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Choosing To Be A Stay At Home Parent

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    Choosing To Be A Stay At Home Parent

    By Roger Sorensen, editor of <a href="http://www.investingpage.com">Investing Page</a>

    The subject of stay-at-home parenting can be a touchy, and at times a tangled whirlwind of emotion, advertising, society pressure, culture demands, and personal beliefs. When you have a mixture of that many ingredients swirling around, the result is likely to be messy unless both parents are in agreement.

    I'll start by examining the reason why many people struggle with the decisions around one parent staying home with their children or both parents working and placing the child in daycare. Before I go any further, I would like to point out that due to limitations on the size of this article, many factors will not be covered here, although there is more material on this subject. I have attempted to highlight a few of what I feel to be most
    important.

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    This list of following statements below showcase reasons both parents work outside of the home today. Unfortunately, many parents face this kind of pressure and a hundred more after the birth of children. How many of these can you agree with?

    <li> You come from a home where both parents work.
    <li> You want your child to have more material objects than you grew up with.
    <li> All of your friends with children are working.
    <li> Your spouse says you have to work to support the family.
    <li> Friends and family ask what you will do all day if you stay at home.

    Being a parent is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. You will always be on call for your child, ready to comfort, feed, clothe, praise, encourage and love every time your child needs you. While working these long hours, you will receive no paycheck, no health insurance benefits, and no office conversations. You will soon learn that deadlines are for doctor visits, play dates, cups of coffee with other stay-at-home parents, and after school activities.

    Why do millions of otherwise perfectly normal, sane, career track minded women (or men because the number of stay-at-home dads is growing), suddenly put their career on hold for years and take on a full time job like I described? Where is the sense in subjecting yourself to the endless hours of lost sleep, deprived personal time, and the emotional roller coaster ride of being an always-on-duty parent living with your child? Part of it may be that these people have decided that money can not buy the benefits they receive by being with their child.

    During the years before school, their child will learn to crawl, walk, talk, to count, hop, skip, jump and climb. It's a sad parent who finds out that their child referred to the day care provider as "Mama". This once helpless baby will stretch out and grow bigger, exploring the world at every step. A step a parent helped them take; a world the parent is showing them. Staying at home with your baby is committing yourself to raising a future adult.

    Perhaps, the couple has calculated how much it really costs to have both parents working and decided the money was not worth the hassle of working and emotional stress of leaving their child to be raised by somebody else. Have you sat down with a pencil and calculator to find out just how much money that second working spouse brings home?

    Allow me to use Sandy (not her real name) as an example: She and her husband Paul have sat down to decide if it was economically feasible for her to stay home after the birth of their second child. They wrote out a list of expenses associated with her working. The major costs include:

    <li> Personal Appearance - gently used or brand new quality clothing was bought frequently to maintain a good image at the office, some required dry cleaning and then she had a need for makeup and beauty products she wouldn't normally wear except to work

    <li> Transportation - a second vehicle requires payments, insurance premiums, license plates, taxes, the occasional repair and plenty of fuel

    <li> Food - Sandy often ate at the corner food shop just down the street from her job

    <li> Daycare - since Sandy and her husband were both working during the day, the baby would have to be placed with a daycare, their first child was already in school

    <li> Taxes - this was a major hit to Sandy's paycheck

    The surprising thing to Sandy was the cost of the little things. Morning coffee, afternoon soda pop, a quick spin through a fast food joint to bring home supper, these and a dozen more ways to spend a dollar here and a dollar there added up. When this typical middle class family deducted all the costs of having both spouses working, they were shocked to discover that Sandy was contributing only a third of her $14 an hour pre-tax earnings to the family. This amounted to only $4.50 an hour, or barely $36 a day to the family Spendable income. That amount calculates into $180 a week and $9000 a year.

    Each family unit is different and you may decide that the money is worth the effort of leaving home to work everyday. There is no right and wrong answer as we traditionally think of right and wrong. Instead, I prefer to think of it as being a best and an O.K. answer.

    When thinking about adding $9000 a year to your family income, you must also consider the intangible costs for earning that money. Intangibles are the things that will cost you something, but are not measurable in terms of money. Working parents miss most of the child's firsts - first word, first step, first funny face, first four years. These things do not provide money, but they do give you sweet and kind memories to take with you through the troublesome teen years.

    Being away from your child 40 - 50 hours a week and missing this kind of stuff is considered the emotional cost of being a working parent. When a child is at home with his/her mother or father, they will be learning about life from someone who loves them more than any outsider. Children are great imitators, and who can be a better role model than a parent?

    Back to our example of Sandy & Paul again:

    Considering her career as a Customer Service Manager, Sandy knew she was topped out in both earnings and responsibility. Based on that, and her family's finances, she decided to stay home when the baby was born. She and Paul worked up a Spending Plan and figured out areas where Sandy could decrease costs, like making home made meals, and taking the
    time to find the best prices for things.

    So assuming that you, as a parent who would like to stay home with your child, what steps should you take?

    <li> Reducing your standard of living to fit within a single income can be difficult, and if both of you are not together on this, it will fail and the stress on your family could be catastrophic.
    <li> Plan what the two of you would like the future to be like. Write down your ideas such as: live on one income, save for the future, pay off debt, enjoy being able to nurture your child at home during the early years, find a part-time job after your child goes to school. Write these plans on paper and hang them on your refrigerator door. Why the fridge? It is the one place in your house you are guaranteed to see them more than once a day.
    <li> If you have a time period of 2 - 4 months' time before you will be ready to stop working, create a Spending Plan right away. This will allow you time to adjust to living on one income and make necessary adjustments to your spending levels such as cutting back on entertainment, or reducing monthly payments for little used services, etc.
    <li> The parent who will be staying home should prepare themselves for the change if they have been working. Start making contact with other stay-at-home parents, talk with your friends about your decision so they will not be giving you grief after the change occurs.
    <li> Keep clear communications open with your spouse, to make sure the two of you are in agreement.

    Making the decision to leave the work force and stay home with your child can be daunting. If you prepare for it as you would for any other lifestyle change, this decision can work out well for everyone in your family.

    #2
    Re: Choosing To Be A Stay At Home Parent

    Don't forget that all jobs have rough spots, so when you want to give up. take a breather and think about what you really want. If raising your kids yourself is worth it, you can make it thru. I think...ask me again next week...

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Choosing To Be A Stay At Home Parent

      Well put!! I agree it is a much heated debate, and there is so much out there to consider. For us, my decision to stay home after baby #2 was this...we calculated our budget for 2005 and realized that after expenses/taxes/etc my take home for 10months of work---$1000!! And that was with a $17/hr job!! Go figure!! Daycare expenses are horrendous. Time at home has been at times demanding, but at the end of the day very rewarding...somehow living on the one income, we are finding that we are financially better off than before!! So it worked well for us for many many reasons....one thing also I might add to the daycare side of things...illnesses and having to take time off from work...many times in my case unpaid, but covered by FMLA......and now surprisingly, but not shockingly we are expecting #3...so being home is meant to be

      Great article!!

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Choosing To Be A Stay At Home Parent

        Excellent article..

        Comment

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