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Deciding to go back to work: Factors to consider

Should you return to work after having a baby? Only you can answer this highly personal question. Consider these important factors as you make your decision.

Mom with PDA

Financial needs

Often times, the decision to return to work is based solely on financial needs or desires.

Is it financially feasible for me to stay home?
If your family’s financial well-being depends on your income, then you may have to return to work. When your paycheck is used to help cover everyday household expenses, it may be impractical (or impossible) for you to give it up completely. Beyond that, you may just miss the extra income. Some stay-at-home mothers feel guilty about spending money when they’re not contributing to the household finances.
And it’s important to budget for the future, too. Hope Hanner-Bailey, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist and work-life consultant, encourages mothers to ask themselves: Will my family’s long-term economic future be stifled if I choose not to work when my children are young? For example, is it necessary for you to begin saving now to pay for your child’s college education?

Is it financially feasible for me to return to work?
A mom often returns to work because she doesn’t think she can afford to stay home. Josh Turner, of, works with moms who wish to re-enter the workforce. In many cases, says Turner, daycare expenses can equal or exceed your income. And there are other expenses to consider as well.
Leslie Truex, author of The Work-At-Home Success Bible, reminds us that jobs cost money. When Truex worked outside the home, nearly three-quarters of her income paid for work-related expenses such as transportation, wardrobe, lunches, convenience items, and taxes (Truex’s income put her family in a higher tax bracket.)

Home and work schedules

Sometimes whether or not you can return to work is dependent upon logistics. Ask yourself these questions:

Will my work hours coincide with my child care options?
Many jobs require shift changes, overnight travel or other irregular work schedules. Unless you work a typical 9-to-5 schedule or can afford a live-in nanny, says Hanner-Bailey, you may find that standard daycare and babysitting options will not work for you.

Will my workplace provide flexibility?
Can you miss work to care for a sick child who is not permitted to attend daycare? Will your employer allow time off for you to take your child to doctor’s appointments?

Can I continue to nurse?
Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed for at least the first year of the baby’s life. Can you swing it with work? Can you pump and store breast milk at work? Will your child care provider cooperate with your feeding desires?

Quality of life for your baby

Of course you want what’s best for your baby?

Will by baby bond with me?
Stay-at-home moms have the opportunity to develop crucial mother-child bonds in the early stages of their child’s life. Working mothers may feel emotional withdrawals from such missed opportunities and worry that their child will become more attached to his/her caregiver.

Will my baby develop appropriate social skills?
Children who spend their early years in a child care environment with sometimes develop better social skills. Kids in daycare become accustomed to spending time with other children which may help with communication, sharing, and the ability to make friends. Stay-at-home moms can encourage similar benefits by joining mom-and-me groups and arranging play dates.

Quality of life for you

Don’t forget to consider what you need, too.

Will I miss too much at home?
Not being present for your child’s milestones can be devastating. When a woman decides to return to work, says Hanner-Bailey, she may later regret not having those first couple of years with her child.

Will I miss too much at work?
A job can be more than a paycheck. Many women want the feelings of accomplishment or a sense of self outside the roles of wife and mother, says Truex, and work can provide these things. Additionally, some women lose seniority and experience when they take time off to raise their children.

Can I be a mom 24/7?
Not every woman is cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. Hanner-Bailey suggests asking yourself: Do I have the personality to be with children around-the-clock with limited time for adult interaction?

Will I be able to do it all?
Whether you stay home or go back to work, your baby adds a new set of challenges. Household chores may suffer, says Turner, or there may be strains on your marriage. Discussing these challenges as a family will help everyone understand what is (and is not) expected of everyone.

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