Have you been at home with your children for six months? A year? Maybe 3 or even 10 or more years? Just as your decision to stay at home took some serious thought (and budgeting), so too will your decision to go back to work.
And, there is such an amazing spectrum of income-earning possibilities in our modern world! The decision about where to start with going back to work is overwhelming, right?
For the stay at home mom (SAHM) who is just starting to think of going back to work, here are the questions to start with, to get you heading towards the work schedule and income opportunity that fits with the lifestyle you want to lead.
To make the most of this exercise, grab a piece of paper (the back of a school flyer works just fine) and start jotting down your first reactions to these questions. Or, open up a notes app and make a list with your answers.
Think of this as a brainstorming activity, so don’t stress over a perfect answer. This will be your starting point.
Why are you going back to work?
This may or may not be an easy question to answer. Yes, money often is a factor but often there are other elements at play too.
It could be a big financial goal, self-fulfillment or even passion to discover a creative outlet. It could be a little of all three, or something I haven’t listed here…
For example, if you say “income,” is there something specifically that you’re working toward? For example, are you looking to pay down student loans or a car payment, or are you in crisis mode and need to immediately replace a partner’s full time income?
Do you miss the engagement and inspiration you gained from your former profession? Time spent with other adults working toward a shared goal? See if you can nail down what it is specifically that is driving you right now…
What’s your motivation?
What are your top three arguments for going back to work?
Imagine trying to convince a contrarian friend that your going back to work is a great choice…
Just jot down the top three reasons that come to your mind (you can always change them later.) You may be surprised at what you come up with!
What will you gain? What are you top three arguments FOR going back to work?
What are your top three arguments against going back to work?
Now, put yourself on the other side and imagine what that same friend might suggest as reasons against going back to work.
Don’t get hung up on specifics or dollars and cents – we’ll be working on those later. Just jot down your quick thought and you can research it more later!
What will you miss out on? What are you top three arguments AGAINST going back to work?
What might your schedule look like?
For any mom, the schedule may have been a big part of why you originally chose to spend some time as a stay at home mom.
Now, as you consider going back to work, look hard at your regular schedule. Jot down how you might adjust your current life to figure out your ideal work schedule.
Do you keep a planner or Google calendar? Go back through the last few months to jog your memory, particularly about any unscheduled events that may have thrown your schedule out the door.
For example, do advanced courses or sports practices require early school pickups? Do you want to remain engaged in classroom volunteering or chaperoning? What about a favorite gym class or walking the dog?
And, how would you handle any of the emergencies that you’ve had over the past year (car repairs, home repairs, doctors appointments, etc.) if you had to be at work? How flexible do you need that job to be?
Are you ready for an 8-5 plus commute time? Or, more like 2 hours a day, as you can fit it in? It’ll be different for each of us, and different at the various stages of our lives…
So, what does your ideal schedule look like?
(Even if you haven’t worked remotely or online before, don’t let it scare you off! There are legit online work opportunities – so keep them in mind! Especially if you find that your ideal schedule just doesn’t jive with traditional office hours.)
What possible roadblocks are you expecting before you start your job search?
You may have come up with a few of these in your arguments “against” getting a job earlier…
You may be struggling with childcare, health, wardrobe, transportation, training or even self-confidence. Maybe inertia or just plain fear of starting something new or not having it work out?
Are any of these tripping you up? Make note of it now and we’ll come back and work through these later!
The longer you’ve been away from the office, the more you may be concerned about this journey back. Others have done it before, you can too!
By the way, surround yourself with positive people – if you can’t find them locally, find them online. I’ve got an awesome group of women in the Career Break Mom Facebook Community, so come on over and join us over there!
So, what’s been slowing you down in starting this job search?
How much could you expect to earn?
At this point in your job search, you may or may not have a strong idea of what you want to do for work.
If you’re planning a full-time return to a previous career, and your career break has been relatively short, your past income could be a good indicator of earning potential.
If you’re considering a full-time return to work but you’re not sure what type of work you want to do, you can get an idea of some salaries at this site.
Are you at the beginning of your work from home journey? Here are three recent posts with predictions and some wage information for 2018 work from home opportunities:
- Ten Work from Home Jobs by The Simple Dollar
- Work from Home Jobs in 2018 by Work from Home Happiness
- Best Work from Home Jobs in 2018 by The Work at Home Woman
- 29 Ways to Make Money from the Penny Hoarder
What do you think you can make, based on the hourly (or annual) wage for the type of work you might do and the amount of time (10 hours per week? 20? 40?) that you can devote to it?
How much will it cost you to go back to work?
Have you thought about the costs of going back to work? What will you spend on transportation, clothing, training, childcare and more convenience meals or help at home?
It can be depressing to think about, but some of these additional expenses could really impact whether or not going back to work even will put you financially ahead. In fact, these costs may be the original reason you chose to stay home (they were a big part of it for me!)
If you’re past the days of needing preschool or daycare, then you have a better shot at coming out financially ahead, regardless of what industry or professional skill.
If you are considering freelance (not W2) income, it will likely be paid pre-tax, and you’ll need to remember that a portion of that (varies depending on your tax bracket) will need to be withheld to pay taxes.
What will you need to spend before you go back to work (like on clothing or certifications)? And, how much more will you be spending for increased expenses (such as convenience meals, childcare or transportation?)
Am I prepared for change?
Making the transition of going back to work is a huge adjustment, not only for you but also your family.
Take a look at your answers to these questions, then start moving forward step by step to answer any outstanding concerns or getting more information (like salary ranges or childcare costs) so you can make your most informed decision possible.
Working through these questions, and basing your final decision on facts, will give you confidence that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.
Ready to take the next step and actively start looking for a job or starting your own business? Grab the free Job Search Organizer.