My husband and I got married during his first year of medical school. Then we had Child #1 during fourth year of medical school, Child #2 during second year of residency, Child #3 during the first fellowship.
We were so happy when each of them arrived.
But we also had the looming question of whether I should go back to work or stay home.
With three kids, that makes it three times that I’ve seriously asked myself this question. And it was never easy to make a decision. My real question wasn’t simply whether to stay home or not. I was really asking myself this question:
“What suffering can I tolerate better?”
I’m just choosing whichever tradeoff I can live with.
There are great things about being a SAHM and a working mom. No doubt there are lots of outside pressures, which makes it hard to decide.
If you’re deciding whether to stay home or go back to work, nobody has the right answer regarding which is best for you. Not your parents, your pastor or priest, your best friends, parenting authorities and influencers, or the women you most admire the most. Not even me.
However, there are some considerations that will help you discern deep into your soul and decide.
Here they are.
Being A Stay-At-Home Mom
Ask these questions:
- If you leave your job, can you return to the same job or similar?
- Can your family afford to lose your income?
- Do you have other kids at home?
If they’re mostly yes, you have a good basis to stay at home.
Pros to being a SAHM mom:
- You get to be a luxury for everybody else. For example, you don’t have to coordinate vacations with your DrSpouse or kids’ schools. You can be there for your family in a pinch.
- You have the freedom to spend time with your kids any time and any way you want.
- You have more opportunities to make memories with your kids.
Cons to being a SAHM mom:
- There is a constant push and pull as all the littles need something from you at all times.
- You are working 24/7. There are no “weekends” or “holidays,” particularly in a medical family because your DrSpouse tends to work them.
- You’re watching your budget closely because you’re a single income household.
- You don’t get any awards for all of your hard work and sacrifices.
Being A Working Mom
Ask these questions:
- Can you work part-time, flextime, or get on a Mommy track?
- Do you have access to excellent caretakers who act as extensions of yourself?
- Are your kids so social that they thrive around other kids?
If the answers to these questions are mostly yes, again, you’re probably going to be OK going back to work.
Pros to being a working mom:
- You get to help your family financially.
- After spending an entire weekend with your kids, you get to look forward to Mondays because you know you can finally relax.
- You get to use your unique talents to help society. (The wife of Physician Philosopher, for example, is a teacher who teaches other Kindergarten teachers. How awesome that there are people like her!)
- It’s nice to have your accomplishments recognized.
Cons to being a working mom:
- You miss out on events during the daytime with your kids.
- You have to rely on and coordinate more help.
- You have additional costs like eating out, gasoline, and a professional wardrobe (unless you work from home).
If You Decide To Be A SAHM, Keep All Options Open
If you do decide to be a SAHM, I encourage you to stay active in your career field and Keep your foot in the door. You want all options to be open to you.
Some ways to do this:
- Do at least the minimum work to get your credentials, certifications, and licenses updated
- Meet and network with people
- Continue to learn through podcasts, blogs, continuing education credits, and books
I can’t tell you how many friends I have who have a hard time going back to work because their certifications and licenses are expired. Unless they go back to school or get re-certified, they’re kinda stuck.
Also, keeping your skills current gives you confidence, independence, and most of all…CHOICE.
You can choose to go back to work if you want to instead of being forced by the job market to stay home because nobody will hire you. I believe the best way to empower ourselves as women is to give ourselves as many options to choose from!
Back to the original question when deciding to stay home or go back to work:
“What suffering can you tolerate better?”
Sweet friend, only you know that answer. But the fact that you’re carefully discerning means you are a good mom. In case nobody has told you this, you are doing great, Mom.
Once you have your decision, be confident that you made the best decision for your family.
I’m a hugger. I’m hugging and supporting you, friend.
To your strong medical family,