Will You Work or Stay Home with Your Baby?

by Patricia Hughes

One decision you will need to make during your pregnancy is whether to stay home or return to work after the baby is born. This is a personal decision that each couple must make. Many women feel pressured to stay home or go to work. Only you know what is best for your family.  
For some women, the choice is determined by finances. If you can’t make it on one income, you may have to go back to work. For other women, the decision is based on emotional reasons. Some find fulfillment as stay at home mothers. Other women need the interaction and stimulation that come from working outside the home, whether full or part time. 
Things to Consider as a Working Mom 
There are benefits for many women to maintaining a career after the baby is born. Some women find the stimulation of a career to be important. The extra money is nice for your family and may be necessary to make ends meet. If you want to work, but don’t think you can handle a full time job and a small baby, there are other options. You may be able to work part time. Flex time, job sharing and telecommuting are ways you can continue in your career and have time for your baby as well. 
The biggest obstacle for working mothers is the guilt they tend to feel. Guilt feelings are normal, whether you work or stay home. Someone will always question your choices and have you questioning yourself. You may try to compensate by being the perfect mother and perfect employee at the same time. This is impossible and will only leave you feeling inadequate. Finding a good balance is important for your emotional well being.  
Give yourself time to adjust to the new role as a working mother. Make a daily schedule or calendar to be sure the essential tasks are getting done at work and at home. Have your spouse help with some of the tasks that need to be done. Consider hiring a cleaning person to come in once or twice each month to help out around the house. This can take the pressure off you as you adjust to your new lifestyle. Make time to connect with both the baby and your spouse at the end of the day.  
Being a working mother can have an impact on your career. You may switch to part time or not be available for overtime like you were before the baby was born. This can affect your chances of promotion or change the way your employer looks at you. Sometimes this is called being on the “Mommy Track.” To get noticed at work, do a little extra when you can. This could be the occasional late night, attending a conference, or taking work home with you once in a while. You can get noticed without sacrificing your family life.  
Things to Consider as a Stay at Home Mom 
There are many benefits to being home with your children. You are there for the baby every day. You won’t miss the first time he crawls, his first step or hearing him say “Mama” for the first time. You are the primary caregiver, not a day care worker or baby sitter or even Grandma. Many women find this fulfilling and can’t imagine not being there for every mile stone.  
Some mothers find the transition from full time employee to full time Mommy to be a difficult one. You may feel bored caring for the baby and cleaning the house every day. Some women find this lack of stimulation to be stressful. There are many things you can do to keep active while staying home with your baby. Consider taking a class at your local community college, an exercise class, a ceramics class or joining a book club. This will give you time away from the baby and allow you to indulge in your own interests. 
If you are lonely, consider joining a mother’s group. There are many ways to connect with other moms. A playgroup is a great idea. If you can’t find one in your area, consider starting your own. The baby may be too young to play, but you need to make friends. It’s important for you to connect with other adults and spend time talking to other mothers. The park is another good place to meet moms with babies around the same age as yours.  
If you miss your friends from work, make an effort to stay in touch. You can call or send emails to stay in contact. Consider an occasional lunch date. This will give you the chance to stay in touch and keep up with all the gossip. You will also have the opportunity to spend time in adult conversation that has nothing to do with the kids.  
Some women feel less valuable once they stop working. This is especially true if you made a decent living before the baby was born. You may feel that you aren’t contributing to the household. You may resent having to ask your husband for spending money. If this is the case, consider having an allowance for each of you. This way you each have some money to spend without having to ask for every purchase.
Make a list of what you do every day. Include caring for the baby as well as other jobs you do around the house. Write down why each of these things is important to your family. This will help you see the value in what you do. You may begin to see staying home as a real job. You are contributing to the well being of your baby and your family.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2006

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