Should I stay home or go back to work post-maternity leave?

As a new mom, your values and priorities will shift.

going back to work mat leave

You've been mulling this over for a while, and now the time has come to decide whether you should stay at home or go back to work after your maternity leave ends. Whether this is an easy or tough choice for you, the unconditional love and care you have for your child will weigh heavily into your decision as you consider these common factors.

Here's what to consider when deciding if you want to stay home or go back to work after having your baby:

Consider your overall financial picture

Finances will play a huge factor on whether you decide to go back to work from maternity leave. For many people, this factor carries the most weight in their decision.

Can you afford not to work?

Now that you have additional expenses (medical bills, food, day care, life insurance, college planning, etc.), you may have to get calculative in your decision. Speak with a financial advisor who will lead you through a financial planning analysis, help your family create a budget, and identify areas to cut out unnecessary expenses.

You'll also want to consider how much you need to make for it to be worth it for you to go back to work considering all the expenses you'll make as a working mom. If you went back to work, account for the cost of day care, before and after care for your child, your commute, food, etc. An evaluation and forecast of your expenses, including the costs of child care will help you evaluate whether it's worth it for you to go back to work.

That said, if you chose to stay at home and forgo a working salary, you'll still have many of the same items to account for, as well as some child care needs to budget in as well. Assuming that you will be your child's primary care during the day, the cost will be less; however, you may be more inclined to put money toward activities for you and your children throughout the day.

Communicate with your partner

If you have a partner, the two of you should decide what's best for you as a family. Communicate your feelings, thoughts and concerns related to all these other factors that will weigh into your decisions.

  • Will you both be in agreement?
  • Will you feel guilty about not contributing to household income if you do choose to not return back to work?
  • What will both of your roles and responsibilities be as parents?
  • What will be your new responsibilities as a stay-at-home parent?

You and your partner will need to define and discuss this together and come to a place where you both acknowledge, accept your decisions and own your responsibilities.

Understand your work environment + benefits

As a new mom, your values and priorities will shift. Consider all things related to your work environment and your career.

You'll like need to take half days or full days for your child's medical appointments, snow days and other things you cannot plan for. It's important ensure you're working in a supportive environment and for an employer who will not trigger an ounce of guilt in you. If you're one of the first employees in your company to have a child, it can take some time for your employer to address your needs. Prepare talking points to help you with these conversations (some of which may be uncomfortable for you) and advocate for your needs.

Research childcare options

Another huge factor to consider is all things child care, including the cost and your comfort and confidence of having someone else look after your child. Finding childcare could be a long and drawn out process for your family. Get ahead of this well in advance.

Whether your child will be cared for by a day care facility, a nanny, an au pair, a friend or family member, the good news is that there are a lot of great options to choose from.

Each one has its own list of factors to consider, so you may want to research, get recommendations and referrals, shadow or trial run a few options. Know that no matter what you choose, you're not alone and finding the best options for your family is totally possible.

Check in on your emotional readiness

Many moms will wonder whether they are ready to go back to work. Other moms may have no doubt about it. How will you know if you are ready to go back to work? As your return to work draws near, tune into how you're feeling.

Are you dreading the day, or are you excited to get back? Many women tie their identity to their career. They like the prestige, power and sense of purpose that comes with it. They crave the connection and productivity they feel working in an office.

Other women feel uneasy about returning to work. They couldn't imagine separating from their child at this time and giving their attention to work. These feelings can stem from your outlook about your work and your role as a mom.

Whatever your perspective, your feelings are valid and will help guide you in your decision, as you take into consideration the factors mentioned above. There's no right or wrong answer, mama.

It's no doubt that having a baby changes your life. If you choose to go back to work, you'll feel like you're pushed and pulled in so many directions. If you choose to stay at home with your child, you'll carry a large load, and will probably put a lot of pressure on yourself to do it all.

Consider these factors in deciding what is right for you and your family. Own your decision and step into your role with confidence. There is power in your ability to choose and how you go forward in your decision will make all the difference

You might also like:

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less