If you have kids, you know that life as a busy parent is a juggling act at the best of times. Trying to schedule after school activities, keeping up with homework and playdates, and remembering those all-important dental and doctors appointments can leave you feeling frazzled and stretched, no matter how organized you are. So throw a career change into the mix and it can all seem completely overwhelming – but being a busy mom shouldn’t stop you from chasing those dreams and life goals.
If you’re a busy parent and thinking of switching jobs but you’re not sure where to start, relax – we’ve got five top tips to help you on your way to the career of your dreams.
Research Your Chosen Field
The first thing to do is read, read, read – find out absolutely everything you can about the role you’re aiming for, so there are no hidden surprises along the way. A good way to get to grips with a new industry is to read professional journals and publications – your local library will often have a good back-issue stock of these, and otherwise, you can find them available online, or even for sale on secondhand sites such as eBay.
Talking to others already working in your chosen field, like a nurse, is a fantastic way to get insider information, and will also provide you with a head start with those all-important contacts.
Consider The Financial Impact
Switching careers as a busy parent is a big move, and isn’t always necessarily cheap either. Even if you’ve got experience in the field you’re moving into, there’s a big chance you’ll need to start at the bottom and work your way up – which could mean a dramatic salary decrease. Learn about negotiating salary in a recession here. If you’re starting afresh completely, you’ll probably need to study first, which will mean you’ll need to look into not only less incomings, but more outgoings.
Nothing is impossible though; it’s possible that you’ll be entitled to certain grants for your studies, and using careful money-saving tips and budgeting apps will help you get to grips with your new financial situation.
Pocketguard is great for busy parents to prevent overspending; once connected to your bank account, it tracks how much you’re earning, spending and transferring to your savings accounts, and also cleverly searches for better deals on months bills such as TV and internet. Similarly, old favorite Mint tracks your spending and sends you alerts when it looks like you’re going to go over your allotted budget.
Discuss It With The Whole Family
Before busy parents even consider committing to a career change, it’s incredibly important to find out how it’s going to impact on your family.
If you’re the main caregiver, will the job allow for flexible working or part-time hours? Are you likely to need to travel for your new role, and if you are, who is going to take over the parenting duties? Is it likely that you’ll have to factor in additional childcare or help at home? Children are incredibly adaptable, and it’s fairly likely that they’ll be encouraging – if they seem less than enthusiastic, try different ways to get them excited about the changes at home; make sure they know there will be set times that you spend with them, and discuss future trips and holidays. Even the promise to get ice cream together once a week can make the world of difference and is something even a busy parent can make time for!
Similarly, make sure your partner or spouse is on board; they’ll need to be willing to pick up the slack when you’re not available, whether it’s something as simple as doing an extra school drop-off once a week, or taking over completely if you’re away for long periods.
Look Into Different Study Programs
If you’re aiming to move into an industry where you have absolutely no experience or knowledge, you’re probably going to need to complete at least a short period of study first. Most colleges and universities offer part-time and adult education classes, which range from basic certificates all the way up to bachelor degrees – this does mean that you’ll have to take time out of your day to attend classes, lectures, and seminars though, so that’s something to take into consideration as a busy parent.
Alternatively, distance learning is a great option if you’re not able to fit daytime study into your busy routine – and there are often a greater choice of courses as you can study from your chosen provider from anywhere in the world. You could also consider topping up an existing Honors degree with a masters degree – while you sometimes need to have experience in a similar field, this isn’t always the case. For example, anyone wishing to move into teaching who already has a degree in English or Psychology could take a masters in education distance learning course from the University of Exeter in the UK – even if they were overseas.
Consider Work Experience and Internships
If your financial situation allows, a great way to gain experience in a new industry is by choosing to take part in work experience and internships – while some of these are paid, many are often not, so make sure you do your research before committing to any plans. Finances aside, an internship has a huge amount of benefits for anyone wishing to move into a new role; not only do you get to learn valuable new skills and put them into practice, you also have the chance to work out if it’s a job you would actually enjoy as a busy parent.
You’ll also find yourself receiving important feedback, making some great new professional connections and bolstering your CV at the same time. There are plenty of places online to find work experience in your chosen field; Internship USA lists all current vacancies in a search engine format, and allows you to look for opportunities either by location or industry. You can also contact an employer directly and inquire about any work experience placements they might be offering; be aware though, that competition is often extremely high and you could be added to a lengthy waiting list.