Why you shouldn't be afraid to take a hiatus from work after having a baby.
Updated: Oct 5, 2018
People often ask me whether their careers will suffer from "resume gap" that results from taking time off after having a child. They're not asking about the consequences of maternity leave - which is a whole other topic for discussion - they're evaluating whether to leave their jobs for a period of time and be "stay at home moms." (A term which I believe is a misnomer - because caring for a young child does not confine you to the home for very long). There are strong opinions about this topic, and women may face judgement for either choice. Keep working and you may be pegged as a Bad Mom, negligent and selfish. Leave your job and you may labeled a failed feminist, a disempowered throwback to the 1950s housewife.
The bottom line is that your choice shouldn't be driven by fear, because a resume gap will not be the demise of your career. Don't allow the ominous concern of professional irrelevancy make this decision for you - because you can create success on your own terms.
Whether or not to stop working can feel like a daunting decision because the stakes are high. Women are having children later in life. We're deep into our careers, earning solid paychecks and carrying greater responsibilities. You may ask yourself - can I really walk away from that without losing everything?
Here are two important things to keep in mind: The first one is that your achievements will not lose value if you take time off from work. Your education, your training, your promotions, and your reputation will always be yours, whether you stop working for six months, a year, or six years.
The second thing to keep in mind is that parenthood is going to affect your whole life and may change how you feel about your work. What's important to you, what you want from your job, your schedule, and your personal needs will all evolve. The job that felt perfect before you had a child may lose it's shine. And that job you turned down last year may start to look pretty good. There will be unexpected twists and turns during the early years of parenthood, and you may be surprised by your own reactions.
If you're wrestling with these decisions, I encourage you to mute the conflicting messages and do some clear-eyed analysis. Figure out how much money your family needs, how you'd arrange childcare, and who will handle the daily chores at home. Then take stock of how you're really feeling. Talk to people you trust and respect, write notes and lists to help organize your thoughts, and sleep on it for many nights.
Your decision may emerge organically, or, you may benefit from outside support.
If you'd like to talk about your next steps and go deeper into some of these issues, please get in touch. Together - we will find a path that's right for you.