Returning to work after a period of absence is difficult no matter who you are, but especially for stay-at-home mums with young children. There are a number of physical, mental, social and psychological obstacles that stand in the way and all of them must first take into consideration the essential needs of the child to ensure that re-entering the workforce is even a viable option.
In a practical sense, some important decisions have to be made. Who’s going to take care of the children when you‘re out working? Can you ask some friends, family members, or your partner to lend a helping hand? Will you need to make formal childcare arrangements? Can you afford the cost of childcare along with transport expenses to and from work and a new working wardrobe? What happens if your child is sick?
Feelings of guilt and insecurity can also arise for a number of reasons. You may have no choice but go back to work because of your financial situation. Your heart might skip a beat at the mere thought of having to leave your children in the care of another, or missing out on some of those key developmental stages in their lives.
On the other hand, you may be itching to pick up where you left off in your career, but feel out of touch with technology and out of practice using the skills required for the role. You may be worried about the gap in your work history and how this will look to a potential employer.
Maybe you just feel lonely staying at home all the time and want a bit of mental stimulation or social interaction to add some enrichment to your life. You need to get out of the house for a while and do something purely for yourself. You’re sick and tired of feeling invisible in society.
Whatever your situation, lack of confidence can be a powerful inhibitor for mums who wish to return to the workforce. It is a no-win situation because you feel judged on all levels, for relinquishing your duty as a full-time parent, not putting more effort into your career, or simply failing to do anything else with your life.
Unfortunately, it seems like anyone who hasn’t raised a child before neglects to understand everything that is involved with being a good parent. There are no days off, no sick leave, and it costs time, money and a serious amount of energy to care and provide for them properly. The stigma attached to the idea of being defined as just ‘a mother’ is completely unfounded. Raising children is the most important ‘job’ out there. We’re all here because of it, and if no one did it, we’d quickly become extinct.
The trick is to realise that you are actually a lot stronger than you were when you left your job to have children in the first place. You have already tackled one of the most challenging and fundamental tasks known to humanity. Even if nobody recognises your achievement or value (yet), you know the truth, and this is ultimately all that matters. Trust in your abilities and take logical steps to improve your job prospects by taking into account all of your skills, knowledge and experience to date. From there, you can work out a suitable plan of action.
Review Your Skills
An employer’s main concern is deciphering whether you have the ability to do the job at hand or not. As you have been absent from the workforce, it is your prerogative to prove that you are employable right now, both on paper and in person, because you are competing with others who never left the job market and don’t have any parental commitments. For this reason, before you begin creating a resume and applying for jobs you need to ask yourself: Are my skills current, or do I need to retrain in a particular area?
If you are unsure, consult with a professional Skills Recognition specialist. There is a good chance that you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary study time and precious cash spent on needless course fees or repeat training, if your skills are still up-to-date. Get Qualified Australia provides an award-winning service that enables you to obtain a nationally recognised qualification within just 4 weeks through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
RPL is a government endorsed assessment process that examines your existing skill set and prior experience to determine whether you are fully (or partially) competent in a particular field. All you have to do is provide evidence, such as employer references, work samples, or self-made videos that demonstrate your skills in action.
Even if you don’t fulfil all of the requirements for a qualification, which is dependent upon the satisfactory completion of various course units, any gaps in your knowledge could be rectified through online, self-paced study without having to redo the entire course.
It is well worth taking a free skills review online either way to see what options are available to you. It only takes a couple of minutes and there is no obligation to undergo an RPL assessment if you don’t wish to proceed any further. You may as well take advantage of having your skills assessed for free by a qualified RPL expert though. 50% of eligible candidates who apply for RPL with Get Qualified Australia are unaware of their eligibility for a qualification before they take a skills review.
Expand Your Knowledge
A current qualification is something that will always shine on a resume, even if you have been out of work for a while. If you are looking for a new career entirely, undertaking further study is definitely an avenue to explore if you can afford it. Your priorities might have drastically changed since you gave birth and your old career no longer interests you in the same way.
However, being a mother is all about compromise as there is more than your own life to consider, so make sure you set realistic goals. Assess your skills and work out which ones could be transferred to a desirable job for you, then work on expanding your knowledge in the areas that matter most.
Conducting research into your industry is crucial because you haven’t been exposed to what has been happening out there on a daily basis and things might have changed. This applies to the job hunt itself. Reach out to your friends, family and past work colleagues, ask for tips and advice on where to look for jobs, how to write up your resume and practise interviewing techniques.
The more in-the-know you are, the more insight you will have, so that you can be well prepared for what is expected of you by a prospective employer. That way, you can at the very least keep your head held high when you go for an interview with a self-assured and upbeat attitude. There is no need to feel undervalued, or make excuses as to why you took time out to start a family, something which everyone should be entitled to without any negative bias or criticism.
Improve Your Experience
It is wise to analyse different employment options. You may no longer be able to work full-time, or work shifts outside of traditional hours anymore, unless you are willing to hire a live-in nanny, or ask your partner to compromise their employment arrangements. You might want some flexibility and decide that part-time or casual work would suit your situation better. Perhaps you could start your own business and work from home.
Think creatively and you could come up with some winning solutions. If you love working with children, for instance, you could consider doing a short course in Early Childhood Education and Care and become a family day care educator. This would allow you to pick and choose from a range of flexible options, working full-time hours, part-time, after school, or only at weekends, all from the comfort of your own home.
The minimum qualification requirements for working as a centre-based child care worker, or family day care educator, is a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care.
Investigate the full spectrum of opportunities and decide on a short or long-term strategy. Do you need temporary work right away? Or can you afford to pave the way for a successful career that will benefit you more for the long haul, and bypass the frustrating struggle of seeking less than ideal work opportunities?
Securing your first job is tough when you don’t have any current experience, but if you are proactive about it you could opt for some unpaid volunteer work to refresh your knowledge and prove to an employer that you are job ready. Do whatever it takes to start filling that gap in your resume. Hard work always pays off, whether you are studying or getting valuable work experience, it just requires a little patience and determination before you can start benefiting from monetary rewards.
In the end, your final decision will inevitably rest upon why you actually want to re-enter the workforce. If it’s a financial need, then it is recommendable to focus on getting a similar role to your last one if possible, by reviewing your skills, looking at clever ways that you can market them in a professional light to employers, and following the path of least resistance.
If not, then you have more freedom and flexibility at your disposal without that same sense of urgency or immediacy. Use the time you have wisely until you are 100% certain and avoid any unnecessary hiccups on your path back to work. If you have the luxury of waiting for the right time, and a chance to enhance your skills and experience by taking a course or undergoing further training to help you land a better job, don’t let the opportunity pass.
Get out there, give it your best shot, and good luck with the job hunt!