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SAHM for 9 years :( Need to do something .. retrain.... but what? How do you work out how to start over, new direction etc when totally clueless?

(21 Posts)
ErnestTheBavarian Wed 09-Jul-08 18:55:08

Before children I was a teacher (secondary).

After some major upheaval last year I decided I NEEDED to get back to work. Did a mat leave cover and decided I DEF. didn't want to return to teaching.

Now I've got a brand new baby and just moved to Germany, so working not possible right now.

Don't want to sit around for next 2/3/4 years - would like to use it constructively to do a course or something productive towards eventually, when baby ready, to go back to work.

But my brain has died and my will to live is ebbing away. I need to do something with my life and brain apart from kids. I have no idea what to do, or how to decide, or how long we'll be staying in Germany. How do you pluck a new career out of thin air? I feel depressed at the thought of not doing anything constructive. I feel trapped and can't see where my future is heading. 9 years as SAHM and now new baby She is WONDERFUL but I am now desperate for a goal and focus and life outside the home, but have no idea where to begin.

justtheone Wed 09-Jul-08 19:42:36

Hi! I'm in a similar situation to you... SAHM for 7 years and I've now decided I MUST do something. I was in Project Management and I've just discover that to get back into that I need recent experience and nobody wants to employ me with such a big gap on my CV. I'm really regretting not doing something earlier, even studying. I thought that I could take a lower paid job and work my way up again, but even that is elusive. Anyway, like you, time for some serious thinking. I'll keep an eye on this thread and let you know if I have any ideas.

My friend trained as a dental hygenist 2 years ago and she finds it rewarding and the hours flexible. However, the course in the UK is 2 years full time - not possible to do with a baby.

EffiePerine Wed 09-Jul-08 19:44:51

What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? Are there any avenues you could have gone down and didn't? (e.g. took a subject so far and no further or considered another career).

Easy ones with a teaching background are working for educational charities (DH did this, PGCE but didn't teach), tutoring etc.

geogteach Wed 09-Jul-08 20:10:16

I'm in a similar position, now been SAHM for 3 years (taught part time until DS1 started school), i have one year till ds2 is full time at school. I have just done an openings course at the open university, I wouldn't say i'm nearer to knowing what I will do but it was an easy way to get back to using my brain and as it is short (4 months) and relatively cheap it felt risk free if you know what I mean!
What did you not enjoy about teaching? I know for me it is stuff like marking and reports, I think by ideal job would be in a field centre still teaching but without the marking and stuff but I think they that may be hard to come by.

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 10-Jul-08 08:53:47

Don't want to go back to teaching as - had enough of kids, find myself now too impatient (blush my poor babies), mind you I was in 1st trimester when I did my mat cover and felt like shite.

I don't know what I'm good at any more, but would like to work with adults. I remember going to dh's office recently & everyone was streaming out, going for lunch, & Iwas so jealous ant the freedom and companionship that these people have.

I guess 2 possibilities are dog a a course that I enjoy and seeing if anything comes of it, or choosing a job and training specifically for that. I guess option b suits me better, but how do I work out what that is?

I did an online test & it came up with ... secondary school teacher hmm. And what I originally trained for I can't even do now anyway.

mumoftwinz Thu 10-Jul-08 15:33:28


I was feeling similar being a SAHM for 5 years, and needing to think about going back to work.

I decided what my ideal job would be and then worked back from there. I needed to do a Masters to increase my chances for that job so I started doing one part time with the Open University. (I think you can do OU from abroad)Its very good to feel challenged and it makes me feel better to know Im not just wasting my time at home and am working towards a goal. For help in finding the right direction I can highly recommend the book 'What colour is my parachute' - quite long and involved but should give you an idea of what you really want to do next. Good luck.

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 10-Jul-08 18:10:24

but unless you have always had the urge to be x, y or z, how do you decide what your dream job is? How did you decide? I would love to do an OU course if it would lead me somewhere.

Is there a web site/organisation/something in place to help people work out their niche? I don't feel like I have one.

I'm so glad you worked out what you want to do, mumoftwinz. Any tips?

MrsMattie Fri 11-Jul-08 16:39:18

You have to try a few things out and see where it leads - short courses, evening classes, voluntary or part time work. Inspiration is unlikely to hit while you're tied to the kitchen sink grin

After 10 years working in the media I knew I didn't want to return after my son was born but had no idea what I did want to do, other than a vague idea that I wanted to work in some sort of caring profession. I've researched every (bloody) public sector and 'caring' job there is over the last few years - midwifery, antenatal teaching, doula-ing, teaching, youth work, nursing, occupational therapy etc - and had some false starts (did some teaching in an FE college, started and eventually dropped out of an antenatal teacher training course) ...

After 2 years + of soul searching and thinking through different avenues I could pursue I've finally decided to start my Masters in Social Work next autumn (pending acceptance on to a course!) with a view to working eventually in the area of Youth Justice.

I know most of us don't have endless time to soul search and navel gaze, but I do believe that these things take time and research and a bit of risk taking and you can't rush the process. You're looking for a fresh start and something to engage your mind for the forseeable future, so it's important you take the time to make the right decision...

ErnestTheBavarian Mon 14-Jul-08 17:26:59

thanks mrsm.

Glad you found your niche and got sothething to work towards.

What you say makes perfect sense, but I'm left feeling defeated.

1. I can't spend the time doing x, y & z to see what I enjoy most, while looking after a new baby plus 3 other dc. Then the idea of studying while baby small goes out of window.

2. Even if I did find my dream job eg social worker, I can't do that any way being in Germany not UK and no idea how long I'll be here.

I feel like I've come up against a brick wall now and see no future for myself. I'll be early to mid 40's when my youngest starts school. No one would want to employ me. The future isn't looking very bright or orangey now. If only I knew then what I know now

MabelMay Wed 16-Jul-08 13:32:14

ErnesttheBavarian, of course people will want to employ you. If you're thoughtful, intelligent and committed you can always find something. The problem is figuring out what...

Could you start trying out some part time work for various charities to see where that might lead?
Are you fluent in German? Could you teach English to students out there?
Have you got any extra capital? Have you ever been tempted to start your own business? Food? Books? Is there something we have here in the UK that doesn't exist in Germany that there might be a market for?

I'm just thinking 'aloud' here but don't rush yourself either into making any quick decisions. Don't let yourself get too down about it. Try and celebrate what you DO have and make little steps to find out what else you might enjoy/be good at. I know it's tough. I am currently going through my own future/career quandary.

Good luck.

mitfordsisters Wed 16-Jul-08 19:40:29

Ernest, there is a very helpful book called What Colour is Your Parachute full of exercises to help you narrow down the field depending on your values, talents, interests etc. You have to reflect on yourself a lot, which doesn't always come naturally, but it's an intersting process to go through and would fit in around looking after the nippers.

Also, I would recommend the myers briggs type indicator (or similar), which is a personality test. Not everyone is into these, but I think this one is quite scientific, and I've found it helpful in understanding myself better. It might help you to evaluate who you are, and give you a steer towards a new career. Basically there are 16 'types' based on: whether you are extravert or introvert; favour thinking or feeling; and a number of other factors. You can do the test online at - think it might cost a few pounds but worth it imo. Good luck in the new chapter in your life!

stitch Wed 16-Jul-08 19:41:47

join the pta. means you have to start using your brain again. which gives youthe confidence to go back to paid work

admylin Wed 16-Jul-08 19:53:34

Ernest, feel exactly the same. We really are abit stuck being over here. I could have done so much if we'd moved back to the UK. I know the OU is available abroad but it costs about 3 times as much as if you did in the UK. I looked into it last year and couldn't afford it. We've missed you over in the new German thread. Is everything going OK with new baby and new schools? We're on summer holiday now and move house soon so busy packing but constantly have the same thoughts as you at the back of my mind. Am getting so desperate to get adult company that I'd go to work anywhere!

I did join the PTA and was parent rep for ds's class which was nice but very difficult if they all started speaking German at once and I missed abit then I didn't know what was going on!

ssd Thu 17-Jul-08 09:04:23

I find the problem now is going back to work after a long period off being at home and actually earning enough to pay for childcare to let you work

has no one else found that or do you all have high paying careers?

daisycat01 Fri 18-Jul-08 21:13:37

I have exactly the same problem re childcare. I need to get a job paying enought to make it worth going back to work and covering my costs, yet I dont think anyone would pay me this amount. I had my boys when I was 21 and 24 so dont have any real work experince.

I am thinking of training to be a midwife.

indiemummy Fri 18-Jul-08 21:37:31

two suggestions...

1. volunteer. plan an event for the PTA, help in a charity's office, soup kitchen, anything. It'll get you out and about and into the adult world again meeting new people.

2. i am currently considering doing a Masters in Sustainability / Environmental Decision-Making (the OU do this latter one) - green collar jobs are booming and there will be lots of opportunities over the next few years. You could go round doing environmental audits - could do consultancy, freelance, part-time, telling companies how to be greener. this would be an ideal job for me! guess you have to be passionate about the environment though.

i also don't know what i want to be when i grow up though, don't worry. a writer? a librarian? teacher? academic? environmental worker? entrepreneur? something creative? bookshop manager? playworker? public sector admin? etc. it changes every day. my current job in logistics involves staring at spreadsheets all day, i can't decide whether to commit to this career or make a change. i don't want to get to 80 years old (God willing) & regret not having gone for something and having spent my life in a job that was not my best fit, when i could have been doing something i enjoyed more. might invest in this parachute book. it's so difficult!

good luck x

ThePenguinProject Tue 22-Jul-08 17:14:44

Hello Ernest (PP waves from the June 08 thread) - I identified with your OP and the replies you got very helpful.

I have been told to think about what I choose to do in my freetime (gym bunnies might want to be personal trainers for instance) and also what makes me forget time. By that I mean what do you do that when you are finished, you can't believe where the time has gone (other than Mumsnet!)?

Personally I still feel like a kid who doesn't know what to be when she grows up. I've stayed in my job(s) due to money/security/fear/laziness. Whilst I've stayed safe, friends have re-trained and qualified as nurses, pyschologists, policemen, etc. I don't want to do any of those jobs but I am very jealous of them for knowing what they want to do and feel like I've wasted so much time already....

Good luck with your quest! wink

Romy7 Tue 22-Jul-08 17:18:24

ed psych?

social work?

adult education?

charity/ voluntary sector?

surf and order a prospectus or ten and see what floats your boat. i've ended up doing a masters and actually (eek) might have to think about getting a job next year.

ErnestTheBavarian Wed 23-Jul-08 08:33:50

wow, so many useful replies, sorry I've not had a chance to catch up - had guests. Lots of people in similar circs.

Becoming a sahm seemed like absolutely the right thing to do 9 years ago, and moving to Switzerland also seemed great and perfect, and of course, the move basically forced me to be sahm anyway. but I was very naive and didn't understand until recently the implications of my choices and circumstances, and realise I've been painted into a corner.

Sounds even more alrming - what do I do in my free time - nothing. Really. I look after my 3 boys, new baby, proscrastinate about the housework and really nothing else. So something else to work on, but how?

PP you summed it up perfectly - I also feel like a kid who hasn't worked out what to do yet. (waves hello to PP - how's it going?)

Not been on June or German thread for ages. Just too busy with the 4 of them and all on summer holidays, poor souls. but as admylin says, being here does really complicate it. My German's ok. I need to improve my grammar, but now can't attend classes due to baby.

I agree, I feel if I was in UK I would have so many more options to work, retraining, even childcare. If dc only do half days at school, it makes the childcare problem even more complicated.

Maybe this is one spcifically for the German thread then?

Right now any voluntary work etc is out of the Q due to baby, which is why I wanted to use this time studying or doing someting useful at home that I can use in the future, but it's just working out what... And so I go round in circles.

I might get that parachute book and look at that web site. I'd even consider a life coach or something, but I think the living in foreign country situation adds too much complication .

Got dd's passport this morning - amazingly quickly, so at least I feel like I can run away again

I do enjoy working with my hands,

SSSandy2 Wed 23-Jul-08 11:36:55

I'm pretty much in the same boat as you Ernest. Hoping it doesn't sink!

I don't know what I want to/can feasibly do at my age with this huge gap in my cv. It is so much easier when you do know what you want. Maybe you could write a list about what types of jobs/hours/etc you do NOT want to work. Anything to narrow it down.

From a German perspective, there are a few pitfalls. One I find it that all training here seems to take SO long. It would all go much faster in a UK course whether that is good or not I don't know but a year long course is do-able whereas 4 years isn't, especially if you may be moving on before completion.

You could consider a correspondence course from a UK university (not just the OU) with summer residencies or soemthing to speed it up if say your mum could come and help look after all your dc whilst you do the course.

If you were to train here what could you do? Well if anything I would go for something handfest - cake decorating (Konditor)- training hours bound to be crap and here it is a low status job but elsewhere you could free-lance it. Physiotherapy must work the same pretty much all over the world. Takes 2 years here and you probably have to attend a private institute, fees not unreasonable, not cheap but can be done and you'd be with a bunch of 19 year olds but what the heck? Speech therapy takes too long here and when you move, you wouldn't hve the training for English. Maybe something along those lines, qualified therapist of some type where you can be self-employed wherever you go next and based at home.

Otherwise if you could face it Buchhaltung always useful - even if you were to open your own business one day. I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than learn book-keeping but I see the value in it

Sort of depneds too whether you envisage having to earn a decent wage or just supplement dh's wage. Do you want something you can dfinitely live off if need be or just the occupation IYSWIM

Not that I know the answers for myself mind. What subjects did you teach in secondary?

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 24-Jul-08 23:34:41

ssandy thanks, some interesting ideas and great points.

I taught French, but this was 9 years ago, and not used it since, so French forgotten & crap. German not good enough, english - esl a totally different subject, would have to retrain, but did short stint of teaching and I feel I don't want to teach again.

It's been brought home to me how precarious it can be living abroad like this. Tough call. Munich is really great, but this is a BIG downside.

I couldn't ever match dh's salary. It isn't about the money per se. It's about having a life of my own, self respect, recognition I guess from other people, an example to my kids, the need to challenge myself, the security of knowing I could look after myself and the boys if needs be, respect and independence.

What about you?
need to get myself over to the German thread

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