5 questions to ask when changing careers after kids

After a child, sometimes a sea change is in order. But how do you do it? You might feel rusty or out of touch after maternity leave, you might feel your skills need refreshing. A career change is big. Here are some questions to consider to get you started.

Ask any parent: having kids changes everything. It changes little things like the way you shower (rarely, at night), the way you sleep (never), the way you drink coffee (by the bucket).

Having kids also makes women think about their careers: whether they like what they do, whether it suits their lifestyle. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 84 per cent of mothers work part time at their first job after returning to work from maternity leave. Flexibility is obviously an important concern for working mums, and some jobs simply don’t give any flexibility.

If you’re thinking (even vaguely) about what the future might hold, here are five questions to ask yourself that will get you off to a flying start.

1. What do you love to do?

Portrait of smiling office worker relax having a coffee

Popular wisdom tells us to do what we love – and also what we’re good at. Choosing a career based on love is easy if you love to teach, or if you love doing complex tax returns.

If a career path doesn’t naturally emerge from what you love, think about the things you loved at your last job – maybe you managed a team, maybe you did a lot of research – and try to find those things in your new career.

2. What are your financial considerations?

Couple Calculating Bills

It’s all well and good to say, “I hate being a lawyer. I’m going to start a graphic design business.” But the salary difference between an established lawyer and a new graphic designer is significant. Will you make enough at first to pay for child care? If not, can you work around your children at night or during nap time?

3. Do you need flexibility?

Concentrated on her job

If your partner’s work is supportive, then they can stay home with sick kids, or do the school drop off and pick-up, and you don’t need to worry about flexibility in your job. But if you’re the parent doing most of the child care, then a career that requires a lot of travel, or very long hours is probably not suitable.

4. Do you need to retrain?

teaching at a blackboard adult education

If you’re trained in business management and want to be a beauty therapist, retraining is probably in order. Most parents are balancing child care and financial commitments and making time for study can often seem tough. Like work, education needs to be flexible. Choose a supportive education provider like Ivy College that offers you self-paced flexibility in the way that you study – like classes online, lectures on demand, and with part time and full time study options that suit your lifestyle.

If you’ve already had some post-secondary education, find out if any credits can be transferred to your new study.

5. Is there room for growth?

Your kids aren’t going to be little forever. It’s not always going to be so tricky to juggle work and life and family. When kids are old enough to get to and from school on their own, when they can drive themselves to rugby practise, when they’ve moved out to go to university, where will you be in your new career? As your home life becomes less demanding, think about how your new career can grow and change.

Starting all over in a new career is daunting to be sure, but it’s exciting too. Having children and going on maternity leave gives women a natural break to reassess their lives, and think about whether what they’ve been doing is still right for them.

(This is a sponsored post for Ivy College)

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