Save. Spend. Splurge.

Stay at home and take care of your kids, or go to work?

It just popped into my head the other day, about all the choices people make about setting up their household — having the husband or wife stay at home with the kids or to have dual incomes.

This is an age-old argument, and if you don’t have kids or aren’t planning on any, you can skip this entirely.

I can see the benefits of both sides, although the case is harder to justify dropping two incomes down to two, if both spouses have a high earning power and potential.


Lilila Ronzuli and her baby Victoria at work



  • One spouse concentrates on making the money, and the other keeps the home going
  • Seems to be the model for most millionaire-next-door families; husband at work, wife at home
  • No one can care and love more for your child than your own family
  • If one spouse is making enough just to cover the cost of daycare, then staying at home is better


  • Two incomes means less pressure for the one spouse to constantly perform
  • If both spouses make around the same amount of money, it’d be a better financial situation
  • Neither spouse feels upset that the other is being taken advantage of
  • Only works if the workload at home is split 50/50 as well, and the division of labour is easy to see

The monkey wrench in all of this is the cost of health insurance in the U.S., and the super short maternity leave (3 months? SERIOUSLY!?).

It is not easy to leave a 3-month old, and the pressure is even worse if it’s the mother who is the one bringing home the bacon.


WTF is a wife bonus? And What. Is. This. Insane. Poor. Little. Rich. Women. World.?!

I guess these women have turned being at home into a career.

I guess it sounds fair.. but it sounds so sick and mercenary to treat raising your family like a job rather than.. I don’t know.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around that article.

I guess I’d feel like a slave. Or a mistress, if I was paid to take care of my own kids and get them into the best schools…


Being Canadian, 4 months of paid mat leave is pathetic but in the U.S. it’s being heralded as a new era of change which is really unbelievable.

Here in Canada we get a year.

I’m really surprised at any new mother being able to go back to work after a month, let alone 4 months, with that being considered generous.

It’s hard work with a newborn or young baby.. not to mention daycare costs having to weigh out whether or not your job pays enough.

No wonder women can’t rise in the ranks, we’re penalized as new mothers and to top it all, we have to drop out to take care of our newborns.

Of course, the father could drop out of the workforce to take care of the baby, but here are the few, off-the-top-of-my-head reasons why they don’t:

… is it any wonder that women are stagnating in the workplace if they choose to have children, and penalized for doing so?

No wonder women are opting out of motherhood.


In either case, I think a FAIR division of labour at home, is key and the stay-at-home-parent gets a break.

Taking care of a kid, is a 24-hour job.

You don’t clock in and then clock out after 10 hours, it is constant, even if you are sick, not feeling great, or just not on top of your game.

With kids, you have to be on top of everything. All the time.

For me, I couldn’t stay at home all day with kids, that much, I AM SURE OF.

(Thank you, older siblings for providing “test” future children for me to take care of to have learned this about myself.)

It’s not that I wouldn’t love them so much that I wouldn’t want to spend every minute with them, but children are mentally and physically exhausting.

I also LIKE working. I enjoy my job and the challenges that come with it, so it’s not like I’d feel any relief not working any longer, I’d probably feel anxious.

Making a decision like this isn’t easy, and sometimes it isn’t all about the money.

Other interesting articles? They’re about Stay at home Dads with Power Wives

What I love is summed up in this:

Ms. Black and others say that is the real gift of a stay-at-home spouse: avoiding domestic distractions and competing better against other bankers, many of them men with stay-at-home wives.

Some of the women with stay-at-home husbands are her top performers. […] the more domestic responsibility the men are willing to assume, the more their wives can help the bank make money.

.. and this one made me laugh:

(“You want awkward? Try a swim play date,” one father said.)

Every man interviewed said that many school notices, invitations and Girl Scout troop updates were still sent to their wives, a river they are constantly trying to divert.



  • LAL

    I think time with the kids most important. LOL. Why? Because right now my DH and I are both home with the kids. My DH didn’t want to miss anymore than he is. He’d rather work later than now.

  • Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada

    I think the decision to have a parent stay at home or have both parents work is entirely personal, and if you’re lucky, it’s not a decision that needs to be based on money (although, I know this is often not the case for many). I just resigned from my job to be home with our 1 year old. I made a high income and had a job I really liked and excelled at. But I am like this more!

    • Christina

      Praise to you, the decision to stay home is personal but the benefits of children being raised by their mother (or father) instead of hired help will benefit way beyond.

      Reading the comments posted I want to say that it seems that the young women today don’t realize that the purpose of mothering, to be a “mother” is to nurture your children. This is something that daycares and even nanny’s can’t provide-a mothers love is unique. Children are not accessories just going along for the ride.

      Not affording to stay at home will never be an argument to me. If you can’t afford to live on one income now maybe waiting is the answer. Having children will only increase stress and pressure with juggling all the new responsibilities and the cost of daycare or nanny help is not cheap especially if you have more than one. Your babies are babies for such a short amount of time…poof! 5 years goes by and they are in school, a perfect time to go back to work.

      • Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada

        @Christina: Thanks, Christina. It’s always nice to hear support. I am really enjoying being home, like you say, they are only little for a short while. And time is flying! I can’t believe it has already been a year. Seems like I just had a newborn baby yesterday.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          Mine is right now a little over a year and just lying down with him making faces makes me want to take a break from my contract & stay at home with him.

      • save. spend. splurge.

        You make good points. 5 years does go by quickly. I stayed at home for the first 7 months and now his father is at home with him. Seeing him grow and change is really incredible, and the short few hours I have with him each day when I come home from work are sometimes very difficult. The weekends are when I really feel the most connected with him…

        Still I can’t stay at home 100%. My brain just won’t take it.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Will you go back to work after a certain age?

  • Vivien

    Did u get any maternity in your job situation?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have kids. Not sure if I will ever have any as I’m still at uni but this was an interesting article to read for sure. It would really make me nervous to give up my income because I’ve met women in the real world who were wives & mothers and after 10-20 years their husband now wants a divorce and they have to go out in the world and they had to start over financially in their 40’s and 50’s.

    That’s too scary especially because ageism in the corporate world starts around that age. My mom told me that if I ever have kids she could baby-sit while I’m at work, so I guess I’m lucky. But still I don’t want her to feel like it’s her duty to baby-sit all the time. Plus I have talents and passions that I still want to utilize even if I were to have kids. I want to be a full person with or without kids.

  • Christina

    My view on this is simple. I believe if you choose (and it is a choice) to have children they deserve to be raised by a parent instead of hired help. A mothers bond is non replaceable, your position at work is. Budget and stay at home, even if this requires one car, smaller home etc.

    To me it’s not about all the talking points of maternity leave, how much, how long…its about the choice to have a child and that means being there to raise YOUR child. I will never understand the choice to be a mother but then hiring someone else to do the daily raising.

    Motherhood is not the hardest job its the most important job.

  • middle class

    3 months leave is pathetic! I always maintain that if all women got one year maternity leave, more would decide to stay in the workforce. Dropping off a 3-month old at a daycare or with a nanny is heart-breaking. Doing so with a 1-year old would be much easier emotionally and logistically. By 1-year, a mother could do 1-year of breastfeeding without the hassle of pumping at work AND you’re likely getting regular sleep again so that you can function at work. I also believe fathers should a minimum time for paternity leave.

  • Jessica

    I am a 20-something that is warily eyeing the the issue of having children. I don’t know if I want children yet, but if I eventually decide I do, I could never be a stay at home parent because of my life experiences as a child.

    My father passed away very suddenly when I was 12. If my mom had been a stay at home parent, my immediate family would have faced serious financial challenges, particularly because most of my relatives are stingy and would never lend a helping hand. Thankfully, aside from maternity leave, my mom always insisted on working, even if it was only part time for four days a week.

    Even then, the transition to a single-parent family was traumatic. If my mom did not have her decent paying job and good financial skills, I would never have gotten the opportunities I needed to get where I am today and she would not have the financial freedom that she enjoys now.

    Consequently, it seems irresponsible to me to give up working if you have children. I would feel very uneasy putting my financial well-being entirely into someone else’s hands. If something bad happens to the moneymaking spouse, how is the stay at home counterpart suppose to continue supporting the kids?

  • Stephanie

    At my job, we get 6 weeks maternity leave, 8 if it’s a c-section. And then with FMLA in U.S. you an take up to 12 weeks (unpaid) and not lose your job.

    We haven’t figured out yet what we’ll do, but my assumption is we’ll both work after we have our baby (after leave) but the cost of childcare in Massachusetts is INSANE so I haven’t actually done the math yet to make sure this works out. I’d like to be home with our child, but at the same time I know I’d go a little bit nuts not working. I guess we’ll see what happens. Start planning now and see how well the plans work out.

  • Petrish

    This is such a personal decision and something that has to be discussed and agreed upon by a couple for its not for everyone. I would have loved to stay at home with my child, but it was not an option. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, but I will say that its wonderful when a mommy or daddy can spend that time with a child while their young. For are we really sure the neighbor or daycare is really going to teach them good values, or give them the love that they need?

  • Revanche

    Once in a while, I get so tired of juggling both I briefly consider quitting. Then I laugh because as much as I like the idea of only have one job, the truth is, I wouldn’t be happy if I weren’t earning income. And I can’t give up the job of Momming. (Not that I’m saying I want to, just that it’s not an option!)

    But then PiC comes home and takes over for a while, I get a shower and a few minutes to myself and it all feels better. It’s almost kind of great that the first few months were so incredibly hard: everything else that’s followed doesn’t feel nearly so difficult, even though it’s not objectively easy.

    Anyway. US “maternity leave” is utter crap, of course. Three months was “long” when I took off but it was like an eyeblink. If there were to be a next time, it’d be great if I were in the position to budget for a year without worrying. Time and again, I scoff at US politics that wants to shout about “family values” which evidently doesn’t include actually enabling us to have or take care of our families responsibly or humanely. Fah. This is a rant waiting to happen 🙂

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I’m the same way. I couldn’t handle it for 7 months… all alone, stressed, doing 100% childrearing with basically no help on that. My partner helped with the food and so on but that’s not the same as being able to sleep and go out to do your own thing.

      Now that he’s at home, I am a lot more calm and relaxed, and he gets alone time too. HE has understood how hard it is.

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