7 tips for staying relevant while a stay-at-home mom

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Working Mom

because-I-said-so-blueUtah seems to be the place for stay-at-home moms. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah is tied with Arizona for the highest percentage of stay-at-home moms. Your stance on the mommy wars aside, many stay-at-home moms plan on going back to work at some point. Maybe you’re waiting until that last baby is 3 years old or until your youngest is in junior high.

No matter your employment status, it pays to keep a pulse on the professional world while you’re working overtime at home. Keep these seven tips in mind for your eventual return to the paid workforce:

1. Keep a professional outfit on hand

You never know when an irresistible opportunity will present itself, and it’s nice to feel like you’ve got at least one nice outfit ready to go. Plus you can gaze at it longingly on days when you’re wearing a T-shirt smeared with peanut butter.

2. Ready your resume once a year

Block out time once a year to update your resume. Add volunteer experience, freelance work and professional training. It’s always good to have a resume on hand, plus it can help you recognize areas that need improvement. Maybe you’re volunteering with your kids’ school but haven’t done any professional development in years. Use the opportunity to assess what you could do to improve your resume.

3. Join a professional organization

It’s a good idea to join at least one professional organization to stay informed with industry changes and connect with like-minded people. You’ll pay a fee to join — typically $100 or less — but it’s worth it to keep one foot in the professional world while otherwise immersed in parenthood.

4. Maintain a LinkedIn profile

Create a LinkedIn people complete with photo. Your profile doesn’t need to be length but make sure it’s accurate. Update your experience and credentials every year — that’s also good time to update your photo. It isn’t necessary to share your status or add posts frequently, but try to respond to any personal messages or job offers you may get, regardless of your current interest.

5. Keep reading

Fuel your curiosity and creativity by reading as often as you can — even if it’s only for three minutes before you zonk out at night. No matter your field, it helps to keep the inquisitive parts of your brain sharp. Plus, it’s nice to feel like you can offer insights during an adult conversation that doesn’t have to do with potty training or picky eaters. If you need recommendations, ask a bookworm friend or start a neighborhood book club.

6. Be smart online

Put your best foot forward online, even when you’re posting in a blog or forum you think is private. Many a career or future career has been wrecked by a thoughtless tweet or post. You never know when an offhand comment you make online will catapult you into the national spotlight. Seriously. Most potential employers will cruise your social media when considering you for a job. That doesn’t mean you can’t post pictures of your messy kitchen on Instagram, but think twice before you launch into a political, social or other hot-button rant.

7. Don’t stop dreaming

Take an occasional break from the beautiful grind of parenthood to think about what your ideal future job looks like. Are you working for yourself or for someone else? Dressing up for the office or working from home in your yoga pants? Try to slowly steer toward those goals. Embrace the time and season you’re in, but don’t forget to plan for the future.

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Natalie Hollingshead is a former magazine editor turned freelance writer and editor. She writes regularly about home, family, food and travel for a handful of publications, and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking” (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Elyssa Andrus. A native of Alberta, Canada, Natalie lives in Orem with her husband and their three children.

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