Opting In After Opting Out

familyNot too long ago, I read a story in The New York Times Magazine titled “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.” It was a follow-up story to an article that ran 10 years earlier called “The Opt-Out Revolution.” This article interviewed women that were highly educated and professional and were leaving their high-profile jobs to be home with their kids. The more recent article talked about women, some of whom were profiled in the first article, who left their jobs to be home with their kids and after a period of time were trying to return to the workplace.

The common theme for both articles was that a lot of working moms want more work-life balance. Who doesn’t, right?

I took great interest in both articles because I could relate so well. I made the conscious decision back in September of 2010 to leave the job I had loved for more than 10 years to stay home with my then two and a half year old and almost one year old. Everyone was always telling me that in the blink of an eye your kids grow up. Well, I blinked and realized how quickly my kiddos really were growing up.

Juggling my children with a demanding job as well as my husband’s travel schedule just wasn’t working. So I left my job to focus on raising my children.

Fast forward to the fall of 2013 … I had been home full-time for three years and loving every minute of it but my oldest was starting kindergarten and my younger child was at preschool just about every day.

It’s not that I didn’t have anything to do. I was very involved at school as well as with other community organizations on top of managing our household.

Suddenly, I felt the urge to get back to work and, quite honestly, have some income again. But I also wanted to be able to pick my kids up from school, drive them to after school activities, make it to school events and meetings, etc.

What I was looking for was a part-time flexible job – like just about every other stay-at-home mom I know! I wondered how in the world I would ever find something, if it even existed, especially after being home for three years! Well, I’m here to tell you that there are flexible opportunities out there if you really want to find something. It may take a lot of patience and persistence.

Here are some of my tips on finding them:

  • Send a letter or an email or even call former co-workers and other contacts to reconnect if you haven’t stayed in touch while you were home full-time. Let them know you are interested in re-entering the workplace and would appreciate them keeping you in mind if an opportunity should arise or if they hear of any opportunities.
  • Strategically volunteer at your children’s school, your church and other opportunities that could eventually lead to possible job contacts or even a job.
  • Keep your resume updated. Make sure to feature any new skill sets you may have gained while volunteering on your resume and talk about them on job interviews, i.e. if you headed up a major fundraising campaign, planned major events or managed teams or committees.
  • Stay connected on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and let people know you are looking for an opportunity.
  • Look for an opportunity that is in line with your skills and talents and will add to your life.
  • Let your friends and family know you are looking. You never know who will know about an existing opportunity.

My story – I found the perfect opportunity through a friend when I was telling her that I was looking. It just so happened she had a friend who owned her own marketing company called Front Porch Marketing, a business that was growing (and continues to grow today), looking for someone with my expertise. The company culture allowed for flexible work. The rest is history.

It has been an adjustment getting back into a work routine. I honestly feel so fortunate for the opportunity I have to work for someone who allows me a schedule to manage my family needs and get the job done.

For those who say a work-life balance doesn’t exist, I say it can!

tengelland_teamTara Engelland is a marketing professional with Front Porch Marketing, a marketing firm that specializes in brand, marketing, communication & sustainability strategies and execution for start-ups, small to mid-size businesses and franchisees. Tara has over 16 years of experience in marketing strategy, branding, public relations, communications, community relations, events and media planning. Contact her at tara@itsfrontporch.com