Getting the Job After Being a Stay at Home Mom: Easier Said Than Done

July 23, 2008 by ej  
Published in Work

A personal narrative of how a stay at home mother made the choice to stay home, and of the current frustrations faced now that it is time to rejoin the workforce.

I graduated from college with a BS in Elementary Education in the winter of 1998. My college graduation robe looked like a muumuu, or maybe a large tent is a better description. I was 22 years old, had been married for over a year, and was 6 months pregnant. Yes, I was in a hurry to be a wife and mom – I had a plan. Graduate in December, have the baby in March, stay at home with him for 5 months and then start a teaching job. Sounds great, huh? I thought so too.

What I did not anticipate was that I would be so in love with being a mom and staying home with my child, that going to work would be excruciatingly difficult. I delayed sending in applications until it was too late to apply for the upcoming school year. It became increasingly difficult to pay the bills on one income, and by October it was clear I needed to have some kind of paycheck. I began substitute teaching. I enjoyed the flexibility, but after paying a sitter there wasn’t a whole lot of money left and it was not a steady income. In November I took a job as an educational technician in a special education classroom. I came home mentally exhausted everyday (a lot of the students had behavior problems, which makes for a long day), and often cried on the drive from the sitters to work. Not wanting to leave after I made a commitment to the job, I stayed until the end of the school year.

A couple of weeks later, I found out I was expecting again. At first I am ashamed to say I was less than ecstatic. My son was only 13 months old, I was unhappy working, and we were just making ends meet financially. After adjusting to the idea, I decided to leave my job to stay at home again. There was no way I would be able to pay a sitter for 2 children on an educational technicians paycheck, and I wasn’t happy doing the job anyway. We still needed money though, so I began a home daycare. Money was still tight, but I enjoyed what I was doing and I had loads of time with my 2 boys. Two years later I had my daughter.

Well, my daughter is now 5, and will be entering all day Kindergarten this September. Time for me to get a job and finally begin my teaching career. I am discovering this is easier said than done. Perhaps I was naïve for thinking that after 10 years of staying out of the profession I could just pop in and be hired. Now, I have to mention that for the last two years I have been working at the school my children attend as a part time aid in the preschool class. I only worked until 11:30, and it seemed like a good way to ease back into the school system. Last summer, there were several positions available for the 2007-08 school year and I did get an interview. I did not fare so well, however, and found myself flustered and feeling like I needed to read up on things such as writers workshop and guided reading. Needless to say, I was not hired. So, I studied. This summer there were again several openings (3 were in the building I currently work in) and again I applied. Recently, I found out from coworkers at school that all of the positions have been filled. I was not even interviewed this time! I admit I was crushed by this news. I know I can teach, and teach well. It is extremely frustrating that people just out of college are being hired, with no more experience than I have (less actually as I have been in a classroom assisting for 2 years). I get good reviews and reference letters, and I did very well as far as grades go in college. I have several teachers putting good words in for me and yet still am not given a chance. I confess that I am at a loss as to what to do next. I have considered taking classed to further my education but am reluctant to take out loans as I am still paying my undergraduate loans. I enjoy the part time position I have now, but with the rising cost of oil, gas, food, and …well everything, we cannot pay all the bills if I don’t get full time work.

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2 Responses to “Getting the Job After Being a Stay at Home Mom: Easier Said Than Done”
  1. Mama heartfield Says:

    I have 8 kids and stayed home for 20 some odd years and then went back to school. I totally understand your frustration, but even if I don’t have a clue, God has a plan and we have never done without any true need, even though I chose to stay home with my kids. God bless you in your search. But Maybe God is telling you you need to be home with the kids for now and you should just enjoy that.

  2. Jae Hunter Says:

    I know that you must be very discouraged. I was a teacher first, then I stayed home with my children. Eventually, I returned. I have seen this very thing you have experienced happen over and over. It is the ‘grass is always greener’ mentality. For some reason, some of those who hire teachers, administrators, etc. always seem impressed by someone they know little about. Instead of taking the sure thing, they gamble on the unknown; trusting the information found on applications, etc. Try going for a district where no one knows you. Take letters of recommendation from those people with whom you have worked.
    Try a different tactic: do tutoring. Tutoring is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. You get to witness first hand the progress that your student makes. You can give the student a tremendous amount of support that will help them be successful. In fact, I would encourage all parents to have a tutor for their child. The more adults contributing to that child’s life, the better. Even if they don’t need extra help, it gives the child a greater sense of security and confidence. Incidentally, tutoring pays very well, and you can work it around your home schedule. I charged $30 per half hour.You might be able to barter with another parent for something you need. You don’t have to be an expert in every subject, just be patient, encouraging and provide a safe place for your student to discuss his hopes and fears about school, as well as providing organization, follow-through and resources to contribute to academic success.
    If I had my life to do over, I would choose to stay home with my kids until they go away to college. I discovered that it gives children a tremendous sense of security to know that a parent/grandparent is at their home, in case they need them.

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