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Working Mom vs SAHM: When to Return to Work

My daughter took this picture of us as we were sharing a Subway sandwich in the bleachers after her volleyball game.

I have written a few times about making the decision to stay home or continue working.  What about when you have been the stay-at-home mom and are considering going back to work.  When is the right time?  This is a decision that only you and your husband can make.  Make it prayerfully.

Why I decided to stay home:

My husband and I both had moms that stayed home.  We both always felt that was important to the family structure.  I always planned to be a SAHM.  I have an older sister who got married very young, so I became an aunt at age 13.  Her children were teenagers before I had any children at all.   She was always a SAHM, but I remember her telling me, "They need you more in the teen years than when they are young."  I believed her and I never forgot that.  So, when I made the decision to switch from being a working mom to being a SAHM, I thought I might be home for quite a while (or maybe forever).  Now I know what she meant.  


Things for you to consider in making your decision:

Outside Influences.  The temptation to return to work is great.  For me, I had my old boss calling me every tax season with a great offer to work temporarily.  There are societal pressures to BE someone  or DO something for yourself.  Then there are the children; you wonder if what you are doing by being home is really making a difference.  Some thought I was crazy to give up being a CPA to be home with my children.  It doesn't matter what others think!!!

Financial Pressures.  These are sometimes the greatest factors.  If you are having a hard time making ends meet, it only seems natural that going back to work would eleviate this.  This is not always true.  There are costs of working that must be considered.   I have also seen families fall apart because no one is raising the children.  They are left to their own devices beginning at a young age.  The financial gain of a second income is not always a gain.  Read  The Cost of Working.

Time.   When children begin school, you may feel as though your days are so much freer.  You may wonder, what difference does it make if I work or not, they are away all day when I am anyway.  It does make a difference.  That time comes from somewhere.  When you are gone all day, then your evenings are spent running errands, doing laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills, etc.  Your mind is also preoccupied on your work.  Read Working Mom vs SAHM:  The Weekend.

Your Husband's Job.  How will your husband's job be affected by you returning to work?  You may think they have no bearing on one another, but they do.  Society has an acceptance that working mom's schedules need to be flexible.  The children always do and will come first.  Society and the workplace frowns upon men who are not fully committed or must duck out for children's issues.  Read more of this at Working Mom vs SAHM:  Doctor appoinments.  You have heard, "Behind every good man, is a good woman."  This is true.  It comes from having the support from you at home.  When my husband and I were first starting out our careers, we shared domestic duties.  When I  began my practice at home, it was only to bridge to gap in finances as I first started staying home.  After we made this switch, my husband's career flourished.  I truly feel that God honored our decision for me to stay home, and blessed us for it.  

Need for Adult Interaction.  Sometimes when you have been at home for a while you begin to miss the challenges of work.  You may especially miss adult interaction.  I would suggest volunteering first, or getting involved with groups that your children are involved in.  You may find, that you really don't have the time, or that your children are missing out on your reoccupation with a project.  Read  SAHMs:  Is Anyone Out There?

Being Available. What I have found is that your children need a cheerleader---at every age.   You are their cheerleader.  You cannot predict when they will feel like unloading; you need to be available.  My children are now in high school, college, and out of college living away.  I still try to be a cheerleader to each of them when they need it.  I am glad I am available.  Read The Goodnight Ritual


My high schooler was recently home from school for a few days due to illness.  It was so nice that I was able to take her to the doctor and be with her.  I was able to sit with her and give her some warm cider and a granola bar (the only thing that sounded good to her.)  My reward was when she took my hand and said, "It's so nice to be loved."

Let me be your older sister and tell you, "Your children need you more in the teen years than when they are young."   If you can, consider not returning to work.   I pray you make the  choice that's right for you and your family.




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Marriage Monday

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