The right time to go back to work after having a baby is unique for every woman. The decision depends on a variety of factors, including your financial and family needs and your personal feelings. Dr. Lisa Orbe-Austin at Dynamic Transitions Psychological Counseling in New York City recommends you talk with your partner about where you are in the decision-making process. Reach out to career counselors and friends as well. "Consulting with a cadre of others is a thoughtful strategy in the process of returning back to the workforce," she says.
With a child in your life, your values and priorities will change. Ellen Theodores, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist in Brunswick, Maine, recommends taking a quiet moment to examine what you want out of life. Look at yourself from four angles: as a woman, as a mother, as a partner and as a person who needs to have fulfilling work that engages and excites you. That work may naturally take you outside the home; then again, raising a family could be what fulfills you. Which choice suits you and your family best is personal and unique.
Returning to work may be a matter of financial need, says Zak Mooney, a therapist at Healing Circles Wellness Center in Frederick, Maryland. On the other hand, your presence at home might be more important. Considerations like your children's ages, your partner's work schedule, childcare options and whether or not you're still breastfeeding are all relevant. Look at options like part-time openings or project-based work if full-time is too demanding for your family's current needs. If these won't work for you, re-work your family budget to see if it's possible to skip work.
It's Okay to Stay
It's no crime if you feel you don't want to go back to work period. "You may want to ask yourself some questions if you are ambivalent about returning to work," says Dr. Orbe-Austin. "The grass isn't always greener on the other side." Ask why you feel you have to return if your heart is against it. Money is one thing. Feeling it's expected of you is another. If you feel pressured by the opinions of others, or if you want recognition or respect, it could be that your inner circle, as well as your view of yourself, needs adjustment. If there are naysayers in your life who make you question your choice, limit your contact with them for a while, suggests Dr. Orbe-Austin.
If going back is the right choice for you and your family, it's time to decide if you want to return to your last profession or pursue another one. Changing jobs may mean investing in education and training. It's also time to re-establish connections. "You should reengage all of your networking contacts, which are integral to reentering the workforce even if you change careers," says Dr. Orbe-Austin. Let everyone you know that you're looking for work. Network with other moms in your situation. They may stumble across an opening that didn't work for them, but is perfect for you.