Working Moms: When Work and Motherhood Don't Mix

It's something that every new working mom dreads: that if your job and your role as a mom turn out to be incompatible? Should you look for a new job? Change your career path? Stay home?

As much as you would prefer of abhor becoming a stay-at-home parent, it's sometimes just not possible. So what are your other options as a new mom going back to work? Whatever you decide, make sure you have enough money saved to get your family through a period without your income and benefits.

Start Looking For Work

Start looking for a new job or career before you leave your current one. This will not only let you keep your income and benefits, but perspective employers also find applicants who currently have jobs more interesting.

Your job search should begin with networking - speak to anyone and everyone (business, family, and social contacts) about what they do for work and how they got started. This may give you some ideas about potential career paths for yourself.

Also, let the word get out (discreetly of course) that you are looking for new work. You never know who or where an attractive job lead might come from. Ask your contact if they might know someone else you may be interested in talking to and follow up.

You may also want to use professional organizations (like the National Association of Female Executives) as a source of information about different industries and job markets. The list of organizations is endless - from really overarching to very specific.

Choosing a New Occupation

If you are exploring new directions, keep your search focused. Limit your interest to no more than 3 personally appealing areas. If you are looking to change a career, it's best to build on your past experience and expertise.

For example, if you are currently a doctor and want to get into insurance, look into the health insurance field where you can analyze medical claims. There are 3 essential steps you should follow when changing careers:

  • Assess your skills - What are you good at doing? What do you have experience with? What are your interests? Where do you have proven success?
  • Test new possibilities - You don't want to jump headfirst into a new career and find you don't like it. Test the waters by interviewing professionals already in the field, taking a temporary job in the field during your vacation, or moonlight on the side. You may also be interested in taking a few evening classes that prepare professionals for jobs within the field.
  • Consider the cost - Consider the affordability of a new career. Will you have to go back to school? Will you be starting your own business? How long will it take you to find yourself in a secure position again? Will you have to be without work for a while, and how long? Budget accordingly.

Start a Home Business

Home businesses are the answer for many women, since they offer the ability to pull in an income from home while taking care of the Baby. However, new business can take time to get established.

The most important part of starting your own business is capital - half of new businesses fail within the first four years because of the lack of capital. Therefore it's important to get a loan, your best bet for this is the Federal Small Business Administration.

Home-based franchises are another option but beware - many home franchises offer you little for your money - marketing materials and a handshake at the door. If you are looking into a franchise, make sure you will be able to access support along the way.

The most important aspects of starting your own business are commitment, capital, a solid business plan, and a support system. Pamphlets, counseling, and seminars are available from the American Women's Economic Development Corporation and the Small Business Administration.

Back to School

Some career changes require retraining. Often you can accomplish this while you are still working by taking night courses. Your current employer might even cover your expenses if the training relates to your current position.

Others may have to go back to school fulltime. This can be costly since you incur the expense of the courses and also a lack of personal income. You should also consider continuing your education online, especially if the return to school will be taking place while you are taking care of the kids and/or holding down a job. The amount of degrees available may surprise you.

You can earn a Dental Assistance Degree, which teaches dental procedures, radiography, practical infection control, and office management. This type of education and degree even puts you on the track to becoming a Dental Hygenist. Loans and scholarships are available to mature students through many universities and federal programs. Information on application to these programs is available from the Business and Professional Women's Foundation.


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