Going back to work after spending time as a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) can be a tough life transition. But Circle of Moms members who've been through it say that knowing when to make that leap is easier than you'd think, because there comes a tipping point after which it's harder for a mom to justify her time on the home front.
"I never went back to work after my eldest son was born (I now have 2 boys)," says Erin L. "I didn't want to miss any of the milestones so could not imagine leaving either of them. However, I was the daughter of two working parents and realize that at some point moms may have to go back to work. They aren't abandoning their children. They just need to do what works for them."
One of the biggest fears about returning to the workforce for stay-at-home moms is that they will miss out on the day-to-day changes in their children's development, not to mention major milestones, as Cassie L. explains. "I have been a stay-at-home mom to my two-and-a-half-year-old twin boys ever since they were born," she says. "Now money is tight. I would like to get a job maybe three days a week, but I don't know if I can leave my boys. I feel like I will be missing out on everything."
Indeed, many Circle of Moms members who have struggled through this decision have wisdom to share. Here, we round up the issues they advise SAHMs to consider:
1. Are You Ready to Shift Your Thinking?
Some Circle of Moms members, like Maggie, suggest that moms who have to return to work shift their thinking from what they are missing out on to how they are helping their families. "The way I dealt with going back to work after having any of my kids was: ‘I am doing this for them," she says. "If it makes you more comfortable, I recommend moms try to find someone they know to take care of their children instead of standard day care."
The decision to return to the workplace is a personal one for each mom and her family, Circle of Moms members stress. And it's easier for a mom who misses her work and wants to return to the workforce, says Emma N. "I want to go back to work," she says. "Renae is only five weeks and I'd like to wait until she's a year, but I'm thinking about it now."
Michelle N. is another mom who says she is "itching to go back to work" now that her twins are almost 20 months old. "We decided that I'd stay home and look after our boys full-time until they can already to go to school," she says. "As days go by I realize that being a SAHM is the toughest job ever. There are days that it is just so frustrating and you long for adult company. I'm thinking, we can already put the boys in preschool or maybe a day care."
2. Timing Makes a Difference
Michelle is alluding to what is a natural transition time for moms to return to the workforce: when the children go to school. Numerous Circle of Moms members say that timing your return to work to conicide with or closely follow this big change can make it easier on everyone. "I want to go back to work when my youngest is in school," says Sara H., who is herself a teacher.
Some Circle of Moms have a different perspective on when to work and when to stay home, and suggest that it's good to work when the kids are small, and stay at home when the children are older. Says Lynn D. "I say work when they are young and stay home when they get in school. I have an eleven and seven-year-old along with my almost two-year-old, and it gets incredibly hectic once they start joining activities. I have never felt like I needed/wanted to stay home like I do now. Working was ‘easy' when they were babies. Unfortunately, it's not a choice with me."
3. Money, Money, Money
In many cases the decision to return to work for SAHMs is an easy one because the family simply needs her income. That's the case for Katrina P. who began work again when her daughter was 18 months old. "I went back to work because I need a paycheck," she says.
And Gabrielle N., who says returning to work not only allowed her to pay for daycare and to add to the family's savings, but "makes me a happier person, which makes me a better mom."
4. Do you Believe Working Outside the Home Makes You The Best Role Model?
Some Circle of Moms members believe that by working they provide a good role model for their children and that nudges their decision to return to the work place. "My daughters never had a problem. They love their daycare provider and learn tons from older children at daycare," says Ramona V. "Also, because I am a single mom it has shown my girls that they can be independent and self sufficient. They are proud of my accomplishments."
Another sure sign that it's time to return to work? You have a feeling that work is what makes you a happy mom. "I definitely feel like one or both parents should do something that they love outside of the kids, just to give life balance. It keeps the relationship with your children healthy," says Tameka J.
In the end, as Janet N. says: "You are only a good mom if you are a happy mom. Do what works for you and your family."
How did you know when it was time to return to work?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.