For those who may not know, I have started a series on the stay-at-home-mom life, which is designed to help moms or moms-to-be, think about all the implications of leaving their job or not pursuing a career in order to be at home, full-time with the child(ren). You can find the first two posts here and right over here. Today, however, I have compiled a short guideline on how you can prepare for a life as a stay-at-home mom.
The first thing to do would be to review your marriage contract. Does it allow you to profit from your husband’s financial growth? Or will you be left high and dry, should the marriage end? I know that the marriage contract is binding and can’t be reversed (in most cases) and the only way to change it is to get divorced and marry again – which you can actually do, even if it’s to the same person. I advise you to seek proper legal counsel on this one because I am certainly no expert. If you are living with your partner, I would not advise that you quit your job because this leaves you with no legal protection, should the relationship end. I do know though that there are cohabitation agreements that couples can sign, that offer a level of protection for both parties.
I know that saving, of any nature, almost always feels impossible to do, but it’s the only way to test the stay-at-home life in a manner that is safe and doable. So I suggest you save your salary for 6 months to a year and start living on one income. This will give you a clear picture of the quality of life you will have when you are living off of one income. As one who has done it for what seems like forever, I can tell you that it’s possible and beneficial: Whenever I am in a position to earn something, it goes towards extra’s or savings etc. If ever my husband lost his job, we would still be able to maintain our lifestyle because of our insurance cover (we have insurance almost for everything) and I would be in a position to take on full-time employment while he is looking for another job. Families that rely on two salaries run the risk of having to abruptly change their entire lifestyle should one party lose their income. I guess this is why we should always try to live way below our means. I think we’re all always ‘a work in progress‘ when it comes to this one.
See what you can start cutting down on or what you can remove from your budget. When we returned from Zimbabwe we had learned to live on very little. So naturally, we continued on this path when we were living in Joburg. We got the R99
Going from working full-time to not working is certainly going to be a huge adjustment. In light of this, I would suggest looking into work from home options or even jobs that offer flexi-time. I have seen a few online, especially for people who have technical expertise. For those who don’t, try to look for jobs where you can do something like teaching a language online. I recently started teaching Chinese students online, which is why I’m always exhausted over the weekends (that’s for those who follow my Instastories). Having said that, I think it’s the perfect time to start a small side business, considering the number of people who can now be reached digitally. Try to keep it small or perhaps provide a service, so that it doesn’t interfere too much with your time with your family.
Unfortunately for me, I did not really have my family around to babysit or help me out with my kids. My parents live far and going back to my home town was not an option, but if you can, move closer to family or your support system. I have friends who made sure to be close to their family, (particularly the grandparents) before they started expanding their family and it seemed to work out quite nicely. They had loads of help with their kids and were able to ease into motherhood fairly well. The impact of nannies who are often unreliable was also reduced and some even ended up forgoing the help altogether. However, if your circumstances are like mine, you might want to consider looking up babysitting, cleaning and even nanny services in your area. Good luck with that! Haha!
School fees are insanely high, especially if you are looking into going the private education route. I find creche to be the biggest money-sucker and one of the major reasons moms choose to go back to work. For those who are open to the idea of homeschooling, it is easier on the pocket and can be more effective than the traditional route. It is not my personal preference, especially for young kids (in the context of S.A) but those who are educating their kids this way, seem quite happy with their decision. You can follow bloggers like Charlotte Jones on My Little Homeschool to get a clearer picture of what this life really looks like.
I think I have covered a lot of bases and I hope that this a good starter guide for someone who is looking to make this transition (let me know in the comments). While I believe in preparing for the future as much as you can, I do believe that a lot of our plans are not in our control. Do your best and plan, follow your gut and then sit tight! After all, motherhood is really a wonderful ride!