Recently, a friend of mine mentioned she was in the same situation as myself. The situation we have in common is entering back into the workforce after a long absence due to full-time motherhood. She said, “I’m going to watch you and see how it’s done.”
When I left the workforce 17 years ago (yikes) I didn’t give much thought about what it would be like when I wanted to return to work. Frankly all that was on my mind was being home to care for my new baby. Being home with my child was something I had always wanted to do and when it happened I was happy.
For many years I was home with the boys and felt fulfilled in my role as a home parent. However, now that my youngest son is in school I feel like I need something more. I feel ready to work outside the home and develop a career.
The closer I get to age 50 the more urgent I feel to return to work. However, I don’t want to get a job just to have a job. Getting a part-time job that is unfulfilling will be difficult for me to stay motivated to do. What I want is a job that uses the skills I developed prior to having children and incorporates the new skills I acquired by becoming a mother. Above all the job must be family friendly so I can continue to support my family.
Here are the steps I plan to take to transition from motherhood to the workforce.
1. Determine if I want a part-time job or full-time career.
This decision was actually a difficult one to make. Working part-time is my ideal situation, but there are very few jobs that are part-time and fulfilling. In my chosen career field (Early Childhood Education) they are almost non-existent. I could go back to teaching, but as I mentioned before my interests are to become a ECE Director. Some women want a job to support the family financially and others want a career. It is really important understand the motivations for returning to work.
2. Know the right time to return to work.
Women (and men) who have chosen to stay home full-time have done so because they felt it was in the best interest of the children and the family. The same consideration must be given when determining when to return to work. Most women, who have a choice, can’t return to work until they feel their children are stable.
It’s important is to trust your instincts to know when you and the family are ready. Other people may tell you “it’s time”, but if your heart isn’t it, choosing to work will only create an unhappy and stressful situation for everyone.
Although my little son is in full-time school I would like to give him more time to adjust to school with my support. I have decided to not look for work for another year or so. This will give time for my oldest son to get his driver’s license and be old enough to pick up my little son from school. One of my biggest concerns about heading back to work is having my little son go to afterschool care.
3. Prepare for the transition.
I have been home full-time for a long time. I have a lot of activities I am involved in, but nothing that could compare to working outside the home. In order to prepare myself for work I have decided to do two things volunteer and go back to school.
Most full-time home parents volunteer at their children’s school, but few do so in the field they hope their career to be in. I am meeting with two women I admire in the Early Childhood Field next week to discuss career plans with them and volunteering. My goal is not to get a job, but to find a place to volunteer my services that will benefit me by updating my skills and find an organization that would benefit from my skilled, free labor.
Some may think volunteering for a job I am capable of being paid for seems a waste of time, but not to me. When you volunteer you have greater flexibly than a paid job. I am able to offer my free services at a time that works best for me. I haven’t worked in my career field for a long time. Volunteering allows me to get updated on skills and possibly make future career connections. Win-win as far as I am concerned.
I am also heading back to school. The state I live in has new education requirements for my chosen career. I need to have the courses completed and get a permit prior to looking for work.
4. Stay flexible
Plans are wonderful to have, but when you have children staying flexible is crucial. So much can happy in a few months to a year. Some things may work out and some may not. I will have to remember to stay open to new ideas and not get too set in my thinking one way to return back to work is best.
One last note on the topic. I wanted to mention is if you’re not ready to head back to work don’t apply for jobs. I have done this several times and have been offered jobs only to turn them down and look like a fool in the process. Sometimes full-time home parents get lonely, bored, anxious, and think finding a job right away will erase all those feelings. Apply for jobs when you are prepared, the family is ready and the timing is right. Employers deserve to hire someone who is ready to work, not someone whose heart is elsewhere.
I shared my thoughts to a friend of mine recently. Her husband is ready for her to go back to work, but she isn’t sure. I suggested she view getting back to work as a slow transition very similar to how we transition children from preschool to full-time school and to begin the process I mentioned above. Here’s what she had to say,
Thanks for the inspiration … I am now officially in a slow transition back to the workforce instead of kicking and screaming straight back to work.
Hope the transition works out for both of us.