How stay-at-home parents can find a job

Published by Ruth Cornish on 01 December 2014.
Last updated on 01 December 2014

Working mother

It is still the case that the majority of parents who take the lead on childcare are women – but this is starting to alter.

As many as four in 10 women are the main breadwinners with men increasingly staying at home or looking for family-friendly work options. In recognition of this, from 1 December 2014 men have the right to take shared parental leave while their partner returns to work.

Many employers are also starting to offer their staff maternity coaching to help them decide what is the best choice for them after such a significant life event. This involves confidential sessions with women during pregnancy in the workplace and after the birth at home.

Maternity coach Charlotte Semlyen explains: "Maternity coaching enables women to make considered decisions about their future and empowers them to feel more confident and better prepared for the challenges of returning to work."

For many people, the idea of returning to their previous role is, for whatever reason, not an option. So what else can new parents do to find work?


Katie Rowse initially became a childminder when she had her sons. This led to her setting up on other premises as an after-school club. Play Aloud was born in 2011 providing wrap-around childcare. She then did a course to become an Early Years Professional and now has a second branch, employs more than 20 people, is opening a third in April 2015 and is planning to franchise her business.

She advises anyone considering childcare to contact their local Family Information Service to find out what is available. Katie says: "If you want to be with your children more, you can do it somehow. And you never know where it might take you. I never imagined Play Aloud would exist but have never looked back."


Taking on a franchise where you buy into an established business can be a great option for individuals or couples. The initial investment can be as little as £2,000 or as much as £75,000, depending on the brand.

The website has lots of details of current franchise opportunities.

Personal training, massage and beauty treatments

Often getting into shape post-baby can lead to a new career. It doesn't take much to get started – your initial investment could be as small as a one-off college course.

Working freelance

There are a number of options that can be done on a freelance basis including copywriting and social media, HR, marketing, book-keeping and IT, as well as tutoring. Lisa Isaacs works as a copywriter and says she had the same career now as she did before she had her children – just with greater control, flexibility and variety.


If you are methodical and organised, bookkeeping might just suit you. You can learn on the job and/or study. But be aware of year ends, which can coincide with Christmas and summer holidays.

Visit or for more on how to become a bookkeeper.


This is a popular choice - especially once children start school. To teach in the state sector, you need to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) but this is not required in the independent sector. Grants and support are available.

Many HR professionals have to work hard to convince parents and others that a second, later career can be as satisfying – if not more so – than the first. Parents' priorities also shift, of course, which is why many choose to start their own business. But while this can be the most rewarding work of all, it can also be extremely hard work.

Sophie Cornish, founder of, says she had to debate her options after a career in media and advertising. She wanted something to fit round her children but which also played to her experience, great love for interior design, as well as her personal ambition.

"Starting up certainly played to my strengths - but building a business of that scale is definitely not something that is parent-friendly. For me (and my family) it was the right thing to do, nonetheless."

Lucy Lee was a TV producer before she co-founded charm jewellery business in 2011, with her cousin Marcus who also has a young family. They initially invested £18,000 to cover jewellery design, their website, stock and packaging. Business is booming.

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