If you total every expense from child care and health care to groceries and recreation, the first 18 years of a child's life can cost a small fortune -- $190,528 to be exact. Child care alone can cost around $4,300 a year for one child, according to Bankrate.com.
So, let's say you have two kids. If one parent stays home instead of working, you could save close to $10,000 a year.
Still, a family can benefit by sticking to the one-income model. Here are five practical reasons why one parent should stay at home:
Wait… what?! Isn't it kind of a no-brainer that having both parents work means much more money and fewer financial stresses? Not exactly.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be more financially viable for both parents to work, but not always. The child care costs I mentioned before are just one piece of the puzzle.
Let's say you make $30,000 per year. That is $2,500 per month gross, and around $1,500 after taxes, including social security and medicare withholding.
The cost to commute to and from work, including gas, insurance, an occasional $5 coffee and lunch out, can add up to more than $300 a month.
Work clothes can be another expense for many working Americans that can cost around $100 per month. And what about food? When both parents are working, there is less time to cook, meaning more money spent at restaurants.
Parenting is a full-time job. If both parents work full-time jobs, they will have less time to spend with their children. Most full-time employees don't work 40 hours a week. According to the United Nations, more than 85% of men and 65% of women work more than 40 hours. Needless to say, in most professional jobs, you will spend more than 40 hours a week working. Add in at least an hourly commute every day and you are pushing at least 50 hours a week.
Obviously, work isn't the only thing that will keep you from spending time with your child. Taking care of the house and running errands drains the time spent with children, but that can be minimized if one parent stays at home.
Families where both parents work full-time have less time to spend with their child, and the time they do have to spend is typically their "bad hours," or times when you aren't at your best.
Anytime you are tired, hungry, distracted and need alone time to unwind means it is tough to be attentive. With one parent at home during the day, the child can experience the best hours, with the most energy, of that parent. If the working parent can spend extra time with the children on the weekends, the parent who stays home can use that time to relax a little.
By staying at home, a parent has the chance to see all of their child's firsts, and act as a positive influence during the formative years. Of course, you can absolutely find caring environments in a day care or with the right babysitter, but you have to consider frequent turnover and high student-to-teacher ratios in some programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, regardless of quality, children with a higher quantity of non-parental care exhibited increased behavioral problems.
While the job can be thankless at times, it can also be the most rewarding job on the planet. You might want to pull your hair out when your kid decides to eat the dog food, but does anything compare to her hug? During tough times in the office, a hug from Terry in is just not the same.
How many people do you know who get to the end of their life and wish they had spent more time working and less time with their families? You can't pin a dollar sign on the value of spending time with your children.
No, I'm not saying parenting is a stress-free occupation, but it can certainly beat juggling a full-time career at the same time. Striking a satisfactory balance between work and family is a constant struggle, and some parents decide that juggling is just not worth it. By staying at home with a child, a parent doesn't feel pressure to squeeze activities and moments into their day simply because they have time.
Striking a Balance
Now, I'm not advocating a time warp to the 1950s where women had few choices but to stay at home. While the majority of stay-at-home parents today are still women, there are about 158,000 stay-at-home dads, according to the 2010 Census. That number is growing, considering many fathers are working from home, but still act as the primary caregiver.
A happy medium is for the parent that stays home with the child to work part-time. It is no easy task to juggle raising a child full-time with an added part-time job on the side, but it could the best of both worlds. With an increasing number of workers requesting the flexibility of working from home, part-time work is easier now than ever.
The Investing Answer: Having one parent stay at home with the children can be cost-effective and a great investment in the emotional well being of your entire family. Having a parent stay home and work a part-time job, while still caring for a child, gives a family the best of both worlds. But this might not be an in every case. Every family has to look at their situation and weigh the costs and benefits of every child care option.