Woman Next Door: Back to School Work

August 1, 2019 | by anna rogers | photo by jana graham photography

Having a child brings so many amazing moments and emotions into a woman’s life, but this new lifestyle as a mom also brings with it many important decisions to be made. “Should I return to work, or stay at home? Should I try and work part-time? If I stay home, when will I return to work?” These are all tricky questions, and the answers aren’t one-size-fits-all.

For moms who decide to take on the role of a stay-at-home mom, another tough decision awaits. When is the right time to return to a job or career? This can be an intimidating and challenging re-entry. Some challenges can arise on the job and at home when going back to work after staying at home with children.

“Don’t be afraid to give it a try,” says Tina Benson, nurse and mom of three boys. Tina entered back into a career in nursing after two-and-a-half years as a stay-at-home mom, but the process of re-entering the workforce was an intentional one for her and her family.

“If you have the flexibility, wait for the right thing to come along,” she advises. For the Benson family, the right thing was a new position at her old job with ideal hours and an avenue to do what she loves. “This was an opportunity to serve others and use my talents to make an impact on people's lives other than just at home.”

Planning Ahead

One of the best paths to a smooth journey back to work is an open line of communication with places worked before kids came on the scene. “Leaving my job on good terms, keeping an open door, and maintaining relationships with my co-workers and old manager was key,” says Tina.

Keep tabs on your personal marketability during your time as a stay-at-home mom. Consider doing things like research on your subject of expertise, volunteering, and connecting with others in the same field. You may even consider taking a few seminars to keep tabs on advances in your line of work.

Before diving back into out-of-home work, communicate with your spouse and children, mapping out your must-have criteria for a new job. Talk through the tough scenarios. Who will make dinner each night? What do sick days for the kids look like?

“Taking time to communicate with my husband and express the things I was worried about was one of the most important things I did,” Tina recalls. “Be sure to clear the air with your family.”

Getting Back into It

Tina encourages moms to create their own “new normal” when returning to work after being a stay-at-home mom. “I’m good at letting fear get in the way of trying something,” she says. “But I knew this was right for me and that it didn’t need to look just like what my parents did.”

Getting into a routine can be tough. There is fatigue on the job and a sense of being overwhelmed by all that still needs to be done at home. “I realized I had to let things go not exactly the way I would do them,” Tina says with a laugh.

It's likely true for you, too. You are probably your harshest critic, with high expectations for your role as a mom that are rooted in a deep love for your children. In the transition, show yourself plenty of grace, be patient with your family, and don’t sweat the little things, like a mismatched outfit or forgetting to pack a snack.

“On the bad days, I remember that this is my passion and what I want to do,” Tina says. Believe in yourself to pursue the path that feels right for you and your family.

You’ve got this, mama.

Tips for the Stay-at-Home Mom to Working Mom Transition:

1.     Be honest and proud of your time as a stay-at-home mom. Include this on your resumé rather than showing a gap in work history. Use words like “managed,” “scheduled,” “attention to detail,” and “multi-tasking” to describe your work as a mom in the home.

2.     Set expectations, not only at home but also at work. Over-commitment breeds a feeling of failure but setting realistic goals, and achieving them will encourage you on your journey.

3.     Show yourself grace. Some things may have been easier to manage at home while you were physically present more often – cleaning, cooking, scheduling. When you go back to work, you’ve added to your plate. Don’t pressure yourself to do everything exactly as it was done before.

4.     Protect family time. You will likely need to make some sacrifices with your time, but be sure to set aside and prioritize family time in a way that works for your family unit – family dinners, game nights, weekends, etc.

Originally printed in the August 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

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