If you’ve decided that you want to have children and a break from work to raise them – congratulations! Just don’t forget to plan ahead for your return to your career.
A friend of mine recently went back to her career after having two children and being out of the workforce for several years. As we sat drinking coffee in downtown Seattle and discussing her new job, she shook her head and rolled her eyes.
“I spent hours and hours planning for my pregnancies and everything that came afterwards,” she mused. “I only wish I had put that kind of effort into planning for the break in my career and then my return to it. If I had done that, it would have saved me a lot of additional work and stress trying to restart my career.”
Like my friend, many soon-to-be parents plan out all the important details for having children. Similarly, it can be helpful to create a game plan for putting your career on hold and then going back to it a few years later. Here are some things to consider, as you plan your journey from work to having children and then back into the workforce.
Think about how you’ll stay informed. How could you remain up-to-date? Are there company or industry blogs you could read on a regular basis? Seek out other social media tools that will help you stay “in the know” about things happening within your industry.
Consider ways to continue developing your skills. Just because you’re a new parent doesn’t mean your career development has to be put on hold. What books could you read while the baby naps? Could you squeeze an online class into your schedule on a topic you’ve always found interesting? As your children get older, could you volunteer at their school or coach one of their sports teams?
Find ways to keep connected. Even though you’re not at the office, social media and technology has made it much easier to stay connected to co-workers. If you used to have lunch with a group from the office every now and then, ask to continue this practice — it can be a great way to stay in touch with colleagues and also provide a much-needed break from parenting.
Tap into a larger network. Find stay-at-home parent groups and begin connecting with members online and in person, such as networking with others during children’s play dates. Expanding your network will allow you to tap into it when you decide it’s time to step back into your career.
Having children can be an exciting time in life, especially if you’re planning on taking a few years out of your career to raise them. But don’t forget to plan ahead for the return to your career, using as much energy as when you planned ahead for having children.