A Guide to Starting Your Return to the Working World
Going back to work after full time parenting can be daunting.
You will likely feel a huge mix of emotions; the excitement of working and spending time with adults again, the guilt associated with doing something for yourself, the pain of going back to work earlier than you want, the stress of juggling the workloads both in your job and in your home… and some of these emotions don’t ever seem to go away.
In addition, many women suffer a crisis of confidence when they have been away from work for a long period of time, and worry a lot about their job performance. To add to this, if your children are little, you also start to worry and become anxious about how they are coping without you.
As you become a working mum, your emotional state is about as stable as a wonky donkey, but you have to give the impression that you’ve got-it-together, which just adds to your stress levels.
The key to handling the stress and overwhelming emotions that accompany the return to work as a mum is to find ways to love what you do, why you do it and who you are when you do it.
Mummy guilt can be particularly prevalent when we are returning to the working world. By finding the right job for you means:
- – no longer missing out on much needed enthusiasm and energy that comes with finding your work highly meaningful and engaging
- – allaying feelings of doubt and guilt from being at work instead of with your kids
- – your children will grow up learning that work doesn’t have to be a place of resentment; instead it can be somewhere to grow, inspire and achieve!
Looking For The Right Job
Let’s start your search for a job you can enjoy whilst you’re away from your little ones by answering a series of out-of-the-box, yet thought-provoking questions:
- – What subject could you read 500 books about without getting bored?
- – What could you do for five years straight without getting paid?
- – What would you spend your time doing if you had complete financial abundance to do anything?
- – What hobbies did you enjoy doing before life got in the way?
- – Imagine that you are very old. What do you wish you had spent the last 20 to 30 years doing?
- – What type of role would you be excited to tell your friends and family about?
- – What projects (paid, volunteer or school-oriented) have you most enjoyed working on and why?
Don’t worry if you can’t answer all of these questions; the idea is to get you thinking about possibilities you had not considered before, or help you to reignite a passion that was already there for jobs you have perhaps held in the past.
Now, returning to the workforce after having children is the perfect time to reconnect with your strengths. Knowing and developing your character strengths can significantly impact your approach to life, your relationships, your career and personal growth.
One of the best online tools available is the free survey by the VIA Institute, which takes about 15 minutes to complete and outlines your top strengths to help you learn more about yourself.
Knowing your personality strengths and core values will help you look for the sort of work that will inspire and motivate you, or help you get back to what’s really important. You might even be surprised by what turns up!
So, now that you have some idea of what sort of jobs may suit you, drive you, connect with you and make you happy, here are our 3 key tips to assist in finding a job that you can enjoy whilst you’re away from your little ones:
Learn Something New
New jobs that have never been heard of are being created every day. To stay relevant, it’s important that we now all see ourselves as life-time learners.
A great way to expand your job options and break back into the workforce is to explore further education and vocational training. By refreshing your skills and/or retraining in a new field, you’re increasing your chances of finding employment that plays to your strengths, adding to your profile of skills and more importantly, boosting your confidence!
When you help others, both you and the person you help get a release of oxytocin. Not only does it give you the warm and fuzzies, but oxytocin boosts our immune systems and enables us to be better problem solvers.
Find a charity or a cause that means something to you and get involved. You’ll meet more people who care about what you do, and gain great new skills and experience at the same time.
Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people and expand your network beyond your existing circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Get to know new people and ask what they do as well. You might end up finding a new opportunity you never thought about before, or meeting someone who can give you a hand on the way to where you want to go.
Acknowledge Your New Skills
‘What new skills?’ I hear you ask… well, you’re a mum, and being a mum is one of the hardest jobs in the world; it’s unpaid, often undervalued and sometimes taken completely for granted. But whilst there is no formal training for becoming a mum, there have been tonnes of on-the-job learning. Being at home with kids may have taught you creativity, stress management, problem-solving, multi-tasking and time management… like no other job you’ve ever had.
This last tip is especially important when heading back into the workforce after a long break, because it is these skills that fill-in that gap on your resume. See below for a perfect (and humourous) example!