“Having it all.” It’s a conversation that’s been trending for a while now and for a good reason. People still haven’t quite figured out how to devote time to both their families and their jobs, at least not equally. According to a Pew Research poll, “Among working mothers, in particular, 41% report that being a parent has made it harder for them to advance in their career; about half that share of working fathers (20%) say the same.” The conversation is also continuous because opinions and best practices are always at odds with each other. Where one person suggests that it’s a healthy and necessary practice, another claims it’s detrimental to child development, and therefore not worth the risk. But how do you choose what is best for you and your family?
Perhaps the most important reason for both parents to work is for the opportunity to advance in their career. For many people, before they became parents, they paid a lot of money to get degrees that would put them at an advantage in their career. They spent countless hours at the office to earn a promotion. A lot of time and money is invested in being successful. If a spouse decides to go part-time, or entirely forgo their career and stay at home with their child, they’re sacrificing potential career opportunities and promotions.
As far as the children are concerned, many people suggest that having a child in a daycare setting is essential for childhood social development. Though child care is costly, a child has the opportunity from an early age to learn critical social skills like sharing, effective communication, and emotional empathy. Furthermore, most daycares and childcare centers also implement educational activities. Therefore, your child could be getting ahead of their education.
The first downside that comes to mind when it comes to both parents working is the cost of childcare. In 28 states, the average cost for a year of childcare is more than college tuition. In California alone, the cost per year averages out to $11,817. That’s a lot of money. And for many families, the cost of childcare is more than half their income. Money is a significant determining factor in the decision surrounding childcare. It’s important that when deciding how to balance work and family, you take a good look at your family’s income to determine the best course of action.
As mentioned previously, childcare might help your children develop essential social skills. However, there are associated problems with depending on childcare. For instance, if your child is sick and cannot go to daycare, who will stay home? Though it seems like a small thing to consider in theory, such decisions can have a significant impact on your child and relationship with your spouse. If there is contention surrounding one parent continuously having to stay home while the other goes to work, the child might suffer emotionally, or resentment could start to form between you and your spouse.
There are many factors to consider when deciding what is best for you and your family. Try writing up a list of your pros and cons starting with some of the big ones mentioned above. You can expand your list with variables that occur in your life. Look at your finances, your relationships, and your time to consider the right fit. Most importantly, remember that your situation is different from other people’s. There is no single “right” choice when it comes to the “having it all” debate.