Career Advice  

Returning to Work: Quick Tips for Moms

Returning to Work: Quick Tips for Moms

I have an MBA and my friend Tina was sick of hearing me tell everyone about it. “Who are you trying to impress?” she asked over and over. I somehow managed to squeeze it in to every conversation. “Did I mention I have an MBA?” “Well, that must be because I have an MBA.” “Did you go to graduate school? I did.”

Who was I trying to impress? That voice just kept coming and I didn’t recognize it as mine. Turned out, it was my pre stay-at-home-mom identity calling. She wanted her life back.

Don’t get me wrong – I have zero regret about staying home.

I volunteered, made new friends, and created a wonderful community for our kids. However, it wasn’t enough. I mean, I have an MBA!

So, I updated my resume, reconnected with old colleagues, and looked hard at what I had been doing all those years I was out of the workforce. That’s when I realized I was a coach. I actually started coaching 10 years ago but hadn’t recognized it as a career.

And Voile’! I conquered returning to work. The end.

Except that was the Reader’s Digest version.

It actually took a year of really hard work and multiple reintroductions to my former identity to get back into the working mommy swing of things again. But I did it. And you can too.

What have you been doing since your break from the workforce?

First, I had to decide the “what.” My background is Human Resources, but what had I been doing the past 10 years? I had been coaching. People kept calling me and asking for resume and career advice.

As humans, we typically don’t spend a ton of time on things we hate. What do you spend your time on? What are you drawn to and what is drawn to you? You may be home but you’re anything but idle. Are you leading volunteer organizations, keeping up with the community real estate trends? Maybe others look to you for budgeting advice or parenting support. These nuggets are key insights into your passions and skill sets.

Research the requirements for your next career chapter and start meeting them RIGHT NOW.

Next, I had to decide the “how.” My certification took 10 months and it was expensive, but I was launching a new career. Many professional certifications or skill refreshers can be found on LinkedIn or YouTube. They’re easy and cheap. Need to earn continuing education credits, renew an insurance license, or brush up your Excel skills? Nothing – and I mean nothing – is stopping you from doing that now.

Have you heard of Returnships? Many large companies are inviting you back by offering paid retraining opportunities with the possibility of full-time employment. Go to iRelaunch.com or ReBootAccel.com to find out if there is one in your field and community.

Keep the momentum going and stay motivated.

Action feeds momentum and momentum is essential. Speaking of momentum… It was the most difficult step of my returning to work journey. Many career returners report the same.

It’s one thing to decide and another to do. As unfulfilling as laundry is, it’s predictable. Returning to work means life is going to get messy. How will you prepare for this?

At first, I too felt overwhelmed. Continuing to plan dinner menus suddenly sounded easier than returning to work (everyone knows they’re not!).

However, I remembered something I said to a fellow career returner during a coaching session. Can you do it for 2 weeks? You can commit to anything for 2 weeks, right? So what can you accomplish toward your goal in the next 2 weeks? What steps will you, not can you, take every day for the next 2 weeks?

Make sure your goals are realistic.

Lastly, I had to be realistic. I still had a family who relied on me and a husband who traveled a lot. How was I going to do both? How was I going to do it at all?

As the year went on, I gradually got my family acquainted with the washing machine and kitchen stove. I planned dental and medical appointments in the morning, at times I knew were easier for my husband. I was lucky to find a career with flexibility so I could still manage drops-offs and pick-ups. And yes, they DO exist. It’s not perfect, but I’m definitely feeling more in sync with my former self while still very much connected to my kids.

Returning to work has brought a part of me back to life. It’s interesting. In the past 2 years, I don’t think I’ve told one person I have an MBA.

Is your old identity calling? Do her and yourself a favor – listen. There’s plenty of career advice to explore to help you make your return.


Contribution by Kristin Lobenstein

Kristin is a Career/Transition Coach with IMPACT Group and owner of a private coaching practice. She writes on a variety of job search topics, such as career crisis and career transitions.  

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