Navigating the Decision

By Suzanne Gosselin
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Tips for deciding if and how much to work outside the home.

Deciding as a couple what your work and child care situation will look like once your baby arrives is an important and personal decision. Here are a few things to consider:

Pray for direction. Author Catherine Claire Larson suggests that couples be intentional about seeking the Lord as they make the decision whether the woman will work outside the home or be a stay-at-home mom.

Larson left a prestigious job writing for BreakPoint Radio to be a stay-at-home mom. “That was really hard,” she says. “I thrived in that place. But I realized the time is short; in the grand scheme of things, the time you have with your children while they’re little is very brief.”

Know your priorities. When Denise had to go to work outside the home due to financial reasons, she and her husband, Andrew, made a list of their priorities as a family.

“Both Andrew and I have made sacrifices so that our kids always have one of us taking care of them. We’ve had to think creatively about how we can accomplish goals we have for our family. It takes a lot of work and a lot of talking things through, but it’s possible.”

Think creatively. When Jessica qualified for a job in government foreign service, she and her husband, Mike, had to figure out child care for their infant daughter, Eva.

During the couple’s first international assignment to South America, Jessica says, “I went to work, and Mike stayed home for the first year. After a year, he found a job at the embassy and went to work as well. We entered Eva in an excellent half-day preschool; in the afternoons she was at home with a nanny.” Jessica says she and Mike are still evaluating what they’ll do when they go to North Africa next year.

Leave your options open. A significant number of women who have worked full time find that their values and desires change dramatically when their baby is born. Dr. Juli Slattery says, “You can have it all written out when you’re six months pregnant, and when the baby comes you may have a completely different attitude.”

Think through several different arrangements you and your spouse could pursue after your baby arrives. Perhaps a restructuring of your budget would allow you to live on less and give up one income. Or it may be possible for one or both of you to work a more flexible schedule.

When Wes and Nica learned they were expecting their first child, they realized the career they’d had the past eight years – traveling around the U.S. with a comedy improv troupe – wouldn’t be practical for this new season of life.

The couple transitioned into operating their own freelance video and film production company. “It felt like God was constantly giving us the next step exactly when we needed it,” Wes says.

Lean up. Dr. Slattery says “Instead of looking to my goals and mile markers, I want to lean into God and ask Him, ‘What do You have for me to do in this season?’ “

Dr. Slattery says her own career goals did not go as planned. She earned her doctorate in psychology the same week she gave birth to their first son. “After years of schooling, I was working two nights a week, and my husband was the breadwinner,” Slattery says. “I felt like I was giving up all of my career dreams. But I look at all the doors God has opened for me in His time, and I know I couldn’t have planned it like that. If you trust God, hold your plans loosely, and are faithful with what He gives you, He blesses that.”

Adapted from Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers Inc. Copyright © 2014 by Focus on the Family.

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About the Author

Suzanne Gosselin

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a regular writer and editor for Focus on the Family and former editor of Clubhouse Jr. magazine. She has written books for Zondervan, Harvest House, and Tyndale, and is the author of Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood. Suzanne is also the co-author of Grit and Grace: Devotions for Warrior Moms. She lives …

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