Author Topic: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...  (Read 3235 times)

ThunderCats

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Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« on: May 20, 2016, 09:32:14 PM »
I'm hoping to get some advice that might help me with making a decision I'm really stuck on...  I am currently on an extended maternity leave, and can take up to a total of two years.  I work for the schools, so my supervisor has recently messaged me to see whether I'm planning to come back at the beginning of next year.  I have two young children at home... a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old, and I'm trying to decide if/when I want to go back.  I go back and forth on this so much that I'd just like some outside perspective for clarity.

Ultimately we are leaning towards homeschooling when the kids are older, so realistically, this is just looking at the next couple of years.  Anyway, here are the pro's and con's of going back that I keep debating over:

Pros:
1) I'm very fortunate to have a part-time (two day a week) job available
2) It would help to keep my foot in the door and my skills up to date if I should ever need to go back for financial reasons
3) Despite the costs of daycare, it would increase in family income.
4) It would give me a chance to socialize with other adults without randomly needing to run away from them screaming "get off your brother!"
5) My job required a graduate degree and after all that work and sacrifice, I feel weird bowing out of the workforce already
6) I wouldn't be contributing to the family financially

Cons:
1) It is very difficult to find part time daycare and I inherently have difficulty with the idea of my kids being with and cared for by someone I don't know well (we have no family in the area to help with watching the kids)
2) I really enjoy being home with my children (most days), and get a feeling of purpose I've never gotten through work
3) I've never really enjoyed my job... I often feel guilty because my job requires me to make decisions for kids that I disagree with...
4) Financially, we don't need the money, and barring an unexpected tragedy, it is unlikely we will in the future.
5) We're already starting to talk about baby #3, so this might be very short term that I'd return.
6) Going back to daycare... I have trouble getting the kids up, dressed, fed, and ready to get to story time at 10am... my contracted hours start at 7:30 and I'd have to drop them off somewhere outside the home before that...

I think in the end, I'm wanting to stay home, but have difficulty giving up the security of having a job available and have always self identified with my career and have some difficulty giving that up.  I'm looking for advice from others that have gone through similar dilemmas. 

bogart

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2016, 09:47:03 PM »
So, I can't relate to your decision at all in the sense that it's far enough removed from my circumstances and preferences that I have no wisdom to share on that.

But.

When I'm stuck with uncertainty over a decision that I can make an argument for either way (as you have here), I flip a coin, telling myself I must abide by the coin's decision.  If, 24 hours later, I'm still miserable about what the coin decided, I know I need to do the opposite of what it told me.  Got a penny handy?  FWIW.

firelight

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2016, 10:56:20 PM »
I had a similar dilemma six months back when we were thinking about sending kid to daycare. We didn't need the money and I loved being with kid at home most days but I also craved adult interaction that didn't involve kids. That tilted the balance for me.

If getting everyone out the door at 7 is hard, can you get someone to come home those two days a week? Life would be much smoother of kids don't have to wake up super early and get ready. Since it would be only for two days, cost should be better as well?

Also there is lot of middle ground between working and staying home. Tweak all facets of your situation to see what makes you most happy - a happy mom makes a happy family.

mxt0133

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2016, 01:26:25 AM »
If it's only two days a week, that should be a relatively easy transition vs say full-time employment.  I would say give it a shot and take it one day at time.  If it get's too much then quit.  No harm in trying and I doubt your supervisors would have any ill will towards you for deciding what is best for your family.

You mentioned that you would eventually homeschool and that you would do that when the kids were older, may I ask what your reasoning for that is?

We currently homeschool and based on our conversations with other homeschooling parents what most do is to homeschool early and then if the child chooses to or needs to, then they would go to traditional school as they get older.  The line of thought is that the time spent in the first few years allows the parents to really get to know and bond with the child to tailor their educational needs.  From there as the children get older they take more responsibility of their own education.  If they then go to traditional school the transition is a bit easier since they are more independent they can really focus on the subjects that interests them. Versus the other way around where if the child were put into traditional school, the teacher inherently becomes responsible for the child's schooling and it is a bit harder to unlearn that.  Not saying that it's impossible.  Again, that's just based on my anecdotal observations and conversations.  Not saying that there is only one way of doing it.

ThunderCats

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2016, 06:01:49 AM »
You mentioned that you would eventually homeschool and that you would do that when the kids were older, may I ask what your reasoning for that is?

When I say when they are older, I mean when the oldest is 5 or 6.  I don't see any need to do anything formal before then, and even if I go back it will be just two days a week, which will allow plenty of time for informal learning before then.  I definitely agree that the early years are most important, and the early years are the ones I have the most disagreement with how the public schools are currently running things :-)  My ideal is to homeschool them all the way through, but at a minimum I want to get them through 3rd grade at home to give them a solid foundation.

ThunderCats

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2016, 06:09:04 AM »
If getting everyone out the door at 7 is hard, can you get someone to come home those two days a week? Life would be much smoother of kids don't have to wake up super early and get ready. Since it would be only for two days, cost should be better as well?

Also there is lot of middle ground between working and staying home. Tweak all facets of your situation to see what makes you most happy - a happy mom makes a happy family.

I have thought about having someone come here, but the process of finding someone overwhelms me a little.  At least with taking them somewhere, I'm able to go observe how they interact with other children when I interview :-/  But yes, getting the kids up would make things much harder.  Realistically we'd be going from them waking up between 6:30 and 7:30 to 5-5:30 with me getting up enough before that to get myself ready.  This does not sound like a fun time.

As of other options I've considered... I've considered seeing if I could go down to one day a week.  If it wasn't for the 20-60 minute commute (I work in a district with many schools, and I don't ever know my assignment until the school year begins... so I'm never certain how long the commute will be), I'd look into just working a couple afternoons a week.

bogart

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2016, 09:31:46 AM »
I have thought about having someone come here, but the process of finding someone overwhelms me a little.  At least with taking them somewhere, I'm able to go observe how they interact with other children when I interview :-/  But yes, getting the kids up would make things much harder.  Realistically we'd be going from them waking up between 6:30 and 7:30 to 5-5:30 with me getting up enough before that to get myself ready.  This does not sound like a fun time.

Could your DH adjust his schedule so he goes in late(r) on those days and is the one who gets the kids to daycare -- so they can sleep in until they're ready to wake up?

little_brown_dog

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2016, 09:34:52 AM »
To me it seems like your cons outweigh your pros, especially the one where you talk about how you love being with the kids and have a real sense of purpose being with them. Combine that with the fact that you don't like your job, and don't need the money, and it seems to me like you already know your answer.

I am faced with similar feelings. I have been a sahm for over 6 months. I love being with my baby and we plan on having more kids. We don't need any extra income, and I have no real desire to go back to work. But the idea that I "should" be working sometimes makes me feel like staying home for the next few years is a bad idea. I am coming to realize these "shoulds" are not based on my own circumstances or feelings, but rather on assumptions and pressures from society at large ("a masters educated woman should be using her degree!" "a woman should never be financially dependent on a man" "what does it say about a woman's intellect if she is happy caring for kids all day?"). So right now, I'm open to the idea of making some money part time if the opportunity presents itself and if it fits in with my current life. If not, I'll pass.

ThunderCats

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2016, 11:10:59 AM »
I have thought about having someone come here, but the process of finding someone overwhelms me a little.  At least with taking them somewhere, I'm able to go observe how they interact with other children when I interview :-/  But yes, getting the kids up would make things much harder.  Realistically we'd be going from them waking up between 6:30 and 7:30 to 5-5:30 with me getting up enough before that to get myself ready.  This does not sound like a fun time.

Could your DH adjust his schedule so he goes in late(r) on those days and is the one who gets the kids to daycare -- so they can sleep in until they're ready to wake up?

This would be a nice option if he didn't work for the same district with the same contracted hours :-)

ThunderCats

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2016, 11:24:06 AM »
To me it seems like your cons outweigh your pros, especially the one where you talk about how you love being with the kids and have a real sense of purpose being with them. Combine that with the fact that you don't like your job, and don't need the money, and it seems to me like you already know your answer.

I am faced with similar feelings. I have been a sahm for over 6 months. I love being with my baby and we plan on having more kids. We don't need any extra income, and I have no real desire to go back to work. But the idea that I "should" be working sometimes makes me feel like staying home for the next few years is a bad idea. I am coming to realize these "shoulds" are not based on my own circumstances or feelings, but rather on assumptions and pressures from society at large ("a masters educated woman should be using her degree!" "a woman should never be financially dependent on a man" "what does it say about a woman's intellect if she is happy caring for kids all day?"). So right now, I'm open to the idea of making some money part time if the opportunity presents itself and if it fits in with my current life. If not, I'll pass.

You've hit the nail on the head.  I'm definitely full of the "shoulds."  I go back and forth between "shoulding" myself (e.g. "I shouldn't be so worried about childcare" "I should want to go back to work" "I should be contributing financially" "I should be using my degree" "I should want more for myself than staying home with the kids"), and being frustrated that there is so much pressure from society.  Even though I acknowledge this, I'm still having difficulty taking the plunge and making it official.

I'd really love it if my career offered something like being able to work a couple of afternoons a week after my husband got home and could watch the kiddos, but my degree is so specific there's not much I can do outside the public schools... and all the schools tend to have the same hours.  I'm lucky to have the option of two days a week... but even that interferes with our routine.

pbkmaine

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2016, 12:18:48 PM »
Tutoring?

mm1970

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2016, 06:22:30 PM »
To me it seems like your cons outweigh your pros, especially the one where you talk about how you love being with the kids and have a real sense of purpose being with them. Combine that with the fact that you don't like your job, and don't need the money, and it seems to me like you already know your answer.

I am faced with similar feelings. I have been a sahm for over 6 months. I love being with my baby and we plan on having more kids. We don't need any extra income, and I have no real desire to go back to work. But the idea that I "should" be working sometimes makes me feel like staying home for the next few years is a bad idea. I am coming to realize these "shoulds" are not based on my own circumstances or feelings, but rather on assumptions and pressures from society at large ("a masters educated woman should be using her degree!" "a woman should never be financially dependent on a man" "what does it say about a woman's intellect if she is happy caring for kids all day?"). So right now, I'm open to the idea of making some money part time if the opportunity presents itself and if it fits in with my current life. If not, I'll pass.

You've hit the nail on the head.  I'm definitely full of the "shoulds."  I go back and forth between "shoulding" myself (e.g. "I shouldn't be so worried about childcare" "I should want to go back to work" "I should be contributing financially" "I should be using my degree" "I should want more for myself than staying home with the kids"), and being frustrated that there is so much pressure from society.  Even though I acknowledge this, I'm still having difficulty taking the plunge and making it official.

I'd really love it if my career offered something like being able to work a couple of afternoons a week after my husband got home and could watch the kiddos, but my degree is so specific there's not much I can do outside the public schools... and all the schools tend to have the same hours.  I'm lucky to have the option of two days a week... but even that interferes with our routine.
The heck with "should".  While you should be able to get over the daycare fear (it literally takes days before they are family, if you choose the right one) - there is no "I should want to go back to work".  If you don't want to go back to work, you don't.

As far as contributing financially, do you need it?  If you aren't paying bills and the kids are going hungry, okay there's a "should".  But doesn't sound like it.

bogart

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2016, 08:18:41 PM »

This would be a nice option if he didn't work for the same district with the same contracted hours :-)

Oh darn.  Poor planning, that :)!

ThunderCats

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2016, 08:41:48 PM »
I've officially let my supervisor know that I'm taking next year off.  I still have the option of going back the year after that.  Plus, realistically, my department is regularly understaffed, so if I were to change my mind, I would likely be able to do so at any time in between.

Thanks for the responses, it has helped me clarify what I'm wanting to do.  When next year rolls around, there are a few things which might influence whether I go back or officially quit, (e.g. My parents are retiring soon, and if (big if) they moved closer and could babysit, that would change things drastically.  Or on the other hand, if we start planning for #3, going back may not be on my list of things to do)

Cannot Wait!

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2016, 10:18:26 PM »

Congrats!  It must be nice to have the decision made - or at least deferred.

Reading the original post seemed like a no brainer to me but I appreciate that it is harder to decide while in the thick of things.

Now you just need to figure out how to get some adult time...

little_brown_dog

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2016, 06:41:06 AM »
I've officially let my supervisor know that I'm taking next year off.  I still have the option of going back the year after that.  Plus, realistically, my department is regularly understaffed, so if I were to change my mind, I would likely be able to do so at any time in between.

Thanks for the responses, it has helped me clarify what I'm wanting to do.  When next year rolls around, there are a few things which might influence whether I go back or officially quit, (e.g. My parents are retiring soon, and if (big if) they moved closer and could babysit, that would change things drastically.  Or on the other hand, if we start planning for #3, going back may not be on my list of things to do)

That's great you were able to make a decision for the near future. I'm just sort of rolling with things too. I figure, I like being a sahm now so I'll just play it by ear and start working once I change my mind or if circumstances deem it necessary. I think too often our culture and society force us to lay out a clearly defined path and don't let us just make decisions for the here and now. Sometimes it's good to just roll with life and not get too bogged down in the 10 year plan type thinking.

Bikeguy

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2016, 10:18:41 AM »
Good decision.  After reading the OP, I thought you would decide that.  For next year, if you want to go back, you could always look for another part time Mom that works different days than you.  My wife and I both worked and we had someone come to the home to help us.  We shied away from one person because they had a kid and would be bringing the kid to our house.

I think that is a good idea now.

Frugal D

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2016, 10:34:32 AM »
I think in the end, I'm wanting to stay home, but have difficulty giving up the security of having a job available and have always self identified with my career and have some difficulty giving that up.

This is the problem. You sound like you're in a great position to stay at home with your kids so forget about how you think your job defines you -- because it doesn't.

sjc0816

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2016, 11:22:17 AM »
Coming to terms with not being defined by a career...is not easy. My kids are going into 5th and 2nd grade...and I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that I don't want a career. I want to be at home....helping at school....bumming around summer with my kids.

During the last 10 years, I have felt like there is something wrong with me because I don't have a strong desire to have a thriving career. Even more so because pre-kids I had a great career and good income.....and I'm educated. I pick up some part-time stuff mainly for fun here and there. I definitely have struggled with feeling undervalued in society because I am not generating an income and have lost a lot of my former potential career-wise. But why do I feel that way? I am SO happy! My husband is happy! My kids are thriving. I know that if I was working full-time, I would be miserable...missing out on our time after school, our time during the summer and school breaks. My older son is outta here in 8 years. That will be here in the blink of an eye! The older they get too.....the less I desire to work.

Anyway, glad you made your decision for now. You will not regret it!

Slow&Steady

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2016, 12:19:25 PM »
I am faced with similar feelings. I have been a sahm for over 6 months. I love being with my baby and we plan on having more kids. We don't need any extra income, and I have no real desire to go back to work. But the idea that I "should" be working sometimes makes me feel like staying home for the next few years is a bad idea. I am coming to realize these "shoulds" are not based on my own circumstances or feelings, but rather on assumptions and pressures from society at large ("a masters educated woman should be using her degree!" "a woman should never be financially dependent on a man" "what does it say about a woman's intellect if she is happy caring for kids all day?"). So right now, I'm open to the idea of making some money part time if the opportunity presents itself and if it fits in with my current life. If not, I'll pass.

You've hit the nail on the head.  I'm definitely full of the "shoulds."  I go back and forth between "shoulding" myself (e.g. "I shouldn't be so worried about childcare" "I should want to go back to work" "I should be contributing financially" "I should be using my degree" "I should want more for myself than staying home with the kids"), and being frustrated that there is so much pressure from society.  Even though I acknowledge this, I'm still having difficulty taking the plunge and making it official.

I'd really love it if my career offered something like being able to work a couple of afternoons a week after my husband got home and could watch the kiddos, but my degree is so specific there's not much I can do outside the public schools... and all the schools tend to have the same hours.  I'm lucky to have the option of two days a week... but even that interferes with our routine.

The "shoulds" really suck.   

I am on the opposite side "I should want to stay home with my kid" but I don't, and the looks you get as a woman that admits you do NOT want to stay at home will make you continue thinking I "should".  Although I plan to have a shorter career than most (FIRE) I do get enjoyment and fulfillment out of my job and am very comfortable with my child going to daycare while mom is at work.

Remember all those shoulds take in 0 consideration for your exact circumstances and feelings.  I am glad you made a decision that you and your family are happy with, the next time you start thinking "I should want to use my degree" maybe your next thought can be "I should get to make choices for my future that might be different than the choices I made in the past" just because your past self chose to get a master's degree does not mean your future self has to utilize it.  In the past I told everyone I would never have kids, that does not mean I can't change my mind.  I met a man that wanted kids more than anything and eventually I agreed that kids might not be that bad, we now have a pretty awesome 2 year old.

mm1970

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Re: Deciding whether or not to go back to work...
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2016, 12:26:59 PM »
Coming to terms with not being defined by a career...is not easy. My kids are going into 5th and 2nd grade...and I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that I don't want a career. I want to be at home....helping at school....bumming around summer with my kids.

During the last 10 years, I have felt like there is something wrong with me because I don't have a strong desire to have a thriving career. Even more so because pre-kids I had a great career and good income.....and I'm educated. I pick up some part-time stuff mainly for fun here and there. I definitely have struggled with feeling undervalued in society because I am not generating an income and have lost a lot of my former potential career-wise. But why do I feel that way? I am SO happy! My husband is happy! My kids are thriving. I know that if I was working full-time, I would be miserable...missing out on our time after school, our time during the summer and school breaks. My older son is outta here in 8 years. That will be here in the blink of an eye! The older they get too.....the less I desire to work.

Anyway, glad you made your decision for now. You will not regret it!
Yes, I struggle with this too, and I work full time.  I very much worked hard and was proud of my career for a long time.  Then I hit the wall (or the glass ceiling, so to speak).

It only took one bad boss to really eff it up.  Add a couple of layoffs at work, and you end up with a career going nowhere.  I decided over the space of a couple of years that I had to get over it.  My career is going nowhere due to the state of the company and that one bad boss (who is gone, thankfully).

So now I have a job.  And I'm not sure how much I *want* the job.  I used to put so much into it, and for what?  The last 4 years have been a big joke.  I want to be able to go on field trips.  To leave early for baseball games and practice.  To volunteer at the school.

On top of that, I have a few friends who either: 1. don't work, 2. are self-employed, 3. are employed part time.  The last few years, I've seen them (different friends)
- move to Spain for the summer with the kids, and work remotely
- take 3 months off to drive cross country in the camper, hitting all the National Parks
- spend days at the pool, or the beach, or out camping
- take a month long road trip
- work remotely from Italy.

And I wonder, WTF have I been doing wrong?  I wonder if I can do that.  It's hard to make the transition from full time employee.  I don't particularly want to be self employed, and my company won't let me work PT.  But...can I pull off a month long trip to visit family, working remotely?  I suppose I'd feel different if I felt valued at work.  But at this point, they've laid so many people off I'm just the worker bee.  They try to get as much out of me as possible.  I don't enjoy full time work in this environment.

There was a period of time when I thought about quitting (that bad boss again).  I occasionally think about it still. Some coworkers suggest that it would be hard to find another job (true).  I point out that I don't really *need* the job (husband is employed).  But I think that even though I'm talking to pretty frugal coworkers, they don't quite realize the depth of my frugality. 

Truth is there are parts about my job that I enjoy.  I just would enjoy it more if I could do it less.  I get positive feedback from my family. I'm not getting it at work.  (My kids are 10 and 3).