Quit work for a while to have kids. Your career will be just fine

It’s a myth that time away from the workforce will undermine your career. This myth is based on outdated ideas of the workplace. And it’s an important myth to bust, because in today’s post-feminist workplace, the majority of women say that given a choice, they would not choose full-time work when their kids are young.

Here are some reasons why it’s safe to interrupt your career to have children. And, in fact, most of this data is relevant to interrupting a career for any reason — not just kids.

1. Demographic trends make women ages 30-50 valuable at work.
We all know that as baby-boomers retire, Generation X is not big enough to replace them, and Generation Y does not have the experience to replace them. But demographic trends have created a much bigger labor shortage than anyone anticipated.

There is a labor shortage in Generation X that no one predicted, and it’s because of increased fertility, according to James Vere, author of the paper, “Having It All No Longer: Fertility, Female Labor Supply, and the New Life Choices of Generation X.” He says, “The women of Generation X are not only having more children than the baby boom generation, but also supply fewer hours to the labor market,” and this makes women who do go back to work more valuable than people could have anticipated.

The other contributing factor to the Gen X labor shortage is that Gen X men do not work the long hours that baby-boomer men worked. Instead, those aged 18 to 37 are more likely to view family as an equal or higher priority than work, according to the Families and Work Institute. And the majority of those men are willing to sacrifice pay to spend more time with their kids, according to the Radcliffe Public Policy Center.

So it is no surprise that McKinsey Consulting reports that, “Finding talented people is likely to be the single most important managerial preoccupation for the rest of this decade.” (via 2020resumes)

2. Women adapt to job changes better than men do.
Companies might be better off hiring a woman who has taken time off from the workplace than a man who is switching companies.

Why? Because high-performing women do better at leaving a company and finding a new one than high-performing men do–in general, women keep up their high performance and men don’t. This study is based on the finance industry but the findings (published in this month’s Harvard Business Review) apply to most knowledge workers.

And even though women typically have a more difficult time than men navigating in-house politics and finding mentors, these women respond by being better at cultivating relationships outside of the company. Which means that they are in a better position than men to make a switch to another company.

According to the study, women start a new job stronger because they are more strategic when planning their careers (due to lacking the boys-club connection). “Women took greater care and analyzed a wider range of factors than men before deciding to uproot themselves.”

So ironically, all the worrying that women do about how to reenter the workforce after having kids probably pays off.

3. Social networking makes on-ramping much easier.
Ten years ago, the work it took to maintain a network during extended maternity leave was prohibitive. Dealing with a three-month-old during the day, and showing up to conferences and events at night, for instance, is a route for only the most intrepid of new moms. But social networking tools have brought the moms out of hiding.

Generally, the people using social networking tools are outgoing, value-oriented, high performers who were well connected to begin with. The tools are easy to use from home and the strengths of the mommy-blogging network are testament to the popularity of social networking tools among women taking time off from the workforce.

In case you’re wondering about the power of blogging in one’s career, take a look at Carol Wapshere. She took time off to care for family members and then relocated to Switzerland for her husband’s career. She started a blog in order to raise her profile in her industry before going back, and it worked and landed her a consulting job , and then a speaking gig at Microsoft’s TechDays conference.

This is not an isolated case. I get emails from women like Carol all the time.

4. The new idea of career means retrieving yours is not all that hard.
Most of the literature written about the duress of the on-ramp is by baby boomers who can’t stop obsessing about the glass ceiling. Most of the women taking time off to have kids today have no ambitions of breaking that glass ceiling because what’s above it is so absurd. That makes taking time off to have kids not as big a risk to them.

Look, if you want to shoot straight up the corporate ladder to the CEO position, don’t have kids. Corporate life is not changing as fast as corporate press releases would like you to believe. CEOs do not take care of their kids. Someone else does. And the difference between a father’s ability to get to the top versus a mother’s is night and day. Men are more likely than women to cope with extreme delegating of parenting. This is not a judgment; it’s a fact that is sitting right in front of us.

But most potential parents today are much less consumed with money and prestige, and more concerned with personal growth and flexibility. So taking a position below the last one is not as upsetting as it used to be. People do not think of a career as a straight shoot up the corporate ladder. It’s a winding path, and there’s lots of room for children.

Posted in No image, Parenting, Quitting, Women
44 comments on “Quit work for a while to have kids. Your career will be just fine
  1. Norcross says:

    I think you’re right on target. My wife and I decided to “time” our first child, so he was born after she finished school and took the Florida Bar Exam, but before she went to work. While she didn’t get the benefit of paid maternity leave, she was able to stay home and focus on being a mother without the immediate pressure of getting back to the office, so to speak.

  2. Amy Vachon says:

    Or, as a related option that might make on-ramping even easier, don’t quit – just scale back to part-time. If your spouse can do the same, you’ve got the equivalent of a stay-at-home parent between the two of you to raise your young kids, but neither of you has left the workplace.

  3. jt says:

    When my daughter was 4 I decided to start my own business and work from home. I have a great network thanks to strategic planning, LinkedIn and a local networking group specifically for mothers who have their own businesses. I still cultivate my career on my own terms, schedule my own hours and take her to and from school every day. Honestly, I would be completely bored if I weren’t working at something in addition to parenting–so I am very happy with my decision to become self-employed.

  4. Kathryn says:

    A bold topic! Going from your first item on the list, do you think that this ability to restart a career after long-term parental leave (2+ years) is a quirk of the current decade or indicative of a substantive change in the workplace?

  5. Dave Atkins says:

    These reasons also support the idea of starting sooner. If you are young and know that you want to have a family someday…why not start today? My wife and I look around and see gray-haired dads at the toddler playtime things on weekends and go to preschool parent get togethers where I feel like I’m in a room with my parents (until I look in the mirror and realize I’m gray too!). If you love your career, fine, go for it. But if you feel like you are just putting in time and postponing family because of career issues…don’t. The other issue we run into as Gen X parents is knowing many couples who are going through IVF.

    It’s a very personal decision, clearly. We started late because we just didn’t think we wanted to have kids for a long time. Then we changed our mind. Now we are expecting #3. Easy for me to say, as the guy who gets to go to work during the day while my wife does the heavy lifting at home, but I urge men and women everywhere to really consider Penelope’s advice here and don’t postpone what you want to do because of preconceived ideas about a career ladder that, in reality, may not exist anyway.

  6. Melanie says:

    As a Gen-Y gal it’s reassuring to know that it’s OKAY to quit for a while, if I’m financially able to. I still fear losing my skills if I take more than 3 mos off and that when I come back into the workforce I’ll be stuck in a corner doing office work than what I really want to do.

  7. Liz says:

    Thanks for the thoughts. I have a master’s degree and left my nice and cushy full-time job two years ago to stay home with our first child. At present, I’m in a part-time job that “seems” like a step back, but I wouldn’t trade it for a 12-month, full-time career because I get to hang out with our 2-year-old. My husband is incredibly supportive and we’ve made some other financial sacrifices (small retirement contributions, no college fund yet, sold our house and are renting) to do this, but it’s nice to know that I should be able to jump back into my career within the next few years and hardly miss a step. Keep talking about it Penelope and they will start to listen!

  8. Sydney Lagier says:

    Loved this post, and not for the baby-making tilt. I am 44 and am planning on retiring from my job in 5 weeks (not for having kids, just for having fun.) I may retire forever, or I may decide to start a new career, or maybe after a break for a while I’ll feel like going back to the same type of career, who knows.

    You don’t know how many people have told me I will never be able to ever get another job again if I decide to re-enter the work force. That employers will see a gap in work history and toss that resume into the circular file.

    I think you are spot on, that experience and manpower (or woman power) will become more scarce than people understand right now, and that the opportunities for women re-entering the workforce (and for retirees for that matter) will be much greater than many people imagine.

  9. Casey says:

    In addition to my full-time job, I babysit for a couple who are both partners at a high profile auditing firm in Boston. They are NEVER home with their children, and employ an aupair, brother-in-law, grandmother, and bevy of 5 rotating babysitters to cover the other shifts (of which I am one).

    I support women and men equally pursing careers… but why did they have kids if they’re never around to love them?

  10. A.K. says:

    I liked this post, except for the retro it’s-the-woman’s-job-to-stay-home slant, and the implication that everyone plans to/wants to have kids. Other than that, I support anything that says you don’t have to be a slave to your job.

  11. Jessica says:

    After my kids were born, I tried to go back to work to no avail. It seemed inpossible and depressing. I would like to mention also, that nearly all of the interviews were conducted by middle aged men. In the end, I decided to stay at hme a few more years and use them to my advantage. I’m learning Spanish and writing more. So when I’m ready to go back to work in a few years, I will be more cofident have more to put on the table. I hope you are right, Penelope Trunk. I hope things are changing in this direction. I think it would benefit everyone.

  12. Maryellen says:

    I disagree with the title. I think the points you mention lead to “your life will be fine” not your “career”.

    For example you say “Most of the women taking time off to have kids today have no ambitions of breaking that glass ceiling because what's above it is so absurd.” So just using that example – it’s not that there has been career progress for women – especially women who take a family sabbatical. It’s that there has been a shift in what women want/expect from a career.

    “Balance” is in. Thank goodness. But let’s not pretend that the person that stepped away from cushy job and is now working part-time is going to step back into that cushy job when they want to. People that stayed are two years ahead on that particular track – plain and simple.

    Make good decisions for your life – but realize they do come at a career cost.

  13. Pirate Jo says:

    I am a Gen-X woman (born in 1970) who has never wanted kids, but I still agree with your advice, because it applies to what I want to do with my life as well. I want to ride my bike around the country, and when I’ve seen enough of it, ride my bike around some other countries.

    I’m smart and self-disciplined enough that I could get into a CFO position if it was really important to me, and it would certainly pay well, but where does that leave me when it comes to the three-month cycling trips I’ll be wanting to take every so often? If you’re the CFO, you just don’t get that kind of time off. In fact, if you are working full-time pretty much anywhere, you won’t get that kind of time off. You have to go into contracting and count on time off between projects or assignments.

    So I’m working on getting the education and experience to build a skillset (15 years of financial background, working on a computer science degree) that will be in high demand for the contract labor market. I’m never going to be CFO, or CEO, or CIO, or C-what-the-heck-ever-O, and this doesn’t bother me in the least. More money would buy me a bigger house, but the day I need a bigger house is the day I really just need to clean out my closets. Nothing – not even a gourmet kitchen – could take the place of spending two months riding my bike down the Natchez Trace in the fall.

    People are starting to figure out that life is short, and there are a lot better things to do with it than work all the time. Attention to family/children is at the front of this shift, but don’t think it only applies to people who have or want children.

    • Finance To Computer Science says:

      I’m doing the same thing…been in finance for 14 years and am pursuing a computer science degree. Would like to get your take on how to transfer between the two without a decrease in pay.

  14. thom singer says:

    Penelope-

    You may not know this about me, but I was a full-time-dad when my daughter Jackie was born. I did this for 2 years (Jackie is now almost 11, so stay-home dad’s were even more rare). My wife was offered a “must do” promotion, and so I gave full time daddy work a try.

    (FYI to all you whom have never done this….being a Full-Time parent is harder than going to work everyday. Yes, I have done both and I know that it is 100% demanding and you get no paid vacations. There is no running to Starbucks to escape the headaches of your job. Your spouse does not come home and take over 100% of the kids needs, so you never get a break. That being said, it was also a very special time in my life and one that I would never trade. Jackie and I have a stronger relationship because of this. My wife stayed home when the 2nd kid came, and she has continued to be CEO of our home ever since. The good news for her is I know how hard the job is…and try to send her for some down time whenever she wants it. If you are reading this and your spouse stays home with the kids and you have not brought flowers or some other gift of appreciation….RUN, do not walk to the florist …or other appropriate gift store….and show him or her that you know their job is difficult)

    I was counseled by lots of women NOT to quit my job and stay home. Many told me my career would never recover. They were WRONG. I worked very hard to network and keep my business relationships alive and thriving. When it came time to return to the workforce…. I had options.

    Staying home is not for everyone. Be honest with yourself as to if you can handle it. If not, don’t do it. But if you want to do it, never look back….but network and keep in touch with your business friends.

    Gotta go get some flowers for my wife!

    thom

  15. Miriam Salpeter says:

    I’ve been advising my “on ramping” clients that the time is right for them to bring their maturity, experience and know-how to the paid working world, so I am thrilled to read it in your column!

    Something to emphasize is that it is a good idea to PREPARE to re-enter the paid work force if it is something that appeals to you. USE those social networking tools as soon as you get some sleep after the baby is born. Keep up with what is written in your industry. Make an effort to have breakfast, coffee, or dinner with past colleagues so you are not “out of sight, out of mind.” If you keep your options open, you increase your choices for the future.

    Another suggestion is to seek out opportunities to continue to use your work skills, either by starting a small consulting business or volunteering your time.

    A little planning goes a long way!

    Miriam Salpeter

  16. Sidney says:

    I enjoyed Thom’s comment. While changing careers I stayed home for the first three years of my son’s life and I loved every minute of it.

    But, for people who are lucky enough to have that experience, lets not kid ourselves. Genetics plays a larger role then parents care to admit in how our children turn out. Books like Freakonomics also show that it is the environment kids are born into and what type of people their parents are (educated, healthy, well-adjusted)that determines the child’s outcome in life more than whether or not they had a stay at home parent.

  17. GenerationXpert says:

    I didn’t stay at home when my girls were young, but i did go to a 20-hour a week, 11 month a year job. Career didn’t suffer at all Afer 5 years of part time, I got my dream job -easily.

    I agree with Penelope on all counts. We are not Baby boomers. We should not repeat their mistakes.

  18. Matt Bingham says:

    It really all does come back to networking. When taking time off, keeping those contacts close and keeping up with your skillset will help greatly. Don’t slump and don’t fall off the earth. When it comes time to re-enterting the work force you don’t want to be making cold calls to your one time strong network.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I’m all for taking an active stance in managing your own career – including taking a sabbatical for children or anything else – but I feel compelled to offer two points:

    1. Prepare yourself for the fact that your peers are probably going to be moving ahead, learning new things and growing their careers while you’re off the career track. You will be behind for a while, if you bow out of the workplace for a few years.

    2. Prepare yourself for the fact that YOUR retirement account is the one that will take a hit during your time out of the market.

    Prepare yourself for retiring later in life to make this up, or for living on a tighter budget to make up the shortfall.

  20. Danny says:

    Well said Penelope. However, I would like to know what you mean by "Men are more likely than women to cope with extreme delegating of parenting." Most men, including myself, would be perfectly happy with staying home and having the woman be the primary income provider. It is a tough choice to live with less in order to have your child raised by his parents. For us, in fact, it would have been easier for me to stay home since she was earning about 25% more then I was at the time. My point is this, making big financial sacrifices to allow your spouse to stay home and raise the child is in my opinion, far from coping with extreme delegating of parenting. I think it's just the opposite. Perhaps I misunderstood the intent of the statement, but just so you know, it's just as hard on us boys to be away form our kids all day.

  21. Music Site says:

    Hi,

    You really made good points, and about number 2 that women adapt to job changed more than men, I totally agree with you about it, even that I am a man but I do give credits to women about that, we men can hardly change or adapt our careers, I have this problem and I noticed that my father had the same too,

    Thank you for your beautiful informational words,

    Regards.

  22. debbie says:

    For high profile, lucrative careers, you are flat out wrong. Your life may be just fine, but your high profile, lucrative career will be OVER! If you want to quit your job as an investment banker to stay home and have kids for a few years you can certainly get a JOB when you are ready to go back. You may enjoy the job and see it as your next career. But to insinuate that you’re career will be waiting for you, is just plain wrong. I’ve seen the statistics of women graduating from the business school who expect to take a break with kids and go right to where they left off when they’re ready to go back. I’ve been there, and I’m telling you it will not happen.

  23. Julie O'Malley says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, but I beg to differ that this is a Gen X or Y phenomenon. Twenty years ago, Felice N. Schwartz got us thinking about what was then called the “Mommy Track.” I hopped on it in 1994, when my first son was born. I worked from home for ten years, ramping down from full- to part-time to freelance. Today, I am fours years (and two jobs) back into the workplace, in a position that is on par with where I would have been had I stayed in the traditional workplace. And at age 46, I am technically a Baby Boomer.

    I know it makes good copy, but come on, Boomer women were not so much “consumed with money and prestige” as they were living in all-or-nothing times. Flexibility and alternative work arrangements were scarce. Now they’re almost standard. Who WOULDN’T want to have the best of both worlds?

  24. LaDawn says:

    Amen, sister!

  25. Jerry Matthew says:

    PT –

    Excellent Post! You hit the nail right on the head!

    Traditional corporations need to “get with the program” of aging Boomers and Gen X and Gen Y: Work is a part of life, not life itself. We want more than a paycheck. We are more than a job title. Our life is not defined by our job. We do not live to work.

    I saw too many people older than me give their life and too much of their time to corporations and they received a layoff or a downsizing in return. They we told they were too old, too expensive, and it was time to move on. I'm happy to see younger generations paid attention. They're showing it in their approaches to work and life.

    There are many more opportunities to be involved in the workforce today than there were 10 or 20 years ago. Working from home, part time, and consulting have come out of the shadows and into the mainstream as viable work options. We can work, be productive, and contribute without feeling disconnected from the work world thanks to e-mail, collaboration tools while we maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

  26. h-j-s says:

    I don’t know what is wrong with me, I never wanted kids. I’ve got nothing against them (they’re just trying to figure the world out) or parents, it’s the hardest job in the world. I just didn’t feel right taking the chance that I would have kids and then resent them because I only had them to make x-y-z happy, and I’m not all that great of a person, so I wouldn’t be all that great of a parent, and the last thing this world needs are more poorly-parented children inflicted upon it.

    But so many people say “my children complete me”, “nothing matters as much as my children”, “i don’t care what else i lose as long as i have my kids” and I wonder if maybe I’d hit the baby pipe if I would have wound up feeling the same way. Or not, and if I hadn’t, there would be some innocent little guy or girl looking at me for how to act in the world, and it just seemed an awful chance to take with someone’s life. I felt like it would be rolling the dice based on some self-aggrandizing fantasy about having a legacy, or because Jesus or the Pope or James Dobson or whoever said so.

    But then at least I would have a reason to leave work early and avoid nights and weekends, like everyone else. And a reason to complain about being tired, and being unhappily married with no money and no personal life and not knowing what’s going on in the news.

    So it’s a tradeoff.

  27. Peggy says:

    Penelope –

    This is probably one of my favorite posts you have written. I agree with (and I am living testimony) to everything you say. The only thing I would add is to 1) have a plan (just something basic – you don’t need every detail workied out) and 2) be honest about your skills when you do go back into the workforce.

    Rock on –
    Career Encourager

  28. Jennifer says:

    Some of what you say is right but as a person who helps people with disabilities get jobs it is not that easy. If a person takes a break from the career field to do whatever they have to start over. I deal with this on a daily basis. A few years are not too bad but if you think being out for over five years and then walking back into a similar career with the same benefits, money, prestige etc is there then it is wrong. I think that it is great if a family decides to have one parent stay home. They just need to be aware that someone will have to start over. With the lousy employment market in the midwest there are too many other people who have been in the workforce that will get the job rather then a stay at home parent. I made the choice to keep working because I love my job (most days) and didn’t want to stay at home. It gets hectic and a few times I feel guilty but I have built a family at my work and we support each other both in and out of work. I would hate to give that up.

  29. Jill says:

    I was in the start of my HR career when I decided not to return to work after the birth of my first daughter. At that time, my husband was making enough money so it wasn't a financially burden. However, as the years went on our financially situation changed and I had to go back to the workforce. I found it difficult to reenter the field of HR because so many things changed in the area of recruitment, that my skills were considered out of date. However, while I was at home I did manage to be active in community groups, dabbled in real estate and also did I few home based businesses. By doing this, I was able to keep up my other skills. When returning to the workforce, it really made me decided what I wanted to do, not just take the first job that was available to me. I believe if I didn't take time off to raise my kids, I would still be in a career that I didn't really care for. I think it was the best thing for me, I know have a job that I actually like and was able to be home with my kids when they were little. I think it is important to keep your skills up, by taking classes or being active in the community. I made a lot of scarifies, but my I know I did the right thing.

  30. Doug K says:

    I am absolutely of Jennifers’ mind.. I agree that it’s important to look at the larger picture and not be wholly constrained by career worries: but the facts of life are that in any professional career, opting out for a couple of years puts you impossibly far behind; plus, while life is certainly about more than money, that opt-out is not even available to the vast majority.

    My wife and I took a year off in our 30s before kids, which was fine because it was only a year. We lived in our car.. Our IRAs will always miss that year ;-)

    After kids, my wife went part-time, which was rapidly followed by a layoff, because corporate America hates part-timers. There are very few part-time jobs in IT, so her career in IT is now over. Freelancing in IT puts you in competition with for example
    http://www.odesk.com
    where the average pay ($8 to $10 per hour) is only slightly more than minimum wage. Part-time at Nordstrom’s is a better bet than that.

  31. Pamela Slim says:

    I am a perfect example of what you are talking about Penelope, as I discovered that by:

    a) moving from the business and creativity-rich Bay Area to a remote outpost of Mesa, Arizona
    b) getting OFF the road and out of the daily lives of many clients and colleagues
    c) stopping large consulting projects
    d) having 2 kids
    e) working about 1/3 of the time, less when the kiddos were born

    that my press, profile, opportunities and success skyrocketed.

    Writing a blog (escape from cubicle nation) was the crux of it all. No longer tethered to an in-person business model, I realized that my market was exponentially larger than I thought it was.

    And for all those that worry that a couple of years off “the track” will put them hopelessly behind, I say you are in the wrong job. Having kids does not mean that you lose interest in topics you love. Even though I have a 2 1/2 year old and 4 month old, my brain is not ONLY filled with diapers and art activities. I still read voraciously (albeit late at night, or in little bits during the day)and have gotten much more clear on the work that I am meant to do.

    Granted, not everyone likes to keep a business focus while raising small kids. If you completely, totally unplug from your work for a couple of years, it may take a bit to get back on the horse. But it is a great time to make a career change while you have time off, instead of seeing if you can step right back on the spinning Merry-go-round of your old job. Sounds boring to me, but I get bored doing the same thing for too long.

    Great post!

    * * * * * *

    This is such great advice, Pamela. Thanks.

    -Penelope

  32. jcutter says:

    Penelope – Would your advice hold true in this economy? If I left my job after my leave, I would think that everyone would be wondering (1) was I involved in the law firm layoffs or (2) if not, what kind of idiot would leave? This is only relevant if the earth shatters and I can’t make a career change go at some point and have to re-enter the legal profession. My plan right now – possibly try grad school in psychology and see what I think; network and explore some other careers and hire part-time child care; not really sure right now. I have saved up enough money to dawdle for a while.

  33. SLC says:

    With jobs now being outsourced to places like India and China, I don’t think we’ll have a lack of workers in Gen X as you said. I really respect what you are preaching, that our children deserve more nurture from their parents and not just delegate to the nanny. I really want to quit but being in the tech field, I know my job will just go overseas. It’s not like a book you’ve bookmarked and you can return to the same page later. I’d have to start all over again as a cashier at Target or Walmart.

  34. Henan says:

    Hi everyone, it is Labor Day! I’m happy with my extra day off, and I am planning to make something fun that’ll probably involve a bike ride and seeing something new in Burnsville I haven’t seen yet.
    You write something new on a Monday at the labor day? … HApPy BLoggiNg!

  35. AMSmith says:

    Penelope,
    Great post. I mostly agree, but I think that this can be subjective based on industry.

    I found a link to your blog from “Beyond the Glass Ceiling”, which I found in the process of a research paper where the evidence of much recent data shows that the Glass Ceiling is basically irrelevant and family matters are more important. That being, women AND men sharing the family duties; priorities and the vision of success is now drastically different than with the baby boomers. I found The Shriver Report “A Woman’s Nation”, recently released, incredibly informative and I’d recommend that everyone read it. The point that I focused on within my paper was the simple difference between men and women, and that women are more likely to leave the workplace to either have children or care for a loved one and also that women, in many cases, are now the breadwinners and still not paid equally.
    The one point I may disagree on is that while it may not be hard to get back into the work-game post-kids, but equality in pay for women still hasn’t happened across the board – have you found any evidence of this even in consulting?

    AMSmith

  36. Tiny House Plans says:

    When my daughter was 4 I decided to start my own business and work from home. I have a great network thanks to strategic planning, LinkedIn and a local networking group specifically for mothers who have their own businesses. I still cultivate my career on my own terms, schedule my own hours and take her to and from school every day. Honestly, I would be completely bored if I weren’t working at something in addition to parenting – €“so I am very happy with my decision to become self-employed.

  37. Tiny House Plans says:

    When my daughter was 4 I decided to start my own business and work from home. I have a great network thanks to strategic planning, LinkedIn and a local networking group specifically for mothers who have their own businesses.

  38. Paper Mache Masks says:

    A bold topic! Going from your first item on the list, do you think that this ability to restart a career after long-term parental leave (2+ years) is a quirk of the current decade or indicative of a substantive change in the workplace?

  39. Ice Cream Supplies says:

    Would your advice hold true in this economy? If I left my job after my leave, I would think that everyone would be wondering (1) was I involved in the law firm layoffs or (2) if not, what kind of idiot would leave? This is only relevant if the earth shatters and I can’t make a career change go at some point and have to re-enter the legal profession.

  40. newdaysun says:

    No, your career will not be just fine, at least not in the short term. You could take a huge hit financially and professionally – I did. I have a BA in finance and an MBA from a top ranked business school. After 12 years out of the ‘work force’, it took me a year and a half and having an “in” to land an Admin. Asst. position making $16K less than what I was making when I left my 5 year career for the stay-at-home mom role. (And that's even with purchasing and working a franchised business for 2 years prior to looking.) Rapid advancement is not promising and humble pie is a main course. Current economic conditions in the US have significantly impacted my ability to get back in the game. I'm definitely paying my dues all over again; and while I don't regret my – €˜time away', I never thought my return would be quite like this. If you do take time off – keep connected to old colleagues and don’t stay out too long.

  41. Warda Zaman says:

    It’s interesting reading your article. I am living in Pakistan at the moment and have taken career breaks to raise kids. After my third kid, I decided to start my own training business and currently work from home.

    My advice to people is that they should plan their future with kids while they are still working. Network extensively and equip yourself with the skills you will use later. You can only expect the job market to welcome us with open arms but if it doesn’t, you are in trouble.

    Therefore, I believe one should start one’s own line of work rather than thinking of going back to work. The customers today are demanding uniqueness and clamoring to be delighted–maybe you can offer them a product no other company can.

    It is possible that entrepreneurship is not the answer for everyone but in my opinion, it is an option worth exploring and working towards in the 21st century.

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