5 Tips for Stay-At-Home Moms Heading Back to Work
10 months ago
Whether you decide to go back to work after maternity leave or after years of caring for children, the transition from stay-at-home mom to member of the workforce can be jarring. You may be returning to your old job with the added responsibilities of parenthood, or you may be reentering a workplace that’s changed significantly in the years since you left. We’ve got some suggestions to help you rebalance work and life when you return to work.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
If you’ve been out of the workplace for years, you may find your skills—considered innovative just a few years ago—are now considered outdated or obsolete. Advances in technology may have replaced many of your previous job duties or changed the skills you need. Often, this means you have to start on a lower rung of the career ladder than when you left. This can be demoralizing, but the trade-off was those wonderful years you spent with your child, so remember it’s worth the trade.
If you go back to work after maternity leave, you have to learn to balance work and baby. If you’re breastfeeding, do you bring a breast pump to work, and where can you use it? Will you be able to settle back into work immediately, or will you need some time to ease back into work? What if (sorry, when) the baby gets sick and cannot go to daycare? Knowing the answers to these questions makes for a smoother transition back into work life.
Spot Your Career Holes
If you have holes in your skill set as a result of being a stay-at-home mom, how do you fill them? Fortunately there’s an almost unlimited supply of online courses available online, offered by tech schools, colleges, and universities. Some are free, while others cost. Read up on changes in your profession, watch online instruction videos, and reeducate yourself as much as possible.
Your time at home is going to leave a big hole of time on your resume. Minimize the effect this will have on prospective employers by filling it as much as possible. Volunteer work, participation and leadership in clubs, and charity work can all be used to fill this perceived hole (in fact, you’ve been incredibly busy, but unfortunately we still live in a world where “parenting” is not given the same respect as “real” work history). And speaking of social assumptions . . . .
Answer the Unanswered Questions
You’ve got your first interview since returning to the work force! Congratulations! Unfortunately, chances are the interviewer has some questions that he or she may not be able to ask legally, but which can weigh against you. “Is she ready to return to work,” is a common concern, as is “will she decide to return to full-time parenting?” and “Can she manage?”
Are these questions sexist and unfair? Yes, which is why they’re rarely expressed. You can help your case by answering them anyway. Discuss how committed you are to returning to work, why you want to return to work, and how carefully you’ve considered your decision.
Take to Social Media
This isn’t much of a problem if you go back to work after maternity leave, but if you’ve been out of the workforce for a few years, you may not have much of a career presence on social media. If your interviewer runs a search for you and finds nothing, he or she may have reservations about hiring you.
The solution is to become active on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Follow industry leaders and take part in relevant discussions. Share industry articles and comment on professional news. By doing so, you’re establishing that you know your stuff and can interact as an equal with other members of your profession.
Say No to Superwoman Syndrome
Work puts demands on you. So too does parenting and home life. Trying to do everything puts you at danger of Superwoman syndrome, which can cause a range of physical and emotional stress symptoms.
Your return to work will mean some aspects of home life will have to change. Perhaps someone else will have to pitch in with the cooking, or family activities will have to be rescheduled. Remember you’re not alone, and the rest of the family can carry their share of the household chores and responsibilities.
At work, this may mean turning down projects or requests to keep your work and home life balanced. Determining how much you can take on, and then not accepting more than that, makes returning to work much easier.