One of my interns recently returned from the Peace Corp in Botswana, and told an interesting story about how mothers there who needed to work could just drop their kids off with whomever in their village was home and able to keep a vigilant eye on them. There were no worries about paying for childcare, no nanny-cams needed. Not so easy in the Western world. Back to the U.S., the stresses of a modern-day mom who wants to re-enter the workforce are many: They range from expensive childcare options to the decision about when, how and at what level to re-engage in the workforce.
Here are the big questions and some simple steps to figure out what's right for you:
1. Full-Time Or Part-Time? Sometimes your financial situation dictates this decision. But if you need to work full-time, many jobs now offer flex-time or hybrid part-time options. And it doesn't hurt to ask an employer for flexibility after getting an offer. Of course, some career tracks rarely have the option of part-time work, which brings me to your next consideration.
2. What's Your Focus? If you were in a high-demand job, perhaps you'd now like something with better work-life balance. Changing careers can be intimidating and often requires additional skill sets. Do some research on jobs that fit your interests. Don't be afraid to pick up a book like Your Dream Career for Dummies or talk to people in a field you're interested in. Try the parenting forums -- a great way to get answers to career questions. Also investigate online or continuing education courses that would boost your resume.
3. Freelance or Start Your Own Business Freelancing and entrepreneurship are the new normal in today's "gig economy," so don't be afraid to try. From consulting to crafting, you can leverage your experience from a previous career, passion or create your own niche. I opened a coworking, meeting and event space after my second son was born in order to be my own boss, have flexibility and be around others.
4. What to Do With the Kids?Deciding to go back to work means finding childcare. First, determine your comfort level, and of course what fits the budget. Would you prefer daycare or a full-time nanny? Would a nanny share work for you? If you're freelancing or working remotely, you could hire a nanny to watch the kids while you work at home. Or maybe it would be more productive to get out of the house to work for a few hours while you head to a café or coworking space. If you do choose that route, look for options near home so you can maximize time away.
5. Network, Network, Network! Reconnect with your old contacts, and don't be afraid to ask friends and family to put you in touch with their contacts or keep you in mind for available positions. Use LinkedIn, volunteer and join organizations and networking groups in your field. Take small steps to get yourself back in the mix, and you'll be able to take off from there.
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