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How to Ease the Emotional Baggage of Going to Work After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

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Any woman who’s ever been a stay-at-home mama gets it – the feelings of nervousness, guilt, curiosity, a little bit of foreboding… I get it. We all kinda “get” that. I’d never say that you should develop some sort of emotional skill set to help you get rid of the anxiety that goes shows up whenever we entrust our kids to someone. But for a lot of us, being able to work outside the home or even get more done while working from home, has become a necessary part of life, and that means the kids may have to go to school, or daycare, or learning pods, or Grandma’s. That’s fine, sis. Don’t let that trouble you too much. In fact, let’s talk about some steps you can take to make your transition from SAHM to working outside the home a little more seamless for you and your

Going Back to Work Means Getting Back Up to Speed at Work

When my friends occasionally asked when I intended to go back to work, my response remained vague: I’ll just go back when the time is right. While I cited domestic responsibilities as an excuse, the gospel truth is that my apprehensiveness was firmly grounded in the reality of recurring self-doubt.

My main fear was that the workforce had evolved and left me far behind (which it had for sure). My other fear was that I didn’t trust myself enough. Had the boss-lady-rep I’d earned in my previous position disappeared, relegating me to irrelevance? Would I keep up with a new, fast-paced working environment? Would my mind adapt to attending rigorous meetings and making work presentations?

I was determined to pick up from where I had left, but there was one problem. Where I left, had disappeared. Eight years had passed and the landscape of my industry and scope of my job had drastically changed. I had to upskill. I had to learn new software, learn new systems, new rules and legislation. Even the demography of the workplace had changed. I knew I had a lot of learning to do.

At least from my own experience, getting back into the workforce after a long period of changing diapers and attending playdates isn’t very straightforward. Not to mention the tinge of guilt that comes with it. I’m hoping that being able to navigate my own “stranger in a strange land” experience can help other stay-at-home moms make a smoother transition back to the workplace.

15 Tips for Minimizing the Anxiety of Going Back to Work After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

1. Make sure you know someone, and that someone knows you.

The first tip for returning to work after being a stay-at-home mom is to start building your network ahead of your return. If you intend to rekindle your career after a long hiatus, slipping job applications under the door just won’t cut it, not unless the person on the other side of the door recognizes you.

The thing is, recruiters receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications for each job listing. Among these are people who’ve had a continuous career growth spurt. The competition is so high that even the slightest gap can thwart you out of the race entirely.

However, if you know someone or can make yourself known before you’re actively searching for a job, you have a pretty good chance of boosting your visibility and making the connections you need in order to make finding the right job a little easier.

So get out there and network. Update your resume with every part-time job you took during your break and every relevant skill you learned from Udemy. Shoot those resumes out to your previous managers, workmates, and any HR professionals you know.

Do this to your friends and families too. They may not be in the loop about your industry, but they may know someone who is. Besides, most companies don’t advertise job positions before tapping into their talent database. So if you know someone, make sure your resume is part of their talent pool.

We recently published this post on about how to build your resume when you’re going back to work after being a stay-at-home mom.

2. Connect with other working mamas.

It’s comforting to connect with your tribe – all the moms out there who successfully made the transition from stay-at-home mom to working outside the home. No doubt, talking to other working parents will give you a glimpse into what you may encounter when you head back to work after being home for a spell. How do they manage to keep all these balls in the air? How did they handle some of the fears that you currently have about going back to work? If you’re a Facebook junkie, that’s the best place to meet other working parents, besides your close friends of course.

3. Acquire a positive mindset.

This might sound like some worn-out advice from your high school principal, but it’s the plain truth.  Having a pronounced level of optimism will play a significant role in keeping your hopes high as you try your luck for a job.  Obviously, being told, “we’ll get back to you,” and never hearing anything from them again is dispiriting. No one likes facing rejections, but they do come, so be ready.

So how do you remain positive when no one seems to be interested in your skills?

Detach your personal worth from any ‘NO’ you’ll ever get. Instead of letting a rejection reflect on how you feel about yourself, use it as a stepping-stone. It’s okay to ask hiring managers why they decided not to hire you. You may discover you’re missing some key skills that all the coolest startups are requiring now.

Treat every missed opportunity as a chance to identify any deficiencies in your resume or weird behaviors that only show up when you’re interviewing (it happens).

4.Prepare yourself to address your employment gap.

Sitting across from your interviewer, there’s one dreaded question that will inevitably pop up: What were you doing between year A and year B? While this question triggers apprehension for most job stay-at-home moms, how you present the facts will determine whether you’ll be hired.

The good news is that a lot of moms are in your shoes, where they’ve either had to take some time away from the workplace, or they’re going into the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2.5 million American moms exited the workforce during the pandemic to oversee remote learning for their kids or because childcare suddenly disappeared.

Screengrab of sample LinkedIN profile with new Stay-at-Home Mom job title

LinkedIn even has a feature now that allows you to address the gaps in your employment and plans to roll out more features in the next few weeks to allow parents who are on sabbatical or home with the kids to list that on LinkedIn. An announcement made on LInkedIn’s own blog states:

To make it easier for moms, and all parents, we’re making some important changes to the Profile. We introduced new job titles, including “stay-at-home mom,” “stay-at-home dad” and “stay-at-home parent” to allow full-time parents and caretakers to more accurately display their roles.

Additionally, in the coming weeks, if you use one of these new stay-at-home job descriptions and set the employment type field to “self-employed,” you will no longer need to specify a company or employer.

– Bef Ayenew, LinkedIn

When your resume’s concerned, the only way to address the caregiver gap in your resume is to hit the nail on the head. Tell the truth, but be careful not to overshare. This isn’t the time to disclose your timeline for having another kid or get teary-eyed from explaining how difficult it was to stay home. Whichever way you put it, uphold professionalism and always bring back the focus on your ability to perform.

Why am I vouching for this forthright honesty? Frankly, there’s absolutely no shame in stepping out of employment to do what is best for your family. Likely, yours is not an isolated case.

Actually, most interviewers will appreciate your transparency. Additionally, this is a golden opportunity to showcase any skills you may have developed during this period. This can include things like an online course, part-time jobs, webinars, or even conferences that are relevant to the position you’re seeking.

5. Join LinkedIn groups.

Speaking of LinkedIn, it’s pretty much a must-have for anyone who’s looking for work. Not only is it a valuable asset for job hunting, but it’s also great for expanding your professional network.

Most recruiters conduct a quick LinkedIn check before drafting a job post. If you identify a company you’re interested in on LinkedIn, drop them an email and inquire if they have a gap you can fill.  Once you decide to return to work, this is the time to optimize your linked-in profile. This involves including all the relevant skills you’ve acquired over time, plus any activities you’ve taken part in within your scope of work. Seminars, volunteer opportunities, or even networking events: don’t leave any stone unturned.

If you’re not in any LinkedIn groups yet, join one. These groups are fascinating in resuscitating your knowledge of the industry and keeping up with industry jargon. You never know, the HR person in your target company could be doing rounds in one of those groups!

6. Figure out what you do and don’t want from a job.

Do you want to have an anguish-free job search process? Get organized before you ever start your search. Before I hurried to job search tools like Flex to see who is hiring, I made sure I knew what I wanted. In your case, here are a few questions you should ask yourself: Which position am I applying for? What kinds of companies am I targeting? Startup companies and agency work tend to be very fast-paced. Can your home life handle fast-paced? Or 55-hour workweeks? What does my current skillset look like? Asking yourself such questions will help give your job search process some context and set you on the right path.

7. Don’t obsess over job hunting.  

At, we have a saying: Don’t look for the job, look for the work. Instead of letting the end goal consume you, break down your goals into small, manageable milestones. For example, challenging yourself to apply for one or two jobs a day is manageable.  Also, it helps to set aside specific hours of the day for sending out applications. Beyond those hours, put away your laptop and engage your mind in other things.

But you can also ease your way back into the workforce by freelancing in the meantime. With so many companies still being partially or fully remote, you may find that your next full-time job is actually on Upwork.

Just an FYI, LinkedIn also has an Open to Work feature now that makes your job-seeking status visible to recruiters just by glancing at your profile that you’re available for work.

8. Tap into your interests and hobbies.

Forget about what lit up your soul six years ago. What do you genuinely enjoy doing in 2021? Right? A lot of us are gardeners, master bakers, craft moms, and a whole bunch of stuff this year that we weren’t even thinking about doing two years ago.

Throughout your stay-at-home mom stint, you may have discovered and perfected certain hobbies. Even if they have nothing to do with your previous job, a career change is a great possibility. Don’t overlook these interests because you feel inadequate or inexperienced. Whether it’s writing, sewing, or graphic design, freelancing positions are an excellent way to sharpen your experience as you transition into a full-time position. Here are the best freelancing sites for beginners.

9. Brace Yourself For The Tough Questions.

It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are for your interview -some questions will make you want to breathe into a paper bag. . Especially after an extensive caregiving hiatus, some interviewers will want to dig deeper. Some uncomfortable questions to expect include things like: “Don’t you feel guilty leaving your kids in the hands of a nanny?” or “ Do your kids need your presence to fall asleep?”

If you’re naturally funny, this is the time to invoke some humor to deflect the panel from the question. You can shoot back with something like…” Not at all. My partner once sent me a video of my youngest taking a solo snooze inside his toy shelf. He doesn’t even need a bed to fall asleep, so I doubt he needs any of us.”

10. Take up part-time and temporary stay at home jobs

Most stay-at-home moms start entertaining the possibility of going back to work even a year before making up their minds. Taking a part-time job during this period is a bomb idea. The remote workplace is rife with many relevant jobs you can take up. Besides earning you a side-income, these jobs will help give your resume a leg-up. Some of the best part-time engagements include: launching a freelance bookkeeping service  (if you’re in finance/accounting),  becoming a virtual assistant within your industry, or ghostwriting about the industry you’re in. These are brilliant opportunities to help compensate for the gap in your resume and clue you up on emerging industry trends.

11. Ensure your social media is on the radar.

As a stay-at-home mom, social media is an easy way to market your side hustle or share cute, intimate moments with the world. Now that you’re headed back into an uptight corporate space, there are tweaks you may need to make to your social media presence, which may include setting your personal accounts to Private.

 Here’s the thing: With billions of people having active social platforms, employers have a new metric for ruling out applicants. What’s worse is, you never know what they’re looking for. So you’re better off deleting that tweet about how “9-5 jobs suck” or that cringe-worthy Instagram post targeting your ex. Other than that, taking a strong stance on controversial issues such as sexual orientation or even religion while important for your personal brand, will likely trim back your employment options since there’s so much transparency on social media and companies are being held accountable in many cases for the things their employees say. So, anything that depicts you as racist, sexist or classist will definitely land you on the hot seat, whether it’s true or not. Just avoid the appearance of evil, sis, and you’ll be okay.

12. Prepare your family.

Your spouse won’t have a hard time acquainting himself or herself with the new routine, but what about your kids? One of the biggest fears of going back to work after being a SAHM is that the connection you’ve fostered with your kids will ebb away. It’s a valid concern to have.

However, you can ease up the transition by informing them in advance of your career plans and shifting your daily routine incrementally over several weeks so your first day of work is not a culture shock to the entire household (just to you ?) .                                

13. Take the kids with you to meet their new caregivers.

Start casting the net for a good childcare service as soon as the thought to return to work emerges. What are the costs? How is your new routine? Probably, you’ll get about two weeks to one month before reporting to work. Use this period time to test-run the childcare service and monitor how your kids are adjusting.

14. Consider a Returnship program.

Ever heard of a returnship program? Just like an internship, these programs seek to help stay-at-home parents find their footing in the job market. If you’re unable to secure a fulfilling job single-handedly, these programs can be your springboard into career success.

You can search for “returnship programs 2021” on Google and “returnship” on LinkedIn and find companies that have these programs intact. You can also connect with organizations like The Mom Project and to find opportunities tailor-made for moms returning to the workforce. These kinds of back-to-work programs offer training that’ll quickly get you up to speed and boost your market value, plus transient opportunities that will link you to your dream job.  You don’t have to start from scratch if you have a grasp of your job.

15. Patience Pays (Literally)

Finally, be patient. It’s kind of freeing (if not a little irritating) to admit that the ‘mommy gap’ in your resume may work against you. The reason being, there’s an assumption that for stay-at-home moms, work performance comes a close third after their kids and um…laundry.

Of course, this sweeping generalization doesn’t hold. Your kids and your job are like two glass balls in the air that you can’t afford to drop. I know better than to waste my time trying to persuade you that you’ll land your dream job with your first, second, or third shot. In fact, a majority of studies affirm that stay-at-home moms take longer to re-enter the workforce. So…

Be patient. Keep a positive attitude. Be diligent. Be faithful. And you’ll be hired – either by a new client or a new employer.