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going back to work after 20 years? how was your experience?


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I still have kids at home that I am homeschooling, so am now working while homeschooling. It's not that any of the "jobs" that I do is very difficult at this point, it's just that I am often doing more than one of them at a time. This week, we had the flu. So I am doubling up on dishes, laundry, doing staff meetings, running kids, tutoring and oh, yeah, my job (from home). Multi-tasking is often my biggest stressor. 


I did get really creative with my resume and listed volunteer (bringing TeenPact to our state) and bartering (blog reviews for curriculum) as "jobs." 

The adjustment? It's different. I like working. I don't like doing so many things at once. We run a very different homeschool than we did when we had more kids at home  and I was homeschooling full time.  

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I started back part-time after 16 years of homeschooling with a very part-time, work-at-home job tutoring online. When my son enrolled in college full-time the following year, I kept the online tutoring and got a second part-time job teaching at one of those strip-mall study skills/exam prep centers. Since that point, I've added and dropped other temporary and/or part-time jobs. My son is going to college about 90 minutes from here, and we see him fairly regularly for weekends home and to attend his on-campus performances. (He's a dual major in musical theatre and dance.) So, I've been trying to find the best way to make a reasonable amount of money and begin building some kind of "encore" career while still maintaining some flexibility in scheduling. 


However, after almost two years of stressing about juggling the assorted schedules and living by the various alarms I have to set on my phone to make sure I don't forget to show up for work and realizing that none of the jobs I do now has any potential for long-term career advancement, I'm in the process of figuring out the next step.


Because I moved directly from homeschooling/running a busy teenager all over town to working two part-time jobs and being available to two young adults while they adjust to the next steps in their lives, I didn't notice until recently how much I hate not having enough to do. The last month, since I quit substitute teaching and have found my hours at the tutoring center pretty sparse (because enrollment is down), I've had a lot of time to figure out that I like to work. I like to feel like I have things to do when I get up in the morning, like people are depending on me for some reason, like it makes a difference whether I'm up and around and doing something. 


So, I'm job hunting at the moment, looking for something that offers more hours on a more consistent schedule, a little more money and some hope of some kind of long-term career path.


I guess I'm still managing the adjustment. It remains to be seen how that goes.


What I wish I had thought out -- after I had to scramble last week to come up with a couple of names to give as references -- is assembling some kind of network of professional contacts. I did a lot of volunteering during my full-time mommying years, but for a variety of reasons never really kept in contact with any of the people I worked with. I created a LinkedIn profile, but I have all of five contacts at the moment and no real leads on how to expand that network.


I also wish I hadn't decided to let my student loan default go on so long. I had a major financial meltdown in the early years after I graduated from college and couldn't keep up with the student loan payments. I tried a couple of times over the years to get back on track, but didn't manage to do so. It didn't seem like a pressing issue while I was home raising kids, since I wasn't "using" my degree anyway. However, the university is now withholding my transcripts until I get the loan out of default, which means I'm somewhat limited in terms of the kinds of jobs I can apply for. I can prove I have a degree, but since I'm focusing on jobs related to education, I'm out of the running for a lot of jobs that might otherwise be good prospects.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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