I am a member of an online mother’s group. The forum offers a sense of community and an opportunity to share ideas about a broad variety of subjects. Recently, someone asked advice about whether they should go back to work, leaving their small child in daycare. Of course, I had to offer my opinion, and I thought I might as well post my response here as well….
“I am very biased on this subject, so expect me to be supportive of you staying home with your daughter. I will also preface this by saying that while I encourage women to stay home with their children if there is any possible way, I do not judge those who do not. These are just my personal beliefs...and some of the many things I had to consider when making the decision to quit my job last year to be a stay-at-home mom.
First, I realize that the extra money that you would make while working would be nice. However, unless you and your husband are very, very disciplined, what usually happens is the more we make, the more we spend. When a family goes from one to two incomes, it is almost impossible to resist the urge to raise the standard of living. So instead of using the new source of income to pay previous bills, it is often used to upgrade in some way...a new vehicle, a bigger house in a better neighborhood, longer vacations, more stuff and things...the list goes on and on.
There are also "hidden costs" involved when both parents work...such as eating out/going through the drive-thru more often because you are too tired to cook...and more doctor's bills because kids are probably going to get sick more often when exposed to a large number of children...just to name a few. Another cost is not exactly financial, but emotionally and psychologically...being away from your child...wondering if you are doing the right thing...feeling guilty when you hand your child over to someone else day after day...not to mention the stress of trying to do it all...trying to give 100% at work and 100% at home can leave us stretched to the max. We are not "super-women" who have 200% to give, so one side or the other will end up being slighted...that's just the way it is.
While I know the importance of becoming debt-free, I'm just saying that there may be other ways of meeting that goal which do not involve leaving your child in the care of others. Just a few options may be: working from home, babysitting another child to be a playmate for your daughter, working an evening shift so that your husband could be there for your daughter, and my favorite...using your creative energy to research and implement ways to spend less of the money that your husband works so hard to provide for his family. There is a great book I recommend written by Carey Keavy, Raising Your Own Children. It contains many great ideas on staying home and making it work for your family.
I am a big believer in 'living below your means' in order to follow the convictions of your heart. That doesn't mean giving up all the things in life that make us happy....but rather developing an attitude of seeing just how little you can spend and still have the things you need. It is about setting priorities and making the hard choices that have to be made to make those priorities a reality."