Do You Want or Need to Go Back to Work After Baby?
I wanted nothing more than to be present for every moment of my newborn’s life, but our wants sometime compete with our needs more than we would like them to do. I wanted to finish my college degree, so I needed to work at my job to pay for it. Instead of staying home each and every day with my first child, I left the house before she was awake, leaving my husband to get her ready for daycare. I worked until lunchtime, and then drove as a determined new mom to fill my arms with her again. And four evenings a week I attended night classes, and somehow fit in an internship as well, to graduate with honors – a goal I wanted to reach and felt I needed to do for myself and my family.
Life as a working mom is like Grandma’s tater-tot hotdish. The scent of it is enticing, there are ingredients that are sometimes hard to swallow (like surprise chunks of mushrooms), and there is a perfectly arranged and tasty top layer that makes your reminiscing soul smile. And sometimes it requires a little extra on the side – like a big dose of ketchup.
Wants and Needs
If you are wrestling with the decision to either go back to work after your baby is born or whether you should leave your paying gig for title of Stay-at-Home-Mom, there are many worries, concerns, issues, and logistical quagmires to weigh. As with most things, it is easiest to start in the beginning – and in this situation, that means defining your needs and your wants (and hoping that the two of them can play nicely with each other).
Financial Changes when Going Back to Work
One of the reasons why so many moms work outside of the home is for a paycheck. To the extent that the paycheck is a need or a want is a very individual decision. To help you determine which it is for you, ask yourself (and your partner) the following questions.
- Are we able to pay the rent, utilities, and insurance with one paycheck? (If the answer is no, you most likely need to work outside of the home.)
- What are our financial goals for one year, 5 years, 10 years, and beyond? (If you haven’t had this discussion, now is the time to do it.)
- Will working outside of the home allow me to reach my financial goals? (Believe it or not, just because you are working 40 hours outside of the home doesn’t mean you’re in the home stretch when it comes to financial security.)
- Will we be able to maintain at least a 6 month reserve in our bank account for financial emergencies?
- How much money will I save by staying home (professional wardrobe, daycare, travel, etc.)?
- How much money do I realistically want for things like karate lessons for the kids and trips to the zoo?
- Will the financial implications be more like surprise mushroom chunks or perfectly golden browned tots on top?
Emotional Changes when Going Back to Work
Being a mother is one of the most amazing experiences a woman can have – but that doesn’t mean that it is the only experience a woman can have. If you are considering wearing two hats – one for the job you do as Mom and one for the job that gives you a paycheck, ask yourself the following questions to see if the emotional challenges and rewards are right for you.
- Do I want to work outside of the home? (Don’t let your answer make you feel guilty either way – you are entitled to your own wants even though you are Mom.)
- Does working outside of the home make me feel fulfilled? (It is OK to say yes – it doesn’t mean that you love your job as Mom any less.)
- Do I have emotional support from my partner for either decision I make?
- Do I have a support system of people who are having similar experiences, either other stay-at-home moms or working moms? (If not – find some – common groups are comforting.)
- When I think of staying home with the kids, do I feel any resentment towards them or my partner for the loss of the satisfaction I feel working outside of the home? (Resentment can breed hostility, which isn’t good for anyone in the family.)
Choosing to Go Back to Work After Baby
As parents we get to make the hard decisions, and sometimes those decisions are hardest on us as moms. We feel pressures from our own social circles, our extended families, our bosses and co-workers, and even the neighbors. If you are deciding to go back to work after your baby has arrived, go back with a happy heart. Research has been indicating that children whose mothers work outside of the home can lead happy, healthy lives, just like those kids whose moms stay home with them. Probably one of the biggest differences is how Mom and Dad go about their choices.
- A mom who is happy and content can better care for and lead her children to find happiness and contentment. Even if your decision to go back to work is based on a need, find things to be happy about in your circumstances.
- Young children don’t have the emotional tools to always understand their parents’ decisions. If you are going back to work but don’t want to be there, your children can pick up on those feelings rather quickly if you mope and complain about your situation. This can make them feel responsible for your decision.
- Your children will learn positive work ethic habits when they see you dedicated to and proud of your situation, no matter which road you choose. Be careful of how you present your choice to either go back to work or stay home.
- There is no magic forever button so be ready to accept more changes. I did go back to work after my first child was born because it allowed my wants and my needs to coexist. Then by the time she was 2-years-old I was a stay-at-home mom, which eventually turned into a work-at-home-mom.
For me this path of changes in motherhood is like Grandma’s tator-tot hotdish. Surprises along the way that sometimes make my nose wrinkle, but still a delicious dish I get to savor.