I’ve had this conversation with a close friend of mine, every August for the past 5 years.
Friend: I think I’ll go back to teaching this year.
Me: Wow. That’s great!
Friend: But, I don’t know if it’s the right time to return to work.
Me: Okay, that’s fair. You’ll know when you’re ready.
Friend: But, I’m so bored with being home. I need more of a challenge. It would be fun to get back into a classroom again.
Me: Understood. It is great to use your brain again and do something for yourself. I think you should do it.
Friend: Yes. But, the house will fall apart if I go back to work. The laundry, oh the laundry! Who will make dinner if I have to work? How will I have energy at the end of the day? Eh, forget it. It’s just not the right time.
And, you know how this goes. In the end, Friend stays home for another year because she’s too scared to move.
We are turning the Fabulous Forty this year and as our kids are all in school it’s time to face the facts that it may be time to return to the realm of thinking about our own futures. But, for so many stay at home moms, it may be nearly 10 or even 15 years since we’ve seen the Working World. For many moms, the entire climate has changed. It’s scary for many women. It was so scary for me I started my own gig just to save face from getting dressed up and going into an office (and so far, knock on wood, it seems to be going okay).
Getting back into the game isn’t easy. For those Moms that already have a defined career (lawyer, doctor, teacher etc) you may no longer even like that path. For others, who never defined anything more than Professional Mom it may be difficult to figure out where to go next. I am here to tell you that nearly all of my friends are either in the throes of figuring this out now or in the midst of trying to ignore the whole thing altogether.
Here are a few things I’ve gleaned from friends or learned on my own about relaunching yourself into a Me Trajectory.
Network, Network, Network The first part of any relaunch is to let people know you’re looking. I’ve seen ads on Facebook parent groups just gently putting yourself out there. Call old contacts (even really old) to just say hello. Tell people you are back in the market and interested in learning what’s available. You’d be surprised how many Moms are out there and totally ‘get’ your position. You may not immediately land your dream job, but you can get your feet wet again.
Check Out Freelancing Whether you’re a writer, a former lawyer, a prior businesswoman, IT person or an educator – use what you’ve got to bring in some cash and dip those toes back in. Consulting online has never been easier or more accessible and is also a fantastic fit for flexibility. Elance, Craigslist (although be wary there are scams on this one), Guru, Switchjobs and Linkedin are great places to start toying with the idea of working here and there. This will also help you to rebuild the ole resume gently and get some ‘this decade’ references.
“Re-Confidence” Yourself Its easy to be scared to jump back in to Real Life outside your four walls. I still get butterflies when I press send on an assignment. I have been a SAHM for nearly 17 years (with a few work-stints in between) but essentially I only knew Mommyhood and Wifedom. So, I read. A lot. To stay on trend and fresh start by educating yourself again and use that tired old noggin. Look in the mirror and see the capable, beautiful woman that has poured herself heart and soul into her family. Give yourself permission to do something for yourself. Earn something for yourself. You deserve it. And, then go shopping for a few new pieces in the wardrobe that aren’t stretchy and black…
Try Something New Maybe you aren’t interested or ready to become a CEO just yet or even get paid. Maybe you just need something for yourself. Take a class, learn a new skill, take an online course – do something that gets you thinking about something more than what’s for dinner, when did you last change the guinea pig cage or did so and so hand in their work assignment. Once you start thinking about ME again it just may come naturally.
Lose The Guilt You don’t have to have your entire future all figured out right now. Lose. The. Guilt. Going back to work, starting something new or taking time for yourself doesn’t have to make you feel guilty. You deserve a life of your own after all of this time. If the laundry pile is a little higher or the kids dinner is out of a box a few times a week instead of freshly homemade they will persevere. They will also see that it’s important you exist separate from them instead of only for them, an important lesson – especially for your daughters.
Be proud of yourself for giving to your family for so long. It’s the hardest and most thankless job we’ll ever have. We’ve earned a little reprieve and it’s okay to do something good and challenging for yourself.
Any other Prior SAHMs have any tips to get back out there to share?