Work After Baby: Should You Stay Home or Should You Go Back?
Now a stay-at-home mom, Amber Brotnov, from Washington, returned to work seven weeks after her son was born.”I was most worried about missing time with him if I [kept] working,” she says. “He didn’t do well either, he didn’t want to take a bottle and cried constantly most days he was at daycare. When I quit my job, he was five months old—I was so relieved and I think he was, too.”
Moms who decide to work from home or quit their jobs and become stay-at-homes have many concerns to contend with as well. Here are some common worries and possible solutions from experts and moms alike.
Worry: I’m worried that if I stay at home I won’t get enough “me” time away from the kids.
What Moms Say: Lots of moms wonder if they make the decision to stay home instead of return to an out-of-the-home job that they’ll be sacrificing much-needed alone time. It is important for moms to know that it is OK to take time away just for themselves—whether they leave for work every day or choose to stay home. However, this wasn’t a concern for Brotonov. “I wasn’t worried about losing ‘me’ because being a mom is ‘me’,” she says. “Before I had kids I had all the ‘me time’ in the world, and someday I will again. This is their time.”
What You Can Do: “It is so essential to make sure that your tank is full,” says Wisconsin-based life coach and psychotherapist Michelle Bersell. If you work or stay at home it really doesn’t matter. It is so important to take time alone when you need it, and not feel guilty. If you take time for yourself, “you will have an abundance of love and energy to give to your children.”
Bersell says that even if it’s a walk or finding an old hobby that you love, taking time for yourself will help to make you a better mother, and that is the best present you can give your kids. Getting a sitter every now and then can make a world of difference when it comes to getting your own time. Check in your local neighborhood newspaper, or round up a family member to come over for an hour or two.
Dr. O’Reilly agrees that babysitters are key. She suggests sharing childcare with friends and neighbors. This time will help mothers “rest and revive,” she says.
Returning to Your Career
Worry: If I stay home, I’m afraid I won’t feel like I’m contributing by bringing in an income or I won’t be able to return to work later, when I’m ready.
What the Experts Say: “Mothers may worry that it will be really hard to re-enter the job market after having been home with the kids; they may also feel that their career is passing them by,” says Marilyn Fettner, master career development professional of Fettner Career Consulting in Illinois/
What You Can Do: Fettner says that it is tough to decide to give up your career to stay at home, but even if you’re not contributing financially, you are still giving your family a precious commodity—you, and your time.
However, there are still some ways that you can help contribute to your future income, even if you are at home. Fettner recommends you keep your skills sharp and gain work history for your resume by taking on volunteer work or working at a flexible, part-time job. These things can help make you a viable part of the work force, even while you’re at home with your kids.
There are financial pros and cons for both going back to work (the added income is essential for some families) or staying at home. Brotnov is happy to be staying home and says the money she saves on childcare is enough for her to feel that she’s made the right choice financially and emotionally.
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