After leaving the workforce to have children and be a full-time parent, deciding to return to work can be a significant decision. You’re likely nervous about juggling work and home life and unsure whether you’re ready to send your children to kindergarten or school.

Sometimes, planning and preparing for this considerable life change can be one of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition into working life. Therefore, consider taking the following actions before you start this new stage of your life in earnest.

Be Patient

Knowing you have gaps in your resume and haven’t been in the workforce for some time, it’s natural to be nervous about applying for jobs. It can be disheartening when you don’t hear back within a timeframe you believe would be fitting for a successful applicant.

Be patient, and don’t think the worst about your application. Employers must take many actions before hiring a new employee, such as a criminal record check in Ontario, calling your references, and narrowing down applications from dozens or perhaps hundreds of applicants. It might take several days or even weeks to hear back from a potential new employer.

If you don’t hear from them within four weeks, follow up with a phone call or email. Thank them for the opportunity to apply and see whether they have filled their position or are still working through their applicant list.

Prepare Your Children

Your return to the workforce isn’t just a significant change for you. It can also be a considerable change for your children, who might be preparing for their first day of kindergarten or school when you return to work.

While you’re likely distracted by your own preparation plan, don’t forget to spend time guiding your children through a possible new routine. Explain that they’ll now be spending time with their friends at school rather than staying home with you but that you or another family member will pick them up when the school day ends. You can also make plans for after-school care or a babysitter if your work day is longer than their school day.

Knowing the transition can be daunting for some children, consider starting your new routine before you start work. You’ll then be available to assist with any teething issues.

Update Your Resume

If you haven’t yet applied for new jobs but you’re reviewing some potential options, don’t forget to update your resume. Your old skills and qualifications will likely still be relevant, but you might be able to add new information based on the time that has passed since you were last in the workforce. You might be able to add strengths and accomplishments that arose through your children, such as volunteering, organizing fundraising events, and bookkeeping for clubs.  

Think About What You Want and Need

For many parents, the return to work comes out of necessity to contribute to the family’s finances. Childcare can be important for socialization skills and school preparation, but it can also be expensive and not always manageable on a single income. Others return to work because that was always their intention once their children were old enough to develop some independence.

Regardless of your reason for returning, consider the type of job you want and need. School-hour employment can be preferred to keep after-school care costs low, but you might also be looking for a job to expand your career prospects and challenge you.When you have an  idea of what you’re looking for, you might find it easier to narrow down your options and apply for jobs you know will suit you and your family.

Prepare for the ‘Gap’ Question

When you’re being seriously considered as a job applicant, employers can naturally ask about the gap in your employment history from your last job until now. You’re likely proud of the time you spent with your children, but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily feel confident in how you explain the gap.

By preparing for this question, you might stand a better chance of answering it with confidence. Simply stating that you were focusing on parenting or that you decided to be a stay-at-home parent might be all it takes to satisfy the interviewer.

Establish a New House and Work Routine

Your daily routine when you’re not in the workforce can look much different from your routine when you are. When you’ve accepted a new job and are preparing to return to work, take the time to plan a new routine that everyone is on board with.

Set a time for everyone to be out of bed in the morning and give older children the responsibility of helping you with chores that you’ll no longer have time to achieve alone. You might also be able to save time during the morning rush by performing a few tasks the night before work, such as packing nutritious school lunches, setting out clothes, and getting breakfast cereals ready to pour.

After-school routines can be equally as important. You might like to create lists of age-appropriate tasks for your children to do when they get home and develop a meal plan to make dinner times quicker and easier.

Set Expectations

Before becoming a stay-at-home parent, you likely had a sit-down discussion with your spouse about how to share the load and ensure both parents were satisfied with their roles. Revisit this plan on your return to work and set expectations to avoid any miscommunication.

A return to work likely means you don’t have as much time to spare as you did before, so your spouse might need to start sharing the tasks you typically handled alone, such as grocery shopping, running errands, and household chores.

Entering the workforce after taking time off to be a stay-at-home parent can be daunting. Your daily routine will change, and there can be a considerable transition period for the whole family. However, when you take some of the actions above, you might be in a much stronger position to take the change in your stride and embrace this new stage of life.