When a mom makes the decision to leave her job and stay home with her kids, it's definitely difficult. She loves what she does, but she also loves being a mom and she feels that this was the right thing to do, at least right now.
The toughest part about deciding to become a SAHM is the moment when a mom realizes that she wants to go back to work. But it's been a few years since she last stepped foot in an office, chatted over coffee in the break room with her coworkers, and was in the swing of things with piles of work on her desk.
Whenever anyone has a gap on their resume, it's tricky to navigate the best way to explain that or to get back into the workforce. It's uniquely tricky for moms who have been home raising their little ones. But it's not impossible to go back to work, and there are many ways that moms can approach this. As long as she has a strategy, a mom can absolutely go back to work and thrive. There are just some new things that she has to be aware of.
Here are 20 things that moms should watch out for after a three-year parenting gap.
20 Being A SAHM Won't Get You The Job
According to Today's Parent, it's not the best idea to talk about how being a SAHM can apply to the job that you're interviewing for. You can't say that you were really busy, juggled multiple projects, learned how to multitask, and so on. Although this seems relevant, the person who you're speaking to might not see it that way.
As the publication says, "Unfortunately, there are no bonus points. In a job interview, it’s alright to be proud of raising your kiddos, but don’t expect that to have an impact on Human Resources final decision." This is a good thing for moms to remember when they re-enter the workforce.
19 Be Honest About Raising Your Little Ones, But Don't Make Excuses
The general advice is that it can be tricky to know how to talk about being a mom in a job interview. How much do you say? Do you talk in detail about your little ones... or is that not the greatest idea? It can feel like there is no right or wrong thing to do, but many experts agree that talking too much about your kids isn't the way to go here.
People say to be honest that you stayed home to raise your kids, but don't over-explain, and don't make excuses about why you haven't been working. Your new boss will know that you're a mom and then the two of you can talk about the position in more detail.
18 Childcare Costs A Lot, So It Has To Be Worth It
Very Well Family points out that if you go back to work, you're going to have to pay for childcare, such as a nanny or daycare. Will your job be worth it? Will you be making enough to cover everything? This isn't something that you had to think about before starting your family, of course.
As the website says, "An additional income heading to your family's bank account after all this time living off of one paycheck makes it sound like your decision should be easy. However, you have to consider the amount of money you'll be bringing in versus the cost. You'll have to factor in clothes and gas, of course, but now you'll also have to consider the cost of childcare."
17 Your Salary Will Be Affected
When you go back to work after having kids, you might actually make a lower salary than you did before.
According to Today's Parent, "A Globe and Mail reader wrote to the Corporate Governess columnist for advice on returning to work after being a stay-at-home mom. One of her concerns was that she was working longer hours and making less money than she did a decade ago. While I’m sure it’s a disappointing situation, it’s not surprising. Opting out of the workforce means opting out of the incremental raises that come with staying in your [chosen profession] for the long haul." This seems like the unfortunate reality of deciding to start a family and stop working for a few years.
16 A Break Makes It Tough To Advance Or Get Promoted
Getting a promotion can be tough enough when you've been at the same company for a few years. Your boss might pass you over even when you're the most qualified.
It's also true that you might find it tough to get promoted or advance in your job after taking a break. As Parent Map explains, "One study found that [U.S.] women who take between four and 12 months off work after the birth of a child slash their chances of being promoted by 15 percent, compared to women who take a shorter maternity leave. The same study also found that having more children increases the [professional] penalty: After having two or more children, women are more likely to make a downward [work] change than an upward one."
15 Employers Like When You Volunteer In A Related Field
While away from your job to raise your kids, employers like to see that you did something related to your work. This means volunteering. While it might seem like this wouldn't matter, it actually does, and it's a pretty cool way to stay in the game, so to speak. You get to do what you love (raising your sweet, adorable kids) and also add some things to your resume.
Today's Parent says, "It’s important to use your professional skills in some capacity while you’re on leave from your [work]." The website mentions two moms who volunteered: "Leslie taught visual art and infant development classes at a children’s activity centre; Colpitts helped raise funds for a new playground at her sons’ school."
14 You Might Change Fields Entirely
Going back to work after having kids doesn't always mean going back to the same office... or even in the same industry.
Maybe the time away made you realize what you really want to. Or perhaps your job was too demanding and now that you're a mom, it just wouldn't be feasible.
This is what a mom writing on a forum on Mums Net talked about. She wrote, "I won't be returning at anywhere near the level I was at before but that doesn't bother me as I'm more interested in pursuing a different [professional] path now anyway." This is the reality of going back to work after a parenting gap, but it's also a silver lining. You could find that you love what you do now even more.
13 You Might Have To Put In Work And Learn New Skills
Forbes advises moms to learn new skills before going back to work. This could mean skills related to technology, interning somewhere, or an Internet class.
Expert Jennifer Gefsky told Forbes, “ You can’t go into an interview and say, “I haven’t worked in five or ten years, but here I am! I’m a huge fan of taking an in-person class and just being around people other than your social networks at home. It’s putting yourself in a different world. It’s getting yourself ready to go.”
This is a really good thing to keep in mind and seems like it could really help moms get back into the working world.
12 Be A Great Fit For The Company, And Show You're Passionate
You always want your boss to see that you love your job and that you work really hard every day. There is no greater compliment than when they say that you have an awesome work ethic or that you really understand what you're doing.
When you go back to work after a parenting gap, this becomes even more important. Fast Company says that you need to show that you're passionate about what you do. This will also ensure that you're feeling inspired to work when you keep missing your kids and wondering if you made the right choice. You also want to be a really great fit for the company and prove your worth.
11 You Might Need To Pump At The Office
Are you returning to work with a toddler and a baby at home? You might need to pump at the office, so it's good to be aware of this ahead of time and plan ahead. It might feel tough to think about this since you're so used to doing this in the comfort of your own home, but many women have done this, and it's just what you have to do sometimes.
Vogue gives some great advice: "If you’re breast-feeding, buy a second set of pumping parts to leave at work. Buy a cute insulated freezer bag to carry your pumped supply back and forth. (The chic breast-milk tote: It’s perfectly possible.)"
10 Understand Your Boss Might Worry About You Taking Time Off For A Sick Kid
It's a reality that kids get sick sometimes and this is going to happen when you go back to work. Hbr.org says that when you're in a job interview, your new boss might wonder if you're going to take time off to take care of a sick child.
The publication advises you to talk about your reason for going back to work: "The hiring manager may have two unspoken concerns: Does she really want to be here? Does he have childcare figured out, or will he get called away all the time if his kid is sick? You need to allay the manager’s concerns proactively and explain why you’re applying for this job at this moment."
It may seem unfair because of course you can work and also raise your little ones, but this is another reality of the situation.
9 Make Your Partner Part Of Things And Work Out A Plan
It's also a good idea to talk to your partner and make a plan for when you go back to work.
Milewalk says, "Obvious, right? No. Agree what your ideal situation looks like. Agree what an acceptable situation looks like. This becomes even more complicated in situations when you’re divorced or separated. The point is to make sure you know what your success factors and limitations are. Most importantly, make sure you support each other during this big change!"
Maybe your partner can leave work half an hour early and pick up the kids from school, or you can agree to meal prep on Sundays so you don't have to cook dinner during the week. Anything that you can do to make things easier will be a big help.
8 Grabbing Coffee Could Win You The Job
These days, it's common to respond to job postings online, but when you're going back to work after a parenting gap, you might want to set up coffee meetings as well. This could be how you get the job.
The Muse says, "You’ve got a much better shot of landing an interview if you endear yourself to someone on the inside of whichever companies you’ve got your eye on rather than hoping you’ll make it through the online screening process. You need an opportunity for the decision makers to meet you personally and see that you really are incredible."
That last point is important. Since you have been out of the workforce for a little while, it's good to make those face-to-face connections.
7 Networking Could Be Necessary
Chances are, you've heard that networking is a good idea. People often say that when you want to get a job or change fields, it's not what you know, it's who you know.
Milewalk advises moms to think about networking as way to re-enter the workforce: "Unless you’ve been a recluse and avoided every parent-teacher conference, you have a network and I’m sure it’s better than you think it is. Assemble your contacts in some organized fashion."
Isn't it awesome to know that you can still have a network, even if you haven't been working? This is great, really helpful advice.
6 Don't Only Apply For Full-Time Positions
It's easy to think that going back to work means applying for full-time jobs. But Working Mother suggests that moms who are in this position look outside full-time: "Seek freelance projects, temp assignments and/or contract work. Take a class that has a fieldwork component so you can learn current industry needs and challenges. offer to work pro bono for a start-up in your field."
Sometimes these part-time or freelance jobs can lead to more full-time positions, which is one good reason to do this. It's also true that you might love working part-time since that would give you more time with your kids.
5 Being Confident Is Super Important
As a mom wrote for Thought Catalog, "It’s been five tough long years but the best part is I LOVE what I do and even though it’s still a struggle at times with the logistics, homework, etc., I believe in myself and my abilities. And I always have to show it strong, without being arrogant or self-centered. You have to radiate that self-confidence to employers.”
Being confident is always important when you're trying to get a job, but it could be even more crucial when you're juggling family life and re-entering the working world. This will definitely help you know that you're making the right choice and that you can handle this.
4 Find A Coach To Help With Your Job Interviews
For most people, job interviews are incredibly stressful. You want to make the best impression but are sweating up a storm (while trying not to show that you're sweating, of course, which makes it even tougher). Going for a job interview after staying home to raise your kids for three years? That would definitely be even more stressful.
Working Mother suggests that moms going back to the office after a parenting gap should find a coach who can help them with job interviews. This is a great way to practice, be able to answer every question that might come up, and feel super prepared.
3 Even If You Don't Want Help, You Need It
Fast Company says that if you're going back to work, you definitely need to get some help. Family and friends can be there for you because it's a tough transition.
This could be just as hard as getting back into the routine of working. You want to do everything and if you have mom friends who don't seem to have any help, you might compare yourself to them. But it's okay to want some assistance. Remember that this is a transition and that it won't be like this forever. The people in your life care about you and they want you to succeed, and they'll be glad to be part of this.
2 Make Sure The Office Respects Working Moms
The Guardian brings up a good point: "What are the workplaces like that you're applying to – what is the culture around working parents? How might this influence the experience of having another child while working there?"
Sure, you could definitely say yes to any position that you can get, but why not search for a company that respects working mothers? This will not only be a better environment to work in but knowing that you're supported will be a big help when things do come up (like your kid coming down with a cold, for example). Feeling that respect is everything.
1 Keep Trying Even If It's Tough To Find A Job
Hbr.org suggests that moms keep trying even when it's tough to find a job. It's good to remember that when you decide to go back to work after a parenting gap, you might not get a position ASAP. Or you might interview for a job for several months and then hear a no from them.
You've already done the tricky thing -- decided that it's best for you to go back to work -- so it's good to remember that this could be a long process. In the meantime, you have your adorable kiddos to hang out with every day, right?
Sources: Todaysparent.com, Verywellfamily.com, Parentmap.com, Mumsnet.com, Forbes.com, Workingmother.com, Thoughtcatalog.com, Fastcompany.com, Theguardian.com, Hbr.org, Vogue.com, Themuse.com, Milewalk.com