Working Mom Chronicles: Returning to Work after Staying Home with Children


I have been a stay-at-home mom to my two children for the past seven years. My youngest just started kindergarten this year, so I decided that it was time for me to look for a job outside the home.

The idea of becoming a working mom after staying home with children for so long was intimidating.

To start, I had no idea what sort of job I wanted. I was in the middle of a career transition when my first child was born and I decided to stay home with him. Also, I don’t have any after-school or sick-day childcare available. I either needed to enroll in after-school care quickly or else find a job with limited hours. In the end, I signed up to be a substitute teacher. I have never worked in this field before, but the hours perfectly match my children’s school hours. That said, my transition from stay at home mom to working mom hasn’t been seamless.

Here are the obstacles I faced when I returned to work and how I overcame them.

woman returning to work

What jobs are available?

It had been so long since I job hunted that I had no idea what my options were at this point. My best advice is to talk to other moms who have returned to work after staying home with their kids. Talking to other moms gave me the idea of substitute teaching in the first place. Also, if you find a mom in a field that you like, she can be a valuable source of information and even networking. Talking to women in similar situations can also help give you confidence about returning to work.

newspaper and resume

What do I put on my resume?


Resumes are quite difficult to put together when you have spent a large chunk of time at home with your children. A few years ago, I picked up a very part-time job as a church pianist/organist. Even though I only work a few hours on Sundays, it is still a job to put on my resume and it gives me a supervisor to list in my references. I have also been volunteering for several organizations, which helped fill the holes in my resume and add some more references. Small part-time jobs and volunteer work will show potential employers that you are capable of hard work and responsible about your duties.

How do I gain experience?

Returning to work in a school environment was perfect for me because I have been volunteering at my children’s school for the past two years. At first, I was nervous and intimidated to work with large groups of young children. After enough experience, I became more comfortable in a classroom. Once your youngest children are in preschool for even a few hours a week, it will give you a chance to volunteer in your chosen career field to gain some experience. You may also gain some valuable contacts. If that isn’t an option, there are lots of online classes that you can take on your own time. This will show potential employers your dedication to your career and will also help update you on changes that have occurred while you have been out of the workforce.

What do I wear to work?

As a stay-at-home mom, comfort is the top priority in clothing. However, leggings, yoga pants, sneakers, and flip-flops don’t fit the dress code of most jobs. A work wardrobe is something you want to think about well in advance of returning to work. Purchasing an entirely new wardrobe all at once isn’t in most people’s budgets. I have focused on buying versatile pieces. I have many skirts and dresses that can be dressed up for work with tights, jewelry, and nice shoes. They can also be dressed down with leggings, t-shirts, and flip-flops for my time hanging out with my children. Although come to think of it, I could use some new shoes. Time to go shopping!

How do I work and still keep up with all the housework?

After returning to work, planning ahead becomes important in order to get everything done. If you have a busy week, it pays to invest some time in prepping dinner ahead of time. Also, if you have to get out the door early in the mornings, packing lunches the night before will cut down on your stress. Returning to work is also a great reason to give your children some more responsibility for household chores. For example, my kids now put away their own laundry. It’s an important life skill for them to learn and it saves me time.

woman typing on laptop

Returning to work after staying at home with your children can be intimidating at first. However, it’s quite achievable and can be surprisingly fulfilling.

What are your tips for returning to work after staying at home with the kids?



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