First, if you are thinking about returning to work, crunch the numbers. There are lots of reasons to go back to work like personal fulfillment, camaraderie and, of course, financial reasons. But on the financial front, you should crunch the numbers. By the time you pay for child care, work clothes, commuting costs, etc., you might not be improving your finances by as much as you think. Before you take a job you want to have an idea of how much you need to earn just to break even.
Also, look for tax breaks. A big issue for working moms is finding affordable day care. But they may have two potential tax breaks to choose from to help ease the costs. First, check to see if your employer offers a dependent care flexible spending account. Here, working parents can set aside up to $5,000 in tax-free accounts to pay for child care. Alternatively, there's something called the child and dependent care tax credit. For folks who earn more than $43,000 a year, the credit is $600 for one child; $1,200 for two or more.
A big issue for moms is how to transition back into the work force, so keep networking. The single most important thing you can do is keep in touch with former co-workers and other contacts. These are the folks who can keep you up to date on job openings. Also, be sure to maintain memberships with professional organizations, you should attend industry events every once in a while. It will keep you on the radar, which is essential.
Don't be afraid to set up a part-time consulting gig. Once you're getting closer to actually returning to the work-force, taking on some freelance work or even doing some pro-bono work is a good way to get back into the game. Lots of times women who haven't worked for a while will have to take a step or two backwards to get back in. Working part time will keep your skills current and help fill in gaps on your resume.
And lastly, educate yourself. Let's face it: having kids changes everything. You may want to go back to work, but not to the same fast-paced job you had before. You may need to find something a little more flexible. So when you're out of work, think about what you might like to do and take some time to get the training to make that happen.
by Stephanie AuWerter