Aside from that imaginary trophy from your future kids, who is the best mom ever? Maybe you think your sister is, or your neighbor, or that girl who always has perfectly curled hair toting her kids to story time. Surely you have some idea in your head of what the perfect mother looks like and how you can emulate her. Does such a woman even exist in reality? But, the debate is strong and hot and it’s on all over the world - to stay at home or go to work, which moms are the best?
Clearly, as the economy, social standards, and public opinion change so do the career choices of moms across the country. After a decline spanning over thirty years, the amount of stay-at-home moms is on the rise, representing 29% of all mothers in 2012 according to the U.S. Census.
The public debate is still in a stalemate, with some advocating for the benefits children reap when a parent stays home and others insisting that kids with both parents working fare just as well. The very definition of family is ever-changing and so does the public opinion on general parenting standards.
For most moms, the choice between career and full-time family life can impact the entire family dynamic and well-being. It might just be the most important parenting decision you make early on. Feeling the pressure now? I certainly don’t wish to overwhelm you, so here are the top 10 factors to consider when deciding whether to be a working, stay-at-home, or something in between mom.
10 Relationship Status
The type of relationship between a mother and father is one of the most important factors for moms to consider when making this decision. If you’re like many moms, left in single-parent status, staying home probably won’t be an option.
After all, someone has to pay for the roof over your family’s head and the food on the table. Sure, there is public assistance for those who find themselves in this exact position, but it may not be enough to sustain the family long-term.
Some Couples Stay Together for the Kids
If the father of your child intends to be heavily involved with your child, but not with you, there may be more of a chance he’d be open to these options. Clearly, two parents who are in a committed relationship offer the most options in terms of who’s working.
As with anything, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in an excellent situation as a single-parent, staying home may still be an option. Whichever path you choose, take a close look at your relationship to see how compatible it is with your career choice.
9 Parenting Skill Level
Most people aren’t too fond of taking a good, hard look in the mirror. However, monumental decisions such as this require some personal honesty.
● Do you have the skills it takes to be a great parent?
●If you stay home with your child, can you truly give them everything they need?
●If you go to work will you have the energy left to put in the time they deserve when you get home?
Assessing your own physical and emotional strengths and weaknesses is a great exercise for all parents, but especially for those caught in this debate. Being honest with yourself doesn’t mean you put yourself down or degrade yourself in any way. Perhaps you were made to be a mom, and perhaps you will be a great mom with a little outside help.
8 Planned Family Size
Are you aiming for your own television show based on the outrageous number of kids you have, or looking to pour all your time into the next president? The main point here is that the number of kids you plan to have will seriously impact the amount of time you plan to stay home or the number of kids you need to send to college! Of course, none of us can truly predict exactly what will happen in life, but having a general idea is a good place to start.
Can you afford your choice? Finances are one the biggest causes of fights for couples and should be one of the main factors in this decision. Every person has their own idea of what success and financial stability mean. What I’m talking about here is affordability. Whichever choice you make you have to ask yourself a few questions:
●Will you be able to feed your family?
●Can you provide acceptable housing?
●Is expendable income/savings important?
●What can you live without?
●What are your needs as defined by your family?
If you don’t already keep a physical household budget, this is the perfect time to start one. It will give you both a true grasp on your current financial situation and a better idea of how your career decision could play out.
6 Preferred Childcare Availability
If you choose the working path, have you considered what kind of childcare is available to you? There are those lucky few with a mother, sister, or cousin who doesn’t work outside the home and would love to take on your little bundle of joy every day. The rest of the world has to rely on daycare centers and home daycare options in their area.
There are 8 general types of childcare available to all moms:
5.Day Care Center
6.Family Day Care
What are your standards of care for your child, and is that available to you? The daily care of your child is ultimately your responsibility. How they are taught and treated from a very young age will shape their future. Is there someone else who can meet your standards, or are the options just not there?
5 Personal Parenting Standards
We all learn to be parents (good or bad) from our parents. Perhaps you strive to be just like yours, or maybe you’ve learned from their mistakes and know just how you don’t want to be.
We all have to think about what kind of parent we want to be, which might change after baby actually arrives, and what we want for our children’s lives. Take the time to make a list (alone or with your partner) of the absolute deal-breakers when it comes to parenting your child.
Then ask yourself, How will my career choices affect my personal parenting standards?
4 Short-Term And/or Long-Term Plans
Everyone is entitled to changing their mind every now and then, and it certainly won’t be any different with parenting.
You might think bribery is a major no-no now, but when your child is screaming in the middle of the store causing a scene you might see it differently! The most important thing to remember about this whole decision is, it is not set in stone. My plan was to stay home for 6 months and now here we are 3 years later and I’m still home!
The real consideration here is whether you are ready to make a short-term or long-term decision. You are always free to re-evaluate and change your mind anywhere along the line.
3 Personal Life Goals
Did you dream your entire childhood of being a fashion designer, firefighter, teacher, or nurse? Maybe you even followed your dreams, got a degree, and landed your dream job! How would you feel leaving all that behind?
You might be able to live with it and carry out another dream of being a mom or you might resent your whole family for letting you quit. It is too easy for parents to lose themselves in the process of caring for their children. The age-old adage says you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
So, take care of yourself by considering your own personal goals for life.
2 Nature of Your Work
The type of career you already have or wish to have plays a huge role in this looming decision. If you work for a family business, you might be able to take a couple years off then come back to the same job.
But, let’s say there are only 10 people in the whole country who have your job...it will not be waiting for you to return. Some people may be able to take more than the standard maternity leave away from their job while others may not even get that.
The availability of jobs in your chosen profession should play a factor in whether to stick with your current career plan or not.
1 Potential Occupational Options
Contrary to popular belief, there is this whole world out there of job opportunities for those with particular schedules or those looking to work from home. It doesn’t hurt to look around and see what else is out there in terms of work.
Even those who choose to stay home with the kids will likely look for work at some point, their kids will grow up and leave home just like all the others. Getting a clear picture of what is possible can help lessen the pressure of a big decision like this.
There's Always a Greener Patch of Grass Somewhere Else
Maybe you’ve read this whole article and still don’t have a clear answer. Now you know why there is such a debate. The real winners are those who see that both sides have pros and cons.
Happiness comes from deciding which avenues are best for you and your family. So get out the pen and paper and start a pro/con list to help you decide whether working or staying home offers the most benefit to your family.