5 Reasons It’s So Hard to Go Back to Work After Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

About 11 million parents are staying at home right now, taking care of the children. Usually, that’s a temporary stop on a career path, and mom (usually) or dad (becoming more common) will return to work, whether it’s after the kids start school, or stop nursing, or whenever financial necessity becomes a reality. Going back isn’t always that easy. Here’s why.

Finding a job can be hard

Even in today’s booming economy finding a job when you’re unemployed can be extremely difficult. Recently the Brookings Institute published a study that emphasized just how difficult that can be: “The longer a worker is unemployed, the less likely they are to get a job in a given month. The short-term unemployed (less than five weeks) are more than three times as likely to find a job in a given month as people who have been unemployed for a year or more.”

While there is a difference between voluntarily unemployed to stay home with the children and laid off (or fired), it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to find a job when you’ve been out of the workforce.

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7 thoughts on “5 Reasons It’s So Hard to Go Back to Work After Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

  1. These are all factors personal to the employee. A bigger problem is employer attitudes toward stay-at-home parents who are returning to work. Fathers — generally — fare better than mothers in that regard, although some may find themselves discriminated against on the basis that stay-at-home fathers don’t comply with gender-based stereotypes. Mothers may find themselves relegated to the “Mommy Track,” with employers assuming that they are less committed to work, less interested in career advancement, more likely to need time off from work or other accommodations, etc.

  2. There’s no way to hide the fact that you have children and responsibilities towards them. There’s no sympathy for parents in the workplace.

    If you are late to work because you are up all night with a sick child, it’s no better than if you were out at a bar last night and came home with a hangover.

    There’s no “village” out there. Parents are on their own. I’ve known of mothers who had to quit work because their child was prone to run-of-the-mill ear infections.

    If you don’t make a lot of money to throw at your home problems, managing home emergencies is a nightmare.

    1. “There’s no sympathy for parents in the workplace.”

      Anecdotes aren’t data, but my anecdotes directly contradict your anecdotes. As a single woman and, subsequently, a married woman without children’ I was frequently expected to work less-desirable shifts, week, holidays, weekends and such. I regularly saw colleagues with children excused for child-rearing obligations when my own requests for time off for events important to me were denied.

      So perhaps your workplace is less accommodating than some. Do upyou have an EAP you can consult?

  3. It’s not only hard to find a job when you’ve been out of the workforce, it’s hard to find (or switch to) a job that can equally fit the employer and employee and when you have a child – or an aging parent or other relative for that matter – it’s extremely difficult to find roles that can accommodate someone who has to take care of someone else. My experience is that unless you are in a manager level or higher position, it is very difficult to find a role that allows for the flexibility needed and also not water down your salary; which is a catch 22 because its often times hard to manage an executive role and home based responsibilities. It’s one or the other and at certain point while we all need an income source, it becomes quite difficult to choose between taking a level of job that offers flexibility (and as gray bunny says, sees you as less committed) but that may not even cover the expense of caring for the family members you have to find care for when you’re at work.

  4. Some potential employers view time off work to care/raise a child is not a legitimate enough reason. I witnessed this while applying for jobs after raising a child for two years. The simple choice of staying home to rear my youngest for a while was frowned upon. During interviews I had to emphasize I ALSO completed another degree, remodeled my house, and volunteered in ADDITION to being a stay at home parent (although that information was listed on my resume). I felt I had to justify the time off by stating I wanted to focus on my education and remodel my home. I applied for jobs for the field I was in for 10 years and had extensive training and experience in.

    The worst thing was my new boss accused me of not listing a job on my resume. He felt I did not want to admit I quit or was fired from a job and just listed stay at home instead. Wtf? His whole attitude towards me was contradictory. He was proud his own mother was a stay at home mom and that his wife was a teacher and had the summers off.

  5. Having children is a choice. Staying home with children particularly until they are in school) is a great idea if you can afford it. I voluntarily left HR management and took a part-time non-management job in order to have time for my child. I had already dealt with the frustration of having to deal with a sick child and a 40-60 hour work week. That was not my employer’s problem; it was mine. I agree with you that the salaries of women are often lower because they don’t focus as much on their careers. What I’d like to see happen is companies offering more part-time jobs so parents have more flexibility to step back from their careers when kids are little. But pay people the same when one is often late or leaves early to deal with kids or parents (or whatever) and expect those without children to pick up the slack? No. It’s not a village. It’s a choice.

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