Karen is a mother of one and a Managing Director of Sales Effectiveness. She will be celebrating 34 years with the same company later this year! Her daughter is beginning to look at colleges, as well as getting ready to pass her driver’s test. I hope you enjoy learning more about her return to work story as much as I did.
Q: Why did you decide to leave paid work?
A: Originally, I went back to work when my daughter was six weeks old, and worked until she was two and a half. I knew I didn’t want any more children, and I was miserable because I felt I was missing being with her during those formative years before school. I had a great nanny but I felt cheated. I felt guilty when I was at work, and guilty when I was at home. I just wanted to be her Mother for a little while and have that be enough.
Q: How long of a career break did you take?
A: Two and a half years
Q: Why did you decide to return to paid work?
A: It was 2009 and the financial crisis hit – my husband lost his job six months ahead of my daughter going to kindergarten. Honestly, I didn’t feel ready to go back to work, but we needed income. When a good job opened up at my old company, I did what I had to do to protect my family. As it turned out, my husband found a job at about the same time…and then we had to scramble for a new nanny. Luckily, it all worked out great in the end.
Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced in returning to paid work?
A: Technology had changed a few things and the job level I returned to wasn’t what I wanted. I also had to learn how to balance work, school events & holidays, nanny schedules, travel and what to do when your child is sick. In the end, I had leaders who were very understanding and supportive. I had to learn to ask for what I needed and not be afraid to do so. I also learned that the support from my spouse was critical – he was a true partner in every way.
Q: Do you have any advice for parents transitioning from staying home to working outside the home?
A: Yes, let the guilt go! It’s not easy – I still struggle with to this day, but I try. Talk to your children about the reasons why you make the choices you do and the trade-offs and benefits. They understand far more than you give them credit for. Also, never judge other parents for their choices – I was the victim of this and it’s unfair and alienating.
Q: What does fulfillment look like (or feel like) to you?
A: Knowing that I have made a choice and that I have done my very best at that choice. Being at peace with mistakes and regrets but learning from them rather than letting them define me.
My Key Take-aways:
- Ask for what you need!
- Do what’s uniquely right for you and your family