The Stay-at-Home Dream House
By Cheryl Gochnauer
It's that time of year again. Roses in every hue are selling out, Hallmark stock is splitting, and chocoholic loved ones are taking the first tumble off their New Year's diet wagon.

That's right; Valentine's Day is right around the corner.

I love my husband, and he loves me. In this trite phrase lies one of the most important secrets to staying at home with your children - you and your mate are of like mind.

Don't forget this essential plank as you contemplate quitting your job. Let 's take a lesson from that old fairy tale about the three pigs. I'm telling you straight out; if your husband doesn't support your decision, you're building your stay-at-home dream house out of straw. The first strong wind will blow your good intentions to smithereens.

Instead, lay brick upon brick in this marriage-changing construction. Make a concrete plan together, agreeing on what is best for the children you both cherish. Ask and answer the hard questions:

What sacrifices are we willing to make to allow Mom to stay home? What are we not willing to sacrifice?

How will housework duties be redistributed? Men, just because your wife stays home doesn't mean you never have to pick up a dishtowel again.

Can you still refer to income as "our money" when only the husband is drawing a salary? Or will the wife be hesitant to spend her "husband's paycheck?"

Do you, as a couple or individually, base your self-worth on appearance? If so, you may have a difficult time if finances dictate downshifting to an older vehicle or secondhand clothing.

How long will Mom stay home? Will she go back to work after the kids get in kindergarten, or when they graduate from high school? Or is this a permanent change?

Under what circumstances would Mom go back to work on a temporary basis?

Most corporations don't make a move until they have a business plan in hand. We should be no different.

Like any worthwhile endeavor, choosing for Mom to stay home presents a couple with tough challenges. I am still firmly convinced that the worst day at home beats the best day at the office, but there is a price to be paid for that privilege. When a husband and wife stand together, however, they pay the bill without regret.

If you and your Valentine are contemplating a change in priorities this year, work together as the team you were meant to be. With each other's support, you'll be able to build that stay-at-home dream house on a firm foundation.

(ATTENTION, KANSAS CITY-AREA HOMEBUDDIES! Watch Cheryl's series on at-home parenting on KMBC-TV Channel 9's "First News" between 6:45-7:00 a.m. on February 18-22. Then on Saturday, Feb. 23, meet Cheryl at Family Christian Stores in Independence (across from the new Target), where she'll be signing copies of "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom" and her new book, "Mom to Mom: Committing Our Children to God." (Mom)

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