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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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?

Brushing up on your job skills

 

Did you know the Goodwill does more than resell clothes and furniture? Whether you’re a SAHM going back into the workforce, an older adult learning how to navigate technology or you just need a refresher, I stumbled across a FREE website the other day that can help.

This is not a sponsored post. I’m just sharing information that I found.

The Goodwill Community Foundation has a website that offers FREE tutorials on a myriad of topics. You don’t have to create an account and think of yet another password. They offer the service for free (from what I’ve experienced so far).

They offer tutorials in Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Basic Internet usage, even Reading and Math Skills.

The tutorials are simple and easy to follow. Sometimes you may just need to get acquainted or re-acquainted with up-to-date software. For instance, you may remember how to use an older version of Office and just need to see what Office 2016 has to offer.

There is also work and career advice on resume writing and job search tools including interview skills.

It makes so much sense to have a service like this. Most people, when looking for a job, can’t afford to take classes, either because they don’t have the money or the time to sit in a classroom. For many, time is running out, and they need a job ASAP. This is a great option.

If you don’t need the service, then please pass the information along. We all know someone who needs a job. Or maybe you just need the confidence builder.

Hope this helps someone, and thank you to the Goodwill for recognizing a need and doing something about it.

One Key to Surviving Working (and Staying) at Home

Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom working to raise your family, or an employee working remotely, or a freelancer making your own hours, spending that much time confined to your home can be draining, if not downright depressing.

My fellow wordpress blogger over at “For the Love of Myself Blog” wrote a post the other day that inspired me to add my two cents to this dilemma. Be sure to check out her insightful blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

Most posts will tell you that you NEED to get out and be with people and I COMPLETELY AGREE because I’m an extrovert. I need people to help me regenerate.

Winters can be long, depending what part of the world you’re in. When it snows here, I can go days without seeing anyone but my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but they aren’t enough to feed my extroverted soul.

I think the key to making your “stay-at-home,” “work-at-home,” “work remotely” job work for you can be summed up with one phrase: HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO.

Without something to break up your week, you will feel like you’re living a real life Groundhog Day, over and over.

When I was a stay-at-home-mom with babies, having something to look forward to meant having play groups, or Mommy and Me classes. Once the kids went to kindergarten, it meant coffee with friends. I was lucky to have a small group of friends in the neighborhood that could also take time out of their morning for a coffee break.

When I went back to work, part time, from home, it meant having a “scheduled activity” every week. That’s the key for me. It HAS to be scheduled, or I will find too many other things to fill the space: laundry, doctor’s appointments, cleaning, and more laundry.

However, there will be times when no one is available; your schedules won’t quite jive. But ALWAYS have a back-up plan in place. If you’re CRAFTY, start on the project that keeps getting shoved to the side. If you’re a READER, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to get to, and read it OUTSIDE. Schedule time at the GYM, or take a YOGA CLASS if that’s your thing. If you still have babies at home, put them in the stroller and take them with you for a WALK around the block.

TAKE A CLASS at the local college, or a go to a Bible study. Check out what’s happening at your LOCAL LIBRARY – mine always has groups getting together. VOLUNTEER for your favorite cause – a lot of local charities don’t ask for much of a time commitment, but they need all the volunteers they can get. Plus, if you’re a SAHM that plans on going back to the corporate world some day, you can list your volunteer experience on your resume.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Working at home (whether SAHM or remotely) is hard. Nobody tells you that part. I’ve had many dark days where it felt like the walls are closing in, and I haven’t always made the choice to break out of the funk. But you will be much happier if you have something to look forward to that breaks up the monotony.

If you’re a SAHM or work from home, what things do you do to stay sane? Feel free to add any suggestions.