5 months old
Returning to Work
We know that many women don’t have a choice about whether or not to work, but here are some things to think about if you’re struggling with the decision:
- Consider your goals. What means the most to you in life? While we all find meaning and purpose in parenting, some of us feel a sense of worth, pride and accomplishment from what we do. Think about how you would feel with that part of your life removed.
- Think about your personality.
- After having a few months home with your baby, do you think that’s something you would want to do for years?
- Do you feel happier and more fulfilled while home with the baby? Or do you feel tense and edgy?
- Do you think you’d worry too much about your baby to focus on your job?
- Would you feel comfortable allowing someone else take care of your baby, or do you need to have full control over the situation?
- Understand you’ll miss some milestones. Of course your baby might sit up, crawl, walk and talk on the weekends or the evenings, but there’s a chance that these momentous “firsts” will be during office hours.
- Be ready for an around-the-clock job either way. It will take more energy to wake up with your baby, get both of you ready for the day, head to work (and actually be able to concentrate and be productive), and then come home to dinner, dishes, playtime, bath and bed.
- Do you need some alone time outside of the house? There’s nothing wrong with feeling like work time is a break from the daily routine of childrearing.
- How stressful and demanding is your job? Will you have time for it all without losing your mind?
- Are you financially able to stay home or take a pay cut for a part-time job?
- Will you be able to take sick and vacation days at your job? You don’t just have your own health and needs to worry about anymore. Now your sick days will most likely be reserved for when you have to stay home with your baby.
- Is your career going to be hurt by you taking some time off? Will you be able to network and stay in touch with your professional contacts while home with your baby? Do you care about this?
- Would you work reasonable hours or does your job require late nights?
- Could you work out a more flexible work day?
There isn’t a “right” time to go back to work – as in a time that is more beneficial for your baby. Even if experts could agree on this issue (which they don’t), every baby and every family is different. If you think that you can give your baby a better quality of life by returning to work (even in the most basic of ways, food on the table, roof over your head), then that’s what you should do. Plus, not everyone would be happy staying home around the clock, and if you’re feeling irritable and miserable, then that’s ultimately not good for your baby. As long as you find quality childcare and are nurturing while you’re home, the decision to go back to work is really more about what’s best for you and the family unit than your baby’s development.
If you do decide to return to work, it might be helpful to know that babies with two working parents are just as likely to be securely attached as those with stay at home moms or dads. Decades of research point to daycare and nannies (so long as they are competent and loving) being a perfectly healthy option.