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Your work status with baby and how did you decide?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm about to have my first and the uncertainty of the potential outside employment situations is hard for me right now - will I want to go to work after s/he is born?  Will I have to?  What would it take for me to stay home or go part time?  Unlike all other financial planning up until now in my life, it's not simply numbers on a page informing the decisions we'll make, and of course, some of those factors won't become clear until baby is actually here.  But, in the interest of some ball park ideas . . . I was hoping for some feedback here.

So - what is your working situation?  How did you decide?  Was it a deliberate choice or did you fall into the arrangement due to baby's needs/factors beyond your control/the numbers just not working out/etc.?  If you were in my shoes, what are some things you'd consider in looking ahead at this decision?  What am I forgetting to ask?  :)

I am not sure how much background information is helpful.  I will say that I am currently employed full time and my job is secure.  I can certainly share more info if needed, but mainly looking at general ideas that any person might think about when considering this decision.

Thank you!!

post #2 of 15

Hi fidgiegirl and WELCOME!!


Congratulations on your pregnancy!!


I think it is probably fair to say that you may not want to return to work. The falling in love phase with your new baby can be quite wonderful. Even if you end up with a difficult/fussy baby, you will likely not be able to imagine life without him/her glued to you after a bit. So your emotions may be running high.


You may want to do some number crunching just to see what your options are.


I have done a mixture with different babies. For the first I went back to the same job, but somewhat reduced hours. After the second I stayed at same company, different position, very limited hours. By the time the 3rd came along, I was full time and pretty much went back full time. By that time I was an experienced mom that knew how to juggle way more balls in the air. 


I'd look at all the options and figure out what would happen IF you didn't want to go back or didn't want to full time. Explore whether there is a part time option if you end up wanting to do that.


I'm sure others will be along to help as well!

post #3 of 15

I have two daughters and both times I went back to work six weeks after birth.  In my situation it was indeed due to factors beyond my control/the numbers just not working out.


I made more money than my then husband did and we just could not afford for me to stay home.  We were barely making it with both of our incomes.


I will say, however, that staying home full time may not be for you.  After six weeks at home I was bored to tears and craving for adult interaction.


If you could work part time I think in a perfect world that would be the best option.


- you get needed adult interaction

- you retain some financial independance

- your work skills don't get rusty

- you're not having to get back in the work force after a long gap of unemployment

- if your husband is unable to work (disability) you have your income to fall back on or you can find full time work with less trouble than if you're re-entering after a long break

- you still get to spend lots of time with your child

- if you're able to put your child in day care they learn valuable social skills and the structure needed for when they enter school


Good luck, whatever you decide.

post #4 of 15

I have two girls, Lucy (almost 4) and Ella (almost 6 months). After Lu I went back three days/week when she was six months old and did that for a year before essentially moving back full time. I returned back this time after 4.5 months in a part-time (3 days/week) capacity. For me, part time is really the ideal. I definitely enjoy my career and would not want to SAH fulltime, but I really do value those extra two daywith s with the girls (and the ability to take care of some of the stuff around the house).


I honestly never struggled emotionally going back to work. Luckily both have been easy going babies so I didn't worry about how they would do. It's very individual though and you might be surprised by how you feel once baby is here (I was actually surprised I was so okay with returning to work!)

post #5 of 15
If I may - all your questions are good ones, and you're right, birth will bring answers. The only question you can answer now is "How can I avoid going back to work if it turns out I don't want to?"

The best advice I got was to give some love to that mama you will be by having a Plan A (going back) and a Plan B (staying home) mapped out before birth.

For most of us, Plan B requires drastic life changes like 'move in with mom' or 'rent out garage' or 'drain savings'. Those intense sacrifices are hard to conceptualize postpartum. So do the stomach-knotting math with your partner now, just in case.

Wishing you a postpartum time full of grace!
post #6 of 15
And to share my story as you wanted, my Plan A was to go back part time at four months, working from home, with my husband as childcare initially and pumping so I wouldn't worry while working.

In real life, I went back at six months from home at ten hours a week. She wouldn't take a bottle under any terms so my husband watched her during meetings and I worked at nap and night or with her awake until she got too rambunctious. We tried a nanny with me just emerging to nurse which wasn't a great fit, and at one year I stopped working until she was two and in a daycare twice a week.

Now I have two kids and for our family, twenty hours is significant, ten is best. I'm not working until my second is two in the new year.

My mom friends have done every combination. It's an exploratory process for each of us, often imperfect.

A friend with near-grown kids told me she never found a time when her kids weren't better off with one parent at home in the afternoons and now my oldest is in school I'm resigning myself to the wisdom of her words. Full time work is not going to return for me, but part time feels good.

My personal truth turned out to be intellectually wanting to work and mother, but emotionally unable to feel good about leaving my baby. My emotions were right for me and my intellect had to grow. Good luck!
post #7 of 15
Originally Posted by LittleCapucine View Post

If I may - all your questions are good ones, and you're right, birth will bring answers. The only question you can answer now is "How can I avoid going back to work if it turns out I don't want to?"

The best advice I got was to give some love to that mama you will be by having a Plan A (going back) and a Plan B (staying home) mapped out before birth.
This for sure, map out and look at the financial and other implications of both decisions as best you can, talk it over with your partner and decide on Plan A & Plan B and then wait for the baby to arrive and see. This is what I did, my plan A was to go back to work FT, plan B was become a SAHM if it turned out I really wanted to. I didn't think I would, but I wasn't sure and I don't think anyone can be 100% sure because your own kids are different that other people's kids. It worked out that I really did want to go back to work and not just because my first was high needs. I craved the intellectual stimulation, adult interaction, the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that went along with my career goals, etc. Financially it does make sense for me to work too (even now with 3 kids in daycare) which is a nice bonus.

But yeah, you have to do what is best for your family. Many women don't get to choose, they have to do what makes sense financially or otherwise, but if you do get to choose don't let anyone outside your family dictate to you. Do what works for your family and ignore those who would put you down for it!
post #8 of 15

I went back to work, while my husband stayed home with the children when they were small. We did it that way for entirely unrelated practical reasons: shortly before our wedding, his workplace started cutting back and offering voluntary redundancies with good redundancy packages. At the time, his immediate boss was a jerk, which was making his job there hugely stressful. This option meant he had the chance to get out of a difficult work situation with a very good payoff. We both knew we wanted to start having children almost straight away, and we preferred the idea of them having full-time parental care while very young if possible, so we decided the best bet was for him to take the redundancy package, stay off work for a few years, and be a SAHD for the kids when they arrived.


It was a really good choice. He needed the break from his job, and meanwhile I love my job and would have gone stir crazy if I'd been the one to take a few years off. Now, the kids are a bit older and he's back at work in a different job, which he really likes; meanwhile, I'm doing part-time work so I can be there to pick the kids up in the afternoons at school. When you're considering your options, do bear in mind that there's no rule that says that childcare always has to be the female parent's job.


One other factor I'd advise taking into account when you're making the choice is the thought of how easy or hard it will be to get back into your line of work if you do take a few years out. I'll admit we didn't think of that one, but, if we had, it would have strengthened our decision to have him and not me be the one to take the few years out while the kids were small – getting back into my line of work after more than two years away from it is a complicated expensive nightmare, whereas he had more leeway on that score (though he does feel that if he'd taken any longer than he did take, then it would have become much more difficult). On the other hand, my job lends itself a lot more easily to part-time opportunities than his does, so now he's back at work full-time while I work part-time and can be around more for the kids after school, and that way we've actually split the childcare burden quite nicely.

post #9 of 15

I went back 3 days a week and that's what I still do. After the birth of this next child I expect to do so again. It has made work kind of suck in some ways, and I don't get the benefits I would if I were 4 or 5 days a week, but I feel more relaxed and enjoy the time I get at home. Me not working is not a financial option for my family, but luckily I don't want to SAH anyway. The time I get at work makes me appreciate time with my kid more, and vice versa. My earning potential is at least twice my husband's, so from a financial perspective it would make more sense for him to work part-time and me to work full-time, but he loves his job and would lose out on a lot by going part time, while I don't like mine as much and also am in a position where it's a lot easier to be part-time. It's not perfect by a long shot, but of the currently available options it seems like the best.  

post #10 of 15

I had been putting a portion of every paycheck into savings since I started working, with the idea that one of the uses for this money would be covering expenses if I decided to reduce my working hours while mothering a young child.  I was pretty sure I did NOT want to be a SAHM.  Sure enough, although I adored my baby and enjoyed being with him, by 12 weeks I was ready to have a part of the day with nobody on my lap, and I was eager to get back to my work.  I went back part-time, 20 hours a week.  This made my health insurance premiums much higher, so basically my income was covering childcare and health insurance and nothing else.  My partner paid all the household bills, and I occasionally moved money from my savings to checking so I could buy clothes and other personal stuff.  We ended up spending very little of my savings in this period, though--we have used it more for the occasional big expenses like home improvements.


My partner had insisted that we wait to have a child until he was established in a Real Job with a salary.  (It did not offer health insurance, because the company was a little startup.)  As it's turned out, that is the only Real Job he has ever had.  It ended when our son was 18 months old.  After that he worked as a contractor: income but no benefits.


I went back to full-time when our son was 4.  At that point I was able to resume paying about half of the household bills.  Since then I've been promoted a couple of times, as well as getting a merit increase every year, so that I now earn almost twice as much as I did before motherhood.  For the past 3 years we've been living on my salary while my partner learns new programming languages and tries to establish himself as a freelance software engineer.  I'm annoyed that his income is still basically zero--I'd like him to be contributing something--but I feel that we have enough money for the thrifty lifestyle we enjoy.  Because he's not earning, I have gradually insisted that he take on more childcare and household responsibilities, and that's helped a lot to make me feel that things are more even between us.


After this baby is born, I plan to return to work full-time, and baby will go to a small home childcare (as our son did until age 2) for at least some of my working hours.  Our son will continue being home with Daddy after school until I get home from work.  I'd like to have my partner take care of the baby maybe one day a week, so that we pay less for childcare...but as long as he is actually working during our son's school days, theoretically working toward earning some money someday, I don't want to derail his career by filling some of that time with baby distractions.  Maybe it's better to have baby in childcare for all of my working hours but insist that my partner take care of us in other ways, such as cooking (he currently has dinner ready when I come home every weeknight) and laundry, and that he spend SOME time with the kids when I'm home.  I love my son so much, and he loves being with me so much, that it's been easy for my partner to wander off and leave the two of us together all the time, but eventually it wears on me to feel like I'm always the Parent On Duty whenever I'm home and I have to take the kid on all my errands.


I'm really glad I kept my job.  I still enjoy my work, and it's been a great stable source of income and health care.  Although I had hoped my partner would be a good "provider" for a longer time, I appreciate the way he took care of us financially when I was a new mom, and I'm glad that his current pursuit of his dream career isn't starving us.  I also think it was a LOT easier for me to come back to the same job after a short leave, than it would be to start a new job at some point after becoming a mom.


It would be nice to be able to go part-time after this baby arrives, but my employer has changed the rules and benefits structure for part-timers such that it would be financially ridiculous now; unless my partner cared for the baby during all my working hours (which he doesn't want to do), we would deplete my savings rapidly.  OTOH, I now have a private office, which will make pumping easier.  Rather than reduce working hours, I'm going to put my focus on getting my partner to pick up even more of the tasks that are difficult for me to do because of my work schedule.

post #11 of 15
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post

  Rather than reduce working hours, I'm going to put my focus on getting my partner to pick up even more of the tasks that are difficult for me to do because of my work schedule.


Yay feminism :joy!!! Sorry I've got nothing useful to interject for you OP, but I'm struggling with the same questions, and I just wanted to say this made me really happy. I love that more and more men are willing to take on the caretaker role in the household.

post #12 of 15
 I love that more and more men are willing to take on the caretaker role in the household.

"Willing" is very much the right word, in the case of my partner--not "eager" or "volunteering" or anything like that :p--and it's not so much "take on the caretaker role" as "do some of the caretaking."  He is adamant that he's not a SAHD or homemaker but that he works from a home office and also has family/household responsibilities, while I work in an office building and also have family/household responsibilities.  Neither one of us has THE caretaker role; our intention is to share the caretaking.


Our different personalities affect the actual division of labor, and I think this particular personality pairing is more common the way we have it than with the genders reversed--at least, we know several other couples with very similar issues!  I am conscientious, self-sacrificing, good at setting and following plans, extroverted (enjoy being with people and going places), and very fond of children.  My partner is very attuned to his personal comfort, haphazard at planning, a procrastinator, introverted (enjoys being alone and at home; feels drained by excessive interaction), and not especially into kids.  So, one thing we've learned is that he can follow a plan that I spell out for him, and this may get better results than my insisting that he take complete charge of some area of life.  It's also become increasingly clear that he does not always "remember" or "notice" things that need to be done, but if I simply ASK him to do something, this is much more effective than my getting mad at him for not having done it already.  He is learning to respond to my despair over how I "have to" do so many things by helping me to prioritize the tasks that really are crucial, delegate something to him, and let the rest go for now; it's remarkable how often I am freaking out because I fear he will be disappointed in me if I don't do all the things tonight, when the reality usually is that he would much rather have me well-rested and happy than have an immaculate kitchen (or whatever), and the trick is for him to reassure me kindly and lovingly instead of yelling at me for being so silly.  I like to spend time with my kid and go to social events; he's not so into it, and it's important that he gets enough alone time, but it's also important that we spend plenty of time all together as a family and that he get out into the world once in a while, and I have to insist that I get the occasional time alone in the house to work on a project uninterrupted.  We are constantly working on these issues!  It's easy for me to see him as lazy, unfriendly, and taking advantage of my work ethic.  It's easy for him to see me as stupidly failing to take care of myself, and overly critical.  But we're a lot happier when we work out ways to share the work and accept that our needs are somewhat different and not always obvious to each other.

post #13 of 15
Well, I don't think ANYONE, male or female is eager to change dipes, do dishes or fold laundry. Willing is about as good as it gets with the grunt work smile.gif. And yes, it's hard to get through all the different ways we each see things for us too.
post #14 of 15
I went back to work at 12mo. I thought about not doing it and taking it slow for awhile on the career front but we were looking to buy a home and needed a down payment and I was offered a huge raise and a promotion. At the time my husband didn't make as much so we needed it. I found a great day home and it was hard to leave but I didn't run into any nightmare daycare scenarios or attachment issues so I stuck with it.

I wanted to work for just a year to qualify for mat leave (Canada) but it took almost 2 to conceive #2. After 10mo at home with them I went back on my own terms, Fri-Mon using only 2 days of childcare. We did that for a year but DH got pretty burnt out. So I switched to Mon-Thur with full time daycare to save the marriage. During this time we had bought an apartment and then upgraded to a townhouse after DS was 18mo. All this time money was a huge factor.

Then I got laid off. I was not expecting the job search to be easy but I was offered a really good career type position. The money sucked but I decided to give it a chance. By now my husband had been promoted and that was OK. I got a good review and a raise and learned tons in my first year, so I'm sticking with it.

It's not a decision I made once. It is always year to year for me. Once #2 is in school I will probably re-evaluate again.
post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by nina_yyc View Post

It's not a decision I made once. It is always year to year for me. Once #2 is in school I will probably re-evaluate again.

Important and good point Nina yyc--- for me it was also definitely year to year when my children were small. My hours fluctuated a great deal for about 10 years, and then I finally settled into full time again when my youngest went into kindergarten. I still can flex my hours though, working late one day and working from home one day.

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