Part 1: Becoming a SAHD and Facing the Resume Gap: tough decisions ahead

I recently was contacted by one of my readers asking for some advice and insight on the decision to become a stay at home dad and re-entering the workforce after years of full-time parenting. These concerns cross both stay at home dads and stay at home moms alike. The dreaded “resume gap” can instantly send your resume to the circular file. There really are no right or wrong answers to his questions, nor are there any easy solutions to the resume gap. However, there are some things you can do to help. Below is the email from my reader and my response. Any comments or added insights are always welcome!

Hi Chuck, thanks for the time you spend on the blog. As a Dad whom may soon become a stay-at-home dad, I’ve been doing a little research and your blog has been quite helpful. I hope you wont mind me asking a question….

I assume you have communicated with a number of stay at home dads and of course you have your own experience to speak from, my question is do most stay at home dads go back to work after the kids have reached a certain age? What age is this typically? Also, I’m a little concerned about my ability to get a job once our kids have reached this age. Even with decent skills and education, getting a job after a 15 or so years out of the workforce does not make for an attractivce [sic] resume.

I know being a sahd keeps you busy so I’ll understand if you don’t have much time to respond. However, it could be a good blog post!

Jonathan

Hi Jonathan,
Thanks so much for reading my blog! Your questions and concerns are very valid. I think everyone, mom or dad, has the same questions. My wife and I chose to have one of us stay home within the first weeks of our son going to daycare. We never saw him! We’d wake up, my wife would take him to daycare, we’d go to work, I’d pick him up, eat dinner and then it was his bedtime. We had about 3 hours a day of contact time. That was not good! Since my wife was making more money, the decision for me to stay home was made, we adjusted our budget, and here we are.

I suppose answering your question on filling the “resume gap” depends on your current career. I was a former science teacher and more recently a marketing professional. Once I started staying home, I would pick up a few small consulting jobs (3-5 hours/week) to stay current. The jobs were sporadic, but it let me put current dates on my resume. I still do some marketing consulting when it comes along. I also volunteer at my son’s schools as a “guest” science teacher. So these things can fill the resume gap. Of course it is not full-time, so when I do go back to work, I expect to take a pay-cut and a lower level position from when I left, with the knowledge and confidence that I will move up quickly once the cobwebs clear.

Right now my son is 6, and in Kindergarten. I have been entertaining the idea of a part-time job during the hours that he is in school. The problem with that is – what do I do in the Summer, during holiday breaks, teacher work days, when he is sick etc… So the job would have to be extremely flexible, temporary or seasonal.

For now, we are enjoying the freedom we have on weekends for family time, since I get all of the errands, chores, etc. done during the week. It give my wife a full weekend of fun with our son and the flexibility to do what we want.

Ideally, I do some teaching or teacher assistant work at my son’s school, that way I am off when he is off. Of course my teaching experience helps with that.

As for what age, I am not sure even high school age will work. It depends on how involved you want to be in your child’s life. I am thinking he will want someone there at his sport events or after school activities for support. He will need transportation from these events, so a full-time job from now until he is out of high school is pretty much out of the questions for me. Once he graduates, I will be 52 years old. I am not sure who will take me on at that age for a professional position. Since I will not have worked for 20 years, I can’t plan on any Social Security (if any of us at our age can anyway- working or not!). There is always retail – I am handy and can work at The Home Depot or Lowes. My wife will hopefully be continuing to progress well in her career and provide the bulk of income for our retirement savings.

Bottom line, anything can happen – my wife could lose her job, or worse, get sick to the point she can’t work. I could go back to work, but will be far less that what her current salary is. With one person working, there is no safety net of a second income (other than some savings socked away – but most people don’t have more than 6 months of savings to cover job loss) It is a huge pool of uncertainly, but you have to take a leap of faith that all will work out. If not, your move on and figure out the next step. Between my wife an I, we can work together to make anything work to raise our son the best we can. There are always contingencies – some may be harsh, such as downsizing a home, loans, second mortgages, etc…but you do what you have to do.

I hope this offers some insight into your concerns. Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

Kind regards and good luck in your decision!
Chuck