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 you may ask yourself when you're just done balancing work and life. Maybe you are asking this question because of life changing event like you're pregnant, you've given birth or you just had a second child. But could you really leave your job?

Quitting your job can't be an impulsive decision 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 Work-Related Challenge Making You Want to Quit Your 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 your underlying problems still remain and you've given up your income for nothing. Blaming your work for your problems, 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 childcare. It's dangerous to make a big decision like quitting your job while something else big is happening in your life.  Give yourself a few weeks to see if things simmer down.

In the meantime, write about what's going on at work in your journal.

Be as honest as possible. Writing about your problems can do a few things for you. Writing gives you the chance to sit and think about your problems. Where if you just think about things while you're loading the washer thoughts just come and go. Also, when you write it gives you the chance to mull over what you wrote.

Read it over the next day and see if a solution pops out at you.

2. Can You Afford to Quit Your Job?

You may be dying to quit but will you have to default on your mortgage and car payments as a result? Now is a great time to review your finances.  Check out your checking account and credit card statements and analyze how you are spending your income. There may be a way to cut some of your monthly costs. Ask yourself:

  • Are there any major life expenses you could decrease, like moving to a smaller house or getting rid of a car?
  • Could you work part-time work to help alleviate the drop in income? What type of job would help fill the gap?
  • How much will you save on commuting, work clothes, child care and eating out, etc, if you quit? (Think about all those harried work nights when it's just easier to pick up takeout than cook a cheap, healthy meal.
  • What other expenses do you have that are luxury like and not a necessity? Could you imagine your life without these perks?
  • Where do you shop? Are there other places you could shop at to save a few bucks?

3. Are You Working to Pay for Childcare?

Maybe you're in a situation where you love your work but hate how much of your income goes to child care. Your budget is the tightest when your children are under 5 or over 18 when 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.

Try looking at the long-term picture when you write that monthly daycare check. It may be worth it to pay as much if not more for child care if it's only for a few years. Especially if you're in a field where employment is tight.

4. How Easy Would It Be to Re-Enter the Workforce?

If you quit, would you be 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.

Although re-entry isn't as big of a concern if you dislike your job and want to change 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 Your Family's Security?

Money makes you feel like your family is secure. That they get all the things that they need and maybe some things that they want like dance class, music lessons, or sports. If you quit would your family be secure, money-wise?

Maybe your spouse 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 spouse was 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 have a backup plan first. Build up your savings so you can better weather any storms that may come your way. Know where you could purchase health or dental insurance. If you are getting any kind of discounts from your work, could you pay bills at their full price?

6. Could You Cut Back Your Hours Instead of Quitting?

Cutting back the time you spend at work may ease stress over work/life balance. Since you're already on the verge of giving your 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.

You could start a job search for a 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 You 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 to yourself.

Not so fast.

The life of a stay-at-home mom isn't all roses and clover. There are a lot of repeating the same tasks that you'd have to endure without much gratitude. Being on duty 24-7 can exhaust your patience making parenting more challenging. Are you really up for this?Many moms find that they enjoy their kids more by having focused time with them outside of the work day.

Many moms find that they enjoy their kids more by having focused time with them outside of the work day. Are you one of them? Give this question some thought. You owe it to yourself and your family to make sure you'd be happy as a stay-at-home mom.

In the end, being a hands-on mom is a short-term job. Your baby will head off to elementary school in five years. Then in another 13 years, they 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.