to work or to stay home

Deciding whether to return to work after maternity leave is a personal decision for every mom. Most moms work before and during their pregnancy, for both financial and personal reasons. Before having children, most of us derive some part of our identity from our job/occupation.

When working moms become pregnant, they need to decide what their lives will look like after the birth of their baby. Some moms, this is an easy decision. For others, it’s extremely hard. Two broad options are to be a stay at home mom or a working mom (full time, part time, work from home, etc). There are days when both can be rewarding, and other days when you second guess your decision.

Being a stay at home mom allows you to be the primary caregiver for your child. You see all the milestones, you respond to all the boo-boos, you spend (almost) every waking moment with your child. With these amazing rewards, there are also challenges. Being a stay at home can be isolating. In some communities it’s hard to find other moms to interact with.

Some suggestions would be: look into the local libraries; usually the children’s programs are a great meeting place for moms, find mommy & me fitness/gymnastic classes (some here on the East End), MeetUp can have local mom groups in your area, breastfeeding/new mom support groups (some here on the East End), and local Facebook groups.

In addition to isolation, some moms feel a loss of sense of self as a stay at home. Do something you like to do (which may or may not involve your baby). For me, I was always active before pregnancy. It grounded me and helped me stay sane. Once I had kids, I knew that it would be important for me to integrate this into my daily routine. Every day I can (4-5 days per week), I load my kids up in my jogging stroller and we go for a jog. In the early months it was the only time I got out of the house, but I always felt better afterwards. There are plenty of things you can do: go for a walk, go to yoga, read a book, get your nails done,watch your favorite TV show. Whatever it is that allows you to feel taken care of, do it.

On the flip side, being a working mom can also be challenging. Adding another set of responsibilities onto your mom responsibilities can be difficult. Isolation may not be a primary concern like stay at homes, because you are able to interact with adults on a non-mommy level, but mom guilt on missing milestones can definitely take its toll. Do not beat yourself up about if you missed the first ever roll over. It will happen again and you will be able to catch it on video, I promise.

Do take the time after work to reconnect with your baby. Try to push the responsibilities (laundry, meal prep, etc.) to the side and focus on you and your baby. When my babes were little, I used to come home from work and would sit and watch Ellen while cuddling and playing with them until it was dinner time. It was such a special time, for years we ate goldfish together just cuddling.

Another concern that working moms have is organization, finding the time to get “everything done”. While, there are definitely things that take priority, like feeding your family, there are a ton of things that you can let go. Those Pinterest projects you see on your Facebook feed? Let it go. The homemade baby food? Let it go. The clean house? Let it go. Do the absolute bare minimum to keep yourself and your family safe, happy, fed, and stress-free.

Whatever your choice is: staying home or returning to work, know it may feel overwhelming (and possibly the wrong choice) at times.

Be flexible and be forgiving.

No one has it all figured out.

Do you. And, seek out support wherever you can find it.

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