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?