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Back to School = Back to Work

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#1 tabbs


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Posted 28 April 2008 - 12:04 PM

Your Guide to Career Planning.

Dealing With Practical Matters

Some parents decide to take a hiatus from work when their children are born. They plan to return to work when their children have all started school. Some wait a little longer, perhaps until their children are old enough to be home alone after school.

Whether you go back to work when your child is starting kindergarten, high school, or college, you'll have many decisions to make at that time. Will you work full time or part time? Who will take care of the kids after school, on school holidays, half-days, or if they get sick? If your child gets sick or hurt in school who will pick him up? Will you go back to the career you left X number of years ago? If not, what career will you choose? Will you want to or need to go back to school?

These are big questions with answers that require serious and careful consideration. Whether you decide to work full time or part time is a very personal decision, similar to the one you made about staying home in the first place. You and your family must make the decision based on the needs of everyone involved. You may decide that working only during school hours or when your spouse is available is your best choice. You may decide to jump right in and work full time. Then you have to consider afterschool childcare. You can hire a private babysitter or enroll your child in an afterschool child care program.

So now that regular school days are taken care of, you'll have to figure out what you're going to do on school holidays and half-days. Of course you can take care of those days on a case-by-case basis, but wouldn't it be nice to know what you're going to do in advance. You may be able to arrange your work schedule around your children's schedules. Maybe you have personal days you can use or maybe you can use vacation days if your new employer allows it. You may be able to make arrangements with a friend or relative.

If everything goes as planned you'll be all set. But how often does that happen? Kids get sick every now and then (more "now" it seems than "then"). Whether you know your child is sick before you leave for work or if she gets sick in school, you'll have to make some last minute arrangements. Some bosses may be cooperative and allow you to take time off. Some employers even have family sick days that give parents days off to take care of a sick child. Many employers, unfortunately, are not that flexible. When I was pregnant with my daughter I planned to return to work. When I was discussing this with one of my bosses she told me that when I returned to work I shouldn't expect any special treatment. Having neither requested nor required any special treatment in the past I asked her what she was referring to. She replied that I wouldn't be able to take time off if my child got sick. I think, unfortunately, this attitude is fairly common.

My point is this: plan for the unexpected. You can make arrangements so someone is available to take care of your sick child, which may include picking him up from school. Or, if you can't find someone to do this, make arrangements with your boss so you can do it yourself. Perhaps your boss will let you work from home or make up any time you miss because of your child's illness.

After you've considered all the practical stuff, it's time to think about where you want your career to go. Will you go back to what you were doing before or will you start anew? Let's take a look at those considerations next.