Navigating unemployment, especially as a parent, comes with a myriad of emotions including shame, frustration, fear, and perhaps even isolation. Unfortunately, so much of our perceived societal ‘worth’ is dependent upon what we do for work, what our income is, and how we provide for our loved ones. When this is stripped away from us, we feel, perhaps, as if we’ve lost a piece of who we are or as if we are failing.
However, this isn’t true.
Losing a job, searching for a job, being unemployed for a period of time—these are all natural and happen to everyone, regardless of their story or journey. If you’re facing unemployment right now, here are a few thing to keep in mind and ways to keep focused on your goals, despite this disheartening season.
Validate Your Emotions
First, empower yourself to recognize that things are hard sometimes. (And that’s okay.) One of the best things that you can do in this situation (or really any situation where you feel as if you’re failing as a parent) is treat yourself with kindness and warmth. You have every right to be sad, anxious and even angry in this moment. (These feelings are normal and natural!)
However, don’t sit with your negative emotions. Continue to think about the next steps and where you’re headed next. Don’t get too caught up in your self-pity that you forget to move forward.
Accept & Take Active Steps
It’s crucial, when we’re faced with challenging things, to accept the reality (even when it’s hard). If we’re so focused on the pain of the situation, or the opposite, if we’re not accepting what’s actually happening as truth, we will get stuck. And as a parent, being ‘stuck’ isn’t possible when you have others who depend on you.
Accepting the reality of your job loss means that you recognize that things are what they are—less protesting, ruminating, or self-pitying. Now, you can move forward with action and intention.
Normalize the Issue
As you navigate your job loss, try to normalize what’s happening (not only for yourself, but for your family, too). Find resources to support you in your journey. Connect with others in similar situations (Facebook groups, social media accounts, in-person communities, etc.) And talk to your family about how you feel and what you’re working through.
There are countless job boards and postings available online. Try to carve time out of every day to job search, apply, and keep track of where you’ve looked and where you haven’t. If possible, connect with a coach or professional who can guide you through an interview process or help you update your resume. If you are navigating a disability claim, talk to a disability attorney or other expert to help you.
And, most importantly, don’t leave your family out! Share your experiences. Be transparent about the ups and downs. Lean on your spouse/partner. And tell your children what you’re going through, not only so they can better respect your time and energy, but so they can be exposed to realities (within reason of course!). If your experience is normalized for them, they will develop better coping skills to face challenges in their own lives.
Develop a Solid Plan
It is so important that you put a solid plan into action.
Your prior job might have ended, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have a job right now. Your number one goal right now (outside of parental responsibilities, of course!) is to look for a job. Put a few hours aside each day for your job search, and also make sure that you look at ads or potential leads in your network. Spend time researching new opportunities and even consider moving into something either a) not as fun just to pay the bills temporarily, or b) something you’re passionate about. Take advantage of the time ‘off’ to be more intentional with your home, your children, your partner, and your health.
Remember that this experience is temporary, and you will get through it.
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