How to find the right job (and leave the wrong one) now you're a parent

Kinderling News & Features

Donne Restom spent most of her child-free years building a career as a singer and performer. It was a glamorous existence, that saw her living the high life in Los Angeles; then she fell pregnant and everything changed.

Donne told The Mother Shift podcast that the year after baby son Hendrix was born, she was forced to find work which her led her, unexpectedly, into a fulltime job. The first salaried position she’d held in her life.

Initially Donne felt liberated; she loved the security of money appearing in her bank account every month and the idea that she could take paid holidays, and the occasional sick day. It was such a different reality than the creative industry she’d always known, when you never really knew when the money was coming in.

But over time, the money coming in did not outweigh the unhappiness she had begun to feel working in an environment that was not supportive. The work had started to feel like churn and burn.

How do you make the right fit when it comes to work?

Of course, you don’t have to have Donne’s creative background to understand this feeling – we’ve all experienced workplaces that simply don’t work out. But once you’re a working parent, knowing what to do in these situations is a real challenge.

Kirsty Levin is a careers counsellor and psychologist from The Parents Village. She told The Mother Shift that working parents really need to find a work environment with complementary personality types.

“So when you're interviewing for a job for example, I often say to clients, you are interviewing your future employer just as much as they are interviewing you as an employee. It's so important to trust your gut instincts when it comes to meeting those future colleagues and those future managers for example,” said Kirsty.

“If there is something that triggers you slightly, or makes you think well it's not quite right, I didn't quite gel with that person, or I don't quite get that work culture, that is potentially a red flag for you to consider in making your decision.”

How do you know when the time is right to leave a job that’s the wrong fit?

Very often it’s more likely that we need a job as opposed to wanting one, when we have mouths to feed. So how do you find the courage, when do you know if the time is right to leave a job if it's not right?

“The question that's really important to ask yourself when you're in any job is, what are the benefits it's bringing me at this point in time? How is this position serving us as a family and how is it serving me as an individual?” Kirsty told The Mother Shift.

“Is it developing me professionally, is it inspiring me, do I feel motivated? Is it sustaining me financially, for example, those are just a couple of the questions you can ask. And if the responses coming back are all sort of negative. No, it's not not fulfilling me; no, it's not motivating me; I'm having conflict at work, for example. Those are the sort of checklist items you need to start thinking about to figure out whether you need to start seeking out a new opportunity.”

Don’t wait till things get really bad!

Kirsty says parents really need to avoid ‘desperation point’ when it comes to a job that doesn’t work.

“By that stage you are so deep in a rut of negativity and lack of motivation that it's very, very hard to pull yourself out. I always advise people to think carefully about how the job is working for them at certain milestones or certain checkpoints.”

Kirsty says the first month, the first three months, then six months, you know, nine months and 12 months as timely checkpoints.

“It's very hard to compartmentalise how you feel at work when it's really getting you down, and that does tend to overflow into your home life if you're feeling stressed or anxious or really negative about your work and you're not getting along with your colleagues and you don't enjoy the projects being given to you. That definitely does have an overflow effect on your family, so the more that you can discuss it and reflect upon it, the better off you can be,” she said.