I felt compelled to address a topic that is quite dear to my heart and one that I certainly discuss with many of my female friends over coffee. When is it a good time to return to work after having a baby? Is it 12 weeks paid leave as it is in The Bahamas? 39 weeks as in the UK, or a year as in Germany? Of course everyone’s opinion will differ, but one thing is for certain, the pressures of providing for one’s family financially is the main reason why many mums opt to return to work before they are ready. There are some mums however, who are driven by their careers and regardless of their domestic responsibilities, the passion they hold for their careers take precedence. Which brings me to another question. Are we as mums best suited to look after our children during their early years? Or, are our children’s needs adequately provided for in the hands of a carer?
The bonding period between mother and child is extremely important in the early years of infancy. Not only is that mum providing her child nutrition, through breast feeding, security and unconditional love, but that child provides a form of stability to the mother to be able to cope with the sudden change in her routine, environment and day to day living. Because, in the minutes just after giving birth, you feel a sense of euphoria and dependency that is unexplainable, which only another mum who has experienced the same, can truly relate.
After five years in my career, I was married and my husband and I decided that it was the right time to start a family. We were both in our thirties, settled in our careers and financially stable. It was at that moment, I needed to make some decisions. The terms and conditions of my job required me to return to work after three months, and there was no negotiating that. But I was not ready. After experiencing what I can only describe as a dramatic childbirth, I felt that I needed more time to not only physically heal, but also mentally. I was about to give up my financial security, but at what cost? I loved my job and the demands of it, but I never would have imagined that the birth of my son would change all of that. I resigned three months after giving birth to be a stay at home self employed mum and it was the best decision I ever made. I experienced every milestone in my son’s life. His first smile, words, walk, run, schools, activities; endless days at the park and meaningful conversations we often take for granted because they are just kids. Now that he is twelve years old and becoming more independent I feel satisfied in the lovely, caring, responsible bright young man he has become. And the best thing is, I get to experience this all over again with my now three year old daughter.
I often sit back and listen to many mums who had no choice but to return to full time work after the birth of their child and the struggle and stress involved in holding down a full time job and looking after a young child/children. How they long to spend quality time with their children which does not involve hurrying them off to school, or a club/activity. This small luxury is unfortunately not afforded to everyone and to many, not without sacrifices. However, there is no denying that children flourish in a happy and stable environment. Whether that be in the hands of a carer, parent or relative, as mums we will do whatever we must to ensure our children’s interests are met. With all the pressures and responsibilities that come with raising a family and maintaining a happy and stable home, the decision to return to work should not be a stressful one but one that is a smooth transition for the entire family. Working from home is becoming more and more popular with mums and allows the flexibility to be with your children without too much disruption. I commend businesses that afford this opportunity to their employees which adds to a more productive and efficient working environment. Moreover, childhood is a brief period in time. Children eventually grow up and become more independent. Stay at home mums are then often left to ponder what now? This is another reason why businesses should support stay at home mums because at some point they may wish to return to the office in a full time post.