I took about 8 years out of my job as a Primary School Teacher after becoming a Mum. When I began the experience of returning to work it was challenging to say the least! Roughly 2 years on, I’ve come a long way, but wouldn’t say I was over the experience!
I have certainly grown and learnt a lot. So here are some of the tips I’ve collected along the way. I believe they will be applicable no matter your job or length of time away from your profession.
1- Review your options
Think about your line of work. You may be satisfied with your previous job, or may have no choice to return to it. But if there’s something different you’ve always wanted to do, this could be the opportunity to do it.
There are so many career paths I’ve been interested in. Whilst I have returned to teaching for financial reasons and also to give it a second chance, I am using any other time I have to look into other things I am interested in. To satisfy my love of writing I have written a children’s book (that still needs to be sent to a publisher!), and starting this blog of course is another way of satisfying my urge to write.
Do you have a skill that would enable you to start your own business? Teaching piano lessons is another thing on my list to do. So think about your hidden talents and if they could make you a bit of money!
If you left your job like I did, it can feel really daunting to look for another one years down the line. Whether you decide to return to your previous career or start something new, volunteering is a great way to get a foot in the door. It’s also a great way to gain experience or refresh your skills. It can even lead to a job offer, which is what happened to me.
Make phone calls, send emails or get in touch with old or new contacts. These are all ways you can put the feelers out. Tell people about your experience and interest. Most places of work will accept free offers of help!
3- Go shopping!
Clothes, shoes, bags…? I had to go shopping even before my very first venture to have an interview at a supply agency! Any work clothes I still had were definitely not going to fit my post baby body and probably out of fashion! My wardrobe was full of my Mum Uniform (AKA Jeans, t-shirts, jumpers, and trainers!) I needed work trousers, a nice top, and some smart shoes.
I also needed to buy a folder for my certificates and evidence, and a bag to carry it all in! As my work life developed, I found there were other things I needed too. Stationary, a diary, even straighteners to make myself more presentable! After years at home I had left my naturally wavy hair to go wild or stuck it up in a ponytail. And as my work load increased, I needed more than one outfit option!
4- Get organised
I had an immense amount of things to organise as I began life back at work. I had to dig out all things pertaining to my qualifications as evidence, and file everything neatly. I also needed to get out to the shops as was mentioned above!
Starting a job has many other implications now that you have children. A big thing I had to organise was childcare. Luckily when I started out, my husband was able to adjust his working hours to be available for school pick up etc. I also have great school mum friends that have been able to help us in some sticky situations. However, now that my job has increased in responsibility and hours, I have had to arrange after school club childcare.
Going back to work can change a lot of things. Sorting out food shopping and meals in advance has been another thing that has had to become even more organised than before. Getting schedules and plans in place has been a great help.
5- Be patient!
This process has taken me a few years. I didn’t slip straight into a job, or start to feel any confidence in what I was doing for a long time. Even now I don’t feel anywhere near where I was in my working life before children. These things take time, adjustment, highs, and in my case, many lows and lots of tears.
Be patient and kind to yourself. Give yourself a break and don’t expect too much. It’s a challenging time. Surround yourself with lots of family and friends who can support you through the experience. Pat yourself on the back for any victories and give yourself a reward (usually chocolate in my case!)
Good luck with whatever your return to work situation is. Please leave a comment below to share your story or tips. I’d love to hear from you!