Just wanted to get viewpoints on how long before returning to work. I was made redundant and for various reasons, can afford to take a long time out before working again. I’m a single mum with two children and planned to go back to work when they start school so this would mean 5yrs out. I’m in finance, nothing too senior. Would this look bad? As I have no real other support, I didn’t want to have them a childminders or nursery for such long days if I didn’t need to. Has anyone else taken longer breaks and regretted it or were happy?
I haven't. My Mum did when she had me. My MIL did when she had DH. My BF has a few years but with the same employer in return.
Based on my perspective of their experience I would say 5 years is a long time. You may well find technology and working practices move on and you struggle to catch up. Think about whether there is retraining you could usefully plan to do as you get near returning.
Some employers won't like such a long gap. Can you keep a hand in by being very part time, doing some temp work or holiday cover to show you've kept a hand in. Since you don't need the money you could volunteer your services to a local charity.
You might also get out of the habit of work (especially juggling work with school/childcare logistics) and find you don't really care about work when you go back, especially if your youngest DC struggles to adjust to school at the same time. Again occasional work may help, as may going part time when you first go back and gradually ramping it up as you and the kids get used to it.
I've just had 3 years out for similar reasons to you - was made redundant, my industry was not too great, and I sort of drifted into a career break.
I am trying to go back now, and although I am finding it difficult I have at least had a couple of interviews.
If you do decide to take a break, make sure you do a few things (volunteer work, a course or two, running a community group etc) that you can put on your cv at a later date. That will hopefully make the gap look better to future employers.