How should mothers decide if they should continue working, or quit their jobs to stay at home and look after their children?
The bottom line is: whatever arrangement gives you the best chance of fulfilling your priorities after taking into account the drawbacks.
This is one question many fathers don’t have to struggle with, but many mothers do: Should I work or become a stay-at-home mum?
Source: Living Chic
How do you decide what course of action to take?
1. Firstly, there is no right or wrong decision
Life is journey, and you make your life-changing decision based on the available information you have at that point of time.
If things didn’t turn out the way you wanted to, never regret.
Always look forward as you can control your actions today to affect your tomorrow, but your feelings today will not change the past.
2. List your priorities based on what you want
Often we give in to other people’s demands without considering our desires.
If you enjoy your job and your company can accommodate your various requests as a parent, why quit? Unless you have a very very good reason to do so.
If your job is a pain in the ass and your boss is an old-fashioned chauvinist who insists on face time rather than results, would you be happier off spending more quality time with your family?
But honestly, you may be stuck in a situation where your circumstances leave no room for your priorities.
In this case, how long will your circumstances bind you?
Will things change in a couple of years?
What if you gave in to others’ priorities now in exchange for your priorities later?
Sometimes mummies have to lose the battle to win the bigger war.
3. Can you afford not to work?
If you can survive on a single income (your husband’s) or you have enough cash inflow to support your family, and you would rather stay at home, why not?
But if you need the cash to finance your painful mortgage monthly repayments, childcare fees (as you cannot manage 3 kids by yourself at home), and other fixed expenses, you don’t have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mum.
Besides, working mums get more reliefs and subsidies, but note that your higher household income may reduce your subsidies under Singapore’s means testing system.
4. Do your kids need you as a mum more, or do you need your job more?
Some children may need the constant presence and guidance of their mums, especially if they have special needs that are difficult to outsource to other caregivers.
Some mums may prefer to homeschool their children to prepare them for their future, and believe they are the best person to do this job.
But if you need the job more and you can outsource caregiving and education to others reasonably well, then the choice is pretty clear.
5. How easily can you change back and forth from being a working mum and stay-at-home mum?
Your decision to choose work or stay at home isn’t going to be for life. You can quit your job if you hate it to stay at home.
Unfortunately, it may be more difficult to get a job after some time of being a stay-at-home-mum.
If only there were more programs to help stay-at-home mums get personalised career help and targeted courses.
I personally use this tool called JobKred to assess the skills I’m lacking in, and access free or affordable courses by Udemy and Coursera that are linked to your future skills.
There seem to be more programs suggested to help mums get back to work, like a 4-6 month job trial with guidance and training called the Returnship Programme (but it’s not launched yet) and various career assistances by job centres run by the government and NTUC.
6. Are you prepared for retirement?
As modern women, should we depend completely on our husband and children for our retirement needs if we are stay-at-home mums?
Although we shop around for the best deals for our family, stay-at-home mums may not plan (or know how to plan) for life in old age.
It’s really scary especially if family members cannot support our health or medical expenses, and we have no savings to draw upon.
Without income, stay-at-home mums cannot afford retirement insurance plans, health insurance (unless their Medisave is sufficient or someone pays on their behalf) or even top up their CPF to take advantage of the 5% interest rate, and Workfare.
You can check out this article for further reading on how stay-at-home mums are so not ready for retirement.
7. Do we have transferable skills for part time/freelance/temp jobs?
The answer should always be YES!
A mum is a do-it-all person with multitasking, time-management, procurement, negotiation, organisation skills and more.
So who says a stay-at-home mum cannot earn her own keep?
For more info on freelance jobs for stay-at-home mums, read this article.
Also published on Medium.