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.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."