Trading Board Books for the Boardroom? 5 Tips to Help SAHMs Return to Work

A daughter hugs her mother after receiving a birthday gift on her birthday.
Tara Silcott hugs her daughter, Aubrey Griffin, 5, after giving her a "My Little Pony" shirt for her birthday in Hernando, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Silcott is preparing to go back to work by going to Withlacoochee Technical College for medical administration. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Being a stay-at-home mom is an around-the-clock job that requires a lot of hard work.

Except it’s not really a “job” in that you can’t quit — or take vacation. There are no sick days, and you don’t get paid. (Unless you count snuggles, smiles and unconditional love as payment.)

Applying for jobs can be stressful enough as it is, but when stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) decide to transition back to the traditional working world, it’s a whole different set of challenges.

Not only is it a big lifestyle change, but many women find themselves struggling to explain the gap in their resumes and worrying how they’ll adjust to new technology and workplace practices.

Don’t let it all overwhelm you. Here are some tips on how to get back to the workforce after spending extended time off taking care of the kiddos.

1. Consider a Returnship

Similar to an internship, a returnship helps an adult, who already has experience in their career, get back into the workforce after a break.

Path Forward is a nonprofit organization that helps stay-at-home parents return to work by partnering with companies to create returnship programs. The 20-week, mid-career internships pay about $20 to $25 an hour.

Other organizations also offer this service. This article from Working Mother highlights 14 organizations (including Path Forward) that help SAHMs get back to work.

In addition, FlexJobs lists eight companies that offer return-to-work programs, including PayPal and IBM.

2. Find Creative Ways to Fill Your Gap

Though being a SAHM is a job in itself, many women hesitate to list childrearing among the other roles on their resumes. That’s where The Pregnancy Pause comes in.

The Pregnancy Pause serves as a placeholder to fill in the employment gaps that occur when a mom leaves the traditional workforce to care for her children. It has its own LinkedIn company page, and over 250 LinkedIn users have included The Pregnancy Pause to fill in a gap on their resumes.

The site also comes with a free, downloadable toolkit, which includes a template to show women how to include The Pregnancy Pause on their resumes. Prospective employers who call the contact number will hear a recorded message that explains how the job candidate in question spent time raising a child, which gives her “invaluable experience as a prospective employee.”

Another way to fill a gap on your resume is the tried-and-true approach of doing volunteer work. Volunteering in your community — especially if it’s related to the scope of work you desire — can be a great way to gain experience and network.

3. Get a Flexible or Work-from-Home Job

Sometimes jumping right into a 40-hour-a-week job away from home isn’t the most appealing option. If that’s the case for you, you may want to consider a work-from-home gig or a flexible position where you can work remotely part of the time.

At The Penny Hoarder, we’re constantly sharing news of work-from-home job openings here on our site and on The Penny Hoarder Jobs page on Facebook.

This post in particular has a bunch of ideas for moms to earn money while their little ones are down for a nap.

We’ve also written about a company called FairyGodBoss, which helps women find companies that give them the flexibility and work-life balance they need. Check out its work-life balance guide.

Werk provides a job board for companies that offer flexible work options. However, job seekers must pay an annual membership fee of $48 to get access.

4. Choose a Baby/Child-Friendly Company

Aubrey smiles at her mother after blowing out her birthday candles. Silcott is going to Withlacoochee Technical College for medical administration. “When I’m done and I have a stable career, it’s going to help them in the long run because I’m going to be more financially stable,” Silcott said. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When a mom goes back to work, that doesn’t mean her commitment to making sure her child is properly cared for is over. Worrying about your child’s care can be all-consuming.

It’s great to have an employer who cares about those concerns.  And it’s even better when your company provides employees with child care-related assistance.

These 11 companies offer perks like on-site or near-site daycare or assistance with unexpected back-up care for when parents’ regular child care plans fall through.

The Parenting in the Workplace Institute helps working moms create infant-at-work programs at their offices. Think Take Your Child to Work Day, but over the course of your little one’s first few months of life instead of just one day.

The institute maintains a list of companies that welcome employees to bring their young babies into work.

Moms who have options like these may be apt to return to work sooner rather than later and not experience such a long lapse in employment.

5. Start Your Own Business

Sometimes the best way to get back into the workforce is to create a path for yourself.

Take that idea that’s been churning around in your brain since the start of maternity leave, and put it into action!

Here are some women who can serve as inspiration:

Returning to the workforce after a significant time off isn’t easy. Your path may very well turn out completely different from what you thought it’d be.

But don’t let the bumps in the road break you. Your children are watching and looking to you to set a good example, so don’t give up!

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She was a stay-at-home mom for two years and spent half that time actively trying to get back into the workforce. It was a struggle, but she’s extremely grateful to be where she is now.