Should You Work Inside the Home or Outside the Home?


The decision to have either parent stay at home, or as I say, “work inside the home,” with the children is not always easy. There are a multitude of reasons one parent may decide to leave the workforce after having children.

Sometimes it’s an emotional decision. A parent simply wants to stay home because they feel like that’s their true calling. That’s great if it’s what you want, and you can afford to do it without putting an emotional and financial strain on your family. I included “emotional strain,” because often the parent who works outside the home can carry a burden to provide that isn’t healthy. It can also be difficult for the parent at home, who can end up feeling like ALL the childrearing and home keeping responsibilities fall on them. That’s why I usually say, “work inside the home.” If you can actually employ someone else to do the job, it’s work! My intention is to recognize that being home with your children and taking care of your home should not be a job that is viewed as inferior to the job of the spouse who works outside the home.

The list of emotional factors could go on, but that’s another article for another day.

The decision to have one parent be home with the children can also be financially driven. I often hear parents tell me that they felt like there wasn’t enough money after childcare costs to make it “worth it” to have both parents work outside the home.

If the latter situation applies to you, I would urge you to think about your decision with a long-term perspective. Young families are usually in survival mode. It’s hard to think about the future when you’re paying bills today. This article and calculator from Working Mother provides insight into the economics of either parent’s decision to take a break from the workforce. It’s worth reading and trying the calculator if you are making your decision from a financial standpoint. You may not realize what it’s actually costing you to leave your job for a few years. Please note that while this article happens to be from a site that focuses on working mothers, the issue applies to both mothers and fathers, and the math is neutral with regard to which parent leaves the workforce. The principles are the same!

Please let us know if we can help you with your decision. Our advanced financial planning process is designed to help you see the future impact of the decisions you make today.

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