One of the main difficulties of staying at home is the drop in income. In some families it is essential that mothers work, either because they are single parents or because they are the main breadwinners. Phoebe, who is a good steward of money and earns more than her partner, said to me that they can only budget for her to take six months off, then her salary will be needed again. I greatly respect that because they don’t live extravagantly and Phoebe’s income is necessary, but they were still prepared to budget for her to be with their children for a period of time.
As a society we have become used to living on two incomes and items that were luxuries a generation ago are now considered necessities. Too much value is placed on money, possessions and appearances and we end up working for these luxuries believing we owe it to ourselves.
For some families, choosing to have one parent at home will not have serious financial implications, but I think that many mothers could consider not working for a period of time if they make financial sacrifices. We may need to stop buying new clothes on a whim, buy cheaper brands of food and sacrifice overseas holidays for a period of time. By giving up these items we can give children what they really want – our time.
You and your partner are a team with different roles; one is earning money while the other is caring for the children. I think we have got confused into thinking that if you are not given a monthly financial reward, you not earning your keep. We consider a salary to be the determining factor of how important our work is. Rethink your banking and if you have separate bank accounts, consider making them joint accounts: after all, you are meant to be interdependent. When I have felt frustrated that I am not ‘earning anything’, my husband has looked at me surprised and said, “But, you’re doing a much more important job! You’re caring for our children.”
There are not always easy answers or solutions but we can still challenge our own preconceptions of how much money we really need to survive.
This is part of a series of considering the positive and negative aspects of being at home. Choose the category ‘Why am I a stay-at-home mum?’ to read more in this series.