Making the choice to return to work after a hiatus is a tough decision. In fact, it is often more difficult than the decision to take time off in the first place. You’ve dedicated your time to taking care of your family while sacrificing income. And now your kids are older, more independent, and heading back to school.
So now with summer vacation coming to an end, you may be feeling like it’s time for you to start putting into place your return-to-work plan. Transitioning from one working parent to two takes considerable thought and a plan of action in order to successfully juggle home and career. Before you make that leap, here are few questions you should ask yourself:
Am I ready to return to work?
The transition from being at stay-at-home parent to going back to work is not easy, and you will need to switch your mental gears to make that change. Do you feel ready and excited about going back to work? What are your job options? What will your new routine look like? These are all questions you need to ask yourself.
If you are planning on going back to a previous employer, things may not look the same as before you left. Your job may be very different. And you might have been able to accept long commutes and longer work hours. There are many thing to consider now that you have additional family members. You might even need to consider an alternative career path, one that will work better now that you have a family.
Can I find flexible work options?
If going back to work full-time doesn’t feel like a good fit for your family, have you considered part-time or project-based contract work? Alternatively, you can look for work-from-home jobs that may allow you to be more available to your family.
Also, speak to your prospective employer to see if they will be willing to accommodate a flexible schedule, if the traditional 9 to 5 job hours don’t work for you and your family.
Are my spouse and I on the same page?
Returning to work when you have a family is not a decision you should make on your own. It is important to have more than one honest discussion with your spouse or partner to ensure that both of you are one the same page.
Your spouse’s roles and responsibilities will likely change dramatically when you go back to work. Subjects like household chores, errands, child care, meal preparation, and others should be discussed so that there are no surprises once you head back to work. Seeing eye-to-eye on these subjects will ensure a seamless transition once you start working.
What do my family’s finances look like?
Going back to work means switching from one income to two. And on the face of it, you might feel that you will be better off financially. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that there are costs associated with going back to work.
Expenses in the form of childcare, afterschool activities, gas for your commute, and possibly eating out more often can add up. If you are spending more on these things than you are bringing in with your new job, consider whether it makes financial sense for you to go back to work.
What is our plan for the kids?
Until now, you were available to pick up your kids from school, ferry them to after school classes, and take care of them when they were sick. Do you now have a family member or close friend nearby that will be able help out if needed? What happens if you get stuck at work and can’t pick the kids up from school or daycare? What happens if they’re sick and need to stay home from school? These are all things you need to consider.
You also need to plan for school holidays like spring break or summer vacation. If you are planning on enlisting the help of a grandparent, make sure that you have their consent before you start your job hunt. Don’t make assumptions.
Is this right for our family?
Every family is unique. Just because you know other families where both parents are working, doesn’t mean it’s right for your family.
Returning to work needs to be what’s best for you and your family. Going back to work requires a considerable adjustment, not just from you, but from the rest of your family as well. Your choice to return to work should be based on what will benefit you and your family the most. And whatever you decide, if you think it through, will be what’s best.