Last Updated May 30th, 2018

How Do Stay At Home Parents Get Back In The Workforce?

How Do Stay At Home Parents Get Back In The Workforce?

When you decided to become a stay at home parent, did you give thought to how you would get back into the workforce? It’s an important consideration for most families. Difficulty in returning to the workforce has always been one of the risks of staying home with the kids. You can’t overlook the challenge when it’s time to get back in the workforce.

Most stay at home parents will eventually return to the workforce. Few parents want to stay home once the kids are in school. Part time, if not full time, employment becomes more appealing at that point, and even more so as the kids grow up. But with months, years, or even more than a decade out of work, how do you get back in the workforce?

How Bad Are The Stats?

I came across a study in the Harvard Business Review that shows just how difficult it can be for stay at home parents to get back into the workforce. The study author, Kate Weisshaar, sent out 3,374 fictitious resumes to real job openings. These represented “three types of job applicants: currently employed applicants with no employment gaps, unemployed applicants, and stay-at-home parent applicants.” The study looked at which groups of resumes received callbacks for interviews or more information.

If you’re a stay at home parent trying to get back in the workplace, the numbers aren’t terribly encouraging. “Stay-at-home parents were about half as likely to get a callback as unemployed parents and only one-third as likely as employed parents.”

Ouch.

The study found that stay at home parents were perceived to be less capable, less reliable, less deserving of a job, and less committed to work. These are the obstacles you’re facing when you decide it’s time to head back to work. What can you do to improve your chances of finding a job after being a stay at home parent?

Keep Up Your Skills

Keeping up your professional skills is especially important if you’re out of the workforce for more than a few months. Some industries change rapidly. If you don’t put in the effort to keep up, it will be much more difficult to resume your career.

You can take courses online or at a local college. Many schools now have online programs available, even if you’re after a new degree.

Other times simply taking a course to update your skills is enough. You can use sites such as Udemy to keep up with many professional skills or learn new ones.

You can also improve your education and target a new career if you like using these resources. A break in employment is an excellent time to consider a career change.

Network Professionally

Networking professionally can be difficult for many stay at home parents. You will be at a very different point in your life than your friends and coworkers who still work outside the home. It will be more difficult to get to industry events and networking events as well.

But professional networking is one of the most important things you can do. One of these connections might be the one that alerts you to a job opening when you’re ready for one.

LinkedIn is a very popular choice to network professionally from home these days. You can start with friends and old coworkers, and increase your contacts with people who work for interesting companies. There are also groups you can join to meet people in similar industries.

Get A Work At Home Job

I’m a huge fan of working at home. My income saved my family financially when my husband was laid off from his job. Without that money coming in, that would have been an even bigger problem than it was.

If you can find a work at home job in your industry, even a part time one, you show that you’re committed to your career and capable of doing the work. You may be able to turn it into a full time job when you’re ready.

Best of all, you aren’t out of work at all. You don’t have the gap that other stay at home parents do when they decide to return to work.

Take some time to prepare your resume for a work at home job hunt. When you want to work at home, you need to show more than just the skills for the job. You must demonstrate that you can work unsupervised. Remote work has some challenges that are very different from working in an office. Depending on their ages, the children alone can make working from home all but impossible without outside help. Be realistic about your needs.

Start A Home Business

Starting a home business is risky, but it can work. Most businesses of any sort fail, but there are many success stories of moms and dads who started a business in their home while raising their kids and turned it into a full time business.

Be picky about your home business, and learn the risks before you start anything. Don’t listen only to the hype from someone trying to recruit you into an opportunity.

Blogging is a popular choice, and it’s easy to start a blog. The hard part is bringing it to a level where it earns enough money. Some people have amazing success with blogs. Others find that theirs never brings in more than a small amount. Blogs are so cheap to run, however, that I consider them worth the risk.

Finding the time to run your home business can be as difficult or even more difficult than finding time for a work at home job. It’s rough when all the accountability is on you. If you don’t work hard, your home business will not bring in the income you need or provide the work experience to show for a future job.

It is a true delight when a home business works out so well that you don’t need to get a job outside the home later. You will still have ups and downs – that’s business for you – but the ability to keep working from home even as the kids get older is a true delight.

Volunteer

Volunteering is another way to keep using your professional skills as a stay at home parent. Look around and find a cause you believe in that can also use your professional skills.

Not everything you can do as a volunteer will do much for your resume. Do your best to find something relevant to what you want to do in your career. I volunteer at a local shelter, helping to socialize the cats and doing assorted chores around the place, but that wouldn’t do much for my resume if I were to write one up. The only thing it would show is a willingness to volunteer and the ability to work with animals. For the careers I would consider, that’s not terribly relevant.

Will These Things Make It Easier To Get Back In The Workforce?

There’s no guarantee that any of these will make it easier to get back in the workforce after you’ve been a stay at home parent. The benefits you gain depend on the kind of work you’re looking for when you no longer want to be a stay at home parent. Lower paying jobs with simpler requirements may be easier to get into than jobs that have higher requirements.

The point of doing all these things is to have something to put on your resume to minimize the gap caused by being a stay at home parent. You can show that you are capable of the work you want to do, and committed to a good career.

Of course, if you have a work at home job or a successful home business, you may not need to find an outside the home job as the kids get older. You might have already found what you want to do to earn money.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 17th, 2018

When Should a Stay at Home Mom Consider a Work at Home Job?

When Should a Stay at Home Mom Consider a Work at Home Job?

While many stay at home moms do already work at home, others don’t. The reason is pretty simple: It’s hard to commit yourself fully to your family if you have to work all the time. And if your family doesn’t need the money, why use up all that time?

But things can change, and working from home may be a more pleasant option than giving up on the stay at home dream altogether. Fortunately, it may be manageable if you plan ahead and are realistic about your own capabilities.

So when should a stay at home mom consider a work at home job?

If Your Family is Carrying a Heavy Debt Load

For this, I generally mean beyond a mortgage. Most people carry a mortgage on their home for quite a number of years, and that’s not a bad thing so long as it is manageable. But credit card debt, student loan debts and so forth are more of a problem.

Working at home is a way to get some of that debt paid down a little more quickly. If you don’t need the money for other purposes, use the new income to pay off your debts.

Take a look at how much you pay out each month on credit card or student loan debts. Think about how much more comfortable your family would be if that money didn’t have to go there. If you’re dealing with these debts, it’s probably a good time to consider a work at home job.

If your family is struggling to pay the mortgage, it’s probably time for the stay at home mom to find a job. Working at home is one way to do that without entirely giving up having one parent at home. You may have to get help watching the kids while you work, but if the hours are flexible enough, you can manage pretty well.

To Give Your Family A Financial Cushion

Jobs can be lost for so many reasons. Layoffs and medical issues come immediately to mind.

If you don’t have several months’ worth of income saved up for such a crisis, your family can be in deep trouble if the only wage earner suddenly isn’t bringing in much money, or is bringing in significantly less. Unemployment benefits don’t pay the same as a job, and they don’t last that long, not when you consider how long many job hunts last. And there’s no guarantee that a new job will pay what the old did.

If you start working at home you can bring that cushion up. It can be protection for your family in case of difficulties. Much better than living month to month.

The fact that I work at home has kept us afloat many times. When my husband was laid off years ago, my income meant we could still handle many of the bills. Credit card debt still hit us, but not nearly as hard as it would have if I hadn’t been working.

Even with two incomes, it’s not uncommon to live month to month. Lots of families earn barely enough to get by with two incomes. Your work at home job may or may not be enough to keep your family from living month to month, but it’s better than you not working at all.

Just Because You WANT To Consider A Work At Home Job

Sometimes you just want more from your life than taking care of home and family. Especially as children get older there’s only so much you can do, after all. Working at home gives you the chance to still be there while pursuing one of your own interests.

We have a huge advantage over mothers who worked at home in the past. There are a lot more options. We can go beyond the traditional options of daycare and network marketing and follow still more of our own interests.

You can start a blog. You can be a remote worker for all kinds of companies, doing tech support, medical codingcustomer service, transcription or many other remote jobs. You can hire yourself out as a freelance writer, programmer, designer, whatever suits your skills.

Don’t give yourself a hard time if you find that you wish you had a job when you’re a stay at home mom. It’s perfectly reasonable. There are a lot of benefits to your family. The right job or online business will allow you to keep being the stay at home mom you want to be while you earn an income.

So What’s The Catch?

The catch, of course, is that not everyone will succeed in working at home. It does take from your day. It takes effort. It’s flat out difficult for many people to find opportunities that aren’t scams. And yes, if you start a home business you may even lose money. It’s not risk free.

If you decide you want to work at home, don’t be in a rush about it. Don’t allow hype to catch your attention, or worse yet, your wallet. Take your time and do your research. Ask other people about it. The work at home community is generally very willing to help new members figure out what is legitimate. While you can’t trust everyone you meet online, getting more eyes on what you think will be good can help you to spot potential problems before you’re paying for them.

The last thing you want is to fall for a work at home scam and make the situation worse. It’s hard enough to earn money from home for many people – you don’t need someone stealing away much needed money.

You should also be aware that many work at home jobs aren’t as flexible as some think. Some are very strict about work hours or work conditions. Pay attention to the requirements of the job as you go through the application process. A customer service job that requires a complete lack of background noise, for example, won’t go so well if you have a screaming infant nearby while you work.

Take your time as you consider a work at home job. Make sure you know what you want from it and what employers are likely to want from you. This will help you find something that is a good match to your financial and scheduling needs.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated February 22nd, 2018

Beating Stay at Home Mom Isolation

Beating Stay at Home Mom Isolation

It’s been one of those days. The kids are screaming. You were lucky to get a shower this morning – if you did at all. The laundry is piling up, as are the bills. You’re always surrounded by your beloved children, yet you’ve never felt so alone. Stay at home mom isolation has you in its grip. There has to be a way to beat this thing.

The feeling of isolation is often the price to be paid for the privilege of being a stay at home mom. It goes along with the loss of income and privacy. Many a stay at home mom quickly notices a feeling of isolation, not only when she first starts out at home, but also when circumstances cause her to lose touch with the outside world.

Isolation is painful. It doesn’t matter that you adore your children or that all the other stay at home moms you know are counting their blessings and seem to be having a blast. Sometimes the personal sacrifice of less time with other adults really stings.

It’s even harder when you run into people who tell you that you should just be grateful for the time you have with your children. You can be grateful for that yet still feel isolated. There is nothing that says those two things can only be felt separately. Being told to be grateful doesn’t solve the problem – it only makes the SAHM feel guilty for her own feelings.

You don’t have to feel completely alone. No matter how young your children are there are things you can do to get some time with other adults and beat those lonely feelings.

Run Errands

Something as simple as running errands can help. It’s not much time with other people, and you probably won’t have a real conversation with anyone other than the cashier as you check out, but it can relieve some of that isolated feeling.

Running errands won’t solve your isolation – it’s just not enough. It’s better than nothing, especially if you know when friends run errands. A lot of parents in my area, for example, run errands after dropping the kids at school. Chatting with the ones I encounter makes my errands take longer than necessary, but it’s so nice to talk to other adults!

Go Fun Places

If the children are old enough, heading to the park or to a museum can help with stay at home mom isolation. The park is particularly enjoyable if you can arrange for another mom to be there, ideally with kids for yours to play with. The children get exercise; you get time to talk with another grownup who knows what you’re dealing with.

You don’t have to take the kids along for all your fun outings if someone else can take care of them. Your spouse can handle them for a little if you want to go out on your own, maybe meet up with friends, or you can get a sitter so you can go out together. Time away from your kids really helps refresh you for later.

Join A Mom Group

There are also various moms groups you can sign up for if you don’t know any other stay at home moms in your area. Stay at home moms can be hard to spot, but you might be surprised at how many are in your area.

You can find groups online or form your own as you meet other stay at home moms. It can take some time to find a group that’s a good match, but it’s worth the effort.

Socialize Online

Going online really can help. Join a forum on a topic that interests you. Read blogs. Start one of your own. It’s all a chance to express yourself and at least virtually interact with people who share your interests.

There are mom groups all over the place online. You can probably find one with parents you’ll enjoy chatting with. Search for them on Facebook and BabyCenter (it’s not all about babies) for starters.

There will be drama in most groups from time to time. It happens. Friends disagree in person too, right? It may be a bit rougher in a large group with more people to argue, but it’s normal. Sometimes it will be bad enough that you decide to leave the group, or others will decide to leave. Other times you can agree to disagree and move on.

Volunteer

Find a place to volunteer, with or without the kids, depending on what’s available in your area.

My kids and I have volunteered at a local animal shelter for several years now. The employees and other regular volunteers all know us. While most of our time is spent with the animals, we get to chat a little with customers and the others who work there. It’s a lot of fun.

Work At Home

Starting a work at home job or a home business can help you feel less isolated. This can be challenging when the kids are tiny and need a lot of attention. Doing something super flexible is easiest, even if it doesn’t bring in as much money as it might otherwise.

This is why I like blogging. You can write when the kids are sleeping, playing peacefully, or when your spouse is around to be the main parent. Starting a blog is easy… making it profitable is more challenging. I consider it worthwhile.

Don’t Feel Bad About Feeling Isolated

Some stay at home moms will insist to you that they never feel isolated, as though you shouldn’t either. But if you ask them about it, you will find out that these are the moms who already have a good network of friends and family they can talk to and do things with regularly. They aren’t lonely because they don’t allow it to happen.

Don’t Feel Bad About Being Frustrated

We all have bad days. When the kids are acting up and making life difficult, any parent will get frustrated. Sometimes you just have one of those days where it all goes wrong.

As you get used to being a stay at home mom and develop friendships with people who can be there when you need someone other than a child to talk to, you can get control over stay at home mom isolation. It doesn’t have to be a problem forever.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 4th, 2018

The Financial Hazards Of Being A Stay At Home Mom Or Dad

The Financial Hazards of Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

I’ve gone over the financial benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad. They can sound pretty good, but they are not the full picture. There are also a number of financial hazards of being a stay at home mom or dad. It’s vital that you know them as well.

Loss Of Income

Obviously, you’re losing a lot of income when you stay at home and don’t work at home. While that loss may be offset by not having to spend money on childcare and such, this is not the complete picture.

There are also lost career opportunities when you’re a stay at home parent. Staying home with the kids for five years means you’re missing out on five years of raises and chances for promotions. It’s five years that you might not be keeping up with your industry well enough to return to the same position as you had before.

This is why it is important for stay at home moms and dads to keep up with their industries or work to improve their educations. Another option is to work at home, whether you telecommute from your old job, find something else that can be done from home or start your own online business, such as a blog.

It can be more difficult to find a job as you get older too, especially if you haven’t worked for a while. Age discrimination is a thing, and it’s very hard to prove.

Working at home part time doesn’t entirely resolve these issues, but it’s a start. Some moms will be fortunate enough to find something that brings in enough money to replace a full time outside the home job, but many others will not. It’s something to consider.

Decreased Savings For Retirement

Few stay at home parents save for retirement, yet it’s just important for them as it is for a parent who works outside the home. It’s hard to save the money when things may be tight already. But the younger you start saving for retirement, the more benefit you will gain from each dollar saved. Vanguard has a great chart on this on their site.

Loss Of Network

Your network of friends and professional contacts can make a huge difference in your career path. When you take a break from working to raise a family, your professional network usually shrinks dramatically. It’s hard to keep in contact with people on a professional level when your lives are in such different places. Plus, you aren’t showing yourself to them as a professional; when they see you, it’s as a parent.

Financial Dependence On Someone Else

You love and trust your spouse, or so I assume. You believe that they will be able to provide for you and your family. That’s a part of why you’re at home with the kids and they’re working.

I touched upon this in the work at home section of the financial advantages of staying at home post yesterday. I reiterate this today – there is a lot of risk in being financially dependent on someone else.

Not because they’re unreliable. Not because they’re untrustworthy. But because you never know what life is going to bring you. Unemployment, disability, divorce and death can all happen, and you won’t always see it coming.

You need to have a plan in place to handle a financial crisis, whatever the cause may be. Shit happens. Take some time with your spouse and make sure that you and your family will be taken care of, no matter what happens.

That includes if something happens to you. Stay at home moms and dads provide a valuable service to their families. What would your family do without you? Your financial emergency plans should include something for if you can’t continue to care for your family for whatever reason. Life insurance for both parents is a good start. It doesn’t hurt to have small policies for the kids too. You know you would both be wrecks if something happened to one of your kids, right?

Get into the “what ifs.” They aren’t fun… in fact, they can be downright scary to consider. But they are important. Plan for them before you have a problem. They shouldn’t rule your lives, but they should be acknowledged.

Having One Parent Manage All The Finances

Even when both parents work, it’s not that uncommon for one to handle most or all of the finances. One usually has more interest in the subject or more time for it. That doesn’t make this an ideal situation.

Make sure both parents know what your financial situation is. The parent who works outside the home should not be the only one to know how your finances are doing. The same goes for the stay at home parent.

Both parents need to know what the bills are, when and how they get paid, what your income is, and what’s in savings. Take some time and talk about these things regularly, regardless of who handles the finances for the most part.

Offsetting The Financial Hazards Of Being A Stay At Home Mom Or Dad

There are some things you can do to offset the hazards of being a stay at home mom or dad. You need a safety net, for your own sake and the sake of your family. I mentioned working at home and improving your education in the benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad article. Those are the two big things you can do to minimize the risks.

Finding the right work at home opportunity is quite challenging. The scams are numerous and much easier to find than the legitimate opportunities. The skills you already have may or may not be suited to working at home and you may have to pick up an entirely new skill set. If you can make it happen, however, it can be well worth it.

Many parents plan on going back to working outside the home, at least part time, once the kids are in school. These jobs are generally easier to find than work at home jobs, but a part time job that makes the most of your skills can be very hard to find.

Taking classes at night at a college or online when the kids make it possible is always an option. Improving your education is a great choice if your career wasn’t where you wanted it to be before you became a stay at home parent. There are so many options now, although paying for it can be a challenge if your budget is tight.

Whatever you do as a stay at home parent, consider your financial future. Don’t leave it as some vague thing to be handled when the kids get older. Plan now so that you can make the most of your time as a stay at home parent and still have a good career later. You will thank yourself later for thinking of your financial future now.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 3rd, 2018

The Financial Benefits of Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

 

The Financial Benefits of Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

The decision to become a stay at home mom or dad is usually not made lightly. There can be significant financial consequences, both to the family and to the parent who stays home with the kids. But there can also be financial benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad, and these are worth considering.

No Daycare Costs

The cost of daycare for young children is significant, and this is often a large part of why a mom or dad may choose to stay at home. The more kids you have, the more this costs. Sometimes a family comes to the realization that one paycheck is going almost entirely to the cost of daycare. There is little point in working outside the home if all your money goes to that.

The cost of childcare in much of the United States is higher than the cost of attending an in-state public college. This is why it’s difficult for many families to keep both parents working if they have more than one child – too much income goes to daycare.

I live in California, and according to the Child Care Aware map, the cost of in-home child care for an infant is $7,678. It’s $11,817 for a daycare center. The costs are a little less than double that if you have an infant and a 4 year old in childcare. That’s a lot of income out of your paycheck. Getting rid of that is a huge financial benefit.

These numbers get better, of course, once the kids go to public school and need less daycare. They’re pretty much irrelevant for me now, as my oldest is 15 and my youngest is turning 9 soon. That’s why so many parents go back to work once the kids are in school – you can earn enough to make things worthwhile more easily.

Income Taxes

Your income tax burden may drop when one parent has no income. Not only do you have less income to tax, you may fall into a lower tax bracket. The change in tax bracket, of course, depends on how much the family earned with both parents working versus having just one work.

Remember that the higher tax bracket only applies to the income above the previous bracket. The income below that is taxed at the lower rate. This makes estimating your taxes difficult, but you can give it a good shot if you want actual numbers to work with.

Spending Goes Down

Your family can decrease spending in many ways with a stay at home mom or dad. It’s not just about child care.

A stay at home parent’s wardrobe costs less than a professional wardrobe, as a general rule. Pretty much everything can be washed at home rather than dry cleaned, which helps as well. How much of a benefit this depends significantly on the job the parent had before.

Stay at home parents eat lunches out less as a general rule too. They also don’t grab coffee out as often as parents who work outside the home. Getting coffee and a little something for breakfast on the way to work can easily run $5 a day. When stay at home parents do go out, on the other hand, it’s usually with the kids, so things can add up a little faster.

These savings can also extend to dinner. Having a parent at home makes it easier for that parent to cook meals at home, so the family eats out less in the evenings too.

A stay at home parent can do a lot to help the family live more frugally. They have time to find the best deals on groceries and other things the family needs. Food is one of the major expenses for a family, and there are many ways to save money in this area.

Transportation Costs

The stay at home mom or dad no longer has commuting expenses. This can be a huge savings. We went through a time when we had only one car because I drove so little. The savings was incredible, as that means we only paid for insurance on one car, having sold the other. Where we live now, it’s not practical to have just one car, but my insurance premiums are pretty low since I still don’t drive as much as someone who commutes.

Your transportation expenses will probably go up some as the kids get older and go to school or join activities. How much of an impact this has depends on how far away these things are – I was able to walk my kids to and from school for years.

No Hidden Work Expenses

Working outside the home can have some hidden expenses beyond commuting and clothes. Consider the social side of working in an office. Some of these expenses don’t come up often, while others are more frequent.

Some places have employees contribute to a coffee fund, for example, so that coffee is always available for everyone. There may also be requests for contributions for birthday gifts, baby showers and retirement gifts for coworkers throughout the year.

While all these things are pretty small in most places, they can add up through the year.

Better Career Focus For The Working Parent

The parent who continues to work outside the home can put their complete focus on their career when the other parent stays at home. They don’t have to worry about being called home when one of the kids gets sick. Staying late to finish a project is easier when you don’t have to worry about being on time to get the kids from daycare, which also looks good to employers.

This makes that parent look more dedicated to their employer, and may improve his or her chances at advancing their career. This benefit can be hard to define because it depends on so many factors, but it can be significant.

Time To Improve Your Education

Taking some time to improve your education while you’re a stay at home parent is an expense, but you may be able to make that into a financial benefit when you return to work.

There are a lot of online education options these days. You might decide to learn to be a medical coder while you’re at home so that you can earn money. You might look at getting a degree from an accredited college.

Improving your education is never a guarantee that you will earn more money when you go back to work, but you do improve your chances. This can help make up for the opportunties lost while raising your family.

You Can Work From Home

Working from home is a benefit I strongly recommend to stay at home moms and dads. My income has saved us many times. Several years ago my husband was laid off from the job he held at the time, and the fact that I was bringing money in meant that it was a complication, but not a complete financial disaster.

Working at home is so affordable in most ways. Costs will depend on what you do, but many work at home jobs and online businesses don’t add a lot to your monthly expenses. If you need only your computer and your internet connection, well, these are things you’re paying for anyhow.

It is not easy to get started working from home for most people. Work at home jobs can be challenging to find, and businesses… are businesses. It takes time to make one into a success and there are no guarantees that you will ever succeed with an online business. On the other hand, they’re cheap. It costs very little to start a blog, for example.

I strongly recommend working at home, at least a little, when you’re a stay at home parent. A single income family can be hit hard if anything happens to the breadwinner parent. Unemployment, disability, divorce, and death are all things you probably won’t see coming but can happen to any family. Working from home gives your family a buffer against these problems.

These financial benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad aren’t meant to dismiss the very real financial risk a stay at home parent takes. I’ll be covering that next.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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