When parents make the decision not to return to work after having their baby, they are often met with critical comments and questions from friends or family. Men, in particular, might find their decision to be a stay-at-home parent criticized. But with more and more men choosing to take parental leave, and even stay at home with the kids longer than the initial year, that’s beginning to change.
What influences parents to make the decision not to return to work? According to our experts it can be for a number of reasons, but the most common are:
- Financial security
- Belief that a parent at home benefits the baby
- Less stress at home than at work
- Support from your partner in this decision
- Comfort and security in being an "at home" parent
Having only one parent working can be tough economically, especially if you were bringing in two incomes before the baby. The baby brings an added expense and during a maternity or paternity leave the stay-at-home parent will often be bringing in less than half of their previous salary. If that parent chooses to stay home after the one-year Canadian parents receive maternity leave benefits your income will shrink even more.
It’s important that parents discuss the financial realities that having one parent stay home brings. Talk to your partner about what you would like to do and then work together to create a budget. Be realistic about how much income you will be bringing in and how much you need to live comfortably. Maybe one parent will work full-time and the other will work part-time, or maybe you can afford to have a stay-at-home parent if you trim your spending on extras. Look at the numbers together and talk it through.
Once you have made your decision be confident and support each other. This transition can be a difficult one, especially at first, so be sure to communicate and keep talking throughout.
All families should review their budget regularly to make sure that their financial situation is working, but it is especially important as you transition to having one stay-at-home parent. You want to ensure that your original budget was realistic and to make any needed changes.
In some communities there is a lack of social support for parents who choose not to return to work, but if there are programs in your area be sure to take advantage of them.
Did you decide to stay home after having your baby? How did you manage the change in income? What advice would you give to others considering this option? Share your experience in the comments below!
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