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Deciding to Be a Stay-At-Home-Mom or Return to Work

It’s the age-old question asked to every new mom: Are you planning on staying home with baby or going back to work?  If only the answer was always easy.  Many factors come into play in making this huge decision, from money, to social life, to baby’s best interest.  For most mothers, there never really seems to be one clear answer.  So if the answer is not black-and-white, how does one decide whether to be a stay-at-home mom or to re-enter the workforce after baby arrives?  Hopefully this article can help you weigh the pros and cons of each in order to make the best decision for your situation. 

The first and most important thing to ask yourself in making the decision is what will be best for the overall health of your family?  By health I mean physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.  If you are married or in a committed relationship, it is vital that you consider your partner’s wishes as to what they think is best.  Making such a huge decision on your own without placing importance on your significant other’s opinion of the matter will only strain your relationship and make an unhealthy environment for your baby.  So before doing anything else, start a dialogue with whom it matters most; your family.  If you have your partner’s support, it will make your decision a much easier one.

Probably the biggest concern about making the decision to be a stay-at-home-mom is finances.  Unfortunately, the world runs off of money and I don’t see that fact changing anytime soon.  In order to provide for your baby in the best way possible, there has to be income.  In a perfect world, a mother would never have to go back to work when her heart is telling her to stay home with baby, but in many cases it just isn’t possible.  If you are a single mom and have no choice but to return to work, be proud in knowing that you are caring for your baby in the best way possible by being their provider.  If you are married but you must go back to work, know that you are keeping a huge burden off of your spouse’s shoulders by helping provide for the family.  If you think you may want to stay home with baby but aren’t sure you can afford it, you need to sit down and physically crunch the numbers and make honest answers to some important questions.  Would we be able to pay the bills from one income?  If not, are we willing or able to downgrade our lifestyle or living arrangements?  Will we still have or be able to afford health insurance?  Is health insurance a necessity to us?  Will living off of one income be too much of a stressor on our relationship?  These questions, and more, need to be addressed in order to make the best decision for your family. 

For some people, finances really aren’t an issue.  At times, deciding to be a stay-at-home mom is more of a social and professional decision.  Are you the type of person that needs or desires regular contact with other adults?  Do you need to feel as if you are contributing your ideas and talents to the outside world?  Do you have an education or are you a professional that wants to further your career?  Women who answer ‘yes’ to these questions may be more apt to returning to work after having baby.  There is nothing wrong with this.  Women who have worked hard to reach a certain position in their workplace may have a hard time giving that up, and they shouldn’t have to.  You will be the best mother possible by doing what keeps you the happiest and healthiest. On the other hand, some professional women may find that they will feel most valued staying home full-time with baby.  Ask yourself into which category you fall. 

Although deciding to be a stay-at-home-mom should very much be a logical decision, it is often an emotional one.  Mothers have an intense bond with baby, and many times women think that by returning to work you will be breaking that bond.  This is simply not true.  Your baby knows you and you know your baby more than anyone else, and deciding to go back to work will not change that.  Putting your baby in a daycare will not change this fact either.  If your heart is telling you to go back to work, by all means, go back to work, guilt-free!  But if the thought of you dropping your baby off at a daycare makes you break out in a sweat or weep uncontrollably, you just may want to consider staying home.  Of every mom I have ever talked to who made the tough decision to stay home with their baby, none of them have ever said they’ve regretted it.  If you’re not sure what to do, see if you can do a sort of “test run” by returning to work part-time.  By spending some days at work and some at home, it may help you decide where you’d rather be.  And sometimes many moms find that part-time is the best of both worlds.

No matter what you decide, to stay home with baby or return to work, it is usually not an easy decision to make.  There are pros and cons to each.  You and only you can decide what is best in your unique situation.  Just know that whatever you decide, your baby will be emotionally happy and healthy because you and your family will provide and nuture them in the best way possible.

Are you trying to make the decision to stay-at-home or go back to work?  Have you already made the decision?  What helped you make the choice?

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