How to relaunch a career after being a stay-at-home parent
Johnson, whose new book, "Dare Dream Do," encourages people to find and follow their passions, suggests people begin by evaluating innate talents and abilities. “Think about what people compliment you on. What activities make you feel like you are on your game? Think about what your kids are good at because that often will give some clues about what you are good at, too,” she said.
Johnson says to think of talents as ingredients. “Once they are identified, we can go into a process of discovery where we play with the ingredients to figure out what we want to make with them,” she said.
She encourages re-launchers to take pride in the things they love doing. “If you are good at doing something and you love to do it, then it is OK to do it.” In other words, a person doesn’t need to be running a bank or a partner at a law firm to be doing meaningful work.
“If you love planning parties, that is what you should be doing,” she said.
Having family support is an essential component of a successful relaunch, according to Fishman Cohen. When she went back to work, she and her husband had to get on the same page about how tasks she had traditionally done for the family would be reallocated. Who would do the cooking, the grocery shopping, the laundry and cleaning? What slack could he pick up and what jobs might need to be outsourced?
These are conversations partners need to be having before the stay-at-home parent returns to work, she said.
Fishman Cohen notes that occasionally children struggle to understand why their parent wants to return to work.
“The kids, whatever their age, need to understand that your interest in going back to work is not a rejection of them,” she said. One strategy she used was to engage her kids in her process. “I would make a list of some of my skills and then ask them to tell me what they thought the top three were,” she said. “I’d ask them for their opinions about jobs I was looking at.” By including everyone in the family in the process of re-launching a career, Fishman Cohen says, parents can mitigate some of the stress their children may feel about the impending changes.
Johnson says that children benefit from seeing their mothers go after the things they want. “As parents we tend to have strong ideas about what we want our kids to do as they prepared for college,” said Johnson. “If we are going to tell our kids to go after their dreams, they need to see us doing it too,” she said. “Our kids can’t be what they don’t see.”