Mothers to Work or to Stay at Home that is the Question

Work or stay at home?  Work or stay at home?  It’s the age-old question that each mother struggles with after they have had their first child.  And, often, mothers are laden with guilt when it is work that they choose.  But, why?

It all comes down to finding balance – or, rather, the inability to find balance.  There are all these things that most mothers feel they should be doing and should get done, when the reality is, that there is just not enough time in a day to get it all done.  And so, these mothers find themselves struggling to try to balance work, time with their kids, time with their partner, house maintenance and taking care of themselves.

Working mothers often feel guilty about not having enough time to spend with their kids.  They want to be there for every milestone – first steps, first words, etc.  But work can often interfere with their ability to be there and then they have to hear about these firsts second-hand.  It does not stop there.  It is not just firsts that working mothers may miss out on.  There are also birthdays, recitals, sports games, etc.  Mothers also want to be there to watch and help their kids learn and grow, but working can get in the way of that, as well. 

It is not just the kids that working mothers feel they don’t get to spend enough time with.  Working mothers also feel guilty about not spending enough quality time with their partner.  Long workdays and parenting can definitely make it difficult to keep the relationship the same as it was pre-kids. 

Working mothers also tend to feel guilty if the state of the house seems to have declined, since they don’t have as much time to work on house maintenance. It is not just the fact that the house isn’t spotless, but also that there is not always time to make a home-cooked meal. 

And then, there is the fact that the working mother has less time to take care of herself.  Any mother who has had to hop out of the shower (after just getting in) to stop a little one from getting into something they should not be, only to get back in the shower and have to repeat the process, knows how difficult it can be to simply get ready for the day.  Women feel pressured to stay fit, be healthy and be attractive, after childbirth.  It is difficult to do all that, in addition to working and everything else. Most working mothers feel guilty if they are not able to accomplish one, or all, those things.

So, to work, or stay at home?  Really, there is not a right or wrong answer here.  It all depends on what each mother individually thinks is the right thing to do.  Obviously, some mothers need to work for financial reasons.  Some mothers just want to have a career.  There is nothing wrong with that.  There is also nothing wrong with staying at home, if that is what a mother chooses to do.  And, if it makes the working mothers feel any better, stay-at-home mothers feel guilty about a lot of the same things.