It’s common for parents to say they have chosen to give up income when they began homeschooling.
I disagree—there is really no lost income, and here’s why:
1. Successful careers don’t die.
There is a shortage of mid-career professionals. Generation X is very small, and they are reluctant to give up family for work. Which means as Baby Boomers retire, there are not enough people to replace them. If you have a lot of talent and you drop out for a bit, you can pretty easily re-enter when you’re ready. If you can’t re-enter you probably did not have all that great a career.
If you have a successful career and you want to stay home with kids and work part-time, that will not be a problem. People who have track records for success and a solid resume before they choose to stay home generally do not have trouble getting part-time work once they settle into a home routine.
2. Big careers can support outsourced homeschooling.
If you have a very successful career, and you want to take your kids out of school, you can use your income to pay someone to facilitate the kids’ education while you keep going to work every day. Even if it’s an expensive solution at the onset, your income will keep increasing because you are on an all-star track at work.
3. School artificially inflates our earning power.
If you don’t earn enough money to pay someone to homeschool your kids, then you probably were not really earning enough money to justify going to work. Because the only way you felt you were making enough money at your job was if your kids subsidized that income by sitting in school eight hours a day.
4. It’s very hard to build a career if you start part-time.
Most people who stay home with kids would like to earn money part-time. This works fine if you were earning a lot of money full-time before you had kids. But this plan does not work well if you never made much money.
Trying to establish a new career, working part-time, while you take care of kids is tough. Also, you’re competing against all the 23-year-olds who want to work full-time and they can take a much lower salary than you can because they don’t need to pay for childcare while they work.
The real solution: the parent who is not staying at home should earn more money.
If your family really does need more money, the parent who works all day is in a better position to earn more money than the parent who is at home all day. And the cost to the family for the working parent to earn more money is way less than the cost to the family of the stay-at-home parent to earn more money.
The problem is that the stay-at-home parent feels bad telling the working parent to earn more money. So the stay-at-home parent should choose to feel better about the work done in the home, with children. Because it’s worth a lot to the family, and to society at large, really.
If that fails, then you could consider trading: would the working parent want to stay home and let the stay-at-home parent work? Probably not. It’s easier to work. And society values it more–right or wrong, they do. So the working parent should feel lucky and stop pressuring the stay-at-home parent to earn money.
Another problem is that the stay-at-home parent is bored. But working a few hours a day, only to quell boredom, is easy. It can even be for free as a volunteer. Just remember that you are not working to earn money—you are working to stay sane.
Marriages work best when the two spouses work as a team. It is not teamwork to have one parent doing childcare and work and the other parent just doing work. It’s teamwork to separate tasks and work together to get people what they need: the parents (both of them) need to feel respect for what they contribute, and the kids need to feel that everything is working well to enable them to learn at home.