Career Reboot For SAHMs

career re-boot for SAHM'sBack in 2012 I wrote about the challenges of rebooting your career after staying home to raise children or as a SAHM (Stay at home mom). If you haven’t already read What The F Am I Gonna Do Now? please review it as I share important tips about spousal/alimony support that I’m not covering in this post.

During divorce our career or lack thereof, is obviously a top concern. Your ex, his lawyer and most anyone will be asking the inevitable question; “When are you going to get a job?” I know. Rude, right? I thought so, too. What was I supposed to do run out and get a job at McD’s? My ex probably would have enjoyed that however, before going out and grabbing the first (likely low paying job) that will have you, there is much to consider. Also, it’s true that there are many times throughout our lives where our circumstances change and we have to re-enter the work force after an absence. It could be our spouse’s disability, loss of job, or suddenly being widowed that force us to reboot our careers. Remember, part of this process is building self confidence, too.Β  So, before you start answer these…

6 Questions for you:

1) What did you do for work before having babies?

2) Will you return to your prior career and if so, are your skills up to date?

3) Is it feasible to return to your prior career? What will it cost to re-enter that field of work and is it still something you’re interested in?

4) Have your interests, passions changed since having children?

5) Did you work outside the home while raising your children?

6) What other experiences or personal expertise do you have to offer since becoming a mother?

career re-boot for SAHM's
image source: creative commons

Start with answering those questions and brainstorming some ideas. Consider where you want to not only begin, but where you would like to end up. Where would you ideally like to see yourself in five years? You might be surprised at your answers. Listen to your gut instincts on this. Get a little creative. That’s what brainstorming is for. Think up all your possibilities without a filter. Every. Possible. Idea.

Try not to find reasons why you ‘can’t’ do something, not yet. Remember that self confidence thing? Just think of yourself as superwoman who can do anything she wants. Later, you will narrow down your ideas while considering practicalities that relate to your personal situation.

One thing that has changed tremendously even since my first post on this topic, is the work from home options that are available. This is especially wonderful for divorced moms with younger children. There are flexibility with hours, and less concern with daycare or babysitting costs and yet you’re still able to accommodate your needs as a single mother.

career re-boot for SAHM's
image source; upcycled treasures

Work at home options may include on line sales for large companies, on line marketing and sales of your own products (this is where passion meets income), monetizing your blog, taking on-line surveys, translator, court house researcher, coaching/consultant, nurse, tutors and simple data entry. I’ve only listed some of the options to give you an idea of the variety of online work available.

Before starting a home based business, Cori Ramos of the wonderful blog Not Now Mom Is Busy, has come up with a 3 step exercise to go through to help you decide what kind of business is right for you. Cori also lists the best, legitimate work at home jobs here.

If you are already a blogger, then monetizing your blog might seem like a great option. The lady to talk to about that is Adrienne Smith a dynamo blogger who is specializing in coaching bloggers to monetize and increase marketing and exposure on line. Her article How To Blog Out Of A Job is a must read.

With all the benefits of staying at home to work, let’s not forget there are plenty of benefits to getting outside of the home and into the work place. Meeting new people, gaining new work experience, making contacts and building references for the next career step, whatever that might be for you. Either way, I must mention LinkedIn. If you’re not already on there, it’s easy to set up your profile and get started viewing available positions in your area.Β  It is the best online platform for career building and making contacts.

I took a retail job during my divorce. This was before linkedIn, blogging or social media hit the net. It paid a low wage however, I loved the setting, the products I was selling and the women I worked with. Above all else, it provided a stepping stone into interior design which is where I was headed. The reference from my boss (the store owner) was important as well for future work not to mention in my divorce discoveries with my ex and his lawyer…which went something like this;

“Did you finally get a job?” His lawyer stares me down, with eyes like a reptile, teeth slightly exposed.

“YES! For the love of God, I did. Are ya happy now?” My arms crossed, smug proud look on my face. I didn’t actually say it like that but I wanted to.

career re-boot for SAHM's
image source creative commons


“How much are you getting paid?” Slight, sarcastic smile.

“Ten dollars per hour.” I shift in my seat. I know this is not much.

career reboot for SAHM's

“What? That’s all? You mean to tell me, you couldn’t find a better job?” He leans forward, alarmed and a little annoyed when he realizes his client will still have to pay child support and spousal support.

“Well, after raising our children” looking directly at my ex, “and being out of the work force for 13 years, I guess it’s the best I can do for now.” Deep sigh. “Is there no gratitude? No respect for the work I did all those years?” I didn’t actually say that either, but I wanted to.

Too bad being a good mother isn’t enough to get your career back on track. But all is not lost. Rebooting my career was the best thing I did for myself during the divorce. It’s important to note though, it’s a process not an end in itself. So, if you start at something that doesn’t pay well, it doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever. One step at a time…

All things considered, rebooting your career during divorce after years of being at home can be intimidating and overwhelming. Before taking that minimum wage position at a place you deplore, consider all your options and think carefully about your interests, passions and where you want to see yourself in a few years. After that you can begin the process of rebooting your career in a direction you want to see it evolve. Whether it’s work at home or going outside the home to work, really depends on your personal situation and interests.

More inspiration here at Best Ted Talks for Working Moms

Did you have to reboot your career? Leave a comment, I LOVE ’em!

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33 Replies to “Career Reboot For SAHMs”

  1. This is great advice for women who are re-entering the work force after raising children.

    I was pretty lucky that I had re-joined the workforce the year prior to my divorce, so the initial adjustment and self-evaluation was over with. It’s tough to look for work after being a SAHM.

    1. Hi Vanessa, your timing was great then. You were smart to get a head start. I think one of the hardest things is believing in our worth again after staying home raising babies. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I remember this was a big question my mom had to answer when my parents got a divorce. Although she was a stay-at-home mom, there were times when she had a part-time job when money got tight. Except, when my dad moved out and they divorced, she needed to make all of the money to keep a roof over our heads and food in mouths. It was hard on her and she hated having to go back to work, but she did it.

    1. Hi Chrys, that’s a very real dilemma with divorcing(ed) women especially if they, for some awful reason, are not getting support from the father of their children. That must have been really hard for you mom!

  3. Hi Lisa,

    First off let me thank you for mentioning me and the post I wrote on blogging your way out of a job. I really appreciate that.

    Second I want to mention that being a mother is the most unappreciated job in the world. Now I’ve never been a mother but most of my friends have and I know the work involved. It’s also sad to say that I can count the number of people I know who have been married only once and still with their loved one today. Okay, maybe a little more than that if you only count my close relatives but all of their spouses are now deceased.

    Getting back into the workforce when you took off to raise your kids is something that I can’t imagine women having to do. I’ve been out of the workforce going on eight years myself and I wouldn’t want to try and go back even now. Things quickly change, skills need to be updated, people are always questioning why you’ve been gone so long, like it’s a problem instead of a necessity or choice.

    I think your advice is wonderful and I love your responses to your ex too. I would have been the one that didn’t say it under my breath though! LOL!!! Yeah, I’m kind of like that.

    Great share Lisa and I’ll be sure to share this one as well. Thank you so much for helping all those women out there who are finding them in this very same position.


    1. You’re welcome, Adrienne! You have much to offer women starting out in the online world with their own blogs. I agree, that being a mother is misunderstood and under appreciated. People think we stayed home and ate bon bons but truth is, it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. Then the sacrifice of our career path is something that has to be faced eventually, especially during a marital split. There are also many other circumstances where we are faced with the work challenge and upgrading our skills. Thanks for sharing this, Adrienne!

  4. This tells me nothing that I wouldn’t already know. When I left my husbamd, I had no career to reboot. I went to college but never had a “career”. Basically, you get a job. Period. Work from there.
    This article is nothing but normal common sense.

    1. Well, it’s definitely common sense if you’ve already managed the transition. For women who are just starting out it’s not so much and often they cave into the pressure of taking a job they despise. This post is designed to demonstrate the options and what to carefully consider before inadvertently making a commitment to something that they will end up regretting. Also, I highlight the new options available to us, such as ‘at home’ work and I aim to provide further resources with the links. Thanks for your feedback, Jodi.

      1. —Jodi,
        Sometimes it’s helpful to hear what we already know “AGAIN.” And AGAIN!

        Why leave a comment if it doesn’t promote positive conversation?

        Lisa, YOU ROCK!! xxxx

  5. Hi Lisa! I wanted to stop by and say hi πŸ™‚ Though I’m obviously not a SAHM, this post is ironic in timing for me. I will be retiring at a fairly young age and at that time I will want to find some sort of part time job. One, to keep me busy and out of trouble (doubtful) πŸ™‚ Two, that it affords me some extra breathing room financially. So I was very interesting in the options you offered folks to consider as it assisted me in my brainstorming for my own possibilities. Have a great day! πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Mike, Wonderful to see you πŸ™‚ You’re a great example of other types of situations that call for a career or job change—early retirement. That’s awesome. I’m happy this gave you some food for thought. Of course, there are more dads out there now staying home raising children so I should have said SAHD’s too.

  6. Hi Lisa,

    This is really inspiring! I need to think again…your advice knocked at my head. I have no doubts about my capabilities and starting off but never tried after I quit my job to come here!

    Motherhood is SUCH a blessing and I have huge appreciation for stay home mothers. It may seem to be a thankless job but when you look at the face of your children, when you see how happy and balanced individuals you have raised, even the gratitude bows before you.

    I stayed home to raise my first child and I am so happy that I could do so but I started working when my child started going to school. Having worked most of my life, I took early retirement to raise my grand children. Do you consider that work?
    I definitely do and the one which gives me a lot of pleasure, being paid with immense love and hugs and smiles!

    1. Balroop, thank you for this “Motherhood is SUCH a blessing and I have huge appreciation for stay home mothers.” Isn’t that the truth? There is no more rewarding yet under appreciated job in the world, for sure. You’re raising your grand children? That’s a huge undertaking and yes, work that give pleasure in hugs and smiles πŸ™‚ Definitely hard to return to the work world by necessity after a long absence. I hope this post helps women think about their options in a more broad perspective. WE deserve that! Thanks for sharing as always your valuable voice!

      1. Just a clarification…I am just helping during the day when the parents of my grandchildren are away to work. But you are right, it is a great undertaking but I took it willingly, out of love and belief that little children need us only at this age. Once they grow up, they have their own interests!

  7. Ugh, so embarrassing and annoying about the job. Raising children is a pretty ultimate job!
    I think about this sometimes because my husband makes more money than me. I have gone from not working at all, to working a lot, and it’s still not a lot of money but that’s because I limit my jobs to care for the kids. So I believe I could alter my hours if need be, and I’m sure I will eventually.

    1. Hi Tamara, you will definitely be able to continue your photography career as your kids grow, so that’s a huge plus. Good for you. Keep up the amazing work. Raising children is the ultimate job, I believe! It’s worth the sacrifice. We just have to prepare for the time we have to get back to the career path.

    1. Absolutely right, Courtney! That’s for darn sure. Yet, we have to answer their questions in discovery in a polite fashion LOL. Welcome to The Great Escape blog πŸ™‚

  8. I was not a stay at home mom, just a stay at home LOL, and gosh, was i struggling to get back to work. My advice is just to be very honest, divorce is so common these days, and there is a good chance your interviewer may be divorced and can relate to your story. Share it and you will find that you can often befriend them in an interview. It has happened to me twice already πŸ™‚
    I would also say don’t be afraid to start small and keep looking, always look to upgrade yourself and your career. Just starting work again and getting back into the swing of things does you a world of good.

    1. Hi Caroline, thanks for sharing your awesome tips. There definitely is the upside of it all…meeting new people and feeling more confident and independent.

  9. Hi, Lisa

    I wish I had your advice12 years ago when I divorced from my ex-husband after 20 years of marriage. I became stay home mom after our second kid.

    Glad that you pointed out both Stay at home jobs and corporated jobs are available. it is wise for us to really sit down to weigh the options. What we want to do after 5 years or what the real calling is for each of us. No need to grab the first job coming along.

    From my expereince,it is important for each of us to allow ourself to take time(at least few months to a year) to clear up our emotion after that dramatic event (divorce) before making career path.

    Good article, I shared this today at twitter – Stella

    1. Hi Stella, I agree that taking time and not rushing into the first thing that comes along will be better for a woman in the long run. Thanks for sharing this post!

  10. Hi Lisa,

    I’m so glad you wrote this post for SAHM’s who are finding themselves getting back into the workforce after having been home to raise their family. I think you empowered these ladies with the information you shared here.

    I love that you pointed out the benefits of having an “outside” job as well. Sometimes it’s good to get out and meet new people.

    With my first husband I stayed home to take care of our two kids. When we split up, I had to learn a new skill and land a job with only a high school diploma. I had never been more afraid but I managed to pick myself up and take care of my kids without any help from him.

    When my now-hubs entered the picture he wanted me to stay home and raise kids. Although he meant well, I couldn’t very well throw away all the skills and experience I picked up so I kept working.

    But being a mom is a hard job, especially when we have to work. I missed so much of my kids growing up in my office job that I eventually ended up with depression because of the guilt I had.

    Now that I’m working at home, I find myself trying to make up for lost time. I still plan Halloween parties and my kids range in the ages of 24-18 years old. Of course, they participate but they always tell me “mom, we don’t need a party” lol.

    Thank you so much for mentioning me in your post. I love sharing what I know about making money from home. There are so many opportunities as you pointed out and I think that will be the trend for a long time.

    P.S. I don’t know how you contained yourself with that lawyer…I think I would have been arrested because my sailor mouth would have come out :).

    Have a great weekend!


    1. Hi Cori, that must have been really tough for you getting back to work after your divorce. I went without support for a year but eventually (after lawyer meetings and court dates) got spousal and child support. I’m always amazed when women do without and it’s so sad that their lives become incredibly difficult without that support to bridge this transition. You’ve made a good decision to continue your work during your second marriage. Maintenance of our skills is key to staying current. That’s so cute that you still have a Halloween party for your kids! I love that.

      In hindsight, I wish I had been a little stronger with the lawyer but eventually (I say eventually because our divorce went on for a number of years) I grew a spine and dealt with quite a bit on my own including his lawyer. He had 3 lawyers on me at one time for three separate actions. So, I had no choice but to get tough. Thanks Cori, for sharing your experience and now sharing your knowledge for women to work from home.

  11. Great article! After leaving the “traditional” workforce last year, I’m still very careful to keep my resume updated with job skills (even though I may not exactly be getting paid for them!), such as doing fundraising work for a charity or collaborating on travel apps with other companies. I think most SAHM’s have a lot of great skills, they just have to think outside the box about how they apply to the work world!

    1. Hi Jess, that’s a great point about including volunteer work or free consulting, fundraising work. You’re right that most SAHMs have great skills. I mean, what’s more challenging than raising kids? The variety of skills could be adapted to the work place for sure. Thanks for your input!

  12. I went from working and making the most to not working at all — it was forced because of health reasons. I didn’t choose to be a SAHM and it took me a while to accept it. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a SAHM. It’s a really hard job and rewarding one. It just wasn’t something that I chose to do. I do like it now that I’ve gotten into a groove but it’s not something that I want to do forever — especially since there isn’t a paycheck involved and especially since our government was all “since you put you wanted to return to school and to work sometime in the future you aren’t disabled in any way so we aren’t going to pay you anything” — yes…apparently disabled people can’t have dreams and ambitions and goals and …. sigh….
    But this is a good starting point so thank you!!

    1. Hi Kim, you bring up an important scenario—being forced into SAHMothering due to health reasons. That’s something we don’t expect. I’m happy for you that you’re able to find your groove. It’s not an easy transition either. Working with external rewards to mothering full time–in which the rewards are all intrinsic and not necessarily valued by society. I hope some work from home options might suit you. πŸ™‚

  13. Hi Lisa,

    I am so glad you raised this topic. After my divorce years ago, I did have to re boot what I wanted to do. Now mind you this was before the internet days.

    I went back to school and got a degree. But that stubborn entrepreneur inside me just couldn’t do a 9-5 job while my daughter was young, so I opened up a small business.

    I did reboot myself with careful thought. But now there is so much more one has to choose from and that is working online if one wants to choose that.


    1. Hi Donna, good for you for going back to school and getting your degree. That must have been very challenging with kids. What was your small business? Careful thought is always a good idea but it’s so easy to cave in to the pressure of others expectations. It’s great there are more work from home options for women today, going through divorce. Nice to see you, Donna!

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