My Hardest Decision: To Work or Not To Work After Twins
It still remains as being THE hardest decision of my life. When I made the choice to resign from my full-time job in December 2017 with 7-week-old twins in my arms, I was still on maternity leave. Up until that point, I had every single intention to return to my previous full-time position as a pediatric nurse practitioner working clinically and in management. I had held the NP position for nearly 5.5 years by then and was a senior member on my team. Heck, I had just completed my doctorate the previous year in 2016! For anyone that knew me, they were likely floored by my choice, as work and school had always been my life. Before giving birth, it all made sense for me to continue on my planned path at the hospital. There was zero doubt. My mind was set.
But then, I had two newborn twins. And everything changed!
You can never fully prepare for children -- let alone two children at once! I was blindsided by the new “job requirements” as a twin mom. My heart and mind were pulling me in two different directions on which place I needed to be: the hospital or home. I was a total emotional wreck and in tears over this life-altering question I needed to answer: “Should I be a full-time working mama, a SAHM, or a “somewhere-in-between” mama?”
At the time, my husband was pushing hard for me to continue working full-time at the hospital after my maternity leave. Finances were obviously a huge consideration, along with the fact that I had worked so hard on my bachelors, masters, and doctorate to get to where I was in my nursing career. I couldn’t throw all of that away! On the flip side, I was the mom, the one with pediatric training to optimally care for our own children, and let’s all be real - daycare and nannies are insanely expensive for twins.
Like many couples, the topic kept coming to a boil between me and my husband. This lasted for weeks. I cried for days about it – that’s how close this job was (and still is) to my heart. It was like I was choosing between my pulmonary family versus my own family, which was an awful place to be. Those weeks of nonstop debate were some of the hardest moments in motherhood for me so far.
Just to compare all of my options, I ultimately contacted my employer and inquired about changing my same job from full-time to part-time or even “PRN/as needed.” The hospital was slow to give me answers. I remained in limbo for about 4 weeks not knowing what would happen at the end of my maternity leave while I negotiated with them. Finally, they gave me the option to work PRN in my pulmonary unit (which meant at least 2 shifts/month as needed). I presented this information to my husband and after weighing all of the pros and cons of all options (and simply allowing time to pass) my husband and I finally agreed that I should work, but only PRN.
Fast forward almost a year later, and here we are. Currently, I work 3-5 PRN shifts/month (totaling ~40-65 hours/month) in my pulmonary unit that I love so dearly. Most of my shifts are on the weekends when my husband is home to watch the kids - which completely removes any nanny/daycare costs. Rarely my shifts might fall on a weekday, and if it does, then my mother usually comes over and watches the twins. For us right now, it’s a good balance. I still bring in money, I have flexibility in signing up to work more or less shifts each month, I still have a job to maintain my clinical skills and licenses, I get time away from the kids to have “adult” conversations and high-level critical thinking, and I still get the “feel” of a stay-at-home mom. This balance essentially categorizes me as the “Somewhere-in-between Mama.” While it was the hardest decision of my life, it was also the BEST decision for our family at the time. Sure, we budget way differently now, but we make it work and the kids are happy.
At first, the transition from full-time career woman to “Somewhere-in-between Mama” was a hard one for me. I felt chained to the house. I felt pressured by the feeding and sleeping schedules. I felt mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day. It was like Groundhog day every single day - same routine, same everything. I felt isolated from social activities. And when I wasn’t feeling chained to the house with kids, I was at the hospital taking care of sick kids. In essence, I felt like a work-horse. While not all of these feelings have gone away completely (and while most of these are natural byproducts of motherhood), they’ve definitely improved. Over time, it all gets easier and you learn to adapt to the decision you made. And remember, no decision has to last forever – you can always tweak it as you go. Who knows, I might pick up my hours at the hospital one day! Right now, I do all of the childcare when I’m not at work (aka no daycare, no mommy’s day out program, no nanny, etc.). This is something my husband and I are actively talking about tweaking this next year. Not only do I want more socialization for the kids, but Mama just needs a break to run errands every now and then! In my personal opinion, the duties of ANY kind of mom (whether you’re inside and/or outside of the home) is hard. None of it is easy, no matter what you choose. Regardless of what your job title ends up being, all moms are incredibly strong for what they juggle. You just have to find the right juggle for YOU.
If you are in limbo of choosing how to handle your work situation after having twins, here are some thoughts to consider:
Crunch numbers (daycare costs vs. in-home nanny vs. you)
Can your partner carry the whole family’s health benefits?
Plan ahead as early as you can. Don’t wait until you’re postpartum or your decisions will more likely be emotional ones.
Make a pros and cons table – which side is longer?
Think about your personality type – are you a social butterfly that needs time with other adults or do you do well by yourself?
Will it affect your ability to return to work later? Do you have licenses/skills to upkeep?
Talk about it multiple times with your partner. Don’t make rash decisions.
Above all, make sure you and your partner BOTH agree on the decision.
If you’re into taking online quizzes, then consider taking this short 10-question quiz called “Should You Stay At Home or Go Back To Work”: https://www.parents.com/parenting/work/stay-home/quiz-should-you-stay-home-or-go-back-to-work/. I took it and it told me I should consider part-time, or something “in-between” …and it was spot on!!
Best of luck to any moms going through this debate. We all go through it at some point. And again, remember – no decision has to be forever!!