Heading Back to Work: Right for Me…Right for You…

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Back to Work is a short series dedicated to the good the bad and everything in between for a mom returning to work following a year on maternity leave. Did you miss any of the other parts? Read them here: Part 1: Already Time / Part 2: First Day / Part 3: Balance?

Part 4: Right for Me…Right for You…

heading-back-to-work-decisionsIf you are a mom, you will eventually have to answer the question “Will I stay home with the kids or go back to work?”

While many women choose to stay home and take care of their kids, statistics show that more than half are deciding to work outside the home and that a significant number of moms are getting creative and finding ways to work at home. More than ever before, your response to the above question does not have to be either/or. You have options, especially if you’re willing to think outside the box.

What are your options?

  • You are career oriented or you simply really enjoy working. You can go back to work full-time, find a great daycare or nanny to watch your kids, and make the most of evenings and weekends – spending quality one-on-one time with your family. You need to be very organized to do this successfully… but it’s interesting how the busier you are, the more you seem to be able to get done.
  • Perhaps you have always known you would stay home once there were children in the picture. For many, making this choice will mean cutting back and/or very strict budgeting, but if it is what you want and if it is what’s important to you – you shouldn’t let anything stop you. Children grow up very fast.
  • If you enjoy working outside the home, but aren’t willing to be away from your kids 5 days a week, why not try to arrange a part-time schedule? You don’t think your employer would go for it? First, try asking, you might be surprised by the response. Second, look elsewhere. It is too easy to get stuck where we are, but we need to acknowledge that where we work (and not just IF we work) is our choice.
  • Maybe you’ve always wanted to stay home with the kids, but it’s impossible financially or you’ve also always wanted to start your own business and be your own boss. Many Moms are proving that it’s not only possible, but potentially lucrative to work from home and take care of the kids. I don’t know how they do it, but… it’s all about finding the right fit and loving what you do.

What’s right for you might not be right for me…

For some reason, moms (or maybe it’s just women in general…) seem to be wired to compare themselves constantly. Am I bigger/smaller? Is my house nicer? Are my kids cuter? Is she better than me? Am I better than her? Or the best… comparing yourself to her assuming that she’s comparing herself to you I bet she thinks she’s a better Mom than I am because of xyz… Enough already. No more comparing and no more guilt. Own your choice to stay home or to work (or to do both) – whatever your reasons may be.

It is too easy to look at the next Mom and think “they’ve got it figured out” or to criticize their choices. In my experience, no matter what you decide to, there are pros and cons, benefits and challenges. While someone, somewhere is clicking their tongue at you, someone else, somewhere else is thinking you’re amazing.

My choice: A gradual return to work (a.k.a. part time… for now…)

I recently returned to my office job following a year of maternity leave and I chose to go back to work part-time because it is what I decided was best for me.

Working part time gives me the opportunity to dip my feet into both worlds – the career world and the mom world. I have the chance to get out of the house and spend time with other adults and I greatly appreciate the special time that I get to spend with my girls on my days off.

It seems like the perfect arrangement. And for the most part, it is. But like almost every other woman, I still struggle with my decision, with finding the time to do everything I want to do, with feelings of guilt and inadequacy – both at work and at home (!) Believe it or not, it’s hard to do everything part-time and nothing full-time. I often feel like I’m dividing myself and my attentions up so much that no one (that nothing) is getting my best.

It’s complicated. I’m complicated.

What about you?

Will you stay home or will you go back to work? Do you know what you want? I don’t believe that there is a perfect choice. I don’t believe that the stay-at-home mom is better or happier than the working mom. I do believe that different things work for different people and that we’ll only be happy if we make choices based on who we are.

I encourage you to do what is right for you (guilt-free) because in the end, I’m almost sure it will make you a better mom.

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