Finding Courage to Reenter the Work Force After Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom

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I am always intrigued by the types of things that strike worry in a person. As a career coach, the beginning stage of any given session often involves counteracting the fear that my clients have allowed to build up over time. Interestingly enough, some sort of career-unrelated emotional turmoil typically rests at the core.

I had a client who was struggling to reenter the work force after years of being a stay-at-home mother. She had been out of the job scene for so long that, at times, she questioned whether or not she should return at all. While this is not every mother’s issue, I’ve seen it time and time again.

When it comes to the topic of reentering the work force-and the pressures that come with it-mothers are a group that often go overlooked. We are familiar with certain stories: returning to work after being out on disability, readjusting to life after having been incarcerated, or the struggles of a veteran post-tour. The idea of “motherhood and career” is, contextually, not at all tragic. However, society is somewhat remiss in realizing the psychological burden sometimes carried by women with children.

When my client was finally able to articulate the reasons for her tentativeness, she explained that she had become so proficient in her skills as a nurturer and homemaker, she was uncertain if she would be able to balance. She’d convinced herself that she couldn’t effectively do both; and I discovered that there were two reasons for this.

Leave your comfort zone.
What it partially boiled down to was: comfort. She had developed a familiarity with her role as a mother. Venturing back into the work force felt like unchartered territory. Think of the many people who fail to go out for a new job or promotion due to the security they feel within their current position. The concept is the same. Being a mother will always provide you with intricate new challenges and responsibilities; but just as a job title shouldn’t define you, neither should that of “parent.”

SEE ALSO: Find a balanced approach to your busy life at the 17th Annual Moms@Work Conference

You have it in you.
There was a second reason why my client was so worked up. She wasn’t sure if she still possessed the work-related skills that she once found to be second nature. During coaching sessions, I typically work to help clients combat this issue through much self-analysis and some role playing. The first step is to help to remind them of their talent. Having been out of the work force for some time, it is easy to question whether or not your abilities have remained intact. Fortunately, talent is not something that leaves your body. It is not something that you lose. It’s like riding a bike; you still know how to do it. You just have to get back in touch.

Total recall.
I always ask my clients to reminisce. Yes, simply reminisce! Try to remember what it was like to be in the work force. Remember what it felt like to hold a title, to be given additional responsibility, or to receive some level of validation or satisfaction within your office or industry. Recall that confidence and allow it to reenter your psyche.

As I tell all of my clients: Employers can sense a candidate’s lack of self-esteem. They are interested in hiring a person who is both competent and confident; so don’t leave them with any qualities that could potentially be deterrent.

andythomas.pngAndy Thomas is a career coach and author of The Job I Need, Needs Me. His background-an extensive mix of sales, broadcasting and career counseling-has allowed him to help thousands of unemployed and employed individuals pinpoint their strengths and find the confidence to pursue their dreams. Through his company, ANDY THOMAS CAREERS NOW, Andy provides the essential tools needed to help his clients find professional and personal fulfillment.

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The New You: Reinventing Yourself for Success

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