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Staying in the Game

3 tips for stay-at-home moms to remain relevant in the workforce.

Staying in the Game

Are you considering quitting work and being at-home full time with your baby, but you’re worried you won’t be able to get back into the work world later if you step out now? Did the recent New York Times magazine article, “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In,” scare the pants off you? If so, take heart, my friend, and read on.

First of all, let me reassure you that you can get back into work later. In my coaching practice, I have worked with moms returning to work after career breaks of two years and 13 years, and they have all found work. It is possible. It’s even possible to find work you really truly love that allows you more flexibility and control over your schedule – something most parents will tell you is key to their work/life happiness.

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Before you start typing your resignation letter, however, here’s the fine print: it can be hard to step back into the work world after a break. For most women, the degree of ease or difficulty returning to the workforce isn’t (as you may think) related to the number of years they have been out. It’s about how relevant they remained as career women during their time out. Here’s three things moms and moms-to-be can do before and during their at-home years to make the move back to paid work easier.

1. Make New Friends But Keep the Old

The most important thing you can do now to set yourself up for a smoother transition later is to maintain your work-related networks while also joining new, mom-related groups in your community. In my experience, women who found work most readily were members of multiple and varied groups. They joined neighborhood baby meet-ups and toddler playgroups, volunteered at their kids’ schools, and served on committees at their synagogue. They also hadn’t completely fallen off the map with their old work friends and colleagues. They had a semi-annual lunch with their old boss and met up with the “gang” for after-work drinks a few times a year. If you are considering stepping out of work for a while, I suggest you write out a plan for how -- and how often -- you will stay in touch with work colleagues, like: “I’ll have coffee once a month with someone,” or “I’ll go to the summer happy hour each year.” Note that I’m talking about face-to-face contact; LinkedIn is great, but it’s no substitute for in-person interaction. Not only will having multiple networks make it easier to find a job later, studies show that you’ll also be happier.

2. Stay Open to Opportunities that Come Along

Here’s one thing you simply must do before you tell your boss to “take this job and shove it” -- update your resume with your current position. Just believe me when I tell you that after approximately three months at home with your darling wee one, you won’t remember your major clients or projects, or that you “increased revenues by 30 percent by launching a new, client-facing platform.” Another benefit of having your resume ready to go is that if and when interesting opportunities come along in the first or fifth year of your career break, you’ll be ready to spring into action. What’s really exciting is that, if you keep yourself open, a lot of interesting opportunities WILL come your way. Things you’ve never thought about doing – like helping your friend market her new Peruvian baby clothes website -- will present themselves. One of the best things about having this time away from the rat race is that, while you explore your identity as a mother, you can also re-imagine yourself career-wise. So stay open to potentially wild and wacky opportunities that arise. You might find yourself transitioning to a whole new field later.

3. Keep a Pinkie Toe In

When I ask my clients what they wish they had done differently, the number one thing they say is that they wish they had kept working in some capacity. None of them regret the time they had with their children. They all say it was a great decision to leave the work they were doing and focus on their kids during those tender years. However, the clients who have continued to work in some capacity – occasional freelancing, part-time consulting, interning, even substantial unpaid volunteer work such as chairing a committee or event -- have found it much easier to on-ramp back to work later. Staying occupied keeps your skills sharp, your networks alive and kicking, and your work persona on life support.

If you do these things when you’re opting out, you’ll be in a much better position when you’re ready to lean back in.

Image source.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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