Today, many mothers work outside the home. Read on to learn more about your options if you are struggling to decide if it is right for you.
Though some mothers work because of financial need, others choose to work for different reasons. Some want to stay on top of a fast-changing career, while others enjoy the intellectual stimulation, friendship, and sense of purpose and pride that their work provides. The decision to work or stay at home can be a tough one for new mothers. There are no right answers, and each woman must evaluate her specific situation before she decides what is best for her and her family.
Before making a decision, you need to evaluate the positive and negative effects that working outside the home can have on your child.
Many women are torn between providing financial support for the family and being a nurturing and supportive full-time mom. Before you make the decision to go back to your full-time job, consider other work options you may have. Here are some things to consider:
Specifics of maternity leave will vary from woman to woman and workplace to workplace.
Getting time off can be tricky, but you can maximize your time if you are creative. Many women take advantage of benefits offered by their employers to gain time off that may include sick time, vacation days, holidays, personal days, short-term disability and unpaid family leave time. It is important to plan your maternity leave in advance so that you and your family know what to expect. Not planning ahead can result not having as much time off or unintended financial situations.
Talk to your supervisor or refer to your company's human resource department to find out what is available to you.
The most important aspect is finding a caregiver that knows how to provide optimal physical and emotional nurturing for your baby. Different types of child care options include:
In-home Care (provided by someone who comes to your home)
Care in Another Person's Home
In-home Family Day Care (children in a home setting)
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that family day care businesses have no more than 6 children per adult (including the caregiver's children), with no more than 2 of those children under the age of 2.
Day Care Center (20 or more children may be cared for in one facility)
Juggling work and parenting is stressful. You may feel like you will never stay on top of all your responsibilities. One of the most important things you can do is take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family. Here are some tips:
Find a supportive employer who has family-friendly policies.
You will have a much easier time juggling your responsibilities if your employer is supportive. If they are not supportive, look for an employer with family-friendly policies who is receptive to flextime, job sharing, or working from home.
Know your rights. Many laws are in place to protect working women with issues like breastfeeding or child care.
Ask for help.
Develop and use a support system of trusted people who can help you in times of need. Your support system may include family members, friends, neighbors, or professionals that you can hire to take care of some of your responsibilities. Magazines and books that deal with the topic of working mothers are available in your public library.
Get enough rest.
Even though you are busy, do not shortchange your rest and sleep. Eliminate time-consuming activities that are not essential. Make sure you get enough sleep each night. Consider napping when your baby does.
Schedule some time for yourself every day. For example, have your spouse take care of the baby while you enjoy a warm bath, exercise or listen to music.
Forget having a spotless house.
Your house might have been tidy before the baby, but now you have more important priorities. Find ways to eliminate time spent on housework. Keep the house clean and safe, but do not fret over clutter.
Make large quantities of food and freeze meals ahead of time. If you can afford it, consider hiring a housekeeper. Ask your spouse, siblings, and parents for help. Assign chores to older children. A rotating schedule of chores might work best for your family.
Do not expect to be supermom.
Do not expect to be able to handle everything perfectly—no one can. You need help and should not feel guilty about asking for it. There will be times when your child is sick or is very unhappy about being away from you. Accept that you cannot afford to stay home, and always remember that you are doing the best you can.
If you are a single mom, team up with others.
Friends—especially other single moms—may be interested in sharing responsibilities with you, such as shopping, meals, and baby sitting. This can help you save both time and money. If you have no friends who are single moms, look for a group or organization for single parents.
There are many resources for mothers concerning work and child care. Planning can help take some stress off of your decisions. Take some time before you have your child to explore all your options and choose the best one that fits your family's needs.
US Department of Labor
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
Women's Health Matters
Babysitters and child care. Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-beyond/babysitter-child-care.html. Updated September 27, 2010. Accessed October 13, 2016.
Making child care choices count for your family. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/work-play/Pages/Making-Child-Care-Choices-Count-for-Your-Family.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed October 13, 2016.
Maternity leave. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/planningandpreparing/maternityleave.html. Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed October 13, 2016.
Understanding motherhood and mood—baby blues and beyond. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/delivery-beyond/pages/Understanding-Motherhood-and-Mood-Baby-Blues-and-Beyond.aspx. Updated May 1, 2016. Accessed October 13, 2016.
Working mothers. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/work-play/Pages/Working-Mothers.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed October 13, 2016.
Work options for mom. Moms Back to Work website. Available at: http://www.momsbacktowork.com/work-options.html. Accessed October 13, 2016.
Working parents. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/work-play/pages/Working-Parents.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed October 13, 2016.
Last reviewed October 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 10/28/2014