Opting Out and/or Opting In?

Opting out or opting in?

Stress of Choices

Opting out? Staying home with the kids? Choosing to get back in the work chaos?

Are you a women who at mid-career, in your thirties or early forties decided to opt-out and stay home with the kids? Or did you stay home all along and now are wondering if you should/could/ go back to work even if times have changed and you haven’t worked outside-of-the-home for ten, twelve, or fifteen years?

The stay-at-home mother and the working-out-of-the home mother conflict has been going on for ages, but now there’s a new twist. The article, “Ready to Rejoin the Rat Race?” in the NYTimes magazine section, August 11, 2013 caught my eye.

Here’s a quote from the article about how values and culture have changed over the ten to fifteen years.

“In 2000, for example,with the economy strong and books like Surrendering Motherhood, a memoir about the “liberation” of giving up work to stay home, setting the tone for the aspirational mothering style of the day, almost 40 percent of respondents to the General Social Survey told researchers they believed a mother’s working was harmful to her children. . . . But by 2010, with recovery from the “mancession” slow and a record 40% of mothers functioning as family breadwinners, fully 75% of Americans agreed with the statement that ‘a working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work’.”

The author concluded, after interviewing two dozen women that had chosen to re-enter the workplace after opting out to stay home with children, that:

• Returning to the workplace wasn’t a slam dunk by any means.

• The jobs that the women found were lower paying and less powerful than those they left a decade or so earlier.

• They had no regrets about taking the time out, nor about not returning to the go-go-go high powered jobs they had left.

I always worked with short times out, except for 1.5 years off after my third son. Even after that short time I found it slightly daunting to find a job and go back to a hectic schedule with deadlines and stress, although I was also excited about a new challenge.

I’ve asked my adult children what their recollection of childhood is. One commented that I was always “there” when he wanted/needed me to be there and I was always stressed! That night I dreamed that my entire extended family was having group therapy at the Hollywood bowl.

I wonder what women who didn’t opt out are thinking and feeling? Do they have regrets? What did you do or are you doing? Are you opting out? Does it work for you and your family? Are you more stressed at home than at work or is it the other way around — or equally stressful in different ways?




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