Not every mom is the same. Some won’t have taken any time off from work at all. Some won’t have been working in the first place. Others will be more than happy to stay at home and not go back to work, and others will want to go back to work as soon as they can. Or perhaps work is something they will consider once more when the children are older and no longer need them quite so much. Whichever option you choose, if you do want to go back into the workplace after having taken some time out, it can be daunting. There are many things to take into consideration, and here are some of them to think about.
How will it work?
When there were no children in your life to think about, the logistics of going to work were not overly complicated. You would get up, get washed and dressed, have a drink and something to eat, and be on your way. When you have children this routine may not stay the same, and you will need to take other things into account. For example, you should consider:
- Childcare – do you need to stop off at a childminder’s or at a nursery? Do you have to wait for a nanny or minder to come to you?
- Food – do you need to make school lunch for your children as well as something for yourself?
- Illness – what if one of your children is unwell? What can you do? Will you need to take a day off work?
- School – do you need to get the children to school or will someone else handle this? Do you need to be there to collect them at the end of the day?
These and other questions will need to be answered before you can start applying for and accepting jobs. Finding the ideal job is a relatively simple matter, but if it doesn’t tally with your home life and what your children need, then you may not be able to go for it.
If you have taken a few years (rather than a few months) off work, or if you choose to start in an entirely new career now that it is time to go back into the workplace, then you should assess whether the skills you have are going to help you find a job and be successful.
If you find that you don’t have the qualifications or knowledge you need to go back to work there are a number of things you can do to help yourself. You can learn online with the Texas Woman’s University, for example, giving you the ideal balance between home and study as you can work at your own pace.
Qualifications are something that will usually be required when you are looking for work, but sometimes the experience can be just as useful, and these are skills that you might not even know you have. If you are going into nursing, for example, the fact that you have taken time out to care for children could have provided you with many of the practical skills and soft skills that you need.
A support network
Choosing to go back into the workplace after taking time out isn’t an easy decision. Even if you know it’s something you want to do, when you have children there are many other factors to think about, as we’ve mentioned above. Remember, you are not the only woman in this position, and if you reach out, either in your local community or perhaps on online forums or social media groups, you will find others just like you.
The support that these women can give you is invaluable. You will learn a lot about how to juggle a career and being a mom and you will be able to ask many questions as you need to. Plus you might find that you can help someone else by answering questions that they have.
Don’t forget that you have people all around you who can also be an excellent support network. A partner, parents, siblings, friends, neighbours, and many other people are all potential helpers. Plus, when you do start work again, you can talk to colleagues about their own experiences of childcare and striking the right work-life balance. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to help a mom out when she needs it.
One of the most important considerations that you will need to take into account when you are thinking to go back to work after being a stay at home mom or taking a few months out for maternity leave, is whether you’re rushing things. Going back to work too soon will do much more harm than good. You might find that you struggle to be away from your children, or that they find the separation hard to deal with, for example. Plus, being a mom not only takes a physical toll but a mental and emotional one as well; if you’re not in the right place to take on a job and the responsibilities that go with it, you could damage your mental health.
Equally, you shouldn’t rush into work if you’re doing so for the wrong reasons. If someone else has persuaded you that you need to work even if you don’t want to, for example, you will most likely find that you are miserable in your work, and this will affect your home life and the relationship you have with your children. You should only go back to work or start studying if you are sure it’s the right thing for you.
Could it be flexible?
When you are searching for a job, have you ever come across something that sounds absolutely perfect except for the location or the hours that are required in the job? This happens more often than you might think, and most people would be disappointed but would move on to look for something else.
What if you did something different? If you are sure you have the right experience and qualifications and you feel that you have found the ideal job for you, why not ask about flexible working, or see if the employer would consider allowing you to work from home either full or part time? You won’t have lost anything by asking, and you might come away with the right job for you.