Quitting your job and becoming a stay-at-home mum – that is one of many important decisions a mother must make wisely. How can you make sure you don’t sell yourself short?
Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, says the first question to ask yourself is why you want to be one.
“If you’re making the decision simply for your child or because you want to be the perfect mother, then it’s probably not a good idea – you may end up unhappy and disgruntled,” he says.
“It can also be difficult not having a job anymore. Many people experience a loss of identity when they stop working and start to feel unaccomplished and even useless.”
On the other hand, if your reason to stay at home is one that you believe will benefit you, in that you’ll be able to enjoy a certain type of lifestyle and get to spend more time with your family as well as have more time for your hobbies and socialising, then it’s a viable one, Dr Lim says.
But remember that solutions aren’t always black-and-white. You can also consider working part time, or going on sabbatical for a few months to see if you’ll like the idea of being a stay-at-home mum.
There are also financial considerations. Andrea Kennedy, a finance behaviour specialist from Wiser Wealth, says that you’d need to set aside three to six months’ salary in case of an emergency.
You would also have to consider how stable your spouse’s job is if you’re going to rely on just one income, and how you would feel about losing your financial independence.
“I would try to find part-time or flexible work versus leaving the workforce altogether,” Andrea says. “Or you may wish to retrain yourself in an area that allows you to freelance or work from home. Too many people regret quitting their jobs once they start to experience financial or marital problems.”
You should also ask how leaving the workforce would affect your career if you do decide to go back to work when your kids are older, says executive career coach, Alka Chandiramani.
“You may want to think about the possibility of being told that you’ve been away from the workforce for too long and have not kept abreast of software advancements and the like.
“You may also want to consider the possibility that a lot of changes would have taken place by the time you returned to work or that you might have to work for someone younger than you. These are all legitimate factors so you should ask yourself how you’d feel about them and deal with them.”
To improve your chances of resuming your career later on, Alka suggests keeping up-to-date on industry happenings, being active in the community, and brushing up on the skills that are relevant to your line of work.
You may also want to talk to women who have returned to work after staying home to be with their kids, to find out what it was like for them.