Plan to stay at home with the kids
Many couples start by trimming the basic fat out of
their budgets, like deluxe cable and phone services or luxury spending
on clothes and trinkets. Even getting into the habit of going to
the library instead of spending money on books or video rentals
can save cash.
"Often one of the easiest ways to trim costs
is to cut back on food expenses," says Oleson. "When both
members of a couple are working, they go out to lunch or dinner
because they don't feel like cooking at the end of the day. Those
entertainment and food costs can be enormous. Once people start
to look at those habits, they realize they can save a ton of money
just by cooking dinner."
Griffith found that she was able to cut her budget
substantially without changing the quality of her life.
"We were used to spending money and going out
as often as we wanted to," she says. "I didn't price-compare
at the grocery store. We were spending $450 to $525 a month. Now
we spend about $225 to $250 a month. I learned how to make pizza,
started canning and making my own jelly and jams. I bake from scratch
-- and anything I make, I make for more than one meal."
Staying in touch with your career
Many stay-at-home parents do not want their work lives to end with
the onset of mother or fatherhood. Working from home has become
an increasingly viable option in recent years. Parents can also
maintain or develop skills though civic and volunteer service to
keep that resume brushed up.
People who've enjoyed a busy career and success in
the workforce can find the transition to staying home all day, every
"It's important for the non-working spouse to
go to a conference now and then to keep current with the latest
trends in his or her field. Or, even spend a night a week out with
friends," says Oleson. "There is value in the stay-at-home
spouse being able to maintain his or her identity. Some people feel
they lose some of that just by being cooped up and not having contact
with other adults."
Some people prefer taking a more disciplined approach
to getting back to work. You may wish to set up a career timeline
with firm goals that put you back on the working path in stages
as your children grow up.
"You have to know what you want," says Jean
Stafford, CEO of Executive Coaching for Women in Great Falls, Va.
"The first step is to write out a basic strategic
plan -- goals about when you want to be working again. If you want
to work from home, think about what service you have to offer and
who the customer would be," suggests Stafford.
The workplace itself is changing, says Stafford, so
if individuals run their careers as they would a company -- knowing
their own value and who might benefit from their skills -- they
will be better able to call the shots.
Loving the at-home life
Then there are those who, after being away from the workplace, don't
miss the grind of the corporate world at all. Lancaster, who now
feels satisfied in the business of raising children, admits that
it wasn't instantaneous.
"It took a while for me to decompress,"
she admits. "I've used my time in some ways that would probably
look good on a resume, but I haven't made it a focal point of my
life to stay abreast of things that are happening in my former business
"It was definitely a growing process. I used
to be in constant contact with people, but after a few months, you
begin to separate your friends from your co-workers.
"I find that I now enjoy friendships much
more than I did."