Back to school: Not just for the kids

 

The mere thought of returning to school after an extended vacation is frightening enough for some adults to disregard the option all together. Or perhaps you’re one of the many who would jump at the chance but can’t seem to figure out how school would fit into your already overloaded schedule. 

In today’s age of technology the solution is simple: online courses.  

Online courses put the class time in your hands. They give you the flexibility necessary when scheduling car pool and class time. If you have school age children online courses let you focus on school while your children are out of the house during the day. If you’re more nocturnal you can catch up on your work after the kids are in bed. And if you’re working and going to school flexibility is just that more important. Schedule your test time after your afternoon meeting. Or, bring a lunch and do work then.  

Online courses eliminate wasted travel time. Your time is valuable. And if your closest campus isn’t just around the corner the time spent driving to and from school is time lost. If you travel frequently for your job it would be impossible to keep up with classes. But with online courses all you need is an internet connection.  

Online courses give adults the opportunity to become more tech-savvy. If you’re intimidated by the idea of communicating with your professors and classmates solely through the internet then chances are your eight year old is still turning on the computer for you. Once you familiarize yourself with the basics, the time needed to comprehend new software and online resources will be cut in half. Then you can give your kids a few pointers.  

And that’s just the beginning. Most instructors update the online calendar frequently making it easy to anticipate upcoming assignments and tests and even finish them ahead of schedule giving you even more free time. And by making your home office your new classroom you can even go to class in your pajamas. Just like the old days.

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Mom’s Return to the Workforce

 

When I was a young girl I had the privilege of having a mother whose main priority and responsibility was, well, me. She dropped me off and picked me up everyday (as well as some of the neighborhood stragglers who missed the bus). I often scoffed at my classmates who brown bagged it; my lunch was constantly a gourmet feast, packed neatly into a fashionable lunch box with a matching thermos that almost always had steamy tomato soup inside. My science projects tended to shine more than others…mostly due to my mother’s contributions. And, of course all of my papers and presentations were neatly bound and laminated. Every week night, regardless of after school activities, we would all sit down for a family dinner prepared by – you guessed it – mom.  

But then I turned thirteen and high school was quickly approaching. My life was about to change – drastically. My mother was becoming increasingly bored and right about the time I was planning my courses for high school she was planning on going back to work.  

At first I was shocked. I knew I was at the point where I was too cool for the parent drop-off, but those lunches? And who would make dinner every night? (Food, obviously, is high on my list of priorities.) It never occurred to me how stifling it was for her to stay home all day.  

Going back to work after an extended sabbatical can be tough on anyone. For stay at home moms the process can be extremely daunting and exhausting. First things first: get on the same page as your family. Talk to your spouse and allow him to voice his concerns about your return to the workforce. Is he available to run some of the mom-type errands if you need to stay late at work? Are his barbeque skills up to par in the event you can’t have dinner ready? Next talk to your kids and tell them how it will affect them. If they are still young it is important to let them know your schedule and how frequently you will be around when they get home from school.  

Now it is time to address that pesky employment gap in your résumé. Luckily you aren’t required to organize your résumé in a time line. Rather, organize it by the types of positions you’ve held in the past. But if, and when, the gap is addressed don’t get defensive about the time you’ve spent at home. Instead try and emphasize what types of activities you were engaged with outside of your home. Were you active in the PTA or your home owner’s association? What about time you spent coaching your daughter’s softball team? These are contributions to the community and will never weigh against you when interviewing.  

The most important thing to remember when returning to your chosen field is that you weren’t unemployed in the first place – you were raising a family and shaping lives. Your new employer isn’t doing you a favor by offering you a job. You have all the necessary skills to be a contributing asset to your new company. You might just have to dust them off a little.