Historically, women have been faced with the decision to choose a career or kids, and even men to some degree, if their partner was very successful. In the most traditional circumstances, women gave up their career for several years to stay at home with the kids. More recently, we saw more women who wanted to remain in the workforce to further their career and when they made this choice, the kids went to daycare. Now we’re seeing yet another shift. Parents and partners are making the decision together to shift focus to family while both continue working to some degree. Together, they reimagine what work with family can look like.
This reality is more possible today than ever before, with the rise of remote work, a more global workplace, and gender stereotypes changing dramatically in the last few decades. Whether to “work” or “raise kids'' is no longer such a black-and-white or long-term decision. It is more acceptable than ever to pause, shift, or reimagine a career when professionals have kids.
In this post, we look at ways to approach career shifts and new parenting, what to consider, and how to overcome any doubts about this decision for your family.
Reflect on Your Values
With people having children later and later in life, many parents are more established in their careers and may even tie their worth and identity to work. Therefore, making everything from small to significant changes to your career can bring up a range of emotions(e.g., fear, anxiety, stress and/or relief) and isn’t something to take lightly.
New parenthood is a time in which people naturally take a closer look at their values as it relates to adding a new member to their family and make commitments about how they want to raise their children and envision their lives. If you have examined and defined your values with your partner and those beliefs align with one or both of you taking care of your new baby without resources like daycare and nannies, choose that path with confidence. Don’t forget to keep your values, not just your career aspirations, at the center of your decision-making.
No Decision is Permanent
Recognize and know that parenting is a season of your life. You won’t get this time back, it will pass, and you can make adjustments to your decision as you have more information and experience as a parent. Give yourself permission to slow down, stop working, scale back, choose a more flexible path, reprioritize, or creatively design your work schedule to enjoy new parenting versus burning out trying to play all the roles in your life. Even testing a few of these options to see what feels right can help you arrive at the right balance. Remember that no decision is permanent. While there can be career consequences in making the decision to scale back, simply view it as a different way to do things, rather than judging it as the right/wrong or good/bad decision. Get Creative
Remember that this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision. Maybe you and your partner both decide to scale back a bit so that you can save costs on daycare or spend more time with your child. Maybe you start a new freelance role while you are waiting for the baby to arrive to test the waters. Maybe you cut back on your work schedule only to realize that your work is more important than you realize, so you re-evaluate after a few months and find the right unique balance for your family.
Give yourself permission to pause or shift your career when you have kids. Even more now than before the covid-19 pandemic, workplaces are evolving to have more options. The world we live in today provides so many opportunities to creatively design a schedule that works for your entire family and aligns with your values. Recognize that this is a season in your life that you’ll never get back. Having the right support during changes like this can help you be successful, whether you have a newborn or school-aged children. At Center for Shared Insight in Denver Colorado, we help individuals navigate life changes like this. Contact us for a free consultation.