One of the major decisions working women make when they become mothers is whether to return to work after their maternity leave, or stay at home and take care of the baby. The community around us always seems to have an opinion about it, some advise us to get back in the corporate world, while others may say that raising the family should be our number one concern. When it comes to making a decision that suits each of our families, we should try our best to avoid hearing many opinions that might cloud our judgments and instead consider these factors.
Family finances are the main factor when a mother decides to return (or not) to work. If a sole income is enough to maintain a decent quality of life, without any frills and extravagant expenses, then it could be a good idea to stay a while longer until the baby grows up, or even decide not to return to work at all. However if the financial situation of the household requires a second income, then the logical decision is for a mother to dive back into the workforce. In that case and if the employers are willing to bend the rules, she can consider employment on a part time basis. Another factor to consider is the income generated by the mother and how much of it will go towards daycare or a qualified caretaker and if it still makes sense to have added expenses when the money flow isn’t too great.
The ages of the children as well as how many kids the family has also plays a part. Are the parents considering of growing the family members within a couple of years? Staying at home while raising the small children is a sensible solution, instead of heading back to work for a short period of time before a second pregnancy. Are there older kids that are independent and spend most of their day at school? Then returning to work is a good choice for the mother to be fulfilled career wise without the guilt of leaving her kids behind, because they will be occupied during the time she is at work.
How will the day to day commute be? Who will drop off the kids to daycare or school, and who will pick them up? Do the mother’s working hours extend past the initial school hours? Maybe a school bus can take them to their secondary caretakers until evening? If the route from home to daycare to work too long or contains traffic, it requires higher gas bills and car maintenance, in addition to inefficient time spent on the road. This daily routine makes a lot of difference when weighing the pros and cons.
There is no right or wrong. No matter what decision a family takes, the mother will always look back and wonder if she made the right choice. If she goes to work to help the family with an added income and to fulfill her role as a working member of society, she might feel she is abandoning her kids and motherly duties. If she decides to stay at home and raise her kids while providing them with all the love and care, she might worry that she gave up on her career and education. Long story short, only a mother in her heart of hearts knows what she must do, and most of the times the decision comes from the family’s needs and out of sacrifice, so no matter what you choose, be proud of yourself as a woman and a mother.
Maria Hage-Boutros Najem