Stay-At-Home Parents Returning to Work

Many of us will be confronted with barriers throughout our life. How we deal with these and how effective we are in personally overcoming these challenges, is more important than the barrier itself and why and how it came to be.

A parent returning to paid employment after a career break to raise children is one of the most challenging! Hey, I'm a Mum, so I know what I'm talking about! And I am also a Careers Consultant.

This is a topic I am often quizzed on. What’s the secret to re-entering the workforce? I would prefer not to be gender specific here but for the sake of this scenario, lets assume we are talking about Mum. And not to get off track, but why do we call it a break? No doubt Mum has been busy working, in the sense that she has been raising children, nurturing our future contributors to society, dealing with a range of issues such as health, education, spiritual and social needs, all while managing a home and often associated finances.

Why do we even label it a career break? More often than not, a stay-at-home parenting role is a full time commitment and one which was necessary in order to maintain and meet the family’s needs, which were other than financial. Yes, the family may have “done without” but are a sound and secure family unit for their choice. In other situations, finances are not the core issue and the break has been planned into the entire workings of the family unit. Let's face it! There is nobody like you!

Now, cut to 5 – 10 years later and Mum has decided to return to the workforce. She has mastered the art of taking care of three busy little lives and suddenly finds herself with 5 hours per day in which he can only do so much housework and planning for the finances. She begins to wonder what she used to be. Perhaps she had a budding career, perhaps she has a degree, perhaps she has a talent of some sort which would easily be applied to any job.

Why do these very same competent people then come to me saying “But what do I put in my resume? I haven’t done anything for 10 years!” My response; "Did you crawl into a cupboard and simply disappear for 10 years?". I myself, have been a stay-at-home mum. I remember what it was like. But NOTHING was not in my job description! Why do stay-at-home-parents devalue the very important job they are undertaking? If you think you have been doing nothing and you present yourself on paper as having done nothing, then how can you expect a potential employer to see your worth? A potential employer is interested in YOU and what YOU can do for their company – not just what you can do when paid.


Think about just what you have achieved while raising your children. Stop and think about what you do on a daily basis – and I am not talking about paid work. List those things and I am sure you will be surprised on just what you achieve day-in and day-out.

So the point is, explain your absence from the workforce. Describe it as though it was a paid role! And if you feel you have been overlooked for an opportunity, then the answer could lay in the way you market yourself. If you feel you have ticked all the boxes and you have been unfairly assessed due to the gap in your career trajectory, then move on. Others who do not understand the skills we develop whilst working in the position of ‘Home Manager’ are probably not worth convincing.

I personally believe barriers are there to challenge and inspire us to become better people. Sometimes the barriers are downright unfair, and are put in place by people who are short-sighted. Don’t take this on and allow it to damage your self esteem and self worth. Allow these experiences to help you grow.

As an employer of ‘Mums-returning-to-the-workforce’ I can personally vouch for their skills, their commitment, their honesty and their worth as highly valued employees and often wonder if they would be the people they are today, if they hadn’t taken the time to be a full time parent.


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