Life change? Suggestions on getting back in the groove.

After 15 years as an at-home mom, her husband announced he wanted a divorce, and she’d need to fend for herself after a few years of financial transition support.

This is a scenario I’ve heard many times, as displaced homemakers (DHs for short) tell me their situations.  In a conversation with a DH last week, this is what we discussed:

She was feeling overwhelmed at having to choose a career focus that she’d a) enjoy, and b) be able to do, and c) would support her desired lifestyle. As she described, “I’ve been out of the workforce for 18 years. I don’t know what I like or what the market needs. I don’t want to undersell my abilities, but I also don’t know what I have to offer anymore.” Yes, overwhelming.

Her initial career exploration involved interviewing workers in a number of specialties. While that provided some information, she still felt unsure of how to choose a path. I recommended that rather than try to make a huge decision with limited information, that she instead make a series of small decisions to gather more data. One strategy is to work in short-term assignments through employment agencies. This DH could have an agency evaluate her current skills and offer opportunities to get back into the workforce in tiny doses. If an assignment doesn’t work out—for either the DH or the company—no big deal. The agency can remove her and offer another.

The DH was also nervous about her computer skills. I suggested that she try her hand at some tutorials on a website like In the cocoon of her home, the DH could work on building her acumen and confidence.

Finally, I shared my own experience about getting back into the workforce after a 2-year hiatus while I was in grad school. I described feeling that there was no way I’d be able to perform and succeed after the break. But within just a week of starting a new job, I felt back in the groove again, and it’s likely that she would, too.


Photo Credit: © Nikola Hristovski | Dreamstime Stock Photos