I left the workforce in 2012 by choice. I had been working at my first “big girl” job right out of college for a mere 8 months when my first baby was born and I took my paid maternity leave. After that ran out, I quit.
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It was a dream of mine to stay at home with my kids. I knew before I ever started working or even going to college that I would choose to be a stay-at-home mom. I had filled my life with really great things up until that point, like school and work, but this, this job as a stay-at-home mom, was what I had been waiting for all my life.
And it couldn’t have been a better path for me.
Now, the life of a stay-at-home mom is not as glorious as I had imagined all those years, but it is still such a wonderful thing to always be with my daughters. I get a gazillion kisses every day, I play “Ring Around the Rosies” and “Hide-and-Go Seek” like they are the best games ever invented, and I get to make sure my girls are fed properly and get a good night’s sleep. I’m so lucky to hang out with the most important people in my entire life all day every day. It really is a dream and a huge blessing.
But I worry a little about that time in the future when they will be in school and I have to make a choice: Do I return to the workforce or do I continue to stay at home and tend to the dishes, laundry, cleaning, and more? It’s an intimidating thought for me to return to work. I feel like I belong at home. But I really would like to contribute some to our income.
All the Ways to Network as a Stay-at-Home Mom
If you are a stay-at-home mom and have had similar thoughts as I have, here are some tips to stay connected to the world of work even when you are not working. It’s a good idea to try and keep that door open as much as possible while you are away from work so when you want to return you don’t have to find the right key to get back in. Sometimes it’s not necessarily what is on your application that counts but rather who you know that matters most.
- Connect with the moms you see on a regular basis! This is the easiest way because you already know these ladies. Besides chatting about Little Sunshine’s huge diaper blowout or your son’s ridiculous amount of homework every night, talk about work. Start by asking everyone about their work experience or what they majored in at college.
- Check out Sahm.meetup.com. When you go to this site, you just put in your zip code and then browse the groups available in your area. From what I could see, many of them do have annual fees, but the value that they can add to your career path in the future would probably be priceless.
- Make it a habit to chat with people you come in contact with whether at the grocery store, the post office, or the zoo. If you think you could hit it off, just start chatting. You never know what you could find out about someone just by connecting at a playgroup. These conversations could lead to a connection that you can later use when you want to find a job.
- Attend meetings, classes, and lectures often. You want to always be sharpening your skills and keeping your brain at work. At these events, you will probably meet people who could later lead you to a connection when you are looking for a job.
- Meet one of your connections for lunch once a month or every couple of months. These could be former coworkers or colleagues. In your conversations, casually ask for names of people you can connect with.
- Once a year, consider reconnecting with friends from high school, college, past jobs, etc. Find out who they are connecting with, and maybe you can also connect with those people.
- Get on LinkedIn. Yes, it’s a place for professionals, but just because you are not currently working doesn’t mean you are not a professional. You can build connections effortlessly by spending just a small amount of time on this network once or twice a month.
- Volunteer. In my research, this way to network was touted as the best. After all, when you are volunteering, the people you are volunteering with are trying to make the world a better place and are more likely to help you out. Try to make volunteering a part of your life by looking for opportunities each month or at least every couple of months.
- Connect with your alumni through Career Services at your alma mater.
Before you get out there and start networking, make sure you’ve prepared a 30 second elevator pitch. This will be key when you are meeting with anyone to specifically connect. In your pitch, mention the field of work that interests you, and don’t forget to give your experience in that field of work. End your pitch by asking the person if they know someone in that field that you could connect with.
As you meet with people who might be key to helping you get a job in the future, make a good impression and remember to send a thank you note afterward. It will help them keep you at the forefront of their mind if they know you are truly grateful for the connection you have made.
When it’s finally time to go back to work, let all your connections know!
Finding a job after taking a long break from work can seem like a daunting task. The more you stay connected while you are away, however, the easier it will be to get back in the game.
Are you doing anything now to make it easier to return to work after being a stay-at-home mom?