Should I Stop Working to Look After My Kids?

Should parents ever stop working to look after their children full time? What other options are available? Read on to find out...
Should I Stop Working to Look After My Kids?

Last update: 02 October, 2019

The decision to stop working in order to look after their baby full time is a decision that many, if not most, couples face at some time or another.

There are more and more measures to allow us to combine work and family situations. However, in many cases, it still isn’t possible for mothers or fathers to work and look after their children at the same time.

Because of this, many of them consider giving up their jobs in order to devote themselves full time to their children. When faced with this decision, there are many factors to take into account.

Factors that influence the decision to stop working

The family’s financial situation

In many cases, the family’s financial situation influences the decision about whether the mother (or father) should stop working to look after the children. Giving up the job won’t be at all simple, and more so with the expenses of having a baby.

Should I Stop Working to Look After My Kids?

Leaving the child in the care of a third person

Many mothers and fathers prefer to look after their children themselves, rather than letting them go to a daycare center, or hiring someone else to do it. Hiring someone is very costly. In addition to that, it’s a hard decision to entrust your young child to someone outside the family.

The father’s work situation

If both parents are working, then the father will be more involved in bringing up the child and looking after them. When both are working, then the tasks should be shared equally by both of them.

On the other hand, if the mother stops working to look after the children, then, logically, she’ll have to do 90% of the tasks, as he’ll be working away from home. This can, of course, work the other way around.

The possibility of returning to work

In many countries, a company will give maternity leave so that the mother can look after the child in the first few months and then return to work afterwards. We’ll consider these options below.

Working day reduction

Another possibility that exists when making this decision is a reduction in working hours. This can help a child greatly, and can take two forms:

  • When the child is born, in order to look after the child full time and keep their job
  • When the child starts school, in order to adapt to the schedules

Unpaid leave

This is a voluntary type of leave in which a worker stops working for a specified period of time. The company doesn’t pay their salary, but they do keep their position (or a similar one).

If this unpaid leave is for childcare – one of the most common reasons – then, according to the country, a company will reserve your position for up to three years. Once this deadline is met, then the worker will return to their position again. This may not necessarily be exactly the same position as before, but it will be an agreed one.

The time agreed will vary from country to country. However, the scheduled return usually coincides with the child starting school or kindergarten. You can’t normally go beyond three years, as it’s understood that other types of care are now available, and the child doesn’t need the constant care that they needed before.

Should I Stop Working to Look After My Kids?

When can I get maternity leave?

In addition to this, it’s usually possible to spread the maternity leave out. It doesn’t necessarily have to be consecutive months. The employee can have, for example, two months of their maternity leave, then go back to work for a month, and then have another month of leave. This does, of course, vary from country to country and company to company, and must be previously agreed.

In short, each family is different, and has their own thoughts and opinions on the matter. There is no right or wrong decision, and people shouldn’t be judged on what they decide.

Stopping work for a time is a good option if you believe it will benefit you as a family. And, likewise, continuing to work is also a good option if that’s the way you see it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Brandth, Berit y Elin Kavande. (2002): «Reflexive Fathers: Negotiating Pa- rental Leave and Working Live», Gender, Work, and Organization, 9 (2): 186-203.
  • Bruning, Gwennaele y Janneke Plantenga. (1999): Pa- rental leave and equal opportunities: experiences in eight European countries, Journal of European Social Policy, 9 (3): 195-209.
  • Desai, Sonalde y Linda J. Waite. (1991): «Women’s Employment during Pregnancy and after the First Birth: Occupational Characteristic and Work Commitment», American Sociological Review, 56: 551-566.
  • Lapuerta, I. (2013). ¿ Influyen las políticas autonómicas en la utilización de la excedencia por cuidado de hijos?. Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas (REIS), 141(1), 29-60.
  • Moltó Carbonell, M. L. (2005). Los recursos para la conciliación entre la vida laboral y familiar: efectos de las políticas de conciliación. Aequalitas: Revista Jurídica de Igualdad de Oportunidades Entre Mujeres y Hombres.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.