Most mothers struggle with the question of whether to stay at home with their children or work. If you're trying to make that decision, you know that it can be very difficult, because there are advantages and disadvantages to both sides. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.
Can you afford to stay home?
This one seems obvious, but the question requires consideration. There are costs associated with working, such as child care, gas, wear and tear on your car, clothing, lunches and parking. Deduct these expenses from your paycheck and see what's left. Next, look at other expenses you can cut. Would it be worth it to you to cut back on vacations and luxuries like cable television if it meant you could be home? If you didn't have a commute to work, could you settle for a less expensive car? Once you've examined all the alternatives, you can make a better decision about how staying home will affect you financially.
Will you be happy at home?
Some women stay home because they feel like it's the best thing for their children, even though they are personally much happier working. If you are unhappy at home, this will have a negative effect on your children, so you shouldn't force yourself to stay home if it isn't where you want to be.
Will you be miserable if you go back to work?
Conversely, mothers who truly want to be home with their children, but go to work each day just because the paycheck is a necessity are not getting the best from their life, either. If you fall into this category, maybe it's time to examine a career alternative that might be a good compromise. Could you cut your hours? Could you telecommute at your present job, or find a job that would allow you to work out of your home? Fortunately, today's employers offer more alternatives in hours and work environment that make balancing your work and home life a little easier.
Remember that the decision you make is not necessarily permanent. Your financial situation could change, as could your personal preferences about working. I have personally done it both ways, and neither is a walk in the park. They are just hard in different ways, and which one works better for you is mostly a matter of your own personal style.