Stepping Away from My Career

Updated on July 26, 2013
N.L. asks from Willow Springs, IL
18 answers

Hello mommies. It has been a while since I posted a question. Recently my position was eliminated and I have been staying at home with my 3 kids this summer. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy it, and how much I really needed to step away from my career and the stress that was coming along with it. It really was affecting my family. Come Fall, I will have 2 kids in school full-time and a 2 year old at home. Our plan is to have her back in daycare for a few days for socialization/learning, and hopefully I will find another part-time position. At this point, my husband and I have discussed me just finding a job that was different from my past career. Financially we can support this decision, but I am wondering if I will feel satisfied doing something that is making 1/2 the pay and then when I do decide to go back to my career, I will have to start all over again. I have worked 15 years in the same field so I really have made a good path - and eventually planned to go into management. Has any mom taken a similiar path? Have you left your career you worked so hard to get and are you happy with your decision now? I really want my cake and eat it too because I like the extra income, but want flexibility to watch my kids grow and be a part of their lives and activities. Any advice?

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answers from Los Angeles on

I struggled with leaving a full time job as a nurse practitioner that I loved to stay home. A friend wrote to me and what she said resonated with me. She told me as great as I was work would replace my role but no one could ever replace me with my family. It's true. I've never regretted it for a minute. Best of luck to you.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I worked full time for about 15 years and had a wonderful 'career.' If you call working for someone else a career. I sort of think of it as a job when I worked for someone else all the time. I was an officer in the US Army then worked for a high tech defense company as an international manager, with lots of great travel, relocations, executive apartments, company car, etc. Life was good on the career side, by my daughter needed more from me.

So I quit working about 20 years ago, and I have never ever regretted it. I have some of the nicest, well-behaved, well-mannered, athletic, musical, balanced, just great kids. But that is because I have invested a lot of time in teaching them to be wonderful, moral, upstanding citizens. I really want what is best for my kids right now, while I have the energy and time to help them develop themselves. The rest is up to them.

Perhaps I am compensating, as I personally did not have fully invested or interested parents myself, and I know how much more I could have accomplished if I had had some modicum of support at home.

I have definitely drifted away from my uber professional girlfriends, as they continue to focus on themselves, their fitness, their posessions, their vacation spots, etc.

I have never regretted being more 'there' for my kids. Ever.

And over the years, I have developed a small business anyway, and I would now never return to what I once did, prior to being a 'never' at home mom.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I spent all of my 20s and the start of my 30s training for a career I ended up giving up after a few years. I had a giant student loan, and many aspects of my training were harder than parenting (if you can believe that). Do I regret walking away and staying home? Hell no. Staying home and taking care of my family is the most important and rewarding job I will ever do.I have moments when I cannot believe I am where I am, but that is only because I was so career oriented. I never even thought I'd have kids, and now I am little miss domestic. I mean, seriously, I even make doctor appointments for my husband! So much for being a strong independent feminist!

Since walking away from my past life, I've found lots of new interests, and today I got invited to be on a committee for an early education initiative. Way more rewarding stuff than my past life, but I never would have discovered it and found new passions if I didn't walk away.

Your kids are only little ONCE. If you like staying home (it really isn't for everyone), then maybe you can use this as a chance to discover a hidden passion? A new career path? One that better fits with being around for your kids, while making cake eating money?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I've struggled with this decision for years... I think you kind of know in your gut. You've loved being home (not everyone does) and you can do it financially. If you're not in management yet, you're probably not giving up a huge paycheck. I also think with 3 kids you need to be home more. It's one of several reasons I didn't have 3 kids. I didn't feel like I could give enough time to 3 and work FT and I'm the main breadwinner while my husband's jobs have been rather volatile/uncertain. Fortunately we're in a financial position now that I think I"m comfortable quitting despite his income potentially being choppy and I feel like in my gut I really want to. My kids are older and there are things that mommy has to do versus our nanny. It's been like that for a little while and getting probably stronger. As your kids get older, things are more complicated with homework etc. I honeslty don't know how people with 3 kids and 2 FT working parents do it unless they have a nanny who the kids will happily do all projects with etc. And even then, it's someone else doing stuff. I find I really want to know how a school project is going and what my kids easily grasp in school vs have a harder time with vs outsource it all. Sounds like you want to be home too. I"m just waiting for one last bonus this fall. :) I wish my position would just be eliminated afterwards and take away having to actually quit.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

It really depends on what work you do. Some jobs you can step up, step back, find flex, others not at all.

Guess I am saying we need more information before we can answer. It does you little help to know I checked groceries as an older teen and went right back to it a few years later without missing a beat. It also does you know good to know my current job allows me damn near limitless flexibility so long as I produce work product on time if you don't happen to have my degree and skill set.

Clear as mud?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I did not "give up" my career but have been able to work part-time (short days, and 4 days a week). I have definitely been "mommy tracked" and as the years have gone by I have no regrets. In fact, my opinion has gotten stronger about it. I work in a position of direct client contact and consult and there are many of us in my company. I see the younger women with small children who still work full time and are desperate for executive approval and ladder climbing. They work long hours, they go to all the conferences and meetings, etc. Now that my kids are in high school I have some perspective. I had one child who was very ill a few years ago, my other child has had a slight learning disability & ADHD, my mom's health failed and she eventually passed away recently, my husband had a devastating & dibilitating auto accident (he's fine now) and more. Life has an interesting way of twisting and turning as you journey down the road and we need some emotional "room" in our life to handle things. When moms work full time and mother our kids full time we lose the "emotional elasticity" needed to handle the stuff of life. Our marriages suffer, our kids suffer, our relationships with those we love suffer.

We get *one* chance at raising our kids. Before we know it they're heading off to college and we have to feel confident that we've poured into them everything we wanted to about our values, worldview, intellect, time, compassion, etc. Once those 18 years are gone our influence opportunity as parents becomes so much smaller. And time with our kids is the very best way to get that stuff into their minds and heart.

If you get a part time job you won't feel like you have any down-time. You'll now be home when the kids get home, you'll be driving them to soccer & brownies or cub scouts, you'll be volunteering to go on field trips, etc. Your life will be more rich by being able to drive your kids places (so much conversation goes on in the car!), participate with them doing silly things, etc. And when they take their dirving test and go into their senior year (this is my story now!) you will be able to look back and know you were there while they were growing up. You won't have any regrets about "giving up" your career.

Enjoy mama. Enjoy.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I have a masters degree (MBA) and gave up a my career at a pharmaceutical company to stay home with my kids who are now 15 and 10. I have absolutely no regrets. The quality of our life is much greater than I believe it would have been if I worked a FT job too. Yes, extra money would be nice and we won't be buying a shore house any time soon but we are very happy. It actually makes me sad to think I only have 3 more years left with my oldest before she is off to college. I really had no idea it would go this fast.
I now have absolutely no desire to go back to my old career. In the last few years my hobby has led to my art work being displayed in a gallery, I will be teaching classes (Mosaics) at a local art store and I will be completing my first commission piece in the next few days.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Just because you want flexibility, doesn't mean you have to accept a job that will pay less. Here's a really good article that I just read about woman who stay in their jobs longer than they should.
There's a free weekly publication you should subscribe to put out by NEW (Network of Executive Women). They often have articles on flexible workplace topics. Paste this link into your browser:
Of course you can choose a completely different path but maybe you can find something in the field you know that will offer you flexibility of part time because you're valuable! The end in mind may be that once your baby is in school fulltime you plan to be fulltime again. There's nothing wrong with either choice or even being a stay at home mom for the moment or permanently.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I work full time, and will continue to, unless I get the boot. I am the health insurance for the family and I have worked at this company for 17 years, and my salary more that makes up the differnece with daycare.

However, life works in mysterious ways. On one hand, I would love to stay home with my kids. On the other hand, I might feel trapped.

I think your decion to stay home and then work part time is awesome.

Only you can decide what you want your career to be. Sometimes, we think we want X, but we get Y and we find we like it. So maybe now is a time for change.

If you can afford it, go to school, take a few classes that interest you you might find a new more exciting career path. Your two year old will be in school before you blink and you may want to go back to work full time at that point.. get the school down now.

Good luck and think about it. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I stepped away from being successful in my career. Once I started having kids I just couldn't bear to be away. I took off from work for 6 months. Then I could only work part time...10 hrs a week at first and then 20 hrs a week. This meant I needed to find part time "assistant" type science jobs instead of being an actual successful Biologist with my own research projects, etc. This meant I stopped doing field work that took me away for 1 to 3 months to work on boats or in field camps. All my years of study, work and graduate degrees and now I'm a person who takes on small jobs for other people. We moved when our second child was born and now we live far away from the ocean. I took off working for 3 years and was a stay at home mom. I was so surprised at how much happiness it brought me. Yet, I still felt guilty and yearned to do some science work again. This last year I started working part time again. 15 hrs a week doing "technical writing" for this science research company. It's flexible and they appreciate me...but am I using any of my marine science skills? No. Yet, oddly, I feel happy being able to be there for my kids and grateful that we can afford for me to work so little.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It depends on your job. If you are in marketing, your skills will die quickly. If you are doing an office job, you'll probably be able to step back in in 3 years if you choose to.

If you can afford it, go ahead and stay home for a bit and see how you like it. You might get really bored after a while.

Also, when you are working a PT job making PT pay, you will be ok with it once you realize that you are not making any major decisions or having much say - but you do get to leave on time and don't have as many worries. When I went back to work after being home for two years, I happily took a non-management job (but getting management pay since I had the expertise) and found that not managing anyone was great. I had flexibility and no worries of covering anyone or staying late. I did my job and got out of there.

So give it a try - you can always go back to work. But you can't always have a 2 year old.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm in a similar place right now - I loved reading everyone's answers. It shows that life is a winding road, full of twists and turns.

I've been home with my kids for 10 years. When I was prego with my first my husband and I decided I would stay home (and therefore leave my job which I had worked so hard to get). I totally saw myself working my way up the ladder. BUT, I love being at home, I love that my kids can be involved in activities outside of school, I love that I know my kids friends, I love that when things get busy at my husband's office he knows I've got things covered at home.

I've done some consulting from home for about 7 years which has kept my name out there and given me some minimal adult contact. Last fall, I started feeling like I could start making my way back into my field. I could start getting some more recent experience before going back full-time. My kids are older but I still want to be there for them. The problems were how to find a job that is part-time (while the kids are in school) AND I haven't had a "real" job in 10 years? I've got experience and a master's degree but the jobs don't exist (the downturn in the economy didn't help my field). So my goal changed from starting to get back into my field to finding something just to make a little extra money. I was left to figure out what else I could at a retail store? try to be more aggressive about my consulting work? I've volunteered a ton in our school district so I looked into subbing for schools in our neighborhood. BINGO. I loved it. Never in a million years would I have guessed I would love it so much. I'm making about 1/4th of what I make as a consultant. Yes, that bugs me but I love it that much.

So, will I make my way back to my previous career? Well, maybe. I'm keeping one eye open for jobs in my field. But, I'm also testing the waters for a career change to education. At this point, if I do go back to my previous career I will have to start over. I also know that because of the economy things have changed a lot in my field and that was something I didn't forsee 10 yrs ago.

Long story short, I believe you've got to try and have your cake and eat it too. I couldn't have done everything without having a super supportive husband with a good job. If anything, take a year and figure out what you really want. See how your husband & kids adjust. See how everyone feels about the lack of extra $. You will never know what will come up in the next year or several years. After some time away from your career, you might feel a little differently about going back or about the path you were on.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Well, you could always start your own little business and grow it from home. Find something you really love and do it.

I have had careers and I have been a SAHM. There is good and bad to both. The SAHM were when we outside of the US in foreign countries and I did make a go of self projects.

If you are a person who has to do something besides a "full time mom" then a job is for you. But you have to make sure that the job fits your needs and not the other way around. What do you want to get out of working? Is it recognition of a title or for a completed project? Is it for the adult interaction and not children? Make a list and then make your decision. Remember you can always quit if you don't like what you are doing full or part time. Enrich yourself with a class or two at the local college or take up a hobby. Your hobby could turn into a business for the extra money.

Life is what we make of it. If you want to be there for your children then be there. Read on here how many women or men would give their eye teeth to be home and can't due to their circumstances. You can afford to stay home so stay home. Take up gardening and cooking great home meals.

the other S.

PS I work now because my kids are grown and live in nearby states so I get to visit them when I want. Also, working does show your children another side of mom as an independent individual with her own needs and wants and how to achieve what she wants. They will see this and work on their own accomplishments in life.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I stopped working after my son was born and stayed home for 9 years and took care of my kids. I loved every minute of it and would not have started working but I had to for personal reasons. I have a Master's in computer engineering and was making a decent paycheck when I quit. The big shocker for me when I started working again was that I make about 18% less now than when I did 9 years ago. I will say that I took the first job that was offered to me in my field because I just had no confidence in my abilities after having been gone for so long. I would never change staying at home with my kids because I enjoyed it so so much - so if you enjoy it then ABSOLUTELY do it. However, I will say that if you have the opportunity to do something part time that could eventually become a satisfying full time career later, then do that too. I wish I had done that!! I may have had more confidence and also kept more options open. But oh well, I don't regret my time at home with my kids!!

Enjoy - glad you have the option to do it. Stay home for the family, but try to keep doing something so that you don't lose yourself and everything you worked so hard for!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My first child, I stayed at home for a bit, then went back to work part-time waitressing (my mother was horrified, I had a college degree!) but I thought that was the right thing to do, mostly because I wanted to play piano and sing in a restaurant environment and got a chance to do so. But by the second child this wasn't working, my marriage wasn't working and although I had my baby, when my husband brought both my children in while I was playing the piano -the baby started crying and felt a horrendous guilt. Fate intervened in that one because they got rid of the piano bar. I 'll fast forward. I got divorced and sure wished I could stay home because that was wonderful to me. I loved it, but couldn't survive the marriage. (I did remarry). My goal however, throughout the years was to always live as though I were stay at home-best I could so I subbed, worked in daycares, worked in schools and had vacation time off, holidays off and could take care of my children while they were sick. I have a bachelor's degree in Communications, a paralegal certificate and have worked as a special education assistant for the last four years. I never achieved richness or like someone said, don't have a home on the lake, but I have a closet full of clothes (some wonderful used) and we all have a car. My sons are each successful in their own right. It really wasn't up to me, I will credit God for what they did, but he permitted me to foster environments where they can soar. The oldest son is in an MBA program and my younger in college. So I never really did get to become super woman, but I enjoyed being Mom without the fast track. Each child was given every opportunity to grow in arts, sports, and emotionally we have had our ups and owns, but I count them among the most awesome people I know. Because I didn't have a lot of money, I made my cake and ate it, too, and it turned out to be pretty wonderful.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I hate staying at home, there is so much more work to it with everyone home making messes all day. I don't get to do anything with the kids because I have tons more laundry, dishes, and every day cleaning.

I enjoy being in the workforce. I do think it's extremely hard to find part time child care, they have to pay that teacher every day and if there are children not there and not paying for the full week they can't afford to pay the teacher. So every child care charges by the week no matter how many days per week you come or stay home. That's fair to the teacher.

I think you need to jump ahead and do what ever it takes to take the next step in your field. Go for your masters or finish a degree if that is what it takes to move into management.

What you said makes perfect sense to me, you'd be starting over. you really want to work 15 more years at your career to get back to where you are right now or jump ahead and skip a bunch so you can be in management?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My background is in accounting and computers. When my kids were born I went back to work within 6 weeks. I felt I was doing a good job of balancing home and career.
When my kids were 6 & 11 my husband and I were introduced to a home-based business and although we were skeptical because we'd had friends that had done similar things and not made any income, we decided that because we loved the benefits our family received from the products to get involved part time and see what happened.
That was 20 years ago and I am so thankful we were home to raise our children. I loved being home but I knew I needed something for me too. Because this was flexible we could work as much as we wanted or as little as we wanted. Our kids were able to travel with us and it has paid for college and weddings! Now as grandparents we are enjoying the same fun & freedom with our grandchildren and one day when we're gone our children will get our income because it's willable! We are thankful that God brought this into our lives.
Children spell love T-I-M-E

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


It all depends upon what you do. Let me tell you two separate stories..


In my line of work? Staffing manager/recruiter - I can step away from my career - and most likely jump right back in after being away - I would expect to be in a junior position upon my return since I don't have a pipeline and network set up (assuming I don't keep in touch with people) and then bounce back into contacts, pipeline, etc and really not be in the junior position for too long...

A candidate:
The people that I hire? Nope. They have security clearances and tools that need to be kept current. One of my candidates walked away to raise her daughter - which is ABSOLUTELY FINE!! However, 10 years later and she wanted to walk right back into her old role - sorry - tools have changed, your clearance is gone and would have to be done from scratch (which can take up to 18 months to complete), so I can offer you the apprentice program at $35K a year and you can't really start until your clearance is the mean time - my company is not big enough to bring her on as overhead and pay for her classes to get up-to-speed on new gathering techniques, reporting tools, programming languages, etc. So we had to cut her loose. It's sad.

So without knowing what you do - it would be hard to be able to tell you what to do.

I am fortunate - I get to work from home - my hours are NOT standard - as most of the people I try and contact are in a SCIF (secured area) during the day and aren't available until afternoon and evening...that doesn't mean I get to play during the day...nope, I'm doing research and setting up my agenda for calls and such!

You need to decide what you want to do. Having a job that will bring in some money is always a good thing. If you can find a part time job or one with flexible hours - you are rocking the house!!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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