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Should a Mom Go Back to Work or Not After Having a Baby?

By Lisa Hayden / August 5, 2020
Should a Mom Go Back to Work or Not After Having a Baby?

Should a Mom Go Back to Work or Not After Having a Baby?

Making the Tough Choice between Going Back to Work and Staying at Home after Having a Baby

Hey there, new mommy! Congratulations on your little bundle of love. You are probably excited about your baby, and we bet you cannot take your eyes off of your most precious miracle. Babies sure do have a way of drawing you and everything else into them. There is not much you can do to resist being taken by them. You just want to spend every waking time with them, and it is precisely for this reason that the joy of welcoming a new baby into your life is not without challenges. While your baby is a very much welcome addition to your life, having a baby undoubtedly changes your life. You are bound to make tough choices more often than you would like. One of the biggest dilemmas that a new mom can face is deciding whether to go back to work or not after having the baby.

When to go back to work after baby is born? Should you quit your job and stay home with your baby or go back to work? There are a lot of things to consider and factor in when making that decision. It is no easy task to make that choice. It is important, however, that you know there’s no wrong or right decision. Each mom is different. Some moms prefer to be a stay-at-home parent while some opt to go back to work. We all have different reasons behind our choices. It is all just really a matter of making the best choice for your family.

going to work and leaving the baby

It is not a question of right or wrong. According to researches that have been conducted over the past years, whether you choose to stay at home or go back to work will have no detrimental effect on how your child will turn out. Of course, in both scenarios, it is understood that the child is given quality care. Whether you are employed or not will not predict your child’s growth as an individual. What matters more is how you feel about the circumstance that you are in. If you are unhappy about your choice, your frustration and anger may affect how you interact with your children. This may give them negative family experiences, which play a major role in how your children may turn out.

So, then, how do you know which choice is the best for your family? It is helpful to assess carefully your situation and how you feel about the trade-offs that you will make. Do not rush into making a decision. Give yourself time to think and allow yourself to imagine how you would like your role as mother to play out in the long run. Ask yourself important questions to help you determine how and where you stand regarding some big issues.

Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding Whether to Go Back to Work or Become a Stay-at-home Mom: 

Can your family afford for you to quit?

This is a very important issue as this will majorly affect your life. Discuss with your partner whether your family can survive on one income. To help you determine if you can afford to quit, make a budget. Calculate your average annual expenses, which may include mortgage, loans, bills, utilities, groceries, and leisure. Add another $6,300, which is the average amount of money spent on first-year baby items. In most cases, having a second paycheck can cover about 40% of the budget that is needed by a family in order to live within means while still having extra funds. Will one income allow you to live comfortably while staying within budget? You may also want to consider whether the money you’ll make, should you choose to return to work, will offset the costs of earning it.

These costs may include higher tax rates for dual-income couples, transportation expenses, clothing, lunches and childcare. The good news is that there are quite a few ways how to work around your budget should you choose to stay at home. On top of saving on childcare, as you yourself will be the one providing it, you and your household may talk about saving money by skipping your usual expensive holidays, and deciding to eat more often at home instead of dining out, among other things. So long as you and your partner remain honest with each other regarding your feelings, you just might make it work.

going to work and leaving the baby

Once you have determined that you could settle for one less income for now, try thinking long term. Deciding to stay at home could mean less funds for you in the future. Staying unemployed will halt your contribution to your retirement fund and social security fund. Retirement benefits are based on lifetime contributions. Quitting your job will therefore mean not only less income for now but also less funds for later. It is important, then, that you have secured a fund of your own for the future before making any final decisions.

Another thing to keep in mind is that taking time off work may also reduce your employability quotient. You may find it difficult to get back on your career track when you have taken time off for too long. You may become less marketable and outdated. More often than not, women are forced to make a career shift after they have taken time off. Switching jobs could spell salary cuts, and you may find that raises and promotions come more slowly. If you are considering an eventual re-entry in the workforce, you may want to keep yourself updated. You may take on freelance jobs to keep your skills in check and your resume current. You may also invest on yourself by attending relevant courses and training seminars.​

How do you think your decision will affect your self-image and marriage?

Leaving the workforce may affect how you feel about yourself, and in turn, may affect other aspects of your life such as your marriage. Some women consider having a career as an essential part of their identity, and cannot do without the unique fulfillment of a good career. Some consider being a stay-at-home mom is the best job in the world, and witnessing the major milestones in their baby’s life irreplaceable. Either way, your attitude about your choice is what matters.

Studies conducted by psychologists have shown how the dynamics of a marriage can change after one partner has decided to quit his or her job to stay at home and care for the children. According to the studies, when a woman stops contributing financially to their household, she starts to feel less entitled to voice her opinion. Psychologists have found that couples who both value each other’s careers are happier in their marriages.

The key to making your decision work is to make an effort in your partnership and to remain honest with each other. Marriages survive better when there is mutual and sincere support from one another. Voice out your need for your partner to share the daily responsibility of caring for your baby, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or not.​

What are your plans regarding childcare?

going to work and leaving the baby

Sometimes you may only feel the need to stay at home and care for your child until you feel right and ready to leave them in the care of a childcare provider. Being emotionally ready has a lot to do with your decision to go back to work or not. How will you feel about being away from your baby? Do you feel comfortable with the idea of leaving your baby in someone else’s care? Do not rush yourself and be sure to fully reflect on how ready you are to go back to work. Some moms don’t want to go back to work until their children are very well on their way to becoming more sociable towards other people, making them feel more at ease about the idea of leaving their children.

Take your time in choosing your childcare provider. Choose the one who best agrees with your beliefs and is in tune with how you want to care for your child. This way you may feel confident once you have resumed working. Some things to consider when it comes to childcare include choosing between hiring a nanny or enrolling your child in daycare. You may also consider having a relative tend to your baby. Another important thing is to discuss with your partner your shared responsibility about caring for your baby and how you will divide it.

How much flexibility can you afford regarding your decision?

Just as there is no right or wrong choice between going back to work or staying at home, your choice should not necessarily be permanent. This is why it is advised for new mothers to give themselves time to figure out how motherhood will fit into their lives. Most moms will only feel the need to stay at home for the first year of their babies. Women who feel the need to be accomplished career women will eventually feel the need to go back to work, that is until they feel comfortable enough to leave their child. Some women, however, fear that they might miss out on their child’s life once they get back to work. They feel they will be more fulfilled if they stay at home full time. Continuously check yourself to gauge where you stand with these issues. Sometimes it is a matter of finding a perfect balance between life at work and life at home.

Going Back to Work

Should you decide to go back to work, you will have to learn to strike a perfect balance with your two worlds. You will have to learn to juggle taking care of your child, and keeping up with your work. As much as you can, leave your work at work, and home at home. Wherever you are, give your 100%. Focus your attention on your work when you are in the office. Be completely with your kids when you are at home. Again, enlist your partner’s help and divide the workload when it comes to keeping your household together.

Scared and anxious about being a working mom? Here is the good news: you are not alone. According the U.S. Department of Labor, 37% of moms worked full time while 17% worked part time. Six weeks is the average length of time needed for a mom to recover after giving birth. It is still, however, important to take into consideration a few things before actually going back to work:​

  • Working hours. Remember that your body is still recuperating, so ease yourself back to work. Some women feel they can resume work sooner than six weeks postpartum. Working beyond 20 hours a week before your six week recovery is up will likely wipe you out.
  • Physical Demand. How physically demanding is your job? If your work involves heavy activities such as lifting or climbing, you might want to extend your maternity leave beyond six weeks. Your body may still not be physically ready for such heavy demands, and you may only end up using all your energy for work, leaving none for your baby.

Once you start going back to work, practice your new routine. Keep your schedule efficient and well-organized. Have a backup plan ready for when your childcare provider suddenly becomes unavailable. Make friends with other working moms so you may get some useful insights.

work from home mom

Staying at Home

Deciding to become a stay-at-home mom can become quite an adjustment. If you are used to the hectic and competitive environment of your workplace, getting recognized for a job well done, and working with cooperating colleagues, quitting your job will definitely change your life’s rhythm. In your new role, you won’t get much recognition for your efforts, at least not until your baby has turn out to be a well-formed member of the society. Yet, you will be working around the clock. There are no coffee breaks from motherhood. It helps to make new-mom friends and learn from each other. Remain open with your partner and communicate your feelings. Learn new crafts and keep yourself busy with new learnings when you get some time to yourself. Quitting your job may be one of the scariest things to do, but it just might be one of the most exciting, too, since you get the chance to reinvent yourself.

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