The Dilemma that never goes away..

.. to go back to work or not. I keep coming back to this question, every now and then…

One of the times, that I thank my stars that I am not working is when daughter falls ill. To be honest, I have been itching to get back to work, but when she falls ill, all those itches vanish.

I am sure most work places accept that children do fall ill, but I had the sad experience of working with a person, who was out to make life difficult for me. And that is all that I remember when I remember the time when I worked when Poohi was little.

When I took a break from work, it was supposed to be short break. I had never even thought of being a SAHM. The thought had never crossed my mind. I never thought I had it in me to stay at home, and be happy( I do suspect that blogging, and the wonderful libraries here have helped) . I had always planned that I would take a year off after she was born, and then join back. That never happened. My former boss(who is the best boss, one could possibly have), tempted me with a wonderful role. I joined back when Poohi was 5.5 months old. The full implication of my decision came through when I got the boss from hell, and husband working in Europe. By the end of the year, all I wanted was to just stay at home. Husband was surprised, he had never pegged me down as someone who would be happy being at home. Clearly, neither of us knew me. I loved it! After a year of unpaid leave, I sent in my resignation – happy to enjoy my freedom – it sounds funny, but that is what it felt like! I loved(still do) spending time with daughter, and not being pulled in all directions.

Then every now and then I would consider going back to work, and would decide against it, for various reasons. The main reason being that I did not feel motivated enough to.

My biggest worry is that I will get bored when daughter starts to need me less. I would hate to leave it for so long that I can no longer get back. Then again, I could go in for alternative jobs – something different, something out-of-the-way, something that does gives me a lot more satisfaction than a job.. Who knows.. As I said, I keep going back and forth. The doubts keep cropping up every now and then. Husband is extremely supportive, probably my biggest encouragement, he believes that I will get a job as soon as I try 🙂 As if! But do I want that job? Do I want my career back or am I totally happy being a SAHM? That is something I have to decide.

But I have a question for you guys. Have any of you gone back to work after a long break? I have been away for 4 years now. How did you find it? Does it get easier when the child is at full-time school or are there other issues that will crop up?

60 thoughts on “The Dilemma that never goes away..

  1. Oh how I love this post of yours 🙂

    Thank you, Thank you 🙂

    This is something that keeps coming to my mind almost every month especially during those days when our hormones are said to be at a very Dangerous level 🙄 I guess it has to do with the forced rest I have to take for 2 days and that leaves me with a brain that starts to think 😥 But like you, most of the time I can forget about getting back to a job when I see two happy beaming faces at the dinner table 😐

    Same here 🙂 When I see how happy and cosy the three of us feel, the doubts fly out of the window – esp when I remember the nightmare the last few months at work had been..But every now and then…

    Samy is 7 now and fiercely independent and to be honest that is really starting to worry me as I seem to have more free time these days. 😥

    Same here – she is getting more and more independent – and I feel so unnecessary sometimes.. She ofcourse, is very clear, she does not want me working – apparently I will not have time for her – where did she get that from, I wonder!
    The other day, I tried on my old work clothes, and pranced around in them, telling daughter that I am going back to work – she was not happy, I tell you !

    • lolz at Poohi. I tease Samy saying that he is a typical UP wala coz he keeps saying I should be at home to cook food for him even when he gets married 🙄 and when I make a sad face and tell him that he needs me only for the food, you should hear how he explains why he needs me to be around him all the time 😛

      Atleast he is ready to get married 🙂 Poohi says she will never marry – she will stay with me all her life, and I am supposed to cook for her 😦 She says she will go to the Uni only if I go with her 🙂

    • oh its all fine what worried me most some days back was how three of my friends came back to me and told their 10yr old told them how they have wasted their lives but quitting job :rolls eyes: 😛

  2. The answer to your question is no, never been in that situation. Beem working since I was in second year in college.

    I guess the best woukd be to take a job and see how it goes can always leave of it if it does not work.
    But one thing if I can afford not to work I would be lucky:-) and since the little one thinks that way maybe you shud not…

    If you feel bored can do what a lot of ladies do kitty parties.. Hobbies and shopping:-)

  3. would you believe that I’m currently facing exactly the same dilemma? I don’t know what to do Smithu…just not clear in my ideas…all this while I was like dead sure that once Chirpy is on solids and shall needs me less I would get back to work and now that the time has almost come I’m in double thoughts… I don’t want to leave her back home..though I’ve the biggest support at home-my MIL but still I want to be around my daughter specially now in her growing times…I feel somewhere I’ve settled down with the idea of not working and being readily available at home for chirpy,to cook sumptuous meals like the way husbands loves and be a help to MIL too cause handling a baby is no joke,you know that!

    You know, each of us decide based on what we are comfortable with.. Go with you gut feeling, I am sure you will cherish every moment you spend with her. I decided to go back to work, but it did not work for me – I had loads of travelling, and Poohi in a day care – it was tough. The only saving grace was that we loved the day care- she was very happy there. Which is why I say to people, that I resigned because I was burnt out with everything – not because Poohi was lacking anything.

    but then there are bouts of confusion which hit my mind time and again…I feel what did I earn my MBA degree for? Why did I waste 8 years of my life slogging in offices when I have not intention to work any more? Will I be sane enough few years down the line when I was so addicted to office routine and being workaholic?

    One thing I have learnt is that education is never wasted.. Tomorrow you might get into a work area, totally different from what you were qualified for- will that matter if you are happy? I remember a librarian I met – She said, ‘I am a qualified engineer, but love what I am doing right now’. I think her job made her really happy.

    see two minds and no way out,at least not today! I hope tomorrow I have an answer for my confused minds 🙂

    I know – it is the same with me 🙂

    On a side note: I feel we’re kind of lucky that we don’t have pressures to go to work..I mean the from the husband as well as the financial situations…but think about the women who seriously want to sit back and enjoy time with their babies at home but have to compulsorily get back to work !

    Absolutely! I totally agree – atleast we have the choice!

    Aren’t we lucky? Or are we taking this option of sitting back home as a luxury?

    Either way, we have the choice- that makes it easier. I would have hated it if I were forced to be at home. I know somebody – an MBA, when she got married(arranged), the husband had laid out rules that she will have to give up her job after children -and she did. I always wonder – is she happy with someone else making the decision for her? I know I wouldn’t. I am happy to be a SAHM – because I chose to, and if I decide to go back – it will be my choice. Husband, of course, is supportive of either option – as far as I am happy.. I am just grateful that I have that choice..

  4. I have been a sahm for 11 yrs. oldest is 12 and youngest is 5. It just didn’t make sense for me to work since all I would do is hand over the cheque for daycare plus spouse moved around a lot. Then I took a part time job and quit within 8 months. And now I work at my own business.

    You are a true inspiration, you know that, don’t you?
    I took a long route to discover what I want to be when I grow up. And I am really happy now.
    My suggestion would be send resumes out and see what kind of response you get? Try something part time?

    Yes, that is what I should do, look around, and decide based on what comes my way.

    Good luck with your decision.
    Thanks! I will need all the luck – either way 🙂

  5. We all go through this Dilemma ..don’t we. Every other week when my work load peeks I think I can’t handle all these pressure and eventually quit, but if I have plans to quit then why am I working hard? If I quit it will be for me more than my daughter or husband, they are happy the way things are now. I always go through the guilty trips when my daughter falls sick. Why can’t we decide on one and stick to that..I always wish.

    • I know what you mean – been there, done that.. To be honest, I had a lovely time when I decided to be at home with daughter -I just wonder if the time for me to go back has come.. Lets see 🙂

  6. I am taking a break – I know I will get back to work, but not sure when..
    Trust your instincts Smithus.. and your family. you have the best support system in the whole wide world… and I’m sure, you will make the right decision 🙂


    • Yes, Pixie. you are right – we have to figure out for ourselves what works for us, don’t we? Hopefully what we decide will be the best – for our situation..

  7. I havent had a break although I have been yearning since the day I started working in 1999 !!!! Sigh its almost 12 years nonstop.. infact this Simla trip for 16 days was the longest break I ever had !!!! 😐

    If I were you I am surely not gonna complain. My life’s ambition is to be a SAHD, although I would love to travel around but work, seriously no ! I would rather help friends and work on their chores and do stuff for people but no earning money business !!!! 😀 not for me atleast !

    I have heard that enough from you 🙂 It is not that I don’t enjoy being an SAHM, but sometimes, there are niggling doubts, you know..

  8. A tough one!
    It has been the same for me… having worked for 10 yrs in the big corporate world, then back home with a kid, I enjoyed being at home and love it too… but since a year and a half, have taken up part time assignments, so busy with work and full time for the kid too, though there are days, when I itch to go back to a full time job. May be in some time that shall happen too.
    So, do what gives you the comfort feel!

    • Part time work really feels like a great option. I wish I could do that. But with my job profile, part time is difficult to find… But that might be the answer to my worries.

  9. There is no universal theory that works here. You have to be where you have to be . You learn to prioritize and decide what matters more. There are always folks who will criticize you for giving up a job (I was actually told that I was a “moorkh” by a senior relative, the day I resigned my on-campus job), but they arent the ones who help you out when the crunch comes, and whenever you depend on someone (within the family) to look after your child, it skews your equation with them. There are always times when you see where folks you worked with in the early days have reached today, and some folks even like to harp on that.

    That makes so much sense, Suranga! I have come across such people too.. Who have asked me how I can let my education ‘go waste’ etc etc etc..
    All this is secondary.

    When you look back, many years later, you will always be happy to remember , that you were there for someone when you were required. Not because someone told you, but because you wanted to be there. ( I have seen the dilemma/sense of guilt faced later by folks, who gave unnatural priority to their careers, and weren’t there; its not good for your health). I’ve done this (ie. given up my job) when my son was small, when my daughter needed me for educational reasons, and also for my late Dad, during his last few years when he was sick. Education isnt all about degrees, and working. It is almost always about learning from experience, and being able to decide the right course of action when a crisis happens. Rationalizing your needs. Being able to joke about the Joneses, helps. And thats a continuing thing. In any case I feel the entire nomenclature of SAHM is a joke. A mother is a mother. If she works, fine. If she doesnt, thats also wonderful and fine. And its nobody’s business but hers.

    Thank you so much for that wonderful piece of advise, Suranga! It does put things in perspective. I have loved every bit of the time I was away from work, and hopefully whatever decision I make, will work out as well..

    Best wishes to you….

    Thank you so much!

  10. So I am a working back to work when R was 5 months (I know cruel and all)

    There is nothing cruel about it 🙂 Infact I used to get irritated with people who glorified my taking a break. To be honest, it was more about me that Poohi. I needed that break. I think Poohi used to enjoy her day care a LOT! Even at that age..

    but I totally agree to what Suranga says…to each his own finally…if you are comfortable taking a job after poohi is a bit older, why not? and if you are not, there are tons of stuff you can starting your own baking classes or book reviewing for magazines or even make your travel tales commercially viable…seriously there are tons of options Smitha..dont you get so worried….enjoy the time you can with Poohi and sit back and think of alternatives if you dont want a full time job 🙂

    I don’t know what I really want – it gets so confusing sometimes.

  11. Hi Smitha,
    This is a dilemma all of us moms face isn’t it? 🙂
    I’m in the same boat as you. I have been out of the workforce for almost 4.5 years now and am now looking for (parttime) work. I would say that if you do want to get back to work eventually, don’t leave it too late and my definition of too-late is beyond 5 years. Getting decent jobs after a long break is sadly difficult. However the one thing you have in your favour methinks is that in the western world, part-time options are much easier to come by. That was my experience in the US and I have heard from friends that it does work in Europe also. Of course of you plan to do something on your own then you have more time and more flexibility.

    Here we do have part time options, but the kind of work I did – it is tough to enter as a part timer – easier to work full time and then scale it down, you know.. As for something on my own – I wish I were that creative to figure out what 🙂

    Clearly it is much easier when the child is in FT school. Even if I go back to work part-time, I have shivers wondering what to do with my 3 yo daughter given the paucity of reliable daycare in india.

    Day care was not a worry here, to be honest, I just enjoyed the time with her way too much..

    Another suggestion I have is that if you want to go back to work, but not ready for it right now, then you should look at updating your skills and keeping them current so that your resume still looks good when you go back.

    Yes, there is one certification which I had been planning for years – I should start working towards it..

    Finally, as everyone else has pointed out, you can only do whatever makes you happy 🙂 You seem to be content and happy with being at home (as is Poohi) and ultimately that’s the only thing that counts! I’d say you are lucky and wise to have already found that balance and peace within yourself.

    True. I do enjoy being at home, but I also feel that the time has come for me to go back into the corporate world.. Lets see, how it all works out..

  12. I have been thinking of starting work for sometime now. Tee is 6 months… but I am hoping to start work in another year’s time. I do not know whether its too early or is that late…. I do not know whether I would be able to get back to work then…

    I hate this questions the most after having Tee….

    • For some reason, it was much easier for me to decide when I went back after Poohi was born. Now, I guess, I have experienced both, can see the positives and negatives more clearly, it is far more difficult to decide…

  13. Hmmm… : Background: When we moved to London, I thought I will take a year off to explore. I did ‘exploration for three months’ was not satisfied and came back to the work force
    Have any of you gone back to work after a long break?
    — To answer this, three months is the longest without work for me

    I have been away for 4 years now. How did you find it?
    ——— I loved getting abck to work. Since V started in full time school. I was loosing my mind staying home. Again, with our move in new country, i didnt find enough things to keep me busy with.

    That makes sense, if everything falls in place for you – why not?

    ——–In general, working or not working with kids is such a personal thing. I had met a cousin right after V’s birth. She is a mother to two 10 year old kids. She has always worked part time- Her one line stuck to me: ‘The minute the kids went to full time school, I found a lot of ‘free’ time and I craved for something to add value to me as a person. I work not for money, not for status but for improving ‘me’. over the years, i relate to that more and more.
    I guess going back to the work force, be it anything… think about ‘adding value to you’ it can be off beat, may be teaching baking, enterpreneur.. anything that makes it fun! 🙂

    True.. I just need to find that thing that makes all the difference for me..

    Does it get easier when the child is at full-time school or are there other issues that will crop up?
    —- Hmm, again I can only speak from my exp which has been full time work all the time: It is easier since V is in full time school. Yes, on days, she was not well, threw up or something, i had to rush back from work to tend to her. But that was something I had made very clear to my company before i started. Work Life balance. and being a parent first.
    My company is accomodating. Yes I am definitely not on a fast track… but I do what I do well, so I am hoping to progress a bit slower than non parent work force

    I also had a hard time taking it easy on the work front – so that made it tougher for me.. But if I do chose to go back to work, I think I am in the mindframe to scale things down a bit, to be ready to accept that being on the fast track might not be possible..

    I do beleive in family first…a nd if my work starts overshadowing my personal life. I know what I need to do.

    I think I wanted both 🙂 Now I think my expectations are more balanced.

  14. I know it’s not entirely the same, but even with what I am trying to do now, people pose me this qs of ‘how long’ [not that it matters, but it is a thing many others have done] and there are days when I think about it too!

    I know.. It is quite natural, I think to be thinking about our choices..

    Because though it was something I had planned to do in life, I probably had no idea when and esp. if I would do it so soon. There are days, the hormone-high days like Saks calls them 😉 that I really think about where I am going and how long will I be able to do this, whether it will not satisfy me enough when the novelty factor is gone and so on. But one thing I have now decided is that I will not worry about it today because I am happy doing it for now. Days now are busier than what they used to be when I was in the IT, with no weekends as such. So at present, I have no answers to how we will care for a baby when we have one and so on, but all I know is for now I will give it my full. May be, then, I will give my baby my full time 🙂 One of my friends at YFS did full time for 6 months and got back to work, another gave 6 years to one of our sister concerns and is now back in the IT world. have seen many such people around and so am sure jobs are waiting .. u can def. get the the day u want them Smithu 🙂 Hugs!

    ‘but all I know is for now I will give it my full.’ – I think this is the key, isn’t it? Giving our full to whatever we take up. That is what matters in the end, I think. And all of us will know for ourselves, I suppose, what needs doing, when..

    • And I totally agree with u that education never goes waste. That’s one qs people always shoot at me – a degree, and then a R&D job and now not using any of that knowledge? I may not be using my domain knowledge, but the experience of working all this time and being with so many kinds of people def. comes in handy anytime in life 😉

      • I agree! education is more than a degree, after all. There are so many things I have learnt because I stayed at home. I think it has made me calmer – to a large extent.

  15. I took my big leap to be out of work only after my younger one was 2. It was out of the blue that I started to miss a lot of my time with kids. I started back working from home within few months, but my career path has changed. I think everybody falls into a life situation that is comfortable for them. For me, my current situation of working from home works perfect, even though there is a big pay cut from going to work outside. My balance tilts to this side, because I am home when kids get back home. Now I cannot imagine going outside to work by cutting my hours with them. However I was perfectly happy when I was working full time outside and kids were in daycare too!!

    • That balance is what I think makes the difference. I would jump at it, if I got to work from home. But as I said, working from home is not a real option at the moment.

  16. You are lucky to have a choice sweetheart. I mean look at me. I wish to take a break, but at this point it would not be financially viable for me to stop working since we are not settled yet.

    Yes, I do realise that, Ash. I was lucky indeed, that we could afford to take a break. That was one of the reasons we had Poohi late( relatively). And because I had a good career, I did not feel that I haven’t been able to do what I wanted to..

    Of course there is time yet before we have a kid. And this is something I want to do. Take a break and be with the kid. Once he or she becomes more independent, get back to the working world. I don’t want to leave room for regret later in life that I did not take both or either.

    True. I am very happy with the time I spent with her at home. Hopefully I will be able to get a job that will allow me to balance out both aspects.

    If it weren’t for the financial aspect, I’d have loved to do other. Life it too short to just slog and die in the corporate world. There is so much more to do. Pursue a hobby, travel, read, exercise, do part-time work, engage in charity work etc.

    ‘Life it too short to just slog and die in the corporate world.’ – True.

    To each his/her own. Do not worry too much. What suits you need not suit another and vice versa. Listen to yourself. There would be positive and negative sides to both. Understand what your priorities are. You will learn to pick your choice.
    Good luck! 🙂

    Thank you, Ash:)

  17. Whichever decision you take Smitha… I am sure you will do well in that. It is evident from the way you write each post, you care about Poohi or the way you bake cake.

    Thank you Kanagu, that is huge, given that you have never met me 🙂

    Jobs are plenty and you will for sure will get one. Do as you wish 🙂

    And yeah.. If at all you love to start a cake shop I would love to open a franchise in Chennai for sure 🙂

    🙂 I wish! But I think I am not cake shop material 🙂 But you can have it anytime – once we get back to Bangalore – or if you plan to come here.

  18. What you feel is very normal and I don’t think that SAHM job is an easy thing. We give importance to our children’s needs more when we are at home. It will reduce definitely, when we are working. We have to split our attention. You would not have enjoyed Poohi’s childhood this much. So, what you have done is right.

    No , I have no regrets taking time off, at all. I have enjoyed every minute of this time.

    Yes, when they grow up, we get more free time at hand. Have you thought of working part time? Or working from home? My niece does it. Both husband and wife mostly work from home. They leave their son at school and bring him back, take him to drama class etc. in turns. So he is never left alone. I haven’t read other comments, but read just Suranga’s. She has said it all. You are a good mother and whatever you do, you will do sensibly…the education you have, will help more for decision making, Smitha! Education is never wasted.

    It is difficult to get part time roles, in the kind of work I did. So I might have to go back full time, but hopefully I will be able to strike a balance.

    I left my job when my son was 8 months old, since it was difficult to get a lady to take care of him! Then I got a good offer from a reputed company when my second son was one years old. I was feeling like you feel now, Smitha…whether to go for it or not. Then decided not to! I think the decision was not that bad, though after the sons left school, I sometimes felt that maybe I should have done something of my spare time…didn’t do, am used to staying home now!

    I am sure you must have done loads at home! And the time that you must have got with your children – must be priceless!

  19. Can I just copy paste this and publish on my blog? I mean truly… and no one understands it.. I tell N about it and he says decide everything will get managed, frankly he thinks I am wasting myself and wants me to go back to work while appreciating what my being at home has given ojas… its such a tough decision… damn

    • Husband says the same ‘everything can be managed’ 🙂 But he does leave it to me to decide. He says , he just wants me to be satisfied and happy. But it is a tough decision, no?

  20. Now it is more than 4 years i stopped working and been busy.Yes i am busy only at home where as when i used to work the 24hrs were not enough.House work,office work and missing the growing up years of the 1st child.I don’t regret at all for leaving my job,if both work the standard of living improves but at the cost of the child and myself too.Now i have enough time to think about ME too and do what i have not done since last few years….

    That is true, Sari. I am sure I will have to compromise on a lot of things, if I go back to work..

    Husband says it is difficult for a women to manage both the house and the work (many do that without much hiccups).He says when kids are older enough to take care of themselves i can go for work but that will be quite late.So i am enjoying as SAHM and will think of working when 2nd kid is older enough…..

    You should enjoy it while it lasts 🙂 It is wonderful to do something that gives us pleasure, isn’t it? Why sacrifice that for anything?

  21. Ah! The eternal dilemma of married women! 😦
    It is never easy to find the ‘right’ way out of this. All the best to you to find what it is that you really want to do!
    I hope I will be able to find out a solution that works for me, when I am at a similar crossroads…

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