Should I Stay or Should I Go? Working vs. Staying at Home
We’ve all heard the song. But when it comes to making the decision to leave your career and potentially become a stay-at-home parent, it may not always be as lyrical.
The NPN Discussion Forum is filled with parents grappling with work-life balance issues. Whether facing a change voluntarily or due to circumstances out of ones hands, we’ve heard lots about the benefits of staying in a career AND staying at home.
“If I go there will be trouble”
Besides the obvious need to provide food, clothing and shelter, the decision for one or both parents to work can be the cause of much turmoil and doubt. “What if my income barely (or doesn’t even) cover the cost of my childcare”? “Will I still feel fulfilled if I leave my job”? For many, going back to work is either a financial necessity, or the source of enjoyment and satisfaction for the working parent(s). Working Pros & Points:
- Getting dressed up, commuting, team lunches and water cooler time can feel extremely self-empowering.
- If your creative juices run dry brainstorming kid-friendly projects and outings, you know your kids are with a childcare expert. If your PowerPoint skills are far superior to your Play-doh abilities, perhaps you fall into this category.
- You may be able to find a reduced or flexible schedule, job share, or work-from-home arrangement one day a week.
- Remember your total salary includes your take-home pay, health benefits, 401k matching, paid vacation and opportunities for professional development.
- Once you’re able to get over the emotional hurdle of leaving your baby for the first time to return to work, you may actually enjoy being back.
- Make the most out of your non-working time. Be 100% present during your family time.
“If I stay it will be double”
For the stay-at-home parent, the value of being involved in your child’s day-to-day life can be one of life’s greatest gifts – from witnessing first milestones to being involved in activities and school events. Many SAH parents wouldn’t trade their job for anything! SAH Pros & Points:
- A consistent routine and schedule - 1-2 naps, classes, play dates, etc.
- From organized play dates to trips to the park, there are plenty of opportunities to bond with your children and other parents.
- Taking advantage of Chicago’s endless (many FREE) resources – from the NPN Calendar to museum FREE days.
- Creative childcare. Many gyms and fitness studios offer babysitting services while you work out (or read a magazine in the locker room).
- Have a long-term vision. Many people agree that things get easier as the kids get older and you can do and enjoy more activities together.
- Be sure to carve out some time for yourself. Whether you decide that Sundays are your day to sleep in while your partner gets up early, or you give in to your mother-in-law’s insistence to help one day a week.
“If you say that you are mine, I’ll be here ‘til the end of time”
Clearly every family’s circumstances are different, so what is right for one parent may not be best for another. Regardless, know that you are not alone and help is available.
- NPN has social and special interest groups to match your neighborhood, family structure, and working status. Or start your own group - contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Find a networking group, therapist, mentor or friend who can offer coaching and support, and provide an outlet for discussing personal or professional challenges. Great recommendations on the Forum.
- Need help getting tasks done? Too much “noise” in your daily life? Consider a virtual assistant, “mother’s helper” or personal organizer to help “clean up” your space and help get you back on task.
- If you’re in between jobs, take a break – a few weeks to a few months - to enjoy time with your kids and determine your next career move.
- The grass may always seem greener, but managing a work or home life (or both!) is filled with challenges. With the right support, you’ll find your groove!