When my first child was born in 1999, I returned to my career as if nothing had changed. I continued to excel in my career for nearly six years, through the birth of our second child, by outsourcing my Mom Job to a nanny during the week. At the time, there were just two choices available to me: to continue working full-time outside the house, or to quit working altogether. I mean, what else was there, right?

Here are a few of the lessons I have learned about returning to work after an extended absence…

“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.” ~ Anna Quindlen

After the birth of our second child I finally admitted to myself that my life was seriously out of alignment with my personal values and priorities. I decided to take a sabbatical year; which turned into three and included the birth of our third child. Being home every day was an amazing learning experience and transformed my approach to both work and family.

However, when I did decide to return to work, the path I chose was much bumpier than I imagined it would be. After three years out of the workforce my networks were still fairly warm but, my goal of finding a flexible role as a finance planner proved a bigger challenge than I had imagined.

Finding a support system is what helped me the most. I attended a workshop for moms returning to work, put on by Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), that helped me clarify what type of job I was looking for. Taking the class with other moms who were facing issues similar to mine was encouraging, as well as inspiring.

Being a stay-at-home Mom can change you

Before you return to work from the Mom Job, ask yourself these few questions:

  • Has working the Mom Job changed me and, if so, in what ways have I changed?
  • Am I still interested in the same business niche?
  • Is there something more creative I would like to do?
  • Doing the Mom Job feels like being self-employed. Can I work for others again?
  • How will I fit work into my full life?

By far the most common misconception about women leaving the work force to have children is the all-or-nothing choice we’ve all been taught; either work or stay home with the kids. You can’t do both. These days, that is simply not true.

Not only has technology allowed us to become more flexible in the ways we choose to work – remotely, while on the go, and in full collaboration with others – it has also helped to change the mindset of many who believed in that limiting thought pattern. Take advantage of 21st Century technology to create a flexible workspace for yourself, and use this changing mindset to your advantage.

Here are a few great support resources to help smooth the transition back into the workforce:

  • Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) – based in San Francisco, JVS offers career and job-search support throughout the Bay Area
  • Deborah’s Palm – a non-profit women’s support center in Palo Alto
  • Nova Workforce Development – is a nonprofit, federally funded employment and training agency that provides workforce development services in Sunnyvale and online
  • Women’s Initiative for Self Employment – “…provides high-potential, low-income women with the training, funding and ongoing support to start their own businesses.”

Here are a couple of helpful articles on returning to the workforce after an extended absence.

Tamarind Financial Planning is here for you, with individual financial planning strategies and personal investment management techniques to help you make the transition back into the workforce.