Why Is It So Hard to Go From Stay-at-Home Mom to Working Mom?

Being a stay-at-home mom was not something I had planned. But 11 years ago I realized I would be paying nearly my entire salary for childcare, so I made the hard decision to put my career on pause and stay home with my then daughter and future children. It is a decision I have treasured dearly.  

So here I am now, ready to re-enter the workforce, and I can’t seem to get one door to open. Yes, I have a huge gap in my resume. And as much as motherhood is not supposed to be discussed in an interview, what else can I say but the truth:

I took a step back from my career to raise my children.  

Few people talk about the journey for women trying to get back into the workforce after spending a long time at home with their children. Going from homemaker to workforce contributor is a path I simply don’t hear people talking about. I have searched high and low for groups or friends with similar experiences, but I’ve found nothing. 

I guess I had always told myself that when the time came to begin working again, I would be able to pick up where I left off or I would be able to put my skills to work in a new way. The biggest lie I told myself is that getting back into the workforce would happen quickly and easily. I did my part — earning an advanced degree, amassing years of experience, collecting a decent network of connections — and yet no one is calling me back. 

It is as though I am being punished for having stayed home with my kids and choosing to raise them. The feeling of having to prove myself and my worth in today’s market is one that weighs on me. I have found myself editing and re-editing my resume and spending hours networking on LinkedIn in hopes of an opportunity. 

This doesn’t even begin to dive into the emotions that are bubbling over from having to make a major decision that will impact my kids greatly. When that door does open and that new opportunity finds me, I hope to be there for any mother who needs help and perspective. I, too, will look ahead and connect with mothers in the workforce in hopes of learning how to juggle both worlds.

These are the conversations I wish someone had talked to me about when I was pregnant with my first baby. This is one of those situations I wish I had found in my “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” books. Let’s not shy away from these real-life motherhood moments.

Nancy is a mom of five girls ages 10 to 1 and a zoo wrangler to two rescue pups, a black lab named Duke and a chihuahua named Pancho. She loves black coffee, hot weather, a bargain, and all things guacamole. Being a mom to five strong little women is no small task. Her bilingual home is filled with all the wonders and joys that chaos brings. On days where she finds a tiny bit of time to herself she writes at www.Motheringinchaos.com. As a graduate of Bowdoin College, Nancy has gone from classroom teaching to focusing mainly on the nonprofit education sector. She has had the privilege of working with organizations like Summer Search and Posse, and she has served as a community organizer. Before motherhood, she lived in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York City. Currently, she is a stay-at-home mom to her five amazing girls and has been happily married to her best friend for the past 18 years (he’s clearly outnumbered). They are excited to raise their first-generation American daughters together while keeping them close to their Guatemalan roots. Nancy is thrilled to find herself contributing to Boston Moms, especially coming from a fear of writing. It’s a testament that it’s never too late to keep dreaming and growing!