Well, here you are embarking on a new journey of important motherhood decisions! Let me be the first to congratulate you and to also tell you that this decision is not an easy one. The decision to be a stay at home mom comes with many possible questions and scenarios that play in your head. All the “what ifs, how will I, how will we, can we even?” questions were swimming in my head when I made that decision myself. After months and months of contemplating, the same important questions kept popping back up for discussion. So here you go mama, the most important questions you must answer to help you decide if you should transition to becoming a stay at home mom.
1. Will my family’s financial situation allow me to stay at home? This is the most important one in my opinion. Will your family be able to adjust to the new family income (or lack there of)? The easiest way to answer this is by a simple calculation. What is your family’s take home income? In other words, how much is actually in the bank every month? Once you have this question answered, subtract what you are currently bringing in, since that is what your family would potentially be without. Ok, got that number? Good. Now, add up all your family’s expenses; bills, grocery store money, entertainment, everything your family currently spends. Finally, find the difference between the two. Can your family make it without your income or are you now in the negative? If you cannot currently afford it, revisit your budget and see if you can adjust some expenses such as unnecessary spending, consolidating payments, pay off any debt before embarking on staying at home, or any other miscellaneous or frivolous expenses. Answering this question is a big factor in whether your family could afford living without the income that you would not be bringing in anymore.
What our family did: My husband and I added up all our bills and since we would be on only his one income, saw if he could afford to pay all the expenses. Once we determined that he could, we did a trial run of two months, where my income went into a savings account and we used only his income to pay for everything. Once those two months were done, we knew that we could financially handle living off of one income.
2. Can I manage taking care of my babies/children all day long? How will I accept leaving them with someone/somewhere else? This was also a big one for me, and a hot topic in the parenting world. Only you and your S/O can decide what is best for your family. Whichever is your answer, you will have to think about it a lot, especially if you have a newborn you are debating to put in daycare, or children you just don’t want to be without. How do you feel about day care facilities, do you trust/don’t trust them? Are you uneasy just thinking about the question? How will you function once you have dropped them off? Does the price of daycare outweigh your personal current income to where there is no benefit? However you decide, it is a question you will have to face and come to an agreement with before deciding if you will be staying at home or continuing to work.
What our family did: Personally, we were not comfortable with leaving our newborn in daycare, so we chose not to. I am sure there are many wonderful, state of the art, beautiful facilities, but for us, we decided we were not ready for that transition after my maternity leave. Again, this was our decision for our family, and what was right for us may not be right for another family. Regardless, it is a question that must be discussed and answered.
3. Am I ok with the idea of staying at home the majority of the time? Let me say that yes, you can make schedules, yes you can go out to Story Time at the Library, the neighborhood park, the museum, the mall, etc., but there will be many days where being a stay at home mom will mean….staying at home. Staying at home can be wonderful, there will be many bonding moments between you and your little ones, and it can be very fulfilling. On the flip side, being a stay at home mom can be very isolating, secluding, and at times even depressing. You will have less adult interaction because you are not in a workplace, you are staying at home with your child/children. Only you can decide if this is a journey that is right for you.
What our family did: I knew that transitioning from working my entire life to being a stay at home mom would be an adjustment. Once I decided I would stay at home, I made sure that I had a strong support system of friends. These friends have help me come out of the house and still maintain adult interaction, aka “me time”. Once a week I have girls night with a couple of girlfriends, and it has really helped me maintain some healthy adult interaction and at times, taken me out of hibernation.
4. Where am I at in my career and can I afford to take a break from it? Are you at a point where you can afford (professionally) to take a break from working? Would staying at home be a perfect time for you to enroll in some online classes? How will you be effected professionally by making this decision? Do you plan to go back eventually into the workforce and if so, how will you enter the market again? These are all questions to think about when you are deciding whether or not to take a hiatus from being a working woman to being a stay at home mom. Remember, just because you are staying at home, does not mean that you cannot generate some side income. There are plenty of options that will pop up when you do a simple google search for working from home. For example, if you have a hobby, are skilled at crafting, knitting, or painting, you can open up an Etsy shop.
What our family did: For us, we decided it would be a great time for me to enroll in online education. In the evenings when my husband is home, I go into a separate room and continue my education. I also love to write, which is where blogging comes in! 🙂
5. Can I handle new responsibilities that come with staying at home? Oh yes, the traditional stay at home mom roles and responsibilities. What if any, are new responsibilities you will take on now that you will be home? Will you be cooking dinner every night? Are you picking up more chores with this decision than your significant other? Are you ok with that decision? What do they exactly expect of you now that they are “bringing home the bacon”, that you make it? Lol, these are some conversations that should be discussed between you and your significant other so that if and when the decision to transition is made, there is no confusion on what roles you will now have or disagreements down the road.
What our family did: I am by nature a person that likes to discuss things, so I wanted to know exactly what was expected by my significant other to do, if anything new. Before we would split making dinners during the week while we both worked, but since I would be staying at home, I would now make all dinners during the week. Don’t get me wrong, we still have pizza night when I am too exhausted from chasing a toddler and being pregnant (currently while I am writing this). Tonight it was Pizza Hut. Just make sure if they expect anything different, it is out in the open.
6. Can you handle the criticism/judging that comes with the decision to transition to being a stay at home mom? Oh yes, the judging. I didn’t think I would ever get it when I made the decision to become a stay at home mom and everyone would be completely supportive, but I did get some negative feedback. From the beginning to now which is two years later, I have gotten several side eye, crude remarks. Some have been “1. So, you just stay at home all day and do nothing? ( I wish! Lol) 2. Must be nice to live off your husband. 3. Your husband just wants you barefoot and pregnant at home. 4. Don’t you have any dreams of your own? 5. So how long are you going to keep this up? 6. The longer you are out of work, the less marketable you will be.” Everyone is going to have an opinion, and not all of them will be polite. Make sure you can handle that or not, the decision is completely yours, but one that you will encounter when you decide whether or not to be a stay at home mom.
What our family did: Honestly, I could care less about what other people think. Are they paying my bills? Raising my children? No and no. You have to decide if people’s opinions will eat at you or not.
So there you go, mama. I hope these important questions helped you in deciding whether you should stay at home or not. I know it is tough decision, and also an extremely personal one. Which ever you choose, you got this! Best of luck.