Research shows that mothers who have a job are healthier and happier than those mothers who stay home during their children’s infancy and preschool years. No difference was found for those who worked part-time versus full-time. The important factor was that they worked. One did find however, that those who worked part-time were less conflicted about working than those who worked full time.
Working mothers often face a strong emotional toll when leaving the baby at home while they go off to work. It was also found that mothers who worked part time spent just as much time involved in their child’s preschool activities as those mothers who stayed home. This was not true for those who worked full time. After all there is only 24 hours in a day. Trying to strike the right balance between work and home has always been a challenge. So how does a mother do both?
Mothers need to first make the decision as to whether they will return to work after the baby is born. Although our society is moving toward a more democratic notion of who is responsible for the children, we are still lagging behind in fathers picking up the slack when mothers go back to work. Thus, many women who choose to go back to work end up doing double duty; they have a full time job and all the responsibility that goes with that, as well as the majority of responsibility for the kids. It appears that the reigning feeling on women going back to work after their baby is born is “We have no problem with it as long as you get everything done at home.”
If you have to work for financial reasons the question becomes more one of when, after the baby is born, will you go back to work. If you have an option of staying home the decision becomes a little bit more challenging. For the mother who can choose whether to work she must first decide what her priorities are. Is her job and financial security more important, or is the baby and home life?
In addition, mothers need to decide if they will be all right with hired help or family members taking care of the children. Part of this includes the realization that working will mean you will miss some of the baby’s milestones. Although you may be only working so many hours a day you will be exhausted at times and unable to do all that you want to at home.
One needs also to consider the stress associated with the job they plan on taking. You need to remember that it will not only be the stress at work that you have to deal with, but the stress of a new baby. You may want to consider getting a job with flexible hours so if the baby is sick you can stay home with it, or if you need to go home because of an emergency you will be able to. Another possibility is working from home. Most of all you should talk to your husband and see how he feels about all of this and what role he is willing to play when you go back to work.
So after considering all this you decide to go back to work. When then should you return? While the prevailing view used to be that mothers should only return to work after being home one year with the baby, so that your child would not experience separation anxiety, more recent research indicates that you can go back to work sooner without any detriment to the baby.
These findings have been helpful for mothers who have only three months of maternity leave. Prior to this research these mothers were made to feel guilty about what they were doing to the baby. It appears that it is not when you go back, but how sensitive you are to your child’s needs.
It seems that going back to work is a good thing for those mothers that want to work; it does appear however that going back part time (less than 30 hours per week) is more beneficial for everyone involved. It conclusion then, going back to work after you have had a child is a good idea if this is what you want to do.