It is more and more common for mothers to return to work soon after their maternity leave ends. This issue of the “Our Differences” series is focusing on showcasing how different moms handled the end of their maternity leave. Did they return to their career after maternity leave, did they change their career path, alter their hours or chose to be a stay at home mom instead? Life circumstances are different for everyone, and I hope that this series will help highlight that every choice is okay so long as it is the right one for their family.
I asked a group of moms on Facebook what affirmed their decision for either working or staying at home. Why did they choose what they chose? Was it an easy choice or was it a difficult choice to make? If circumstances were different, would they have chosen one path over the other? Here is what they had to say.
Answers were edited for length and/or clarity.
Some moms enjoyed the idea of becoming a full time stay at home mom.
I’m a stay at home mom and love it. We can live more than comfortably on my husband’s income alone – so we both decided I wouldn’t work until they are all in school. Our oldest is in kindergarten now, but our younger two are only nineteen months and two months old. Sending them to daycare would be more expensive than me being home with them.
I’m became pregnant with my second child when my first one was seven months old. I tried to go back to work during my second pregnancy so that I could receive maternity leave for my second baby, but the hours, commute and amount of time I got to see my daughter were not worth it. I ended up returning to my original maternity leave until my daughter turned a year old. Now I am a stay at home mom. I considered doing home daycare for years, but I’m starting to think it’s not my thing for various reasons. My husband is almost done school, so we should be fine on his income alone.
Some moms chose to work from home instead of returning to their physical job location.
With my first child, I went back to my full-time position in a child care center. I was fortunate to have my mom care for my daughter while I was at work, so I didn’t have that large daycare expense and I knew she was in good hands. My plan was to go back, get pregnant, and go on maternity leave again. Unfortunately, it ended up taking eighteen months to get pregnant, so I had to stick it out longer than I would have liked to. I’m currently on maternity leave with my son, but have made the decision to open a home daycare once my maternity leave is over. Financially, it made sense for us. I’m excited to be able to do what I love out of my own home, while still being with my children.
My partner and I have always been on the same page that if we had kids, I would be home with them. Even while pursuing my post-secondary education, my mind was on having a career that I could do freelance as well as be at home to raise my children. I spent six years after graduating building up my skills and a great working relationship with the company I freelance for. My partner has a great job and is more than happy to provide for us. I work at night and on weekends when time allows, and my income goes strictly towards the extras that we want.
Some moms didn’t have a choice and needed the income, but opted to work around their children’s or partner’s schedules to spend more time with their families.
I went back to work when my son turned six months old because money was really tight. I was a first time mom, and needed to keep my sanity. I have a newborn now, and my four year old starts school in February so I won’t have a daycare cost. My husband and I are going to do the math and see if I can afford to stay home. I plan on having a third child. The main reason I don’t want to go back to work is because daycare costs are killer. I will be looking into how to work from home.
I wish I could be a stay at home mom, but I have to return to work. I’m going to start by doing weekends and around eighteen months, my daughter will go into daycare part time. My partner will look after her on the weekends when I work. My anxiety is high right now because I don’t want to leave her. She’s almost nine months old and still breastfeeding. We are currently saving for a home and we want her to have the things we didn’t have. If circumstances were different and we already had a house, I would be okay with working every other weekend or not at all.
With my first, I stayed home for my year of maternity leave but went back to work. The benefits with my job were too good to not build back up toward a second maternity leave. With my second, I took the full year of maternity leave, and budgeted differently so I was able to take an additional year and a half of unpaid leave. I could not come up with alternate solutions for income, and we even considered selling our home and buying something smaller. I would quit my job in a heartbeat if we had no mortgage to pay! I feel I’m a better person and mother when I’m not juggling work and home.
Some moms needed the income, and had no other choice.
I would love to have stayed home with my son for a bit longer. My first day at work I cried the whole drive there. I am a single mom so I hadn’t been away from my son for more than a couple hours and only a few times. Working away from home was the only option financially. I needed a steady source of income to support us. If there was another income in the household, I would have gladly stayed home longer or worked a part time job.
I love my job, but when I had my daughter I tried to find a way to work from home. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. Personally, I think it’s healthy for your kids to see their parent work or have a passion project. As much as I like my career, if there was a way for me to work from home or work less I would do it in a heartbeat.
Some moms loved their careers, and returned to work full time after maternity leave to resume their passions. Some others returned to work because in addition to loving their careers, it was also beneficial for their mental health.
I am the main breadwinner in my family. There was really no choice, but I’m so glad I work. I spiraled into PPD (postpartum depression) while on maternity leave and regained my identity and well-being once I was back at work. I’ve actually met more professional goals in the year I’ve been back than in the four years prior! I am very routine oriented, need social interaction daily, and love helping people through my job. I’m lucky enough to have a job I truly enjoy. I love being able to separate “work Sam” and “mom Sam.”
I returned to work after taking twelve months of maternity leave. I did not want to go back out of fear of who would be watching my son, and for fear of missing out on key parts of his early years. Luckily, we found a great daycare that we really enjoy and my employer has become super flexible since my return from maternity leave. I’m a bit of a workaholic so the stay at home mom thing doesn’t really appeal to me but I feel as though I’m getting the best of both worlds with the flexibility I was offered.
But sometimes even that doesn’t work out.
I went back to a full time career when my son was only ten months old. I was given an opportunity in my field that I couldn’t pass up at the time. Six months later, I’m now walking away from that position. I can’t do it anymore. I miss my son all day and I’m just not happy. I never thought I’d be the stay at home mom type, but life surprises you!
What to take away from this?
Every mom here has shared her personal struggle with returning to work from maternity leave. Everyone had different reasons for why they did what they did and almost everyone is happy with their choice. Mom guilt whispers mean things to us as we choose our path, but know that you are making the best possible choice for you and your family.