To work or not to work?

That is the tough question facing moms once their maternity leave is over

For most moms, the decision to return to work after baby number one is easy — it’s the only way to get maternity leave after baby number two, after all.

But when that second leave starts to run out and return to work plans begin, the decision gets tougher.

Financially, mom needs to make a substantial salary to offset the $2,000 or more monthly daycare fees for two young children. Professionally, she needs to be committed to her employer, regardless of what time the daycare closes or whether one of her children is ill. If both parents have demanding careers, life can quickly become an intricate and stressful juggling act. On the other hand, staying home and going down to a single income may seem financially impossible.

There are no clear-cut answers to the back-to-work conundrum – every family has to determine what works best for them.

Cristina Evans, a Roncesvalles mom of two resigned from a successful career in communications after having her second child.

“It was a family decision and that was really critical,” Evans says. “It was made in appreciation of the amount of work and specific responsibilities of the family manager.”

Her husband’s job at a public relations firm had unpredictable hours and required him to travel, so they recognized that her career would be the one to take a hit.

“Doing the sick days, drop-offs and pick-ups,” Evans says. Professionally, it would have been frustrating and I would not have progressed.”

She and her husband were also aligned in their parenting philosophy.

“We wanted one parent to be actively involved with our children,” she says. “We just couldn’t have been happy or satisfied stepping away from them when they were that little.”

And personally, Evans knew that being pulled between her work and home lives would be a challenge.

“I knew my capabilities — I would not have been a healthy, well and happy person and it would have built resentment,” she said.

Together, they decided that she would stay home for at least a little while, with the attitude, “we’ll see how it goes.”

When a household is accustomed to two incomes it may seem impossible to drop to one. Gail Vaz-Oxlade, writer, TV host and self-proclaimed money maven offers a sage list of considerations on her website, including childcare expenses and other costs relating to work. Write down every cost and deduct them from your post-tax income. You may find you are working very hard to clear a fairly small amount of money.

Now consider if there is any part-time or from-home work you can do to make up the shortfall. Though the total income earned may be dramatically lower, what ends up in your pocket will be the same.

Finally, are you the type of person who enjoys work and feels rewarded by it, or is it just a means to earn money? If the latter is true you will end up resenting it very quickly.

Evans treasures the time she took away from her career to stay home with her young children.

When she eventually did return to work doing communications for a non-profit organization, it was on her terms.

“I had a very narrow criteria for what would ever take me back and then one day I found a posting that hit every mark,” she said.

“I like to call it my impulsive return to work because it wasn’t in the plan.”

A very honest and positive meeting with her executive director allowed Evans to set the terms of her employment that best worked for her family.

“She was prepared to be flexible and agreed to let me work three days a week,” Evans said.

She has since returned to full-time work but is preparing to go back on maternity leave in a few months when her family welcomes baby number three.

As she prepares to come full-circle, her experiences have helped her to re-frame her understanding of ambition for modern mothers.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean achieving VP status,” she said. “It is about clearly setting goals, understanding where your satisfaction comes from and then going for it.”

Things to consider when deciding if you should go back to work after your maternity leave or not[color=DarkOrchid]: [/color]

[list][*]What are your childcare expenses? [/list]
[list][*]How much does it cost to get to work or park your car? [/list]
[list][*]What does it cost to maintain your work wardrobe? [/list]
[list][*]What do you spend each month contracting out work you don’t have time to do like dry cleaning and housecleaners? [/list]
[list][*]How often will you realistically buy lunch or eat out?[/list]
[list][*]What are your employer’s rules if you need to take time off work to tend to a sick child? Will you be docked pay?[/list]

About this article:

By: Sue Wakefield
Posted: Feb 22 2011 5:53 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto