Stay At Home Parenting: Is It Worth It?

Now that my wife and I are on firm financial footing (and it took much less time than we thought it would take), we are re-evaluating the question of whether or not one of us should be a stay at home parent until our child goes to school.

From a developmental standpoint, our ideal would be that our child goes to his current daycare three days a week while the stay-at-home parent pursues a part-time career. Why? We think that the social development that a child gets from interacting with peers at daycare is quite valuable, but we also feel that the individual loving attention that our child can get from one-on-one time with a parent is invaluable, too.

We’re currently trying to evaluate whether this is viable from a financial standpoint, and here’s the criteria we’re using.

First of all, half (or more) of our salaried income would vanish in an instant. This is obviously the big negative here. Can we survive and continue with our plans if we lose half of our income? This would also require one of us to be attached to the other’s health benefits. My anticipation is that it would be very, very difficult.

However, there are some positive factors to look at that would reduce the impact:

I already have alternate streams of income – you’re looking at one of them. If I were to walk away from my job (because it looks more likely that I would quit my job than my wife would quit hers), I have at least one significant alternate stream of income (this site) and several smaller ones. Likely, I would commit myself to running two more blogs on a dedicated server. I’m not concerned in the least about writing burnout, and my estimate is that given three full days a week to work on blogging (plus late evenings and some weekend time), I could easily make this blog remain at its current level of quality and introduce two more with similar levels of quality (yes, I am a writing savant). Would this be enough supplemental income? I’m not sure.

Our daycare costs would be reduced significantly. Our daycare’s rates are almost at a per-day level, so reducing from five to three days a week scrapes up some extra money.

Our schedules suddenly become much more flexible. If a child is sick or something to that effect, there’s already a parent at home that can take care of the situation. The same is true for any other situation that can only be dealt with during the day. Also, it would be much easier to have homecooked meals, etc. if one person was at home all day, and would also reduce costs (more food prepared at home means less expensive takeout and so forth).

I think the issue that will bring this to a head is the presence of a second child. We are basically committed to having a second child at this point and we both tend to believe that the additional daycare costs and our desire for the flexibility of a stay-at-home parent would result in one of us staying at home.

Are there any other significant considerations we’re missing? Please let us know in the comments.

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