Do you feel confident about the idea of returning to work or study? Parents who’ve been out of the workplace or classroom for a while can feel a lack of belief in their skills or abilities. Wiping noses, putting on endless loads of washing and tidying toys might not seem like valuable talents.

You’re not alone in feeling this way. 

Only a third of Australian mothers say they feel confident to go back to work after having a baby. However, there are ways to rethink your parenting experiences and what you have to offer so that you’re all fired up and ready to go back to study or work. Here are our tips for how to improve confidence when returning to work or study.

Five ways to feel confident about returning to work

1. Take a course

Brushing up on old work skills or learning new ones will add another string to your bow and boost your confidence about going back to work. Try taking a course in computer skills or perhaps there’s a skill relevant to the job you want, like book keeping or mechanics. You can access these through TAFE, university and other registered training providers. You might be able to tap into a government scheme in your area. ParentsNext can also help you find a local course or program. Some organisations nowadays even offer return to work internships (also called returnships) for parents to help readjust them back into the workforce.

2. Volunteer

Volunteering at a school, community group or other organisation is another way to get experience and build on your skills. By volunteering in an industry you’d like to work in, you will develop relevant skills that can help you get back into work. You will also meet a range of people who could help you with your job search and you may even find someone to be a referee for your CV.


3. Update your CV

It will help to take a course, a class or speak to someone about how to write your CV to reflect your current experience. As a parent, you have developed stronger work skills like time management and planning. You will be better at prioritising what’s important.

4. Dress for success

It’s easier (and more practical) to live in jeans and a t-shirt when you’re at home with the kids. But buying, borrowing or revamping a new work outfit and getting a haircut can boost your confidence and make you feel more comfortable about fitting into a work environment. It can sound trivial but it works! If you can’t afford a new outfit, there are organisations who can help such as Wear for Success and Fitted for Work.

5. Get up to date

If you’re going back to the same type of work, you might have former workmates you can meet up with to hear about the latest changes and developments in that industry. You can follow organisations or leaders on social media and the news to learn what’s happening in that field. This will help you feel prepared.

Three ways to improve confidence when returning to study

Many of the tips above apply if you’re going back to study. Here’s a few more suggestions to help you feel positive about yourself and your abilities.

1. Take an orientation course

If you are enrolled at an educational institution, it may offer free courses like study skills, how to use the library, time management, using computer software and more. They may also offer orientation sessions to get to know teachers, fellow students and the campus and make you feel more at ease.

2. Plan

Use a timetable to map out when assignments and exams are due and other commitments. Study when you can – even just 30 minutes helps. Prioritise and do the top three things on your to-do list each day. Schedule in “me time” too for things like exercise, relaxation or a hobby.

3. Choose a flexible course

Consider your lifestyle and needs. Would enrolling in an online course make things easier to manage? If you are enrolled online, online forums and groups will allow you to connect with students and teachers for support and advice. Do you have tips to boost your confidence? Share them in the comments below.

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