Recently, I saw an article about how more moms and dads are staying home through the first two or three years of their children's existence.

More studies are showing how critical these years are for the child, and most parents don't want to miss the experience.

Many friends of mine have made this choice. In fact, in a few cases, the dad was the one who ended up staying home with the children -- and taking a much-needed break from work.

With the rising costs of day care and the complexities of juggling a career, especially with children, many families are questioning whether two-earnership really makes sense.

In fact, Census data show that the percentage of couples with both partners working reached a peak in 1998 and is declining, particularly for families with younger children.

And it isn't just this demographic who seek a reprieve from the workplace. We all get burned out at our jobs. We look for a break to recharge our batteries, acquire new skills or enjoy a life experience.

The 1993 Family Leave Act can help, especially if you experience a life-changing event such as a the birth of a child or a parent's falling sick. That'll get you one year, by law, and preserve access to certain benefits, such as health insurance. But it may not be enough.

Whether for one year or three, two obstacles must be overcome: the prospect of derailing one's career and, of course, money.

Indeed, most of the rise in household incomes since the 1970s is tied to the presence of a second income, and many of today's lifestyles (especially housing costs) demand two paychecks.

And from the career perspective, there's that daunting gap to contend with. Employers don't like no-shows, so won't a three-year hiatus send a chill up their collective spine?

Click here for the video version of this story from Jennifer Openshaw.

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