7 Questions to Ask Before Quitting Your Job

For when Working Moms feel conflicted between family and work

Businesswoman frustrated at work
Don't allow frustration to control your decisions. Getty Images/Jamie Grill

"Should I quit my job?" is a question many working moms ask themselves when they are just fed up with balancing it all..

Or maybe you asked yourself when you got pregnant, gave birth, had a second child, or when you felt overwhelm about school activities.  

Quitting your job can't be an impulsive decision, as you know, because it affects your family's security as well as your future career prospects.

So to help you decide if quitting is the right thing to do ask yourself the following seven questions:

1.  Is a Transition or Work-Related Challenge Making Me Want to Quit My Job?

When you're having a crisis at work or your child is struggling in school, it's easy to think, "If only I could quit my job, all these problems would go away."

But if you resign rashly, you may find that underlying problems remain and you've just given up vital family income. Blaming your work, without thinking it through,may be a mistake.

This is especially true for those major life transitions, such as returning from maternity leave, starting a new job, or changing your child's caregiver or school. It's dangerous to make a big decision like this while something else big is happening in your life.  Give yourself a few weeks to see if things get better..

2.  Could I Afford to Quit My Job?

You may be dying to quit but you know that you'd have to default on your mortgage and car payments as a result.

 Or would you?  Now is a great time to review your finances.  There may be a way to cut some of your monthly costs.  Ask yourself:

  • Can I eliminate any major life expenses, like moving to a smaller house or getting rid of a car?
  • Could i work part-time work to help alleviate the drop in income? Make sure to pin down exactly what job would fill the gap -- this is not the time to count on an opportunity materializing.
  • How much will I save on commuting, work clothes, child care and eating out, etc, if I quit my job? (Think about all those harried work nights when it's just easier to pick up takeout than cook a cheap, healthy meal.) Use this calculator to estimate the true cost of quitting your job. Note -- Enter the additional cost of dining out versus cooking, since even when you eat at home you're spending money.

Resigning without working out a detailed budget and making sure you aren't going to go into debt by quitting.is a mistake you can avoid if you give it somet thought.

3. Could I Afford to Not to Quit My Job?

Maybe you're in a situation where you love your work but hate how much of your income goes to child care. Remember that your budget is the tightest when your children are under 5 (or over 18, if you're paying for college.) If you have preschoolers know that the cost of child care will drop dramatically once they're in public school.

Look at the long-term picture when you write that daycare check every month. It may be worth it to pay as much -- or more -- for child care as you earn, if it's only for a few years. Especially if you're in a field where employment is tight.

4. How Easily Could I Reenter the Workforce?

If you quit, are you cutting yourself off from working in your field in the future?

In many industries, there's a clear road from education to mid-career employment, and it's impossible to break in once you step off the path.

Look around you. Do you see older moms who took some time off? Or has everyone worked steadily since receiving their degree? Perhaps you will be a trailblazer, but if you are in a field that doesn't forgive breaks in employment, you need to be realistic about your prospects for returning to work when your nest is empty.

Still, reentry isn't as big of a concern if you dislike your job and are thinking about changing fields. Look into the career you would like to switch to, and see if you could prepare yourself for a change while spending more time at home.

5. Would Quitting Hurt My Family's Security?

Maybe your husband or partner earns enough to pay your monthly bills.

Or, if you're a single mom you may count on having enough freelance or part-time work to manage.

This is the time to be brutally honest. Think about the worst case scenario. If your partner were laid off, how would your family get by? Where would you find health insurance coverage? What is your safety net?

If you want to quit, make a backup plan first. Build up your savings so you can better weather any unexpected emergencies once the family is relying on just one income, or a part-time income if you're a single mom.

6. Can I Scale Back Work Instead of Quitting?

Indeed, often the solution to stress over your work-family balance is not to quit, but to scale back. If you're already on the verge of giving notice, it doesn't hurt to ask about part-time or flexible options. You never know when an employer might be open to negotiating a flexible schedule.

Or maybe you can find a different job that is more flexible. Look around your organization for roles that might be at a similar level but not as demanding. Network with colleagues at other companies to see if you'd be happier somewhere else.

7, Would I Really Enjoy Being a Stay-at-Home Mom?

We've all had those stay-at-home-mom fantasies. You're racing to work after another bout of separation anxiety at daycare drop-off and you spot a mom playing with her child in the park. "That could be me!" you think.

Not so fast. The life of a stay-at-home mom isn't all roses and clover. There's a lot of repeating the same tasks, day after day, without much thanks. Many moms find that they enjoy their kids more by having focused time with them outside the work day. Being on duty 24-7 exhausts their patience and could make parenting more challenging.

In the end, being a hands-on mom is a short-term job. In only five years your baby turns into an elementary school student. In another 13 years she's ready to graduate high school. (If all goes well!) Don't make a decision that will have long-term implications by only considering your present situation.

Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.