Choosing to be a stay-at-home mom can be a life-changing decision for you and your family. There’re various aspects you need to consider when deciding, including financial stability, baby duties, household chores, retirements benefits, social security, impact on your life, and lastly, re-entering the workforce. If you think you can handle the responsibilities and changes that come with it, then go for it. At the same time, also keep open a way back into the workforce if you feel this lifestyle choice isn’t for you.
Stay-at-home moms, popularly known as SAHMs, stay at home to take care of kids and household activities while their partner provides them financially by working. The definition might seem peculiar, but the role varies as every family functions differently.
Many moms jump into the role of a SAHM but don’t know where to start from. To be clear, SAHM is a full-time job in itself, and there’re various parameters to it. In the beginning, it might seem like you’ll have a lot of free time on your hands, but just like any other job, you’ll be bored after a period of time if you don’t learn to divide your time for things.
In this post, we’ll discuss what you can expect as you plan to take on the role of a stay-at-home mom. What lays ahead of you? What are the challenges? And how to function better!
Stay at home moms
Everything changes with a new baby as you create a space for a third person in your little family of two. Various factors are involved when a mom decides to take on the role of a stay-at-home mom, but it’s not an easy decision to arrive at.
For working women, it can be more challenging to make a decision. Either they keep working while finding the best solutions with their partner to bring up their baby or leave work and become stay-at-home moms.
Some women enjoy the newfound bliss of being a mom, and for them, their career isn’t their priority, or even if it was earlier, it might have changed with their new baby. They’re ready to take on to their title of a stay-at-home mom.
But others are affected a lot by it as they struggle to juggle their work and family. Their career is what they have built over the years, and it makes perfect sense not to give up on it.
Women might also choose to stay at home if they don’t like their work environment or find their job and role stagnant, while with being a mom, they feel a new sense of purpose which they couldn’t feel while working.
Expectations of a stay at home mom
Before we dive deep, it’s essential to know that every family functions differently in their way, so what works for one might not work for you.
You might be expecting a how-to guide for stay-at-home moms, but there’s none. There’s no right or wrong to being a mom. But there are certain expectations from your role, and it’s essential to know how varied they’re before you make this decision.
Before you decide to become a stay-at-home mom, the first factor to consider is your financial situation. At least one parent should be earning equivalent or more than the cost of childcare. If there’s even the slightest doubt, then it’s best to consider the following questions:
- Do you want to have more children?
- Is there any way to cut household expenses?
- Do you wish to buy a house?
- When do you plan to retire?
- How do you plan to pay in case of an emergency?
If you’re able to find answers to such questions with your partner, then there’s a chance to consider other factors.
Let’s address the elephant in the room that is child-rearing duties. As I said before, becoming a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job in itself, except there’s no provision to get paid for it (unfortunately!).
There are many duties ranging from small day-to-day tasks to more significant responsibilities, including various life decisions about your child in general. But all these duties differ depending on your lifestyle and how you wish to raise your child.
But to give you an overview, things needing your attention would include shopping for your baby, school pick up and drop off, looking over their studies, extracurricular classes, looking closely at their developmental milestones, and so on.
Everything about your kid would be more closely watched over by you as compared to your partner, even though they might spend as much time possible with their kid.
Stay-at-home moms are expected to also handle household chores, but you don’t have to! Bringing up a child in itself is a big deal as you take care of their tiny wishes and whims, take care of them throughout the day, teach them, and so on. One can’t handle all these things and maintain the household all by themselves.
Stay-at-home moms aren’t just supposed to handle everything by themselves and so if there’re some chores your partner likes in particular, let them take those tasks. For example, if your partner likes grocery shopping and folding laundry, let them handle it. If they like cooking, let them be in charge of it on their holidays.
You can manage the household duties by distributing them.
Retirement benefits and social security
Even though retirement would be way into the future, it’s essential to consider this factor before deciding. As one partner stays at home and the other keeps on working, your savings would be impacted.
If your current employer makes contributions to a pension or 401K account that you’ll be missing out on, you’ll want to factor that into your long-term financial planning. There’ll be a direct impact on your social security retirement benefits.
The amount you pay in Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes each year depends on how much you make.
A percentage of your income (15.3 percent) up to a specified wage base is applied to FICA taxes for retirement, life, and disability social security benefits.
You pay 6.2 percent towards social security and 1.45 percent for Medicare tax, and your employer pays the other 7.65 percent.
So, when it’s time to claim your social security, the size of your benefit is based on the number of years you paid FICA taxes. Generally, you need to pay into the social security system for a minimum of 10 years to qualify for retirement benefits.
The total amount you receive in retirement benefits depends on the average of the 35 years of payments into the system. Your years spent as a SAHM could result in zero in the social security work records and, in turn, potentially reduced retirement benefits. Spouses are eligible for social security even if they don’t qualify independently.
Impact on your life
Nobody tells you how much work or time-consuming the household chores and baby duties can become if you don’t have a fixed schedule. After some time, everything can become overwhelming, and you might be overcome with this sadness and isolation where you can feel stuck at home while your partner is off to work.
That’s why it’s essential to take care of yourself and avoid mommy burnout. Below are a few tips to think over:
- Having your tribe is essential, which means you need to find a group of stay-at-home mom friends. While having friends from work is great, soon you’ll start feeling a disconnect with them.
- Having hobbies is very important, and it can be anything you enjoy doing. For one hour every day, try indulging in your hobbies like reading books, baking, learning an instrument, and so on.
- Working out is essential for your body, freeing your mind and releasing happy hormones. Try to work out at least 4 times a week.
- Make time for your partner. When the baby comes into your life, there’s rarely a time to go on dates or have intimate moments with each other. Plan your outings with your partner by getting a babysitter or leaving your baby with other family members.
The transition from a working woman with a stable and advancing career to a stay-at-home mom can be a difficult time. Women experience a loss of identity and self-worth, which they used to feel confident about when working and go into depression. This is another crucial factor to consider.
Re-entering the workforce
Sometimes you think the grass is greener on the other side, and similar is the case of working women thinking it’s easier to be a SAHM. You can only relate to the pros and cons of a decision when you’ve lived it for a while.
So even though you’re excited about being a SAHM right now, you might not want that for the rest of your life. At some point, you might consider going back to work. For this reason, it’s crucial to remain in touch with your ex-colleagues, your last office/workspace, advancements taking place in your career, and keep track of general things.
It’ll be a bit easier when you decide to go back after an employment gap. You can update your resume by taking up a freelance job or online diploma courses.
What should a stay-at-home mom’s salary be?
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, then there will be times when you might have to work 24/7. There will be days when you might not have any ‘me’ time for you as you take care of the children and the household duties.
With such a workload, it’s only unfortunate that SAHM doesn’t get paid, but if they were to be, their median salary would be around $178,201 according to 2019 data from salary.com due to various factors involved.
Is it realistic to be a stay-at-home mom?
Yes, it can be realistic depending on your current family situation. It would help if you considered many factors before making this decision, be it financial or emotional impacts. One thing that’s quite real is falling into depression, and if you’ve had such tendencies, then you need to reconsider your choices.
Are babies with stay-at-home moms smarter?
Children whose mothers stay at home for the first or couple of years might have an advantage over kids whose mothers are working. It’s because stay-at-home moms’ sole focus is their children and household duties while working moms have to juggle work-home balance.
In any case, it all comes down to individual parenting styles. There’re plenty of working moms out there who’re excelling both at their jobs and in handling their children.
The decision of SAHM is a complex one and needs you and your partner to have a long conversation regarding all the aspects of it. Be it financially or emotionally, you need to see if you’re prepared for it.
You might receive unsolicited opinions from friends or relatives, but this is a private matter between your family. Some think being a SAHM is a better decision for children as they get ignored by their working mom, but that’s also a myth. There’re plenty of working moms out there handling their work and child efficiently.
Lastly, if you want to test the waters, it’s essential to keep in touch with your ex-colleagues, job, and advancements in your job line if you ever want to re-join it. Take your time arriving at a decision!