By Gladys Mae
Gladys serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute.
Parental leave is not a holiday. But, if you’re inclined, it can be a good time to do some extra learning and research. It can even be a good time to obtain some new skills and qualifications that can help you find a new work-from-home career.
As the world changes to be digital-first and almost every office around the world is now accepting of work-from-home options, careers that are a bit more family-friendly seem to be easier to come by.
It’s rare now that people have a ‘job for life’, meaning it’s much more acceptable to take stock every few years and assess whether the career you have is the right one for you and your current circumstances. Many parents use a new baby or a new stage in their child’s life as a good excuse to really analyse whether they are in the right industry or the right job.
You’re taking a break from your job to do another, much harder and much more exhausting job: parenting. While you’re deep in nappies, childcare, sleep deprivation and first steps, it’s very normal to reassess what you want out of life. Many parents out there acknowledge that a better work/life balance would make a world of difference, especially to be there for the big milestones for their kids.
Taking some online courses and starting a new career may seem like a strange thing to do when you have a brand new baby, and often skyrocketing expenses, but it’s actually a fantastic time to do so. Upskilling yourself means you’ll have the right skills or qualifications to change careers if you wish, or leverage to get what you need from your existing employer to make the return to work more enjoyable and realistic.
In saying that though, if you choose to change careers because you want more time with your family or you want to be there to pick up your child from daycare, there are plenty of options.
There are so many opportunities to have a rewarding career while still maintaining a work/life balance. In fact, the past year has shown us just how important it is to be able to focus on family and how important it is for organisations to accept remote employees.
Whether you want to be creative and work as a make-up artist, graphic designer or freelance writer, or use your skills with numbers and become a remote bookkeeper, there are many options that can be done around your family commitments. Even teaching can be done remotely if that’s an avenue you want to pursue.
Benefits to working from home include flexibility and the control to choose your own hours, your own clients and your own office. On top of this, if you find something you’re really passionate about, it’s possible that it won’t even feel like work. And finally, you’re not getting any younger, so you may as well do the job you want to do, and be happy with your situation, rather than finding your way back to the 9-5 grind and resenting your work.
Of course, it’s not just you who needs to make this decision. Rather, the decision should be made alongside any other family members who need to have a say, whether this is a partner, a parent or a family member you rely on in other ways.
For those whose family member has made the decision to take the leap and change careers, it’s crucial that your family member gets your support – physically, mentally, emotionally and at times, financially. It needs to be accepted that a career change may require more qualifications – which come at a cost – or may result in a lower base salary, or ad hoc payments due to freelance work.
Whether it’s researching opportunities for them, taking on more of the housework so they can concentrate on their studies or actually helping them study, it’s important to find out what they need from you. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your family member, express any concerns upfront and honestly so there’s no resentment, and acknowledge that they may be scared to take this leap.
At the end of the day, you are the only person who knows what is right for you and your family’s circumstances. Understanding what kind of jobs are in high demand at the moment may mean your decision is a bit easier. Remember, in-demand jobs mean more work is available. For example, project managers are always required, no matter what industry. Changes to technology automation, advances with data, and increasing AI capabilities means organisations are being pushed to new limits, which means they’re always searching for project managers to help out. Project management is also a career that can be done as a hybrid work-from-home model which is a fantastic way to earn a living as a parent.
No matter what you choose, finding the right career for your current circumstances is vital for your happiness. If that means you need to upskill yourself or obtain brand new qualifications, perhaps the time is right to make it happen.