How do SAHM's return to work after a long break?(64 Posts)
I'm a SAHM to DS (2) and am now pregnant with no.2. I gave up my job in advertising after work 'made it somewhat complicated' for me to return after mat leave. My job was no longer available, but another one was miles away in a different office and not compatible with pick up/drop off times from nursery and not profitable after childcare costs and lengthy commuting.
I agreed to take redundancy and in hindsight was really forced out, but loved being at home with ds so wasn't too bothered as felt I had done a good decade of the rat race and had given everything to my career.
DH is happy for me to be at home - we have a small flat, one car and cut back on most things to manage on one salary. It's tight but we're surviving.
However, as I am now pregnant again I don't plan on returning back to the work place for another couple of years and am concerned about a 4 year gap on my CV. Will I ever be able to get another job that was similar to my previous one having had so much 'time out'? How does one explain such a large gap on their CV? There are no jobs in my industry part time and childcare is so very expensive, I feel that is just isn't worth it, but am worried about the long term implications of SAH?
Has anyone else had a similar experiences? I feel a little selfish not contributing and wanting to stay at home, but then I would hate to miss out on my DC's early years. My friend said today that I shouldn't waste my time at university, the blood, sweat and tears working my way up the corporate ladder etc and it will be difficult to get my career back.
In my profession, you don't "go back to work after a long gap". Not these days, anyway.
You stay in work and suck it up for a couple of years that you may be working to cover childcare fees and travel. But you retain your job and your status (and earning potential if your H fucks off with his secretary)
I was dreading hearing that answer but am starting to realise this is indeed the case (well, hopefully not the last line.....)
Even if I get a job now I still have a large gap on CV to 'explain'. Then I'll be off again in a couple of months for mat leave and would I even get a job now evidently pregnant....**feels a bit sick and panicky**
To answer briefly the question in your thread title, I'm going back in January after a break of what will be five years by then. I found the few hours or so a week of voluntary work I was able to do during my time SAH invaluable in my application and CV. It was directly relevant to my employment sector though.
I won't be returning at anywhere near the level I was at before but that doesn't bother me as I'm more interested in pursuing a different career path now anyway.
Good luck with your choice OP.
Keep up your contacts. I'm returning to work after 4 years as a SAHM because someone I used to work with is recruiting and thought of me.
And BTW, you 'explain' the gap in your CV by telling the truth. You took a career break to look after your children while they were young. No shame in that.
In my profession you are welcomed back after a career break. I have not worked for 9 years. I am currently on a 3 month "refresher" course and then I'm back!! Since starting the refresher job I have been offered 3 positions - 1 a lot more junior than I was before I left, a second at the same seniority level as I left and the third a training opportunity to further develop my career. Not all doom and gloom
I know it's not your actual question... but you are contributing massively! (your comment about not contributing). You're saving your husband the hassle of worrying about taking days off to be with sick kids, whether you can make it to the nursery play/school assembly, taking the kids to doctors checkups, and leaving work in time to collect them from childcare, so that he can focus on his career. It is a real juggling act trying to coordinate that kind of thing if both people work.
If you really want to work, then go for it - you may not make much after childcare expenses, but it will allow you to maintain a pension fund and a career path. It doesn't sound like you really want to go back to work though, and that you are managing financially on one salary, so there's nothing wrong with staying at home if it works for you. I agree with the advice to keep in touch with your contacts - is there anything you can do freelance/part time to keep your hand in a little?
I travelled and had an internet business. yeah yeah, a couple of holidays and an eBay account. Mind you I pettered my time off with school vunluntary work and caring for a neighbour with terminal cancer.
Do a couple of courses and claim to have returned to education.
Anyone with the gift of the gab can fill a hole in a CV.
I work in the public sector the most equal of employers. However 12 years after going back I am still not at the same level I was at pre children. Sorry but I think this is one of the truths you are not told about when pregnant.
Same as Hazelnutincaramel I've returned to FT work after a gap of 5 years (couple of years PT weekend work). It's in a different profession from my previous full time career. In my CV I put (insert dates from-to) "I chose to spend this time at home following the birth of my son"
It wasn't questioned or referred to at all.
I went back after 7 years part time. Ok so the job was a shitty nightmare and the position was made redundant after 18 months, but I got back in the saddle! Now working at a much lower level but at least I'm not coming home ready to kill or dreading sunday nights!
I'm starting off with a part time Christmas position in retail. I am overqualified but I will sharpen up my transferable skills and will be able to slowly adjust myself back to a work environment.
I love retail and customer services and find the people skills invaluable. I think dealing with the public will knock me out of my baby brain haze.
After that I will find something more permanent but still part time. I am not rushing to go back to work though and don't need a full time wage right now.
I can answer the CV question - you put Maternity Leave/career break. It is completely legitimate thing to do with a few years of your life - it's not as if a recruiter will imagine your children were magicked out of nowhere.
How you explain that you are still up to speed with your previous job and demonstrate your commitment to picking up and continuing your career is the million dollar question. Unfortunately the world of work is still dominated by the full time, no-breaks culture which favours workers with no family/caring commmitments: ie normally the childless or parents with a SAH partner or FT childcare.
Don't at all apologise for being at home - it's not an extended holiday even if it's nice change from corporate life. Looking after children is a demanding full time role - that's why you have to pay someone else so much to do it. Your contribution to the family unit is providing childcare, your DH's is providing income - give and take on both sides.
Sorry don't have any suggestions, but I'm in a very similar position. Dh and I are both very happy with my choice to be a sahm. I often fret over my future though and worry about how I am perceived 'just a sahm'.
I agree. You say what you did, which was maternity leave. No shame in that or need to pretend it was something else. In your covering letter/email you detail the skills that you have acquired during this time that are relevant for the job 'prioritising, time management, patience....' Agree with hazelnut who says keep your contacts up though. That is invaluable, both for what's happening in terms of professional skills and developments and for job opportunities/references.
In my situation, I have chosen to work locally and part-time which means that my options are somewhat limited but I have found something which is reasonable. I do work in a very female field, so that may make it easier for mums to return. I do think that realistically I won't go back to working as I used to do though, at least not for quite some time as it doesn't tie in with the family life that I strive for.
I'm the opposite - struggled through past 8 years of working, both full-time and part-time, after two periods of Maternity leave (partner works away from home for six months of the year). I have had enough, now off sick from current job and never going back. I don't care about 'CV gaps' - I don't care about much at the moment. (I gave 20 years to my career previously)
Taking time out to raise your children should not have to be explainable on a CV, sadly there's no attached value to being a SAHM, or a WOHM for that matter (ime)
You seem to have accrued loads of skills - budgeting, time - management, problem solving - and will accomplish juggling to the nth degree when DC2 comes along!
Are you on Linkedin for example, that would be one way to keep in touch?
I took five years out of work to raise my dd. i volunteered for three of those years. I have always written both of these things on my cv. Im not ashamed to say i took time out to raise my child. Neither should any sahm.
To add to what the other posters have said, my choice to be with my young DCs was never questioned or discussed at all. My new boss likes that I've been very local for the last five years
and know many of the families that use his service!
As others have said you don't need to "cover up" time as a SAHM on your CV.
The other thing about going back to work, I would say is to make sure your DH is willing and able to support you by stepping up his side of parenthood when you go back to work.
The danger is that while you are at home he, and his employer get used to never having to think about pickup/drop off times, sick days and school holidays etc... At the same time his wages go up, you move to a bigger house tied to his earning power (perhaps with a longer commute).
If when you come to go back to work if all the childcare organising, cost, lack of flexibility falls on you, it will be much harder to find a job that fits.
Absolutely don't cover up the time spent being with your children. It's not a problem
Depends on your field as regards returning. I could pick my job up quickly if I had a long break.... Within 3months I'd be 'back'
My employer could probably put someone in the role who wouldn't need 3 months to get back to it though! That's the issue. Not 'can you do it' but as an employer has choices 'why' would they choose you?
Best thing is to return to similar field and get experience again so that you are that person who go straight into a job.
It depends on your profession and requires some luck but I've been tapping up old contacts to get dribs and drabs of freelance work over the last few years which is pocket money and gives me stuff to put on my cv. Is that a possibility for you?
Can you go self employed and work on small contracts that fit around home life?
I had 2 years off and found a part time job after about 6 months of searching, signing up for relevant job bulletins, pursuing local companies in my field etc. However after a year I hated the commute and stress for v little gain after paying childcare and travel costs.
I did some volunteering in schools and was lucky enough to get a TA job in a school down the road. Yes the pay for 30 hours is less than half what I previously earned for 21 hours but I have no travel costs and in a couple of years will have no childcare costs, so the actual take home pay will be more!
If you arr serious about it I would say think about how you can keep your skills up and/or retrain, approach local businesses and use Linkedin and contacts you already have to stay in the loop.
I don't think it will be too hard for me to get back into my career (nursing)
I've been off for about 18 months now and plan to be off for roughly another 3 years. I'll have to take a refresher course at uni which is about four months, then I'll have my professional registration back. I wont be abke to demand the same salary as before but it wont be too dar off, about 3k less. And I'll be able to work my way up to my original salary just with time.
I'm hoping I might be in with a decent chance of re-employment. Senior nurses I know are always keen to take on the likes of me because I would cost the same as a newly qualufied nurse but have a fair but more experience ( that's the attitude I'm hoping for anyway )
And can I just add, as a SAHM, I contrubute massively to my household, what with me looking after the kids and shit...
I'll have to learn to proof read obviously before I start applying for jobs
The gap in your cv is explained by 'mat leave', 'career break'.
there is no other explaintion to give. Its a perfectly valid choice.
I've taken 5 years out.
Have spent the last year applying for as many jobs as appear, not got anywhere at all.
I can't afford to take part time work, have lowered my outlook but nothing. I was in Retail Management prior to the children, worked solidly from a part time job at 14 until being a few months away from having dd when I was 25 (not for same company but went from one job to another with ease). Have taken courses etc. I've been applying for anything from Shop Assistant roles right up to what I was doing before, but I have had not one reply. My CV is all up to date (even had someone on here re-jig it for me). I haven't put the 5 year gap as just a gap. In that time I've been doing freelance consumer pieces for online magazines and ad features for my blog, but it makes not a difference it seems.
I feel like I'm on the scrapheap at 30. It does feel like we are discriminated against. One shop told me due to the long break in my career, they prefer not to take on unemployed applicants with longer than a year off work. They didn't elaborate further than that.
Sorry but I thought on going back it'd be easy peasy.
Pretty much as Fellowship of Festive Fellows says.
I was a little disheartened to overhear some colleagues (all female, all with children, some with grandchildren) shortlisting for a job recently. One post, over 100 applicants. Essentially, if an applicant hadn't done the same job in the last 3 months, their CV was rejected. SAHM were seen as having lost their relevant skills during the break. If an applicant had done even a small amount of part time work, they would have treated the CV entirely differently.
OP - Could you not keep your hand in by working for 1 or 2 days a week with a small company that doesn't want a full time member of staff to do their marketing?
Career break/mat leave may be a valid career choice but in the current environment employers have so much choice of candidates! I don't want to be the voice of doom but I do think it's necessary to be realistic. I took 14 months off with DD (redundancy when pregnant) and took 2 months to find part time work (more junior and 25% less pay than before). To put it in perspective, at 5 months pregnant I only had one day without temp work after my redundancy until I chose to stop at 8 months, so it was easier to find work whilst pregnant! I had all the questions that you're not meant to have about how would I find working with a baby, what would I do when she was sick etc.
Why don't you sign up to job alerts from sites like workingmums and womenlikeus to see what is out there. Although keep in mind the jobs I was applying for online had 200-300 applicants each.
I would recommend keeping a hand in any way possible (homeworking/volunteering/freelancing) before the new baby comes (congratulations!) and then allowing plenty of time (6 months +) of job searching before you REALLY need a job.
NB. I am currently only covering childcare costs and commute and not even getting pension contribution
Fellowship where are you based? I wonder because locally retail seems to be booming, I live in a Surrey market town and apart from a couple of stores closing it's really hard to see signs of recession - plenty of shops with ads for staff and management - everyone from Build a Bear to White Stuff seem to be hiring. Good luck with your search.
Here on MN you here a lot of posters stating catagorically that they will be returning to their career when it suits them.
Being a SAHM is often portrayed as a career break.
However, all the stats show that women trying to return to the workplace after a gap of more than their ML find it difficult.
This is not to say that women should not have periods where they are SAHM, but that they should be realistic about what it means in the longer term.
Ems I'm in Maidenhead. We've lost 90% of our stores in the last 3 years. There is literally nothing here at all.
The current job market is very harsh. I was made redundant 4 months ago, and even with no gap on my CV and experience that is very current I have resigned myself to the fact that I am very unlikely to get back into a job at the level I left and am looking at more junior positions in the same field. There's just too many good, experienced people out there (most of whom are also applying for jobs they are overqualified for). If I'm not making the cut, you can bet that someone who has been a SAHM for a few years is even further away.
However, when the job market picks up, this may well not be so much of an issue.
I have worried about the same thing since before DS2 (now 31 months) was even born. I love being a SAHM and always knew it was a 'career' I would want to have at some point in my life for a few years. I would rather work part-time to keep my hand in (I am a teacher) but it hasn't worked out and supply work has proved incompatible with having a little one and no obliging Granny to drop him with at a moment's notice. I have spent the best part of three years fretting about throwing my career away. But recently I have decided to reframe this as a (Baby) Gap Year or three. People do take breaks from their career to pursue other goals, which then either lead to other careers or enrich them when they return to their original career. They know they might be throwing away their chance to return at the same level to their old career but consider the new experiences, the pleasure of exploring something new, the satisfaction of doing something they value, etc to be a fair swap. I don't think what SAHMs do is so very different from that.
I have honestly no idea if I will ever get back into my old job - there are an awful lot of unemployed teachers here chasing the same work - but I do know I like my current day-job and would bitterly regret not having pursued it. If you feel the same way about being a SAHM and would, if faced with the stark choice, still choose it, then go for it! Who knows where it might lead in the end?
BTW - yesyesyes to voluntary work, finding things you can do from home that are in the same area as your old work, further training and finding a refresher course of some sort. My career is on hold but I do have a five-year plan to get back into it, and some ideas of new avenues to explore if that doesn't work out. It makes me less anxious about it to have a plan of sorts in place.
The replies on this thread are just adding to my confusion about what to do in my case. I qualified as a clinical psychologist just before ds was born (14 months ago) and therefore haven't worked in a qualified role yet. If I take more than 2yrs before registering then I need to do catch up training (not sure how) but mostly I just don't know how a long gap would be viewed by prospective employers?
Jobs in the nhs are pretty hard to come by anyway and I have got half an eye on the job alerts but nothing suitable has come up yet. I think if I was fairly certain I'd still be able to get back into my career then I'd take more time off wi ds - and potentially baby 2. It's such a hard decision...
I hope it's not too long ... as I will be in the same position as you in a similar career. I think (as someone else said) if you keep your profile on Linkedin/Twitter etc active - that will stand you (and me!) in good stead.
Also ... and I know it's a bit dodgy ... but in the world of advertising, maybe you could add in a few not-so-true freelance jobs that can't really be checked up on.
I have noticed a lot more media related jobs coming on the market recently and the increase of contact from ever-so-quiet recruitment companies has increased in the past month or so - which is good
After 14 years with no career to return to you don't you remain a SAHM until you die penny less in a freezing house. Ok this might not happen if DH lives a decent length of time as he does have a reasonable pension, but as a widow it falls sharply.
Thank you Labour for taking away my pension credits next year, BASTARDS!
Basicly I'm being punished for choosing to bring up my own DCs rather than working for nothing for 10 years.
No close by family (dead and disabled grandparents), so I we would have had to pay 100% childcare. DD is 14, there was bugger all help back then. Tax credits etc came in later by which time DH earned too much.
Living in a rural area everything means commuting so there is no way out of before/after school CM (no school clubs). That's £22 a day, plus petrol to get to work, it simply isn't worth it even if a CM has places.
And that s before you try to work out what the fuck to do with summer holidays with no family and no kinds clubs that do long enough hours to let you do a decent days work.
Yes i am fantastically luck to have a very cleaver and consequently reasonably paid DH, but by hell I'm punished for it too.
I should add the local nursery is trying to run wrap round care for school aged Dcs at an affordable price, but its an up hill struggle because so many people have for so long used family, friends and school hour jobs given out on a who you know basis (I'm not local, I'm don't "know" anyone useful).
Without the government subsidising "long school days" and 9-6 holiday clubs, private providers are going to struggle in areas where travelling expenses mean low paid and/or limited hour jobs rapidly become uneconomic. Women use friends and family, become SAHMs or do local shop, school and admin jobs that they are way way overqualified for so as to do the school run.
The waste of education and talent given many of us are graduates is enormous. But with DHs working 1hr and more commutes away in Britain's long hours culture, that is how it is if you want children.
I am going to generalise massively here but your industry is one of the suckiest for returning mothers. It's a long hours culture, very youth-orientated, there's a whole generation of internees coming up who will work for nothing, and it is very fast-moving.
You say advertising - were you a creative? Planner? Account Manager? Basically, if you were anything apart from sales or business development (very transferable to another industry) you are going to have to think laterally.
Can you go client-side - usually more opportunities for flexible working etc in large corporates (I know, I know, there's a recession on!) but generally. And what you can offer them is agency experience, which is still prized.
Retrain into marketing? Brush up on your social media? Can you write - freelance copywriting is lucrative if you have good contacts. Contacts generally are key as pp said.
I think if you try to step back to where you were 5 years ago you won't succeed - so better to take that as a platform to move forward, iyswim.
really don't cover up that you have children? the reason i'm asking, is that i'm jobsearching after finishing my degree, then phd and i also have a 7 year old. i have no gaps in my cv (worked as well as studied), but would never, ever mention having a child - in face would deliberately avoid it! on one occasion, it was a few months before my new work colleagues knew I had a 2 year old...
fair play to you lot for just putting it out there!
Obviously it depends on industry and experience. But contacts are important. Keeping your ear to the gound on industry developments. Knowing what businesses are doing what and where might be interested in employing you when the time comes.
I am an accountant but specialise in a very specific area which is a huge business in Dublin. Dublin a small city, in my industry everyone knows everyone. I was a SAHM for 6 years but I kept in touch with people I trained with and worked with. I kept up to date with the industry and when it came near the time that I was getting ready to go back I started letting it be known I was interested. A job cropped up, I was recommended. I was lucky of course, the job was ideal and at exactly the right time but if I kept my profile up and so I was remembered. Also it was helpful in getting references as I hadnt slipped off the face of the earth and my professional referees remembered me.
So contacts, keeping up to date, some ad hoc work if you can manage it.
And absoloutly be open about the fact you took a break to have kids. I did and it was never an issue.
What do you want to do long term? If you want to return to the same type of job in the same industry then it sounds like you might struggle a bit.
I was looking for a change in career anyway so have used my time as a SAHM to work out what I really want. I'm registering as a childminder to stay at home with ds3 and earn a salary, and offer childcare for people like yourself who need childcare that is cheaper than nursery and more flexible.
I worked in advertising too. Now I'm a sahm and work in our own company (nothing to do with adv). I too am worried how ill transition back after a long break from the industry. My headhunter suggested that when I'm ready the best thing to do is work freelance (agencies are always looking for help on pitches) - and this is probably what I'll do. I've also considered offering my services to charities etc so ill at least keep my skills up to date.
You can go back but it's often hard to reenter at the same level. Don't worry advertising industry will always need experienced people even if they have had career beaks of any kind
I think it does depend hugely on what sector you work in. Some industries seem to actively welcome people who've had career breaks, others not so much. I'm personally working full time and have been since my dd was 8 months although I'd much rather be a SAHM, in part because I don't want to wake up one morning in my mid-40s and realize that I'm no longer employable but I work in a particularly competitive and not very touchy-feely industry. I don't think that's the norm. Advertising doesn't strike me as one of the more touchy-feely ones: do you want to go back into advertising?
I do think if you're prepared to ease back in slowly, possibly with some voluntary work or unpaid in the mix (and I know that's depressing) you'll be able to do it. You've clearly got a decent CV. But I think some readjustment of expectations is probably necessary...
one thing i forgot to add, having recruited people before myself its always great to interview the right person who already has had kids (as the chance of them leaving on materinity is greatly reduced)
I've had 8 years out and despite having qualifications coming out of my ears, and a CV filled with top companies and great experience I can't even get interviews. It is depressing.
If you really want to get back in be prepared to work for nothing somewhere just to get your CV live again, and possibly sit some exams to prove you are up to date.
It does depend on the sector.
A good thing to do if you want to go back is try and do some freelance over the years. Just a bit, but it makes the CV less blank.
Advertising is a hard one, so many young, eager people willing to work. And long hours.
There's no need to hide the Career break, just be honest about it.
The gettign back into a decent level work role however........
This sort of thing should be covered in a leaflet handed out when you first see a midwife/GP to notify your pregnancy.
It should cover the potential financial cost of maternity leave career breaks including pension effect etc. This would then focus the mind on the facts rather than letting mums-to-be just think about the pregnancy/birth/Mat leave period for the next however many months leading up to the commencement of Mat Leave.
Some pessimistic cynics work it out for themselves. IMHO there is no point in bemoaning the lack of term time/school hours/part time career jobs when the SAHP has decided that it's time to go back to work now. If the newly pregnant looked ahead/researched the situation they'd cling to their existing jobs and go back in the hope of trying to convert to a part-time more flexible position doing the same level of role as before.
It's not easy juggling work and very small children, you can sense some people's disapproval (yes mum, I do mean you) but the job satisfaction and financial security/benefits in the long run were worth it for me.
Fellowship that cannot be helping then! Weird how localised it is, just cut through town to the library and saw 6 ads in store windows without really looking for them...
ewaczarlie that is a very good point. Much as it stems from prejudices against women of childbearing age, at least a parent is only likely to require a bit of flex here and there rather than be trained up and disappear for 12 months. For goodness sake don't ever mention that at interview though (as an interviewer or interviewee!)
startail what credits do you mean? Do you mean the ones that come with recieving CB?
Goodness this is timely.
I've been freelancing for
ever some years now and had an interview last week for a local full-time job. But they were cagey about the salary, and now they've let me know what it is I can see why. It's roughly what I earn freelance by working school-time and some evenings, and it's definitely a lower skill level than what I do now, let alone what I used to do pre-kids.
So: do I take the job anyway (if they offer it)
-- at a loss of net income as we'll need more childcare
-- to do something I may not shine at (because it doesn't need my skill set)
-- without my current flexibility
-- at the loss of my freelance contacts
in order to get out of the house and gamble on future prospects being brighter that way? Or would a future employer then look at my CV, spot this as the last job and pigeonhole me as that?
Spring* This sort of thing should be covered in a leaflet handed out when you first see a midwife/GP to notify your pregnancy
This sort of thing should be handed out at school, before you even consider starting a family!
[For context: future prospects are Not Shiny in my freelance role, but not at all guaranteed in this one either!]
I'd say that training, voluntary work and networking were the key things for me in returning to work after a long break as a sahm. I was at home for 15 years, until the youngest started secondary, but I was still young when I went back, as I'd started my family young. I had plenty of job offers before that, mostly through contacts and friends, but financially we didn't need me to return to work and I enjoyed my time doing p/t study and getting experience as a volunteer.
I never hid the fact that I'd taken a career break, but many of the contacts I'd made were other mums or friends I'd met through socialising, so they knew my circumstances anyway. It's a much more relaxed way of seeking work too - no silly person specs or CVs, I've just been contacted because my friends know I'm bright and capable and they needed someone to fill a role.
I went back to work on a slightly higher salary (but not really much higher as it was 15 years later!) but quickly got promoted within 5 years and now I'm at the same or higher salary than many of my contemporaries who continued to wohm for fear of falling off the career ladder. As they didn't start their families until later they were restricted with childcare issues while I was free to focus on work since my own dc were teens by that time.
If I were you I would do something that demonstrates a commitment to personal/professional development, whilst you SAHM. Whether that is freelance work, volunteering, training or whatever. And keep in touch with your professional friends.
In my job you are only as good as your last project. Freelancing in between having my 3 has just about kept my professional rep alive (just as well as DH was made redundant last year, we now both work part time, which is ace)
I did bits of freelance working from home and lots of voluntary (in my field as well as the PTA stuff) when my 3 DCs were very and I now work PT. I have a good work/life balance but earn less than I did when I was 25 (13 years ago) and am at a lot lower level. I do see a lot of the children though.
The question for me is do you want that old career back? Would be compatible with having children or do you really want to work part time and get a better work/life balance? You don't sound convinced OP and it sounds more like you think you ought to because that is what you do and you have worked on creating a career. It doesn't mean that you have to do it again if it isn't what you want out of life any more.
I didn't want my old career back so it was never an issue for me but I have spent the last 12 years studying, doing voluntary work and starting a very small business which has been a steep learning curve. Basically have something to show for your time other than looking after your children, even if it is running the local toddler group one day a week - it still requires organisational skills, people skills etc so no harm in putting it on your CV.
As most have said, you don't have to explain any gap on your CV - there isn't one. Life does extend outside of work and you were doing something very worthwhile. I would also disagree with your friend and her comment about wasting your education - your children are benefitting from it and even if it doesn't pay you, it is still worthwhile. There is more to life than the corporate ladder!
The other possibility that has worked for me and several friends is to work for/with our husbands. I have just gone back to doing the work I did 12 years ago because DH knows I haven't had a lobotomy and am perfectly capable of doing the work even if I haven't done it for ages. Other friends are helping with the admin side of their DH's business. If I wanted to go back to my old line of work I have no doubt that it would be worthwhile stepping stone. He has a professional practice with other staff so there is some kudos working for him. He isn't a handyman or similar who just wants me to do his VAT return once a quarter - it is a real job.
In a few years time we may well be coming out of recession and there may be more work available.
There are lots things you can do while you are SAHMing - run a local playgroup, get involved in fundraising for the PTA of nursery/school, help out at school, etc. You could do more studying, research different careers.
Will you want to go back to your old job? Maybe with two children your priorities will have changed and you may prefer to look for a different type of work.
How sad that you should think your time at university is wasted if it isn't being used for paid work. Doesn't every part of your life reflect your level of education. Is it a 'waste' for a graduate to bring up children? The statistics don't suggest so.
I am sorry you think that bringing up children, being part of the local community, etc is 'not contributing'.
My friend said today that I shouldn't waste my time at university, the blood, sweat and tears working my way up the corporate ladder etc and it will be difficult to get my career back.
You won't be wasting the time you spent at university (says the woman with a PhD who is more or less SAHMing for a few years). First off, this is only a few years out of your life. Secondly, even if it wasn't, education is just inherently a wonderful thing. Not everything has to be about pounds, shillings and pence.
Thanks so much for all the helpful suggestions. I think for now I am going to start volunteering - I could maybe do the marketing/publicity for some of the toddler groups that don't do so well where I live and are always a bit empty.
Almost, rebrand them and do a little campaign to relaunch them again - I'm sure they would be delighted. Then if that goes well I could approch some charities and do the same for them - this can all add to my portfolio as a freelancer of course.....
Good luck to everyone else and the forthcoming decisions that will be made...
Volunteering and networking has got me further than traditional job hunting.
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