To Work or Not to Work: What Will You Do After Baby Comes?
Parenthood brings endless choices. How to navigate your career may be one of toughest.
Another issue facing both moms who go back to work and moms who choose to stay at home is how other moms perceive them.
"It's important to keep in mind that the people making judgments are conflicted," Stuart says. "This is such a polarizing issue because everybody feels conflicted." For example, she says, "If you decide to stay home full time and not work, you take great pains to defend that position. One way to do this is to demonize someone who has made another decision. Women who do work and pass judgment on women who don't are trying as best they can to manage their own guilt and anxiety about what they are giving up."
Above all, try not to take it personally.
Some women may not have a choice about going back to work after having a baby, Atlanta psychotherapist Joyce Morley-Ball says.
"You have to determine if it is more cost-effective for mom to stay home or go back to work," Morley-Ball says. "A family in a higher socioeconomic class can choose. Those with a lower socioeconomic status may not have a choice."
Another issue is the quality of child care that is available. Morley-Ball says it's important for the mom to consider whether she can accept the type of care that's there. Breastfeeding can also be an issue for a mom who goes back to work.
There is no right or wrong answer, she says. "It depends on the needs of the family."
Making It Work for Your Family
Erica Yahr-Rader is a 38-year-old mother of two. She works full time outside the home and admits it can be difficult at times.
"I try to make sure I block off time to attend school events," Yahr-Rader says, "including things during the daytime whenever possible. I also never speak about work in terms of money around my kids. It's about mental stimulation and something I enjoy doing."
She says that she makes it her business to leave work on time so she can spend the evening with her kids and put them to sleep. "But I am often online after that and my work gets done."
Yahr-Rader says that since she does work, "I try to make the weekends kid-focused -- not run errands and do stuff that's not fun, but do stuff the kids want to do."
The important thing to remember, Morley-Ball says, is that no matter your career and family decision, it's going to be a balancing act.