You worked up until your due date and arranged to take time off of work to spend with the newest member of your family. But, once you brought your bundle of joy home, the idea of returning to work at the end of your leave is starting to feel unbearable. It’s perfectly normal to question the decisions you made before such major life change. No matter how much you and your partner prepare for baby, newborns have a way of changing the most concrete plans.
Before You Quit
After you’ve spent every waking (and resting) hour with your infant, the idea of going back to work can be overwhelming. The separation, the thought of pumping at work and many more you don’t expect will affect your decision. These emotional and physical aspects need to be tempered with financial realities before you decide if you’re not going to return to work as soon as you once intended, or at all.
Before you make up your mind, consult your employee handbook. Some companies have a policy wherein employees are responsible for paying for their benefits if they fail to return to work. You may be held accountable for the insurance premiums your company paid on your behalf while you were out on leave. Or, your company may place your end-of-service date on the day you actually left the office and you may need to make COBRA payments sooner than expected.
The same kind of repayments may be necessary if you accrue time off and use time that you haven’t quite earned yet for your leave. Changing your mind about returning to work could end up costing you more money, and leaving you with unexpected debt that can add strain in an already stressful situation. It may be better for everyone involved if you have a conversation with your boss before putting in your notice.
Full-Time Parent, Part-Time Worker
The majority of companies would prefer to compromise with you than hire and train someone new. If you’re concerned about balancing your home and work life, ask your manager or boss to meet for coffee and discuss the possibilities of working part-time. If your specific job allows you to work from home, start by requesting to do that and slowly transition to coming in a few days a week. Some parents may be better served by changing their schedules entirely.
Working two to three days a week or working only in the mornings or afternoons is another option. Some families who make these adjustments to their workday are able to avoid expensive daycare costs entirely by using these kinds of ‘shifts’. If you feel like this could work for you, offer to assist in any sort of restructuring that needs to be done. If you need to train someone or set up software on your home computer, meet your company more than halfway. They’ll undoubtedly appreciate the effort. However, if working part-time or telecommuting doesn’t work out, you may consider a career change that allows you to make money from home.
Working From Home
In the past 15 years, more and more parents are choosing to stay home with their young children. Just because you’ve chosen to stay home with your baby (or babies) doesn’t mean that you can’t work. Rather than being a ‘stay-at-home-parent’, many people are calling themselves ‘work-from-home-parents’ these days. While creating a balance between work and home can be challenging, there are a variety of ways to work from home and provide for your family.
Thanks to today’s technology, there are many different kinds of jobs you can do right from your laptop. From blogging and data input to virtual assistance, there are plenty of online jobs available, but be mindful of opportunities that seem too good to be true. Focus on accredited and well-reviewed companies before applying. If you’re less interested in computer work, there are ways to make money from home with sales or leadership skills. Many parents open their homes to others and offer childcare services.
Once you identify opportunities, temper them with reality to avoid frustration. For example, you can’t expect your child to behave and sit quietly all day and he/she will still need interaction, meals, and so forth. While part-time may be the goal, flexible time may be the most important factor to get there. There are also many fabulous “Parent’s Day Out” programs that allow you to drop your child off at a daycare-like environment a few hours/days per week at a fraction of the cost of daycare.
Think about what you enjoy and how you could get paid to do it. Skills such as speaking a second language could open the door to becoming a tutor. If you have a hobby such as knitting or tennis, you could possibly teach lessons or sell your crafts. You may surprise yourself with how enjoyable and lucrative your work is, especially when you can do it from home and spend time with your newborn.
For more advice on navigating financials or saving up for your growing family, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Amy Grothaus.