7 Ways To Ease The Transition From Stay-At-Home Mom To Working Mom
It is a myth that stay-at-home moms are doomed to forever struggle with getting back to work. The truth is that while it may indeed be a challenge, it is very possible for SAHMs to regain their professional career outside the home. It is a matter of strategy, practice, and taking it step-by-step.
If you are considering taking on a job again after some time of staying put with your kids, here are a few highly helpful tips from experts and experienced SAHMs like you.
Do an Honest Self-Assessment
This should be your very first step. Author-mom Samantha Parent Walravens, who wrote the book “TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood”, suggests that you ask yourself: Why do I want to go back to work? Some mothers do it for the money, some simply for the presence of other adults, others to find more meaning in their life.
Once you identify what you honestly value most, you can pursue jobs that could give you joy instead of a ton of additional stress.
Arrange Child Care in Advance
This may sound like common sense, but a lot of parents wait until the last minute to arrange childcare. As a result, they rush what is supposed to be a critical decision, ending up with less-than-ideal arrangements and having to keep changing them down the road.
Start seeing to this matter weeks before you are set to work. Take time to ask friends and family for recommendations, research into daycares, and even consider neighborhood arrangements such as “swap babysitting”.
Remember, your peace of mind at work largely depends on how much you trust the people taking care of your child. It is only vital that you give this decision a lot of time.
Create a Schedule and Test it Out
Cheryl Butler, who is an author, podcast host, and true-blue Mighty Mommy, has a fantastic suggestion: plan out the family schedule for when you are working again, and do a trial run before you go on the real thing.
Aside from basic tasks, include in your schedule the realistic extra time needed in the mornings and evenings, and some time slots for self-care (because you need it!). Communicate this schedule with your family, including with older kids, so they know what to expect and even provide their own input into it.
Then, before you start on your job, spend a week testing out this routine. Butler herself even did a mock “driving to the babysitter’s house” (even though during trial, it was just to grandma’s house). She says you don’t really need to stay out of the house the entire day during the trial week, but the whole week’s practice should give the family an idea of how it’s going to be like.
Scale Back on Unnecessary Obligations
Butler also suggests opting out of obligations you don’t need to say yes to – at least until your family has adjusted to your work-life arrangements. Examples of unnecessary obligations include purely social events for adults, extra activities for the kids, and sometimes even school and PTA requests. During your transition period, choosing your commitments wisely is a must so you can still leave some breathing room for yourself.
Practice Being With Professional Adults Again
In a column featured in Today’s Parent, writer-mom Jennifer Pinarski admits that she has had to reactivate her verbal filter once she went back to an office job. This meant eliminating baby-talk while in the office – a habit that was harder to break than it seemed!
That’s only one of the things you’ll have to get used to when you’re finally spending workdays with coworkers again. To avoid unprofessional blunders during your first days, practice beforehand. Have coffee with former and current colleagues, do mock interviews with your partner or a friend, or consider consulting with a career coach.
Have a Support Network at Your Job
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself earning less when you first rekindle your career. As Pinarski points out, “Opting out of the workforce means opting out of the incremental raises that come with staying in your career for the long haul.” However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get back on the success track.
Pamela Jeffery, mother of two boys and founder of the Women’s Executive Network, advises for you to build a strong internal network at your job. Identify someone at work who has your back and can help champion you to the decision-makers of the organization. You can do this by building healthy relationships with your colleagues, especially with women co-workers who have had similar experiences to yours and have succeeded in them.
Have a Support Network at Home
Finally, and perhaps most of all, the support from your own family and friends can make all the difference in your path to success. Especially in this transition period, let your partner, parents, and close friends understand why you are renewing your career and what challenges you expect to face. These challenges include significant changes in your schedule, social life, and priorities – all of which may likely involve them.
Reassure your loved ones that you will continue to be the unselfish mother they know and love, but that you may need help readjusting. With their care and understanding, you’re already on your way to conquering your renewed career.