Can You Afford to Be a Stay-at-Home Parent?

Can You Afford to Be a Stay-at-Home Parent?

Choosing to be a stay-at-home parent is increasingly common in Australia. This trend reflects desires for family connection and cost considerations.

The concept of a traditional family dynamic has been evolving. While the dual-income family model has become the norm in many households, there is a growing trend of parents choosing to be stay-at-home parents in Australia. This shift in family dynamics is driven by various factors, such as the desire for a stronger connection with their children or the cost-effectiveness of staying at home.

However, the decision to be a stay-at-home parent comes with its own set of financial challenges, which can impact the family’s overall expenses. In this blog, we will pick apart the rationale behind why some parents prefer to stay at home, as well as the costs that can mount up for the Australian household.

Reasons to be a Stay-at-Home Parent

One of the primary reasons some parents opt for the stay-at-home life is their child-rearing philosophy. They believe in providing hands-on care and nurturing for their children during the crucial formative years. This choice is often driven by the belief that a parent’s presence has a profound impact on a child’s development. There are also concerns that hiring a househelp to look after a child may possibly gravitate that child’s parental bond to the househelp instead of the parents.

In a world where the demands of work can be all-consuming, some parents decide to prioritise family life over their careers. The idea of achieving a work-life balance, with a focus on spending quality time with their children, can be a powerful motivator for parents to stay at home.

Staying at home can sometimes be financially beneficial. In some cases, the cost of childcare can be so significant that it makes more sense for one parent to stay at home and look after the kids. This is particularly true when the parent’s income barely covers the expenses associated with working, such as childcare, transportation, and work-related costs. Some sources attest that childcare in Australia costs between $90 to $180 per child per day.

The emotional well-being of the family as a whole can be enhanced when one parent is always present. This can reduce the stress and pressure experienced by working parents and foster a more positive family environment.

Many parents find personal fulfilment in being directly involved in their children’s upbringing. Witnessing their children’s milestones, teaching them valuable life skills, and being there for them can be immensely satisfying.

The Costs of Choosing Stay-at-Home Parenthood

While the decision to become a stay-at-home parent may offer numerous benefits, it is not without its financial implications. The following are some of the costs that can mount up for households in Australia.

Loss of Income

The most apparent cost of staying at home is the loss of income. This can be a significant blow to the family budget, particularly if the stay-at-home parent previously contributed significantly to the household income.

Reduced Retirement Savings

When one parent opts to stay at home, they may also miss out on retirement savings contributions. This can impact their long-term financial security, especially if they don’t have alternative retirement savings plans in place.

Childcare Savings

While this might seem counterintuitive, many families spend a considerable portion of their income on childcare services. Stay-at-home parents, on the other hand, save on these expenses, potentially offsetting the loss of income to some extent. In a 2023 interview with News Corp Australia’s Mary Madigan, Brisbane resident Ms Rebecca said she has worked to manage her partner’s take home income by wisely budgeting their expenses, and when it came to childcare, she has homeschooled her eldest child as they are on the spectrum   

Education and Skill Development

When a parent steps out of the workforce for an extended period, they may miss out on opportunities for career advancement and skill development. This could hinder their re-entry into the job market when they decide to return to work.

Household Expenses

The cost of household expenses can increase when one parent stays at home. Additional costs may arise from utilities, groceries, and other daily expenses that come with a family member being home all day.

Career Interruption

Staying at home for an extended period can lead to a career interruption. Upon returning to work, some parents may find it challenging to secure positions that are on par with their qualifications and experience.

Side Hustles for a Stay-at-Home Parent

For many stay-at-home parents, the financial challenges can be daunting. To mitigate these challenges and contribute to the household income, many opt to pursue side hustles. Here are some viable options for stay-at-home parents in Australia:

  • Freelancing: With the rise of remote work, freelancing has become an increasingly viable option. Stay-at-home parents can offer their skills in areas like writing, graphic design, or consulting to earn an income.
  • Online Business: E-commerce and online businesses have opened up opportunities for stay-at-home parents. Selling products through platforms like Etsy or eBay can be a lucrative venture.
  • Consulting: Utilise your professional expertise to provide consulting services, which may encompass career coaching, financial advisory, or educational assistance.
  • Childcare Services: For parents who enjoy taking care of children, running a small daycare from home can be both fulfilling and income-generating.
  • Online Courses: Creating and selling online courses or tutoring services can be an effective way to generate income while staying at home.


In a household where one parent chooses to be the stay-at-home caregiver, the other often assumes the role of the breadwinner. For the breadwinning partner, it is essential to recognise the financial and emotional responsibilities this role entails. Effective communication and collaboration between both parents are crucial for a successful partnership in this family dynamic.

The decision to become a stay-at-home parent is deeply personal and often influenced by various factors, including child-rearing philosophies and financial considerations. While the costs associated with this choice are not to be underestimated, many parents find the experience to be rewarding and fulfilling. Balancing the books and managing expenses can be achieved through careful financial planning and exploring income-generating opportunities.

Ultimately, the choice to stay at home or pursue a career is a family’s unique decision, and what matters most is the well-being and happiness of the family unit as a whole.

DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only.

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