Whether you’ve stayed home with your children for a few months or several years, re-entering the workforce can be an incredibly overwhelming task. Not only may you need to learn new workplace skills to catch up with your peers, but you’re also now going to be balancing a career with family life. No matter whether you are re-entering the workforce for personal fulfillment or are doing it out of financial necessity, these five tips will help smooth the transition from full-time mom to employee.
Beef Up Your Resume
One thing you don’t want to have when applying for jobs is a giant gap of time on your resume that looks like you weren't doing anything (even though you and every other parent knows you’ve really been working full time the whole time!). Think about any volunteer work you’ve done for your kids' school, your church, or any other organization you’ve helped in recent months or years, and add that work to your resume. No matter what it was, it undeniably required some sort of skill set – skills you should try to list out if you can – and shows that you’ve been an active participant in making something happen.
Depending on how long you’ve been out of the workforce, there may have been a little or a lot of advancement in the technology or general practice in your field. Take a computer class or other class in your field to show that you’ve put effort into staying up to date with the latest advancements in your field.
Find a Career Within One of Your Passions
Just because you are going back to work does not mean that you have to go back to work in the same field that you worked in before you had children. Re-entering the workforce is bound to make the logistics of your everyday a little bit more difficult, and you may find that there are some emotional side effects too since you will be away from your children now. However, if you can find work in a field that you are truly passionate about, you will find the transition to be much easier. That way, despite missing the kids, you will gain a great sense of fulfillment at work, and that will help balance your emotions about going back to work.
Whether your skill set is in accounting, sales, marketing, or teaching, try to find a position within a company that is involved in your passion – be it gardening, animal rescue, cooking, home design and construction, sports, or whatever else it is you enjoy.
Make Sure You and Your Partner are on the Same Page
Going back into the workforce isn’t just going to affect your life, but also the lives of those around you. Talk to your spouse and make sure that you are both on the same page about how much you are going to work (full-time or part-time), who is going to get the kids out the door in the morning, who will put dinner on the table at night, and who will be in charge of which chores around the house. It’s important to have a strong support system and a clear task list for each member of the household so that each day as you head off to work you aren’t scrambling to figure out the logistics of how everyone is going to make it through the day. This will reduce your stress level and allow you to be more focused when you're at work and more relaxed with your family at home.
Adjust Your Routine with the Kids before You Start Working
Even if you haven’t started your new job yet—or even found it for that matter—start making small adjustments to your routine in preparation for going back to work. For instance, create a morning routine which involves getting everyone out of bed, fed, and dressed by the time you anticipate you’ll be leaving for work. Starting this early will result in less stressed mornings when it really counts and prevent you from being late to your new job. Consider starting the kids in day care or school a week or two before your new job starts so that they can get settled before your new job starts, and you can be more comfortable with their new routine as well when you head off on your first day.
Don’t Commit to More than You Can Handle
Re-entering the workforce is a big step, but it doesn’t have to be a giant leap. If working 40 hours per week in addition to making sure that your kids are well cared for seems completely overwhelming, start smaller. Try working two or three days each week or finding a job that allows you to be home in time to get the kids off the bus. Working some nights or weekends is another way to help ease into the transition if it means your partner can be home with the kids. Going back to work can be a very rewarding experience, but if you commit to more than you can handle, you’ll not only be stressed at work and at home, but everyone in your family will be too. It’s better to start small and steadily increase your hours as you become more comfortable with the transition than to go full-time and feel completely overwhelmed from the start.
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