Katy Read, a sometime stay-at-home mum herself, talks about the downside of being a full-time parent. As she points out, opting out of the workforce has huge and ongoing economic consequences. The lost income and the lost career path leave you vulnerable if circumstances change. What happens if you divorce or your spouse dies? How do you get back into the workforce after years away? Will you be able to restart a career?
These questions scare me. I’ve not been in full-time work for years and years, and the jobs I had in my past life do not exactly add up to a fulfilling career. I’m not sure what I want to do when I stop being a full-time parent, but I know that whatever I chose to do, I’m going to be starting over – retraining, then beginning at the bottom of my new career. And, I’m going to be doing all of this in midlife. It’s a tad daunting.
Despite my nerves and the needling of my thwarted ambitions, I wouldn’t change my choice to stay at home. Leaving my breastfeeding baby in someone else’s care and going off to work just isn’t something I could have contemplated. I’m lucky that we had a choice, that we were surviving fine without the second income. But whether to work (full-time or part-time) or not to work at all is a difficult issue to resolve and every option has its costs.