Stay home or go back to work after maternity leave

posted 2 months ago in Pregnancy
Post # 2
3636 posts
Sugar bee

If possible I’d probably avoid making a decision about this until you are on maternity leave and living the Stay-At-Home Mom life. Because you may feel like being a Stay-At-Home Mom is what you are meant to do and quitting your job will be a no brainer, or you may feel like you really need your career to feel fulfilled, and you’ll want to return to it even though you don’t technically need that money. Just really hard to predict how you will feel until you’re in that situation.

Personally I am happiest with a blend…I like having my babies home with me in the first year of life, but I also like having some work to keep my mind engaged on non mommy things and to keep my CV active. So what has worked for me is scaling back to part time WFH and keeping my babies home with me as long as I can swing it, at which point they go into daycare/preschool. Not sure if that would be possible in your line of work though. 

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Post # 3
459 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

I’m the higher earner between me and my husband, so there wasn’t really an option for me not to go back to work. But I really like my job, so I wanted to go back. I was in the office after maternity leave for about 4 months before the pandemic, and I’ve been WFH every since. It was a hard transition to go back to the office those first 4 months, but I got through it!

My husband is at a similar earning as you – daycare is roughly half of his take home pay. But he has growth potential in his field, and he wanted to work outside of the home, so that’s the decision he made. Is there an option for you to be part time? 

Post # 4
9341 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

View original reply
@rgrforever:  wait until the baby is born before you decide – your feelings may surprise you! Also know it’s not all or nothing. If you decide against full time work but still want something you could look for part time. You could consult/freelance. 

I once hired a woman who was three months pregnant. Very career driven and thought being a Stay-At-Home Mom would be a waste. And then she met her son and tearfully told me she just couldn’t leave him and she was so surprised she felt that way but she had to quit. I wasn’t even a mom yet (so I couldn’t really understand), but I didn’t hold it against her. I just said “if you ever DO decide to work again just do me the favor and call me first before looking elsewhere”. I’d still hire her because she was that fantastic. Good employees are hard to come by and good employers know that. 

Post # 5
2318 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2019

Like others have said, I think you should absolutely wait until the baby gets here to make your decision. Your feelings might surprise you. And know it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you live in the US, it is really hard to go back when most maternity leaves (if you even get one) run out. However, by 6mos, I was glad I had work to go back to. You may decide to stay home for a little longer and then want to go back later. You may want to go in part time. Or you may just love being a Stay-At-Home Mom and decide that’s what you want to do forever! But give yourself time when the baby gets here to suss out your feelings on the matter. 

Post # 6
2731 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just your monthly pay. Take a look at your benefits. What are you giving up in terms of retirement? That can be a major loss. You also need to think long term…being out of work for years puts your career and ultimate earning potential on hold, and can cost a lot over your working life. 

Also, I say that with no judgment. If it were feasible for our situation, I wouldn’t return to work for at least a few years. 

Post # 7
781 posts
Busy bee

Definitely wait as long as possible to make this decision 🙂 What you think you want to do now may be VERY different from how you feel once baby is here – in either direction! I am fortunate to have a very generous paid maternity leave policy.  And yet, I went back to work early from both my maternity leaves because my mental health was not doing well being home with infants.  Doesn’t mean I love my kids any less than people who love being a stay at home mom – my brain just requires a different set of stimuli to function healthily. 

Post # 8
1441 posts
Bumble bee

OP, I’m in the same position so I’m following! Thanks for posting! 

PPs, you guys have great advice, as always! 

Post # 9
1144 posts
Bumble bee

Getting half your pay is still half your pay! Plus future growth, potential rasies, promotions, benefits, retirement, investments, connections and networking. Women lose so much more than just the actual salary by leaving the workforce so definitely consider the further impacts beyond just current dollars and cents. 

Post # 10
799 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

I had a year maternity leave and then went back part time. Part time work is a good balance. I feel you on the money aspect! I worked out that after travel and childcare was taken out my salary (easier to work out that way as we wouldn’t be paying childcare if I was at home), I was earning the equivalent of about £30 a day! But I loved my job, worked hard to get into this career, and didn’t totally enjoy being a stay at home parent. I also felt uncomfortable not contributing financially to the household. I’m now working full time but I’m due with our second baby in April. I’m considering moving into freelance work after my maternity leave. If you can manage it, freelancing can offer a great work life balance and you can fit it around childcare commitments, unlike most regular jobs. Like PP have said, wait until you’ve had your child and then decide! How much maternity leave will you have? 

Post # 11
1535 posts
Bumble bee

I’m not sure if you want answers only from parents (if so, disregard this answer), but I think you should stay home and not go back to work based on COVID alone.  A social services job where you visit clients (presumably in their homes) is very unsafe and you are at high risk of contracting the virus.  This is especially if your husband can support you and your baby financially while you take care of the baby and save on daycare costs, which would mean a reduced cash flow of only half your income.  I realize that not everyone has this option, but I’m a proponent of quitting jobs due to COVID and feel that your health is more important than a job, even one you love.  Keep in mind as well that daycare is risky for your kid (which cannot be vaccinated) and them staying home with you is much safer.

However…I do wonder why you can’t continue working from home if you’ve been doing it for the better part of the pandemic.  What is suddenly changing that they want you to come back into the office?  The pandemic is nowhere near over.  Ask to continue working from home, particularly if you’ve been able to do a high quality job and there is no business reason to be on site.

Post # 12
1162 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 1996

You mentioned that your husband makes considerably more than you do.  Instead of saying day care would take half of your take-home pay, here’s another way to look at it:

Say your husband makes $100,000 a year and you make $40,000 a year.   (These are just figures I’m pulling out of the air to illustrate an example.)  And let’s say day care is going to cost $12,000 a year.  Well, instead of day care costing you $12,000 of your $40,000 salary, it’s costing $12,000 of the family income of $140,000 a year.  

To me, when a couple has a child, it’s a joint decision between the two of them who is going to stay home with baby.  If neither is, then I see child care expenses as simply a family expense.

Also, I totally agree with others who say you need to delay the decision, because there really is no way to know how you’re going to feel once baby is here.  Some think they’ll love being a Stay-At-Home Mom, some are sure they want to keep working, and many are very surprised by their ultimate feelings.

Good luck!

Post # 13
12326 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

View original reply
@dianaj17:  This exactly..

You may be pocking half your pay, but what about retirement benefits and anything else?  If you’re not prepared to leave the workforce, I would consider going back at least part time to keep your foot in the door.  I took a year off and then went back part time, which was the perfect balance for me.  I work 3 days a week, enough to maintain benefits and be gainfully employed, but little enough that I dont feel like my life is all work now.

Post # 14
860 posts
Busy bee

Going to echo what other posters said about waiting until the baby’s born. I will also say that your feelings might change while the baby’s here too. 

I have a five month old. About a month ago, I extended my maternity leave to be a full year (the longest I’m allowed to take) because I couldn’t imagine being without my daughter. I was also devastated that I could only take a year. As of a few days ago, I’m itching to be back in a low-commitment capacity. I adore my daughter, and have a lot of fun with her, but I’m more present and engaging with her when I have a break. 

There are two things about parenting a baby that I didn’t really appreciate fully beforehand – parenting can be a grind, and baby play can be quite repetitive. I’m basically on from 6am until my baby falls asleep at night because her naps are so short during the day (just long enough to clean bottles and maybe have a snack or meal). In addition, baby books don’t take long to read, nor do toys take long to play with – so you’re repeating the same thing maybe 100 times a day. This is despite me doing tons of research on developmentally appropriate play, making some of my own toys from scratch and going out almost every day. 

Post # 15
432 posts
Helper bee


See how you feel during your maternity leave. 

I went back to work after 7 months and although I hated leaving my daughter (we hired a nanny) it also felt liberating for me to go back to work. I really enjoyed putting makeup and getting dressed in the mornings, having a 30min lunch with my colleagues felt like a privilege! Or even having a cup of hot tea as I was working! I also enjoyed not worrying about putting her for her naps – to me going to work was a lot easier than being a Stay-At-Home Mom. 

The nanny we hired earned very close to what I was earning but it was still worth it – interacting with my colleagues and going to work was good for me. Our circumstances changed later on and we fired the nanny (I wasn’t impressed with her as time went on) and I actually got a part time job and I feel it is a good balance. 

It’s hard to know how you feel before you have the baby. I’m now pregnant with baby #2 and I’m planning on taking a 1 year maternity leave this time but I’ll see how it goes … 

Leave a comment

Find Amazing Vendors