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Should you become a stay-at-home parent?

If you’re thinking about leaving your job to become a stay-at-home mom or dad, you’re not alone. There’s a ton to consider, and there’s no cookie-cutter answer that will work for everyone. Let’s review a few factors to help with your decision. 

How becoming a stay-at-home parent could affect your career and finances

To start, consider your benefits. For example, if everyone in your family is on health insurance through your employer, having to find private coverage could affect your budget. On the other hand, if you have coverage under your partner’s employer, that’s probably a simpler shift to make. 
Remember that it could be harder to restart your career after a pause. If you do plan to go back to your career at some point in the future, you’ll need to find time to keep up with any required training, certifications, and licenses while keeping an eye on news and shifts in your industry. 
There’s also your retirement savings. Leaving your employer could set you back, so try to budget for some extra savings if you can. Also, if you’ve been contributing to an employer savings account like a 401(k), you may miss out on an employer match—that’s another piece of the broader financial picture. 
Finally, the cost of child care can offset your job salary enough that you could be working for little or no financial gain. The stress of a full-time job and the extra time spent dropping off and picking up kids from daycare might make becoming a stay-at-home parent a more appealing choice. 

Personal and family considerations

Being a stay-at-home parent can feel like even more than a full-time job, especially if you’re doing it solo. Plus, it’s a job that doesn’t end when your partner gets home. You also might be responsible for more cleaning, laundry, and projects around the house just because you’re the one home all the time. 
If your career is a major part of your identity and a source of fulfillment, you’ll need to weigh that against your identity and fulfillment as a parent. Some parents need to work to be their best self, and that’s OK. 
The bottom line is that it has to be the right choice for you and your family. You can look to others for guidance, but you know what’s best in your scenario. 

Social and relationship considerations

Don’t be tempted to compare yourself with other parents. Just because you see friends or family members thriving as stay-at-home parents doesn’t always mean it’s the right decision for you and your family. Also, remember that social media offers an incomplete or skewed view of other families’ lives, and perfect families just don’t exist. 
No matter what you choose to do, you may have people around you who have different opinions on what’s right. Trust yourself, make your own choices, and try not to worry about what other people are saying or doing. 
It’s important to keep in mind that your relationships and social life will evolve alongside your family life, so it could take time to find your stride as things continue to change around you. 

Child development considerations

As a stay-at-home parent, you can be more hands-on with your kids’ activities, learning, and screen time, although keeping one or more kids occupied and engaged all day, every day, can be time-consuming and feel draining. 
On the other hand, if you’re concerned about socializing your children without daycare in the mix, you should research local parks and recreation centers, meet-up groups, and other ways to get out and socialize in your community. 

The cost of leaving the workforce

See the broader financial impact of staying home.

More to explore

How to balance debt, saving, and investing

Balancing paying off debt, saving, and investing for your future can be tricky. Following this step-by-step guide can help you decide which of your accounts and priorities should come first.

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.