These tips will help you to get ahead of the game as a stay-at-home parent.
By Jenny Hoff, Photo by Brian Wangenheim for Unsplash
There is no greater hustler than a stay-at-home parent. The job requires juggling multiple tasks, coming up with brilliant ideas at the drop of a hat and figuring out how to sell the idea to small, sometimes skeptical, often highly emotional humans. While the skills required for this job are akin to that of some of the most highly sought-after CEOs, they’re hard to articulate on a resume once you’re ready to get back to the paid workforce. Taking time out to parent full-time can feel like a career killer, but it doesn’t have to be.
Let the Break Be a Break
The first step, says Lisen Stromberg, author of Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career, is considering the break for your career as just that, a break. “What I saw in my research was the most successful women who were able to work, pause and thrive were women who never lost the concept of themselves as professionals,” says Stromberg. “They always maintained their network. Always nurtured their careers. And they always kept their skills alive either by going online and being trained or doing really smart, strategic volunteering.”
Keep Your Skills Sharp
Many top-name universities offer online programs. Sometimes for free or for a small fee with included certifications. These programs can help you keep your skills relevant for the current workplace demands or pivot into a new field. If volunteering, choose an organization where in addition to helping a good cause, you may also develop important contacts who can help you re-enter the paid workforce once your schedule allows. If you want to keep your skills sharp but also make money, there are multiple online forums for freelancers to make extra cash. Check out Upwork and Guru for opportunities to connect with businesses that may need your skills
for temporary projects.
“A number of women we interviewed actually found that it was their very pause and the work they did while they were on pause that inspired their new career,” says Stromberg. The most important finding, however, was women did not re-enter the workforce typically through applying randomly for jobs on Indeed. Rather they did so through their network, one Stromberg says is important to grow and cultivate during a career pause. This can be done through volunteering, reaching out to people in the field you plan to enter and asking for their mentorship, connecting with other parents at your children’s school and reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances through social media sites. When you’re ready to re-enter the workforce, you will have established relationships with people who may be able to help. Some companies even offer mid-career internships for people looking to re-enter the workforce.
Whatever company you end up working for should also support your new needs as a parent. Websites like Fairygodboss provide valuable information on companies that are supportive of women and parents. Allowing for flexibility and remote work options. You may end up finding that your parent-pause is the perfect launching pad to a career that both incorporates your passions and values your skills.