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The Ultimate Debate: Return to Work(?) Edition

Posted by Mom Friends on

I’m faced with a decision - return to my 9-5 job or not?

It’s a decision I have put off for 10 whole months as I faced other tough choices like ‘How much spaghetti sauce on my sweater is too much to be seen in public?’ and, ‘What is the appropriate age to take your kid to the dentist for the first time?’ (unsolved mystery to this day).

Let’s just say that this big decision around how to get back to the office has been conveniently in the back of my mind. Like a little, annoying and doomy pea in the princess bed that I don’t really get much sleep in anymore.

“Lucky you, taking a year off!”

I am so lucky to be a mom. My girls are amazing and I love spending time with them. But this experience of motherhood and maternity leave comes with its fair share of struggle and toil. That’s the gig and I’m more than happy about it, but you’ll never again hear me refer to it as ‘a year off’.

Seeing is believing: Parenting is hard work. We love this video from Motherly that shows how the ‘stay at home parents’ (in this case the mother’s) job is constant, around the clock and pretty exhausting at times. Caring for another person is a joy but let’s also acknowledge that it’s some of the most important work there is, and it can be tough sometimes.

Ya, I’m pretty tough I lift babies on the regular.

So do I stay or do I go now? Let’s check-in with the 80s

My mom stayed at home with my three siblings and I. I value that she was able to dedicate so much time for myself and siblings. But, this other path that I’m taking feels very unfamiliar, and I don’t think I’m alone.

According to Statistics Canada the year I was born (1985, y’all) just under 70% of women were active in the labour market. That number has grown by ten points to just over 80% today. That 10% difference is literally my mom not working while raising kids and me doing the opposite while raising mine.

For those of us in that 10%, this shift feels especially tough to navigate. We aren’t raising our kids as we were raised. We don’t know what this is supposed to look like. I can’t believe I’m typing this but in 2018, many of us are still feeling an impact.

Maternity leave over the years

According to the OECD in 1971 in Canada maternity leave came into effect - a whopping 15 weeks total. In 1990 the number of weeks grew to the number of weeks we have today. But you know what? While we may have earned more time off, the earnings of a parent on leave also declined with the increase in time from 75% to today’s 55% of total insurable earnings.

Will my children be happier with me? Will I be happier at home with them? 

‘Should I just stay at home?’ In a way it just feels like the easy and simple thing to do. But it’s not, and it doesn’t seem like it will ease up any time soon.

Ok, I’m doing it

For now, I’m going back to work. It’s hard to admit but for me I think I’m a better mom when I’m working my 9-5. I cherish and live in the moment with the time I get to spend with my girls and I’m not sure that would be true if I took more time. 

But the debate will persist. I’ll be worrying and wondering if this is the right decision probably for the rest of my life. But sometimes you just need to decide, you know? Go with you gut? Something like that?


I know I’m not alone. I guard my Tuesday nights with my life so that I can catch #workinmoms on CBC with a glass of wine to laugh/cry into.

I also continue to be inspired by my mom and all of my girlfriends who are choosing their paths through all this: working, running businesses, having kids, not having kids… everyone inspires me in their own way, and it makes for an interesting get together to share updates on what each other’s path is really like.

For this next month I’m going to parent the %$^& out of my day to day with my girls. And when it’s time I’m going to suit up and kill it in the boardroom once again. There is a time for everything and whether or not women’s choices have shifted over time I’m going to continue to do my best with what I have.

Xoxo, Aviva

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