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How to Become a Stay-at-Home Parent Without Pulling Your Hair Out
Wonderful as it can be, becoming a stay-at-home parent involves plenty of challenges.
Will you remember how to talk to other adults after daylong marathons of “Yo Gabba Gabba”?
But apart from asking yourself these questions (which are definitely worth asking), you also need to think about the financial aspects of this life-changing decision.
Lifehacker’s Two Cents blog looked at the financial steps you should take before you decide to stay home, like comparing income and expenses, looking into insurance and adjusting your savings strategy.
They’re all great tips, and you should definitely check them out if you’re considering staying home.
But what else do you need to know before becoming a stay-at-home mom or stay-at-home dad?
While I don't have kids of my own (of the non-furry variety, at least), I did some digging and found these great strategies other stay-at-home parents recommend online.
1. Base Your Budget on Take-Home Pay
When you’re looking at your monthly income and expenses and tweaking your budget, remember to use the working partner’s take-home pay, not their full salary.
Once taxes are deducted from those paychecks, you won’t be left with the full $50,000 (or whatever amount) the person technically earns.
That said, making less money as a household could actually wind up benefiting you, says Alden Wicker on LearnVest.
“If your plan is to quit your job and stop earning money all together, you might be pleased with the effect on your taxes,” Wicker explains.
“It’s very possible you’ll be bumped into a lower tax bracket, meaning your spouse will pay a lower percentage of income to taxes, saving you money.”
2. Remember to Subtract Work-Related Expenses
When you’re trying to think of ways to make your new budget work, remember that with one partner leaving a job to stay home, you’re actually cutting back on several job-related expenses.
In addition to not having to pay for child care (a big deciding factor for many SAH paren), that also means no more commuting costs, parking lot passes, coffees and lunches on the go, or constant peer pressure to contribute to your co-workers’ birthdays, workiversaries and fundraisers.
3. Communicate Clearly About Responsibilities
This is not a discussion you want to have at the end of a long day, when you’re both exhausted and staring down a sink full of dirty dishes.
Decide before quitting your job how you’re going to divvy up household responsibilities like cooking, cleaning and running errands.
“It's much easier to talk about one another's roles while you're deciding to become a stay-at-home [parent] rather than after you're already home with the kids,” writes Apryl Duncan in About.com’s Parenting section.
“Make a plan together beforehand so you'll know what to expect,” Duncan explains. “This will eliminate a lot of frustration that can easily enter into your relationship as you both adjust to the changes in lifestyle.”
4. Look Into Ways to Make Money From Home
These kinds of jobs can fit into your normal schedule, so you can work while your kids are asleep or playing, and most tasks don’t have to be finished in one sitting (to allow for the inevitable interruption of “Mo-ooom!” or “Da-aaad!”)
5. Sign Up for Free Diapers Early
When only one of you is working full time, budgeting and frugality are extra important.
Diapers aren’t cheap, but babies have a way of going through them like they are. So start preparing as early as possible by signing up for all these great ways to get free diapers.
Your Turn: Stay-at-home parents, what do you wish you had considered before you made the switch? If you’re about to transition to staying home with kids, what are you doing to plan for the change?
Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.