It’s that time of the year when the graduations from High School have concluded. The parties have wound down, the decorations picked up and the helium in the balloons has deflated. What’s next?
Perhaps as an empty nester now you are asking yourself the same question and may even be feeling a bit of fear or worry about your life ahead. As parents, we have poured all our time, money, and resources into prioritizing our children, and now that they have flown the coop, we look up and don’t recognize ourselves anymore.
If you’re motivated to return to work by the looming prospect of the empty nest, the good news is that there are many more routes back to work than existed even 10 years ago.
Get ready to get back in the game
According to the 2020 US Census, there are 22.5 million empty-nesters in America (and we guess many more around the world). While many single parents experience empty nest syndrome, others have a renewed sense of purpose when their children leave. An empty nest can in fact signal a time of great change as well as newfound freedom.
Navigating the transition between a stay-at-home mum and a professional returning to work, however, can be tricky. If you are thinking of heading back to the workplace, the best thing to do is to reassess your goals and desire, develop a game plan and spruce up your skills. This is the right time to slow down, practise self-care and embrace new challenges.
Here are a few easy things you can do to feel prepared as an empty nester returning to work.
For empty-nester mums returning to work, entering the workforce is a lifestyle change that may not be easy, especially after a long break. Try to embrace this new normal and be patient in finding a new groove that works for you.
Gone are the days of always needing to be on the run. Take the time to slow down and really consider what your goals are. Grab that journal that has been accumulating dust and begin to put some of those thoughts and feelings on paper. When you take that time to relax and come into your breath, you will be better able to hear your inner desires.
Assess the situation
Consider taking a career or personality assessment to unveil those not-so-obvious aspects of yourself that could help you find your dream career. What are your goals and desires as you move forward into this new chapter? More than likely, those goals you created eighteen years ago have changed and that is normal. This is your time to get curious and think about things you have been wanting to do but had not had the time to prioritize until now. Is there a class you have been wanting to take or an organization you would like to volunteer for? Taking some time to explore will help you to be able to better understand what direction you may like to go in your career.
Make a list
Make a list of your strengths, weaknesses, and threats as well as all of the skills you have developed, both in the workplace and outside of work. You have been the CFO of your home for many years and the skills you have been using translate over to many careers. Write down everything that comes to mind when you put your pen to paper. This will help you as you move into how you prepare for moving forward with coaching, updating skills, and developing a resume.
Don’t be afraid of challenging yourself: tons of experience, emotional maturity, and specialized knowledge can make you an ideal candidate for many jobs. Think carefully about what you want to do with this period of your life and follow your passion. Then, revamp your Linkedin profile, and look at job listings in the fields you want. Pay particular attention to your transferable skills (such as communication or managerial skills) that will be useful in almost any profession and make sure to include some of these skills words on your resume and cover letter. This will show the hiring manager that you have the abilities it takes to get the job done well.
Face the Imposter with a coach
Have you been thinking: “I have been out of work for so long, who would want to hire me?” We all do it whenever we are getting out of our comfort zone and doing something new. This is where working with a coach or mentor can help you to shift those stories we tell ourselves that are not true. A coach can challenge your beliefs so that you begin to recognize all that you do offer an organization. As you begin to work through the coaching process you will gain tools that will help you to build your self-esteem and confidence moving forward.
Stop comparing yourself to others
We are on our own journey travelling at different speeds and going separate places. That is what makes life so vibrant. We all have unique gifts and experiences to lend. Your journey will not be a direct line from one point to another ( how boring would that be?) but a winding river with different currents. It’s time that we sit on our float and be comfortable with the changing currents and direction. The more you relax and enjoy the process the likelihood that you will notice and find a career that is truly your dream.
Spruce up your skills
If you’re rejoining the workforce after some time away, you may need to go back to school and retrain to bring your skills up to date. If you don’t feel prepared to embrace your new path, take a course (either online or at one of the many local colleges or universities around you), earn certifications, pursue a new degree or meet with a career coach to help you put together a solid progression plan that will prepare you for success. Learning is a continuous process and age has no limit to it. The Skills Toolkit website has free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses from a range of providers such as Google Digital Garage, Lloyds Bank Academy and Open University. Coursera.org and
Delve deeply into networking
Networking is an ideal way to make connections that could lead to a job. To rejoin the workforce, there are plenty of options for you to consider. You can reach out to former colleagues or contact a temporary agency or join a professional association in your field. Also don’t dismiss the potential of your inner circle: friends, neighbours, and parents of your kids’ classmates. Usually, people who know us the best may mention something that shifts your perspective about ourselves, and a window may open towards a new possibility. You can even recruit a friend to play the role of interviewer and provide feedback afterwards.
Explore new opportunities
These days, the best jobs for empty nesters include positions in tech, health care, finance, real estate, and administration. Women Returners, a purpose-led consulting, coaching and network organisation based in the UK may help in finding new opportunities by offering a helping hand with dedicating programs, events and webinars. You can also start looking for a flexible or summer job, devote your time and energy to a non-profit community and even consider jobs overseas.
Now that you are an empty nester the possibilities are endless. Go on start the ball rolling!