I’m a manager, with a team of two. My job is challenging, and requires that I plan in advance and roll with the punches. There are some excellent networking opportunities, if I select the right settings, and introduce myself to like-minded managers. The highs are exhilarating, but the lows can be crushing. Like many difficult jobs, it’s worth the grind.
My role includes, but is not limited to, the following knowledge and skills:
A typical workday can look a lot like this:
I’m a work-at-home (WAH) parent. Note: I did not say “stay-at-home-mom” because its time to vigorously shake off that label, Taylor Swift–style.
Being a WAH parent is a tough gig – like, really, tough – but great work if you can get it.
In recent years, the WAH parenting movement has started an important conversation about the value – economic and societal – of the work that parents do. Is it “worth” something? Can we quantify it? Should WAH parents earn a salary? What are they worth, in dollars? Is it “worth” being at home to raise your kids, given the barriers to work re-entry?
In 2011, Forbes calculated that a “stay-at-home mom” should earn an $115,000 US salary, based on the job description and number of hours worked, weekly. In 2016 terms, that’s $122,819.24 US. That’s a pretty sweet job offer.
Forbes also had the stones to say “moms” and not “parents” because, by and large, women do the vast majority of unpaid work at home. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said so, in this 2016 article by Forbes:
However, paying WAH mothers isn’t the answer. Nope. Aside from the moral and ethical quagmire of paying for the room in your wombTM, paying WAH moms is not a valid solution because, by definition, your kiddies grow. Suddenly, you’ve been made redundant; you have been laid off. Pink slip! And there you are. Just you. Solo…with no “skills and knowledge” to show for your years of child rearing.
By worldly standards, you have no recent resume, just a time-gap to prove that you have, as many employers would label it, “taken a break” from work to raise your kids. [Rolled my eyes so hard that I actually fell over]
“Taking a break” to raise your kids just isn’t a thing. In fact, you’ve likely worked harder, with longer hours, and higher stakes, than ever before. You have new, and stronger, skills and knowledge than you did before becoming a parent. You are entitled to communicate that to your prospective employers, right?
These harsh numbers shine a spotlight on the issue of workforce reentry: 43% of women who have kids eventually leave their jobs. Facebook’s Cheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, wrote that:
“Only 74% of professional women will rejoin the workforce in any capacity, and 40% will return to full time jobs.”
Mothers who take time out of the workforce face barriers to re-entry. The resume gap is, clearly, a contributing factor.
Populating your resume with the facts may just be the right approach. The truth is your best asset: you were a badass, multitasking, mom for the last decade and you’ve got some serious skills and the thriving – human – results of your accomplishments. You need to add your parenting years, the time you were out of the traditional workforce, to your resume.
Other than being entitled to recognition for your time served, what’s the best reason to put parenting on your resume? Malcolm Gladwell gave us the sell for something called “The Tipping Point” in his 2000 book, by the same name:
“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
- Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
If each of us, all of us, WAH parents added “parenting” to our list of resume skills, could we tip the scales in order to elevate the work we do? Could we legitimize – in the workplace - the time spent feeding, caring for, teaching, nurturing, disciplining, and raising our children?
At the very least, we could start a conversation - at the very best, a revolution.
So, the next time you’re preparing a curriculum vitae to re-enter paid work, put your parenting experience right in there in the “work experience” section. If you’ve got the courage to do it, tell me how it goes. I want to share your stories so, together, we can create the conditions for a much-needed tipping point.