Most couples live on two incomes with both people contributing fairly equally towards the couple's needs and wants. Could this same couple survive on one income? Could they successfully transition to one person working outside of the house and one person doing most of the work inside the home?
Consider why you are wanting to stay home in the first place. What priorities are changing? Do you want to be with your child/ren more? Do you want to save on childcare? Do you want to get things done around the house during the week so you have the weekends free as a family? Do you want to work from home?
If you are considering becoming a SAHM (stay at home mom) while your spouse works you may be wondering:
- What will I do all day?
- How will we delegate chores, etc?
- Who will I talk to? Will I go crazy without adult conversation?
- How will we live on only one income?
- What will people think?
I have been a SAHM for six years now. I can answer those questions for you.
1. What will I do all day?
Well, it depends on what needs to be done. It's amazing how busy you will stay, especially if you have a child or children in the house. If you have a job where you work from home you already know your answer. There will be days that are slow, but for the most part there's always something that can be done.
That being said, you're only as busy as you make yourself. It's just as true with staying at home as it with working outside the home: you must be organized and prioritize things. If you wake up with nothing on your "schedule" it's most likely you will get exactly nothing done. Just because you are staying at home doesn't mean you've got a license to be lazy and not carry your part of the load.
Which leads us to:
2. How will we delegate chores, etc?
The answer will be different for each couple, but it's only fair to tell you that since you are staying home you really should do more of the household chores. This grates me because I absolute loathe cleaning. Yet, I do what needs to be done. It does help to consider the work that needs to be done around the house as your job. You want to be good at your job, no matter what it is.
Your priorities are changing when you decide to be a SAHM. Your focus is shifting from your duties outside of the house to your "duties" around the house. Before you accuse me of being old-fashioned realize I'm talking to men and women alike. Whoever decides to stay home will naturally be more focused on getting the work around the house done. This was very hard for me when I began to be a SAHM. Coinciding with the birth of our first daughter it was all I could do to learn the ways of this newborn, much less remember to dust every week.
Sit down and seriously discuss what needs to be done every week, by both people. Honestly discuss what you're willing to do and what you would never do in a million years. Although I have been a SAHM for years now I do not do work or repairs on the house. Nor do I do outside chores. As a couple we have decided that my husband will still manage these tasks. He likes doing them anyway. I do try to have all of the tasks I'm responsible for done during the week, preferably during the day, so that we have our evenings and weekends free. The "job list" needs to be created though so you both know what you expect of each other.
The biggest thing you should remember is that this initial "job list" you create is not permanent and it is not set in stone. The great thing is that you can come back together and tweak the list as often as need be.
3. Who will I talk to? Will I go crazy without adult conversation?
Uh, yes. Until you find those adults to talk to. Whether you begin to work at home, or find a play group you and your child/ren fit into you will eventually find that adult outlet that you need. This also makes conversations with your spouse that much more meaningful.
Here is where the spouse working outside of the house needs to take note. You will need to realize and remember that the SAHM has not had her normal dose of adult conversation for the day and will need to have some form of meaningful conversations on a regular basis. If you cannot provide this then by all means suggest that she go on as many Girls' nights as necessary!
4. How will we live on only one income?
This is the biggest question to most people. Both people have been contributing with their time, money and efforts and that has afforded you your level of comfort. Figure out how you can live on one income. This pill may be hard to swallow, but it is doable!! There's no doubt that you will have to be willing to give up some things. But be resourceful! Find ways to make up for what you're giving up.
Sit down again with one another and write out your budget. You should probably track your spending for a couple of months so you'll know exactly where the money is going. Record your income, your savings, your expenses (both regular and intermittent), everything that either brings in money or takes away your money each month.
Now work that same budget only using one income. This is the time when you'll have to decide what to do without. Remember also though to take out some of the monthly expenses. You probably won't be using as much gas with one person staying home. You can eliminate daily childcare, which will save a huge chunk.
Giving up some of the "luxuries" you've grown accustomed to may hurt at first. But remember why you are wanting to stay home. If it's important enough then you should be willing to make some sacrifices.
Part two of #4: you may decide to be a WAHM (work at home mom).
If you decide to work at home then you won't have to cut your budget as drastically. There are ways to make money while staying at home. You have to be diligent about finding them.
- Your current job may allow you to telecommute.
- Become a consultant with one of the many home catalog companies (jewelry, kitchen wares, scrapbook wares, etc).
- Freelance or start your own business.
Any of these options can bring in some income. Your hard work will depend on how much.
5. What will people think?
Who cares? I really wanted to leave the answer at that, but I realize that our social lives are tied very closely to people who are in the same socioeconomic category we are. What will they think of you for deciding to become a (gasp) "house wife"?
It can be intimidating to worry about what others will think of your decision. Today it isn't the coolest thing to do to stay at home. I ask you though again to take a look at the reasons you want to stay at home. Are they more important than what your friends and outsiders think? Is what your immediate family thinks more important than what they think? YES! Only you as a family can make the decisions that are best for your family. Make those decisions and be ok with them. Be proud of them!
With a lot of thought and discusion you may decide that being a SAHM is the right thing for you to do for your family. Go ahead! Take the steps and go for it. Nobody ever got anywhere by standing still. Remember what I wrote above: it's not permanent! If after a while you realize that this isn't the best thing for your family you can change your mind. But most of all, be secure in your decision and do your best to make it work. Pretty soon you'll be having people ask you the familiar question: "what do you do all day?" You'll be able to smile knowing just how rewarding being a SAHM can be.
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