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Nurturing a Career vs. Nurturing the Kids: Which Grass Is Greener?

Many parents, women especially, believe they would be happier if they ditched their full-time jobs to stay at home with the kids. But is the grass really greener on the other side?

stay-at-home mother working mother

(Photo Credit: Terence S. Jones/Flickr)

The stress of a typical morning routine and commute are enough to make any working parent want to take up a full-time career as a stay-at-home mom or dad. Pew Research Center found that "when it comes to feeling happy, time with children also beats time at work." The study found that 62 percent of parents considering their child-care experiences "very meaningful," compared with 36 percent of paid work-related activities. But, what about the working parents who don't necessarily find joy in staying home and would rather pursue their careers?

The decision to be a full-time parent or a full-time professional is completely subjective -- except that not everyone can have their cake and eat it too. Parents who are career-driven may feel deprived of their dreams and somewhat unfulfilled as full-time stay-at-home parents. Dr. Phil reminds us that, "If [a] child is mothered by a parent who is feeling frustrated, and depressed and empty, that is not a good thing." Likewise, working parents can't up and quit their jobs may also feel animosity towards their employer and become resentful, resulting in low job satisfaction and performance. Is there a happy medium to this parent vs. professional dilemma?

According to Jennifer Owens, Working Mother's Editorial Director, flexible schedules for working parents is the key to finding balance for employees struggling with full-time careers and parenting. Owens indicates that working parents who are given more flexibility with their work schedules are more loyal, more productive, healthier, and less stressed. Corporate America seems to be picking up on the changing landscape for working parents, because more big-name brands are beginning to accommodate their employees who have children, women especially, with better workplace options to promote work-life satisfaction. Here is a list of the top fifty companies that go above and beyond for women executives, especially working women, provided by the National Association for Female Executives.

In addition to the overall work-life gratification of employees with flexibility, there are cost savings benefits, too. "One in four women can save over $1,000 a year, and 5 percent of those can save over $5,000" through flexible work arrangements, a recent FlexJobs survey revealed. And, let's not forget the "little things" that make staying at home so much more desirable: no commute, no traffic, no getting ready in the mornings, and no one to report to constantly (other than kids).

The decision to stay at home and raise kids or pursue a full-time career is yours and yours alone. Whichever path you decide to take, ensure that it's the best choice for you and your family in the long-run.

Tell Us What You Think

Would you rather stay-at-home or pursue your career? Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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