Mom’s returning to work after staying home to raise children have a LOT to consider. Seriously, as women we are all things to all people. That doesn’t change because we are taking on more work. Here’s what I have learned from personal experience and through helping other moms reenter the work world. Before leaping head first into the job boards, read this blog to avoid some common traps and pitfalls of returning to work without a proper strategy.
Not Examining Your Motives
In our last blog we discussed how important being clear on your motives is to your confidence. Confidence and clarity don’t seem related, but they are. If you’re wishy washy or unsure about this next step, it’s going to have you second guessing yourself at every turn. List out all of your reasons for going back to work. Then note what you want from each of these motivators. What restrictions are you going to face? Don’t be afraid of the details. How much money exactly do you need to make? How many hours can you devote to work? Do you need to pick the kids up from school? Can you travel? Is there a burning desire you want to explore? Answering these questions will help guide what type of career choices will work best from a financial and work-life balance perspective.
Not Taking the Time to Transition
Making the decision to return to work is a big one, regardless of how little or long you have been away. It can be an emotional time and one that can’t be rushed. Think of yourself like a glass of red wine – you’re better when you’ve had some room to breathe. Give yourself some time to mull things over. Get clear before you invest in that business or sign up for that degree program. Volunteer, temp or freelance first while you figure out your next move. Choosing the right career will excite you and you are more likely to weather the ups and downs in your career if know what you are doing and why and are excited about where you are headed.
Miscalculating the Amount of Free Time
You may be under the misconception that now that the kids are in school, you’re going to have gobs of time to devote to your career. Don’t forget that when your children were with you, you were still getting things done, right? Moms are natural multi-taskers. They watch the kids while doing housework, grocery shopping, running errands, etc. These activities will still need to get done even though the kids are away. It isn’t uncommon for moms to think, “I’m going to be free from eight to three now that the kids are in school”. Unfortunately, stuff still needs to get done. There isn’t as much time as you think which leads us to the next pitfall.
Failing to Renegotiate Duties with Partner
Going to work also means that your partner will have more responsibility as well. You may overlook many of the things you are accomplishing on a daily basis: taking care of the house, doctor and dentist appointments, laundry, housework, other errands and meals. To avoid this trap, I recommend to my clients returning to work to track everything they are doing on paper for two weeks. Then set aside some time to discuss these items with your partner. Don’t fall into the trap of remaining in charge of everything and just asking for help. A promise of “I’m going to help you more” isn’t going to cut it. Delegate things and truly give them over. Create a list together detailing the activities that comprise your life and who will be owning those things. Stay flexible, but be clear.
Mistaking Themselves for Superwoman
Another misconception women have is thinking that not only will they have tons of time now that the kids are in school, but they will have unlimited amounts of energy to devote to their career. Unfortunately, personal energy is based on how much of ourselves we have left over after we do all those other things and for many moms that’s not a lot. Heck, a shower can feel like a luxury. Taking on a new position or career can mean having to cut out other activities so that we have the stamina to get through the day without feeling like the blood has been drained from us. Based on your conversation with your partner, how much energy will you have to devote to your career? Age, hours of sleep, natural energy levels, stress and commitments all need to be taken into account prior to making a career move. We gotta do what we gotta do, but let’s figure out a way to do it that leaves us sane and not drained.
Being Too Practical
Limited thinking is at the center of every bad career decision. I’m not advocating pie-in-the-sky dreaming, rather a balance of practicality and passion. At this stage of life we need to consider our motivation or purpose for returning to work, our priorities and then set that aside for a while to explore what we are interested in, enjoy doing, and are excited about. This is the splendrous recipe. Motherhood is tiring enough, you deserve to have work that energizes you. Take the time to explore all of your options and see what sticks and what you are being called to do.
Staying in the Box
By now you’ve spent a considerable amount of time examining all the things you need as well as what you want. Now it’s time to get creative. If you think you are limited to finding either a full-time or part-time job with an employer, you’re overlooking a huge field of opportunities. Take some brainstorming time to look at the big picture of your ideal job. Have you considered starting your own business? There are tons of MLM opportunities that can be great way to juggle a demanding schedule and still make money. If that doesn’t fit the bill, there are free-lancing and other work-from-home opportunities to investigate. Looking for postings on local mom sites is a great place to start. Flexjobs.com is another resource. Don’t be limited by how work is traditionally done. There are a lot of possibilities out there.
At Careerfulness, we help moms get happily back to work! Contact Careerfulness for a free consultation.
Written by Pam Farone. www.careerfulness.com