Returning to work after taking a career break can be a scary experience. This is especially the case for moms who have been out of the workforce for a considerable period of time.

Whether you took time off to raise children, care for a loved one, or pursue further education, getting back into the groove of professional life can feel overwhelming.

With the right strategies and mindset, it’s entirely possible for you to have a smooth transition back to work.

In this blog post, I’ll be sharing 5 essential tips to help moms navigate the return to work after a career break.

moms returning to work after a mat leave

I know from experience how difficult the transition to work can be after taking a break.

I recently went back to work after taking a year and half to focus on my family. I’ve been back about 6 months now and I feel comfortable sharing some of this things that have helped me to integrate fairly quickly into work. I hope that these will help you as well.

1. Remember your Why

A good place to start would be to ask yourself why you want to go back to work.

As you’re thinking about this you definitely want to check out my previous video where I talked about the realities of being a working mom. In that video I share some of my experiences and things I wish more people talked about because I think it’s important to fully consider what you’re getting yourself into.

The truth is, a lot of do things because it’s what we’re conditioned to do. Even going back to work or your choice of career may something that you’re doing because you feel that it’s the only option for you.

But you need to be clear on why you want to go back to work.

Is it for money? Is it to find fulfilment? Is it to challenge yourself?

Take some time to really think about your reasons and motivations for going back to work.

When you have a strong why, it becomes your anchor.

There are going to be days where you don’t want to go to work. There will be days when you doubt your own decisions. If you can remember your why and hold on to it, when the doubt starts to creep in you can remember and lean on those reasons for strength.

2. Spruce up your resume and prepare for the interview

My next tip would be to brush up your resume and interview skills if you need to.

If you’re lucky and blessed enough to have a job to go back to, that’s brilliant.

However, if you’re in a situation where you have to look for a job, there are a few challenges that you may face.

The Knowledge Gap

Depending on what industry you’re in, and how long you were away from work, you may need to brush up on your skills.

Take the time to research any updates or advancements in your field during your career break.

This could include new technologies, software programs, industry regulations, or best practices. Consider enrolling in courses or workshops to update your knowledge and fill any gaps in your skill set.

Demonstrating that you’re up-to-date and adaptable during interviews will reassure potential employers of your readiness to re-enter the workforce.

The Mommy Gap

The other challenge is what we call the mommy gap.

The mommy gap is that gap in your resume that you may have to address when you’re looking for a job.

Depending on how long you were away for, you may be able to brush past it.

But for some people the gap is large enough that you will probably be asked about it.

The good news is that this is something that you can overcome.

When your addressing the mommy gap, it’s important to be honest and direct.

Just say “I took time away to focus on my family, to raise my kids as that was the best decision for my family at the time.”

Anybody in their right mind should understand that.

However, you also need to be clear about the fact that you are now ready to return to work. Highlight why, and also talk about what makes you ready.

Focus on the transferable skills that you acquired during your break that would make you an asset.

Things like time management, conflict resolution, communication. These are all skills that we develop as mothers. Make sure you highlight how these can make you an asset for the position.

You may want to practice your responses or even hire an interview coach to help you prep.

It’s a lot of work but I want to assure you that you can get through it.

3. Consider Flexible Work Arrangements

Now you know why your going back to work and you feel prepared to go out and find work, it’s also important that you consider the different options that are available to you as a mom.

One of the things that I always tell people is that there’s no one size fits all when it comes to motherhood. And being a working mom is no different. It’s important to be flexible and understand that there are different option available to you if you can just open your mind to the possibilities.

Thankfully, more and more employers are recognizing the importance of work-life balance and offering flexible options like remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks.

When you’re planning your return to work, you need to consider what type of schedule and routine would fit you and your family’s needs.

I know people who chose to work weekends only or evenings, or reduce their hours to part time. You don’t need to work full time if that doesn’t meet your families needs.

But in order to know this, you have to go back to that first point of understanding the WHY and the motivation behind going back to work.

happy mother working from home and little daughter hugging mom
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

4. Set Realistic Expectations For Yourself

Returning to work after a break can be exciting, and it’s natural to want to hit the ground running, but it’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself.

Understand that it may take time to get back into the swing of things. So try not to put too much pressure on yourself to perform at the same level as before right away.

Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Learn at your own pace as you go, figure things out and adjust to the new rhythm of work life.

You can also learn to practice self-compassion and celebrate your victories, no matter how small they may seem.

5. Find Your Support System

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to navigate the complexities of returning to work.

There are things that come up that you may not be able to plan for.

Sick days, picking your kid up early, activities at school.

Surround yourself with a strong support system of family, friends, and fellow moms who understand the unique challenges you’re facing.

Also at work- it’s good to have people who get it.

I’m lucky to work in a field with majority women, so its not hard for me to find people who get it.

five women laughing
Photo by nappy on

Even online communities like this one are so helpful. You can often find people in the comment sections who understand what you are going through and are sympathetic to some of the unique needs that come with being a working mom.

Final Thoughts

Transitioning back to work is not easy.

It will likely come with its fair share of challenges, from relearning old skills to adapting to new technologies and workflows. Even figuringout new routines for yourself and your family.

Remember, you’re stronger and more capable than you realize. With the right mindset and support, you can be successful no matter what you set out to do.

Wishing you success in your endeavour!

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