Stay Home or Return to Work after Baby? Finding Balance in Your Decision
Working mom versus stay-at-home mom— which way is better? The answer: neither. No matter what you decide, you will probably always feel some regret or guilt, and that’s normal. Stay-at-home moms often wonder what they are missing in the workplace and reminisce about the career they left behind. Working moms often feel guilt about missing their children’s milestones and wish they could stay home instead. Finding balance is the key to surviving either decision. Here are a few tips to help you find your way.
Stay in touch. While on maternity leave, whether you know you will return to work or not, stay in touch with colleagues. If you decide to stay home to raise your child, it’s a good idea to keep your connections in the workplace in case you do decide to go back in a few months or even a year or two. If you plan on returning to work immediately after maternity leave, you’ll want to be in touch with your employer to stay abreast of any changes or new opportunities.
Flexible hours for working moms. Upon your return to work, ask your employer about working more flexible hours, such as working part-time, job-sharing or changing your hours so that you can spend as much family time at home as possible. As long as you’ve been with your employer for at least 26 weeks, you are entitled to ask about flexible hours; however, your employer is under no obligation to grant your request. If there is no legitimate business decision to support your request, the employer can say no. But they at least have to hear you out, and you’ll never know unless you ask!
“Me time” for stay-at-home moms. As hard as it is to find time for anything else other than caring for your child, try to find some alone time. Take advantage of nap time and instead of doing those piles of laundry, take a nice bubble bath, paint your nails, read a book that’s not about parenting advice or take a nap yourself! Accept help so that you can do something for yourself, whether it be an alone trip to the grocery store or a date with your husband, finding time to be yourself instead of mom is important to maintaining a stress-free and happy life.
Working moms, practice your routine. Returning to work is a major change for everyone in your family. Your partner may need to help out a little more when it comes to getting the children ready for the day, or you may have time to do this yourself before you leave. But if there’s anything you’ve learned or will learn as parent is that NOTHING goes according to the timeline you plan. Practice, practice, practice so you don’t end up late for your first day back. Practicing in advance is a great way to help ease everyone, including babies, into the new routine.
Stay-at-home moms, find a friend. Being in the land of baby and child all day every day with no adult interaction can be tough. As rewarding as it is, most moms will crave adult conversation at some point. Find a friend who has a child the same or close to the same age. Go on play dates in your neighborhood or meet up with other moms at a local park. When you can, try to meet up with other moms away from the children. Have a girls day or girls night and just be yourself with no baby talk!
Whether your decision is to stay home or return to work, if you are able to find balance, you’re on your way to a happy, healthy life. And any guilt or regret that you might feel is just part of being a mom. You’re not the first mom who has felt that way, and you won’t be the last either.