Career Break to Care for Children
I still remember the resume writing class I took a million years ago back when I was in college. The instructor told us that our resume shouldn’t be just a list of jobs. It should be the “storyteller of your career.” So how do you write the story of your career when it has a long intermission, a couple of plot twists, and a surprise ending?
After graduating from college, I dabbled a bit in marketing and advertising before landing in public and media relations. I loved what I did and planned to keep working in some form when I started a family.
Then came the intermission. I had three babies all at once.
I stepped away from my career when my triplets arrived. I had fought so hard to have them, and I didn’t want to miss a single minute of their childhood. Not to mention, my entire paycheck would have gone to childcare! I knew I’d probably go back to work at some point. Little by little. Maybe I’d freelance or find a part time gig.
Then came the plot twist. I got divorced.
I had been out of the workforce for over ten years. In those ten years, newsletters were replaced by websites and press releases were replaced by social media. Public relations was not the same field I had left. My computer and writing skills were rusty, and I needed way more than a “gig.” I needed to support myself and my kids. I was worried and overwhelmed and had no idea what would happen next.
Then came another plot twist. I completely started over.
That was 2014. Today, I work for a global, billion-dollar company, have traveled to Australia and Europe, hold four professional certifications, and manage processes that I’d never even heard of until five years ago. I work every day from my home office. And I’m not in PR. I’m in IT Security.
No matter why you want to – or have to – go back to work after taking time off to care for someone else, you can do it. Here’s how.
- Find an in. I started at my company as a part time office assistant. If you used to be an HR manager before you left the workforce, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll re-enter as an HR manager. Instead, look for a good organization with a culture that supports career growth and take whatever job they’ll give you.
- Prove you’ve got what it takes. You may not find your inspiration by filling up the coffee machine or stocking office supplies but do it well and do it with a smile on your face. I did, and someone noticed.
- Tell people your story. It surprised me to find that most working people support stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce and want to see them succeed. A few of my coworkers – all with 25+ years in the field – heard my story, supported me in my first IT job, and mentored me as I learned the ropes.
- Prepare to work hard. “It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.” Amen. No matter what level you were at when you quit, you will have to sharpen your skills and get yourself up to speed. I realized that going back to college was not financially or logistically possible as a single mom. So I studied at home every night for two years – in between fixing dinner, driving carpool, and helping with homework. I took four exams, passed them all, and now hold some of the top professional certifications in my field.
- Consider a different path – especially if you need to work. Don’t limit yourself to only what you used to do. My approach to this second career was very different than my first. I recognized that my decision to be a stay-at-home mom coupled with my current life circumstances might not afford me the luxury of pursuing the job of my dreams. This time, it was about finding a career that would bring me financial independence. I’m well on my way to that goal because I was open to doing something different.
- But don’t forget what you’re good at. As I was settling into my new career, I talked about my communications background with some coworkers. Turns out that a lot of IT folks aren’t very fond of writing. Now, a large part of my job involves translating technical information into written policy. Surprise ending! I still get to write every single day.
The story of my career has an intermission, some plot twists, and a surprise ending. How do you disguise all of that craziness when you’re writing your resume and interviewing for a job? You don’t. You own your crazy story and make sure you share it. It’s what makes you interesting and illustrates just how resilient you are.
Sandwiched in between my PR job and my IT job, my marketing degree and my technology certifications, my resume reads “Career break to care for children.” And I typed it in bold.
Monica is a single mom of teenage triplets and a cocker spaniel named Lucy. She is also a former SAHM with a background in communications and a career in IT security. Her favorite food is pizza, her favorite place is the beach, and her favorite word is “resilience.”
You are How you eat.
If you are what you eat, then are you “how you eat”? My family life can be crazy – always busy with four to feed and blending to seven kids with my new relationship. On our most hectic nights, sometimes scraping together a dinner of cereal and leftovers is the best we can do. When my parents were living their last memories, my kids and siblings and I took care of them. During that time we started a tradition that every Wednesday night we would sit down and eat a home-cooked meal as a family. On family night we would try new recipes. We would have theme nights and dress up. But most importantly, we would all sit down around the table and connect as a family. To me the most important element of our family night tradition is that kids would participate in the cooking and serving.
My list of worries that I have as a parent are longer than the line at the DMV. I worry about their grades. I worry about their friendships. I worry about their emotions. I worry about how they handle divorce. But because of this family night tradition of my kids cooking, I don’t worry about them not being able to cook for themselves when they are on their own or their relationship to food. Just like sitting in mom’s lap to read and snuggle leads to good readers, us building fond memories around dinner prep will lead to healthy eaters. They will always have this touchstone of mindful, present eating to reach for in the future. On these family nights we purposely slow down our life. We take our time with cooking and with eating. We make ingredients from scratch. We sit and talk and we read with each other. And most importantly, we enjoy each other’s company by truly experiencing a connection of what family can feel like. All of this togetherness is held in place with the glue of food! What better way to connect and make memories than over a chicken pot pie and brownies.
While I wish we could eat slow and from scratch all the time, I know that the nights of cereal and quick macaroni and cheese will always continue. But because they do have these experiences of slow, purposeful eating, I know that will create a thread in the fabric of the adults that they will grow to be one day. So when I sweep up the flour off the floor and wipe the icing off the table, it makes all the mess and all the prep totally worth it.
Kathryn Doyle is a mom if four, blending to seven kids. Kathryn helps busy, driven people hold the identity of strength, confidence and vitality till they are able to hold it on their own using fitness, food coaching, and motivation.
Heather DeMonte & Stacy Amoo-Mensah, Co-Owners
When one of your favorite clients is also one of your favorite humans, re-branding their company is more of a joy than a job.
Enter Cathy Subber. The Branch Owner and inspiring mom to know.
Cathy came to us with a very specific ask. To evolve the look and feel of The Naperville Moms Network so it would appeal to local moms in local markets everywhere. With Naperville as a shining example of what moms can become when they connect, Cathy grew The Naperville Moms Network to over 20,000 members strong with specialized groups, online sharing, low-cost events, playdates, endorsement and advocacy opportunities.
The result? Mothers have gained knowledge, friendships have formed, new chapters are opening and women-owned businesses have taken off. This is not “just a cute moms network”, this is a group of powerful moms dedicated to connection, meaning and purpose. And Cathy’s purpose sums it up best, “To connect local moms and make sure they always have a home.”
As mothers and women business owners ourselves we knew we had to preserve what was special about Naperville Moms Network but allow it room to grow. So, we put on our best brand hats, interviewed Cathy about her objectives and laid the perfect foundation for building her brand. Then we had a dream…literally! And a new name was born. The Branch. As simple as that. A fitting name for what Naperville Moms Networks was always intended for – a place to “branch out” for moms and amazing humans like Cathy. When we asked Cathy if “The Branch” were a person who would that person be? She had the perfect answer, “A big sunshine.”
And that it is.
We hope you see Cathy’s sunshine shining brightly in our designs and our storytelling. An inspired brand for local moms everywhere who are Always Invited. And always have a place to call home. We are so grateful to Cathy for sharing her sunshine with us.