My decision to be a stay at home mom was a very clear one for me and my family. However, when I communicated this to others, there were mixed reviews. I remember being at my sister's baby shower in a scandinavian country and the women were shocked, confused and scared for me. They were worried that I had given away my future, I wouldn't have a pension and this decision was extremely risky and needed reassessment. In Switzerland, thankfully, the reaction was less dramatic as a lot of mothers I know either stay home or work part time.
To be or not to be a stay at home mom will always be a topic for debate and conversation especially in a climate where everything is annoyingly political.
So what should you do?
Talk about it.
And not with your instagram or facebook group but with your partner. When a couple decides to start a family, it is important to talk about what your expectations are, the roles that you will each play and of course the finances. Know your reality!
Relying on your partner financially is not a bad thing.
The biggest concern for women when considering staying at home, is the loss of financial independence, this is understandable. The fact is, none of us are fully financially independent, we depend on our employers, our banks and other agencies to carry out their end of the bargain. Interdependency is the basis for any relationship. If you and your family decide that staying home after giving birth is what works best, and your partner will now be the breadwinner, then this is a perfectly fine arrangement.
Discuss what that will look like. What will you expect your partner to do financially? Will he be able to continue to pay into your pension fund? What about personal money? Will you receive a set income? Ironing out all the details will make it easier to function in your new role.
Have a plan for yourself.
You may be ok with being a stay at home for just a few years then your desire is to return into the workplace. If this is so, carve out time to keep up with things in your professional field. Maintain your network, attend seminars and workshops. Do whatever is feasible so that when the time is right you will still be employable.
If you do not intend to reenter the workplace, still make plans for yourself. Remember that kids grow up, become increasingly independent and then they leave. So, invest in your personal growth and happiness so that when the nest is empty you won’t be nagging your kids for grandchildren as you have nothing else to do.
Understand your role.
Being a stay at home mom is a real and valuable job. According to 2019 data from Salary.com, if you were to be paid for your services as a stay at home mom, you would be looking at a median annual salary of 178,201 USD. Pregnancy, caring for a newborn around the clock and looking after the needs of a growing child or children and caring for a home is real work, requiring an array of competences and really does carry a dollar value.
Reassess as your needs change.
Do not be afraid to renegotiate the terms at intervals to make sure you are still aligned. As circumstances change, reopen the discussion. The terms and contitions cannot remain with the addition of more children. Be sure to include things such as time-off and help. Moms get burnout too.
As the debate continues, and the opinions and statistics roll in, remember that your decision is personal. Families flourish when parents are happy and united. To even be able to have this as an option is a privilege in itself. So don't waste it.