Are You a Super Mom?
Learn how to balance work and your family.
All mothers are working mothers, but going back to the office full-time can be challenging once you have kids.
So what’s the best way for working moms to get back to work, so that their kids still get their mother’s attention and Mom can still do well in her career?
Recently, on the Goldstein on Gelt show, I interviewed expert therapist Diane Lang on the subject of going back to work after raising kids. Here is a transcript of this interview, which contains many valuable tips and points:
Douglas Goldstein: How should a mother decide if going back to work is the right thing for her?
Diane Lang: Going back to work seems like such a simple question but it really isn’t especially for a mom because we have a lot of things to consider when making that decision, “Should I go back to work after raising my kids?” or even after just being home after maternity leave. It’s really a serious question and there’s really a few different questions moms need to ask themselves so they can make the decision for themselves and their family, but one of the most important things I always tell my mom who I work with is whatever is going to make you happy is going to be the best because a happy parent or a happy mom equals happy kids.
Douglas Goldstein: So you’re not talking about the financial question here?
Diane Lang: No, I’m not even going into the financial question and I will get to that, but it’s really important that the mom is happy because for example, when I had my daughter, I knew I wanted to go back to work and I knew that if I didn’t go back to work I wouldn’t be happy and if I’m not happy then it’s going to reflect on my child. We know that moods and emotions are contagious so it’s really important for the mom to be happy. Really always ask yourself that question first if you have a choice, if it’s added financial necessity which is a lot of the case here in the United States. We’ve been in a recession since 2008 so a lot of moms don’t have that opportunity to stay home but if you do have that choice then you should always ask yourself that question, “Is this going to make me a happier person, a happier parent, a happier mom?” and if that is the answer then yes, you should go back to work and if the answer is no then you should look into staying home. There are also other options. If you decide that you do want to go back to work, you don’t have to go back to your old position and be full time, have a large commute, there are other options. We know here in the United States one of the biggest things that moms love is being able to work part time because they feel that they can have the best of both worlds. They can stay with their kids but yet still have an outside life or a professional life and go to work.
Douglas Goldstein: Do you feel in the economy today, there are possibilities for people to do that?
Diane Lang: Yes, actually there are. What has happened is a lot of companies are now doing what we call a virtual office where they’re able to work from home. I actually have a lot of moms who also had the opportunity from going fulltime at a corporation in New York City where they decided to do what we call time-share. Two moms would actually share the work week so one might work two days and one might work three days so they can work two and a half days each. Of course, you do split the paycheck so again it has to be what you can afford in your family but a lot of women will do that so they can kind of have again the best of both worlds. I’ve had other moms who had the opportunity that they can have a virtual office and they can now take their job and work from home which is great, but the one thing moms have to consider is if you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to need help because working from home is still a struggle because you need to have a home office where you have to consider that whatever time that you set aside for work still have to be you working. A lot of times you still need a nanny or a babysitter or even a mother’s helper like in a summer where you can have a college student or a high school student which would be less expensive who would be there to help with your child, keep them occupied, help them eat lunch, play outside and if you can get a student who is going to be an education major then it’s great for them because they get a reference, they can use it as an internship or they can get paid to do what they love and it’s kind of a win-win situation.
What I’ve noticed with moms is we get what’s called “mommy guilt” and a lot of the moms will feel bad and they won’t be able to give 100% of focus and concentration into their job because they hear their kids whether they’re crying or knocking on the door or they stay right outside the door making noise and it makes the mom feel very guilty so that’s why if you can have a mother’s helper and I always suggested this because as you know and I’ve mentioned before I teach college so I have a lot of college students who are education majors and they’re going to be teachers and some of them already have worked in a preschool or daycare setting or as a nanny and those are perfect mother’s helper because again it’s a little bit less expensive than going to a nanny or a babysitter who is older or a preschool or daycare setting, but they also again will already be educated in the field so it’s really a win-win situation.
The other thing too is if you’re working from home and you’re company allows it or you have your own business is you can make your hours during naps for children if they’re taking naps in the morning or the two-hour nap. I have a client of mine who has a young child whose home and he takes a nap between 12 and 2 and to do majority for work then and then to do another chunk starting at about 6 at night until about 10 when her husband is home. You can kind of work around it. The time share is a really great opportunity if you want to stay at the job that you were at and your company allows it.
What we always tell moms is there are a lot of companies that are called “family friendly companies.” There’s a magazine called Working Mother magazine and you can get it right online so it doesn’t matter where you’re located and every year in January, they put out a list of the top hundred family-friendly companies to work for and it’s a great opportunity for moms to look and say, “This is the kind of company I want to work for” and send their resume to them because these are companies that have babysitting on site, they have time share, flex time, work from home and all those types of opportunities. So if you know you’re going to go back to work and you’re looking into that whether it’s after your maternity leave or in a year or two when they hit a specific age, really start doing your homework and look into what companies are family friendly that would allow you to have the lifestyle that you want where you’re family comes first.
Douglas Goldstein: We’ve been talking about mothers staying home with the kids, what about fathers?
Diane Lang: I have to say I’m seeing a lot more of that and one of the things you brought up before is, “Is it financially feasible?” and that’s a really important question and now how parents or families make that decision is who’s making the most money. It’s not necessarily that that mom stays home anymore, it could be the dad and it could also depend who has the benefits. We’re seeing a lot of people that the mom might work full time because she is a teacher and she gets great benefits and that dad will only work part time, maybe 9 to 1 so he’s able to get the kids off the bus and either way it works fine as long as the decision is made by the family.
You want to ask yourself a question, “Is it financially feasible?” and this question requires a lot of thought because you have to consider not just how much money you’re going to make but you have to add in that most people have at least an hour commute each way whether it’s the mileage or whether it’s traffic. You have to consider the traveling. You have to consider the commuting cost, the gas because I don’t know about in Israel, but gas here is almost up to $4 in the New York area. If you’re taking the train or bus, is it worth it then you have to worry about wardrobe because you now have to dress corporate whether you’re a male or female. Daycares [need it], lunch or any other added expenses like birthdays, Christmas parties, Christmas gifts and all those other things that happen at a work place. So is it really financially feasible to even work outside the home and if it is, which parent would be the one who would stay at their full time job and which one would be there to stay at home whether it’s mom or dad or working part time to bring in some extra money. Those are some other questions.
We’re seeing a lot of moms starting their own businesses and working from home in majority of the time and that’s the biggest thing here. Moms are really finding their niches, what’s missing in society that we can add and moms do a great job of that. Moms have always great blogs and websites and parenting websites and they’re making great money off of them, but again as you know being in this business, it’s something that you have to remember if you can start your own business, it might take 3 to 5 years before you even see any income coming back, but if you’re working from home and you’re not laying out a lot of money and you’re using your computer and you have a home office, it makes it easier to start and easier to try because you don’t have as much to lose.
Douglas Goldstein: One of the disclaimers on this conversation that people could really take away to someone who is considering this is before you decide to take the time off to stay at home, just sit with a financial planner and put together an actual financial plan to see not only with the current income and expense situation be like but not having the income for 3 to 5 years, how will that affect you in a long term or how could you change your portfolio so that you can be sure that when you eventually retire because presumably people are really younger when they’re having kids and they have a long time to go, when you eventually retire, you’ll have enough money that you won’t regret having stayed home. My guess is a lot of people won’t regret staying home with their kids.
Diane Lang: The honest truth is as much as financial is a huge issue for this kind of decision, a lot of moms will make the decision even if it’s a struggle after sitting with a financial planner because that’s really what they feel they need to do and it’s priceless on raising your kids and having that special time with them and that’s one of the things to always consider. Being a mom is a full time job. You’re working 24 hours, 7 days a week, no sick days, and no vacation pay. It’s a lot of responsibility, are you ready for more? Because if you get another full time job, now you have full time jobs and that’s a lot to handle, a lot of responsibility.
Really it’s something you want to consider along with the financial side of it is emotional side. We all have to expect if you’re a mom and you do make that decision to go back to work whether it’s out of financial necessity or it’s because you choose to, you have to remember that the first few weeks to few months back is going to be harder because you’re going to have that mommy guilt and that’s something that we see more in moms than we do with dads. Dads don’t seem to have the same daddy guilt as moms do because dads were brought up to be the provider and they feel that they’re following in their role of what they’re supposed to be doing but for the moms, we were raised to be nurturers so when we go outside, staying home we sometimes feel the guilt. I’m not generalizing because there are some moms who might not but the majority do, but it does go away and if it is what you truly want to do, you will feel happy being at work and you’ll appreciate the time when you come home with your kids and you’ll make sure it’s special.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for investment advice that takes into account each individual’s special position and needs. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.