5 things you need to overcome if you want to change career after you have kids
Changing careers is something most of us do or have done in our lives, and we are familiar with the process and the hoops we must jump through, practical as well as emotional. But why is it that once we are mothers these hoops suddenly become those flaming ones you see in circuses – the hoops seem dangerous, scary and fraught with danger – where does this fire come from?
We suddenly feel the weight of responsibility way more acutely and the risks are somehow magnified. Why do we immediately take ourselves to the worst possible outcome and wallow in it scaring ourselves silly?
Of course, we have different responsibilities now, but I think it goes deeper than that.
As a coach I work on the mindset and confidence stories that underpin all our decisions, I bloody love this stuff, it fascinates me and I have found that there are often common themes that come up for mums when they consider new careers.
With that in mind here are my top 5 things to overcome to change career after you have kids. Whilst they might seem like obstacles (real and, more often than not, imagined) you just need to hurl yourself over with as much dignity as you can muster in order to really make career change an exciting prospect for you and not the most terrifying ordeal imaginable.
I’m too old to change jobs now.
This is a personal one for me as I was 39 when I had my little boy, Ted. I was 40 when I realised I was miserable in the job that I’d had before having him (well 40 when I started listening to my instincts about it instead of jamming my fingers in my ears and pretending everything was going to be fine) and 41 when I set up on my own as a self-employed coach. I have to say that my age did not factor into any of my decisions, it wasn’t an obstacle for me, but other people pointed it out to me. For others it was a defining factor which says more about them than me I’d argue. I chose not to listen, but some do internalise this prejudice and it can floor them. I want to ask you, why do you feel that you have a shelf life? What is it about age that defines your ability negatively? When is the correct
age to stop aspiring and achieving new things in your life? Some of the most successful entrepreneurs started business in their 50s and 60s – so I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that an ambitious and brave mama can decide to want better for her working life and go about making that happen – with the right support should she seek it. You can change jobs at any point in your life. We live in a wonderful age of opportunity, flexibility and open mindedness (despite what you might read online) and it is totally possible to go after what you want regardless of how many years you’ve been knocking about this planet, age is only an issue if you make it one. That is a fact.
People will not take me seriously.
Take it from one who knows, other people are not judging you as much as you are judging yourself. People are too caught up in their own lives to worry about what you are up to over in your little corner of the world. Worries about being judged or laughed at are common and come from a place of fear and the unknown. When you are thinking about changing jobs the first and most important place to sit yourself is squarely in your own head and examine your why. Why do you want to change roles, what will changing give you that don’t currently have, why do you want to set up your own business, why do you keep coming back to this idea for a business, who is stopping you (other than yourself)? When you are comfortable, confident and feeling feisty about what it is you want to do, you will find that you care less about what others think and more importantly realise that if you believe in it others will too. People will take you seriously if you take yourself seriously. You can learn the stuff you need to learn if you don’t know it already and once you are on the road and off the starting blocks it gets a whole lot easier. Be unapologetic about what it is you want.
I’ll be judged for being a mum. I need to play this down.
Becoming a mum is a positive thing to put on the CV, not something to hide or apologise for. Its very easy to end up believing that once you are mum you are damaged goods. No employer will want you. Sadly this is the case for some, but not all. And the landscape is changing for the better – there is a real and tangible shift towards flexibility and equality in the workplace for mums. Long time coming still a long way to go, but I want to urge you to not let this stop you before you have even started. Deciding before you even venture towards job change that it will not happen for you as you want it to because you are a mum is a sure-fire way to prove yourself right. I know it is nice to be right but you’ve kind of shot yourself in the foot a bit haven’t you. Becoming part of the statistic that you don’t agree with. So instead focus on how being a mum has changed you for the better and what you can offer a role or opportunity because you are an amazing magic machine who has produced another human or two. I work with mums because I believe that they make the world go round and have so much to offer. Just as you would never hide or apologise for other things about yourself (your skin colour, your beliefs, your style, your love of doughnuts, your obsession with 90s boys bands etc etc) so you must never make yourself small to fit into what you have decided people want to see. You are mum, this is a fact, go out and shout it form the rooftops. You’ll attract the right stuff into your life.
I’ve been out of the game for too long, I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.
Oh mama – I hear this a lot. Listen out for how to talk to yourself – do you say things like I could never…… or I’m rubbish at…… or I wish I could do……. How is talking to yourself like this helping you? I would argue that it probably isn’t much. As with point no. 3 this is often born from fear (and I totally understand where this fear is coming from) – being employed or even self employed is a muscle that needs to be exercised – it’s a different zone of being to that of being a mum. Different but not out of your reach. Telling yourself you don’t know what you’re doing anymore may feel true but it’s more that you are out of practice. Working with a coach can help you to examine and overcome this obstacle because you are totally able to kick this one into touch. As with anything once you get going you will wonder why you ever thought this. Once your job change is real and happening these feelings dissipate. Action is the antidote to feeling this way, getting stuck in to what you want to achieve, making plans, talking about it, deciding what it is you need to do – it’s all part of the process. You can change career whenever you want and for whatever reason. The only timeline that matters is yours. You had a break, you had kids and now you are back stronger and more powerful than ever. If you don’t believe that yet, you will.
It’s bad to want a career now that I am a mother.
Ah yes, the mum guilt. It’s insidious right? We feel guilty so much we feel guilty for not feeling guilty! I could bang on for ages about how much I disagree with this one, but on the flip side I also totally understand the mindset behind it. We have been conditioned to believe that once we have kids they are everything – but many women feel that being a mother is not enough. They are still humans they are still independent people with needs and desires and ambitions. And bloody hell that is ok. In fact it’s more than ok it’s essential. It is not a reflection on their worth as a mum.. Mums who are more satisfied in their jobs are happier people and happier mums make happier kids. I have no science to back up this statement but guaranteed I could find some and no one can argue with this really can they? Each story is unique, just as it is ok to not want to work once you are a mum (if that’s an option for you) it is equally ok to want to return to earning as well. There will always be people with opinions no matter what you decide to do or no matter what your situation demands. But self-flagellation about being a working mum does not do anyone any favours lest of all you. I help mums to examine this belief and then kick it in the face and get on with the more important business of finding work they love, that works for them on as many levels as possible. You are a wonderful mother for worrying about this in the first place. Give yourself a break.
I hope these have resonated with you, please know you are not alone if you feel some or all of these. And I know there are many more! I would love to hear your thoughts regardless.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re curious about coaching or working with me to help with career change.
With love, light and belief in you,
Bio – Rebecca Levene
Rebecca is our That Works For Me Self Discovery coach. Helping parents like us find their purpose in life and jump over those career barriers (self imposed nine times out of ten she adds) that hold us back from making real and lasting change in our lives. “If you want to do what lights you up for a living then you can,” she says. “My life coaching is down to earth, honest and fuss free. It’s for the curious and the brave and for mums who are just fed up with feeling just a little bit shit all of the time. You have the power to change your life in any way you choose to. If you are ready (or nearly ready) to turn the page my darling, lets talk.”
If you are interested in talking to Rebecca about changing your life, you can reach her on Facebook or Instagram .
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