Whether out of financial necessity or interest, many stay-at-home parents will find themselves returning to the world of work.

Transitioning from the playroom to the boardroom seems daunting, but it doesn't have to be if you develop a plan.

1. Consider a Career Change

In my "pre-mommy days," I worked as a career counselor. Now I'm a writer, blogger and columnist. I know many former accountants and nurses who are now preschool teachers. If time and your financial situation permits it, now's the perfect time to contemplate a career change.

Do some homework when planning a change.

  • Research yourself — What are your interests? What skills do you possess? What values do you want reflected in your job.
  • Investigate careers — People working in your careers of interest are the best resources. Set up an informational interview or a job shadow with someone.
  • Fill in the gaps — What skills do you need to improve? Are there courses, degrees, or licensures you have to pursue? Your local community college can be a great place to start.

2. Stay Informed of Trends in Your Profession

In between soccer games and recitals, read magazines and trade journals within your profession. Visit websites. Join a professional association: Most have local chapters right in your city.

3. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to keep one foot in the grownup world while remaining home with your kids, and you choose the commitment level. Nonprofit organizations always need volunteers. Look to your child's school, your church, or causes of interest to you.

Choose your involvement based on talents you want to develop, such as writing, organizing events, accounting, etc. You can then refer to your volunteer duties when the time comes for resumes and interviews.

4. Network

Many job opportunities are found by word-of-mouth, so networking is an essential job search tool. You've already established a network as a stay-at-home parent: Other parents and teachers, for example. The list goes on, including those you knew before you became a parent. Don't hesitate to reach out to your network. If they can, they'll be willing to help.

Are you ready to tell people your career interests? Practice a 15-second public relations speech about your career interests. I once landed a writing gig in the children's section of our library! Opportunity knocks in the strangest places. Order free business cards at websites like Vistaprint and Free Printable Business Cards and give them to anyone you chat with about careers.

5. Plan Early

You're knee deep in diapers or potty training. But is there anything you can do now even if your target back-to-work date is one year away? Allow enough time for preparation.

If you plan to take college courses, placement test may be required beforehand. Give yourself time to prepare for them.

Transitioning from being a stay-at-home parent to working professional doesn't have to be stressful. With the right preparation, you'll be ready for the change when it comes.

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