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Have you managed to return to work after 10+ years as a SAHM

(30 Posts)
DailyMailisHateCrime Mon 06-Nov-17 12:17:51

I became a SAHM 13 years ago - partly through choice, partly through circumstance (long story!)

Didn't intend to be out of work so long but:
DD had additional needs
We live quite rurally and no part-time jobs nearby to fit in with school hours
No family to help
The depression and anxiety that have plagued me all my life have overtaken me during this time and zapped all my confidence

DD now at high school so more independent but needs some support so I can work more than part time but less than full time.

Anyone returned to work after a long break? Any tips would be appreciated.

One request: can we not have the SAHM-v-WOHM debate. It's not helpful.

Trailedanderror Mon 06-Nov-17 12:20:45

It felt like forever but I was only completely out of the workforce for 5 years. In that time I did various funded with childcare courses and volunteer work. I ended up volunteering practically full time once the dc were at senior school and now work 3 days/ week. What you do will very much depend on what sector you want to work in, but I heartily recommend volunteering to get a fresh reference and experience.

Athome77 Mon 06-Nov-17 12:24:21

I went back to work at Tesco. I had a few interviews in my ‘area’- what I did at uni, but the general feedback was that I hadn’t been in work blah blah, I did Tesco for 6 months got a work reference and then somewhere I had a invterview before had another job and I applied and got it, I work there now flexible hours etc (social services). They said they through working in Tesco it showed I was committed could talk to different types of people, had recent examples of difficult situations, timekeeping etc.

MsVestibule Mon 06-Nov-17 12:30:00

I was a bank manager but gave it up 8 years ago and became a SAHM, through circumstance rather than choice.

In that time, I did Avon and quite an involved volunteer role. It took me a long time to get back into work (partly because we live in an economically deprived area and I can't travel far due to childcare commitments). I now work in admin in our local hospital - it's zero hours but in practice, I can work as many as I want. If that would work for you, contact the HR dept of your nearest hospital and see where they advertise their vacancies.

It depends what you want to do, though. Can you work full-time, can you travel, are you prepared to work for NMW to start with?

Catalufa Mon 06-Nov-17 12:30:00

I was out for nine years, have been back for three years and loving it. I did do quite a bit voluntary work in that time. Have a look at to see if you can find any relevant voluntary work near you.

Gatekeeper Mon 06-Nov-17 12:31:32

I returned to work six months ago after being a sahm since 2003. What helped me 100% was doing voluntary work. It boosted my confidence, got me used to being among people in a work situation again and provided me with references and up to date info on my cv

CappuccinoCake Mon 06-Nov-17 12:33:29

I'm beginniing to think it's impossible! Ex teacher and dont want to go back into school. I feel I have so many qualifications and degrees on paper but no relevant recent experience for even basic admin jobs etc!

RavingRoo Mon 06-Nov-17 12:35:08

Depends on your background. Mathematical, computer, and engineering backgrounds tend to be more transferrable. For example mum did a degree in engineering, and went to work for a major engineering company as a senior manager despite 20 years out of the workforce because that particular field required people who had the experience she did.

streetlife70s Mon 06-Nov-17 12:35:52

I only managed it because I left school with no qualifications and did glamour modelling / topless dancing (classy I know but that’s all I felt I could do) but embarked on an OU degree, then masters degree combined with volunteering in the sector I wanted to work in so when I had more strings to my bow than when I screwed up my life previously.

I think if you keep your ‘toe in the water’ best you can; evening classes, volunteering, part time work, making and keeping good contacts etc you can actually end up better off. It isn’t just ‘work’ or ‘stay at home’ there can be somewhere in the middle that can help you back when you’re ready.

Biffybiffster Mon 06-Nov-17 12:37:44

Another one here that feels it's impossible! I'm well educated but can't even seem to get a job serving coffee sad it's so demoralising to keep getting rejected, my confidence is at rock bottom. I still have one child at home so can't really afford to volunteer. Maybe in a couple of years, by that time I'll have been a SAHM for 15 years!

streetlife70s Mon 06-Nov-17 12:40:00

#so when I tried to go back to work# that was supposed to say.

PosiePootlePerkins Mon 06-Nov-17 12:41:31

I was a SAHM for 7 years. As I have a teaching degree I was able to get work in my child's nursery school, very part time to start with, and built up my hours and responsibilities. I am now a TA in an Infant school and I love it, there's opportunities to become an HLTA and the hours fit in great with childcare. The pay isn't wonderful though.
I agree with volunteering to get some experience under your belt, depends what area you'd like to work in though.

ZaZathecat Mon 06-Nov-17 12:42:58

I also went back into work after 15 years via volunteering. You can do as little as you like but it still gives you something to put on your CV, and you can build up your hours if you want to and gain valuable experience. You can even end up getting a paid job where your volunteer.

DailyMailisHateCrime Mon 06-Nov-17 12:43:56

Thanks for all your replies. Just re-read my OP and I sound a right misery blush

What kind of IT skills do you need to work in an office these days? Happy to work for NMW.

RavingRoo Mon 06-Nov-17 12:44:56

Advanced Microsoft Office is a minimum for Admin.

AVeryBigHouse Mon 06-Nov-17 12:50:14

My friend has been a SAHM for 8 years and now her youngest are at school, she wants to dip her toe back in. She applied to go on the relief school kitchen team at her children's school.

Do you have an old workplace that could give you a reference? Being a teacher, I was able to give her a personal reference.

MumW Mon 06-Nov-17 12:59:40

I'm finding it impossible too.

I've been a SAHM for nearly 22 years which was nowhere near how long I thought/expected and have been trying on and off for the last 5-10 years.

I did lots of voluntary work from day one, tupperware & body shop, was a school govenor for 10 years, christmas retail but elections and invigilating is the only work I'm doing at the moment (which is seasonal/occasional and only short shifts)

The volunteering led to a temporary LSA job but I didn't get the permanent job at the end of it. So not even knowing the right people gave me the edge. Thought the experience would help me get work in another school but millions of applications and no interviews. Managed to get a couple school admin interviews out of lots of applications but seems I'm not good enough for that. I've tried retail too but no luck.

I used to be in computing but too out of touch.

Biffybiffster Mon 06-Nov-17 13:00:38

Looks like volunteering is the way to go

Graphista Mon 06-Nov-17 13:01:36

Place marking - I haven't worked for 9 years due to a combination of MH issues, physical disability, childcare (single mum) and daughters own disability.

Daughter now working and loving it.

As I'm currently on benefits and not 100% well I am being advised to start off with a very small amount of hours.

Been working with 2 work coaches since July, applied for almost 200 jobs in that time plus sent cv into agencies... Nothing!

Ditto volunteering roles which are few and far between.

Live in an area of very high unemployment very few full time jobs mainly zero hours/nmw which I am not against doing and have been applying for.

Upshot is I'm looking to set up as self emploloyed in a niche area which is my background but can be easily done online I'm just very nervous as I've never run a business/been self employed before and all the rules and regs make me nervous.

Reasons I've not been getting jobs I've applied for -

Overqualified (have a degree and various other quals, can't leave them off cv as then there'd be TWO large gaps in it)

No recent experience - even though I'm applying for roles I know I can do and still have the skills as I've just maintained them in my own time BUT have nothing to prove this, I've even offered to sit some kind of test or have them give me sample tasks.... Nope.

It depends where you are, if you can travel and thereby increase your opportunities.

Also if you're on benefits and remember that includes tax credits, going back to work could mean needing universal credit. How are your finances?

ThroughThickAndThin01 Mon 06-Nov-17 13:08:05

I'm trying after 19! years.

I got an interview from my first application last week which I was chuffed about, although I wasn't offered the job.

I've been volunteering since June and wanted to get a few months under my belt and on to my cv before applying for a job in earnest which I'm now starting to do. Just admin roles but the competition seems fierce. It seems tough out there.

Runzilla Mon 06-Nov-17 13:17:15

I did an ECDL course whilst my children were young to update my computer skills, which gave me a very basic intro to ms office. I did some voluntary work in my children's schools - enough to get a reference that I could use to apply for a very limited, but flexible hours admin job in a local organisation. Then a couple of years later I had a good reference to use to jump jobs and increase hours. Recently moved again to another job of 30 hours. I'm not paid well, but having been out of the workplace for about 10 years, which was longer due to family bereavement, I feel like I have slowly and steadily grown my CV. It is possible, but also hard. Good luck.

SunnySomer Mon 06-Nov-17 13:18:59

I’m going back next week after 11 years.
I’m fairly rural too, and found that all the p/t, non-specialist roles that would have worked very well around family life didn’t even invite me to interview (in spite of relevant volunteering over the entire 11 years I’ve been at home). But there are lots and lots of women very like me in the town where I live, so I guess the competition is fierce.

I ended up looking back in my old area of work and got the first job in that field that I applied for. I have no idea how it’s going to go, and I’m feeling extremely daunted particularly about the logistics of it all (I will have a bit of a commute), but we’ll see.
I think my primary lesson from the application process was not to sell yourself short. If you can demonstrate that you’ve kept up to date with your field of interest in spite of not working there, you can be taken seriously. If you don’t want to go back into the classroom, would you consider any other type of work in school? Eg do you know much about data management and could you sell those skills? My friend - who was similarly at home for about 12 years - went from being a teacher, via specialist TA supporting visually impaired children to working across the LA on visual impairment. Could you look a bit laterally at what you could do?
Best of luck, I feel your pain.

captaintrix Mon 06-Nov-17 13:32:19

I went back after 19 years. I hadn't worked for long before I had DC1 and I did a degree and MSc part-time when the DCs were growing up. So I applied to grad schemes after I finished my MSc. We're in London so there are plenty of employment opportunities here.

happy2bhomely Mon 06-Nov-17 13:32:35

I've been at home for 18 years. I had my first while I was at 6th form and then had another 4 after that, so I've got no work experience at all and only GCSEs. My DH works long hours and it always just made sense for me to stay at home with them.

My youngest is now 4 and I would like to work although financially I don't need to. I home educate 3 dc so would like evening work. I am finding it difficult because I'm not available for volunteering during the day either. Although I have applied for plenty of volunteer positions and I've not heard back from any. No one wants me, even for free!

I'm finding it quite difficult. I knew that having dc young (and having five of them) I would be limiting my options. I knew that I wasn't likely to ever have a career or profession or high wage. What I didn't realise was that I would struggle to find work as a cleaner or dinner lady etc. I just assumed that I would have to start at the bottom and possibly stay there. I didn't know I would be begging for someone to let me work for nothing just to get a reference.

It's a hard lesson to learn.

Trailedanderror Mon 06-Nov-17 14:57:02

For those of you struggling to find volunteering posts that don't clash with childcare, look at Park Run, trustee and charity admin posts and peer support/ helpline from home work. I had a lot to fill my CV with, a combination of the above,
without having needed much childcare, literally a couple of weekend days.

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