Should A Woman Quit Her Job to Stay Home with Her Child?



Once a couple finds out they are expecting, one of the toughest decisions is determining who will care for the child.  Will both parents work and utilize day care?  Will one parent stay home?  If so, which one?

Often the woman decides to be the one to put her career on hold and stay home to raise the child.  Yet, is this a smart financial decision?

Benefits of Staying Home with Your Child

In the beginning, the financial benefits often can’t be ignored.  Day care, especially for an infant in a large city, can be outrageously expensive.  In fact, when my husband and I had our youngest two children only 17 months apart, we decided I should quit my job and stay home because after paying daycare, I’d only be bringing home a few hundred dollars a month.

In addition, many moms (and dads) like to care for their child themselves, and the bonding benefits can’t be denied.  My oldest child went to day care while I worked, and of course, I’m still bonded with him, but I cherish the time I got to spend at home with my youngest two when they were babies.  The old saying that the time goes quickly and you never get it back is certainly true.  I’m still sad that I missed that time with my son.

Drawbacks of Staying Home with Your Child

While there are benefits to staying home, there are just as many, if not more, drawbacks.  Yes, you’ll have to pay child care while your child is young, but you’ll only have those expenses for 5 years.  When the child enters school full-time, you’ll recoup a large portion of your salary that previously went to childcare, and you’ll likely be in a stronger financial position than those parents who quit their jobs.

Trying to reenter the workforce can be difficult.  Many stay at home parents think they’ll just reenter the workforce when their child goes to school, but that can be notoriously difficult, depending on your field.  A lot can change businesswise in 5 years, and you may find that you have a hard time entering the work force again.

Finally, a stay at home parent can also miss out on other important work related perks.  The hardest part for me about quitting my job is that I lost the opportunity to significantly increase my retirement funds.  My employer automatically withdrew 8% of my paycheck to go in my retirement account, and the employer matched my contributions.  That means 16% of my gross pay was put aside every year for retirement.  That was a hard perk to let go of.

In the end, each couple must decide what is right for them personally and for their families.  I’m glad I quit my job, but I’d be dishonest if I didn’t tell you that we’ve struggled financially since then.  However, I never enjoyed my job, and I’d rather raise my kids and avoid day care.  If I’d been passionate about my job, my husband and I may have made a different decision.

Did you or your spouse have to choose between staying home or remaining employed?  If so, what did you decide?  Why?

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Melissa works from home as a freelance writer, virtual assistant and blogger. Her blog, Mom's Plans, reflects her desire to plan life one step at a time while caring for and homeschooling her children (ages 9, 5 and 3) as well as paying down debt and saving for a house.

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Comments

  1. After I had my daughter, my husband quit his job and became a stay-at-home dad. I was the primary bread winner and he didn’t like his job, so it wasn’t a tough decision. But over time, I resented that he got to experience the “firsts” and enjoy play dates on a whim. When I had my second, I made a spontaneous decision to quit my job and have a year long family sabbatical. I go back to work on Monday. I miss working and contributing to the family, but I’ve enjoyed being with my kids and I’m not sure I’m ready to give that up. For me, it’s been the toughest decision of my life. But, at the end of the day – it doesn’t make sense for both my husband to go back to work, so off I go. Sigh. :-)

    • Good luck on Monday! I’m sure it will be a tough day for you. My wife quit her job to raise the kids so I’ve always been working, but it is still hard to leave them every morning.

    • I have to laugh reading most of these stories of angst, decision-making, etc. I wouldn’t give this topic even a thought! — The husband and wife are equally responsible to provide money and household-related duties. If I want to have my own child I would have to be preg. and give birth, but that doesn’t give me a license to not work. That situation would be treated the same as anything medical — If there is heavyy work to be done the man has to do it, but no gender roles except where there is no REAL choice. Many are confused about what should be a choice and what shouldn’t. I don’t envy any of you.

  2. I quit to stay home with my son and it’s been worth every penny so far. Fortunately I was close to being financially independent first so it was easier for me. I don’t know if I’ll go back to work or not. I wouldn’t mind a somewhat bigger pretirement fund, but we’re doing fine right now. I’m thinking that if I do go back, I’d like to do something different.

  3. As our family grows, I hope to start a consulting business. This would give me the flexibility to work my schedule around the children for events, etc. and be a more active part of their lives. Whatever the decision when the time comes, it won’t be an easy one to make. I’d much rather we both got to stay home and play with the kids…

    That said, given today’s tough and getting tougher economic climate, just being able to have that discussion and having a choice to quit work to take care of the children is a perk. Many families have both parents working, and send their children to “grandma / neighbor daycare”, and barely scrape by.

    Being able to revert back to the ’50s with a single income household is a luxury, so appreciate it if you have the opportunity.

  4. We’re expecting and we both run our businesses from home, so the decision is not too difficult ;)

    There are few things to have in mind. Staying at home means the kid grows with you and not some strangers, plus the daycare costs are really insane these days. The only issue I’d see with some of the parents who give up their career for a while at least is that it’s harder to get back to work. Otherwise, I do believe that being able to spend time with your child is indeed a great idea.

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