One of the most challenging decisions as a new parent is whether or not to go back to work and leave your new bundle of joy in the care of someone else. Deciding to stay home with baby is one of the first, significant parenting decisions you’ll face, and there are several factors to consider -- some of which you might not immediately think about. In this post, we’ll look at three factors to consider when making the decision to stay home with baby postpartum: Finances, fulfillment, and the overall impact on your family.
If you are fortunate enough to be questioning whether you should stay home with baby, then your family finances are most likely stronger than average. If fear around around losing dual-income is impacting your decision, consider where you can cut back to make the possibility of staying home more reasonable. Perhaps it’s getting rid of a second car, since one of you will be home and need less transportation, or cutting back on “nice to haves” versus “must haves” for a short time -- like organic food, eating out, or yoga memberships. Is sacrificing these luxuries worth the trade off for time home with baby? The answer might not be “yes”, but being honest with yourself about which luxuries you can’t live without is essential as you work to answer the question around staying home or going back to work.
Staying home also has hidden savings, including the cost of gas to and from work, the ongoing investment of professional clothes, less lunches and happy hours with co-workers. Not to mention, having a new baby probably means that weekends away with friends and dinners at high-end restaurants will be more limited, and there is cost savings there too. Staying home means no childcare costs (except for date nights), no childcare hassles like drop offs and pickups in rush hour traffic, or the healthcare costs of your child getting sick more often in a childcare setting.
Impact on Family
Beyond finances, choosing to stay home can have an overall impact on the family dynamics. For instance, when both parents work, agreements need to be made for situations such as your baby getting sick, and a plan should be in place when work travel comes up. There may be more feelings of overwhelm present when both parents are juggling work and personal obligations. Navigating these challenges of balancing two work schedules could put more stress on the overall family as a whole.
Contrary to this, there can also be an impact on the overall family unit when one parent works and one stays home because there is such a discrepancy in daily experiences. For instance, the working parent probably comes home with a desire for quiet downtime while the parent who stay home probably craves social interaction outside the house following a day with baby. These dynamics can strain a relationship overtime unless wants and needs are regularly discussed. Sometimes, the parent who stays home can also feel a loss of identity overtime. The overall impact on the family is an important consideration as a couple decides whether one parent will stay home and raise baby.
When you look deeper, beyond finances and logistics, it’s important to examine what really makes you feel happy and fulfilled. For some people, raising children day in and day out is a dream and integral to happiness. For others, having an impact in the world, through business, volunteering, and more, leads to more personal fulfillment. If you believe at your core that contributing professionally in the world is more personally fulfilling, resist the urge to feel guilty about that desire. Instead, recognize that by listening to your heart and needs, you’ll be a better parent when you step into that role in your life. Instead of focusing on the potential shame and guilt, focus on establishing healthy boundaries between work and family, especially as you and your partner step into a new life, and a new relationship, with a baby. Be honest about your needs, and recognize how they might evolve overtime.
At Center for Shared Insight, we help you navigate the journey as a new parent, sharing insights from other parents and strategies that have worked throughout the journey of parenthood. Having a neutral party to discuss challenges and insecurities along the way is essential to understanding the new emotions, experiences, and decisions that come hand-in-hand with parenting. We start with a free consultation to learn more about your unique situation and how we can best support you during this time.