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  Work –Important considerations
I am so confused about whether to go back to work or stay with my baby. I don’t even know what criteria to apply in the decision. I can’t trust my feelings because they change all the time – half the time I am desperate to stay at home, and half the time I can’t think of anything better than going back to being a real person with a salary and a lunch break! Please help me make a rational decision!

Making the right decision for your family may take quite a lot of soul searching. For some families the decision is easy – driven by financial criteria or strong feelings about either staying at home with baby or going back to work. However for the vast majority of women and their partners, the right decision is not and may never be, a clear cut one. Even after you have decided either way, there will be times when you are unsure that you made the right decision. Whatever you decide, be gentle with yourself. You are just human, doing the best in your particular situation. Babies are extremely adaptable, especially if they are reassured of your love when they need that reassurance. There are a few things that you can take into consideration when you make the decision.

Firstly, how much energy do you have? Are you the kind of person who is able to hold down a demanding job and still have energy to spare at the end of the day? Because that will be an important consideration. You will need to have energy to spare for the sake of your whole family. So you may need to think about the nature of your work and see if there is a way that you can downscale the work itself. In this way you can still enjoy the benefits of being a working woman without being so exhausted that you cannot enjoy your baby in the evenings when you get home. You need to consider the implications of this kind of change for your career – how will not returning to work affect it? Is it the kind of work that you could pick up at a later stage, or do employers view in a dim light the fact that you have had a break from the industry. How important is your career, and how does this weigh up against motherhood. It may seem unfair and difficult to ask these questions, but if you can be clear in your mind about your priorities, then this could help you a great deal with your decision.

If you do decide to return to work, you need to make sure that you have a very good support system. It’s no use waiting until your baby is sick to test the water – does your boss allow you to be flexible in your working hours if there is a problem? Who can help out if the baby is sick and can’t go to crèche? How will you cope knowing your baby is sick? Could your partner also have some flexibility in working conditions, so that in the event of a problem the onus is not always on you to step into the void. What if the carer is sick or can’t come to work. If you go back to work without very clearly getting your support system established, then you may find that these issues weigh on your mind and affect your performance. In order to return to work effectively you need to be able to focus. When you are at work, that is where your mind must be. Equally, when you are at home with the baby you need to be able to leave work behind and really be there for the baby. So you have a big task ahead of you, should you decide to go back to work, and need to plan your life carefully.

See also:

Work - Baby showing discontent

Work - Baby’s relationship with carer

Work - Childcare decisions

Work - Choosing a carer

Work - Deciding whether to go back

Work - Financial implications

Work - Guilt at wanting to work

Work - Making the first day easier

Work - Missing baby’s milestones

Work - Returning to work part-time

Work - Spouse doing his share

Work - Stay at home regrets

Work - The downside of working from home

Work - When to return to work

Work - Work from home

Work - Working with baby present

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