Should You Go Back to Work or Stay at Home After Having a Baby?

Stressed young woman working from home, little daughter asking for attention

With a baby comes many life changes. You all of a sudden have another little human being who depends on you for absolutely everything. Whether you were a stay-at-home parent before the appearance of your bundle of joy or a working woman climbing the corporate ladder, having a baby jumbles up your normal routine and demands you get creative to meet the needs of your infant as well as care for yourself. One of the greatest debates moms face is deciding to enter (or re-enter) the work force once the baby is a few weeks old or stay at home and devote all their time to their family.

The greatest thing any mother can do is to explore her options thoroughly in order to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, there is a lot of mommy shaming that goes on over the internet no matter what you do – it is part of the emotional and mental struggle of living in a digital age where everything is shared and everyone makes snap judgments. Here is what every mother should know about working vs. staying at home.

Working Mom

Working moms often have great time management skills and feel a drive to be successful in their endeavors, which is why they often choose to go back to work. They make great contributions in their fields and can feel accomplished for bringing home a stable income. Some working moms do not have the luxury of a choice when it comes to working. They are single parents trying to provide for their children on their own. Other working moms might just feel the need to get out and work like their spouse, or their spouse stays home with the kids.

The Benefits

Working moms set great examples for their kids as far as work ethic goes. They demonstrate what it means to work hard and make hard decisions. They also bring home the money, which allows for the purchase of basic necessities and luxury items for the children. Moms who tend to feel trapped inside a house all day can gain a sense of freedom by going into an office or another place of work for a few hours, helping her to feel refreshed when she greets her kids later.

The Drawbacks

The greatest drawback for working mothers is that they don’t get to see as much of their kids, and this is often accompanied with a crushing sense of guilt. You might miss those first steps or those first words when you’re the one working and someone else is watching your kids. You also might need to make sacrifices, such as missing a sports game or performance. If a school-age child becomes sick and needs to stay home for a day or more, you also might need to take time off work, which could affect your paycheck.

Another drawback has to do with finances. If you don’t have a spouse at home to take care of your kids while you work, you may need to invest in child care, which can quickly get costly.

The Myths

There are many myths about working moms, such as they “have it all” by working and taking care of their kids, which isn’t necessarily true. Sacrifices have to be made somewhere, and working outside of the home means less time with your kids. There are also myths that working mothers have less successful marriages, which again isn’t true. There is another myth that a woman’s job causes more interference with family life than a man’s job. In actuality, according to a 2000 survey, husbands feel their work interferes with family life more than wives.

Stay-at-Home Mom

Stay-at-home moms, also often abbreviated as SAHMs, are those mothers who choose to stay home and care for their family members while their spouse works. In addition to caring for the children, SAHMs also tend to regular household duties such as cleaning and laundry and make sure to stay on top of their kids’ schedules.

The Benefits

SAHMs have many benefits in that they are able to be with their children all the time. They get to experience everything with their kids and may even be witness to their first words and steps. Families with a stay-at-home parent also don’t have to stress about paying for child care, which could end up saving them a lot of money. In addition, stay-at-home parents may have the option to work from home to some extent through jobs over the internet or telecommuting.

There is also a lot of schedule flexibility with stay-at-home parents. They can more easily make it to sporting events and school performances as well as take care of sick children without great conflict to their daily schedule.

The Drawbacks

Staying at home as a parent isn’t all sunshine and roses, however. In spite of the fact that you are home all day, it can seem like you do so much and yet the house is still a disaster when your spouse comes home. Some days are better than others, but the dishes don’t always get done, the laundry isn’t always folded and sometimes dinner just isn’t made.

Another drawback again has to do with finances. Although you save money on child care, SAHMs might not work at all, which means the income falls solely to the working spouse. This might require some budgeting or sacrifices in order to make ends meet. Some moms at home can also start to feel isolated or like they have no friends because of all the time they devote to their kids. If you notice that you are starting to feel depressed – particularly after having a new baby – be sure to seek help from family, friends or a medical professional.

The Myths

SAHMs also have the myth that they “have it all”; their family is financially stable and they get to spend all their time with their children. Sacrifices still need to be made in order for a parent to stay at home. There is also a myth that because a parent is home all day, everything around the house should be spic and span with dinner on the table in the evening. Caring for family is stressful work, and sometimes the house stays a mess.

Another myth is that SAHMs aren’t able to make any money. Work-at-home moms, or WAHMS, would disagree. While it’s not an office job, it is possible to work from home and care for your kids. However, WAHMs might not make as much money as a full-time working mother outside the home.

Who Has It Better?

It’s odd that there is so much mommy shaming no matter if you choose to work outside the home or stay at home with your kids. Both choices involve great personal sacrifice. Some women thrive in the work force and caring for their kids while other women excel at staying home and providing for their families that way. To work or to stay at home after having a baby is an intensely personal decision that should be made carefully and with the consultation of your spouse or significant other. Only you can make the right decision for the needs of your family, and don’t let anyone shame you otherwise.

For more tips and information on working from home or staying at home as a parent, be sure to check out KAMO on Facebook, follow on Instagram at kamofamily and follow on Twitter @kamo_family.

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