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  • Nancy Webb

Returning to Work After Raising a Family

By Guest Columnist Candice Cowin

Candice is a writer, decorator, and collector of all things vintage and antique. Some of her favorite designers include Tara Shaw, Darryl Carter, Nancy Braithwaite, Alessandra Branca, and Susan Ferrier. She is currently the Executive Editor at Round Top Publishers, LLC. A good friend of mine, Gloria Lindsay, introduced me to Candice, and I instantly became one of her biggest fans.

"Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect." - Alan Cohen

Returning to work outside the home after bowing out for a decade or more to raise a family can

be an intimidating prospect, but I’m here to tell you that it’s easier than ever to get back in the


The decision to step away from a career to focus on family may be considered a privilege, but

for many, it’s also a sacrifice and one that is still made primarily by women. Once the children’s

bedrooms begin to empty at home, we can struggle to find purpose and wonder if the years of

education and trade experience we collected before children came along were a waste. I

promise that whatever experience you gained prior to having children and while raising them

can be applied to your new career in some way, and it’s never too late to start working (for

money) again.

That said, there are certain careers that are more difficult to reenter than others. For those who

were in highly specialized fields like law, finance, or engineering that require frequent training

and skills updates, it may be time to pivot. However, if you really need, or want to return to

your old line of work, review your skill set and talk with friends who stayed in the game to see if

a comeback is feasible. The LinkedIn app is a great place to look for positions in your former

field and get your name and a fresh resume for employers to see.

"Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it." - Katherine Whitehorn

If you’re unable to make inroads into an old career, or you want to try something new,

make note of the skills you’ve acquired via homemaking and parenting to see if there is an

alternative you can pursue. Raising children requires a multitude of skills beyond simple

childcare. (However, if you enjoy being around young children, picking up hours at a pre-school

or daycare, or offering tutoring or instruction to neighborhood children through your

neighborhood Facebook page on a subject of which you have expertise can be very gratifying.) Without

a doubt, you have acquired a multitude of skills during your parenting years, or at least dipped

your toe into things like cooking or baking, nutrition and health, child psychology, nursing,

school administration, home repair or remodeling, gardening, and landscaping, interior design

or decorating, home keeping, managing family finances, crafting, fitness, photography, and

travel. All these skills can lead to new careers with an online certification or two, or simply an

intentional, focused effort.

Beyond the skills, you picked up while parenting, it can be incredibly fulfilling to pursue a

passion you have kept on the back burner and turn it into a profitable business. So, pick up the

paintbrush, the pen (aka keyboard), or the microphone and begin, wherever you are. There are

Master Classes on virtually any topic are available to purchase online, in addition to free video

tutorials on YouTube that can help you learn how to become better at anything from making

jewelry and applying make-up to repairing or restoring a car. Passions can lead directly to paid

work from gigs at the local coffee shop to selling your artwork via social media.

"Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology." - Brian Solis

In fact, a key part of your journey back into the workforce will be to embrace social media and

technology. Do not dismiss these areas as the domains of the young. Know that there are many

people of all ages who have found work and launched thriving businesses thanks in large part to

helpful smartphone apps like LinkedIn and social media platforms like Instagram. I highly

recommend joining Instagram and following accounts with interests that mirror your own. Set

aside time each day to scroll. Analyze what your favorite accounts post and how they present

information. People and businesses you love will often post about job openings that you can act

on immediately by sending the account a message.

Meanwhile, if you’re teaching yourself a new skill, you will be comforted by how incredibly forthcoming Instagrammers can be about their processes, including their challenges and failures. It’s a great way not only to learn more about your chosen craft but also to find community. Just make sure that your privacy settings are as stringent as possible (two-factor authentication is a must) and monitor your followers.

You have the option to block any accounts from seeing your information should you feel the

slightest bit uncomfortable with a follower, and contrarily wise; you have the option to

unfollow any accounts that leave you feeling overwhelmed and insignificant instead of inspired.

Never discount what you bring to the table in terms of life experience, but remember that

humility is key when learning any new skill, or when taking up an old job after a significant time

away. You will likely find that you are starting at the bottom and may only qualify for positions

most often given to twentysomethings. You may be reporting to people in their thirties and

forties, but don’t let this hold you back. You can learn a lot from your Millennials and Generation Z coworkers, especially regarding technology. It’s important not to be embarrassed about what you don’t know. Set your pride and ego aside. If you can’t figure something out for yourself, it’s always better to ask

a stupid question than to guess. In my experience, younger co-workers (or even your children)

are more than happy to help their elders, especially when it comes to technology.

Also, remember that technology has made it possible for us to work from home, and perhaps

the most important outcome of the pandemic has been an increase in the acceptability of

working off-site. Employers are much more open to hiring folks for off-site, or hybrid positions

that only require reporting to an office or job site occasionally, or maybe up to a few days each

week. This can be especially ideal if you’re dealing with any kind of health issue or disability.

Among the many perks of working from home are less time, and money spent on fuel for a

commute, and not having to invest in office-appropriate attire. This means more time for taking

care of personal business like caring for aging parents, and that more of your earnings go back

into your pocket.

Whether you want to work from home or on-site is perhaps one of the first things you should

decide when assessing your back-to-work journey, second only to understanding why you want

to return to the workforce. Other questions to ask yourself before you start looking for work:

Will I be working out of necessity, or simply to stave off boredom, or loneliness? How much do I

need to earn and what sort of benefits do I need? Do I want to work full-time, or part-time? Do

I need to buy a new computer or other expensive equipment to do my job? Do I have the time

and money to go back to school, or pay for certifications? Perhaps all you desire is to earn a

little fun money and master a hobby. The answers to these questions should factor into the

career path you choose.

As a final note, if you find yourself having a hard time learning, or focusing on your new job,

don’t give up. Women in peri-menopause and menopause experience many symptoms related

to fluctuating and declining hormone levels that can make work more challenging. Mental

issues like brain fog, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression, and irritability, not to

mention physical symptoms like hot flashes, incontinence, and weight gain can be a direct result

of hormonal changes in aging that can directly affect one’s ability to work. Do not suffer in

silence, or let these symptoms keep you from pursuing work. There are many safe and effective

treatments available that along with proper diet and exercise can help you manage your

symptoms and stay healthy enough to hold down a job or pursue your passion on your terms.

The best place to find a practitioner near you that will properly assess and treat symptoms of

peri-menopause and menopause can be found via The North American Menopause Society at

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