Changing times often spawn new terms. Such is the case of “economom” — which generally refers to moms who know how to pinch pennies. But the word took on new meaning when Time Magazine profiled the trend of stay-at-home moms going back to work due to the recent economic downturn.
The decision to re-enter the workforce because of money, benefits or a combination of both, is, no doubt, a stressful one. “If a life change is made by necessity rather than by choice, it’s stressful,” says Chris Essex, co-director of the Center for Work and Family in Rockville, Maryland.
Here are a few tips to help make the transition from stay-at-home mom to working-outside-the-home mom a little smoother.
Set your guidelines
Be clear about where can you be flexible and what you can’t compromise. While money is always attractive, that more highly paid position might not be necessary if the one you actually like pays enough and offers better working conditions.
If you think Access is the ability of your little one to open a childproofed cupboard, you may want to consider brushing up on your computer skills. Luckily, the most commonly used software is readily available, as are online tutorials and courses.
Fill in the gaps
Consider volunteering in your community, school or church. While this experience doesn’t carry quite the same weight as paid employment, it helps fill in the gaps. Volunteering also allows you the opportunity to network with people and organizations that may be looking for someone with your particular, perfectly visible skill set.
Talk to your spouse
Have a conversation with your spouse about his concerns. Be specific about how your reduced availability will affect him. He may have to leave his job early to pick up the kids, or stay home when they are sick. Make sure that you are working toward the same goal.
Talk to your kids
While talking is important, your children don’t need to know all the details. Tell them what they need to know — basically, how the change will affect them. Run through a typical day’s scenario with them, so they’re aware of when to expect you home and what you expect them to do in the meantime.
Relax your expectations
Many working mothers find themselves lowering housekeeping standards, delegating more responsibilities, and saying “no” to requests that take away any portion of their precious free time. Face it: Some book club meetings must go, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter so much if the birthday cake is store bought.
Feeling pangs of guilt about missing a moment in your child’s life is normal. You are not alone, so find out who you can chat with about your conflicting feelings. Put your favorite pictures in the car or at your desk and think about how you are doing all this for your kids. Ultimately, you are showing your children that life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops, so we all have to roll with the punches. Set the example of confidence and happiness, and that will filter through to them.
Becoming an “economom” and going back to work after being a stay-at-home mom takes planning, patience and perseverance, but the results are well worth the effort.