Transitioning from SAHM to Career

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If I had to sit down for a performance review in my current role as a stay-at-home mom, I’d expect at least a score of achieving, though I would hope for something a bit higher than that. I know for a fact, though, that my housewife score would be rated as needs improvement. Most days, I can totally handle the raising of children. Cleaning and otherwise keeping up with housework, though? I struggle there.

For this reason, when my kids are in school full time, I’m heading back to work and calling for help with house cleaning tasks. Hold up, though. What does “back to work” mean for someone like me, who never really got established in a career before having kids? 

Well, I know that if I went straight back into the workforce, my résumé would be quite dated. I haven’t worked a job, outside of self-employment jobs, since 2014. I could probably hand over a bunch of blog posts detailing my life as a stay at home mom to a future employer when referencing my recent job experience. I’d guess, though, that the sarcasm behind such a move would probably prevent the possibility of a job offer.

I suppose, for someone like me, without any real career-level experience, there are only about a handful of choices. The first and quite possibly the easiest and fastest route is to take an entry-level job and start over, trying to find a path to a career. Another similar option would be to work a job or multiple jobs that pay the bills, but don’t necessarily translate into any career path. I know that it makes some people happy to do something that gets them out of the house each day, while also financially providing for their families. For me, though, I can’t see myself feeling committed to my return to work unless it feels like it’s my life’s work. I’m career-oriented, despite what someone may think of me based on my current employment status.

Someone in my exact shoes has one of two choices to make. The first option is to try to impress an employer with a limited and dated resume to get an entry-level position in the right place. The right place would be one that would allow room for growth, whether that comes from educational opportunities that lead to advancement or direct advancement based on performance and experience. The other option is to go back to school to obtain a more desirable degree and more relevant experience, which would either help or be necessary in the hiring process down the line.

That last option is the one I know I’ll have to take, since I want a career in a specific field, that requires a specific degree. My Bachelor of Arts in History won’t mean much to a hospital when I’m looking to work as a lactation nurse. I’m going to need to acquire a degree and experience to get to where I want to be, and at this moment in time, it’s an unfathomable commitment of time, money, and a whole lot of perfect timing.

It’s strange, this torn feeling of in-between. There’s the awareness that I belong and love being at home right now, but also that there’s more for me to see and do beyond the walls of my own house one day. Then there’s the earth-shattering truth that in order to get to where I want to be, I need to reinvent myself. It’s a scary thought for someone who’s been at home, reading picture books, getting hooked on Disney music, making meals that go uneaten, and wiping cute little tushies for a living for the past five years and counting. At least for now, while I wait to make that move, there’s the comfort of knowing that this job of stay-at-home motherhood has given me the confidence to say that I can do whatever I set my mind to. Perhaps a future employer wouldn’t see this at-home experience as relevant, but I know just how important and influential this time at home will have been to my success in anything I do from here on out.

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Sarah is a Massachusetts native, currently living with her husband and two young children, ages 4 and 1, in the same North Attleboro neighborhood where she and her husband grew up. When her daughter was born in 2014, she left the workforce and decided to stay home, while also building up a portrait photography business, capturing the bump through baby phase of life. Now with two kids in tow, the days are busier and the nights are more sleepless than she ever imagined possible. When she musters up enough energy, she gets the kids outside to play, visit local parks and farmers markets, and help out with tending to the gardens. Other times, though, she can be found hiding in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee and eating the very same snacks she denied her children five minutes prior. This mom gig is no joke and she is just trying to find some balance in what she does.