Transitioning Back to Work (Just Started)

woman sitting at a podcast mic

Alright Moms and Dads…the day has arrived. After many months at home, no working at a paying job (goodness knows I worked plenty at home as a full-time mom), I just started a part-time job.

It was comical, in a way. The last time I actually applied for a job was in the previous decade, in about 2008. I haven’t filled out a W-4 or an I-9 in more than 10 years. LOL, like seriously.

I have no idea where my social security card is located. It may be closer to 20 years since I have seen that particular piece of documentation.

I did find my passport….which had expired. Last year. Eeek! Has it really been that long since I went on a trip out of the country? (or anywhere for that matter)

Guess so.

As a stay at home parent with small children, time really flies.

I haven’t really stopped to pay attention closely to the passage of time. I’m super focused on my kids and our day to day lives.

And honestly, I wouldn’t have gone out and sought this job on my own. First, it is in a field that I don’t have much training. Second, it is at a management level that I am vastly over qualified for. Not that I am too good or too proud to work for someone else, but I just have too much experience to be hired for that position.

A family friend knew that I was at home with kids, and they needed someone just a few hours a week. There are tons of people out there looking for work, but not always that many people who are interested in a few hours a week (that have other education, training, experience and connections).

It was hard to turn the job down, since it would be really nice to have a little bit of extra money around the house.

Just last month, a wind storm blew over the fence between my and my neighbor’s houses. They went ahead and fixed the fence, and presented me with a bill for 50%. I’m not upset about the bill…it is my responsibility to pay half. But it wasn’t something in the budget. I would rather work a little more than pull money out of the emergency fund.

Did I forget to mention how the HVAC system went on vacation after Thanksgiving? Well, it did. And that was another $1,000 that I hadn’t budgeted for, which did come out of the emergency fund (it was 30 degrees (F) in the house, so I would call that an emergency. The entire system needs to be replaced, so I’ve got to start saving for that.

All of these money concerns should be alleviated when all my kids are in school full days and I can have a real job. But for now, working only a little bit is all I am willing to do, because I don’t want to sacrifice my time with my children.

So I went to work this week. I felt so rusty. From getting up early and heading straight into the shower. To putting up my hair, packing a lunch FOR MYSELF (and not for children). Putting on professional clothing, and wearing real shoes (rather than my rainboots or sneakers).

And then I drove to work. I listened to a podcast on the way, and then walked into the office at least 15 minutes early to make a good first impression.

I felt really anxious. It was like I didn’t know whether I could handle being away from my house and my home for those hours, though I had previously done it every day for years.

My home and being at home has become a place of peace and stability, at least when children aren’t throwing spaghetti on the ceiling.

Would the school call, with the needs of a sick or injured child?

Would I get along with my new co-workers and my new boss?

Could I handle the tasks that I was expected to learn in a hurry?

Turns out, being a parent doesn’t mean that you lose your ability to perform good work and to be a good employee.

If anything, it makes you more resilient, and more determined to do a good job for your boss. I have faced much more complex challenges in the past few years since my third child was born. Entering data into Quickbooks pales in comparison to managing three kids simultaneously throwing up. Filing tax documentation doesn’t even come close to the difficulty of managing food, clothes, games, needs, tears, toys. If anything, the time was peaceful, rather than awful.

Work used to be work. Now work is a break.

Another thing that makes it less stressful…..I don’t need the job to make ends meet. The money will help, and be useful, and help me make plans for the future. But if I don’t like the job, or I don’t like the impact the job has on my family, I don’t have to keep doing that. And that is freeing, and removes a lot of the stressful feelings (such as what if they don’t like me, what if I can’t do the job, what if I make a mistake, what happens if I get fired).

People talk about getting old, and how they miss their 20s. I personally, don’t miss them. The confidence I have as the result of my life experience just makes my life as a whole better, in just about every way.

For others headed back to work, here’s a few things I would recommend to smooth the process:

  • Find out early on what the dress code is and make sure you have clothes that fit. It has been a LONG time since I had to wear business clothes, and unfortunately, a lot of my nice, expensive clothes no longer fit me the way they used to. If you can, lay out your clothes at night so that you don’t end up late to work because it is so hard to find something that looks right to wear to work.
  • Plan out your lunch in advance, so that you don’t have to be hustling in the mornings until you’ve gotten used to the new routine.

  • Try and get to bed as early as you can. Yes, you might be used to staying up late after the kids go to bed to get some me time, but you need to be rested to be able to show up at work and perform well.
  • If you can, try to go back just a little at a time, so that you and your family has time to adjust to the new schedule and the new you. Give yourself extra time in the morning if you also have to get the kids off to school before you head to work, there’s a lot to be done in a short amount of time.
  • Do what you can to get the kids or other family members ready the night before, to reduce the pressure on you as you head off to work.

Are you thinking about heading back to work? Tell me more in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about your stories.

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