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Reentering The Workforce After Having Children

The internal war women wage with themselves

by Diane Lang  |  12617 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Forget about the mommy wars, the supposed battle between stay-at-home-moms and career-oriented moms. Watch out for the battle going on closer to home: the internal debate of deciding which option is right for you.

As a therapist, career counselor and adjunct professor, I've seen firsthand how hard women are on themselves. Mothers are constantly asking themselves impossible questions: How can I be the best parent if I choose to work outside the home? Could I work part-time and have the best of both worlds? Which choice will bring me the most happiness?
Here's my advice: Don't let fear paralyze you. Instead, let the fear guide you to good decisions about whether a job outside the home is right for you and your family, at this point in your life. Women, tend to get caught up in the notion that this is a decision they only have to make once, when, in fact, your situation - as well as your motivation to work outside the home - may change as time goes by.

So where do you begin? You start by taking a close, honest look at your motivation. Is going back to work really right for you? Being a mom is a full time job. Moms work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. You already have a lot of responsibility. Are you ready for more?
Then ask yourself this: Do I want a job or a career? There is a notable difference between the two. A job can bring you a paycheck and benefits, a career, on the other hand, is something you feel passionate about, something that creates a sense of purpose and happiness in your life. You also have to consider how the job or career will fit into your already full life. No matter which option you choose, it must align with you values. Consider how many hours you want to work, whether you'll be able to take time off for your child's illness or special occasions at school or whether you'll have flexibility to take time off during your child's school holidays. Only by evaluating what's important to you will be able to find work that brings you real job satisfaction.

Next - and this is a big one - you must consider whether your decision is financially feasible. Going back to work might not put more money in your pocket. How is that possible? Well, for starters, you'll have to pay for daycare, commuting costs and a new professional wardrobe. And your likely to incur incidental expenses associated with going back to work like birthday presents, lunches and coffee. Those financial commitments could take a significant chunk out of your paycheck. Will you still be ahead?
If you decide that going back to work is right for you, give yourself a break. The first few weeks, your emotions will be everywhere. You might feel sad, guilty and overwhelmed. Your kids and husband might feel hurt and resentful. This is all normal.

About the Author

Diane Lang has an M.A. in Counseling. She currently works as a therapist at Universal Institute in Livingston, NJ where she provides therapy to Trauma

Read more by Diane Lang

4 comments so far...

  • The most important thing is to make sure you consider YOUR wants and needs. What works for you and your family. Make sure not to sacrifice your values otherwise you will never be happy.
    There are so many options for moms right now, it's best to take your time to choose the right decision that works for you!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane Lang on 3rd October 2007

  • I think your point about the money really hit home. We tried to figure out what I would be bringing in after gas, day care, clothes, etc. It seemed like I could make a little less at night, avoid daycare costs and spend my days with my daughter. So while I am attempting to start my own business part-time, and I also working a part-time job to bring in some money. No matter what you do you always wonder.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Christine on 3rd October 2007

  • Diane, Thank you for writing this article. I went back to work one year ago after being a SAHM for seven years and IT was HUGE adjustment on my two children and husband. Suddenly, everyone was expected to do more! I really enjoyed reading your article and hope there are more to come!!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Syndi on 16th September 2007

  • Diane, just want so say thank you for writing such a thoughtful article. I was talking to a friend yesterday who is conflicted about going back to work - she was looking for advice and I am emailing her this.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 14th September 2007