Being a stay at home mom can be fulfilling, challenging, and downright exhausting all at the same time but what happens next can be even more daunting.
Making the decision to return to the workplace, whether that be straight after maternity leave, when your child starts kindergarten or even later, is a major decision for most families and can bring about many different emotions.
You may feel sad at the prospect of leaving your child, concerned about how they will cope with the change in their daily life, and nervous about how you will cope with the demands of family life and career. That’s without even thinking about the pressures of finding a job after so long out of the workforce.
However, with the right planning, preparation, and a little bit of luck, you can make the transition from stay at home mom to working mom a smooth one.
1. Work out what you want/need from a prospective employer
Your first thought when looking for a job may be about what you can offer the workplace, but with a family to look after your first task should be working out what you need from an employer.
What is the number of hours that you are available to work? Does your job have to fit around school hours only or do you have some flexibility?
Do you want a job that you can just do in a set number of hours, come home and forget about it until the next day? Or do you want a position that will allow you to progress your career?
Can you deal with a stressful, fast-paced working environment each day? Or would that have a negative impact on how you are with your family?
All these questions are vitally important and need to be addressed before you even start looking for work. Of course, you may not know all the answers and it may be a case of trial and error for some moms, but at least try and think about what it is you want and need from a job (other than extra income) before you start applying.
2. Update your resume and social media platforms
The world of work may well have changed a lot since you were last in it, depending on the industry that you worked in, but whatever your job type is, it is always helpful to update your resume before looking for new employment opportunities.
It is important to explain the gap in your employment history and there is nothing wrong with explaining that you have taken time off to raise a family, although you are not obliged to do so.
If you have done any volunteering or helped to organize school events, then mention these; pointing out what transferable skills you used to carry out these non-paid roles will show your employer what you are capable of and how you have continued to assert yourself and grow as an individual whilst being out of employment.
By updating your LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one, set one up, as they are invaluable), you can show potential employers that you are interested and aware of current industry developments, as well as it being a platform for job searching.
3. Consider upskilling
If you have been out of the workplace for a substantial amount of time, then chances are that the technologies in your chosen field have moved on a bit (or a lot); so consider looking at courses that could fill in any gaps in your knowledge.
Going back to work after being a stay at home mom can also be a great time to consider a career change. Think about what skills you have acquired since being a mommy.
Are you more nurturing than you were before? Most likely yes.
Do you have more patience? Definitely yes!
So, why not consider a career in a job that involves caring for others such as nursing? It couldn’t be easier to sign up for an online program to earn an RN MBA duel degree which could lead to you earning over $100,000 per year.
What have you got to lose?
4. Be flexible but know your rights
The current job market is competitive, there is no point in sugar-coating it to be anything else, so it is important that you are as flexible as possible when looking for work.
Would you consider starting off part-time, for instance? This may not be what you want in the long-term, but if it puts you back in the workplace, gaining experience, learning new skills and building your confidence, then it may be beneficial for you.
Temporary roles can also be helpful for those who do not know what type of job they want to be in. These roles are often plentiful and give you the opportunity to see what type of working environment and industry you will enjoy working in.
However, it is equally important that you know your rights as a parent returning to work; you have dependents and, therefore, you are legally allowed to take time off (within reason) to care for them when needed (although this may be unpaid).
5. Be organized with childcare
Although you won’t know your exact childcare requirements until you have found a job, you should start looking at your childcare options as soon as possible.
Are you going to put your child into a nursery? Or would a childminder better suit your situation? Do you have family members who can help in case of an emergency? Can your partner help with the drop-off or pick up of your children?
Starting a new job is stressful enough without having to worry about your childcare arrangements, so make sure that you plan for every eventuality.
It is also important for both your peace of mind and your family’s wellbeing that you get your children settled into the new routine of mommy going to work. It may take time for them to adjust (as they are probably used to mommy being on hand 24/7) but try talking to them about why you are going back to work and what the benefits are for the family.
You may also want to take to your partner about delegating the housework! Resentment can soon build up if you feel you are having to continue your previous role as a homemaker as well as managing a new job.
6. Believe in yourself
This is the most crucial step and essential if you are going to be able to successfully re-enter the workplace. You may find a job that you love in a matter of weeks, or you may have to take a role that you’d rather not due to financial reasons, or you might even not find anything at all for the first few months, but you must try and remain positive.
The right job is out there for you; with a boss that will appreciate you and with colleagues that will respect and help you.
Be patient, do not give up and know your worth!