“If I were a stay-at-home mom, I’d go nuts! I don’t know how you do it!”
“Your most important job is to be a mother. That’s your real life’s work.”
Should I return to work after baby comes? No two people are going to give you the same answer. When I suffer from “working mom guilt” and start analyzing the life I’m shaping for myself and my family, here are the three big factors I continue to mull over:
1) Family Time
Many weekdays I feel like I barely see my kids. Off work at 5 p.m., pick them up, dinner, homework, baths, reading, then sleeping. About 30 minutes of quality time. But for our family, weekends are special, priceless, golden hours of time together. There will be museums, zoos, parks, concerts, or if we do stay at home, crafts, reading, music. We do every imaginable model parenting practice. Your kids, your family, will likely not suffer by the choice you make. The question is, what kind of quality time do you want and how do you want that time distributed?
Your flexibility to choose your lifestyle depends on your ratio of income to financial obligation. If you aren’t absolutely certain whether or not you want to stay home, don’t buy that house or car, take out that loan, or start that small business. If you can’t meet your monthly needs with one income, you’ve taken away your opportunity to choose.
3) Personal Accomplishment
Like many women, I have dreamed, studied and planned to have a successful career. And I do want to utilize my skills and live up to my potential. But I have come to realize an important truth: the best way to make an impact, effect change, and be fulfilled is to influence a child. How did I reconcile those realities? Go back to my first point. Even if you are working outside the home, there will still be time to have a profound presence in your kids’ lives.
In short, listen to your heart while asking yourself 1) What kind of family time do I want? 2) Can we afford to live with one income? 3) Am I a better person when I’m working? Make the choice that is best for you. And make your choice with confidence! Either way, you are still a great mom.