By Hannah Nicholas,
MSN NZ Money writer
These days it seems to be the mother of all decisions, whether or not to return to work.
Mums go back to work for many reasons some for self–fulfillment, others out of financial necessity. But whatever the reason, the reality is that working mums don't take the decision to return to employment lightly.
Here's a quick look at some of the pros and cons to get you thinking about what's involved.
- Financial stability: Going back to work means having the chance to contribute financially to your family's income.
- Adult interaction: Returning to work provides great opportunities for adult interaction and building social networks.
- Being a role model: Many mums feel returning to work gives them the chance to be great role model for their children.
- Confidence: For many mums, returning to employment supplies a much needed confidence boost.
- Childcare: One of the biggest barriers for women returning to work is finding available, and good-quality, childcare positions. Plus, the cost involved can be another obstacle.
- Juggling act: When it comes to going back to work, many mums find that life becomes one big balancing act. Finding the right balance between motherhood and their professional lives can be difficult.
- Inflexible employers: Unfortunately in this day and age, some employers are still inflexible when it comes to working mums. This may be an issue when fitting around school/childcare hours, school-holiday periods and if your child is sick.
- Separation anxiety: Many mums find it extremely difficult to put their child's care into another person's hands.
Going back: how to make the move
As mentioned above, perhaps the biggest hurdle when it comes to returning to the workplace is finding the right type of childcare. And in many instances you will need to place your child on a waiting list well in advance of your return to work.
There are many options available ranging from permanent centre-based care (costs $45-$70 a day) to family daycare (from $4 an hour), a home-based daycare system, or even a private nanny (costs $12-$20 per hour). Government subsidies are available for some families. Many parents look to extended family members to take over some of the care.
There are positives and negatives to all of the above types of care but it's important to make sure the type of care you choose fits in with your parenting and family values.
Working out what suits you
Think about the type of work available and what is going to suit: full-time, part-time, contracting and job sharing are just some of the choices open to mums in the workforce today. If you are returning to a position, talk to your employer regarding what options may be available to you. For example, could you work from home part of the week to save on childcare costs and commuting times?
If you're not returning to a position, then it's time to dust off your CV and begin job hunting. Start by registering with job websites and agencies aimed at mums returning to work. Not only will you find positions with family-friendly and flexible workplaces, there are lots of tips and advice on offer, too.
If it's been some time since you last worked, consider taking a short course to refresh your skills or boost your confidence levels, ie, a "mums' back-to-work" program aimed at building self-esteem and self-knowledge. Remember, there's lots of help out there.
In the end, only you and your family can decide whether going back to work is the right decision.