There is a lot of stigma around the choices facing women and families when it comes to work versus staying at home. A lot of couples make the decision together based on many different factors. My husband and I made this decision as a team, but ultimately it was my choice. This was something that my husband was very vocal in reassuring me of, he in no way wanted me to feel forced back to work before I was ready.
Here are my reasons why I chose to return to work:
Reason 1. I need a break
That’s right, I’m not ashamed to admit it. Children are extremely tiring at the best of times. After a short stint returning to work full-time after the girls were home, I decided to be a stay at home mum and it was the hardest job that I’ve ever had. I take my hat off to anyone that has the patience and energy to be a full-time stay at home mum. I stay at home two days a week and it still exhausts me.
Every workday, once the day care drop is complete, I jump in my car filled with the silence of absent children and turn up the radio for a brief dance party to the work car park. I spend those precious few minutes decompressing from personal life and prepare mentally for the work day ahead. At the end of every workday, I do the opposite, excitedly walking to my car from work, jumping in and cranking the air con so it’s comfortable when the kids get in. I’m pumped to see them, eagerly awaiting their stories of the day.
Reason 2. I have the best of both worlds
I work part-time three shorter days a week, six hours a day. On my working days, I start at 9 and finish at 4 and split my hour lunch break into two half hour breaks during which I walk five minutes to day care and feed my newbie. I don’t miss the newbie, I still get to see him throughout my day and I don’t have to spend time pumping, bottling and shipping milk to day care. I also get to learn about his day throughout the day from the educators instead of a hurried download of information as I try to navigate getting three kids to the car.
The other two days of the week are the days that I am the primary carer for the children. We catch up with friends, run errands and generally do anything that we need or want to.
Then we spend the weekend as any other family would, juggling social engagements with family and friends, housework, running errands and family time.
Reason 3. I want career maintenance and progression
The nature of my career isn’t such that being out of the workforce for any extended period would see me regress professionally. But there are certain elements that I do need to stay current with such as software programs. In addition, it never hurts to develop your skills professionally and this role certainly allows me to do that.
Reason 4. It makes financial sense in one way
Being a working mum doesn’t necessarily make sense for every family. For ours, I’m working to pay the daycare bill and any additional money goes straight to my superannuation account. Maybe a small portion of additional income filters through that, should you calculate all of the financial incidentals involved in going to work, doesn’t put us behind but certainly doesn’t have us rolling in all of the extra cash.
Reason 5. I love my kids but they do not define me as a person
I love that me going to work and also being at home part-time shows my kids one example of what a modern mother can look like. We have family and friends who run the full range of modern mums and I hope that all of these role models will empower all of my children to make a decision fitting of their family if and when the time comes.
Reason 6. Things change
Making the decision to return to work wasn’t hard this time as the job I was coming back to was family friendly and flexible and I felt comfortable knowing that it would work with our family.