Who Should Stay Home with Baby? 5 Things to Consider

When a couple is expecting, it’s easy to think that life will continue as normal after the baby is born, and for some couples, that is true.  However, for many, once a baby is born, life as they know it changes.  Perhaps the couple decides that they can’t or don’t want to put their baby in day care.  Maybe day care is so expensive that there is no point in having one person work outside the home.

If you’re expecting or currently on leave and are considering your options, keep in mind that either parent might be a good choice to stay home with the baby if you don’t want to put the child in daycare.

Can’t decide who should stay home?  Using this checklist might give you a clearer picture:

1.  Who makes more?

If one spouse makes $70,000, and the other spouse makes $35,000, the decision seems clear.  The spouse making more should continue to work outside the home, and the lower wage earning spouse should be the one to stay home.

One exception is if the lower wage earning spouse has the potential to make more over the next few years.  Even though I made more than my husband, we decided I should stay home with the kids because my husband, after a few years of a lower salary, had the potential to make much more than I could no matter how long I stayed at my job.

2.  Who has better benefits?

Salary isn’t the only consideration, though.  If one spouse has excellent employer benefits such as health insurance, retirement matching, etc, that must also be considered.  By giving up those benefits and paying for them out of pocket, how much are you losing?

3.  Does one partner want to shift career paths?

Marie worked at an eye doctor’s office.  Even though she made good money, she wanted to go back to college to become a nurse.  When she and her husband had kids, she quit her job even though she made more than her husband.  Taking care of the kids at home gave her the perfect opportunity to go back to college and get her nursing degree.  By the time the  youngest was in school, she was ready to start working at the hospital.

4.  Who can make money from home?

Another reason we decided I should stay home rather than my husband is that I can easily work from home as a writer and virtual assistant.  Through this work, I can make 1/3 of our monthly income while also watching the kids.  If my husband would have stayed home instead, he didn’t have a way to make money from home.  Decide if one partner has a marketable work at home skill such as tutoring, writing, teaching piano lessons, etc.

5.  Who wants to stay home?

Financial considerations are important, but ultimately who wants to stay home is just as important.  If someone makes less money but really hates the idea of staying home with a baby every day, the situation just won’t work.

Sometimes life continues as normal after a baby is born, but other times you may find yourself doing something you never would have previously considered, like quitting your job.

If you or your partner stays home with baby, how did you make the decision who should quit?