Working Mother Magazine: My Dirty Little Secret
How do you know if it's time to relaunch?
How do you know if it's time to relaunch?
Leslie Simpson missed working. The Massachusetts mother of two boys had quit her job at a small design firm after her first was born and had been home for two years when she first felt the yearning. By year four, the yearning had morphed.“I was becoming really anxious and really depressed,” Simpson says. “I loved being a mother, but it was that isolation.”
Her tipping point was an afternoon husband-griping session with a group of fellow stay-at-home moms.
“I felt like I was in a chicken coop,” the 49-year-old Simpson recalls. “I said something about when I go back to work, and one of the women looked at me and said, ‘Go back to work? Well then, why did you have children?’”
Simpson felt more isolated than ever. And she developed a habit.
“I would sit in the parking lot and read Working Mother,” Simpson says. “It became my dirty little magazine.”
The primary motivator for returning to work, according to a 2005 study by the Center for Work-Life Policy called “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Women on the Road to Success,” is money. But other motivators include a desire to contribute financially to the family, avoiding the empty-nest syndrome, the desire to serve as a role model for children, intellectual stimulation, and ambition.
Julie Cohen, a career coach in Philadelphia, has counseled a number of professional women contemplating career re-entry. A former medical doctor turned stay-at-home mom came to Cohen as her youngest was about to enter preschool.
“She was bored,” says Cohen. “And there was this discomfort of not nurturing her professional field. She kept finding herself saying ‘I’m more than this.’”
But for women who are not forced to re-enter the work force because of death, divorce, or injury, the path from itch to successful re-entry can take anywhere from months to years.
“It’s more of a journey to a decision than boom a decision,” says career coach and therapist Colleen Smith, who took two separate breaks to be home with her children.
Both Cohen and Smith use the analogy of a balance scale. The tipping point is when the desire to re-enter or the dissatisfaction with the current situation outweighs the fear of going back to work.
Carol Fishman Cohen, co-author of Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work and co-founder of iRelaunch.com, took an 11-year break from her career as an investment banker to raise her four children. Cohen says she began to get antsy around year nine.
“I was ready to get back to work, but I was unsure of what I wanted to do and trying to get my arms around what would happen in my household. All of these issues were swirling around in my head, and I was overwhelmed by them, and as a result, nothing happened.”
Shortly after taking a job as an analyst with an investment firm, Cohen got a call from Vivian Steir Rabin, a former finance and human resources professional who had taken seven years off to raise her children. Rabin was interviewing successful relaunchers for a guidebook she was writing on the re-entry process. The book project stalled when Rabin relaunched her career building an executive search business. But when Cohen left her job after a year, she called Rabin and the two decided to collaborate on the book. They later founded iRelaunch together.
“When Vivian and I met and started to hash this out,” Cohen says, “we found that others had gone through a similar process. So we thought we had to be able to dissect this floundering period piece and identify the key issues that were causing loss of momentum and confusion.”
The two developed what they call the “Relaunch Readiness Quiz” to help quantify the relaunch decision-making process. The quiz assesses readiness in the areas of work appetite, child and elder care responsibilities, and spousal or other family support. High scores in all three categories would indicate a high level of readiness to go back to work. That in turn would signal that the transition from stay-at-home mom to working mother would likely be successful. Read More Here
More on our Guest Blogger LeeAnn Dance:
LeeAnn Dance, a former TV producer returning to work after a 13-year career break, has done a tremendous job blogging about the steps in her personal relaunch and about the process in general. She also has a "Back in Force" Blog Talk Radio show examining relevant return-to-work topics. In addition to the post above, here is a link to an additional post of LeeAnn's on the Readiness topic, including a link to her Blog Talk Radio Show on "Return to Work Readiness." Here LeeAnn examines tools to figure out if one is ready to return.