Go Back to Work or Stay Home?

When she spoke to Working Mother , she was on maternity leave with her second son, Henry, now 4 months old, but intending to return to full-time work. I feel like I'm doing the right thing. Then they realize that their resentment has less to do with condemning moms who've made different choices than with ambivalence about their own choices. Follow us email facebook twitter pinterest instagram Google Plus youTube rss. Or she'll say, 'Do you want to take Friday off and do something? Your greatest challenge may be striking a comfortable balance between work and family -- and feeling as if you're giving enough to both. But mother to mother, we can help bring about mutual understanding:

Many of us dream of quitting our full-time jobs and swapping the office politics, daily commute and stuffy office for a relaxing job in the comfort of our own home. Working from home gives you the opportunity to set your own hours, choose your holiday dates and days off, and even perform your job whilst wearing your pyjamas and relaxing on the couch.

How to Choose Between Home and Work

Both women admit to occasionally coveting the schedule of their friend Rachel Tsutsumi, who stays home with her 2-year-old son, Masa. Not so fast, says Rachel, These women are far from alone in having days when they feel conflicted about their choices, according to What Moms Choose: Roughly one third of all mothers, working or at home, say they often feel guilty about their contribution to the household.

And nearly half 49 percent of working and 47 percent of stay-at-home moms admit they are their own toughest critics. Behind the stats, of course, are real women. For instance, this particular trio of Brooklyn moms—Rita, Jen and Rachel—who met at a prenatal yoga class when each was expecting her first child.

Feelings of Guilt Rita, a high school english teacher in New York City, is the first to say she loves her job. But for nine months of the year, the load is heavy. On weekdays, she grabs the train at 7: I have kids emailing and texting me and asking for college recommendation letters.

Turns out, this issue is universally rough for mothers. It can be time out with another couple, but leave the kids behind. Rita relishes the work life inversion she has in the summer. She writes for a few hours in the morning but spends most of the day with Sophie. Organize the desk, write out a short list of the top three priorities they want to do tomorrow, and shut off the computer. Many women—66 percent of working moms and a whopping 83 percent of those at home, according to our survey—believe the start and end of the day are crucial times to connect with children.

Cue lots of moms nodding in agreement: When her son, Masa, was 6 months old, she took a part-time job producing an educational video series. In hindsight, the timing was terrible. Her husband, Mark, who works in the outsourcing industry, was in an intensive work cycle and traveling overseas regularly.

Rachel would put in a long day, pump breast milk in a supply closet, then rush home to a babysitter anxious to leave, a clingy child and no food in the house.

Because it's impossible to know, consider asking your daycare provider not to tell you about any new tricks she's witnessed that day, suggests Hobey. Your child will repeat the feat soon enough, and you'll experience it with as much joy and excitement as if it were her very first time. Striking the right balance between job and family will be easier if you enlist your partner's full support. Unfortunately, time-use surveys reveal that working moms are still responsible for the lion's share of parenting and household chores.

With rare exceptions, it's Mom who arranges childcare and doctor's appointments; who scrambles for work coverage when the kids are sick; who plans the meals, stocks the fridge, and makes sure everyone has clean clothes. Before returning to work, decide how you'll divide the duties.

Making certain that you are both on the same page will help ensure that neither of you winds up feeling resentful or overwhelmed. Your greatest challenge may be adjusting to the rhythm of your new life. In many cases, work has taught us to thrive in hectic, competitive environments; to complete tasks efficiently; to accomplish goals by working cooperatively with colleagues; and to expect at least occasional recognition for our efforts.

Unfortunately, little in this pre-baby world prepares us for motherhood, where the demands are constant but the pace markedly slower, where chronic interruptions preclude efficiency, and where tireless labor goes largely unacknowledged.

A former executive at Merrill Lynch and cofounder of The Golden Rule Foundation, Hamman retired two years ago to stay home with her children, now 15 and 8. And yet, more mothers are taking time out, at least temporarily.

Since , the number of mothers working for pay has edged downward, reversing a four-decades-long trend of increased workforce participation.

But that's not to say it's always easy. There are no coffee breaks or any clear end to the workday. And the lack of adult interaction can lead to feelings of isolation and boredom. We all occasionally need a pat on the back to boost our morale. Doing volunteer work is one good way to earn others' kudos. Whether you decide to rejoin the workforce right away or stay home, remember that your decision isn't irreversible -- and your child will thrive in either scenario.

No one is quicker to judge mothers than other mothers, right? Or so we're told by newspapers, magazines, and TV talk shows that for nearly a quarter century have been reporting from the front lines of the so-called Mommy Wars. But are we really at odds? Do stay-at-home and working mothers truly demonize one another?

It would be naive to say that it never happens -- we've all heard comments like, "Why even have kids if you're going to let someone else raise them?

Most of the women she interviewed for her book understand that, whether working or at home, moms are all in this together, making the best choices we can for ourselves and our families. Christine Turley, of Westwood, Massachusetts, says she doesn't believe mothers judge each other so much as we judge ourselves. And when you're in one of those slumps where you second-guess yourself, it's natural to wonder whether everyone else is second-guessing you too. But in my experience, women are very supportive of each other's situations and accommodating of the various complicated schedules we all have.

Longing to stay home, but not sure you can swing it financially? Before dismissing the idea, do the math. Would your partner's earnings cover the household budget, at least for the next year?

Before answering, don't forget to factor in the costs of your working. Dual-income couples are taxed at a higher rate. Add in the cost of commuting, wardrobe, and those deli lunches -- and you may be surprised by how little of your paycheck remains.

If the decision's still too close to call, look for ways to trim expenses. Could you forego the gym membership, freeze new clothing purchases, skip the vacation this year? With a few strategic cuts, you may find that you can live comfortably on one income. There are, however, some long-term sacrifices to consider.

While home, you won't be contributing to your k or social security. And getting back on your career track may be challenging. To ease your eventual reentry, Hobey advises:. You'd like to return to work, but now your question is: The answer will depend on your family's finances as well as on your career aspirations.

While some 74 percent of American companies now offer some type of job flexibility, you do run the risk of being "mommy tracked" -- blocked from juicier assignments or promotions -- if you cut back your hours, says Hobey. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't lobby your boss for a saner schedule.

Would 7 to 3 work better than 9 to 5? How about four hour days? Or could you work from home a couple of days a week to eliminate the commute? If returning part time is a viable and desirable option for you, break down your existing job into its discrete tasks and figure out which you'd prefer to keep, and which you could surrender.

But you'll improve your odds tremendously if you present a written proposal that your boss cannot dismiss without serious consideration. Point out, for example, that a 7 to 3 schedule will allow you to focus more during the early morning hours when the office and phones are quiet.

The goal is to convince your employer that granting your request makes good business sense. It's not just marriage and kids.

I know this may sound silly, but working gives me a reason to get dressed up in something nice and put on makeup every day -- and that just makes me feel better about myself. I take delight in the way she enjoys her music, gym, and dance classes.

Being with her and seeing how she's developed has given me a lot of confidence, both as a mom and as a human being. All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only.

Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Working It Out

Customer Service-Work At Home. Do you stay calm under pressure? Work From Home! (Full-time) THRIVE Vet Care. Austin, TX. At Thrive Affordable Vet Care, we focus on high quality, Be the first to see new Stay At Home jobs. My email: Also get an email with jobs recommended just for me. Until then, it appears that the dilemma of whether to stay at home, go back to work full time, or somewhere in between is a hot topic. If the release of books is any indication of the issue's popularity, in the last decade, dozens of books have been written on the subject of working and stay-at-home moms. I believe I have the best of both worlds, at least for me. When DD was 8 months (now 2 1/2) I quit my full-time job as a lending assistant to stay at home part-time. I substitute teach part-time. I LOVE it! That first summer I started cleaning houses and now do both clean and sub. I work on average 3 days a week- sometimes more and sometimes less.