For the stay at home parent there is a long road between staying home and returning to work. At some point, the sheer inklings and desire to reconnect with your professional passion may have you seeking employment. For others the needs are monetary in nature. When the nest becomes empty with children who are spending all day at school, the stay at home parent can become lonely, disconnected and completely unsatisfied with the quiet that their day now provides. Ironic, because after all these years of wishing for peace, the peace seems to make noise about your purpose in life. Returning to work after having children whether after a short stint home or a lengthy one is never easy.
One of the biggest problems that parents who have stayed home face about returning to work after having children is the fact that the professional world they are accustomed to has sped light years ahead in the time since they were away. Adding to that is the fact that staying home until children reach a certain age of responsibility also means that mom and dad have reached a certain age. Suddenly, mom jeans and a mullet don’t fit in, not to mention the fact that texting and technological gizmos now used professionally every day are a skill that needs to be learned. It can feel very threatening to walk into an office filled with single, or at least childless professionals who look to you as the old maid in the office. When they start using your presence as a way to gain free information about old wives tales, it can lessen your professional persona.
While funny and somewhat uncomfortable – returning to work at this point in life really can be wonderful. Suddenly you may find that you aren’t just working for the paycheck and realize the importance of doing things you love. You also may have completed college in pursuit of a business degree only to find that your time raising children has left you with a real passion for nursing. It’s almost funny how quickly things can change. A decade ago, you may have been sad to leave your very fast-paced executive job to stay home and now…you find your real niche after all these years.
Parents who stay home for the brief maternity leave after having children also feel their heartstrings being tugged tremendously. It is difficult to leave your child, so small and fragile and you begin to realize just how little you trust the world around you. While you were pregnant, you probably felt like your world was complete – but now you know that the one component missing is now upon you. How do you leave that? When you return to work, you will find that you have new incentives to get your job done as quickly as possible, to earn the most money you can and to take joy in the weekend again. Young people typically complete their education and then work in high gear for a few years as they seek out their soul mate. Suddenly, all this effort and time seems for nothing. You may even feel guilty about wanting to leave the office behind for good. You may feel that you are disappointing your spouse, your parents or fearful that you won’t have all the niceties you are accustomed to. The alternate however, leaving your child in a day care can cause some people so much upset that it doesn’t justify the means.
At every stage in life, there are different priorities. As we move from one phase to the other, thinking of course that things are forever, we are blissfully unaware that the future can change in one day. This is exactly how it is with work. Having to decide to return to work after staying home can be both exciting and frightening. It can feel at times that you are caught between two lives. One with your family and the other with your job. Yet, this doubled mirror of a life can also make you a better employee.
Breaking into the work force is difficult. When you have a large gap in your resume that shows many years without employment, you are faced with answering the questions of what in the world you have been doing. The truth is you should hold your head up! Raising children compiles every skill needed in the professional world into one. Chances are you are more patient, more organized, more compassionate, more reliable, more honest, more driven and much more self confident than you were years ago. If you’re into software engineering jobs, being a mom can be an edge for you, too. You can mention how your problem-solving skills and being attentive to details have improved as you start taking care of toddlers. All those negotiations with toddlers and children might just make you the best-qualified person for the new job you desire. You may find that some people like the fact that you aren’t looking to break all the rules in life and that your stability and maturity make you a wonderful candidate. Most parents returning to work after staying home with children are of course asked the inevitable questions about day care. What will you do when the kids get sick? Make sure that you have a convincing answer and find as many options as possible to take care of this problem. The last thing you want is a perspective employer thinking you will be the highest on the list of absentees.
Also, when you think about returning to work especially after having children – don’t be afraid to find something that might just allow you to stay home and work. Telecommuting is every popular and allows you to manage the best of both worlds. Perhaps this is the time to open your own business you have been dreaming of. Maybe you can reach an old contact of yours who knows a certain someone that is looking for exactly what you have to offer. There is no shame in shopping around for a job and believing in yourself. Think of yourself as having been through the hardest part of life and remember all the mini crisis situations that you have handled to date. You will quickly realize that you are cut out for anything.