One of the most difficult career transitions I’ve encountered as a career coach is the recently divorced stay-at-home mother re-entering the workforce.
There are so many moving parts to this decision that most corporate executives would give up in despair. And that is what happens too often. Time after time, the woman attempts to get organized and move forward, but one thing after another gets in the way.
First, she wonders if she can do this. Re-entering the workforce carries with it a whole set of confidence challenges:
- Is my experience still relevant?
- Am I too old?
- Are my skills still sharp?
- Do I want to stay in the same field?
- Can I command the salary I need to support my family?
Add to that the questions a recently divorced woman asks herself:
- Will my children adapt to my working full-time?
- Will I continue to receive alimony and/or child support?
- Will my health hold up under the demands of full-time work and single parenthood?
- Will my former spouse create problems for me, my children, or my career?
- If I work full-time, will I be available when my children need me?
The best advice I can give is to prioritize the issues and address them one at a time. I have watched women juggle legal and medical appointments, a move to a new house, children’s activities, a job search, and ultimately a new job. I have also been that woman. It is a superhuman endeavor. Trying to accomplish everything at once is futile.
Instead, the women who walk through this fire with the fewest scars make these hard choices and live with them:
- Take exquisite care of yourself: It’s tempting to try to do it all by yourself, to put your children first, to put the job and income first, to prove to your ex that you don’t need him, but the rock bottom truth is that if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re going to fall flat on your face and need to be taken care of. Here are some hints on what to pay attention to.
- Do the minimum: Decide what absolutely, positively must be done. Children must go to school. Groceries must be bought. Leave the rest. The house does not need to be cleaned weekly. I don’t care what your mother says. If it means so much to her, she can volunteer to vacuum.
- Change as little as possible: If you have the choice of staying in the house or moving, stay. It doesn’t have to be forever, but it can save you from piling another huge stressor on top of the ones that have already happened.
- Find support: Friends, family, your pastor, a therapist, top-notch childcare, a career coach, whomever it takes to keep you and your children functioning is a necessity.
- Postpone going back to work: This might sound strange coming from a career coach, but if you have the choice, keep that the same, too. Again, not forever, just until you get your feet on solid ground.
- Take things slowly: When you see that things are settling down, decide on the field you want to enter and look for a part-time job.
If you are in the middle of this transition and feel overwhelmed, contact me today. You may find several parts of my coaching program helpful, and I can take the career document creation off your hands when that time comes. You have enough to think about.
- Women Returning to Work: The Reasons
- Women Returning to Work: Your Brand
- Women Returning to Work: Your Resume
- Women Returning to Work: Your Job Search
Image courtesy Victor Habbick at freedigitalphotos.com.