Even in today's world of increased political correctness and gender equality, many people still think in terms of the at-home role being undertaking by mom. However, just because moms have largely undertaken the role in the past, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the right move now.
According to a recent CNN Money article regarding women making the at-home/work decision, "In 1950, only 37% of women ages 25-54 participated in the labor force -- meaning they had a job or were looking for one. The number rose rapidly, climbing to 74% by 1990."
Our family chose not to go with preconceived notions and role assignments though when it came to balancing work and raising our children, preferring to instead look more closely at how these decisions not only impacted our family but our finances as well.
Income and stress levels
While a good income can make up for a bad job, it isn't always enough to eliminate the stress that comes with particular work. My work in the hospitality industry was high-stress; my wife's work in the education/health care field, not so much. Meanwhile, I could work as a self-employed individual from home in a new career field (pursuing a passion, but earning less money), while she did not have this option in her line of work. This also meant that I could pair my work with watching a child, saving us money in this budgetary area while helping to make up for my reduction in pay.
Therefore, while I was indeed the higher earner at the time of our first child (albeit the margin was slim), we figured that transitioning me to the at-home role was a more diligent decision when it came to our finances.
Career options and stability
I sometimes joke with my wife, telling her that she could walk into an interview, spit on the interviewer's desk and ask how much they were going to pay her, and she'd get the job.
Considering career options, opportunities, stability, and the ability to return to the work after a long absence can be important to deciding who takes on the at-home role. My wife's area of health care is in super high demand right now, meaning that she has much better job opportunities and stability than I do. Pairing her health care related work with the education system means that she can work a standard school year (about 32 weeks), and make as much as I did working 52 weeks of the years.
Leaving that niche within the industry right now would not be very wise. Meanwhile, my previous work was in management, a career option that has been around largely since the beginning of civilization -- even the Egyptians needed supervisors when they were building the pyramids. Therefore, I can always return to a management role in some capacity, so being away from the industry to watch the kids doesn't necessarily hurt my career path as much as it might hers.
More time for personal finances
I'm the financial planner and organizer of our family. I'm also great at maximizing time and productivity and being able to multi-task. My wife on the other hand is a great mother, but when it comes to time management, she's just not as good as me.
So when it comes to being at home, it's amazing what I can get done in a day, and conversely, what she can't (I'm not being mean, just honest; we're both good at our own things -- time management is mine and she'd agree).
From the cooking, cleaning, and childcare duties to home repair projects, paying bills, taking inventory on food products and baby supplies, and being able to conduct cost analyses on things like our utility usage, baby supplies, grocery needs, and similar budget areas, I'm able to keep costs low and find new or better ways to save on the things we buy.
So when it comes to who should stay home with the kids, it's not always just a "mom or dad" decision, but rather a decision that can be based around what's best for the kids, what's best for the parents, and what's best for the family finances.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.
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