For many moms, the question about returning to work after having a baby is not a question of “if”, but rather “when”. Two incomes are required in most homes to pay the bills and enjoy a reasonable standard of living. But, even when the plan is in place to return to work, once a baby is born oftentimes a mother has second thoughts and isn’t sure if she is willing to have someone else care for her child for a good portion of the day.
HealthyChildren.org, the website for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), proposes some positive results of both parents working full-time outside the home.
The site states, “When both parents are occupied with their jobs for eight or more hours per day, there are obvious effects on the family. On the positive side, the family has an increased income and thus fewer financial stresses. Also, when both parents work, there is a potential for greater equality in the roles of husband and wife. Depending on the nature of the parents' work, as well as the family's values, fathers may assume more responsibility for child care and housework than has traditionally been the case. With their wives out in the workplace, men find it easier to define a greater role for themselves in child-raising.”
The AAP is not all positive on this subject though, going on to state, “Some parents feel terrible strain and fatigue as they try to juggle their responsibilities at home and at work.”
If a new mom has a question about whether or not she wants to go back to work, it is helpful to look at all the variables involved. Lisa Pecos, a parenting and natural healthcare writer, offers five concrete ideas to think about when making the decision to stay home or return to work full time in an article on BabyCareJournals.com:
• Closeness: Many new parents worry that going back to work will be detrimental to the bonding process and the overall child-parent relationship, or that it will hurt the child intellectually later in life.
However, Ms. Pecos writes that while time and closeness with a new baby is essential to good parenting, “if you leave your child in the hands of a caring professional or a loving family member, this will not be an issue. Meanwhile, if going to work will make you happier, more comfortable, and more fulfilled, this will only contribute to a healthy home environment.”
• Money: After crunching all the numbers, is it even feasible to stay home with your child? Can you cut out the lattes and lunch dates and save enough money to not work for a time? Ms. Pecos urges women to consider the security provided by employment when making this decision, but also encourages moms to find ways to further their careers without being out of the home full-time if they so desire.
• Career: For moms working toward ambitious career goals, being out of the workforce for any amount can be detrimental. Ms. Pecos writes that pursuing those goals now “will be better for your family in the long-run, as long as you can find a good work-life balance.”
• Stress: Moms need to be honest with themselves and decide if they are able to handle the time, effort, and stress it takes to raise a baby, particularly in the first year.
• Compromise: “It would be incorrect to assume that only mothers face these issues, writes Ms. Pecos. “Stay-at-home dads are increasingly common, while many modern families find ways to split the childcare duties so that both parents can work and care for the child more-or-less equally. Would your partner be open to such an arrangement?”
The decision to return to work outside the home or stay at home with a new child is difficult for many moms. Either choice is good, but the question the new mom has to ask is what is best for her and her family.
“Returning to work after childbirth”. Web. 12, September, 2011. http://babycarejournals.com/595/returning-to-work-after-childbirth
“Family life, Working Parent”. Web. 12, September, 2011.
Edited by Jody Smith