How a Dad Adjusts to Mom as a Stay-At-Home Mom

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

Making the decision to be a stay-at-home mom or Dad can be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for some parents and a total surprise to others. If you and your partner make the decision that she’ll stay at home to care for the baby, thus begins another exciting, challenge in your new parenthood experience.

However, it isn’t a decision that you should take lightly. If you’ve been used to income from both yourself and your partner, losing half that income will make a profound difference in your lives, and you and your partner need to carefully consider whether you can make it work.

How to decide whether you can afford for your partner to stay home

Some women know in advance that they don’t want to go back to work after having a baby, and some come to that decision after baby arrives. For example, your partner may have loved her job before, and you may have thought the routine you’d established as a family was working fine.

If you can make it work financially and your partner is refusing to budge, do your best to make arrangements for her to stay at home that work for both of you. Although you don’t always need to understand why your partner feels the way she does, it’s vital that you respect her right to feel that way.

Take plenty of time to talk it over and make sure staying home is really a feasible option. When choosing to stay at home, you must consider many costs beyond salary. If your insurance coverage comes from your partner’s employer and she decides to stay home, you’ll have to opt-in to your company’s plan, which will reduce the size of your check.

Also, most companies have an open season at the end of each year during which you can enroll for insurance. Having a baby is considered a change-of-life circumstance, which gives your family the opportunity to change an existing policy. However, if the decision is made outside of the open-season period, you’ll either be without insurance or be forced to pay for private insurance until that time arrives.

Options when you can’t afford to lose the income

Sometimes the desire to stay home won’t subside, and you and your partner may be at odds as to what’s best for your family. If your financial situation doesn’t allow for your household income to be reduced by tens of thousands of dollars annually, stand your ground. Be understanding of her concerns and desires, but don’t put your livelihoods at risk to make her happy.

Most important, don’t rule it out forever. Make a savings plan that you both can work toward to achieve her goal of staying at home. Encourage your partner to seek out work-at-home opportunities. Work with your partner to create a tangible goal that will keep your finances in the black and eventually allow your partner to stay home.

Sometimes both parents want to quit their jobs to stay home and care for the child. Unless you and your partner are independently wealthy, this isn’t an option. As unfortunate as it is, the decision will probably come down to money. If you can only afford for one person to stay home, the logical choice is for the person with the larger salary to continue working.

It’s possible, however, that the person who makes more money is working long hours and traveling frequently. Sometimes the decision is better made from a work/life balance standpoint rather than salary. In this case, you have to make lifestyle changes to make up for the loss of salary, but it can be done.

Some companies are adapting to the push for flexibility by allowing new parents the opportunity to spend some or all of their work hours at home. This arrangement can ease your partner’s pain if she really wants to stay at home with baby but you can’t afford to lose her income.

However, working at home doesn’t eliminate the need for childcare; you still need someone in the home to help while your partner gets work done, unless your partner is willing to work nights and weekends while you take over childcare duties. Even then, having baby sitters at the ready is a must for busy times, meetings, and phone conferences.

If you and your partner can both work from home, you may be able to stagger your work hours so that you take turns caring for the baby. These kinds of alternate work arrangements can vary widely; your company may have guidelines in place for such arrangements or you may have to renegotiate your own plan. Ask your boss or human resources manager about this option if you’re interested.