Challenges Facing Moms Restarting their Careers

The biggest challenges facing moms who restart their careers are twofold: childcare and time management. It might be a surprise that dollars aren’t the biggest barrier. Yes, financial concerns are there, and can be a major consideration, but in most cases parents will start with their financial goals, and then tackle the barriers to that. The nice part is that the solutions to child care and to time management are achievable and just require a bit of understanding and effort.

There are many paths to establishing a new career, from simply changing job fields, to re-entering studies, or even to enter the workforce for the first time. How a parent chooses to proceed depends on individual circumstances. In most cases, people don’t have the luxury of simply changing to a different job role. Most of us have to address a lack of skills or qualifications to get into our desired career. So, how do we address these?

Before you actually embark on job-hunting, arrange child care. Do this even if you have no job at all right now. If a job appeared tomorrow, you want to be able to step straight in! On top of this, arrange a support network. This is absolutely crucial. Childcare centers may not take a child with a sniffle, so make sure you have someone who can step in for you if it happens. Get to know other parents, particularly stay at home moms, by going to the park or playgroups on weekends. Offer to babysit at nights for them to have a night out, and ask them to be your backup in return during the days. Gather as many backups as you can, because your support network is vital. Grandparents and grandparents’ friends are great for this and many elderly people love the companionship of a little one.

Then, research the career that you’re interested in. Your first step is to read the employment section of the newspaper or the internet. Find out what employers want from someone in that field. This might be a particular degree or it might be experience, or it might be having worked in a related field, or it might be a simple understanding of tasks involved. Write yourself a list of the different things that might be needed to get into that job field, since most will have varying roles requiring different skill levels.

Next, weigh up the choices. Many careers don’t require a degree. Once you have an idea of the roles you might like to do, ask a local employment agency for help. Even if they don’t know of anyone hiring for that role, you might be quite surprised at the assistance they can offer, from short courses to computer training, to refining your CV and giving advice on interview techniques. In some cases there are paid seminars, free uniforms, free transport costs, wage subsidies and they may be able to arrange a work trial. Also, for many fields only needing an understanding of tasks or the industry, there is a huge amount of information on the internet, including self-paced lessons that teach you step by step.

Some roles are appropriate for trainees, interns or apprentices. If that’s the case, find out if you can do voluntary work or work experience with local employers. This is a sure way to show them you are keen to learn and willing to do what it takes to succeed. Keep moving onto the next employer to gain more and more experience. Ask for a letter of recommendation or reference each time, and update your CV with it each time. Persistence will give you a reputation as someone who is always ready and able to assist. This kind of networking can’t be bought with money and is invaluable – did you know that 40% of jobs are gained by word of mouth?

Whether you do that voluntary work or not, begin door-knocking. Dress in interview clothes and drop a copy of your CV to them even if they have no positions available. This is something most people can do in a lunch hour even while working full-time. Repeat each business at least once per month and keep dropping in that CV.

At some point you might decide to engage in further study. Particularly for moms who are working, this can become a real juggling act. No matter what you do, ask for your family and friends’ support first. Plenty of us parents want to do everything ourselves. I have learned the hard way that there is no special award for doing it without help, and it’s definitely an uphill battle. If you do decide to study while you are still working, make it realistic. Take on the smallest study load you can in the beginning. It can be overwhelming just to fit work, travel, child care, study, cooking dinner, and doing homework, all into just one day.

Colleges will help you. See a career counselor or study adviser. They can assist you to set small achievable goals and can even tell you about other paths to your chosen career, including home study or distance education, on-the-job-training, and so on. They can provide invaluable advice even on the most practical level, such as playing your lecture CDs in the car while stuck in traffic on the way to childcare!

Then, prioritize your tasks. Set out what is absolutely necessary and fit those in first. Save the small things for later. Do a kid-swap with another parent for one day per weekend to give you some time to yourself for studying, relaxing, or going out for dinner. If you have a partner, talk about how you share the household tasks – perhaps he or she could collect the children a few days a week and cook dinner to give you a break. Or perhaps on a weekend you could prepare the week’s meals and freeze them to save you time each weeknight.

There are many internet resources which can assist in ways you haven’t thought possible. For dollars, there are sites such as SimpleSavings.com.au with easy tips for keeping costs down in the home. There are online calendars such as Google Calendar which let you list all your tasks for the day and keep track of the hours and when assignments fall due. Local noticeboards are great places to ask for used textbooks or uniforms, or to find employment ads. And never discount the experiences of friends and family who might have ideas for you as well.

Being a parent doesn’t have to mean that money will always be tough and the job unrewarding. As a parent you have skills that are valuable both for studying, and for employers. Once you set your mind to a goal, don’t give up until you achieve it, and anything is possible!