Finding your place in the workforce

I am returning to this post for possibly the 5th time this week. I just don’t seem to get the time to sort through my thoughts and put pen to paper. I began this post on Tuesday after having met with an acquaintance to discuss possible employment. That meeting resulted in a week of feeling low, spent, unwanted, and desperately wanting to know what the answers were – how do I move forward, and where to. I really didn’t want to dwell on negative thoughts in this post, and thought of ways to pull myself out of the black hole. But it’s not honest, and there is a reason why I fell into a hole, and well, there’s no point ignoring what is.

Against my wishes, I am seeking part-time employment. To be honest, I would rather remain a homemaker as I truly believe in its value to our family, and I think I am doing a good job. But we can’t afford mortgage repayments, and I do not want to rent forever. It is also terrifying to hear how older women are over-represented in homelessness, forced to live in their cars, or on the couches of friends, or worse still on the streets. Without a home as security, and my limited work history having left me with barely enough super to buy a caravan – a 70’s pre-refurbished model at that – I am leaving myself in the precarious position of being part of that statistic.

So I have sought a volunteer position with a view to securing employment once I am familiarised with the current policies and procedures. But it became quickly apparent that my 15 year hiatus from my profession has others viewing my ability to do it again with skepticism. I had recently returned to tertiary studies to study the current legislation, and I performed well in those studies. It really did not take much to get back into the game. Yet I found myself having to convince an employer, and the remainder of its employees that yes I can do it. After all, I have had 5 children, not 5 concussions, and most work is learnt while on the job not within the borders of a resume. I shouldn’t have been so naive, should have expected some hurdles, but I truly didn’t think that people would be so short-sighted. It made me realise why some women refuse to give up work despite the pressures of family and responsibilities of home. It is just so hard to get back in.

I do not regret being at home with my children while they were young. I have one chance only with my kids and that is worth any sacrifices I have made. I will recover from this feeling of being swallowed whole and will move forward towards something. I don’t know what that is yet, and maybe it doesn’t matter what the thing is, so long as it helps our family to move forward with a sense of security.

I’m curious to know how others in my position have navigated this stage of their life. Did you abandon your previous career and begin again in another? Did you resent having to do it, or having to push against the misconception that being a stay at home mum means you are dumb unable to handle the ‘real’ world? Are you happy now that you are back at work, or do you wish to god you never started this battle?!

2 thoughts on “Finding your place in the workforce

  1. Hi Paula,
    I think taking a volunteer position is an excellent place to start, as making new connections with people will often open up opportunities. Unfortunately for all of us, the world is rapidly changing and work along with it. Even if you had not stayed home with your kids you may have found yourself needing to adapt and change in your career in ways you did not like. I am in my 50s and find my area of work has changed incredibly so I have started retraining in another area I have always been passionate about.

    I stayed at home with my kids when they were little then worked mostly from home as a single parent for 9 years. I agree with you completely that it is worth the financial sacrifice – my kids are now 19 and 16 and I am so proud of the young adults they are becoming. As I have always been self-employed this left me with very little in super, and I am now working to rectify that. If you do some calculations you will be surprised how quickly those savings can snowball once you start adding to it again. I don’t, however, believe we need 1.2 million to retire comfortably! I plan to work mostly part-time for the rest of my working life and we will continue to live simply to achieve this aim.

    If it’s any comfort, I am finding that working part-time I can still manage the home, cook from scratch and keep the veggie garden going. I just have to be a bit more organised!



    1. Hi Madeleine! Thankyou for your valuable input. I needed to hear those words, I was essentially having a tantrum about the situation but I can see the benefits. I appreciate the value of maintaining skills and adapting to changes – I returned to study a couple of years ago to learn the new legislation relating to my profession, even though I wasn’t employed at the time. I am studying now too so I can enter a profession (teaching) that I think will fit in with our family better. My hat goes off to you managing your own business as a single mum. It can be an isolating existence for the single parent, so to hold down a business and career and maintain a balance with home life is an exceptional skill, and one I really aspire to. I perhaps shouldn’t have returned to study and work at the same time, but eventually it will pay off and I’ll be able to enjoy the balance that you describe. And thanks for the reassurance about super – I’ve had a few sleepless nights worrying about it!
      I really appreciate you weighing in on this discussion.


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