Really, Should I Return to Work or Not?
Your beautiful bundle has arrived, and it's already time to go back to work. As with most working mothers, you're more than likely experiencing endless anxieties. Should I return to work or not? Have I bonded enough with my baby? Can I still breastfeed? Do I look all right? Do I have enough time to do everything? I can't leave my baby!
These stressed-out, being-pulled-from-all-sides feelings are perfectly natural. Look at all of the change you've experienced recently! Here are some tips to help smooth your transition back to work.
Questioning whether or not to return to work after having a baby is common. What makes it more confusing is there's nowhere to look for a definitive answer; it's a very personal decision. Oodles of case studies have been done to determine whose offspring is better developed, the child of a working mother or the child of a stay-at-home mother—yet no black and white conclusions exist. In fact, the conclusions are often contradictory. So how do you know what to do? Think objectively and consider the following:
- Don't make the decision until after you've spent some time at home with the baby. Once you're settled in with your newborn, the answer may become clearer. You may feel that being home with him/her is the best thing since sliced bread. On the contrary, you may feel that you couldn't possibly focus on just the baby, every day. You may even decide to work part-time.
- List your priorities and what's most important to you in life. Baby, family, financial security, career, and/or luxuries may be included. Putting it on paper sometimes makes things easier to see realistically. Then ask yourself if returning to work or staying at home will best meet the most important priorities.
- Will you be able to leave your baby with another caregiver? Do you feel comfortable with daycare, or is there a family member available and willing to care for your child? Do you feel there is no one else who can do the job like you can?
- Honestly assess your personality traits and ask yourself whether or not they fit more appropriately with working or staying at home. For example, are you energetic? Do you adapt well to change? Do you handle stress well? Are you good at multitasking? Know yourself and be honest.
Whatever you decide, remember that you're in the middle of tremendous adjustment. Babies require sacrifice, whether you're at home full-time or working full- or part-time outside the home. Discussing your concerns and thoughts with your spouse, family, friends, or physician may help you with decision-making and stress relief.