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Entries in Mother (1)

Tuesday
Jan142014

Should Mom go back to work?

While sitting comfortably at alone at a busy restaurant, Linda, a young mother (of two months) came and sat with me.  We’ve known each other for years, and I suspect I’m deemed “safe.” 

After some niceties were exchanged, my next comment was met with a smile, “You look really tired.”

Linda had the look every new parent has.  Pure exhaustion.  You go from worrying solely about yourself to worrying about a family after a nine month transition. 

“Don’t fret.  The tired only lasts 20 years.” 

Yes, you go from losing sleep with a baby, to losing sleep with a toddler, to losing sleep as the child goes to school, to losing sleep as they engage in after school activities, to never sleeping when they first drive, to maybe resting when they go to college and/or move out.  As an engaged parent, my experience is you always think about your kids no matter how old they are.

“Are you going back to work?” 

Linda is a tradesperson with her own business, so she has an enviable amount of flexibility. My simple question hit on a classic quandary of new mothers…staying at home or going to work.

“My husband wants me to stay at home a couple more months.  I feel badly living solely off him…it’s not fair.  I feel I should get back to work to help him (and not feel badly when I buy something.”

It was clear this was eating at her.  She wasn’t complaining, she was just responding to my questions.  As a woman, Linda probably wanted to just chat.  As a guy, I wanted to help fix the problem. 

Childcare was not an issue, Linda’s mother could help.  Often the costs of childcare are almost as much as the additional income….making the quandary even more pronounced.  In the case of my wife, she wanted to get back to work on some basis so she could have some adult conversation during the day.

Careers are often a challenge for new parents.  Balancing family responsibilities with careers can be a huge challenge.  My perspective is careers come and go, and kids are there forever.  When I was younger, I convinced myself the career was imperative to funding the lifestyle I wanted for my family….now I’m not so sure.

“If I could go back to work 20 hours a week it would be perfect,” offered Linda.  She had a solution in her mind, she was trying it on.

The conversation morphed to how should could build her business and cap it at 20 hours a week.  And it got me thinking about the challenges new parents have balancing child rearing, careers, financial pressures, etc.  These are real challenges.

What suggestions would you have for Linda if asked?