Although often very rewarding, choosing to be a stay-at-home parent or spouse is more complicated and difficult than many people think.
The lack of a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck can make it more difficult to afford necessities and leisure items or activities, resulting in heightened household tension and decreased satisfaction as a full-time house-spouse. To mitigate this, families with a stay-at-home parent may need to decrease expenses. Some possible ways to conserve limited funds include: eat at home instead of at restaurants; buy groceries in bulk or at discount stores; purchase second-hand clothing instead of new; repair broken items and clothing instead of replacing them; take inexpensive ‘staycations’ instead of fancy vacations; select less expensive phone and cable television plans; and choose a pre-owned vehicle instead of a new one.
Those that are able to thrive on a partner’s income may find they experience some measure of guilt or dissatisfaction at not being a financially contributing member of the household. Many of us have been conditioned from a young age to believe that our value or worth as a person, partner, and parent is partially determined by how much money we make, and the lack of a paycheck can be demoralizing. This can lead to the full-time parent attempting to do all household and child-care activities on their own, as ‘payment’ to their spouse, even when such duties extend well into the evening and weekends. Trying to do it all, alone, can result in parent burnout and relationship problems.
It is essential that individuals that are full-time parents or spouses realize that their worth is not determined by the money they make, but in their contributions to the lives around them. A balance of duty-sharing outside of the working spouse’s job hours helps to keep the house running smoothly and happily.