Maternity Leave is Ending – Now What?

These weeks off from work with your new baby have been a whirlwind. Now that your leave is almost over, how do you feel about going back to your job? Some moms know that when leave is up, they will be ready to return to work (or that quitting their job is not financially possible.) Other moms may feel that now is the right time to stay home full time. Both paths impact the whole family in important ways. Here are few things to consider in your decision-making process.


Staying home

Is it financially possible for one parent to stay home full time? 

First things first, sit down and consider a realistic weekly, monthly and annual budget. Getting the opinion of a financial advisor may be worthwhile as he or she can help you think of unexpected expenses and how this decision may affect your long term goals. Carmel financial advisor, William M. Howell, CFP®, CPA, says that it is important to remember that your retirement plan doesn’t have to suffer if you opt to stay home. When budgeting, consider if the sole incomer earner is able to contribute financially to an IRA or RothIRA retirement fund for the parent staying home.

Are both partners on board with one parent staying home? 

In order for this situation to be successful, both parents have to be behind the decision. The stay at home parent and the parent who will be working outside the home each need to understand and appreciate the importance of the role the other plays. Carla Harris, local stay-at-home mom, says, “It is important to discuss finances and even just be available to allow one another to vent about the day, whether that means having to listen to screaming kids or being in long meetings all day.”

What will you miss from your job? 

Staying home to be with your baby can be wonderful and incredibly fulfilling. It can also be repetitive and isolating. Think hard about what this change will mean to you. Will you miss the interaction of your coworkers? If you plan to return to work eventually, are you comfortable with how this decision will impact your career advancement? Are you interested in keeping some aspect of your job on a part-time basis? Talk with other moms who have made this transition for their input on what they did and didn’t expect.

Returning to work

If you plan to go back to work but would like your job to coordinate better with your new responsibilities as a parent, consider this:

Can your work schedule be adjusted?

Be brave and ask. Is there an opportunity to job share? Can you work from home part time? Can hours be adjusted from a typical 8 to 5 schedule? If your goal is to have more flexibility in your position, think about what you need and how this can work for your employer. Then approach your boss – you never know what’s possible unless you ask.

What childcare will you have in place?

There are many possibilities when it comes to childcare – what options work for your situation? If you are counting on family to step in, will that always be a reliable source? If you are choosing a daycare, what extended hours do they offer and is it close to work? Feeling good about whatever decision you make will allow you to be mentally present at work instead of worrying about your child.

What type of support system do you have in place? 

Returning to work after having a baby is emotional – even if you like your job and are looking forward to getting back into your professional groove. Is your partner sensitive to the situation? Do you have friends, family or coworkers you can talk to about any struggles you face? Think about who you can count on during this time and don’t hesitate to reach out to them when you need to.

The end of maternity leave can be a time when many moms reevaluate their personal and professional life. Whether you decide to stay home or return to work, know that your child will benefit the most from having a parent who is genuinely happy with whatever choice they have made.

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