You’ve been mulling this over for a while, and now the time has come to decide whether you should stay at home or return to work from your maternity leave. Whether this will be 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:
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 will have additional expenses (medical bills, food, daycare, life insurance, college planning, and all the other purchases for your child), 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.
Now, 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 have to make as a working mom. If you went back to work, you’ll also have to account for the cost of daycare, before and after care for your child (if you’re dropping your child off and picking your child up outside of standard hours), the cost of 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 childcare 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 allow money toward activities for you and your children throughout the day.
2. Supportive partner
If you have a partner, the two of you will need to decide what’s best for you as a family. The both of you need to 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 mom?
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.
3. Work environment
As a new mom, your values and priorities will shift. Done are the days where you stay late at work to finish up that project. You’ll need to consider all things related to your work environment and your career.
Does your company support working parents?
Does your company offer flex and remote options?
Will there be a private, safe and sanitary place for you to pump?
Are there other employees who have children in the workforce?
Does your company care for work-life integration, or are employees known to be burnt out and run to the ground?
You’ll inevitably need to take ½ days or full days for your child’s medical appointments, snow days and other things you cannot plan for. You want to 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, its likely that your employer isn’t equipped to address your needs. I recommend that you prepare talking points to help you with these conversations (some of which may be uncomfortable for you) and advocate for your needs.
Another huge factor to consider is all things childcare, including the cost, and your comfort and confidence 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 daycare 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.
5. 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 the the time drawers near for you to return to work, 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.
It’s no doubt that having a baby changes your life. If you choose to go back to work, you’ll feel like your 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