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Back to Work (or not) after Baby

We asked the question on Facebook:

Question:
“I need advice about going back to work (or not!) after having a baby. Pros/cons, etc…”

Here are some really great answers:

 

1.  “I’ll be a minority opinion–I work and I love it. I never imagined myself feeling that way; I have a career for which I trained extensively, and it was never a question that I would go back to work. But I always expected to resent it and wish I was home. It turns out, I love the balance. Having some time apart makes me enjoy our time together all the more, and I like that as he grows he will see me doing important work. That being said, there is nothing more important than parenting, and I think the world of SAHMs. It really comes down to what feels right for you and your family.”

2. “The best advice I got: Nothing you decide is permanent, so don’t fret too much about it. If you go back to work and after a few months it’s not working out? You can change your mind. I totally agree with the other comment that location is key – my first few years of being back to work, I had a 30 minute commute each way and it KILLED me because I had so little time in the evenings while the baby was awake. Moving to where I am now, with a 5 minute commute has changed our lives.”

3. “As hard as it is leaving my daughter every morning, putting her in a great, loving day care environment has been wonderful for her growth and development. I love spending mornings, evenings, weekends, and vacations with my daughter, but I also love having adult interaction. And she is very advanced, developmentally and socially, because of her day care interactions. The keys to figuring out whether it’s better to go back to work or have a parent stay at home are doing an in-depth financial analysis and researching your day care options. Personally, we found that an at-home day care, with a well-educated staff experienced in sleep-training and helping infants and young toddlers grow and develop was the best situation for us.”

4. “With quality childcare, you can do anything! It’s a personal decision, so no one can make that decision for you. Staying home is not for everyone whether you can afford to or not, and I take offense to the poster who said others are shaping your child if you work. What happens when they start school? Are the teachers shaping their future then? You are still the parent and are responsible for instilling values regardless of whether you work or not. Some families don’t have the option to be a single income household (some because of insurance reasons and others simply need the added income). It’s great that you do, so talk it over with your husband and make that decision. The most important thing is not to agonize over your decision when you do make it. We all have some guilt either way.”

5. “Here’s the big rub: my SAHM friends feel guilty– that they aren’t contributing to finances, they aren’t using their minds in the same way, or that they’ve given up a career they worked hard to build. But my working mom friends feel guilty too– that they never spend enough time with their kid(s), they actually LIKE working, or that they aren’t strict enough with their kids b/c they feel guilty for being away so much. That’s what kills me about this so-called “choice.”

For me, I returned to work part-time after 5 months of maternity leave and was able to negotiate (at least for the first 6 months) working from an office that is an 8 min drive from home (vs. 50 minutes). It’s a pretty ideal situation, but I still have to consciously work at squashing the guilt–that just serves no one, in my opinion. I agree with lots of the posters here that nothing is permanent. Do you have a gut feeling one way or another? That is often telling and may help you make an initial decision. But don’t expect to feel, whatever you choose, 100% great about it all the time. Be kind to yourself. This is a decision people agonize over for good reason: it’s really effing hard.”

6. “It’s such a hard decision and I think it’s totally natural to feel some guilt regardless of what you chose. I loved my job but it just didn’t pay enough to cover daycare and have more than a few hundred left for the month. I think the positives of staying home are obvious but there are negatives, mom groups are great but they aren’t like being with your pre baby girlfriends, unwinding with gossip and drinks. You will have days where you go to the grocery store and that is getting out for the day. That said, the memories I’ve made playing with my daughter and being there for every hug I get when she wakes from naps by far makes up for any negatives I’ve experienced. I think so much depends on your personality. Keep in mind that you can always change your mind, stay home or go to work, even after the baby months old.”

7. “I went back to work full-time when my baby was three months old. I have a WONDERFUL in home day care provider that I feel completely comfortable with. Sometimes I regret not taking an extra month off, but I know that I wouldn’t be able to stay home longer than that. Taking care of a baby is physically and emotionally exhausting (mine is now a toddler and it doesn’t get easier-it gets more difficult with each new milestone they reach). Also, it’s really difficult to get back into the workforce if you drop out.

Having grown up poor (with a SAHM) being completely reliant on my husband and halving our income is not appealing to me. I am so thankful that I didn’t quit my day job! Keeping it means that my baby and I get social interaction, we can pay off our house relatively soon, can afford college easily, can afford to raise her with the values that are important to us (I know that sounds weird, I don’t want her to be scared of the world or new/different things, so I want to travel with her when she’s old enough). Also, my husband won’t have to work until he dies and we can both retire comfortably.”

8. Here are my two cents. I have a professional degree & my career is something I’m proud of & it is a big part of who I am. I am lucky to be able to work part time-it really is the best of both worlds. It gives me the outlet I need to come back & be refreshed for my child. That being said, I truly believe being a SAHM is the toughest job there is! It is a great choice for so many. The one thing to consider is sometimes it is hard to get back in to the workforce & find a job later after you have been out for a while.”

9. Staying at home is the hardest job I have ever had. It’s 24/7 with no pto, sick days, or vacation. I miss the adult interaction, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I am blessed to have a supportive husband who wants me home as well. They grow up so fast and I don’t want to miss a minute of it!”

10. When we looked at our finances, we realized that more than most of my paycheck would go toward day care and I had a hard time with that emotionally. I didn’t like the feeling of having to give someone my child and most of my money. We went without some things like cable and eating out, but we’ve made staying home work for us. It was very important to me to stay home if we could manage it. Staying home has meant a little less time with other adults on a consistent basis, but there are groups that you can join. It has been a wonderful experience for me, but I also totally understand why other parents either want or need to work.”

Have a question you’d like the audience to answer? Email us at questions@lucieslist.com

 

This article has 2 comments

  1. I was supposed to return to work but decided not to once baby was here. Our financial situation changed so we could make it work. I cannot imagine doing anything else, and I am so glad I made the leap. I know staying home isn’t for everyone, but for our family is was definitely the right choice. Every once in a while I miss the satisfaction of being recognized as an awesome employee, and I really feel like people treat me as if they are smarter than me because they have a job and I don’t (I graduated Magna Cum Laude from a great college– and was awesome at my profession)… but NOTHING because the satisfaction I get from being with my daughter day in and day out.

  2. This is a really tough call for most moms! Growing up I always wanted to be a SAHM but that isn’t feasible (at least for now) and I’m actually OK with working. My daughter is 16 months now and she LOVES daycare…like she doesn’t want to leave at night when I pick her up 🙁 She’s a social butterfly and I truly believe being in a social daycare setting is the best thing her.

    I’d still like to be a SAHM in the future but only if our finances allow us to still travel, save for college, do fun things on the weekends, etc which all enrich my daughter’s little world. Plus, I want to be able to hire a sitter on occasion to give myself a break. Since I am away from my daughter 9-6 M-F, I absolutely LOVE every second I’m with her. I do fear that if I were a SAHM that I would get burnt out on the day to day grind. I used to work with a woman that said “working outside the home made her a better mom” …I didn’t get what she meant until I had my own daughter…I get it now and in a lot of ways think the same applies to me. Also, I think a lot of families don’t consider the bigger picture – for example, by ages 2-4 most families (even if you’re a SAHM) want to enroll their child in some sort of PK program to give them social interaction and encourage them to spread their wings – this comes at a cost.

    For me, the hardest part or “balancing” work and home is finding enough time on nights & weekends to handle household chores, errands and having fun as a family – never enough hours in the day. When we have #2, I plan to negotiate a 4-day work week so I can have the extra day (while the kids are in daycare for at least part of the day) to get household chores done so I’m freed up to have more QT over the weekend. Working moms need to have a real heart to heart with their partner to make sure they’re pulling their weight too. My hubs is great (most days…lol) but I have working mom friends that have husbands that do little around the house and it puts a real strain on their marriage.

    One downside to this whole working mom vs SAHM thing is that sometimes it’s hard for the two types to empathize with the other b/c we both face different sets of challenges. I think being a SAHM is the hardest job in the world but working moms also face many challenges. Sadly, I’ve found myself gravitating toward my working mom friends b/c we can relate to each other’s woes and hectic schedules. I swear I might go off the next time a SAHM asks me about a play-date…um hello….I don’t do play-dates…I’m at work at 11am on a Wednesday…..

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