9 Books for Stay-at-Home Parents Returning to Work

by Jennifer Ridgway

Photo credit: Caiaimage/Robert Daly, Caiaimage Collection/Getty Images

When I took a career detour to stay home with my twins, one of the biggest factors I had to consider was how it would affect my career. Now, as the countdown to pre-K begins, I am beginning to contemplate what my future career should look like and when it should start.

Whether you’ve stayed at home with your children for a couple of years or a couple of decades, there are unique challenges to returning to work. Here are some books that can help along the way.

  • On Finding a Job and Navigating Your Career

  • While not catered specifically to parents re-entering the workforce, these books can aid readers with the practicalities of finding a job. They’re sure to help you figure out what you want to do, write a stellar resume, and nail the interview.

  • Do Over: Make Today the First Day of Your New Career

    by Jon Acuff

    Available from:

    For those who have felt stuck in their jobs or are facing a major transition in their career, this self-help workbook by Jon Acuff is a must-read. The New York Times bestselling author's unique approach to professional development focuses on relationship, skill, character and hustle and how to develop these career elements in order to get ahead. Jon even offers a Career Audit quiz on his website to get an honest look at what's going on in your career and what career elements you may need to work on. While offering practical advice and motivation for those in need of a fresh start, his witty and humorous writing also makes this an enjoyably quick read.

    Also available from:
  • Born for This

    by Chris Guillebeau

    Available from:

    The central thesis of Guillebeau’s newest book is like a Venn Diagram in which one circle represents Joy, the second represents Money, and the last represents Flow; the shapes’ intersection is where you should be working. While the book has an entrepreneurial angle, Guillebeau discusses finding this trifecta within larger organizations too. He also includes a number of interviews with both those who have successfully found their place and those who are looking for it.

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  • What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

    by Richard N. Bolles

    Bolles’s book is a perennial bestseller for a reason. Filled with exercises (including his famously useful Flower Exercise) to help you find your ideal job, tips on writing resumes, and advice on salary negotiation, What Color Is Your Parachute? is revised annually to be as up-to-date as possible.

  • How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile…and 18 Mistakes to Avoid

    by Brenda Bernstein

    For some, LinkedIn didn’t exist when they left the workforce, or it seemed irrelevant when they were happily employed. However, it is now a valuable tool in many job searches, so it’s important that your LinkedIn profile be as optimized as possible. Bernstein’s book is arranged to easily make changes a few minutes at a time, ideal for people — like parents — with limited chunks of free time.

  • Modernize Your Resume (Modernize Your Career)

    by Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark

    Enelow and Kursmark are Certified Professional Resume Writers and they bring their expertise into this book that addresses all angles of today’s hiring processes. They discuss social media, how to get your resume through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), and how to present yourself to both headhunters and companies. A resume-writing 101.

  • Bonus: Fiction About Balancing Kids and Jobs

  • Returning to the workplace after time off can be a daunting experience – and sometimes it’s good to be reminded that you’re not alone in your journey. These two novels feature women navigating the challenges and successes they discover in balancing parenthood and careers.

  • The 10 Year Nap

    by Meg Wolitzer

    Available from:

    Wolitzer’s novel centers around four stay-at-home moms, friends since college. Leaving promising careers, they now find themselves trying to figure out who they are after years of being “just a mom.”

    Also available from:
  • A Window Opens

    by Elisabeth Egan

    Alice Pearse seemingly has the best of both worlds: she works part-time in the city as the book editor for a woman’s magazine, allowing her to spend more time with her children. When her husband’s job situation suddenly changes, she finds herself trying to find a full-time job and then juggle work and her family.

Did you recently reenter, or are you considering reentering, the workplace? Have any other must-reads for transition? Let us know in the comments section below!