Google+ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas: I Am A Stay-at-Home Mom, I Am NOT Unemployed

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Am A Stay-at-Home Mom, I Am NOT Unemployed


(clipart from counterintuity.com)

I have been updating my resume, getting my teaching certificate in order and thinking about where to apply for a teaching position for the coming school year. I am also a nervous wreck. Why? Technically, I have been unemployed for almost 5 years. What will that do to my chances of finding a job? The teaching situation here in Fl, isn't the greatest. Lots of teachers are unemployed - because of budget cuts. I was unemployed by choice.

5 years ago, my husband and I made a choice. A choice I am proud of. A choice I feel grateful for being able to make. A choice I feel blessed to have been able to make.  I chose to take some time off teaching and focus on my children. I chose to be a stay-at-home Mom

Just because I am a stay-a-home mom does not mean I am not a teacher. I am still very active as a teacher. My intended audience has just been smaller, my own two children. I still sit and lesson plan weekly, even if it's not formally and no one is checking my plan book. In our home everyday brings a new exploration, experience and opportunity to learn. I do not leave the "teaching" to be done at school. The most important learning, especially with young children like mine - happens in the home. I know that. I live that. I am my child's first teacher.

So you see, I never stopped being a teacher. On the contrary, I think I am a better teacher today than I was 5 years ago. Why? I now know what it feels like to be a parent, to be on the other side of the situation. I know that I want the best for my children and I understand better now, all those parents who were relentless. I get it.

I have also had time to explore, get creative and focus on making learning fun. I didn't have the pressure of adhering to state standards at home. This was "extra". We could do what we wanted, how we wanted. Most importantly, we simply had fun. It actually invigorated me again with teaching. It brought that sense of joy back that I had when I first started. That feeling that you can do it all, that you can make a difference and that it can all be fun too. I feel that again.

I have a lot to offer. I have been busy (this blog shows some of that). Yet, my resume is blank for the last 5 years - no "real" work experience to add to make me stand out from the crowd.
I am worried about that blank gap - that period of unemployment. How will it measure up? Will it define me to possible employers? Will I be set aside?

There is so much I wish I could write, where that blank space is. That blank space is not a true representation of my life and my accomplishments as a stay-at-home mom. That blank space is actually where my biggest accomplishments are. It is the period in my life I am most proud of. That blank space holds so much joy, so many memories I was blessed to experience first-hand on a daily basis.

That blank space is my family. I may be a stay-at-home mom but I am not unemployed. I have the most important job in the world - I am a mom, I am a parent. I have spent the last 5 years loving and encouraging my daughters. Caring for them, playing with them and teaching them. I taught them how to dress themselves, how to share and play nicely with others. I taught my daughters their ABC's. I taught them how to write. I taught them their shapes, numbers, colors and so much more. These days, I am teaching them how to read, how to add and subtract, how to tie their shoes. I help them learn to be good people, to be caring people. I have taught them to question, to have a thirst for knowledge. I am a mom, I am a teacher.

I just wish everyone else would see all that in the space where I am forced to write unemployed/stay-at-home mom.


Bern

39 comments:

  1. Brilliant post. I really need this. I've been a SAHM for two years and just contemplating going back to work, it will only be a few days a month as a supply teacher (not sure what this is calle din the US - cover teacher?) but it's terrifying. Having 30 children compared to 3. Love the way you say being a SAHM has made you a better teacher. I think you're right. Thanks for giving me a bit of a confidence boost.

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    1. I am so glad that you feel more confident after reading this. I really do feel that I have so much more to offer now. I hope someone out there sees it too when my resume comes across their desk.

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    2. I think that you should re-write this blog post into your cover letter. I stayed home with my boys for 5 years and then went back into the workforce. I loved the time that I had with them. I am now a business owner, and one of my best employees was a stay-at-home mom before coming on board with me. Not all prospective employers will see your "unemployment" as a bad thing. Just make what seems like a "negative" on your resume into something positive. :)

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  2. You should add Professional Blogger to the list and remove unemployed =)

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    1. Ah, if only I made some money to back that up! :)

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  3. I completly get this I think we are lucky in the UK as the TTA (Teacher Training Agency) run courses for returning to teaching and most councils support mums and dads that return to teaching make a smooth transition but having that (what will be 7 years) without on my applications does worry me - what have I got to show for it on a piece of paper I can't take in J and T to an interview and say this is what I have spent my last 7 years teaching

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  4. I too was a teacher before becoming a "teacher mom". It truly has been the biggest accomplishment in my life, and I love it! Well said, Bern.

    ... and I whole-heartedly agree that professional blogger should be included on that resume!

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  5. I absolutely love this. I just notified my school after my 2 years of child-rearing leave that I will not be returning to my teaching job in the fall. I'm so thrilled to have the opportunity to stay home with my children, and feel very much the same way you do. I'm still very much a teacher, only now I just have 2 students instead of 90. And I, too, agree that being a parent is making me a better teacher for all of the reasons you mentioned above. As parents, we are our children's most valuable teachers, and I wouldn't want to miss this for the world. I'm incredibly fortunate to be in a position to stay home with them, and love the fact that my husband (who is also a teacher) appreciates the value of my staying home as much as I do. I plan on returning to the classroom when both my kids are in school, and know that five years from now my resume will likely look just like yours. While there isn't space for your most significant occupation to date (motherhood) on your resume, I would think you could certainly share what you've been doing and some of your thoughts above in a cover letter. In my opinion, any educator worth working for would see this as an asset and appreciate your recent work for all that it is worth. Best of luck to you! Any classroom of children would be lucky to have you as a teacher :)

    ~ Lauren from 365 Great Children's Books

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  6. Definitely identify with this post! And in some ways, blogging helps me remember how many skills I use as a professional stay-at-home mom =)

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  7. Bern - this sums it up perfectly - from your post: "I may be a stay-at-home mom but I am not unemployed. I have the most important job in the world - I am a mom, I am a parent." The early years are so important in child development and the nurturing children receive will last them throughout their lifetime. I think you are an outstanding mother - just look who's top Teacher/Mom Award on Circle of Moms!

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  8. Great post, but I don't think you need to have a blank space. You have a job, a title and a description. You can include what you have been doing, no rules say you can't right? It may even give you a one up on other candidates. Sometime showing the confidence and owning it speaks louder than all that other technical stuff. A teacher who is ALSO a mom is A+ in my books! Good luck!!

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    1. thank you, I have much to think about as far as my resume but one thing I do know - I may not get paid for what I do but it is a fulfilling job & I wouldn't trade a moment. :)

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  9. Excellent Post! Correction: You have had a much larger audience than your 2 daughters and you've been impacting more people than you would have teaching in a classroom for 5 years. I would bring a copy of this post to interviews and bring a physical copy of your blog or a laptop to show administrators all the work you have done. It is impressive and there is no reason they shouldn't think it is either. You are a great Teacher/Mom/ Blogger and on your resume you can put that you maintained a blog for (___years) that dealt with education/creativity/and more!

    If you haven't printed your blog, here is great place that I used: http://blog2print.sharedbook.com/blogworld/printmyblog/index.html

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    1. Thank you for this link. I do want a copy of the blog. I think it would make a great portfolio of sorts of what I have been doing while I have been away from the "professional" teaching world.

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    2. That was going to be my suggestion too. And like many of the others in the comments, I applaud you for taking the time to teach your own children at home.

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  10. I agree with Melissa. This should be attached to your resume. Being an active stay at home mother (meaning being actively involved with your children) is a huge and underrated job. It really is the most important and one of the toughest, yet most rewarding jobs there is. You have had more influence on your children (and your readers) than you realize.

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    1. Thank you so much Brooke. My greatest hope is that the girls will look back on this time fondly, I know I always will.

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  11. I totally agree with Melissa! 100%! Also, many of the PTA officers in our area absolutely use it on their resumes and I've heard that that kind of experience is held in great regard so think about your total role in the last 5 years - I bet you will have a lot to offer! Best wishes!

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  12. Put in stats just as you would for any blogging opportunity too. Very impressive! Even use other bloggers as references. Readers comments in your portfolio.

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    1. Some wonderful ideas. I really have to think about how I want to present all this, but I do agree that it should be part of it somehow. This showcases who I am & what I do so much more than bulleted points of my duties at a job, ever can.

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  13. You are definitely still a teacher! A very good one at that. The learning experiences and crafts you do with your lil divas are outstanding! They are lucky to have such a wonderful mom/teacher!

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  14. This is so good Bern!! Having also been on both sides of the spectrum, I echo your sentiment that parents are a child's first teacher. We set the pace as to what their character will be like and what learning will be to them -is it a laborious task or is it fun? I love this so much because I also get really sick of people implying to me that "I don't do anything." I teach for 2 hours a day, yes, but the rest of the day is not a piece of cake nor is it a time for me to relax and do nothing because I'm home. I also plan out our days like you said to make sure that my little ones have time for learning and creativity. Sorry for the long comment but so much to say about this topic. Thanks for posting :) And I agree with all the comments here... you should include in your resume not only a teacher but also author :)

    ~MiaB

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  15. Very nice post! How about putting homeschool teacher instead of unemployed? It's what you did, teach them at home :)

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  16. You've been doing one of the most important jobs on earth. It's time the "work" world realized that. Wishing you lots of luck in your job search. P.S.- I don't consider running a blog unemployed either, it should help you.

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  17. Hmmm... we are in very similar situations! Here is NOT good for teachers. Performance pay in the high achieving schools, punishments of more in-services, less prep time, lower pay and more in underserved schools, loss of recess, music and the arts... I could go on and on about the FL schools in our districts. I would not write homeschool teacher on your resume because districts do not like that termonology here, but have you considered just writing educator and listing the things you have done in the same format? My resume works that way and I just write the dates and city of where it is? Just a thought. Good luck!

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  18. As a career counselor to education majors, I don't think that you should have a blank space. You should call your SHAM experience Family manager and outline your education related successes. I would highly suggest adding your blog; it does not have to earn money to count as experience (think of your student teaching). You can include information on how you would use this skill in your classroom in a cover letter. Good Luck.

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  19. I know you will make it finding a job. I believe in you my friend.
    Love to you and what a SUPER post!!

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  20. I'm not sure I agree w/ the other comments. Though I am sure you taught (and continue to teach) your children much...you are unemployed. This doesn't mean you have been involved in less valuable activities/behavior, but it does mean you have not have a JOB for pay with the same general employment expectations as someone who is employed. I am looking at this way, if I clean my home everyday...does it make me a maid? If I pray with my child and lead him in faith based activity...does it make me a preacher? Employed teachers must do so much more than teach...communicate with administration, report to a supervisor, work with parents, attend training sessions, etc. Again, I am sure you have brought fulfillment to your family as a SAHM...but you have not been EMPLOYED.

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    1. I do understand your point-of-view, but at most I think you missed the point of the post. I believe the writer wishes that she can be as valued and just as respected as one who has held an employment for the last five years of her life.

      "I just wish everyone else would see all that in the space where I am forced to write unemployed/stay-at-home mom." Although it is clear to her that she has not been a paid employee, she feels that the time she choose to not be apart of a payroll was for the betterment of her family and beliefs and wishes to be respected as such.

      What makes the writer a passionate teacher is that she shared her love and joy of teaching with her children- which is something that not every parent does or can do. Although she has not been apart of parent-teacher conferences, long hours of training sessions, attendance and reporting- she still has been practicing the core of an educator- teaching.

      Furthermore, I applaud Bern for her decision to take time away from her PAID position. Best of luck to you!

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    2. I totally disagree with Anonymous too.

      I am "at home". Like Bern, I blog. I regard myself as self employed. I earn money through the blog. I do a tax return. Therefore I work.

      Period.

      Whether Bern is earning money right now or not I do not know, this website is an amazing resource that could easily be capitalised financially. And like any start up business will tell you, you have to invest time and effort into your business before you see returns.

      I know Berns, decision to "remain at home", as not been to do with making her teaching and blogging a business, but that doesn't change the fact that it is. The time spent on her this site - all the prepping, planning, executing, writing up and marketing will be a fabulous addition to any CV.

      Go Bern you are doing an amazing job!

      Maggy

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  21. Great post. I think you SHOULD write something in that five year gap. Treat raising your kids as a job, and do the usual resume spiel - include the roles you had, the experiences you gained, the high points you achieved. Exactly the same as you would for a volunteer position or a job out of your usual career path.

    I'm a soldier, but I became a better one by raising my kids at home!

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  22. I feel your situation all too well. Even now I am looking for a part-time something and feel that being a stay-at-home mom for the last few years dampers my chances to find a "qualified" part-time non-teaching position. Let me tell you girl- no one can multi-task (or complete tasks in a timely matter), run errands, be a general surgeon, a teacher, a lawyer, or CEO like a mother can. I often feel so frustrated in a world that a lot of parents work I choose not to because we decided it would be better. However, I am always drawn between wanting the best of both worlds!

    Good luck looking for a teaching position- I didn't realize Florida was as bad as NY!

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  23. It is disheartening when it seems like you are only valued because of a paycheck. Once upon a time hard work was valued, whether someone paid you money for it or not.

    In the five years since you've brought in a paycheck, you've been a caretaker, teacher, and writer. You've created hundreds and hundreds of crafts and learning activities. You're organized, creative, and motivating. There are 1500+ people that find you influential enough to see what you have to say. Unfortunately, some people will dismiss that because no one wrote you a check for your hard work. I think all the work you've done in the past five years should be added to your resume... it's definitely experience that would help you out in a teaching position!

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  24. Heartfelt post, Bern. There is absolutely no reason they should not be able to see how much experience you've gained over the years being a parent-teacher, being a writer and advocate of creative, hands-on learning.
    I agree with so many here - that you should print your blog out as a portfolio of your invaluable work.
    Great post... :)

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  25. Ditto! I have been sending my resume to companies for part time or work-from-home opportunities and each time I stare at the years of SAHM-hood I sigh. It has been even more difficult and more enlightening than the years when I worked in a corporate world... but there's no way I could write that all down. In fact I'm in a current phase of torn between sending my girl to school or homeschooling her... Choices Choices...

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  26. I am new to your blog but I love this post!! I taught elementary for 5 years before deciding to stay home once I had kids. I have been out of the public school system for 8 years now.

    I now home school 2 out of 3 of my girls and have learned more about teaching these last few years than I did in the school system. I feel like I am a much better teacher too! I love being "unemployed by choice!"

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  27. Great post! I have stayed home for the past 5 1/2 years. I left teaching to be with my son. I have worked 2 days a week at a MDO/preschool because I was afraid of the "unemployment gap" with staying home. I tried to get back into elementary teaching last year, but the districts close to where I live let go over 1000 thousand teachers for the 2011-2012 school year. I put my application in again just a couple of weeks ago, but there are so many unemployed teachers around it worries me. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it works out.

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  28. Fantastic Post! I plan on homeschooling my boys but these thoughts have crossed my mind too in the case I had to go back to work - could I really get a teaching job again? Thanks for sharing this!

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