Thinking About Returning to Paid Work?


Most of the time, when we think of working moms, we think of women who are tired and making big sacrifices in order to support their families and share their gifts with the world. It doesn’t have to be this way; as you find yourself yearning to find paid work again, here are three secrets to help you prepare for this exciting transition.

Returning to Paid Work


#1 Reduce

How can you reach for anything new if your hands are already full? While that may be a little corny, it is often the reason why your heart and soul may be hoping for change but change never happens. Taking things off your plate is really hard to do but is necessary to invest in yourself and your career.

  1. Take a look at your schedule and identify at least one thing you can start saying “no” to. It doesn’t have to be big, but saying no to something will give you time back to focus on you and your path back to paid work.
  2. Look at your other weekly responsibilities and see if there are any tasks you can easily outsource. While outsourcing could be paying someone, it could also include trading responsibilities with neighbors/friends, or asking your partner to pitch in a little more here and there.

With a few free minutes, you are now ready for steps two and three.

#2 Reflect

Motherhood is a life-changing experience and we are not the same women we were before these little darlings entered the scene. Our hearts, passions, priorities, and even skill sets have morphed and changed. If so much has shifted, why do we assume the job we had before kids is the right fit for us as working moms?

Here are my three go-to reflection exercises:

1. Make a list of all the things that really matter to you. Start brainstorming as many things as possible, then narrow down the list until you get to about five main things. This list represents what is most important to you in life, at least right now.
2. Create a vision board of your dream life (or, for those less crafty moms, journal about what you imagine your ideal life looks like).
3. Write a letter to your current self from your 80-year-old self; what does she have to say about your life?

Taking the time to reflect and discover what you really want for your future is critical to finding meaningful work. After all, if you don’t know what to look for, how will you know when you’ve found it?

#3 Re-Engage

I don’t know about you but motherhood can be pretty isolating. As you begin your journey back to the workforce, re-engaging your support team and network is critical.

  1. Talk with your supporters. Share your desire to return to work with those closest to you. They can help you in so many ways. You’ll also likely need to lean on these people as you figure out your new normal as a working mom. All this will be so much easier if they’ve been on the journey with you from the beginning.
  2. Network. For many of you networking is like a four-letter word that should be avoided at all costs. Reaching out to people we don’t know (or barely know) is a vulnerable thing to do. But connecting with people that could offer insight, make further connections, or even better, help you land your dream job, is well worth the sweaty palms and anxiety. Check out some of my other posts on networking at conferences and networking tips for moms for some good ideas.
  3. Tap into the trailblazers. Catch up with your friends or acquaintances that have gone through this process already. You may not know someone exactly in your shoes but that’s okay. You can piece together what’s most important for you to learn from multiple people. For example, you can find a working mom that absolutely loves her job. Maybe you also want to talk with someone who was a stay at home mom for several years before transitioning back to paid work. You probably also know of a working mom that you think handles the juggle really well. Sitting down and asking these women their insights will give you some great ideas! (Bonus, this also counts as networking!

I don’t know about you, but as a mom, I don’t want a job that’s just a paycheck. If I’m going to be spending time away from my kids, while making the logistics of life even crazier, my job needs to excite me. My job needs to fulfill me and offer me an opportunity to share my gifts with the world. Finding that dream job takes intention, thought and authenticity. So, before you return to paid work, take a little time to set a strong foundation.

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Hillary Bennett is a female empowerment and return-to-work coach. With her From Kids to Calling package, Hillary works with moms wanting to get back to work. Through this series women are empowered to identify where they are called and create an action plan to make their dreams a reality in an authentic and intentional way. Hillary also works with women going through major life transitions, is a public speaker, and consults with companies on female recruitment and retention strategies. Hillary is a certified coach through Coach Training World and a member of the International Coach Federation. She has her MBA from Seattle University and ten years of employee development experience at The Boeing Company, including building the company’s first return-to-work recruiting program, Return Flight. Learn more about Hillary at or reach out to her directly at [email protected].