When making a decision, understand that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Each mother needs to make the decision based on her own family situation.
Many mothers would love to continue with their careers after having children, but believe that doing so would have an adverse effect on the kids since they would not be around as often. In Part I of the article, I have put forth the results of research conducted on numerous children from various families - which states that children do not suffer if their mothers are career women.
So, if the only reason you choose not to work is because you feel your kids will suffer if you do work - you may need to rethink your decision.
However, the well being of your children is not the only criterion when it comes to deciding whether or not to take up a job.
This is a big factor. If you are unable to get good help, you may need to work both outside and inside the house, which can be a complete nightmare. If your children and husband help with the chores, you may be able to manage, but if you feel that it is still too much of a strain, you may want to consider quitting your job unless you definitely need the second income. Many women choose to stay at home for precisely this reason - because they don't want to kill themselves trying to be a super-mom. As all mothers know, looking after children does take up a lot of time. Similarly, you want to spend time with your children to be able to bond better with them. If you have domestic help, when you are home you can spend time with the children. But if you don't have domestic help, then when you are home you will be too occupied to spend time with your children.
Your children may still grow up to be loving, well adjusted individuals, but you would have missed out on being there and watching your child from up close, as he grows from a baby to an older child. These are important formative years, and you may want to be around to strengthen the bond between mother and child.
Do you need the extra money? Everyone could do with more money, but how urgent is your need? If your family's demands cannot be fulfilled on one income, taking up a second job may be the best option for the family. Making sure your children have all they need often takes priority over being there for them all the time.
If you do want to or need to work, don't let anyone make you feel guilty for not being around the children. Similarly, if you choose to sit at home, don't think career women have the upper hand, and don't let them make you feel that way. Do remember though that children pass through your lives - you cannot hold on to them forever. They are born when you have already lived 25 - 35 years of your life, and live with you for another 20 years or so, before moving on. Many mothers who put their lives on hold and sacrifice everything for their children, end up feeling cheated and frustrated when their children leave, and find themselves not knowing how to fill their time.
Of course, this doesn't happen to everyone - and, like I said, every family situation is different. In joint families, sons continue living with their parents even after marriage - and their children grow up surrounded by parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. You may want to take your family situation into consideration when making a decision. If you live in a nuclear, professional family and think it likely that your child too will take up a professional job which may require him to move out of the home, you should perhaps think about building a life of your own when you feel the time is right.
Perhaps a good solution would be to be around when the children are younger if your financial situation allows it. As the children grow older and start getting more and more involved in their own lives and activities, you could then start looking for jobs or setting themselves up in their careers. Again, there are no right or wrong answers, and whether you want to get back to work from the day you stop nursing your child, or whether you want to be a homemaker your entire life is entirely up to you. Some women find joy in the workplace, while others find it at home. Be true to yourself.