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  • jennevadomski

Do I stay home or return to work after the children are born?

Obviously, this blog post was many years ago. My "baby" is now 14. While I did take a little time away from the world of work outside the home, I did blog a bit and then I started telehealth (YES! Before telehealth even became a thing!). I was very fortunate to be able to work from home as a therapist for 12 years!


Parents in today’s society need to make a lot of decisions.  Some decisions are not always so easy.  Others may be made for them.  One decision a family often needs to decide is what to do once a child comes with regards to working or staying home.


The difference between our generation and our parents generation is that most of the time, the family was able to manage with only one income.  Today, this is not generally the norm.  Families often need to have both parents working in order to manage the finances and live a decent lifestyle.  Additionally, there are many more single parent households today than there was twenty years ago.  In both of these instances, parents need to work outside of the home in order to make ends meet.  The next decision which would have to be made would revolve around the care of the children.


Some families are able to choose between having a parent stay home or having both (or the only) parents work outside the home.  Families may need to make various sacrifices in this case, and this might not be an easy decision as well.


After my oldest daughter was born I returned to work when she was three months old.  Although only working two and a half days per week, I was fortunate enough to have family members to watch her during that time.  I felt comfortable with her care, although I would constantly be afraid of missing her firsts…  first word, first steps, any firsts.


When my twins were born, the decision was not as easy.  This time there were two babies to care for, the family members who had watched my daughter were now older and had moved a little further away, and there was still the seven year old who had to be picked up from school every day as well.  I was a full time social worker/therapist for a foster agency in NYC, so I needed to make a decision fast.  I priced day care centers and private care for my children, and between the twins and the after-school care for my older daughter (plus the private school tuition we were already paying), and could not believe how expensive care was!  Three-quarters of my salary would be going towards the care of the kids!  My husband felt that we could manage, although it would be difficult, if I stayed home until the twins were a little older.  He also felt more comfortable knowing the children were home with Mommy instead of at a center or a stranger’s home.  As a therapist, I have managed to obtain part-time work from home and during non-conventional hours to help offset some of the missing salary.  We have been very fortunate to be able to work things out this way.  Many families do not have this choice.


When deciding whether one parent will stay home with the children or if both parents will return to the outside world of work, many factors need to be considered.  Among them, some things to consider are finances, childcare, family obligations, and the family’s ability to manage the stresses involved with making either decision.  If it is decided that a parent will stay home, financial sacrifices may need to be made, adjustments to the families habits may need to be made (for example, the family may need to eat out less, travel less, or downgrade their car), and both parents need to remember that the stay-at-home parent IS in fact working every day, as being a parent is a full-time job in itself.  If the family decides to have both parents return to work, other factors need to be considered and decided on.  Such factors include (but are not limited to) what the family will do if a child becomes sick (who stays home from work to take the child to the doctor and remain with the child until he or she can return to daycare or school?), how to manage homework (is it done during daycare or will a parent help the child after work?), how will the household chores be broken up and who will do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, banking, shopping, etc.?)  Of course this is just a partial list of things to keep in mind, both decisions require planning and sacrifice among both parents.


Parenting is not easy, and takes a lot of planning, consideration, factoring, sacrificing, and flexibility to adjust any decisions as time goes on.  If both parents take the time out to discuss all options, things are likely to go more smoothly for everyone, especially the children. 

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