The moment I found out I was pregnant, I started thinking about child care. As a teacher, I enjoyed my job but knew I no longer wanted to work full-time, at least not while my kids were young. I thought about working part-time yet, in the end, being a stay-at-home mom proved to be the best choice for our family. Here are some of the main factors that went into our decision.
What Is Best for the Family?
While finances are a huge factor, you have to think about what is best for your family. Each situation is different. For us, we wanted to have a parent stay home. However, I didn’t want my husband to be working so much that he never saw the kids. Thus, eventually, I started working from home part-time (mostly while my kids slept). Before you figure out what you can do (in regards to childcare), decide what you want to do. Then, try to make it work.
Teachers’ salaries aren’t the grandest. In addition, I had to factor in the cost of gas and extra money I spent on school supplies. The places I looked at for child-care were quite costly. In addition, I would have had to buy or rent a hospital-grade breast pump for at least a year. After using an online calculator, I found most of my salary would be used on these expenses. After cutting out some unnecessary costs like our gardener and cable, it appeared we would be able to live on one income. If you are debating between paying for child care or staying at home, you should research child care costs or use a stay-at-home calculator to help you make a decision.
Doing a Dry Run
These days, the cost of living is high. People often forget about expenses, such as vehicle registration, car seats or vaccinations for their animals. It all adds up, and quickly. The best way to decide if you can make it on one income is by doing a dry run. For six months, my husband and I lived off of his income (while I was still working). We took my salary and put it into a separate account. If you can’t make it financially while you “practice” living on one income, you’ll need to make some adjustments. If you are planning on seeking paid child care, you should also start living as if you are paying for child care, now. Take the money and put it into an emergency fund. This will help you see if your child care plan is feasible for your expanding family.
Leave of Absence
As a teacher, I was lucky enough to be able to take a two year leave of absence and still be able to keep my job when I returned. Although I had a second child after the two years were up, the leave of absence gave me a sense of security. I knew that if staying at home wasn’t working out, I could return to my job. Whether you are thinking about staying home or working, you should find out what laws your state has in regards to a leave of absence (for both mom and dad). In addition, will your spouse’s health care plan cover the entire family?
Thinking About Your Future
Unfortunately, the economy is not always stable. When the economy went sour, I was glad I had a large emergency fund. I was also glad my husband had a stable salary that didn’t fluctuate too much during the recession. This is not to say living on one income isn’t hard. You have to be well-prepared for disasters. In case you do need a job, it’s also important to keep your skills up and keep your professional contacts.
I enjoy staying home, and I’m glad my family and I were able to make this situation work!
More from Melissa:
Shouldn’t All Fathers Receive Paid Paternity Leave?
Pregnant? You May Want to Take a Babymoon
Inducing Labor: How Pitocin Can Impact Your Delivery