Going back to work after a long hiatus

Hey Brooke,

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for about 17 years. I want to go back to work because I am ambitious and I want to feel proud of myself. We could also use the extra money, because teenagers are expensive and college is right around the corner. I haven’t started looking yet, because there’s some conflicting thoughts that are keeping me from feeling totally committed that I want to sort out first.

1) My father, who lives nearby, is an invalid (he has 24-hour care) and frequently has emergency visits to the hospital. His caretaker calls me at least 1-2 times a month with the latest emergency. If I go back to work, I will not be able to be available for emergencies.

2) My daughter has some immunity issues we’ve been trying to deal with, and she’s frequently out of school sick. She’s old enough to stay home by herself, but has a lot of doctor visits to try and get to the bottom of her issues (of course these are during the day when I would be at work if I had a job). She’s also heavily involved in dance classes and a performance company, which requires some time from us to fundraise and volunteer.

3) My husband is worried that things will “fall apart” around the house. My solution for this is to use part of my new salary to hire a housekeeper. But that will still leave grocery shopping, meal prep, daily cleanup and laundry for us to do.

4) I am worried that I will not have the time to exercise as I do now, and I will gain weight. Currently I walk daily and do 30-45 minutes of yoga or toning exercises.

5) I am concerned that I will not have much vacation time and we will not be able to take the kind of trips we have grown fond of.

6) I am worried that it will feel like “too much” after a while. I know that in the beginning, a new job will feel exciting, but that may wear off and I may feel more pressure to perform than I have in a long time.

7) I am worried that such a big gap in my resume will make it hard to find a job and that I will grow discouraged and depressed if no one is interested in hiring me. I have a Master’s degree, and I’m willing to start in a lower-paying position just to get experience, but I don’t want to be a mid-40’s women working in an entry-level position surrounded by 20-somethings.

So I guess all these (except #7) tie into a question of having enough time and energy to add a full-time career. I know there are millions of women who work full-time and do all of the above, so it is possible. I think that I’ve grown really comfortable having loads of free time, and I know I’m really inefficient with my time and I waste a lot of time. Working full-time is going to be one hell of a change for me. It’s also going to be a transition for my husband, who is used to me taking care of a lot of things he never even thinks about.

I want to feel determined and excited and like this is going to be the greatest thing to happen in a long time, but I’m not quite there yet, due to #1 through #7 above. What do I need to shift to get into action and get that job? Thanks!