October 27, 2010 | Karen, online education | Leave a comment Some days, I’m the envy of my friends…I can work and stay at home with my kids. Now that they’re starting formal schooling, I also have the time to slip in a class or two when needed. But when I’m stressing over a deadline, I know most of them are glad they’re not in my situation. Who wants that kind of pressure when you’re already busy raising children? Well, after reading some recent information about the cost of taking a career time-out, I’m glad to have the stress — and the paycheck. And I plan to keep working even when I start school. (See, nothing good ever comes of a time-out; just ask my son and he’ll completely agree with me.) One third of women take a short break in their careers Here’s the data I found: Nearly one third of women take a short break in their careers, according to the Center for Work-Life Policy. But most of them — about 73 percent — have trouble finding a job afterward. At least 22 percent say they had to “step down” and take a lesser position. And the average wage loss was 16 percent of their former salary. The takeaway here? Go get a part-time jobs or find some way to freelance for an employer instead of completely quitting. Yes, school will take up a huge portion of your time. Combine a job with classes, studying, creating presentations…and feeding a family…will feel like the worst of times. Avoid resume gaps But come time when you’re done with that degree or certificate, your earning potential will be amazing. It will be a short sacrifice. Avoid resume gaps that could haunt you later. Instead, keep a foot in the door with your current job, find a more flexible job or seek out new employers who are willing to let you study and work at the same time. Now, freelancing isn’t for everyone. If you like a steady paycheck, this is not the work you’ll want. And taxes? Don’t get me started. But it is a means to an end — you trade convenience (an employer paying your FICA, for example) for the flex time. No one tells me when to work. I get to set my hours and decide how much to take on during a particular month. So maybe when I take the hardest classes, I’ll scale back. And if I decide I need the summer off, then I can work more to make up for the income loss. Granted, I’m in a hugely lucky position where my husband has a full-time job with benefits. So, with that said, I can do this kind of stuff. Let’s hope my luck holds out. Anyone balancing a job with school? How’s that going? Tell us in the comments below!