For many parents, the idea of returning to work world after having kids can be petrifying. You’ve been in a safe, family haven for so many years that you may even struggle to picture yourself in the working environment at all. Yet, financial and personal needs often dictate that doing so is vital once your kids reach school age. Otherwise, you’ll be climbing up the walls with nothing to do in no time!
That’s not to say that you need to slip back into a career you didn’t love, or that you need to take the first semi-decent offer you find. Instead, returning to work is one of the few times you can take it slow, and really consider a career change if that’s what would make you happy. In fact, the vast majority of parents find that time taken off for childcare can be the ideal reset towards the career of their dreams at last.
Sadly, your mind and mentality have been taken up with dirty nappies and repetitive kids games for the past three or even four years. As such, getting back to that working mentality, or even knowing how to start making a decision here, can be next to impossible.
This is a struggle we understand, which is why we’ve put together a few back-to-work pointers that should help you to settle on the ideal career path after children without fail.
Make yourself number one again
As a stay-at-home, full-time parent, you’re likely used to putting yourself last in most things. Your needs for entertainment don’t get a look in, after all, and you never sit down to eat until the kids are all happily munching away. Such is the lot of any parent, but don’t make the mistake of bringing this same mentality to your job-seeking efforts.
In contrast, you should always be number one when it comes to your career, especially if you want to find something you enjoy. So, take a step back and give yourself time to reconnect with your inner desires and passions. Forget about Upsy Daisy from In the Night Garden for once, and go back to your pre-child days if that helps.
Deep down, you should find that your passions are still there waiting for you, and they likely pave a pretty solid career path, just ready and waiting for you to take up the helm once more. Ultimately, you need to remember that work will become something of an escape, or at least a place where you can reconnect with the order and focus you once knew so well. Make sure, then, that you put enjoyment at the forefront for a career that keeps you happy throughout your kid’s school lives and beyond.
Consider jobs that fit around the school holidays
As much as your return to work is a chance to prioritise your needs once more, there’s no use forgetting that you’re now a parent with expectations and restraints on your shoulders. After all, school vacations become a significant setback for many ill-prepared working parents.
Make sure that doesn’t happen to you by always considering careers that allow you to work around the school holidays in some sense. Roles in education are often best for this purpose, hence why countless parents opt to study online education masters programs or similar at this stage. Equally, employers who are willing to offer flexible work may be happy for you to complete tasks from home for the duration of those vacation periods.
Even where shift work is concerned, certain employers offer flexible work arrangements, and school-friendly shifts that allow you to share childcare with your partner while still holding down your position without the stress you’d experience otherwise. Just make sure that you know the drill before agreeing to a contract, and even school holidays needn’t be a problem ever again.
A financially viable option
Whether you’re returning to work for financial reasons or not, you’ll also want to look realistically at the economic viability of any given career. Tedious as it may seem money does, after all, play a vital role in each of our career choices, especially when there’s a family involved.
Most importantly here, you’re going to want to consider your profits after taking care of things like childcare, etc. that you might not have had to pay if you stayed home. Too often, parents take low paying careers with impractical hours only to find that their wages barely cover this consideration. That can be incredibly disheartening, and it’s an easy enough issue to overcome.
Ultimately, it’s down to you to consider how much you’d be earning after childcare wherever applicable. And, it’s down to you to consider whether that’s a price you’re willing to pay. But, if your wages struggle to cover this cost and there’s little chance of career progression, it may be worth waiting until the kids are older, or selecting a different career altogether.
A career that utilizes your new skills
Bear in mind, too, that your parenting journey itself should get a look in during this decision-making process. While you are returning to work to start something new for you, the simple fact is that you’re a parent now, and you always will be. And, alongside that parenting journey comes a whole host of skills including care abilities, teaching experiences, and even just a newfound patience you mightn’t have possessed previously.
In light of this fact, falling back on your pre-parent career skills when searching for a job would mean doing yourself a disservice. Instead, consider how you could apply those skills to the real world, and don’t be afraid to use them in your applications themselves. In fields like education, especially the experience that comes from having kids alone could well see you securing a role. Not to mention that factoring for what you’ve learnt during these years out of work could open up all manner of job possibilities you might not have considered otherwise.
A positive parenting environment
Even after settling roughly on a career you think will suit, it’s always worth ensuring that any given company offers a positive environment for parents. While attitudes towards working parents are forever shifting to the positive, there are still workplaces very much aimed towards the single and career-focused. Such enterprises may not have any set policies regarding flexible parental working or maternity leave. They may not even react well to your refusal to do overtime, etc. which will pose obvious parenting problems.
Instead, make sure that you check for policies like maternity pay, flexible work, and other such general considerations ahead of time. Even just spending a little time talking with others who work for said company will help you to determine whether they also have kids. This way, you can make sure that you’ll fit into a company well, and that they’ll respect the fact your kids will continue to come first, no matter how high up their career ladder you climb.
Is finding a job after leaving to have children easy? No. Will you be able to walk straight back into a career that works in every respect? No. But, that doesn’t by any means indicate that you can’t still find the perfect thing with a bit of soul searching.
Remember, this return to work is your chance to get your career right at last. So, take your time, and keep these pointers in mind to guarantee that you settle into a role that works perfectly alongside your parental duties.