3 things new parents should consider before going back to work | The Way We Work, a TED series


Translator: TED Translators admin
Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz When I was pregnant,
I just got very frustrated. Don’t eat deli meats,
do this particular prenatal test. Why did you make that choice?
Why didn’t you make a different choice? I felt like I was being told to do things,
and I never got the answer to why. [The Way We Work] Sometimes in the world of modern parenting
you just can’t seem to win. If I go back to work,
I spend less time with my kid. What if they don’t get the attention
they need to adequately develop? If I stay home,
and give up my income stream, will I look back and regret my decision? There’s a lot of
conflicting advice out there about whether to stay home
or go back to work, so trying to make a choice between the two
can be confusing and emotional. You love your kids
and want what’s best for them, but how do you determine what best means
when everyone has a different opinion? There are many variations of parents
that a household can have, and I think more families
should be asking the question of whether it makes sense
for the male partner to stay home. But the truth is that in the current time, most of the discussions
about stay-at-home parents focus on women in particular. And it’s usually the women
who say they feel that what they do during the day
is gonna determine at a deep level what kind of mom and person they are. That is a huge weight
to put on yourself as a parent. And when you’re met with the side-eye after telling someone
you’re going back to work or not, it can poke holes in your confidence. I decided to dig in and find out. Is it better to stay at home
or go back to work? It’s an emotional decision, yes, but as an economist I’ve learned
that we can use data to help navigate through
those emotional decisions and feel confident we’re making
the best decision for our family. Specifically there are three main factors
you should consider before you decide. First, you need to think about how this decision will affect
your family budget. Let’s do some numbers. Say your total household
income is 100,000 dollars, with you and your partner
making 50,000 each. That means you bring home
about 85,000 dollars after taxes. If both of you work and the family pays
1,500 dollars a month for childcare, your total disposable income
would be 67,000 dollars a year. Are you with me so far? If you decide to stay home, your family makes less
but you don’t pay for childcare. Your disposable income
goes down in this scenario, but not by as much as it would
if you didn’t factor in the childcare. It becomes more complicated if childcare
is more expensive in your area. A full-time nanny
can run 40, 50,000 dollars a year depending on where you live. If that’s the case in your neighborhood,
in the scenario I outlined, it would completely wipe out
one parent’s income, and you’d be better off financially
with one parent staying home. Of course, this is only
a short-term analysis. Childcare is less expensive sometimes
when kids are in school, and you may make a higher income later,
so you wanna factor that in if you can. Once you’ve done the math,
you’ll know what’s possible and you’ll be able to make
a more informed choice, which should feel empowering. Second, it’s time to talk
about what’s best for your child. You may think this should be
the core of your decision, but there’s actually no right answer. According to studies
from Europe and the US, the decision to go back to work
or stay at home won’t actually make or break
your child’s future success. Research shows that two parents
working full-time has a similar effect on your child’s
future test scores and income to one parent working and one not. What seems to be most
important is the environment your child is in during their spare time. As long as they’re engaging
in enriching activities; reading, practicing their motor skills,
interacting with other kids, they’re gonna thrive
whether or not you’re at home with them. There is a bit of nuance in the data. For example, studies have found, that if both parents work, kids from poor families
are impacted positively, and kids from richer families
are impacted less positively. So depending on your
household configuration, the effects on your child
could be a little positive, or a little negative, but the overall impact is negligible. Now I wanna call out an exception:
maternity leave. There is a growing body of evidence
suggesting that babies do better when their mothers
take some maternity leave. The early days with your child
can impact their development, so if you have paid leave,
you should take it, and if you don’t, maybe consider taking some unpaid leave
for those first few months, if your budget allows. And finally, ask yourself, what do I want? While this may seem simple, it’s the factor that feels
most taboo to explore. In talking to parents I find that
when a woman chooses to stay home, she often feels obligated to say she made this choice
for her children’s optimal development. Which, sure, can be part of the reason, but a perfectly acceptable answer is,
“this is the lifestyle I prefer,” or “this is what works for my family.” The same goes for the working mother. Saying, “I like my job, and that’s why
I went back to work,” is enough. If you wanna go back
to work, that’s great. You’re lucky to have a job that you love and you have every right to keep it
once you become a parent. Be honest with yourself
about what you’d like to do. If you’re upfront about that,
you’re guaranteed to feel happier, which will allow you to be
the best version of a parent you can be, and isn’t that the whole point? There is no right and wrong
when it comes to parenting. The best decision is the one that will make you —
and your family — the happiest. Up to you to decide what’s next. By acknowledging that the choice
to stay home or not is just that, a choice, with factors pushing you
in various directions, we can ditch the guilt and enjoy
doing what feels best for our families.

23 Replies to “3 things new parents should consider before going back to work | The Way We Work, a TED series”

  1. Why do we have to get a 9-5 job it’s not even worth it I mean working around 8 hours for like 100 bucks or less is kinda lol not worth

  2. Ok, here's an idea. Why don't we eliminate favoritism and make some accountability for the management too.

  3. Well that was surprisingly balanced and sensible. Also, a shift away from the usual, tedious TED style of presentation; finally!

  4. At first, both parents worked out of the home, they chose to stay with us. When we moved, my mom worked at an office because she wanted to change her job. My dad retired due to age and became a stay at home dad. What makes them happy with the choice is that they let each other do what they wanted and made it with confidence.

  5. What if the monthly rate for daycare was only $150? And even less for families with lower incomes. I'm returning to work soon after eight months of paid paternity leave. Move to Sweden folks.

  6. Long story short : you were born in a first world country, life is good, you can have what you want. stop stressing yourself and people around you with menial problems

  7. Now this Video focused on the three aspects money, the support of the child and what the parents want.
    But what about the relationship of parents and child? I think, this is also very important and wished to have some data about it.

    In my opinion you can't properly discuss this topic without this aspect.

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