Photo by: Arthuralex

Trading Sneakers For Skirts: Returning to the Workforce

Photo by: Arthuralex

I have a full-time job. But future employers won’t find it on my resume, and my current employers won’t give me recommendations. I earn no salary, and I don’t get sick days. If I’m lucky, I’m allowed vacation days, but I have to bring my work with me. The job requires no formal education, no background checks, no prior work experience, and no dress code. It’s the most challenging position I’ve ever had, yet also the most rewarding.

What is my occupation? I go by many titles, but I prefer Domestic Engineer or Household Commander in Chief. Stay-At-Home Mom is false advertising because I rarely stay at home. And Housewife is antiquated and downright insulting. Clearly, I’m not married to my house. I’m also not a fan of Homemaker, Soccer Mom, or Mistress of the House. You can call me what you like, but don’t ever accuse me of not having a “real” job. This profession is real, and it isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Although I love my job, I feel it’s time to move on. With one child thriving in school and another more than ready for social interaction with age-appropriate peers, I realize my employers no longer require my services on a full-time basis. On a personal level, I have to admit I’m craving fulfillment in another venture.

The prospect of returning to the workforce is frightening. Although my current little bosses are demanding and their needs dictate my daily schedule, they are ultimately quite forgiving when I make mistakes or occasionally show up late for work still wearing my pajamas. They didn’t hire me, and as much as they may try, they can’t fire me. I can’t say the same for employers in the real world.

So what’s a Domestic Engineer to do when she’s ready to cut back on her hours and pursue a vocation elsewhere? She weighs her options, polishes her resume, and fights her nerves during interviews. And if she’s anything like me, she contains her mixture of fear and excitement as she calmly and professionally accepts a job offer from an employer who never questioned the fact that she spent the last 6 years wearing sneakers and ponytails, changing poopy diapers, and singing along with Dora the Explorer.

As I mentally prepare myself for my new job, I wonder how my life will change. Will I have the time and energy to give my loved ones the attention they’ve grown accustomed to? Will my weekends be spent playing catch-up as I use my days off to complete the tasks I normally do during the week? Will my time away from the kids make me a better mother? Will I have any time to myself?

I also think about how will my career shift will affect my family. Responsibilities that once fell solely on my shoulders will have to be shared with my husband, and the children’s schedules will have to adapt to fit mine. Everyone in the house will have to chip in to compensate for the hours I won’t be clocking in at home. It will be a major life change not only for me, but for all of us.

I value my experience as a Domestic Engineer. I’m certain that the work ethic, patience, and creativity I’ve learned through intense on-the-job training have prepared me for the new job I am about to start. I know that when my first day of work rolls around and I trade in my sneakers for skirts, I will embark on this new endeavor with the confidence that I did the best I could as a full-time Domestic Engineer and performed my duties with the utmost dedication and love. Will I miss it? Absolutely. But I remind myself that I’m not quitting my old job, I’ll simply be doing it part-time. This chapter of my life may be ending, but the storyline will continue through many chapters to come, just with a new character added to the mix. And I can’t wait to turn the page and find out what happens next.

Wife on the Roller Coaster is a domestic engineer, teacher, freelance writer, and proud military spouse. She blogs about her adventures in parenting and her marriage to the military at Riding the Roller Coaster.

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What a great post! This captures the essence of what we all felt when making that decision to "work outside of the home!" Can't wait to read more from Wife on the Roller Coaster and her adventures.

Thank you for writing this . I'm having so many of the same feelings but guilt is the worst. Thinking about it as not quitting and being only part time sounds a heck of a lot better than my thoughts that I quitting on them. You made me feel so much better. Thank you!

I agree with woman who can manage on her own, at least earn a salary, but in the same time monitor the family. When mum is happy and self-satisfaction, all family enjoy. At the begining it will be a bit hard to keep under control family and work, but once you know how to organise your time, everything will be perfect. This does not means that you are neglecting your family but rather you are helping to go on too...

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A view from the opposite side - having gone back to work when my daughter was 12 weeks as I am the primary breadwinner for my family - you can have the comfort in knowing you spent those formative years "full time' with them, which is so much more than those if us who had to return to the work outside of the home workforce when the kids were infants. So you will have a holistic perspective and really be able to evaluate what's the right balance for you...

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Thanks hope you have some luck ur story is very intriguing

Oh, this is really timely! I'm about to start looking for a job outside the home after 11 years of being "full-time". I'm ready for part-time status, but it's been over 15 years since I last looked for a job! Scary!

Great post! Thanks!

I'm in the midst of job hunting after staying home for the past 2.5 years and it's a bit intimidating. I've been working fulltime since I was 17 yrs old and suddenly I feel unprepared! I think I'm afraid of moving "backwards" in my professional life due to my brief detour.
I'm just hoping that someone will at least give me a chance (an interview would be nice) even with the gap on my resume.

Great perspective. I'm thinking about going in the opposite direction. I've always worked full time and now I'd like to be home to volunteer at school and be there for afternoon activities. The guilt is there about reducing the family finances and what cutting back will mean to the kids. I think Mom-guilt is there no matter what the situation.

I agree, this is a wonderful and helpful post -- expresses the feelings and thoughts about returning to work outside the home, as well as the real (and often unseen) demands of work inside the home. I like the dignity with which you write about your work as Domestic Engineer -- work that is often not granted the dignity it should be. Blessings to you and thank you for sharing your journey with us!

Great post. Word of the wise: good luck on " cutting back on her hours" - I think the hardest thing for a woman and mother, is working outside the home and still having to do "her duties" when she gets home... As you process your transition, "letting go" of the former order is the best solution. Hopefully, you will have a husband and/or grown kids who will take over, if not, just let it be, and enjoy your new self ;)

Thank you for posting. I am a retired mother, grandmother and great grandmother. I also retired from the Social Services field once my youngest was old enough to not need a babysitter.. No one knows better than we how hard it is to be a "Stay at home Mom". I'm glad you are making the decision to expand your horizons now that your children are older. God bless you.

I know that feeling. Moms has so many titles but it is nice to work when you need to and be with your family in all different directions of life.

I friend forwarded this and it is so appropriate in my life today! My teen boys don't need me as much (actually, I want them to grow up and get ready to take care of their own stuff) and I am weary of doing all the work of a volunteer w/o pay. 12 yrs ago, when I made the decision to quit my very lucrative, mind-energizing job, I tho't "I can always work again, I can never come back to this time in my children's lives", and that was true and I don't regret the decision...

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I loved this! This is exactly how I felt after maternity leave was over with my daughter years ago. Now I have three small children, ages 6, 3, and 1 and stay home. I have started my own business from home and pray that by the time they are all in school, I am successful enough that I can continue to stay home and work my business around their schedules. I cannot wait to read more on your blog.

Jessica, discuss going back to work with your family. List the pros and cons, and get input from your husband and children. Making it a family decision one way or the other will engender positive feelings and be a unifying experience. :)

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