I've been working for the same small, local company since college (12 years -- CS degree) and the sole programmer for the last 7...5 of which have been almost exclusively from home. I love my job, the company is great, can't ask for a better boss, I'm able to work independently and come up with my own projects. But lately, I've been contemplating staying home* to watch the kiddos (currently 3 all <=5). I'm flat out burned out and my priorities have shifted.
How realistic is it to quit my job for an extended adsence (5+ years) and later return to a programming/IT position? Am I going to be pigeon holed into the baby-track? Will I be untouchable & irrelavant?
* EDIT: "staying at home" = quitting my job/programming. For clarification, I have been working at home full-time with the kiddos from day one. Always in the past, it worked rather well. It was all they ever knew. My parenting style is rather "hands off" (not to say I neglect my children, but I make sure their needs are met while teaching them to be independent and doing things for themselves if it's within their capability). As a result, they have amazing attention spands and are capable of entertaining themselves. Plus a fortune invested in baby gates helps. Toddlers running around are less distracting than my coworkers and all the drama, politics, meetings about the next meeting, etc.
I don't know if it's the addition of #3, or their ages requiring more mental stimulation, or #2 being a yet-to-be-potty-trained holy terror...or a combination thereof...but it's not working so smoothly anymore. I'm debating about quitting completely. I can tell myself to "stay in the loop" independently, but realistically, I know I won't. I already feel irrelavant since I'm not physically in the office.