Stay-at-Home Moms and a Long-Term Plan

Colleen Sheehy Orme

When you're a new mom it's hard to think past your immediate decisions. The days are filled with joyful emotion, the nights are sleepless and financial issues demand solving. Should you return to work or stay-at-home to care for your baby?

If you choose a career outside of the home you're forced to think long-term. You continue to build your profession over the years. If you work within your home you don't necessarily develop a timeline and future plan.

Instead, you place a great value on the relationship you've built with your spouse. This is someone you trust, someone you can count on, the person you will be with forever. The individual who made this joint family decision with you.

No one wants to think about the worst at the best of times.

But it's necessary to protect yourself and your children.

Especially when you have babies and simultaneously abandon your financial independence. It's no different than having insurance policies. It's responsible to have a plan and all of your ducks in a row. A rainy day scenario.

Additionally, there can be a marital transition when individuals assume traditional roles. The proverbial breadwinner and the caregiver. A relationship must be based on a profound respect and excellent communication to ensure being valued as a stay-at-home mother.

If not, at first it's a luxury, the proud income earner makes enough for their spouse to stay home. Then expectations may arise while roles begin to form. The stay-at-home mom and now sometimes stay-at-home dad does more while the person working outside the home's primary responsibility becomes work.

With the passage of time and an absence of respect, jokes may start to be made. "What do you do all day?" "Sit around and watch television?" or others about shopping and spending. There can be a slow erosion of the relationship based on the value of a paycheck.

Rather than the actual work, each partner is doing.

As a newlywed, you may scoff at this. That would never happen! You married your college sweetheart. Your best friend! This could never be your unfortunate marital outcome. But it does happen to couples every day. And divorce happens.

All the more reason it's foolish to become financially dependent on another person without a plan.

Because typically when a marriage ends, it's long after you once made happy decisions together. Now you may be a stay-at-home mom who has been out of the workforce for years, has no access to money, and has no individual credit.

Sadly, few play nice in divorce nor do they believe in an equitable division of assets. Making your situation even worse? Society doesn't generally place a high value on stay-at-home moms. It's an antiquated view but still prevalent nonetheless.

You can't count on your spouse to protect you.

Only you can protect yourself. By doing so, you will be protecting your children. You will lower the probability of financial abuse in divorce and reduce a potentially lengthy divorce. All of which kids should not be subjected to.

If you choose to work as a stay-at-home mom create a timeline and a plan.

1. In most states, you can draw up a post-nuptial agreement. While this won't include all the necessary details, it's a start. It will outline things such as making a joint decision for you to walk away from your income to raise your children.

A lawyer in your state should be able to let you know what particulars you can include.

2. You have sacrificed years of your career and will ultimately pay the price for that. You deserve to be insulated. Not enough emphasis is put on this fact. Instead, stay-at-home moms especially in divorce tend to be viewed as lazy or as having lived a life of luxury.

Keep an individual bank account and determine an amount you will be paid each month.

You shouldn't be considered free labor. You deserve to build some financial insulation and be compensated.

3. Be involved in the finances. Another part of financial vulnerability is not ensuring you are listed properly on houses, cars, bank accounts, and insurance policies. As well as keeping individual bank accounts and individual credit cards to build your own credit score.

So many married couples put the finances entirely in one spouse's hands and it's a mistake.

Every individual needs to take responsibility for their own finances or it could turn out badly for them. Once a year, say each January, credit scores should be pulled, policies reviewed, bank statements shared to make certain you know what is happening. Even this won't always ensure a spouse is doing the right thing if a marriage is struggling because they employ many tactics such as P.O. Boxes for hidden accounts, and other things. But if this is done annually, you should be able to note if discrepancies begin to appear.

4. Keep some foot in the workforce. Today, with the internet and so many people working from home, there's a greater ability to keep a portion of yourself in a career. Decide if and when you will begin to do so. Maybe within the first few years of having children or once they are in preschool.

The longer you are out of your profession the less marketable you become.

Again, this reinforces the need to abandon archaic stereotypes that stay-at-home moms have it easy. A price is paid in long-term security each year you stay home.

5. Think what if. Ask yourself questions. What would I do if my spouse lost their job? What would I do if my spouse left me? What if I chose to leave my spouse? What if my spouse withheld money from me while I tried to rebuild? What if I am left without savings and retirement in a divorce?

What if I stayed out of the workforce for five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years?

What would I be to qualified to do? How would my health insurance be paid? Where would I live?

Thinking long-term solidifies understanding of your financial and professional vulnerabilities. The ones that are far too common for stay-at-home moms. But you dismiss them because you feel indebted to have this opportunity.

You must be proactive.

Instead of generations of stay-at-home mothers who found themselves forced to be reactive in times of trouble or divorce. Trust is a beautiful thing. It's necessary for successful relationships. Yet approximately fifty percent of marriages fail.

This means every individual should reduce their personal, professional, and financial vulnerabilities.

Taking responsibility for your own finances and independence doesn't cancel out trust.

It simply says you have boundaries, are a responsible individual and parent.

And staying home to raise your children shouldn't lessen your value.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA

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