It took us awhile to reach this decision together. There were a number of factors that led to us believing that Jeff staying home to care for Vicki (and eventually Todd and Vicki together) was the best choice for our family at this point.
1) He wasn't making that much money. He was working day shifts at a great neighborhood restaurant owned by a good friend of ours. But it just wasn't the kind of money that justified the headache of finding family and sitters to watch Vicki most days of the week. I think, strictly financially speaking, we probably just about broke even on that. Now, that's just with one kid. Put another infant in the mix, and there is no way we could have made the cost of care for two children work in our budget.
2) I favor having a parent care for their child(ren) if it's possible and wise for a family to do so. I fully recognize that not everyone is the best stay-at-home-parent (raising my hand here). I know that daycare and other situations are sometimes the very best thing for a family. But for us, I just kept being haunted by the feeling that Vicki could be better served by being a bit less nomadic and having home be her center just a bit more.
3) Jeff was willing and wanted to do this. This was very important to me. Even if it made more financial and parenting sense for him to stay home, I wasn't going to force him into doing something that would make him miserable! After months of talking it over, we came to the agreement that he would find spending his time with Vicki, and the rest of his family, more enjoyable than working for wages. It's important to note that family is Jeff's primary core value. He would do anything for his parents and his grandparents and his cousins. A lot of days he packs Vicki up and they go spend the day at his grandmother's (about twenty minutes from us), helping her around the house. So it wasn't just being free to watch Vicki. It was also being free to be a sort of family/domestic coordinator for the people who need him/us.
4) Jeff has what it takes to do this. I believe that staying home and parenting full-time is the hardest work in the world, with the least acknowledgement. Jeff is an amazing dad and has always been totally invested in parenting Vicki with love and thoughtfulness. Plus he can handle having a day stretch before him without much structure - in fact, he really would prefer that. Staying home drove me crazy because I felt like I couldn't establish a good rhythm to my day, which is important for making me feeling driven and successful. Jeff's personality just doesn't really function that way.
After struggling with a daycare situation that just didn't work out when we first moved here, and making the decision to reduce our vehicles down to one, I feel like we are on the right track to finding a daily grind that works for our family. Of course, in just a few short months, that will all turn upside down with the addition of a new member.
When Jeff left his job as a full-time late-night bartender and manager, we discovered just how miserable we had been with the schedules that didn't mesh and the demands of two full-time careers. We agreed then that we would rather be relatively poor and happier than have the extra money. That has been the case so far, and I hope it continues!