Deciding whether to return to work after taking a maternity leave is an intensely personal decision. It’s also a decision that could be mixed parts financial and emotional.
Not every mother has the option to stay at home after her maternity leave is over. However, if you do have a choice, you might be trying to decide whether to return to work. Let’s look at some pros and cons of going back to work after maternity leave.
Pro: It’s Probably Quieter at Work
One thing I didn’t expect about motherhood was how loud it was going to be. As a mom of twins, I felt like I always had one baby crying at all times. If you return to work at an office job, it’ll probably be quieter than your house. You might even get an entire office – or desk or cubicle – all to yourself. That’s something that will be hard to find at home.
Con: Missing Your Baby
Even though you’ll enjoy getting back into your routine and interacting with your co-workers, it’s highly likely you’ll miss your baby. As a mom, you might find it hard to escape the guilt as you head off to your meetings knowing your little one is somewhere else. The good news is that both you and your baby will adjust, and it’ll be that much sweeter when you’re reunited at the end of the day.
Pro: Getting a Paycheck
I’m not going to lie: Motherhood can be a thankless job. At any time, there are about one million things to do and never enough time to do them. At the end of the day, you won’t see a paycheck for being a mom, and praise can be hard to come by.
When you go to work, however, you will get a paycheck. If you’re in a positive work environment, you’ll often get praise for a job well done, your ideas will be heard and your accomplishments will shine. That’s not always the case for a stay-at-home mom.
Con: Child Care Is Expensive
Your budget will change once you have a baby, mostly because you now have to factor in child care. Even if you’re going back to work and getting a paycheck, you’ll still need to pay for child care. If you’re fortunate to live close to family, you can work out a child care arrangement where your relatives help watch your children. You can also research options like hiring a nanny or an au pair, which can be more affordable than daycare, depending on the area where you live. Either way, finding child care will take time, research and, likely, a good chunk of your income.
Pro: Your Daughters Could Have Higher Wages One Day
There are many different studies comparing working moms and stay-at-home moms. Most studies try to measure who is happier, but that’s difficult to calculate. Plus, every mom (and every child) is different.
However, I found a recent article by Harvard Business School about working moms that’s extremely impactful. Their research “showed that, while being raised by a working mother had no apparent effect on men’s relative wages, women raised by working moms had higher incomes than women whose moms stayed at home full time.”
So, if you have a daughter, going back to work could have a positive effect on her future career.
Con: Escaping Working-Mom Guilt
No matter how much you enjoy your work, you might have a little nagging feeling of guilt when you’re a working mom. Many working moms put a lot of pressure on themselves and can’t help but feel they should be spending more time with their kids.
If you start to feel this way, know that you’re not alone. In fact, Pew research shows that working dads feel guilty, too . It’s hard for everyone to balance career and family, and you’re certainly not the only one.
All in all, there are many pros and cons to returning to work after maternity leave. Every situation is different, and you really have to do what’s best for your family and you.
As someone who is a self-employed mom, I have insight into what it’s like on both sides of the equation. Because my schedule is flexible as a business owner, I have many days where I’m in my stay-at-home mom role, and it’s extremely challenging. Taking care of wiggly toddler twins requires a lot of patience. I rarely get through an entire day without yelling.
However, when I’m in my hardcore-working-mom role, that’s not easy either. I have to delegate every task, manage babysitters and try to keep my business afloat all while earning enough to pay my bills.
Sometimes the stress and pressures of work make me wish I was a full-time stay-at-home mom. Then, I’ll have a few days of being a stay-at-home mom, and it’s so exhausting that I look forward to when it’s time to work on my business again.
As evidenced, there are pros and cons to each path, but just know that whatever you decide, your children will adjust. Most importantly, as long as you love them and care for them, they’ll love you back whether you’re home every day or whether you head out the door to work each morning.
Did you consider pros and cons before returning to work after maternity leave? Let us know in the comments below.
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