You’ve gone back and forth in your mind 1,000 times. At least. Oh, the anxiety!
Do I return to work or stay at home with my child? “How can anyone take care of you as well as I can?” runs through your mind on repeat.
But financially, can we make it? Living on just my partner’s salary would make life a little tough. We would definitely need to “tighten the belt” and get on a budget.
What about my career? I had plans of working my way up. If I take a break now, will future raises and advancement be postponed or derailed?
After the birth of your child, making the decision to return to the 9-5 or to join the ranks of stay-at-home moms can be gut-wrenching. Weighing this decision could also bring a lot of anxiety. So many factors come into play.
Though friends, family (and even strangers!) may have their opinions about what you should do, the decision is a personal one.
Reaching out and speaking with an objective listener could be quite helpful. In my Evanston counseling and therapy practice, I have walked moms, just like you, through making this tough decision.
Also, you will probably want to do a little research and some soul-searching. You may also want to discuss the issue with your partner, and choose what you feel is the best way forward for you and your family.
Balancing the tension in your decision
In 2016, the Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that more than 18 percent of U.S. parents did not work outside the home. Feel comforted in knowing that more than 11 million other U.S. parents were where you are now, grappling with this possibly life-altering decision.
Here are a few considerations for you as you weigh all of the factors:
Becoming a stay-at-home mom would most likely change the rhythm and landscape of your days. No more commute. No more informal chats with colleagues during the workday. No more office politics. No more new projects or the responsibilities and deadlines that come with them.
As you decide, you will want to work out the details with your partner, if you have one. Openly discuss how this change in status will affect both of you. How will it redesign your partnership as parents and life as a couple? Consider together how your future plans (i.e. vacations, retirement, big financial goals) might look.
Depending on how you and your partner choose to structure your family life, you may take on the bulk of child-rearing and child care, household chores (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.), or management of family activities. How does that feel for you?
Once again, the way you chose to design your stay-at-home life (or not) is up to you and will look different for every family.
If childcare costs are near to your current salary and you are leaning in that direction, staying at home might be an easier call. However, if you make much more than your childcare costs, the decision may become a little bit more challenging.
Some questions to ponder….Do you feel like you have the “wiggle room” in your budget to live on only your partner’s salary? Do you have a cushion for a surprise or an emergency expense like replacing a pooped-out furnace?
When thinking about the impact of staying at home on your financial situation, you will want to think, not only of the present, but your future financial goals.
Do you and your partner plan on growing your family? Do you dream of retiring early or selling everything to travel the US in an RV? Does it make more financial sense for you to continue to work now, save, and set yourselves up to accomplish some of your big future goals?
Staying in your current position, you can follow the trends and keep up-to-date on professional development. If you are thinking of leaving your paying job, having a game plan for keeping up your credentials and staying current is a plus.
Will you attend seminars, conferences, or workshops or do online training? Will you listen to podcasts or read books during your downtime at home to keep yourself sharp?
How about remaining connected with the people in your field? Those connections will be valuable to you if you decide to return to the workforce. Will you email them periodically? Will you meet for socially-distanced coffee chats at your local café?
The ever-elusive quest of keeping your personal identity intact when you become a mom and finding the time to practice even the most simple self-care can be daunting.
If you choose to be a stay-at-home mom, you may feel an even stronger pull to have the Pinterest-perfect or Insta-real life.
You may dream of providing your family with the most nutritious meals, made of only organic ingredients cooked to Gordon Ramsey’s perfection. Or perhaps you will become the guru of early childhood development and turn your home into a mini-Montessori school.
I would like for you to be aware that “non-employed women with young children at home are more likely than women with young children at home who are employed for pay to report experiencing sadness and anger a lot of the day “yesterday.” Read about the Gallup analysis here.
While stay-at-home mom depression is most likely to occur in women who would prefer to be employed, yet are at home, all stay-at-home moms can be vulnerable to this sadness and anger.
I share this to normalize the feelings and any anxiety you might have, and to help you to be aware.
There are many things to consider in your decision to return to the office (or your home office) or to stay at home with your child.
I would be happy to work with you through making this potentially life-altering decision. I will ask you questions and do lots of deep listening. We will work together to get you to think about ways to reduce the anxiety around arriving at a solution.
Please contact me at my Evanston counseling and therapy practice. I look forward to hearing from you.
Counseling can help heal physical and emotional pain
You don’t need to feel lonely in working through your depression, anxiety, or gastric distress. Reach out today. I would be happy to offer you a free 15 minute consultation to talk about how we can work together to increase your quality of life and decrease your pain. You can reach me at 773-983-8444. If you are looking for help with GI distress and stomach pain you can read more about how I can help by clicking here.
Our Evanston therapists provide Anxiety Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Hypnotherapy, and Relationship Therapy for moms. We provide therapy for moms who feel isolated, anxious, and overwhelmed in their lives to find more happiness, satisfaction, and self-acceptance. We help women manage and think differently about their lives, relationships, and selves.