Before anyone's feathers get ruffled, I want to say off the bat that I was once a mostly-stay-at-home mother. While I missed the intellectual business and banter of adults and work, I truly enjoyed the time I had at home. I feel wholeheartedly that the job title of "mother" is so important, and I fully support moms who work their "job" at home, day in and day out, building our future generation. It's no small task to stay home day in and day out, rearing your little ones, just as much as it's not easy to hug them goodbye as you drop them off at day care, only to whisk off to an office either faraway or nearby. I won't participate in the "Battle of the Moms," in which people fight which is harder, but instead just state that being a mom is both rewarding and tough, whichever way you slice it. But still, there's something worthwhile about bringing home a little bit of bacon, even if it's just enough to pay for a weekly latte.
From the time my daughter turned 3 months old, I always worked, even though it was just very part-time. And now as an almost-divorced mom who's been back in the workforce full-time for a little over a year, I can say that I wish I had already been financially stable before we chose to divorce. I face a home that could foreclose on me any day and the financial weight of numbers that read in the negative each month once my 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter and I are forced from the home, whether by foreclosure or sale. When I first looked at my financials using a budget recommended by a free financial expert at SavvyLadies, I wanted to run away or join a convent. Unfortunately, though, the nuns were skeptical of a stressed-out, half-Jewish woman's "dream" to wear the habit, so here I am still. It didn't matter what expense I cut down, that my ex-husband is a stand-up guy and great father who contributes financially, or that I have a full-time job: the numbers came back to me showing I was in the red. I felt hopeless and afraid. How would I make ends meet?
This isn't a cautionary tale necessarily that oh, you better work in case your man leaves you. No, no, it's not that at all. Today, I am still looking at finances that make me want to scream, but at least I have a tentative financial plan for myself and have expanded my workload in order to help myself out. I don't care about sending my daughter to Disney or planning a Summer vacation for her. All I care about is being able to put a roof over her head and mine. But there are many strong reasons other than a possible divorce that make a good case for moms in the workforce. Here are seven reasons you should at least consider taking on some part-time work. Hint: one of those reasons is you, mom!
A Sick Partner
Look, it happens. When I got pregnant, I ended up going on temporary disability due to hyperemesis gravidarum. That wasn't what we had planned — I thought I was going to be jogging my first trimester, not hooked up to an IV pole 24 hours a day. Thankfully, my husband at the time worked a side job in order to help us out. If your partner gets sick, it's nice to know that even if you are doing a job you can do mostly from home, like selling Rodan + Fields or working part-time at your child's preschool, you can help relieve some of the burden while your partner is out on sick leave. Or you can even up the ante by taking on full-time work at your current part-time place of employment. With an illness, you don't always know if or when your partner can return to work. If you're employed in some fraction, at least you and your family can feel some ease during a time of great stress. The last thing you would want to undertake is applying for jobs while caring for a sick individual.
There's nothing worse than hearing the news from a partner: I got laid off — or worse, fired. Even if you've got an online Etsy shop or simply work retail in the evenings, at least you can add some money to the pot when your partner's financial contributions take a hit. Unemployment only pays so much.
Because of You!
A woman doesn't necessarily work solely for the income. Sometimes, we want to work, and there's no shame in that! As much as I miss being with my daughter each day, I do enjoy the satisfaction of doing something that I truly love and getting paid for it! Even if your partner has a cushy salary or you two have a nice nest egg to live comfortably on in the case of unemployment, showing up to do a job you enjoy gives great personal satisfaction. When you have a child, your whole identity changes, and suddenly the person you were, whether it was Jennifer, Lisa, or Jane, becomes "Mommy," and with this great change, we often temporarily lose parts of ourselves that we used to be able to tend to before we had kids. Working can bring a part of our first identity — as Jennifer, Lisa, or Jane — back to the table.
Yeah, that's what I said. It's nice to have some economic power in the relationship. There was nothing better (for me) than to be able to say to my husband at the time, "I'll pay for that." Maybe it's because my mom was a full-time working mom by the time I hit kindergarten, but I liked feeling as if I had a say in the expenses and budget. This ISN'T to say that if you don't work you should just "lie down" and let your partner make all the financial choices (no way, Jose!) but that making money gives you a firmer negotiating tool, in my opinion. Even if you're simply bringing in some "chump change" for small expenses, your work is keeping the budget afloat too!
When There's Trouble in Paradise
Yes, I came back to this. If you feel as if your marriage or partnership is on shaky ground, I highly advise you to run for the job sites. I particularly liked LinkedIn for job-hunting. If you are a mom who already had a stable career prebirth, the chances are high that you can enter the workforce again relatively easily, but if you're a mommy who hasn't had a stable career prekids, you're at a disadvantage.
What can you do?
If you can't afford continuing education or an advanced or even any degree, I highly recommend looking for free tutorials for certain technical and office skills online. And if you get a job offer that isn't awesome but will build your experience, go for it! You're simply paving the way for a better future, and if you think divorce is imminent, getting back in the working pool is a smart choice. Unless your partner is a millionaire, don't rely on alimony or support to get you through. It's not wise.
Prepping For the Future
If you know that later on down the line when your kids are older you would like to go back to work, keeping yourself relevant with a part-time job is a smart move. It's much harder to return to the workforce after a prolonged absence. Working part-time will help keep you current on industry trends or at least help show a future employer that you're able to manage family commitments and work.
That Extra Activity or Vacation
If you and your main squeeze are dying to take the kids on vacation or sign Junior up for fencing, yet you don't have that extra cash, a job of any kind could be used for that extra money. It will be worth the hours spent working when you see your child enjoying an activity or the whole family having a blast out on vacation — a vacation that you, that's right, you — made happen.
No matter what your path is, whether it's staying home forever or you're a career mom ready to be a CEO before your kid turns 4, feel good about your choice and know that you're a great mommy, no matter what your job title is!