Many parents feel like their work gets in the way of being there for their kids. They may find their work is not as satisfying as caring for their kids or it is too challenging to balance work and parenting. In many of these cases, you may choose to switch career gears completely and become a stay-at-home parent.

But what if you like your career? Or you plan on returning eventually and don’t want to miss out on staying on top of your game? Some stay-at-home parents really dive into childcare, but at times, also miss their jobs or don’t feel completely satisfied. You aren’t alone, and these feelings are perfectly normal. It means you might want to keep a little bit of your own professional goals alive. Here are four ideas from to get you started. 

Setting Up a Home Office

Whether you are starting your own consulting business or want a dedicated space for planning your kids’ days, there are many ways to design the ideal home office. Even small spaces are often filled with big opportunities for a home office. Use a corner desk and vertical wall shelving to maximize space and storage. 

If your office is far away from your router (or vice versa), buy a signal booster for your WiFi so you don’t have to purchase a second modem. And for a home office in a remodeled attic, basement, or garage, make sure to proactively address any heating or cooling concerns before you begin work.

Earning an Online Degree

Now could be the time to earn the degree you always wanted or take the next step in your educational journey with an online master’s degree. You can carve out a whole new career by going back to school and earning an online degree in some of today’s most-needed (and often highest paying) careers. For example, a master’s degree in information technology or business could open doors to new roles and higher-paying opportunities.

Exploring the Gig Economy

If your priority right now is your children but you don’t want your career to go stagnant, consider working on a project-by-project basis. Perhaps your previous employer (if any) would consider hiring you as a freelance contractor. 

If not, you can test-drive different careers posting your skills on job boards as a freelancer. Once a copywriter, now a grant writer. Have a degree in foreign language instruction? Put your talents to work in translation services. The Internet is filled with options for full-time and part-time work on your own terms.

Pursuing a Specialization

Getting a specialization or certification can prepare your resume for a whole new career, a pay increase or additional responsibilities. If you’re looking to build soft-skills, try a specialization in communications, project management, and leadership development. 

Try to think of the certifications and specializations held by the people with the job titles you eventually want when you return to work. For example, a database manager can really elevate their career with specialization in much-used apps like Salesforce.


As Motherly explains, volunteering is an excellent way to help maintain your skills while helping those in need. So, find a charity or non-profit organization that’s looking for volunteers and offer your services. You may be surprised that there are things you can do to help out that can be done from the comfort of your own home. Not only will you get to assist others who need a helping hand, but you’ll be able to hone your skills at the same time. What’s more, volunteer work always looks good on a resume when you’re on the hunt for a new job!

New and changing responsibilities can be a lot to manage. With busy and excited children underfoot, putting your career aside to tackle parent life doesn’t mean you have to halt pursuing your own passions. Try out some of these ideas to keep stimulating your mind and your career path.