Before we had kids, my wife and I knew we didn’t want to send any of our children to day care when we had to work. The question was, how could we make it work? It is much more common to hear of wives staying home and raising children while their husbands work, but we didn’t let traditional roles affect us as we examined our options.
Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with sending your children to day care. But we didn’t want to be forced into doing that for our children, especially as early as 12 weeks old. While we are strongly considering some form of day care to socialize our child later in life, we want to raise our son at home for at least the first two years of his life. We just had to figure out how to make a stay-at-home parent work for us financially.
Should the Higher Earner Stay Home?
Having one parent stay home was easier for us than I imagine it would be for many families. While I earned more money than my wife at my day job, I didn’t earn significantly more.
It doesn’t normally make sense to have the higher earner stay home and take care of a child—after all, you’d think we’d need as much money as possible if we were going from two incomes down to one. But thankfully, that isn’t the case for us.
While I was working at my day job, I was working on growing my side hustle, which included freelance writing at Money Manifesto. My side-hustle income didn’t surpass my day-job income, but it had the potential to replace a significant portion of that money. The best part about my side hustle is that I can run it from anywhere that has a laptop and an internet connection—including my home.
In fact, I left my job prior to my wife getting pregnant so that I could test-run turning my side hustle into a full-time business. Once we felt convinced that it would work, we started trying to have our first child.
Advantages of Being a Work-From-Home Dad
My wife would have loved to be the parent staying home with our son, but if she had left her job, we would have lost her full income. She does have a photography side hustle, but that requires her to work away from home.
Besides, my wife staying at her job has benefited us in many ways. She works a non-traditional schedule of three 12-hour shifts per week, so she has four days when she can stay at home and help raise our baby. This gives me more time to work on my now full-time business to increase my income. Plus, her job allows us to keep semi-subsidized employer health benefits that save us a significant amount of money. While my benefits were slightly better, her benefits are still infinitely better than buying health care independently.
No Awkward Looks
Being a work-from-home dad is pretty atypical. While it has become more common recently, many people are surprised to hear my wife still works while I stay at home and raise our child. Luckily, it’s always a pleasant surprise.
I don’t get strange looks when I go out to run errands during the week with my son. I’m not sure whether people in general are getting more used to the idea of a work-from-home dad, or if it’s just our local community. But either way, I haven’t felt awkward about our choice.
While having the dad stay home to watch the child may not be traditional, it’s worked out fabulously for us. We’re doing just fine financially, and once our son starts school, I’ll be able to spend even more time growing my business.
This article originally appeared on CentSai. CentSai is a financial literacy platform for millenials and younger Gen X to help them make smart financial choices.