Dear Working Mother,

Recently a reader wrote to us to ask for advice. She moved out of Dublin with her husband and son to another part of the country for a better quality of life and to have more time to spend with her son.

However, five months later, she still hasn’t settled in and she’s not sure if they’ve made the right decision. She misses her job, her friends and their old life and she’s wondering if they should move back, which would mean having to work full time.

One of her questions was “is it more important to be around for your children and work part-time and have a better work/life balance or is working full time ok too?”

It’s a good question… and I think it’s a variation on a question that many of have asked ourselves at some point. What’s the best thing for me and my family – to work full-time and have more security/money or to be at home full-time and make do with less? To work part-time and maybe sacrifice career satisfaction or to change careers to something more family friendly? To work from home or start your own business?

Having spoken to numerous working mothers and fathers over the past few years, I’ve come to realise that there is no ideal scenario…  no one solution that works for everyone. What works for one family might not be the best option for another.

It’s great to be able to work part-time and spend time with your kids if you can, and if you want to… it’s also great to have the opportunity to work full time if that is what you need, or want to do.

The right decision is the one that makes you happy and fulfilled, keeps food on the table and a roof over your head, ensures your kids feel loved and secure and works best for your personal situation, not the one that is deemed most socially acceptable.

It’s also important to remember that nothing is forever… you may decide to work full-time for a few years and a chance might come up down the line to go part-time or job share… you might get an unexpected promotion or be offered a new opportunity that gives you more flexibility… maybe you do a job you don’t enjoy for a few years because it gives you flexibility, but you’re offered a new opportunity in the future that you couldn’t have foreseen… perhaps it makes sense to stay at home for a few years but retrain for a whole new career when the kids start school.

Choices are difficult to make when there is no obvious answer, so my advice – sit down and think carefully about the pros and cons… make a list, think it through and make the best decision you can with the information you have.

There is no right answer, there is only the right answer for you and your family, right now.


Elaine Lawless
The Working Mother

P.S. What would your advice be for our reader?