Once upon a time, it was our kids. Babies, just home from the hospital. When they were awake during the night they demanded your attention and food. When they slept, you watched them sleep to make sure they were still breathing. Then they grew up and became teenagers who could stay out later than you could stay awake. But even when you slept then, you had one eye open like only a mom can.

Now you’re thinking about going back to work and what keeps you up at night are all the what if’s and the how on earths. What if I go back to work and my family needs me at home? What if my child needs a ride and I’m not available? How will my kids play sports/do after-school activities if I can’t pick them up every day? How will dinner get made every night if I’m not there to do it?

Here’s the answer to all those questions: Forget about them for now.

Returning to work after a career break is a multi-step process. Solving those problems before you have a job isn’t even possible because you’re working out of order.

For example, why worry about who’s going to pick up the kids until you know you have a job that requires you to be at work during pick-up time? You may wind up in a job with the flexibility to leave early on days you need to pick people up. Or the kids may find their own rides, or have their licenses by then, or (my favorite) a neighbor will ask you to carpool. Here’s my point: don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from pursuing a job you’re interested in. Once you get the job, you can figure all the rest out. I know you can – you’re so smart!

Take it one step at a time. The step that comes first is focusing on you. What kind of job do you want? What are the companies where you can do that kind of work? What skill gaps do you need to fill to be able to get that job?

When I was looking for a job, our oldest son was playing on a lacrosse team that practiced 30 minutes from home every afternoon. I was so worried about how he’d continue to play on the team once I went back to work and couldn’t drive him there every day. Guess what? I didn’t go back to work until well after the season ended. This wasn’t a problem I needed to solve, but occasionally I used it as an excuse to put less than 100% into my job search. In hindsight, that was silly.

Allow me to sum it all up for you: Tackle the problem at hand first, then worry about the other stuff. Get the job and then find help where you need it.

You can do this.


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