Taking time from the workforce to raise your kids is common, both for moms and dads today. Returning to work after taking a few months or years off can be challenging. It’s a big change for everyone involved. If going back to work is what you want as a mother, then it’s a good move for yourself and your family. If you’re nervous about going back to work, consider the following tips.
1. Address the Time at Home
Many people will skirt around the fact that they were unemployed for a while. And while it’s tempting to list being home as a job, it’s not exactly appropriate. It’s a job in its own right, but one where you’re beholden to your family. A professional job encompasses different responsibilities, and it will help you land a professional job if you demonstrate that you understand the difference.
Don’t try to hide the time you spent at home. Instead, address the resume gap up front on the resume. You can include it in the introduction or list it as a single line item. Keep it simple and explain that you took time off to stay home, but you’re ready and excited to return to the workplace. Potential employers will respect your honesty.
2. Add Freelance Work to Your Resume
If you worked while you were home, make sure to include it on your resume. Freelancing is a professional job, and it has every reason to be included. If you did sales, did some freelance art or writing projects or subbed for a nearby office position, include it. It will help to lessen the gap on your resume.
It will also demonstrate that you can work while taking care of your family. Even an occasional or part-time job helps you to stay current and can help you gain new skills. This is especially true for freelance work, where you have to market yourself regularly.
3. Update Your Wardrobe
Going from a daily mom job to a professional job often requires a wardrobe change. If you still have professional clothes from before the kids, try them on and see if they still work. Otherwise, you might have to go shopping. But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend a fortune!
Second hand clothing is incredible in the US. People buy so many clothes and they often donate items from last season — some that were never even worn. It’s not unusual to find clothing items with the tags still on them, for less than half the price of what you’d pay in a retail store. Professional clothes are often classic instead of trendy, so you’re almost sure to find pieces that will work for you.
4. Network, Network, Network
Leaning on your friends and family is easily the best way to land a position, especially if you know any headhunters. You’re likely to have the resume gap stacked against you, so you’re competing against people with more recent experience and potentially a more updated skill set.
Knowing a hiring manager or HR representative can be your foot in the door, especially if you receive notification of a position before they start recruiting the general public. Learn how to network properly, and you’ll have a much easier time finding a position with less competition.
5. Find Child Care Early
The last thing you want to have to deal with is a childcare provider you aren’t happy with. There are a variety of options you can choose from, including a traditional daycare, a private in-home daycare, a nanny, or even an au pair. You should secure back-up care as well. If the daycare doesn’t take sick kids, you’ll need someone to babysit if needed.
In some situations, it could be incredibly helpful to have a live-in nanny or an au pair. When you have someone that comes to live with you, you have the benefit of your child and the individual forming a close bond. You’ll also be there to see their interactions, so you’ll know if you can trust them. You’ll need to arrange for their schedules to match yours as much as you can. If you choose to host an au pair, their schedule might be harder to change if they’re flying out of the country for their vacation.
6. Join a Local Professional Meetup
Most areas offer some kind of meetup for local professionals. If you live in a big city or are in a popular field, you might be able to find one specific to your job search. Otherwise, there might a mishmash of different professions at each meeting. Regardless of what type of meet up you attend, it will be a benefit and give you a much better chance of finding a job opening.
7. Prepare Your Family
Going from a stay-at-home-parent to a working one is a huge change and will take some adjusting for everyone in the family. Start talking to your partner and deciding who will be responsible for what. You’ll need to split chores and cooking a bit more since you won’t be home all the time. It might also be a good idea to set up a regular night off for both of you, where you can leave the cooking and chores for the next day. The regular night off is usually a good night to order take out as well!
As far as the kids go, you might have to take it a little slower. If you know you’re planning to get a job, take some time to get them used to a new morning routine. If they’re already in school, this won’t be a change. If not, they’ll have to adjust to getting up and out the door in short order. You don’t want to try it for the first time on your first day!
They should also get used to leaving you for a while. Try leaving them with the childcare provider part-time before you go back to work, so it isn’t as much of a jolt. If you can work part-time when first going back, do it. You’ll need to give yourself some time to adjust as well.
Going back to work is a big change, especially if you’ve had a few years to stay home. It’s a big deal, but it’s far from impossible. The most important part of it is to try to give yourself some grace. It’s okay to need time to adjust to the change. In the end, if going back is what you want, it’ll all be worth it.