To Stay Home Or Go Back To Work. That Is The Question.

Well…actually, I am not asking myself the question. I already know that I want to go back to work as soon as I can. I love my daughter to pieces but I have been feeling the need to work. I am not just a mum. I am an individual that has other needs such as intellectual challenges, creativity, adult time and sociability. I just miss my old self and feel that I will never find it again if I stay home. It was never an option anyways. Times are hard. But even if we had been able to live on a single income forever, I don’t think I would have wanted to stay home. It has only been six months, add eight months since I had to quit working very early in my pregnancy (severe morning sickness) and it is been very lonely, and emotionally challenging. But whenever we are apart, I miss her terribly and wonder if she misses me and if she is happy away from me. Confusing…

In Canada, most mums take a one-year long maternity leave which is very impressing as their French counterparts usually take two months-ish. I would be a much happier person and for that matter, a better mum if my life didn’t solely revolve around keeping the home and raising our beautiful child. I have always thought homeschooling and stay-at-home mums were amazing and I wish I could do it but I know I don’t have it in me. I feel very guilty about the fact that I can’t seem to feel satisfied by being a mother only. I am writing this as a confession as I feel this may not be shared by everyone. I would love to here your thoughts on the topic.

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Comments

  1. I took 6 weeks maternity leave and then went back full-time. That lasted about 5 months. Best thing I did was cut back to part-time. It was just too hectic for me to maintain a home and work a 40+ hour work week. Fortunately my work was flexible and I was able to decrease my hours to give me one extra day off a week. That made a huge difference. I was torn, wanting to be home full-time for all the reasons you mentioned. But knowing myself, work was a much needed outlet that staying at home would not provide. I was also very fortunate in finding an AMAZING daycare situation: another stay-at-home mom whose kids were now in their teens. We were the only family she watched. Sometimes I felt like she took better care of my babies than I did. 🙂 I don’t know if I could have done it without her. I did go back to full-time three months ago because, as you said, times are tough, but there’s also lots to do at work. It is much more manageable as I’ve become more comfortable with my role as mom, although I think I would still like more time at home with the kids a bit more. They’re only little once and when they hit school age, there will be plenty of time for work.

    • “They are only little once…” = this is very true ! Part-time work sounds like a great compromise if you can afford it ! Definitely much easier to take on a full-time job when your mind is at peace knowing your child/ren is in good hands !Thank you for sharing Jen.

  2. A Frog at Large says:

    My daughter has just turned 8 months and my maternity pay is running out tomorrow! I’m actually entitled to another 13 weeks maternity leave unpaid but I decided to quit my job because of the long commute and to look at my other options, be it another job (locally and part-time) or stay-at-home. It would suit my personality to stay at home, not because I enjoy housework (at all) but because I’m an introvert, extremely lazy and mostly because i want to continue to speak French to my daughter and would therefore rather stay with her until she’s old enough for school. But these are hard economic times so I’m actually going to go self-employed and offer private French tuition and piano lessons from home so I’m able to do both. I’m sorting it all out now, but it feels a bit like throwing yourself off a cliff!

    I would try not to feel guilty if I were you, hard as it may be. I think it is a myth that women should feel satisfied with being a mum as if it was their only calling in life. No one expects this of men and neither should we expect it of ourselves. It is really tough though.
    And homeschooling? Over my dead body, I’m panicked enough as it is about providing enough stimulation for her without becoming a one-woman entertainment system (which I personally think can become unhelpful to a child anyway). when she’s old enough, she will go to school like most other kids and I won’t feel guilty about that. Going back to work now is not that much different.

    • Your comment made me giggle a little bit – which is a good thing !
      I too love the fact that Sixtine’s getting as much French as she can take right now. I have my eyes on a French daycare but I am on the waiting list…so we’ll see what happens. I also don’t have a job to go back to and looking to further my education while I am it ! Lots to think of !
      “No one expects this of men and neither should we expect it of ourselves.” You are absolutely right. So thank you fellow French mum for making me feel better !

  3. Hope you don’t mind I am commenting yet again! As a mum, I can relate to what you are feeling. And I see a whole range of mothers with different experiences. I think overall, most of us want what you mentioned…to have a life outside of being a housewife and mum! We want to have some of what we had before, back again. Some crave this more than others, this is true. And some may ‘seem’ perfectly happy in their new role, but I can guarantee that this is not always the case for those who choose to stay-at-home long term! Many stay-at-home mums have either toyed with the idea of going back to work several times or have weven started online home businesses. It seems we all seem to crave social interaction outside of the home as well as intellectual pursuit and some sense of financial independence…in whatever form! This is what postmodern feminism is all about. Giving women the choice!

    Once you know what makes you feel fulfilled, you should definitely try and get this back in your life. Your child (and perhaps future children!) will be proud of what you did for them but they also need us to be happy in our role as parent. Whether this means going back to work P/T, F/T, or going back to school to challenge ourselves in a new area, this part of ourselves…developing our intellectual, mental, perhaps even physical, and spiritual sides as well as so important.

    FYI…here’s what happened in our situation (feel free to skim, I seem to have written a novel here!!):

    I am self-employed and work with fertility and pregnancy clients as a Practitioner of Chinese Medicine and an acupuncturist. So unfortunately, no maternity leave benefits! My husband is also self-employed…so going back to work or both of us was essential. However, because I decided to work P/T only, we couldn’t really afford full time daycare expenses and finding a P/T nanny and P/T daycare was very difficult…so my mother stepped in to help out with the babysitting. I went back to work when my first daughter was 8 weeks old. For 2-3 hours at a time three days a week. This went well, however my first daughter went through major separation anxiety at around 10 months and this was quite a challenging period for both of` us for a good 6 weeks. I continued to work adn continued to increase my hours. Felt nice to have both work and home time. Very hard to juggle responsibilities though and hard to leave work at work esp. since self-employed.

    Second pregnancy, continued to work until due date and worked again ater 8 weeks post-partum. Did same thing. This time, much harder for my mother to watch two kids, but we managed. Worked PT until 2nd daughter was almost 2 years old. Then because of my mother’s difficulties managing two kids of different ages and interests and the older daughter now going to nursery school two days a week so needing to be picked up and dropped off at certain times, schedules became even more challenging. I tried again to look for a P/T nanny without success. I did find an excellent babysitter over the summer months and that solved the care problem temporarily until she had to go back to school in the fall! At that point, I seriously had to re-evaluate my situation.

    We decided I would take a year off to watch the kids until they were old enough to go to school. It was actually okay with me at that point since I experienced all the trials of having to make it all work. So I have been at home with them for the most part and do home visits for my clients in the evenings when I can get a babysitter or my husband to watch the girls. I also work on the weekends at my clinic when my husband can watch the girls. This way we also don’t need to pay for extra care. Now that I am pregnant again (baby#3 now due in a few months), it will be yet another challenge to take a few months off after baby is born but at least I have a better idea of what to expect both as a mother and for my career outside of home too!

    • It was a very long comment but I am glad you posted it. I love that about blogging – you get very insightful comments and different perspectives.
      Thank you so much – all the best of luck with your new challenge – and come back to tell me how it is going when you have a chance.

  4. leahtrav says:

    Oh Deb, I can totally relate to how you are feeling. We moved to PEI so we could afford for me to be a stay at home mum. And I already miss my old self and old life so much. But yet I don’t want to juggle a job and raising a baby. And I don’t want strangers raising my baby, and miss out on so much. It’s a tough decision for all mums to make.

    • Hi Leah, I can’t seem to find the exact words…but I feel that motherhood is all about mixed feelings…
      You might feel better about leaving your little girl to a stranger when she gets a little older.
      Are you starting to enjoy PEI? Have you ever experienced summer on the island? It will make up for a terribly cold and depressing winter for sure !

      • leahtrav says:

        I am starting to enjoy the island. We discovered a beautiful sandy secluded beach at the end of our road where I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time this summer. Like you, I just REALLY miss my family and friends. ; )

  5. Patricia says:

    I’m actually extremely surprised by the strong pull I feel for work! I always knew I’d be going back (millionaires we are not), but I never knew how much I’d yearn for the satisfaction brought on by a job! I also never realized how very different teaching is from parenting… I do not feel remotely the same at home as I did at work… I miss it greatly!
    I love my LO, and it saddens me to think someone else will be “raising” him… But Domesticated Goddess I am not!

    • I hear you about the whole teaching vs parenting issue !
      The good thing is that you won’t be too far away from him and you know the people who will be taking care of him !
      Domesticated Goddess I am not either 😉
      ps: I am 5 minutes away from Starbucks now…

  6. I am not on mat leave and my son is now 5 months old. When I got pregnant I just finished a four month contract at Great West Life, at the time I was working there. I was self-employed and I picked up independent contracts. It gave me the freedom of picking and choosing my own hours but also let me do a verity of different things. The downside was that I didn’t pay into EI and therefor did not quality for mat leave even though I had worked the required amount of hours in that short time.

    I was also a new graduate so I was just getting started in my career and never fully had my foot in the door so finding a new contract or job willing to take on a pregnant woman was extremely difficult and unsuccessful. Lucky for me I had saved the majority of my income from my previous contract at GWL which paid for me to stay home the entire year prior to having my son.

    I’ve never been a career-focused person. I have never felt satisfied in a job, or felt like I wanted to be there, I hated it. The choice for me to stay home with my son was an easy one, working doesn’t give me what I need, my son does. I absolutely love being a Mom and just a Mom. It full fills me, it is all I’ve ever wanted to be and it’s the only “job” I’ve ever loved.

    Their is nothing wrong with either choice, whatever makes you happy, is the choice for you and for me being a SAHM gives me everything I need. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing Patricia !
      I was working on-call before I got pregnant so no maternity leave or any kind of benefits for me. And just like you I “recently” graduated in 2010 and moved to Canada right after so although I have experience working many jobs, I don’t have a career per say. And this is what I crave.
      I am glad to hear you are enjoying your life as a stay at home xo

  7. saigewisdom says:

    “mommy guilt” is a common topic over on my blog because I experience it A LOT and when I first started talking about it, I quickly learned that I’m SO not alone… A LOT of moms out there are experiencing it A LOT and seek comfort in knowing they’re not alone. I kept asking myself, “why am I not enjoying this as much as I should?” “why don’t I feel fulfilled?” “why do I crave separation from my kids?” “why can’t I be normal?”

    I can honestly say given the choice, I would not voluntarily quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom… I worked really hard to earn those letters beside my name and I worked really hard at building a career for myself. There’s no denying that I love, love, LOVE my children, but I selfishly or unselfishly {depending how you look at it} need space and a life separate from them… I think I’ll thank myself later for honoring my needs – when they’re older and want to start exploring the the world sans momma, my world won’t crumble from the emptiness & anxiety. #justmy2cents

    I found your blog via Ana {bluebirdkisses} and I’m totally into your content and writing – very relevant to my life. xo

    • Hi and thank you so much for saying that ! I love Ana’s blog and I am glad you found me and enjoyed my blog. I find it easier to talk about those “taboo” subjects with “strangers” via my blog rather than actual people or mums I know. They never talked about it with me so I don’t feel comfortable talking about those insecurities or questions I may have. I love how much support I get from fellow bloggers and followers – people I would have probably never met but we share a similar journey and feel that we can share without being judged. Hope to see you again on Sixtine And The Little Things ! (ps: I did get all three of your comments and kept your first one ! Let me know if you want me to change it.)

  8. I believe what made thing a little easier for stay-at-home-moms in my mother’s time (I was born in ’77) was that most of the other moms were SAHMs as well, so all you had to do was cross the street or peek over the fence and there was a friend. She never had a shortage of things to do, there were ample activities at the local community centre, and she volunteered. It was normal to be a SAHM then. It was… expected I guess. Not so now. A little tougher as SAHMs are the minority, and unlike our mothers, we are not raised with the idea that a woman stays home after the kids are born, until they are grown. I do think something has been lost as much as something has been gained in most of us going back to work after babies. But that is life. Kids need happy moms, and if happy moms mean working moms, then so be it. Things are just different now.
    I stayed home after my third mat leave, as working would have been pointless really… It would have cost us. I spent 10 years home full time, until acquiring a couple of summer jobs last year, and some part time work this year via Arts Smarts. Now I am working part time again, waitressing down the road for the summer and being an “animatrice” (no clue what the English word is, sorry!) for a francophone literacy program on the island. It is a refreshing change. And it makes me function better when I am home with my children.

    Don’t feel guilty. Remember that kids need a happy mom. My mom went back to work when I was 11. She just needed to after almost 14 years. Sometimes we forget that we are women as well as mothers. We are people.

    Best wishes to you. 🙂

    • Thank you Jo. I agree with you on the happy mom, happy baby. That’s why I came to France a little earlier than expected. I needed to be with my family. I was starting to feel sad and didn’t want it to affect the baby or my relationship with her. So here I am living the life in Paris. I am excited to go back to PEI in the summer and see miss Sissi enjoy her first trip to the beach. I will be ready for my new challenge: find (significant) work on the island.
      Best wishes to you as well !
      ps: animatrice…not sure…counsellor?

  9. bellissimom says:

    I had also written a post about this a while back and share very similar feelings with you. I have always been very career focused and a bit of a workaholic. But, hubby and I both want our baby to be able to stay home with mom and not be raised in a day care by strangers. We are lucky enough to be in the position right now to make that happen. Now that the baby is here the idea of staying home all day every day is overwhelming. I want to be with him as much as possible but to stay home constantly and not have the social interaction that I have always had with my job makes me almost sad in a way.

    My husband and I have agreed that I will need to get involved in some mommy’s day out type programs and things where the baby and I can get out of the house for social interaction. Also, luckily my job and employment status as a contractor allows me to teach a couple of yoga classes per week without having to make the choice of staying home or going back to full time work. So, I am hoping that teaching 2 to 4 hours per week is going to let me have that sense of satisfaction of getting out, working a bit and socializing while still letting me be with the boy as much as possible. But, only time will tell at this point hwo that will go.

    • It is good if you can still get a couple days for yourself and do what you love (other than being a mum to Max). I know exactly how you feel – I have been home for a loooong time and I just need to do something ! Quick ! And at the same time, I don’t even know if I can do anything intellectual anymore ! Congratulations again on your new baby. He’s really cute.

  10. I need to tell you first that I’m not a mom and never will be as I have no maternal instinct or drive anywhere in my body. That being said, I think it is COMPLETELY acceptable to feel the need to have a life outside your children. Yes, of course, you love them and they mean the world to you, but you’re a person too and you have needs. Being a mom is just one part – a huge one to be sure – but a part nonetheless, of who you are. It’s not everything.

    I admire stay-at-home moms and mothers everywhere, and I understand what an important part of life it is, but I do think you shouldn’t drown yourself in your children. As someone else said – happy mom = happy baby.

    That’s my two cents anyway…

  11. Hear Hear! I haven’t read all the other comments – but I am totally with you! I know when I’m with her she will be getting the very best of me!

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