When you have your last baby, you try to really soak in every last thing. The late-night feedings have a new allure. You linger over when to wean. Maybe you co-sleep or co-sleep longer just to have more time with those snuggles. It’s bitter sweet when they take their first steps, say their first words, or start solids. It’s even harder when they go to the first day of kindergarten, knowing this is your last of the baby firsts.
But do you know what is really hard? Trying to find a job after being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).
SAHMs are superheroes. Working moms are superheroes. I have been both — a working mom when my oldest was little and a SAHM for the last six years with my youngest. My youngest is headed to kindergarten in August, so I have been searching for a full-time career since February. I am excited to have something just for me, outside of my precious family. I will miss being with them everyday, and I will love it, too. I know we will have growing pains as a family, but when we are all vacationing at Disney World because we can finally afford it with our two-income household, we should adjust.
When I started this process I was excited. Finally, it is my turn to have a nutrition career. I had a career in finance; I worked my way up as a receptionist at a finance company to a Senior Mortgage Loan Officer with a credit union. It was a great career and I really loved it. But I also wanted to get a degree in nutrition, and eventually I felt that pulling and knew if I didn’t just do it, I never would. So I did it. I quit my job and went back to school. Then three weeks before graduation, my youngest was born and I became a SAHM.
This process has been harder than I thought it would be.
Online applications are the bane of my existence right now. There is no personal touch. And zero follow-up options. They say you can track your application online, but that just tells you they got it. Back in the day, we were taught to give it three days and then call. We were even taught to dress up and go follow-up in person. Let those people know you are hungry for a job, THIS JOB.
As a SAHM, you sacrifice. Your needs aren’t really that important and you do it willingly, lovingly, and joyfully. But there comes a time, which is different for everyone, when you’re ready to have something for yourself. Something to identify yourself outside of wife and mommy. Also, sometimes the financial sacrifice becomes too much of a burden and you just need to earn a living.
Being a SAHM is not easy. The work is demanding, and never ending.
This actually makes you a better employee. The training you get as a SAHM should make you more sought after. There is no one hungrier for a job, more dependable, responsible, creative, customer service driven, or self-sacrificing. But that job-gap on your resume seems glaring and telling, at least it does to me. And it is hard to know if you should point it out and say what you have been doing during that gap, or just say nothing at all on your resume. I have done both and I think I have gotten more traction by not mentioning it.
Here are a few things I have learned during this season of transition; hopefully these lesson will help you transition from a SAHM to a working mom:
While you are a SAHM, keep networking.
Even if you plan to never return to work, maintain your work relationships. You never know what the future holds and it will make returning to work one day easier.
Get help with your resume, even if it is just someone in your field whom you trust.
A second pair of eyes can catch typos and help you put your best self forward.
On your resume and with yourself. All transitions are hard, and this will be, too. But it will be worth it.
Your family will have some growing pains.
They are used to you being a SAHM and that change will not be easy. Use open communication, set expectations, be realistic, and get help.
Use mom-friendly sources like Mom Source Network, headquartered in Knoxville.
One of our contributors shared them with me (thank you Erika). Their website says they are “an online community that provides ongoing professional development, virtual networking and a gateway to progressive employers offering flexible work options.” I recently joined and haven’t actually booked anything with them yet, but it seems like a legit source for moms.
Quality over quantity.
Time with your kids will look different, but it’s the quality of the time that they will remember. Your love for your children is not measured in from-scratch meals or Pinterest-worthy play dates.
There’s no place for mom guilt. Just stop it.
And know that no matter what you do — work, stay home, travel, cook fancy meals, or serve hot dogs ever day — you are bound to have good and bad moments as a mom. The bad moments are teaching moments and we learn the most from them, thus, we should lose the guilt and just reap the benefits. And try harder next time.
Get a good schedule/routine down.
Start implementing it before you actually land your dream job. This will make the transition easier on everyone.
Relax, take deep breaths, and give yourself time to find that dream job.
Reach outside of your comfort zone and find what is really right for you.
Get yourself at least one interview outfit that makes you feel comfortable and successful.
When you’re feeling confident, it will show in your demeanor and you will perform better in the interview.
You know those questionnaires at the end of applications — the ones that ask your race, veteran status, etc.? Maybe we should add a question: “Have you been a SAHM?” and that should get you moved up to the top of the interview stack, just beneath the veterans. Then you’re on your own. It’s up to you to either wow them or woe them at the interview. But at least you get an interview. At least you get to explain your job gap face-to-face.