6>Build a network Create a babysitting group with other parents and rotate watching one another’s kids for free. This way, you get out of the house for a much-needed “date” without the expense of a babysitter. Check your community for stay-at-home-moms groups; if none exists, start one.
7>Accept gifts Write up a list of things you’ll need for the baby—car seat, crib, stroller, highchair—and ask friends or relatives if they have hand-me-downs to share. (Just make sure none of the items has been recalled.) If you’re having a baby shower, go ahead and register. Guests will appreciate the guidance, and you’ll get what you really need.
8>Earn a few extra bucks To bring in extra income without incurring child-care costs, work part time when your partner can watch the baby. Become a neighborhood dog-walker and get some exercise, too. Work a few hours at a doctor’s office or a store where you can get an employee discount. You’ll enjoy some adult contact, too.
9>Think long-term If you’re in the market for a new home, calculate mortgage payments based on one income. Think about moving to a town or state where the cost of living is lower.
10>Be a realist If you decide to stay home with your child, prepare yourself mentally—making the switch to stay-at-home mom can be an adjustment. “It’s inevitable that you’re going to feel like you’re sitting around doing nothing, so I remind myself that I’m still working—I’ve just shifted my profession,” says Tabitha Pearson Marshall of Carmel, N.Y., a former art director and mother of two. “When I’m really down, I call a former co-worker to see what the other side is still doing. That gives me some balance.” Keep your expectations realistic and get an occasional perspective check, and you’ll be well equipped to stay home with your baby.
>>>find out more
> How to Raise a Family on Less Than Two Incomes, by Denise M. Topolnicki (Broadway Books, 2001)
> Shattering the Two-Income Myth, by Andy Dappen and Andrew R. Dappen (Brier Books, 1997)
> You Can Afford to Stay Home With Your Kids, by Malia McCawley Wyckoff and Mary Snyder (Career Press, 1999)