This is a post by Connie Brooks, a new mommy in Louisville, KY.
Should you quit your job and stay at home with your baby? This is probably the biggest question new parents have to face once they find out their little one is on the way. The truth is, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. It all depends on what is best for your family. If you quit your job and stay at home you are going to lose income. You have to weigh that against the benefit of having more time with your child.
Before you make that decision, it may help to weigh the pros and cons a bit, and take a logical look at things.
Can you afford to quit your job and stay at home with your baby?
Losing a large chunk of your monthly income isn’t easy for any family. You will have to make a lot of adjustments, not the least of which is trimming your budget. If you are home to take care of your baby, then you can breast feed without interruption (obviously if this is mom staying home and not dad!), you can cook regular meals instead of eating out, and you can spend less on clothing. All of those things save you money each month. You will also spend less on gas, and you will not have to pay for daycare services.
The only way to tell if you can really afford to quit your job and stay at home is to work out a detailed monthly budget. Factor in how much money you will lose, and how much you expect to save. Do not forget that you will have additional expenses once your baby arrives. You will have to pay for clothes every couple of months, formula if you use it, and more diapers than you will ever believe.
If you cannot make things add up, and you don’t see any way that you can quit your job and stay at home with your new baby, then you may want to look into working from home instead. You may not be able to bring in as much money as working your old job, but it may be enough to get you through.
Pay Down Your Debt First
If you have a large amount of revolving debt on your credit cards, or a hefty car payment or mortgage, make sure you factor those things in. If you were using the income from your regular job to pay off your debt, what is going to happen when you quit? You do not want to be forced to make late payments on anything, ever.
If you know you are in debt, and you are having a baby soon, please make paying down that debt and starting an emergency fund a priority. I say this because if you quit your job, and an emergency comes up, you will have no cushion. The best thing you can do for your family, and your new baby is to be in a strong position financially before you quit your job. What if your baby gets sick? What if you do? You have got to have enough money socked away to not run things down to the wire every month.
The Unexpected Parts of Staying At Home
Having a baby is overwhelming, in every sense of the word. It’s amazing, and there are no words to describe how wonderful it is, but it’s also very stressful. You new little one is going to sleep at most four hours at a time. The constant wake/eat/sleep cycle is enough to confuzzle even the most organized person.
You also have to remember that for nine months you have had various hormones blasting through your system, and after the baby comes those hormones go away. It’s not “in like a lion out like a lamb” either. It’s more like “In like a lion, out like a hurricane”. You can expect to be moody, possibly depressed, and certainly sleep deprived. There will be days where you are lucky to get a shower and eat regularly. It does pass, I promise! But the first few months will be hard. Whether you stay at home or go back to work, get your baby and your family on a schedule as quickly as possible. It will make either transition much more manageable.
Staying at home with your baby is wonderful, but you could find yourself feeling lonely. I am not a terribly social person, and I still found myself “attacking” my husband when he got home – just for a little conversation!
Make sure that you involve your support network as much as possible. Friends, relatives, in-laws, whoever wants to help, let them help. Especially if you go back to work. If you stay home, make sure you are getting enough social interaction. Loneliness, combined with post-partum depression is not fun, and it is avoidable.
The best advice I can give you about deciding whether or not to quit your job once your baby arrives is this:
Decide well in advance.
If you have nine months to work towards your goal of staying home, then you are going to be a lot more prepared. It is the hardest thing in the whole world to leave your baby somewhere and go off to work. If you know you have to work to provide for your family, or you want to work because you enjoy it – that’s ok! Just make sure that you make the necessary preparations in advance, and give yourself some breathing room. You may want to return to work, but not right away.
If you arrange all of the details before your baby arrives, then everything will go smoothly. You might be able to arrange with your boss to have an extra month off, or if you are staying home, it gives you that much more time to save and get ready.
If you are quitting your job for good, then give your employer as much notice as possible. There is no sense burning bridges! You may need to go back to that job some day, and the best thing you can do is to leave on good terms.
Whatever you decide, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Other women in particular have very strong feelings about this. Don’t let your mother, your mother in law, or your boss decide what is best for your family. Only you can do that. Just take the time to work through everything before you take the plunge – one way or another, if you plan it well enough everything will be fine.
(Photo: mackro )