There was an interesting article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal by Sue Shellenbarger about Stay-At-Home-Dads. The article, "Daunting Task for Mr. Mom: Get A Job", discussed the issues that dads face after devoting time to being the full-time parent when they return to the workforce.
I enjoyed the article and I always read about this topic (Stay-At-Home-Dads) with interest, as I was at home with my oldest daughter for two years when she was a baby (she is now 13). My wife was promoted to a job she had desired, and we made the choice together that I say home for two years. 13 years ago being the dad at home with the kids was like being from Mars, compared to today. It was very rare.
The point that is always ignored in stories like this about moms or dads who stay home is the importance of networking.
Granted, I say this as I have written several books on networking.... but in this case it was my life line. For the entire two years I was at home I scheduled one lunch and one breakfast appointment with people from my business community. I knew that the transition back to work would come one day, and feared that "out of sight" was "out of mind".
Originally I took the kid with me to these meetings. She was an easy baby, and thus was happy and quiet in restaurants. When she became mobile (and could no longer be contained during a meeting), I would trade babysitting with neighboring Stay-At-Home-Moms (there were NO other dads). They would watch my kid for these short meetings, and I would watch theirs while they went on other errands.
The power of networking was evident two years later when I went to find a job, as I had several opportunities and nobody had an issue with my two years at home. It was well known and understood in the business community that I had taken this detour from my career, and that I was proud of my decision.
Unlike the men in the WSJ story, it was a badge of honor. I had several companies that were interested in having me join their team.
11 years later this is the high point of my work history. I always positioned it as a positive for my career and I never was a stranger in the business community. I showed up at networking events, kept in touch with key influencers and served on the board of local business groups.
Moms suffer from this issue, too. They disappear for years and then cannot figure out why they have troubles going back to the work world. You need to keep your connections alive, show up at industry events, and never let you time at home be anything other than a positive career experience.
I still tell people that after taking care of a kid full-time for two years, there is no boss in the world I would ever find to be difficult!.
Have A Great Day.