The Reinvention of You: From Stay at Home to Working Parent

Many years ago, Walt Disney (1901-1966) had a dream: a full length animated film of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film industry scoffed at this ridiculous idea – who in the world would watch a full-length cartoon!? The idea, sure to cause the doom of Walt Disney Studios, was dubbed ‘Disney’s Folly.’ Well, the rest is history.

Disney once stated, “Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making his dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in the four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage and constancy…. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way.”



Wonder what is available to you? If you have been out of the work force and need to refresh your skills, you would be amazed by today’s options. Countless learning opportunities are available online – from simple continuing education credits to certificate programs to full college degrees. This style of learning works well for the working parent, due to the flexibility. Make sure you do your homework: investigate costs, reputation of provider and the technical requirements for your computer and mobile device before beginning. Also check with your new employer, as some institutions partially pay for degree programs. This is especially true for those that are nurses thinking of entering popular RN TO BSN programs, as hospitals strive to increase the numbers of BSN-prepared nurses at the bedside.

As a new hospice nurse, out of the work force for 11 years, the sight of 2 large plastic boxes brimming with ‘trunk supplies’ caused me to burst into tears. “What ever made me think I could do this?’ I moaned – staring at the mounds of 4×4 bandages, Foley catheters, and needles for lab draws. Fortunately, my wise nurse manager assigned me a gentle and capable mentor. With her support, I quickly gained the needed confidence to practice independently, but I always knew my mentor was a phone call away if needed. So be upfront and ask your new manager for a willing mentor to ‘show you the ropes,’ boosting your confidence for a successful transition.

In her book Wake-up Calls, Joan Lunden writes of her tenure as co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America (1980-1997). She described her intense fears of public speaking, avoided for years with the cozy nature of a TV studio. After leaving the popular ABC program, she recounts overcoming her panic-like feelings, using her vulnerabilities to connect and empower others. As an RN, I did the same thing. Each day, nurses care for “patients and family members who are ill, scared and generally not at their best.” (GA Galanti, Caring for Patients from Different Cultures). You can use your vulnerabilities to promote empathy and caring for others – great qualities for a nurse.

Developing a plan – and sticking to it – will be the key to your success. Set aside dedicated times for household chores and studying, as well as time to relax and enjoy family and friends. Learn to set gentle but firm boundaries with people who distract you. Be prepared for your stay-at-home friends to drift away or not understand your new purpose. And when the goal seems unreachable, recall a popular Chinese fortune-cookie proverb: Enough shovels of dirt- a mountain. Enough pails of water- a river.

Your Future
If the current economic downturns have forced your return to work, use Walt’s words of wisdom to dream and do.

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