Of the several very difficult aspects of divorce, having to go from a stay-at-home mom to a full-time job might be at the top of the list. Going back to work after divorce is often looked at by women as a negative thing, and something they have to do because of finances.
Here are four fears women have when thinking about going back to work after divorce and why you need to let go of them.
1. Fear of technology. This was BY FAR my biggest fear when I went back to work. I had been a stay at home mom for eight years and when I thought about how much technology had changed, it was very intimidating and frightening. I had no self-confidence in that regard whatsoever. I hadn't used computer programs other than Word in several years, the thought of using a Mac scared the crap out of me, and I didn't know how to use an iPhone. I didn't even know how to text! To give you an idea of how technology-challenged I was, when I bought my first iPod, I had to have my niece download all the songs.
How did I get over iPhobia? I just did! I can't explain it, but I want to stress to anyone who has a fear of technology that it's very, very easy to learn and get caught up with. If I can do it, ANYONE can. Trust me! My suggestion is, before or during your job search, invite a friend over to show you some programs you might need in your new career. In no time, you'll be making YouTube videos and whipping out an excel spreadsheet!
2. Fear of leaving the kids with a sitter or in childcare. Did I say technology was my biggest fear? Uh... I take that back. Since the day my kids were born, they were never with a babysitter for more than five hours at a time. I was a micromanager when it came to caring for them and I had to do things MY way. I always wanted to be in control. Looking back, that was so silly.
My advice on this one is you kind of just have to take a leap of faith and trust that whoever you choose to care for your children is going to do a great job. Make sure you hire someone you feel really good about, someone you trust with your kids' safety. The details... those aren't so important. So what if the nanny's a little messy? Is she warm and loving? And will she protect your babies? That's the key. Like anything else, you will get used to leaving your kids with others. It's hard, I know. But you will!
3. Fear of failure/lack of self-confidence. If someone asked me at what time during my life did I have the least self-esteem and self-worth, it was when I was a stay-at-home mom. I have nothing against women who stay home, but it is a thankless job in which you get zero recognition or money, and because of that, you don't take as much pride in what you do. So, when you land a job, you might think, "I hope I can do it. What if I can't, and I get fired?!" It's really, really scary, but you will be great! Trust me! I remember getting a job one time and calling my sister and saying, "I just got hired for this job, and I have no clue what I will be doing. What if I can't do it?" My sister started laughing and said, "you'll figure it out" and that's exactly what happened.
4. Fear of lifestyle change, in general. Everyone fears change, especially as we get older. That's normal. You're not going to be doing the 9 a.m. spin class anymore. You'll be doing the 6:45 p.m. spin class. You aren't going to meet your girlfriend at Starbucks at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. You are going to meet her at 1 p.m. on Sunday. You're not going to take your kids to a Monday afternoon movie, you're going to take them to a Saturday afternoon movie. It's okay. Everything still gets done. You make time for the things you need and love to do.
Embrace it, ladies!
Here is why going back to work after divorce could be the best thing for you:
I've often heard women say things like, "Because he decided to get a girlfriend and end our 20-year marriage, now I have to go back to work?! It's so unfair!" That might be true. You didn't ask for this. Or, maybe YOU were the one who left and although you are really terrified to go back to work, you think it's a better option than staying in a bad marriage. Every situation is different, but here is what happens in going back to work after divorce:
1. A dramatic increase in self-esteem. You start bringing home checks and cashing them, and watch what happens to your self-esteem! Your manager calls you into his office and tells you how well you are doing and you are on top of the world in a way you never knew you could be. It's wonderful! Your kids love you to death and they appreciate you, but they will never tell you what a great job you are doing, cooking, cleaning and caring for them. But your company sure will!
2. Your social life improves (or starts). Through work, you start meeting people. Men and women. They become your friends. You meet others through them. You are interacting all day long with adults, versus watching Baby Einstein videos and washing dishes. You might meet your co-workers out for drinks and meet new friends or even romantic interests.
In closing, I will say this. Nothing bad can ever come from going back to work after divorce! Nothing. What you think might be a curse can turn out to be an opportunity for you to grab a life you absolutely love!!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!