Going Back to Work after 15 Years of Being a SAHM

Getting back into the workforce after 15 years of being a SAHM has been a more of an adjustment than I expected.

It was much harder to find a job that fit my experience than I had initially expected. When I left my full time career to stay home with my first born, I had been a graphic designer. Needless to say, the graphic design field changed over the last decade and a half. The software changed, and, even though I had the skill and the knowledge, I was left behind. Time to reinvent.

Also, just getting through the resume search engines proved daunting. Just getting an interview was beginning to seem impossible.

I was never a “corporate” woman, but rather chose workplaces that were small business and family oriented. But finding those, at least in my area, is like finding a needle in a haystack. But I found one. A small business focused on providing value to their customers. Right up my alley.

But learning something new? I hadn’t done that in, well…a really long time. I mean, I know we learn every day. But learning something other than what kid goes to what class on which day, or learning that I can’t make all those things on pinterest (a post for another day), that was something completely different. I must admit…I was scared. And a little intimidated. And surprisingly insecure.

And then there is the age factor. I am one of the oldest people at my company…and I’m 48…not exactly over the hill quite yet. But apparently, old enough to have almost nothing in common with most of my co-workers. We don’t share the same interests, our work ethic is different, and I don’t skim through my smart phone nearly as much as they do. I feel like I have to work harder to prove my worthiness than my younger counterparts do.

But there have been some good things too.

To begin with, I’m not as affected by every little headline that I see pop up on social media. Not only because I don’t see them as often, but because I don’t have time to worry about what the blonde on the news is blathering about. I don’t have the time to invest. I’m too busy figuring out when I’m going to do the laundry, or realizing I forgot to get something out for dinner (again), or making sure everyone gets their homework done.

One of the best things that has come out of going back to work is my kids are developing their independence.

They are discovering that they can be so much more responsible than they were when I was home over-seeing things. I was ALWAYS here. Now they have to be sure they have everything with them in the morning, because I can’t leave work to bring them whatever it was they may have forgotten. It’s they’re responsibility.

They need to do their dishes and their homework without me reminding them.  They have to pitch in with cleaning the house, and doing the laundry, and taking out the trash, because I just don’t have the time. And they’re doing a fabulous job so far.

So even though I miss my time to write (which I’m still trying to fit in), and I wish that Saturdays weren’t designated for laundry and running errands, I feel like going back to work full time was a good decision for my family…even if I’m the oldest woman in the company. I’ll let you know when (if) I get used to that one.

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The Free Ride is Over

 

A few weeks ago, before I went back to work full time, evenings at my house looked something like this:

  1. 4:00-5:00 – Help kids with homework until it was time to start dinner
  2. 5:30-6:00 – start dinner
  3. 6:30 – Dinner was on the table, just as my husband walked in the door
  4. 6:40 – Everyone was done with dinner, except me, because I don’t eat like a pig
  5. 6:45 – Kids and husband would put their dishes on the sink, then go to the electronic device of their choosing: son – computer, daughter – kindle, husband – computer.
  6. 6:50 – I would finish my dinner alone, because it took me a while to make the darn thing, I may as well savor it
  7. 6:52 – wash dishes by hand (I hate the dishwasher…it’s too noisy and takes too long)
  8. 7:00 – remind son for the second time he needs to get in the shower
  9. 7:25 – sit down to do some writing, usually on my current manuscript
  10. 7:35 – remind my son FIRMLY for the THIRD to get in the shower
  11. 8:00 – write some more or watch TV.

You get the idea. I didn’t require much from others because I was home and had all day to take care of things. I’m one of those “I can get it done faster, I’ll just do it myself” Moms.

Well, things have changed since I started working again, and I didn’t realize how much I’d been taken for granted or how much I had failed at teaching my family to do things for themselves…and others!

Now, like all other working parents, I have a much smaller window to get things done. And I REFUSE to do it alone!

So tonight, after everyone got up from the table, and I had finished my dinner (which did NOT make it to the table by 6:30), and was left alone with the mountain of dishes, it was already 7:30! Everyone had disappeared to their electronic devices (or should I say VICES), and I still needed to wash my hair and maybe throw in a load of laundry, if I could muster the energy.

They got a wake-up call!

I called everyone back to the kitchen to clear their dishes, and the rest of the table, and gave each one a specific job.

They don’t seem to realize that from here on out, things are going to be different. EVERYONE must participate. The Mom that used to take care of EVERYTHING, because she had the time to do so, is gone.

I’ve been cheating them out of the joys of responsibility for far too long. But no more. That stops now. And I say this with as much love as I can…I am going to LOVE them into responsibility. They have it in them, I know they do. Maybe it’s time I put my foot down.

And maybe it’s time to start using the dishwasher after all.

But the laundry can wait until tomorrow…I need to go wash my hair.

Too Tired

I just started a new job. For the first time in 15 years (since I had kids), I’m re-joining the full-time-employed.

It’s only been a week since I started. I’m not digging ditches, or building buildings, and I’m not a machinist or even an iron worker. All of which I have mad respect for. Heck, I’m not even waiting tables (also, mad respect).

But MAN, AM I POOPED!

Crazy, right?

Apparently, years of working a part time desk job out of my home, and being a SAHM has taken a toll on my stamina. That, and well…I’m 15 years older than the last time I worked full time.

But I love it! I’ve missed the independence and sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

It’s a huge adjustment for the whole family…especially for my kids. And my husband too, but he’s a big boy, he can handle it.

My kids are suddenly going to have to take more responsibility, and it’s about time. So far, they’ve responded well. They’ve done their dishes, and done their homework without me (as much as they could), but it’s only been a week.

I wrote a post some time ago about trying to teach my kids basic life skills. I must admit, I didn’t do as well with following through as I wanted to. But maybe that’s about to change.

My husband could de-bone a chicken and have dinner in the oven before his parents got home from work by the time he was 11 years old, so they should be able to do it too, right? Hey, a girl can dream.

I think I’ve sold my kids short by not giving them opportunities to prove to themselves that they can do things on their own. I know they can do it, now THEY need to know they can do it.

I know once I get a rhythm going, I’ll feel much better, and have more energy (at least I hope I will), but for now…I’m tired.

It feels great to feel like I’m part of something again. Please understand, I’m not criticizing SAHMs at all. Everyone needs to choose what’s right for them. As I said, I stayed home for 15 years to be with my kids, and I don’t regret a moment of it.

It’s just time for a new Chapter.

It’s now 8:15pm…is it too early to go to bed? LOL

Career Advice to the SAHM

First, let me say that I would not go back and change my decision to be a SAHM. It’s been rewarding and challenging, and they’ve driven me crazy a lot of days, but I wouldn’t take it back if you paid me (although getting paid to be a #SAHM would be a great idea).

For my husband and I, it made more sense for me to stay at home, rather than what it cost for 2 kids in daycare. Aside from wanting to be a SAHM, the financial aspect was really the bottom line for us.

That being said, what I wish someone would have told me before I made the decision to stay at home is this: Keep up with your industry, whatever it may be, especially if it’s a technology driven field.

Fast forward, and my kids are now 15 and 11.

Before kids, I was a graphic designer. I loved doing that. It was fulfilling both to my creative side and my task-oriented side. But I happily set it on the back-burner when my daughter came along, some 15 years ago. I did some side jobs here and there, mostly volunteer work: the newsletter for my church, and any other flyer, ticket, program or brochure they needed, and I volunteered for a Pregnancy Center where I helped with their “Walk for Life” campaign. Again, with brochures and posters.

But technology changes in the blink of an eye, and after only a few years, the graphic design apps I used were quickly becoming obsolete. I still have the graphic design knowledge, just not the daily experience with the new applications. I didn’t have the money to invest to retrain myself or invest in the new programs, because I was investing in diapers and formula, and later in braces and glasses and music lessons for the kids.

Graphic Designers need a portfolio of their best work. My portfolio is filled with my children’s Citizenship Awards, and Soccer Pictures, and Homemade Cards for Mother’s Day.

My advice to new moms, or moms with young children who have stepped away from the workforce, is don’t let your special skills fall by the wayside. Your college education will always be there. But if you have a specialized field, keep up with it. Do whatever you can to stay with the technology. Take classes at the local college or adult school. Check in to your local library and see if they offer any refresher courses.

If you don’t, you will pay a price. Finding a job will be much harder when you want to get back into your field of interest. Most employers don’t mind so much if someone took time off to raise a family, so long as they kept up with their industry, or if they took a few years off (maybe 3 or 4).

But for those of us who took longer (up to 10 years), remember that the competition is tough out there. There are lots of women who didn’t take the time off standing in line for the same job you are.

If you can still talk the talk and walk the walk, it will go a long way to getting a foot in the door.

You can do it. I believe there are people that WANT mom’s to work for them, because those employers realize that Moms have a lot at stake, and are hard workers…they’re moms.

How about my fellow SAHM’s? What career advice would you give? Did you find it hard getting back into the workforce after taking time off to raise your kids?