A stay-at-home mom's job hunt: The good, the bad and the ugly

As Jennifer tries to get back into the workforce, she wonders how other women handled new careers after being a stay-at-home mom.

Photo: drz400/iStockphoto

The good
With an updated resume and LinkedIn profile, my employment search has officially started.

I’ve picked up some freelance writing work and I’ve already had two job interviews that may or may not result in employment, but at the very least they were good practise in retraining my verbal filter. It’s true — I embarrassed myself in one interview by saying that my children arguing in the background during business calls would be my biggest challenge when working from home. My pre-SAHM answer would have included something about obsessive list making, but after three years of saying exactly what’s on my mind my verbal filter is squashed.

I also want to thank everyone who shared their own stories on the Today’s Parent Facebook page, sent encouraging tweets and passed along promising job leads. Social media has been wonderfully supportive.

The bad
There’s a joke among stay-at-home moms that we put on our nice yoga pants when we go grocery shopping — or in my case, the cleanest pair of jeans. One of the side effects of being a stay-at-home mom is that your wardrobe pays the price. I’d purchased a few new tops and even a dress when I attended Blissdom last year, but when I went to get dressed for my recent interviews I realized that my kids had chewed the buttons off my sweater and — since I’d taken a break from running — my dress was, ahem, a little snug. The tights I bought last October were also too small and I poked a hole through the thigh trying to sausage my legs into them. I had banned all toxic nail polish from the house and only had Gillian’s bright red Piggy Paint to try and keep the hole from getting bigger. Piggy Paint might be great for stopping my daughter’s cuticles from melting, but it sucks at keeping pantyhose from running. On the plus side, the good hair day I was having didn’t go to waste.

The ugly
My six-year-old son spent the first three days of the March Break vomiting. On its own, this is awful enough, but on his third day of fever and nausea, I also had a job interview. (Out of all the resumes and employment applications sent out in the last month, two resulted in job interviews). My good fortune evaporated immediately after I poured my first cup of coffee, with my poor son yakking Cheerios all over the floor. Scrambling to get to the mess before the dog did, I tried my hardest to keep puke off my only pair of dress pants while Mr. P carried our son to the bathroom. By the time I’d cleaned up the floor and washed my hands, Mr. P and both children were snuggled on the couch — my husband taking the day off work so that I could go to my job interview.

Blinking back tears as I left the house that morning, I couldn’t help but ask myself if heading back into the workforce was worth it. “It” being whether the guilt, the stress, the constant rush and feeling like I had given up on my children was worth a paycheque. The reality is, like many other families in Canada, I have no choice. It’s not disposable income I’d be earning, but keeping a roof over our head and food on the table. And believe me, I’m not exaggerating.

What are your tips for job interviews after being a stay-at-home mom?

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