Guest article by Zoey Siow
“You must have a rich husband!”
“You are so brave! How I wish I can be like you and quit my job. I have no choice but to work.”
I get plenty of comments like these when people find out that I had quit my full-time corporate job to be at home with my children. In reality, not many know the struggles and difficulties that I have faced in order to make this decision.
I have been contemplating to stay home with my children full time ever since the birth of my second boy. With 2 young children, I was really exhausted and I felt like there was never enough time.
Between juggling my high demanding job and my family, I was burnt out and my anxiety level was off the charts. I was constantly exploding with anger, and my frequent outbursts did not do both myself and my family any good.
The most important trigger was actually the guilt I felt. I was eaten up with guilt on a daily basis, especially when my children say, “Mummy, can you please don’t go to work?” These words kept spinning inside my head every day.
Deep down, I knew I wanted to spend more time at home with my children, but I had no courage to do so.
In the beginning I didn't speak to my spouse about my intention, assuming that we would never be able to cope financially with a single income. I was in denial and I kept telling myself that it would be impossible for me to take that route.
Days passed and I begin to see behavioral changes in my oldest boy. I could sense that he was anxious and insecure. He was displaying signs of anxiety through his teeth grinding, being frequently triggered into meltdowns by the smallest thing, and having difficulty trying to settle down.
I knew that I had to do something, and I already knew the answer — the best thing that I could do is to spend as much as quality time with him as possible.
Finally, I had the courage to speak about this to my spouse. We had a lengthy discussion and we came to an agreement that I will quit my job to stay at home with the children.
We agreed to try it out for a year or two, and if this doesn’t work out as we expected, I can always go back to work. We both agreed that our priority was our children!
Then the planning started!
Evaluation and assessment of our financial commitments
We listed down all our commitments and evaluated every one of them, considering that there would only be a single income soon.
We looked into financial commitments that we could possibly cut down such as:
Enrichment classes that my children attend during the week. I enrolled them to those classes to compensate to the fact that my husband and I are at work during the day. I can cancel those classes and take this opportunity to focus on working with my son on his anxiety.
Car maintenance and petrol. My current job requires a lot of travelling. I can safely assume my car maintenance cost will be a lot lower when I quit my job.
Investment portfolio that require monthly deposit.
Insurance that can be temporarily suspended.
We used to eat out every meal during the weekend.
Now we started cooking more on weekends and cut down on dining in high end restaurants. I also cut down on my Starbucks! I used to buy at least 5 cups of coffee a week. Do the math and it really add up to the high expenses.
I also became more prudent in my own spending.
I used to frequent clothing stores every month and racked up my bills. One of the first actions I took during the evaluation and planning stages was to stop buying new clothes.
I survived without purchasing any new clothes for a year, and yet, I was crowned as one of the fashionable employees at work! By simply putting together different outfits from my current wardrobe, I was able to dress well without repeating a same outfit for a whole month.
Only then did I realize that I had spent too much on clothing.
My boys have way too much clothing as well. Again, in order to compensate my absence, I bought them branded clothing and shoes which were not necessary at all. I then stopped buying unnecessary clothes for them.
I also used to buy a lot of toys even when the kids did not ask for it. Now, I have learnt that it is better for children to have fewer toys and that it is acceptable for children to be bored once a while.
To my amazement, they often come out with something really creative to entertain themselves. That was way rewarding than expensive toys!
Eventually, I noticed that I used retail therapy to numb certain emotions and anxiety that was caused by my demanding job. In this journey, I have learned to be simple.
Yes, simplicity is the best!
Looking for opportunities
While I was still in employment, I was actively looking for any opportunity that would allow me to work from home. I knew that having only one income would definitely be a struggle for our family.
At the same time, I joined a business mastermind course to upgrade my skills. In addition, I continued to keep a lookout for opportunities that would help me generate small income from home.
Honestly, it took a lot of preparation especially mental preparation on my part before I could embark on this journey to be a stay-at-home-mum.
After 1.5 years being full time with my sons, I see happier and less anxious children in my home. It is definitely worth all those life changing changes. After all, it was changes for the greater good.
Zoey Siow is a parent-child connection expert and mum of 2 active boys. Taking a huge career leap this year, Zoey let go of her high-paying corporate 9-5 job to be full-time with her boys. Now, she’s working on her passion to help parents who want to unleash their children’s full potential but have no idea where and how to start. She’s determined to empower parents to connect and bond with their children in a fun, engaging and non-time consuming way. Get connected with Zoey now via www.zoeysiow.com