6 things no one tells moms about going back to work

Going back to work after a stint as a stay-at-home parent isn't all bad.

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Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

You know how there are dozens of things no one told you about parenting before you became a mom? Well, the things I was least prepared for were the difficulties of breastfeeding, the differences between my son and daughter and the fact that my belly button is nowhere near where it used to live. Equally surprising is the tricky transition from being a stay-at-home mom to a working parent.

Here are the six things that shocked me the most about this recent change:

You’ll feel like you gave up on your kids
On my first day back at work, I cried all the way from my daughter’s daycare to the office. This was awkward because the daycare was only six blocks away from work, so I was still a bit of a mess when I checked in with my new boss. While there is a sense of pride in returning to work and being paid for my skills, there is also tremendous guilt. I really felt like I’d failed my kids by choosing to work after being home with them so long. But I know it will get better.

You will make less money than you did before
A Globe and Mail reader wrote to the Corporate Governess columnist for advice on returning to work after being a stay-at-home mom. One of her concerns was that she was working longer hours and making less money than she did a decade ago. While I’m sure it’s a disappointing situation, it’s not surprising. Opting out of the workforce means opting out of the incremental raises that come with staying in your career for the long haul. I’m making less than I did when I quit my job to raise my kids, and while it’s a tough pill to swallow, it also reflects the years where I didn’t invest in upgrading my skills.

Your new employer won’t care that you were a stay-at-home parent
In a perfect world, bonus points would be awarded during a job interview for stay-at-home parents because we are the ultimate multi-tasker—and, as the Globe and Mail’s Corporate Governess writes, we can also hit the ground running because we’re up so early. Unfortunately, there are no bonus points. In a job interview, it’s alright to be proud of raising your kiddos, but don’t expect that to have an impact on Human Resources final decision.

There will be jobs you will turn down—and that’s OK
When I first started dipping my toes into the working world, I interviewed at a company that, on paper, was perfect. But as the interview progressed, it was clear that my potential employer’s views on work-life balance were very different from my own. I turned down the job because the killer overtime wasn’t worth sacrificing time spent with my children.

You will be excited about that first paycheque
While stay-at-home moms aren’t supposed to feel guilty about not earning a traditional paycheque, I admit to feeling that way in my early SAHM days. The first paycheque you earn after starting a new job eases the guilt and feels as awesome as the first paycheques you earned on your childhood paper route.

Your house will be cleaner
You know how you’re home with your kids all day and you spent nearly every waking hour picking up toys? Well, without you or your kids home during the day to mess the place up your house will be tidier.

You will have to re-learn to talk to adults
I have no verbal filter—I swear under my breath far too often and I use My Little Pony or Ninjago inferences when explaining things to my children. All of these habits were hard to break when I started working again. I still trip over sentences that are more complicated than telling someone to stop picking their nose, but I’ve avoided telling my office mates that I need to go pee-pee in the potty. That’s got to count for something, right?

Read more:
Going back to work doesn’t suck as much as you think it will
Study: Working mom guilt is misplaced
The working parents’ guide to dealing with sick kids

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