first time in decades, equalling about 10.4 million stay at home moms in the United States! Our maternal instinct kicks in the moment we become pregnant, and the thought of leaving our baby after our maternity leave usually doesn’t settle well. Sure, there are mothers who prefer to return to work, but this article is geared towards those mamas who would love to make some changes in their lives and leave the workforce behind for a few years. Let me say this upfront: becoming a stay at home mom is a HARD job, and often more difficult than reporting to the office every day. There are no days off, and your kids aren’t exactly forgiving with their own deadlines (aka needs). It also requires some planning if your spouse doesn’t already have a job that provides enough for the family. So, if becoming a stay at home mom is something that you desire with all your heart, then check out our list of ways you can make your dream a reality.
1. Plan Ahead
If you are currently a dual-income family, then becoming a single income family is going to take some careful planning. Only you can determine if the complete loss of an entire income can still sustain your monthly budget. If you know that you want to stay at home, no matter the cost, then you have to start saving money before and while you’re pregnant. Make sure your communication with your spouse is clear, so he doesn’t assume you want to return to work when you really don’t. If you want to find a job that allows more flexibility where you can work from home, start looking before you become pregnant or have the baby. Deciding to leave your job while on maternity leave should be a last resort. It is a huge decision that should be heavily considered before your baby arrives and you are in the throes of postpartum emotions!
Transitioning to a single income requires a budget, one that is easy to stick to. Remember that you need to start with only budgeting your spouse’s take home pay, not their gross income. A great tool that will help you decide if you can afford to stay at home, is a “Stay At Home Calculator,” like this one found at Parents.com. The fact of the matter is, it is going to more important than ever to stick to your budget when you are one 1 income, because you won’t have extra income to cover your expenses. So if you’re ready to take the plunge and stay at home, make it less stressful by having a budget that’s manageable.
3. Consider the Cost of Childcare
Many women think they have to go back to work simply because they need the income. However, depending on where you live and how many children you have, the cost of childcare can eat up half of your take home pay. For some families, it just makes more sense for moms to stay at home, even though they still suffer a loss of income. Because childcare would have taken up much of their paycheck anyway, the reduction is not as drastic. You will additionally save money by not having to spend gas on driving to your childcare provider, yet another way staying at home may end up working for your family.
4. Change Your Priorities
Before kids, having weekly dinner dates, vacations and new clothes may have been the highlight of your life. A change in your priorities will happen automatically once your children enter the world, but if you’re considering staying at home, you’ll need to continue to change your priorities. You may have to give up your Target shopping trips in favor of the the $.99 store, or start shopping second hand. If you decide that staying at home is your priority, then your spending habits and attitude will have to change too.
5. Get Rid of Debt
If you are having trouble just paying your regular bills, you can forget about becoming a stay at home mom if you have additional debt to pay. Pay off credit cards, buy affordable cars that don’t require monthly payments, pay down student loans so you have lower monthly payments (or pay them off entirely if you can!) and don’t open new lines of credit for things you don’t need (like that new TV). We live in a society where, if we want something, we buy it- even if we can’t afford it! Becoming a stay at home mom requires planning and diligence, so you may have to put off staying at home or having children if you can’t get around your debt.
6. Plan For An Emergency
No matter how much you plan, you don’t often plan for an emergency to happen! No one wants to imagine a flooded basement, car accident or medical bill that seems insurmountable. Being a stay at home mom is stressful enough, so don’t add to it by not having a savings account for emergencies. We often think about just the mother when talking about making staying at home a reality. But your spouse is now under more pressure than ever, by being a parent and the sole bread winner for the family. It’s a fabulous idea to save at least 6 months worth of salary before quitting your job. You will be so thankful that you can afford to fix the water heater when you need to, and not have to worry about re-mortgaging your house, or having to borrow money.
7. Work From Home
Just because you no longer work in an office, that doesn’t mean you can’t work at all. Many, many mothers decide to work from home or do small, side jobs to help contribute to the family. I knew that I wanted to be able to work from home (not working was just not an option), so while I was pregnant and working my full time job, I started to search for jobs that allowed me to work from home. I ended up working for about 9 months for my full time job, as well as part time for a work from home job, just so that I could transition over once my daughter was born. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off in the end.