steppin’ out

steppin’ out

As a young mother, I was anxious about how I would one day re-enter the workforce. I remember taking my four-year-old to a haircut appointment, and, while I waited, I picked up a magazine. The article that caught my eye was geared toward stay-at-home parents, entitled something like, “Ways to Make it Easier to Re-enter the Workforce When You’re Ready.” 

I wanted to tear the article out and keep it, but why didn’t I? (These days I could just take a pic with my phone!) Looking back, I think it was because I was intimidated by the article because my hands were full enough with an on-the-spectrum four-year-old and a two-year-old; the thought of the trying to stay relevant in the workplace, while managing to be a mom who was truly present for my two boys was overwhelming.

So, I left the article behind but never forgot it. Although, unfortunately, I forgot the specific advice offered.

I think re-entering the workforce, after being a stay-at-home parent, has its own set of challenges. Let’s just say, after changing mountains of dirty diapers and being stuck indoors for what felt like years on end for nap times, I began to feel extremely irrelevant in the corporate working world, and, as much as I loved staying home with my two boys, it took a serious toll on my self-worth… until I realized, after my family broke apart, what I cared about contributing to most was my family.

Oh, the things we learn in hindsight…

It’s easier said than done, I know, because I’ve been there, but if you’re feeling lost from staying home with your kids (which has nothing to do with how much you love them), take time to examine those feelings.

Truth is, you ARE still the capable, bright professional you were before you became submerged in playgroups, doctor appointments and nap times. It all can feel so isolating sometimes.

If you come across tips and tidbits on how to stay relevant in the workforce while being a stay-at-home-parent, save the information for present or future reference. Don’t shy away from the advice or allow yourself to feel intimidated by it.

You can start a journal/scrapbook just for your thoughts, articles, leads— anything pertaining to the field that interests you. Even if you’re not ready to go back to work NOW, by taking a little time each day or even once a week— even if it’s just five minutes— to express your work fears or add a helpful piece of advice to your collection, this will move you through feelings of hopelessness to feeling more centered. Let your mind ruminate on the advice, and you should become more comfortable with eventually acting on the advice given.

Another thought is, if possible, to work part-time in the industry you may want to go back to at some point.

For me, getting back into my industry was a little like playing leap frog. I took a job in a field I did not want to be in until, a year and a half later, I finally got back into my industry… and that was with the help of a former colleague. But I also downplayed the years I’d been away, and now that I’m back in, no one remembers I had an employment gap.

Although this article was written in 2020, it is very much relevant now. I don’t want to freak you out, but planning to return to work, after being at home taking care of family, is likely to take some time. That’s why I think this article can be really helpful. Unfortunately, according to this article, it can take longer for those of us who stayed home to take care of family to return to work compared to those who were away for different reasons. But we can’t let ourselves become discouraged by this, otherwise we’ll feel powerless to change our lives and that’s no good. The truth is, if we are resilient, eventually something has to give and change will come.

Here are the bullet point tips from the article. At the end I will include the link so you can delve into how to apply these tips.

 

Make Time to Find Work

Get in the Right Frame of Mind

Get Some Advice

Determine What You Really Want to Do

Make a Job Search Plan

Update Your Social Profiles

Answering Tough Questions About Going Back to Work 

You got the job!