This post is brought to you by Moms Magazine.
Though I lost my job 10 months ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. When my boss called me into her office to deliver the bad news, I was totally blindsided. My first thought was, “How could this happen to me?” – immediately followed by, “How will my husband and I afford to take care of the baby with one less salary?”
Having seen my single, kid-free friends go through layoffs, I feel confident in saying getting fired is much more complicated for a mom than it is for people who don’t have kids. Though it may not feel that way at first, there is life after a layoff – and, believe it or not, there are positive aspects. If you ever find yourself in my shoes, here’s my best advice on seeing the setback as an opportunity.
- Don’t dwell on the experience. Yes, it’s totally natural to be reeling from a layoff, especially if the ax fell on you unexpectedly. It may take you a few days, or even a few weeks, to process your feelings, but stay positive and focus on moving forward. Don’t let negativity fester until you feel bitter.
- Embrace the prospect. Especially if you haven’t explored the job market in awhile, you might be surprised at what’s out there. Not only do you have the chance to focus your talents on a completely different career path, if you so choose, but you also have more free time to search for jobs than you did while you were working full-time and juggling all the responsibilities of motherhood.
- Don’t panic. As a worrywart, I kept myself up at night wondering what I could have done differently to avoid being let go, and fretting that I was never going to be able to find a new job. The responsibility of feeding and sheltering another human being weighed heavily on me during those sleepless nights, too. And then there was the classic worry – What if my husband loses his job, too? Yes, it’s normal to feel stressed, but there’s no profit in letting the tension build up until it’s all you can think about.
- You’ll see yourself in a new light. Being a mom is, in and of itself, a full-time job. Getting laid off is an opportunity to reevaluate your work-life balance. Sit down with your spouse and have a heart-to-heart about your career goals. Maybe, a week or two into your unemployment, you feel so reinvigorated by spending extra time with your child that you decide to drop out of the rat race and be a stay-at-home mom for awhile. Or, maybe you realize there are plenty of fulfilling jobs that not only allow you to work from home, but let you set your own schedule. My point is, you’re not solely defined by your job title – just like you’re not solely defined by motherhood.
Just like with parenthood itself, finding yourself suddenly unemployed as a mom is a balance between taking charge and playing things by ear. Having been through the experience, I’m here to tell you it’s possible to not only survive but thrive, in the aftermath of losing your job.
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