Across the nation, more men are becoming SAHD – Stay-At-Home-Dads. In 2012, the New York Times reported that roughly 176,000 men have given up the rat race to stay home and take care of the kids, while their spouses work. When you include men who have opted to split working part time or freelancing from home, with household duties, then the number is approximately 626,000.
Although the numbers of stay-at-home dads is rising, men still feel overwhelming societal pressure to be the primary breadwinners. Many men even have to face questions about the manhood, abilities and worth when they decide to stay at home. Being a SAHD takes courage, and it also takes a certain amount of planning. Being a SAHD isn’t for everyone, so before you decide to trade in your suit and tie for a stroller and apron, here are some things you should consider:
Although more men are opting to leave the workforce, the fact remains that a majority of families have dual-income households, and with good reason. The average two income family is actual 15 percent poorer than single-income families of earlier decades. The cost of living has risen steadily, but wages have not increased to keep up and, as a result, more families need two incomes just to survive.
This means that before you and your spouse need to take a long, hard look at your finances before you make any decisions.
· How much of your income are you spending on credit card bills, installment loans, and other debts?
· Could you continue making your payments with just one income?
· Would you be able to make the payments on one income if you cut your childcare expenses?
· Do you have any savings?
· Will you be able to continue to save with only one income?
If you answered no to either of these questions, then you need to get a handle on your finances before you decide to become a stay-at-home dad.
You not only need to look at your current finances, but your future finances as well. If you have one car, would you need to buy another vehicle? If so, do you have the credit to get a good interest rate? Will you be able to afford the payments?
Additionally, if you are behind on any of your debts, or have multiple black marks on your credit report, your situation might only worsen if you eliminate one income.
· Create a budget to determine where you can cut expenses;
· Consider taking a year to pay down your debts and to start saving. Set a specific goal and do not become a SAHD until you reach that goal;
· Get a credit report to determine your credit score, and take steps to repair any black marks on your credit;
· If you have trouble repairing your credit yourself, get help from a company that specializes in credit repair.
The Division of Work
The fact is that 70 percent of women still handle the bulk of the household duties, even when the men stay at home. This unequal division of household duties often puts serious strain on relationships, especially if the wife works long hours to financially support the family, and is still expected to cook, clean, and do the laundry when she comes home.
Staying home to take care of the kids is important, but there’s more to it than just being the “fun dad” who helps them build tree forts, takes them on play dates, and lets them eat pizza for breakfast. It also involves doing taking care of those household duties that may have previously been handled solely by your wife.
Before you decide to take the leap, ask yourself if you are willing to take over the household chores least 50 percent of the time. You should be willing to make, and adhere to, a schedule to make sure the chores are split evenly. You might even need to take over the bulk of the chores. If you feel uncomfortable doing “women’s work,” or if you aren’t willing to shoulder at least 50 percent of the responsibility, then taking time off could end up costing you. The cost could take the form of emotional hardship, or the form of the extra money you’ll have to spend having someone else do it in order to keep the peace.
Returning to Work
Unfortunately, men who take time off for family, then try to reenter the workforce, often have a harder time finding work than women who do the same thing. There was even a study that showed that men who took time off for family issues often earned more negative performance ratings and lower evaluations.
Much of this has to do with the fact that, even though SAHDs have become more common, society – especially corporate society — still has some catching up to do.
If you think that you will be returning to the workforce within a few years, you might reconsider becoming a SAHD. Or, consider working freelance, or part-time, which will keep you in the workforce.
The outlook isn’t all bleak. After all, thousands of men across the country have successfully taken the leap to becoming stay-at-home dads. The fact that the numbers are growing means that society is slowly turning around on the matter. Many of the obstacles men face today could be non-existent in the years to come.
If you are seriously considering becoming a SAHD, then what’s important is that you are fearless enough to go against current societal norms, and savvy enough to have a reliable plan for handling finances and professional concerns.
You also need to involve your spouse in the decision. You both need to communicate the expectations, concerns, and fears that you have regarding the arrangement; and make sure that you both are on the same page before moving forward.
When done right, being a SAHD can be rewarding for all parties involved.