The Balancing Act: To Work Or Not To Work?
For many women, the decision to return to work after having a child is not an easy one. There is one question that influences the way that new mothers, and their families, will spend the next chapter of their life: ‘To work or not to work?’
Once this difficult decision of what they want is made, they need to determine whether it is feasible for their family.
‘I want to be a stay at home mom.’
If they want to be a stay at home mom, the question remains, is that option economically feasible? If it is, fantastic! However, if the family cannot afford for the mother not to work, then they have to start looking into childcare options and cope with the disappointment of not living up to their own expectations of motherhood.
‘I want to work.’
For women who decide to be working moms, can they afford childcare or do they have family/friends who can offer care? Childcare can be as expensive, if not more, than their annual salary. This is especially true if you have more than one child in daycare. Those who wish to work but cannot afford childcare or do not have family/friends who can provide care, face the difficult challenge of becoming a stay at home mom. That means providing a constant curriculum of activities to help their children develop individually, exposing them to other children to foster interpersonal skills, all while keeping their sanity.
‘What if I want both?’
There is also the option of working part-time, at the office or at home, which may be a great solution for some women. This option not only requires the financial flexibility, but it also requires a flexible employer to support this decision. A mother may also decide to stay at home until her child is older, however, returning to the work force has its own challenges.
I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue my choice of being a working mom. Since this is a blog for working women, I decided to focus on the challenges of finding a childcare option that is “right” for the working mom.
Childcare Options For The Working Mom
- Daycare – Finding a daycare that accepts infants immediately decreases a working mom’s options. Many daycares don’t accept children under the age of 15 months. With an average maternity leave of 12 weeks, finding a daycare is no easy feat. Daycares also vary greatly in what they offer in terms of hours, facilities, faculty, and activities. Since there are limited spots for infants, daycares can (and do!) charge a hefty price for these spots. Once a working mom has found a daycare that will take on infants, it’s the waiting game, literally. Waitlists for daycare can be months long, some people even put their names on the list before they are pregnant.
- Nanny – Fortunately, there are great resources to help find a qualified nanny through sittercity.com and care.com. However, working moms still need to find a person they trust and who will expose their child to the level of activities necessary for development. It is important they trust their gut! Nanny share is also an option that can help financially but takes some coordination to accomplish a successful experience for everyone.
- Family – Some working moms are fortunate enough to live nearby family members who are willing to take on the responsibility of caring for their child and like/trust their family member enough to have them care for their child all day. After all, often times these same family members have most likely raised them and/or another child. Some who go for this option, however, do so out of necessity. They need or want to continue to work and have no other affordable option for childcare.
How am I doing now?
I have found that the key to finding happiness as a working mom, is being comfortable with the decisions they make. The last thing they need is to worry about their children’s health and safety while trying to succeed at their job. Sending my kids to daycare puts me at ease that they are getting the nurturing and development they need. Our daycare provides great care and communication with parents, which helps put me at ease. If I had to go back I would have made the same decision.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Timna Molberger is the Director of Analytics at Visible Measures. As a working mom of 2, Timna squeezes in as much time as she can with her husband and two children and when she has a spare moment or needs a break you will find her rock climbing, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing. Timna holds a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from Connecticut College.
Location: Boston, MA
Contact Timna: firstname.lastname@example.org