Making the decision to be a stay-at-home mom can be difficult. Knowing whether it's the right choice for you—without peer pressure or social expectations—involves a lot of introspection and taking a good, hard look at the facts. These are the questions every new mom should ask herself before she takes the leap from working mom to stay-at-home mom.
1. Is this a decision my partner and I have made together?
Just like every big parenting decision you will make, you both have to be all in on this one. Make sure you each know what you expect from the arrangement—from how long it will last to the division of household and childcare labor. If you’ve both just always assumed you would stay home, you might want to discuss it to understand why and whether it's something you both agree is the best decision for your family.
2. Can we afford it?
Even if you’ve both agreed you will stay home, you need to be sure it’s a decision that will work for you. While many couples discover that a second income is eaten up by childcare costs, filling the gas tank and eating out more frequently, in some cases even a severely reduced second income can make a difference in the household budget. Are you willing to make whatever financial sacrifices might be required in order for you to stay home? Make sure you run the numbers before you commit to staying home so there are no surprises later on.
Are you sure you can cope with the long days spent with only little ones for company?
3. Do I have the temperament for it?
Being a stay-at-home mom may seem like the “right” thing to do—either because you were raised by a stay-at-home mom or because it’s something you’ve daydreamed about being able to do for your own kids—but the reality is that it can be very lonely. Are you sure you can cope with the long days spent with only little ones for company? Do you have a support system of stay-at-home parents you can reach out to when you need help, or just an adult conversation?
4. How long will I stay home?
Before you decide to be a stay-at-home parent, decide how long you want it to last. Ideally, you’re putting away money to help ease the transition and are leaving your job in good standing. While it may seem like you have all the time in the world and you’re in no hurry to go back to the daily grind of work, consider that the longer you’re out of the work force, the harder it may be to return. Do you want to stay home until the baby is old enough for preschool? Until kindergarten? Beyond? You may certainly change your mind, but having a time frame at the start will keep you focused on your goals.
5. What comes next?
When you decide to go back to work, will it be part-time, full-time or even flex-time? Will you return to the job or field that you left, or do you want to try something new? If you intend to go into a new field, will you need to use some of your stay-at-home time for education, training, networking or job hunting? Start planning now for what you will do when you do go back to work. Having a plan, and knowing that your financial and emotional needs are covered both short-term and long-term, will make staying at home a great experience for both you and you baby!