Are you discerning about being a stay home Mom or Dad? This is not an easy option, and perhaps you believe it’s unattainable for you. Let’s talk about what needs to happen for you to be able to stay home with your kids. Let’s talk about the sacrifice, the benefits, and the calling of staying home. Let me help you answer the question, “Should I be a stay at home mom (or dad)?
Discerning Staying at Home
The call to stay home with your kids is not for everyone. It isn’t just for women, it isn’t just for moms of littles, and it isn’t the easy way out. So it’s important to start the decision making process with God. You can pray about it alone, but I suggest praying about it together with your spouse.
I have “heard” the answers to many discernments while reading the bible, during a Lectio Divina. But most importantly, don’t make hasty decisions that will have lasting affects on your family. Like I said, it isn’t for everyone, but it could very well be for you. Hopefully, I can help you think through some of the potential struggles and concerns.
Can We Really Live Off One Income?
This is the main reason people don’t have a stay at home parent in their household. The cultural belief is that we need a substantial amount of income to have a stay at homer. This is false. For us, daycare was expensive and I couldn’t afford to work paying more money than I was bringing in, but what about you? What if you are bringing in money that does actually help the family? Well, let’s talk about that.
Back in the 1970s when women were making their way in the workplace, is when there was a sudden spike in a two income household. It was a great time to be a woman… it still is… this is NOT an article against women working! But there is a waterfall effect to both Mom and Dad working.
- Both parents in the household work away from home
- Two incomes means more money.
- More money results in buying more things, bigger things, etc.
- But bigger, better, and more actually means more responsibilities.
- The more responsibilities, the less time for things we love.
- The less time we have, the more rushed and out of control our lives become.
- More rushing around brought on a spike in the service industry (drive thru everything).
Ultimately there was a huge decrease in family time. So take a look at the “waterfall” and decide, is there a bit of wiggle room for us to make THIS work?
What Will We Be Giving Up?
Well for starters you’re giving up hard earned money. That sounds tough, but what will you be gaining? I’ll let you fill in that blank for yourself or you can read more about my thoughts on that in this article here. So your next questions should be…
- What do we use that other income for within our family?
- Can we cut back some of our other expenses?
There are families in poverty all over the globe and some may even be right next door to you. Those families do not have wiggle room to cut back their expenses. Those families also aren’t spending the extra money for extra brand new clothes/shoes. They don’t have the biggest and nicest cars, TV, cell phones, matching appliances, private schools… the list goes on. So what can you give up? Are you living a sustainable lifestyle?
How often do you go out to eat? Do you tend to go out to eat more for lunch if you’re working?
Do Target runs usually end up with you putting at least one extra and unneeded item in your cart? What does your Amazon orders look like these days?
Add it All Up
Do yourself a favor and go through your credit card bills and bank statements. Figure out where your money goes each week, and divide the expenses into categories. You may think there is no room to improve until you add it all up. We were surprised at how much we spent going out to eat each month. We were $100s off in some categories.
Unexpected Expenses of One Parent Home More Often
As with all good things… there are some areas you have to consider that could work against you a little.
- Utility bills will go up:
If you’re home more often, then you’ll see an increase in electric and water bills. It’s simple math, using more energy costs more money, but we didn’t even consider it at the time we decided I’d stay home.
- Be careful not to shop out of boredom:
I used to feel (especially in the beginning) that I needed to get out of the house everyday. On hot days, cold days, rainy days, or miserable to be outside days I’d take us to Target. Amazon was another hard one.
- Starting a business costs money too:
When you’re home more, you might feel the need to do something that helps you feel more than a parent or a spouse. I sure did! Just remember if you’re trying to save money so you can stay home… don’t spend money until you have a good plan (involve your spouse).
- Going through the fast food joints:
Once you try to make the zoo trips, library, parks, playdates, and such you may feel pressed for time and justify going through the drive thru to help the hungry “monsters” settle easier than they would if you brought them home and tried making a meal from scratch. Can we say HANGRY?!
What if I Don’t Want to Stay Home?
Then you absolutely don’t have to. There really are some people that can’t survive without the structure of a work environment. Maybe you thrive at work because you enjoy the challenge. I’ll tell you I had that too. Now my challenge is having a bunch of kiddos all close and age… and I love it! That doesn’t mean you should have a gaggle of kids, it just means you can conquer challenges at home too… but it’s different.
Let’s say you don’t want to be a stay at home mom/dad, but you do see the benefit in someone staying home, then what? Well, check to see if the other spouse is open to staying home. Perhaps, going part-time is an option for either one of you. Maybe you can’t be there everyday, but you can be there significantly more than you are now.
Should I Be a Stay at Home Mom (or Dad)?
No one can answer this question but you and your spouse. Pray on it. Work the numbers. and see if it’s for you. If you decide it isn’t, or that it won’t work financially, then maybe ask a relative or even a close friend who the kids respect (as you do too) to spend some days with your kids during the “Golden Hour.” Remember your ultimate goal is to give your kids the benefit of getting one on one time with someone, not getting lost in the crowd, and getting to relax in a safe space.