Ready to re-enter the workforce? The juggling act as a working mum

Making the decision to return to work after having children can be a big decision for many. Stepping back into paid employment often comes with the negotiation of trying to balance the needs of your family and employer which can often feel like a juggling act! As a mum of three young children myself, I can certainly relate to wearing many hats, often all at once!

I regularly speak to candidates who are looking to re-enter the workforce after time out of it to raise their family.  Before they know it, kids are at school and the fog has lifted from the early years of raising children and they have the opportunity and freedom to start thinking about themselves a little more which often leads to the thought of returning to work. Being out of paid employment for a period of time, can often be a daunting experience. Some candidates I speak to, their confidence can be low, and they are often wanting advice on where and how to get a foot back in the work door.

Here’s some tips I’ve provided on how to prepare for re-entering the workforce:

  1. Review your resume – does it need updating to reflect your time out of the workforce? Candidates are often unsure of how to document their time out of the workforce, I recommend adding the dates simply with “Maternity Leave” or “Stay at Home Mum” as your role. This explains to potential employers what you have done for that period of time rather than them possibly assuming that you simply haven’t been working.  If you have taken up voluntary positions throughout this period that are relevant to the industry or job you would like to return to you could also list these here as well. And don’t forget to re-familiarise yourself with your previous roles, dates and duties as this will assist you in any telephone and face to face interviews you attend.


  1. What do you want to do? This is often the reason why candidates contact us to assist them in this process however it’s worth doing your research prior to applying for any jobs. Research online job boards in your profession; what is available? Are there part-time opportunities available? Does what you want to do exist? If you are looking to change career paths completely, I’d recommend seeking some advice from someone who can help you obtain clarity over what your career objectives are. Perhaps you’re not wanting to return to the pressures, responsibility and demands of your career pre-children as it won’t provide you with the work life balance you are seeking. A career coaching session could assist you to obtain clarity on this.


  1. Updating your skills – can you complete a refresher course of specific skills online?


  1. Hours – what is going to be achievable for you to manage? How many hours/days do you want to work? What logistics do you need to organise for your children?


  1. What is the worst-case scenario? This is one I like to ask myself – what happens if it all goes pear shaped? You need to work extra hours, your kids are sick, the list goes on! Who is in your support network to help you juggle the load?

Another option I discuss with candidates wanting to re-enter the workforce is asking them whether they have considered the option of temping.  Temping allows you to have the flexibility to ease back into the work force by taking on small bite sized chunks of work, one assignment at a time.  It allows you to tap into those skills that have been dormant and developing new skills as you go.  It allows your confidence to build as you master these new skills, build rapport with your colleagues and receive positive feedback for a job well done.

Here’s a little excerpt from a testimonial I’ve received about the benefits of temping from one of our current temps:

“Temp roles allow me to be a part of the work force.  Now that the children are at school, being at home all day can feel quite isolating. I am looking for a new challenge, some mental stimulation and conversation, which does not revolve around my kids. Temp work allows me to meet these needs, and ensure I maintain good mental health, without needing to compromise my primary role as caregiver.  The second reason I enjoy temp work, is because Temp work allows me to find my fit in the work force after so many years out of it.  I hope to continue with Temp work, until such a time, as I am ready to commit to a more permanent position. I find the work interesting and varied and am building work connections for possible future jobs. Temp work is important, it fills the gaps in an organization, and allows people to work who would otherwise not be able to commit to work.”


Not every temp job will be your dream job but if you’re looking at the bigger picture it will allow you to work without having to rush into making a commitment to permanent employment.  It will give you the chance to contribute in the workforce whilst allowing you the flexibility to assess what is going to be the right long-term scenario that will allow you to manage both work and family demands.  One of the biggest benefits of temping is it also allows potential employers to see how you perform in the role you are being paid to do as well as how you fit into their company culture. Put your best foot forward and let those attributes such as commitment, dedication, hardworking, flexibility and team player shine through! As the old saying goes “Good people are hard to find” and temping can prove just that with many temps being offered permanent ongoing opportunities. In some cases, employers are often able to provide you with flexible working hours that will allow you to be an expert juggler before you know it!

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