Ask any pregnant woman if they plan to work after having their baby, and you’ve likely gotten that deer in the headlights look. Seen the panic cross their face and the fear pass through their eyes.
I know I did after each of my pregnancies…especially at the end of the 12 glorious weeks I had of maternity leave.
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I’ve always worked full time and loved it. Yet something comes over you when you’re pregnant and you’ve held that tiny life in your arms. Your priorities shift and you begin to question what’s most important in your life – financial security or unlimited time with your baby.
There’s pressure too. Pressure from friends, family, society and ourselves to do what’s considered the cultural norm – that could mean staying home and fulfilling the role of caregiver, manager of the home and supporter of a spouse who works to provide for the family.
Or it could mean contributing to the family income – to work outside the home while using your degree, skills or pursuing your own personal passions professionally.
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There’s obvious different motivations for each of these cultural norms. What is yours? Do you work because you HAVE to or because you WANT to?
Does working fulfill you as an individual, utilize your strengths as a woman, and make you a happier, better mother to your children? You may not know just yet, especially if you’re a first time mom. But making the decision to stay home before you know what life as a professional, or stay at home, mom is like impedes your ability to make a clear decision for yourself.
But regardless of when and what choice you make, you absolutely must never allow others to negatively influence you or judge you for that decision. What is right for your family may not be what is right for someone else’s family. And that is okay.
You are an incredibly unique woman, with the right to make choices ideal for you. Ideal for your children and your spouse. Not for anyone else.
Sometimes this means giving one of your options a chance. I did just that when I was seven months pregnant with my first child (at 26 years old) and offered a vice president position. The job offer scared me to death, yet I didn’t want to make a rash decision to stay home before my son was born.
Would I even want to stay home or would I want to continue using my skills to better my world? More than anything, I knew without question that I wouldn’t allow my work situation to interfere with quality time with my child. So I negotiated that in order for me to take the job, flexibility was a must. And thankfully, I was supported. Nine years later, I’m still a full time working mama. And most days, incredibly happy and fulfilled to be so.