Returning to paid work after taking time out to have children can be a challenge. It's easy to feel out of touch and lacking in self-confidence even if you've only been away from the workforce for a year or two. On top of this you may have one or two small children who need to be cared for -- either full-time or before and after school.
So where do you start? Often it's a good idea to go back to the beginning and sort out how you will benefit from going back to paid work. For instance, is it the income that's most important to you? Or developing yourself or your career? Is it important for you to get away from the world of small children? Is work an important source of social contact?
Once you have established why you want to go back to work you can then think about how you will do it. Try to think widely about all the support available to you and your family.
If you need help with childcare there are formal options such as childcare centres and after-school programmes. But there may also be informal arrangements you can make with people in your extended family, or trusted friends and neighbours, who would enjoy being involved -- even if it's just to cover the odd hour when you, or your partner, can't be home. It's also worth talking to agencies like Barnardos about the support they provide in your community.
Flexibility around working hours and how work is done is a major requirement for many women - and a growing number of men - with families. If you need flexibility you may have to convince potential employers about how it could work, and that it's worth their being flexible because of the skills and value you bring.
You might highlight the wealth of workforce skills you already have, other skills that are particularly relevant to the job, your knowledge of the organisation if you've worked there before, and your maturity and ability perhaps to mentor and support other people.
Remember, too, to spell out any skills, knowledge or experience you have gained from working on a voluntary basis for community groups or businesses during your time out of the paid workforce. It's also worth emphasising the adaptability you bring simply from having looked after children.
You might find that the sort of job you used to do doesn't offer the flexibility you now need. If you have decided that flexibility is a priority, think of other directions you could take that would meet your current needs and allow you to return to your previous career path in the future.
Once back at work try and find other people in the organisation who have similar needs to yours around flexibility. Are there things you can support one another with or are their other advocates in the organisation who can represent your interests?
If you feel unclear about why you want to return to work or how you might present your skills to an employer, a counsellor from Relationships Aotearoa can help you.