When you’ve had a baby, making the decision about whether to stay at home or return to work is a complex one. There are so many things to take into consideration – and what you thought you’d "decided" when you were pregnant is not necessarily what you want once you’ve had the baby!

Is there a "right way" and a "wrong way," or simply a "right way"for you, based on your own unique set of circumstances? And how can you find out what that "right way" is for you?

Making the choice

You’re trying to decide what’s best for you and your family. What should you take into account?

  • Make a "For" and "Against" list to see how the options look in black and white.

  • Work out your budget. If you really want to stay at home, decide whether you can make ends meet. Think about whether some "necessities"are really "luxuries."

  • Ask yourself whether you really enjoy your job and if you will feel a great sense of loss if you don’t continue with it.

  • Talk to other people who have made the decision; find out the good points as well as the bad.

  • Try not to be rushed into making your decision. And remember that once you have decided, you can always change your mind if it isn’t working out.

  • Find out facts before taking a tentative decision any further –such as location, cost and quality of childcare options; whether you could have part-time or flexible hours; whether you could take time off when your child is ill; how your career will be impacted if you stay at home.

  • If you are going back to work, decide as a couple on the division of labour at home so that one of you doesn’t appear to be "doing everything."

  • Be prepared to deal with guilt – whatever your decision.Motherhood and guilt seem to go together like a horse and carriage.Once you’ve made your choice, face the guilt, deal with it and then work hard – whether in the home or the workplace!

Excerpted from To Work or Not to Work, June 2004, by Care for the Family. © 2004 Care for the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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