Advertise on WAHM

When the Displaced Corporate Woman Goes Home

by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant

Once upon a time there were what were called "displaced homemakers." If you're too young to know what that phrase means, this article may be particularly helpful to you. It referred to women who were taking their first jobs in the workplace after having been home raising their children; generally speaking, because of divorce.

Now we're seeing the trend reversed, and women are leaving the corporate world to return home to be with their children. (Some fathers too!)

The pace and the mindset are very different between these two worlds, though both include plenty of work! Here are some tips for adapting if you're going back home.


You may be 100% ready for this, or you may be ambivalent, but this will be only one of many transitions in your long lifetime. Use this one to prepare you for all others. In any change, chosen or imposed, you are in control of one thing: your attitude.

When you're older, you'll look back at many stages in your life and say, "that was another lifetime." They can feel that different.

KEY: Find a way to enjoy every bit of this (and it will have its down times). It may take a commitment every morning; not a bad lifetime policy.

If you spend time "missing" your corporate days and focusing on that, you'll miss out on something very important. Be fully where you are.


As we learn in Emotional Intelligence, we have three brains: reptilian, limbic and neocortex. In the corporate world, much is focused on the neocortex, the thinking brain. You have deadlines, projects, problems to solve. It's "relational," yes, and it involves emotions, but it hasn't the intensity of life with your loved ones.

At home, you'll be more in the limbic brain, which is where the parenting instinct comes from. You may feel your "brain has turned to mush," as you spend your days wiping bottoms, tears, oatmeal off the floor, and crayon marks off the walls. You'll talk in simple sentences and repeat a lot, emoting a lot - you're teaching your child about emotional expression! And you'll do a large number of routine things.

That's okay! Enjoy it. You'll bounce right back to the Einstein-mode when it's needed.

The world of children is slow, emotional, and in-the-moment. You will do harm to both the children and yourself if you try and run your run your home like a professional office, corporate department, or military post. Handle the children with your heart, and relax. Unlike the chance to sell the real estate, the dishes will always be there, and the chance to laugh with your little one will not.


Not money. Not a promotion. You're now working for a very different purpose. Explore this. It will serve you in good stead all your life.


I did a needlework when I was at home and I was sometimes overly concerned about keeping things perfect. It said: "Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow, For babies grow up, we learn to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs, Dust, go to sleep, I'm rocking my baby, 'cause babies don't keep."

It goes very fast. Ask anyone whose kids are grown.

And about the needlepoint .


It's easy to get 'lost' in the mammoth tasks of running a home and full-time childcare. It is work that's literally never done, and you never get to leave it behind you.

At the same time, there can be lots of waiting -- for the soccer practice to be over, or in the queue to pick up your child at school. Take up knitting or needlepoint. Bring along a book. Get some language tapes. Meditate.


Full-time childcare at home is not unlike the life of the pilot... hours and hours of boredom punctuated by stark terror. Yes, a lot of it is routine. Make it more rewarding for everyone by including enrichment activities.

  • Take the kids to the park to feed the ducks. Read about them first on the Internet and take along a camera. Lots to learn about. BTW store stale bread in the freezer so you have something to feed the ducks.
  • Read the newspaper to see what's going on - museums, parks and recreation dept. activities, book readings at the library, going to a college tennis match.
  • Find other women at home with their children and plan activities with them. You can each take all the children one morning a week while the others are free.
  • Plan adult activities for yourself. If you remain at home alone all day with your child and don't make new friends [smile] you will bore your child terribly [smile] and also put an undue burden on your husband when he gets home at night, expecting him to fulfill all your adult companionship needs. Plan a night out with the girls every now and then.
  • The volunteer world is waiting for you. Do volunteer work. Serve on a Board. You'll get to use your skills, get adult interaction, and meet new people.
  • Find something at home you can really get passionate about. This can be any number of things: gourmet cooking, painting, cleaning, or an independent study. (There are so many opportunities on the Internet these days!) One woman I know started her own photography business. It fits in well with the children's schedule, gives her an "outside" interest, keeps her skills alive, and brings in extra money.
  • Your child doesn't need 100% of your intense interest 12 hours a day. Both of you need to have interests, friends, and activities - some together, some apart.
  • "Work" the school thing. With so many mothers working, you could easily arrange to bring Tommy home one after a week to play with your little Billy, and everyone would enjoy that.
  • Indulge yourself in special treats. Get a sitter every now and then and go do something you love to do (that your child wouldn't like). Book a sitter, get dressed up and meet your husband for a "date" at lunchtime!


Don't start "letting yourself go." Yes, it's relaxing, but, as FlyLady says, put on a pair of shoes! Small children need snacks all the time and they burn calories you don't. Those delicious peanut butter snacks can quickly get you into the next size jeans, and the next size jeans. It will be a new experience for you to be home all day right beside the refrigerator, and if your pantry's stocked with potato chips and Oreos...well, you get the picture. Think ahead. Start out right.


The minute you catch yourself "resenting," get a grip! If you get into the trap that your child "needs" you to be there all the time, you'll build resentment. No child "needs" to be with a crabby mother who has ignored her own needs and assumed some fantasized "burden." I recall one day when I'd been at home with a kid with the chicken pox for a solid 7 days of freezing rain. A bit "crabby," yes, I called a sitter. This marvelous woman arrived, all cheery and bright, with an armload of crafts for my son . and guess who was actually glad to see me go! And I returned from my adult outing all cheery and bright. Don't let it build up. Take care of yourself so you can be good company for your little one.

In sum, approach this transition with flexibility, intentionality, and enthusiasm. Don't let yourself get stale. Find ways to include the things you miss (adults and intellectual stimulation), and you may find you never want to return! But if you do, and it's another adjustment, you'll have learned all about that!

P.S. It's a great time to get some coaching!

┬ęSusan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach,

Helping people like you get where you want to be. Internet courses, teleclasses and ebooks. Mailto:[email protected] for FREE ezine.

Work From Home Jobs