Photo Courtesy of Texas Stem Cell
We work our whole lives to end up with a career that we love, but as women, we get to a certain age and know that our clock is ticking to have kids. If that’s a road that we want to drive down, taking some time off work is almost inevitable. If you’re lucky, you’re able to take maternity leave and return to the job that you love, but many women find that they love the title “mom” even more and decide to take some time off.
For some, the drive to return to the work force whether down the corporate path or through exercising our entrepreneurial spirit is so strong that we can feel our whole core telling us it’s time - which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. In fact, there have even been organizations created like The Pregnancy Pause that aims to help moms explain the gaps in their resume and not get passed over for opportunities. Yes, the struggle to balance it all is difficult for working moms, but there are some awesome ways to prepare yourself for this transition.
1. Update your skills.
Updating your resume is an obvious one, but really sitting down to update the skills that you have gained (yes, gained - moms make the best CEO’s after all because of their outstanding communication and organizational skills) and make sure they’re added to your resume. It is probably also worth your time to hire a professional to make sure your resume is top notch before you begin your search.
Photo Courtesy of Crosswalk
2. Touch base with former colleagues and working mom friends.
The best connections that you can make will always be through networking, so putting your feelers out there and seeing what insight or openings that former colleagues or working mom friends have is key. While they might not have a job to offer you, they might know someone to be in touch with to help get your foot in the door.
3. Be persistent about making your dreams come true.
Knowing that you’re going to be giving up your stay at home mom gig means that you don’t want to settle for just anything, and you most certainly don’t want to push aside your professional dreams. Karoli Hendriks, founder of Jobbatical, a career platform shared, “Having been in the confidence struggle, especially in the male-dominated tech world, I know how tempting it is to allow yourself to give up your dreams. I encourage women to step out from that comfort zone and tailor a life that can accommodate both - parenthood and professional growth. On that journey do not forget yourself. And doing both - professional growth as a startup founder and parenthood means in my case giving up a social life, but that is something I have accepted in recent years. I guess each of us makes our own sacrifices, but it’s worth it.”
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Mommy Chronicals
4. Be open.
While you don’t want to let those dreams subside, also allow yourself to be open to new adventures. Whether you have an amazing idea and want to start your own company or are interested in using your new skills to explore a new profession, see whats out there and be open to a completely different position that works with your life instead of adding stress to it.
With that being said, sometimes being open means taking a lower salary or starting from the bottom, which is okay as long as you have a plan and know where you want to end up. Sometimes even volunteering in the beginning will give you an opportunity to figure out where your passions lie.
5. Look into “return to work” programs.
Many companies such as Morgan Stanley offer these types of programs for people who have been out of the work force for two years or longer - many of which are women who have taken time off to have kids. These programs are amazing for getting back into the swing of things because the company already knows your situation and is working with you to get you back into a job you love.
6. Hire a caregiver that you love.
Hiring a caregiver that you love and trust is crucial to getting back to work after taking a pregnancy pause because you will never want to leave your kids if you aren’t fully comfortable with the person you’re leaving them with. It’s very important to interview caregivers or day cares until you find one that fully suits your family's needs. Having someone dependable in your life to leave your precious cargo with day in and day out takes a huge weight off your shoulders and is truly invaluable.
7. Take a little “test-drive”.
This could mean something different for everyone, whether you need to “test-drive” being away from your child for a long period of time, being in an office environment, dealing with clients - or even just going shopping work work clothes! Give yourself a chance to try things out because there’s nothing worse than not being prepared for that first back to work experience and wishing that you were actually home with your babe.
8. Own your new role.
It’s not always easy to jump out of our comfort zones, which being at home with your children can be. It’s also equally as easy to use motherhood as an excuse if we aren’t fully comfortable in our new role, but the best thing for yourself is to fully own the whole experience. Establish business hours that allow you to still have those mom moments that are so important, but whenever you’re “on” at work, fully embrace it. Yes, it will take some time to get there, but when you have, there’s nothing that will stop you. It’s all mental, but you will feel in your gut whenever everything is falling into place. Remember that moms are the ultimate CEO’s, we can handle everything put before us and have truly masted the art of multitasking - there’s nothing you can’t handle.
Eboni K. Williams and Cheslie Kryst have a lot in common, as Iman Oubou Founder & CEO of SWAAY as well as host of the Women Who Swaay podcast puts it, "They're both badass attorneys, they're both from North Carolina and they've both competed in the Miss North Carolina USA pageants." And they also both took over our podcast on the most recent episode, straight from the headquarters of the Miss Universe Organization!
Cheslie is a successful licensed attorney who also happens to be the reigning Miss USA 2019, with plans to represent our country in the upcoming Miss Universe competition. Not only is she at the height of her pageant power, but she is using the notoriety to create positive change for all of the women in her life, much like her role model Eboni K. Williams. Williams is a journalist, author, attorney and speaker; from her long history as a pageant queen she has risen through the ranks of male dominated industries from law-firms to Fox News. All throughout her journey she has persevered with intelligence, tenacity and poise. Lucky enough for us, she has kindly put her reporting skills to use and got candid with Ms. Kryst about supporting their fellow women, the current state of race in America and their history together as pageant compatriots. All of these topics are incredibly close to their hearts as powerful black women using their influence to create a better future for all women in America.
Oh and, as previously stated, both are complete and utter badasses.
During their podcast takeover they talked about it all, from pageants to politics. It's clear that both of these women are motivated by an altruistic spirit and are strong supporters of #womensupportingwomen. Eboni even read a passage from her book, Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success, in which she outlines how her own career trajectory was so positively affected by the incredible women who mentored her in different stages of her life. She completely shuts down the idea of the "woman on woman teardown," calling it a "pitiful dynamic" tied to the "long and very hurtful history of women." This idea that in order to compete for a spot in the old boy's club, women must first fight off their own gender is not only reductive but it also supports an outdated social structure that was built to greatly favor male success. Throughout history women have been encouraged to look at one another as competition, one more obstacle to pass by. However, all that has managed to do is to pit us against each other, fighting for the few meager seats at the table allowed for women while we ignore the real problem. The problem isn't about the lack of seats allotted for women; the problem is that men are still the ones making the seating arrangements, and it's time for that to change, something that both Cheslie and Eboni understand well.
Race is another topic that is incredibly important to both of these women, and they have quite the in-depth discussion on it during this podcast. Cheslie, who is biracial and self-identifies as black, laid out her point of view on race. She voiced her frustrations for never feeling like she had her own box to tick, being stuck to decide between "black, white, or other" in standardized situations like the SATs. Existing as someone stuck between two cultures has been incredibly challenging, and though she found some solace in the black community, she felt less welcomed by her white peers. Self-identifying as black is something that has allowed her more agency in regards to her own identity, and though she still faces difficulties she realizes how important it is to be a confident black woman in the esteemed position she is currently in. Both Cheslie and Eboni seem to bond over the idea that no matter the successes, they both revel in the victories of their fellow women of color. Each of them is motivated to see more women of color in powerful, visible positions to inspire future generations. It's not about their own success; it's about respect and renown for any and all women of color.
I may have just provided the highlight reel, but the full conversation shared between Cheslie and Eboni on the Women Who Swaay podcast is a must listen. These two women managed to make me laugh while restoring hope for a better America all within a half hour of listening time! Seriously, go get those headphones, right now. You will not regret it.