Impact on Your Career
Having a baby can completely turn your career on its head, or it can have little impact. There are mothers who have experienced it both ways. The effect a baby will have on your job is really something only you can determine. It is possible to continue at your job, working the same hours, on the same path to success as you were on before becoming a parent. However, many women find that because of the physical and emotional needs of a baby, it can be difficult to continue to work.
Fewer mothers are choosing to work while raising their children. In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau reported there were 5.4 million stay-at-home moms in the United States. This followed their 2002 report, which found that only 55 percent of mothers with infant children worked, down from a record 59 percent in 1998. This is the first significant decline since the Census Bureau began tracking this number in 1976.
When you are considering whether or not to have a baby, you need to think about how important your career is to you. Your job probably has a lot of importance in your life. You may financially need the income you earn. Doing your job well probably makes you feel accomplished and satisfied. You may have established a circle of friends and colleagues who are important in your life. And as it is for many women, your job may be a large part of your identity. All of these factors are things to consider when you think about the impact a child may have on your career.
Many women choose to stay at home with their babies. Leaving your job and staying at home means you will lose the income your job provides, but you may also find you have a reduction in expenses. You may be able to cut the following items from your budget:
Food and beverages at work
Organizational items like briefcase, calendar, and BlackBerry
Additionally, you would not have to factor in the cost of child care, which you would bear if you did continue to work.
Choosing to stay-at-home with your baby does not have to be a life sentence. Being a stay-at-home mom is a wonderful, fulfilling choice for many women. You have the opportunity to witness every milestone and be the primary caregiver for your child. You also have the ability to spend time with your other children, if you have any, and take the time to run your household in a very hands-on way. At-home moms do an important job and for many women it is a time in their lives they wouldn't trade for anything. Many women leave their jobs and later return to their careers when their children are older. It can be difficult to re-enter the workforce after years away, but it is becoming a more common option that works for many moms.
Working and Parenting
Millions of women work while caring for their children, and choosing to do so does not mean you are a bad mother or selfish person. If your job is essential to your family finances, something that gives you self-esteem and a sense of well being, or is just simply something that you want to keep doing, you should be applauded for making a decision that works for your family. Mothering and working is a juggling act no matter how you look at it, but it can be a wonderfully fulfilling life. Moms who work have the best of both worlds: a satisfying career and home life.
When deciding if you want to return to your job after your child joins your family, consider the following:
Child care: Child care will be a major concern for your family. You will need to make a plan that you feel most comfortable with and that best accommodates your needs.
Breastfeeding: If you want to nurse your baby, you will need to make arrangements to pump while you are away from your baby. There are terrific pumps available, and most employers are willing to make accommodations for nursing moms.
Scheduling: As a working mom, you might find that you can no longer be quite as flexible at work; you may need to leave at a set time each day to pick up your child from the child-care provider.
Family time: Spending time with your baby and family is likely to be a priority to you, and this may make it difficult to bring work home, go on business trips, or work on weekends.
Mental energy: Doing your job successfully while also parenting can be draining, physically and mentally. Working moms have to find a way to divvy up their energy and focus.
Guilt: Unfortunately, many working moms deal with guilt. When they're at work, they feel guilty for not spending time with their children. When they're with their children, they feel guilty for not focusing on work. It can become a difficult cycle.
All mothers feel guilt. No matter how well you plan your life, weigh the options, and make rational choices, odds are that you'll feel guilty some of the time. It can't be avoided. All you can do is live your life to the best of your ability. Enjoy the joyful moments that motherhood brings and try not to let yourself get bogged down by any perceived negatives.
You aren't limited to the two options of being a stay-at-home mom or working full time. There is a whole array of other possibilities. Many women take time off under their employer's maternity leave plan or through the Family and Medical Leave Act to be with their baby for several months and then return to work. Working part-time appeals to many women and allows you to have some income while still spending a lot of time at home. Flex-time, where you work the same number of hours but at irregular times (such as working four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days) and job-sharing (in which you and another employee do one full-time job together) are other choices. Some women do freelance or consulting work from home, while others choose to be involved in charity or school organizations. Your partner also has the same options for his or her job, and parenting is a job that definitely encourages cooperation.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires employers with more than fifty employees to allow parents to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a twelve-month period to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. This is an option available to employees who have worked for the same employer for over one year. Both moms and dads can take time off under this law.