It can look pretty tempting to be a full time stay-at-home-mom. The difficulties of juggling a job and a family, running a household, and other responsibilities can make the life of a stay-at-home parent look like an incredible relief. All that time to spend with your child and plenty of time and space to get everything done sure can look like a picnic compared to juggling it all. But, before you give up your earning power and financial independence, here are some things to consider instead of staying home full time:
Start by taking a good look at your current job and your job skills and marketability. There may be more flexibility in your current job than you realize. And, if there’s not, your job skills may be as such that you might be more valuable to another employer and have more flexibility in your work. Look over your schedule and see if there is room for flexibility, telecommuting or working more independently at different hours. You may be able to flex your work schedule to be more available as a parent and still be able to continue working. If your job skills are lacking, how can make yourself more marketable and more valuable so as to have more pull to “write your own schedule” in the work world? There may be specific things you can do to give yourself more leverage in negotiating a more family-friendly schedule.
Look closely and realistically at your job and your work–what is an absolute must? What are the elements that cannot be changed or are not flexible in any way? And, what are the pieces that you could do in some other way. The more research, homework and time you spend preparing, the more clout and confidence you’ll have when you go in to negotiate job changes with your boss or supervisor.
Have you considered working for yourself or working as a consultant? You may have enough valuable job skills, or be a specialist in a field where you could make comparable (or more) income working on your own. Running your own business is not a walk in the park and definitely takes some juggling, but it may give you more flexibility for parenting obligations while maintaining your income and career status. It may help to have a mentor or financial advisor help you crunch the numbers to see if you can afford to take a risk and go solo. You may also be able to continue working with your current employer as an independent contractor–giving you more freedom if yours is the type of work that can be done independently. Or you may be able to combine part-time employment with some consulting or freelancing to create more flexibility.
While it may be tempting to stay home and rely on a spouse or partner to support the family, a woman loses clout, prime earning years and the risks the ability to support her family should something happen to the other wage-earner. Instead of abandoning the work place to be a full time stay-at-home parent, there are certainly other alternatives that can make parenting easier, while continuing to earn an income and build a career.