Mothers ask “To work or not to work?”

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By: Center For Worklife - Expert Reviewer

Mothers ask “To work or not to work?”

It is Management Monday!

Let’s talk about mothers managing the important decision making topic of going back to work.

Do you know a mother or are you a mother who is thinking about going back to work? Chances are you are familiar with this cross-road in some way. Recently, Pew Research reported that the percentage of mothers who believe they should work full-time has jumped dramatically since 2007 from 26% to 49%. The trend is interesting as it begs the question “do mothers actually desire to return to work?” That is the important question if you or someone you know if facing this scenario. Below is a quick assessment that may help make a decision.

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Table of Contents

Self-Assessment Questions:

Why am I considering returning to work?

Is this action prompted by your own ambitions, your financial situation, someone else’s opinions or a different reason? It is true that following one’s passions usually yields positive results. So if you are fulfilled in balancing work and family, then go for it. On the other hand, don’t allow yourself to be pressured into working if your gut doesn’t agree. Refer to the words of Bill Cosby for motivation, he says “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” If you feel pressured from outside sources, gently and honestly confront the sources with your true feelings.

Yielding to societal, gender or family opinions is only a band-aid solution; following your true values is the best resolve. Ask yourself, how does this decision correlate with my values, goals, and ambitions?
This is not an easy question to answer. Still, try to imagine working and truly determine your own emotional reaction. Are you happy, stressed, overwhelmed, or fulfilled? If you know a circumstance will leave you unhappy then it needs to be adjusted or avoided. Going back to work is takes a lot of adjustment, so set yourself to succeed by doing the homework, and also take your time considering rather than rushing in.

What work-life balance guidelines will I follow?

What do you consider to be “enough” time with your child/children? Making all meals for them, taking them to school, playground, classes, doing homework or putting them to bed?  Task based assessments are a lot more realistic than just time-bases assessments.  If you feel you will absolutely dislike not doing any of the activities mentioned or others, than assess which job or career path will allow you to meet your goals, otherwise, you may have to reconsider some plans. Everyone wants the best for their children and you are no different. When it comes to the amount of time parents need to spend with their children, every family is a different fit, which is a good thing. Find your own fit based on utilizing emotional intelligence. Do you feel you need to be personally driving your children to daycare or homeschooling? If so, returning to work may leave you feeling empty. Conversely, it is okay to be a parent who also finds fulfillment in time spent at work. Maybe being a working mother with a full time position is the road for you.

Are finances or family time at greater risk if I return to work?

In a recent episode of the hit television show Modern Family, Claire (mother of three), began flipping houses to help provide her family with additional income. Her situation hits home with many families today. Research indicates that many mothers return to work due to hard economic times. Mothers are worried about their family’s financial situation. If you are in a situation of paying down debt and struggling to get by, make sure you consider all angles before turning in applications. Is your budget the best it can be? Do you utilize coupons and shop economically? Are there phone plans or entertainment cutbacks that could be made? It may be that even with budget cutbacks you need to go back to work, despite your desire to stay at home. Also, with children in the picture, childcare fees are a huge consideration.  Instead of feeling alone and having to cut from your ambitions, you may consider discussing your needs openly with your partner, significant other or a family member.

The truth is no one else can and should assess the right choice for you and your family. The big take away here is to make sure your decision is your own. Staying at home, working part-time and working-full time are all great choices for different people. What is the right choice for you?

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