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Returning to Work or Staying Home – The Mental Battle Many Moms Face

As my maternity leave slowly comes to end, it won’t be long until I have to trade in my yoga pants for dresses and professional work attire. This is my second parental/maternity leave I have been blessed to experience, and just like the last time, the thought of returning to work always brings a lot of emotions to the surface. I’m excited to see my co-workers after so long, excited to drink a hot cup of coffee from start to finish, and probably the most excited to use the washroom…alone haha! I remember during my first leave from work, I wasn’t 100% certain I would want to return with two young ones at home. Thankfully, I had a choice (a true privilege not all have), but I found it difficult to truly know what would not only be best for my family, but for me as well. My first leave was 19 months long (since I welcomed two babies within 5 months of each other), so I had the comfort of knowing Jayce would be 1.5 and Everly would just be approaching her first birthday when I returned to work. It also eased my guilt knowing they would be in childcare together, so they would always have each other if they got sad or missed me. 

Making the decision to be a working Mom or stay-at-home Mom doesn’t come without its share of pros and cons. I remember chatting with friends on both sides of the spectrum, trying to get insight on what would be best for me and my family. I quickly learned that both sides include guilt, sacrifice, sadness, but also include fulfillment, joy, and peace of mind. I remember weighing both sides, but always leaned towards continuing my career in some way! The guilt that came along with wanting to return to work in some capacity was so hard on my Mama heart. It took me four years, countless medical procedures, multiple failed IVFs, hours of paperwork, visits with social workers and lots of tears before I became a Mama for the first time. My journey to motherhood was anything but linear, and all I could think about is how bad I wanted to become a Mama. It felt selfish to return to work, a career I loved, as it meant sacrificing time away from my little people that I dreamed of having my entire life. 

So I sat down with a pen and paper and made a list of a few of  my personal pros and cons on both sides.

Pros of being a working Mom 

  • You get to follow your passion
  • Make a second income
  • Model independence for your children
  • Making a team approach to housework with your partner

Cons of being a working Mom

  • Missing out on time spent with your children
  • The extra expense of childcare 
  • Finding balance is more difficult.

Pros of being a stay-at-home Mom

  • You have more time to spend with your children
  • Creating a stable environment for your child that you can control
  • You have control over what your children eat and what they are exposed to

Cons of being a stay-at-home Mom

  • It can get lonely with less social interaction when your children are young
  • Most of the day-to-day household tasks falls on you
  • Giving up your career and passion

I quickly learned that making the decision was far from simple. And although I loved hearing other Mom’s reasons for why they chose what they did, it didn’t quite align with who I was and what I truly wanted for my family. As I am 3 months away from my return to work for the second time since I became a Mom, it isn’t any easier making the decision this time around. I now have 3 young children to think about (all of which will be 4 and under when I do return), and a lot more to try to balance then I did when I first returned to work in 2019. 

Ultimately, I think it’s important to support each other no matter what decision we make. Neither decision is an easy one to make, and what works well for one family, might not work well for another. Comparison is truly the thief of joy, and I have been on both sides of the spectrum. I have had the luxury of staying home full-time a total of 2.5 years, I’ve also had the privilege to return to work doing something I truly love outside of the home. Regardless of the decision you make, don’t be too hard on yourself. The fact you are even worried at all about your decision makes you a great Mom. There is truly no right answer, only what is best for your family. 

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