Should you resign from your job to be a stay at home mom?

Quit or Stay?

A dear friend of mine made the conscious choice to resign from her corporate job to concentrate on raising her kids. She is very intelligent with good academic results and worked for a well known company. But as she become a mother, she felt she wanted to give the best to her children.

It has been more than 10 years since making that decision. There were struggles but overall, she told me that it has been well worth it. In fact, when I resigned from my job last year to be a caregiver, she was one of the few persons who truly understand why I did it.

You may just have a child and the thought of parting with your little precious breaks your heart as it is nearing the time to go back after your confinement. Before you decide to throw in the letter, here are some considerations that you need to make:

Considerations before deciding to be a stay at home mom (SAHM):

1. Financial security- are you able to live on income from a single spouse?
If you decide to quit your job, would you be able to live off the income from a single spouse in the long term? It is not only for the cost of buying milk powder, toys, clothes and pampers but for the child (and subsequent children)’s education.

Over the years, I’ve observed that there is no such thing as job security. Economy times are hard- layoffs may happen or as your spouse grow older, he may end up working with a boss who is younger, immature or hot headed who he may not get along. Even though your spouse may be drawing a high salary, please please ensure you save up some money each month. It would be best to scale down on too much indulgences, expensive dining or simply buying things that you do not need.

2. How much do you like to be a homemaker?
Many people think that being homemaker is easy. It does cheese my friend and me a little when we get asked since we are staying at home, we must have a lot of time. Hence what do we do with all that time?

Cooking and cleaning really takes up a lot of time. It is often tough and a thankless job. You would find and feel that you are often taken for granted. You would clean up and the kids would dirty it up in no time. You need to ask yourself honestly if that is what you can learn to accept doing each day.

Maybe you do not feel like doing it because you would think that you did not go through all that education just to be a stay at home mom, often toiling away as a unpaid maid.  Love can do wonders- and the selfless love of a mother is unmatched and priceless. You may learn to do these things and choose to like them because you care for your family. You may want to provide the best nutritious home cooked food for them. The survival and adaptive skills you have learned in corporate would come in handy when it comes to learning a new skill that you may not have affinity for such as cooking and cleaning.

I know of some who, no doubt they love their kids very much, they could not picture themselves being a stay at home mother. So they worked hard at their day jobs, either got their parents to help with a little babysitting or send their kids to daycare. During the weekends, they would cook for the family and try to spend quality time with them. A friend of mine worked at a fairly well paid job and is set to retire early in a few year’s time so that she can enjoy time with her family.

3. Perception of people about you will change
A homemaker and a successful corporate figure gets perceived differently. It is somewhere along the lines that you have chosen to resign not because you love your kids but because you can’t deal with stress, not driven enough, or gotten a little lazy. You are going to have to live with that and try not to let that bother you.

Your in-laws may treat you differently when you are fully dependent on their son for living as opposed as you are also bringing part of the dough. The higher you are at the corporate ladder, the lesser they tend to talk down or look down on you. When you were working, you may throw your temper at your spouse when things does not get done in the house (after all, both are working and tired so you can’t be the only one picking after the kids). But if you quit your job, you would really need to rein in on those outbursts.

I know not everyone is like this but it is something that some of my friends have experienced and what I observed as well. It is a lesson in humility and you need to learn to let go of what people is going to think.

However, I wish to say that true friends in your life will stand by you regardless of who you are….whether you are SAHM, caregiver or in between jobs. How they treat and perceive you will never change because they accept you for who you are. My best pals still treated me the same. My mom’s friends supported my decision to be a caregiver.

4. It would be harder to find a job later on
Suppose you only plan to quit your job for 5 to 10 years to focus on raising your child and then re-enter the corporate world. Unless you have good connections, it would be hard to find a job when you have not been working for sometime. Even good connections may also let you down because you would be surprised… many people whom you have helped would disappear into the woodwork once you have nothing else that you could offer them. Or they may try to help but it is hard to talk to their bosses because the longer you left your field, the lesser your bargaining power would be.

When I quit my first corporate job 10 years ago, I spent a year in Thailand, then another year taking a paycut job to work on my blogs. The job was not mentally straining, leaving me with energy to write and work on my blogs. When I find it is not viable to sustain my lifestyle and I got sick of being bullied by those with weaker mentality and much lesser education than me, I decided to go back to corporate world. It is demoralizing to not being able to make ends meet and get bullied and work in an office where time is spent on gossiping.  I rather draw a higher salary and get bullied by GMs and VPs.  But to be honest, my bosses and management have been kind to me- as they have bigger things to handle and do not sweat the small stuff.

Even then, I would not have been able to land in my second corporate job in 2010 had it not because of my beloved former boss who called me back to join her in her new company. I would always be grateful to her for giving me the opportunity. But for those without help, you would be competing with hundreds of others for the same position in Jobstreet.

Now the positives- what you can do to improve your situation?

OK, I might have scared you with some negatives. But in this section, I want to talk about strategies that you can take to make the transition less scary.

Each one of us has different priorities. I do not mind a career suicide to quit my job and become a full time caregiver because I love my mom. Little did I know that by doing that it opened up new opportunities for me. I was able to get back to blogging.

Here are some steps you can take:

First, have a game plan to start an income stream whether passive or active based on your interests. Map it out but…

Second, get acquitted to your new role. There would be adjustments you need to make as you are getting into the routine of caring for your child, spouse and the home. As a caregiver, it took me a while to transition from corporate life to being tied to the house.  After you get comfortable, then you proceed with your game plan of alternative income.

You are able to do this because you would have quit your job because financially your spouse’s income is able to support the family at the moment. This gives you a cushion for you to explore more flexible ways of earning your income. With the online world, the possibilities are endless. This may not make you rich but would help to give you some stash that you can save up on your own.

Here are some ways to make some side income:

  • bake and sell cookies, cakes or something you are exceptionally good at doing
  • becoming a writer
  • becoming a hawker (yes, I have heard of an accountant who quit her job and helped her husband with his chau koay teow business)
  • starting a blog or YouTube channel
  • selling stuff online
  • going into freelancing- either web design, copy writing, programming, event management, photography
  • teach part time- be it art, languages or subjects that you are good at
  • become a mutual fund or real estate agent….. even though you may not make it, but you learn a lot of things about investments and real estate at a greatly subsidized cost

Case studies:

Art teacher

Joyce was a graphic designer by training. She quit her job to become a full time homemaker. With the extra time, she dabbled into art and crafts which she has a natural flair for. She later taught art lessons to children. Eventually she opened up an art studio when her children were older. And the center became a place her children could hang out after school- so she was able to spend time with her kids- the difference is instead at home, it is at the art center. You can checkout her Facebook page here.

Art teacherFinancial advisor

I met Gina not long in my first corporate job.  She was working in my company and was a part time insurance agent (which she declared to HR when she applied the job with us). When Gina got pregnant with her second child, she decided she wanted to focus on her family life and took a risk in deciding to go full time to be an insurance agent. It enables her to earn some income and at the same time to be there for her family.

As Gina has a wonderful personality- genuine, honest and helpful. With her wonderful personality, she was able to build up a good list of clientele.  We would go out and have a meal or coffee and talk about our lives… she was always concerned and do not meet me just to push products to me.  That is why it is not surprising that she continues to receive new clients via referrals and word of mouth.

As a normal financial consultant, you are often limited to sell products of one particular company. But sometimes, you know that other companies can offer a better product to suit the need of your customers. As she wanted to recommend the best products for her customers, she pursue the certification to be a fully fledged financial advisor.

This enables her not to be limited or restricted through selling products of just one company but from any financial institutions in the country. To me, the best financial advisor or consultant should be able to offer any product in the market.

CONCLUSION

I hope this article gives you a better perspective of whether you should give up on your job to be a stay at home mom. Personally, I do not feel that you need to give up or waste your education, skills and working experience.

Should you decide to make the plunge, take time to familiarise with your new lifestyle. Once you have established a routine, then you can use some extra time to work on your side hustle. You would be able to do it with the peace of mind knowing that at least for the first few years, your spouse’s income would be able to support you.

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