As your children get older and begin attending school, you may be thinking about returning to work. Whether intimidating or exciting, you’re likely experiencing a full spectrum of emotion regarding a return to full or part-time work. Depending upon your career field, the transition from being a stay-at-home-parent to returning to work will require some preparation.
A Foot In The Door
As you begin, be sure and set realistic expectations for yourself when applying and interviewing for jobs. Don’t ignore the gap in your resume, or expect potential employers to, either. As you make updates, avoid trending terminology such as a ‘domestic goddess’ or ‘household manager’.
You’re better served simply explaining that you took time off to raise your family and use the moment to explain how you kept professional skills sharp with fitting anecdotes. For example, if you’ve worked with a neighborhood or school committee, highlight your involvement and how you helped streamline operations. Emphasize the kinds of connections you made and highlight how you work well with others. Examples like this are helpful for anyone, but invaluable for parents reentering the workforce.
Cast A Wide Net
No matter how long it’s been since you last worked outside the home, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with former co-workers. They can provide great insight into current operations if you’re considering re-applying to a former company. Or, if they have changed jobs, they can give you advice on approaching open positions at their current company or share their perception on job hunting.
Attending networking events for professionals in your industry is another great way to reacquaint yourself with the market. Not only are these events another great way of catching up on the latest trends, it’s an invaluable technique for finding jobs where you can apply your skills.
As radical as the idea may be for some, it’s important not to overlook changing professions entirely. You may find that stay-at-home-parenting has sharpened abilities such as organization or that the market shifts in your past profession leave much to be desired. Stay open to new opportunities. As you’re navigating a changing workforce, don’t forget that you’ll need to make big changes at home, too.
Updating More Than Your Resume
Depending on how long you’ve been out of the workforce, you may need to spend some time catching up on the latest developments that affect your industry. If it’s been a few years since you filed out a W-2, you should consider taking some evening classes or becoming recertified, if necessary, to get caught up on new methods or technology. You’ll also want to consider some updates at home.
Spend some time (and budgeted money) on yourself and freshen up your wardrobe. Donate your outdated items and invest in some updated items. Not only are tailored pants and a new blouse ideal for an interview, a new outfit will also give you a boost of confidence. After you’ve tackled your closet, you and your partner may want to look in the garage.
If transitioning from home to work means a longer commute for you or your spouse, take into account mileage and gas costs of your current vehicle(s). A big SUV may be ideal for playgroups and visits to relatives, but daily drives to-and-from the office can be a big drain on the wallet. A more cost-effective or reliable vehicle or even car-pooling may be a better choice for your family.
Making It Work So You Can Work
When you start back to work, or even beforehand, you need to have a discussion with your partner, your boss, your children’s school or daycare and other family members or friends, about scheduling. If you can get pick-ups, drop-offs, and on-call emergency or illness help figured out beforehand, you’ll breath a lot easier when returning to work. Find out what you absolutely cannot change (such as pick-up times at day care) and then build your schedule around these immovable standards. If you need to come into work earlier so you can leave on time, talk to your boss or manager about doing so.
Once you’ve established a workable schedule, take initiative and organize the coming-and-goings of your family. Use an online calendar template through Gmail or Outlook, an app or even set up a physical ‘command center’ in your kitchen. Whatever method works best for you will make life easier for everyone. It’s also a great idea to create folders with copies of your child’s important information. If the daycare calls and you’re stuck in a meeting, your on-call babysitter or a grandparent may need a signed permission slip or copies of the child’s insurance card for medical purposes and immunization records.
Thinking ahead as your prepare to return to work will make your transition smooth. With the support of your family and co-workers, you can apply an equal focus on your career and home life and while tackling everything from last minute science fair entries to tight deadlines at the office.
This concludes our series about the decisions families make when a parent chooses to change roles and become a stay-at-home parent. For more advice on navigating financials or saving up for your growing family, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Sheri Baker.