26/05/2009 05:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne - Should I Go Back To Work Or Start My Own Business?

Do you have a question for our life coach Joanne Mallon?
Email it here and say if you'd like your name changed.

Susan writes:

I have three children aged 5, 3 and 1. I've had a dilemma for the last 5 years about whether or not to return to 'a real job' (by that I mean a 5 days-a-week career running my own part-time business).

Is there a series of questions I can ask myself that would help me make the 'right' decision?

Dear Susan

As I think you've already worked out, there is no 'perfect' solution to this one, only the solution that works best for your and your family. And remember that this solution will change over time as you and your children's needs change.

You may find it useful to consider these questions:

  • Say you had decided to go back to work, what would you do?
    If the pressure of making a decision is weighing you down, pretend that you had decided, and start looking at the job market from that point of view. Do you intend to return to a previous job, or apply for something new? What's the job market like where you are right now?
  • What kind of extra support do you have?
    In my experience, it's not so much the day to day childcare that's a challenge, but the extra bits -- the loose ends and emergencies. If you're working, who will help if your child is ill, or you're running late, or they need picked up early?
  • Is security or flexibility more important to you?
    Yes, some jobs will offer you both, but broadly speaking you will have more flexibility running your own business. The downside to this is that it can be much more stressful to be the boss. Some people prefer a secure job that they can just leave at the door -- which are you?
  • What kind of work do you love to do?
    When have you felt most fulfilled, work-wise? What will make you feel most satisfied, so that you go back to your family happier for having done it?

Hope this helps, I would love to hear what you decide to do next

Best wishes


Send your parenting question or dilemma to life coach Joanne at this address